Category Archives: Bulletin articles

“…my soul thirsts for Thee…” (Psalm 63.1)

Absalom was the third son of King David. Here is how the Bible describes him: “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2 Samuel 14.25).

He not only was handsome, he was the darling of his father. But he repaid his father’s favoritism by leading a rebellion against him. Absalom “stole” the hearts of the men of Israel, and David had to flee Jerusalem for his life into the wilderness of Judea beyond the Jordan.

It was during those agonizing days, at war with his own son, that he wrote of his longing for God. Psalm 63 opens with these words, “O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsts for Thee; my flesh faints for Thee, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Regardless of how desperate his circumstances appeared to be, David took refuge in God’s abiding presence. “For Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy” (Psalm 63.7).

The psalm reminds us as well of God’s presence, of His promise to “be with us always” and of the risen Christ’s presence amid His saints. And so, as pilgrims in a parched land we seek and thirst and faint for Him to provide for us the refreshing relief of living water.

Grace to you all, and peace – Bill


“I thank my God…”

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…”
(Philippians 1.3).

Paul had a special relationship with the church in Philippi. It was the first church ever planted on “European” soil. Paul had been beaten there and thrown in jail. Guess what? He converted his jailor. That’s how the church in Philippi began.

Throughout the rest of his life and mission travels, the Christians in Philippi supported him financially and attended to his needs as best they could. Imprisoned again for the cause of Christ, it was from imprisonment in Rome that Paul wrote,

“I thank my God… Thankfulness is an essential Christian trait. Hearts filled with gratitude have no room for bitterness. A cheerful face and kind word will brighten anyone’s day; that’s what thankful people do.

“in all my remembrance… God did us a great favor when He created us with a memory. I picture Paul under arrest, chained to his guards – hours and days on end. Without memory, that would be unbearable. It would be like (though entirely different) being in the hospital with IVs running in both arms and electronic monitoring devices all over your body making it hard to move. How do you pass the time? One way is by thinking of your family and friends. Memory is good company.

“of you…” Relationships lay at the core of life. We need each other. Friendship blossoms in adversity. When “we” are helpless, it’s “you” who step up. “You” are a great blessing to another’s life.

Indeed, like Paul, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”

Grace to you and peace, Bill


The Back Page 11-26-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith, recovering from her last chemotherapy treatment.

Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes.

The Family of Karen Stapleton, valued and loved member of the women’s Bible study, who died suddenly of a heart attack Thanksgiving morning. Her funeral will be Wednesday at Hamlet Union Church, 411 Breeze Street, at 10:30 a.m. Central time. Visitation is Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Liewer Funeral Home in Wauneta.

 On the Calendar

Thursday, November 30 – Last Women’s Bible study of the year – 2 Timothy 4. 10:45 am to Noon, Sunset Apartments.

Sunday, December 3 Secret Sister Revealing Party, 1:30 p.m. at the church building, with sock exchange.

Sunday, December 10 – Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

Friday, December 15 – White Elephant party hosted by Don and Norma Hamm, 5:30 p.m. Bring hors d’oeuvres or snacks and a wrapped or bagged gift with no tag – for the White Elephant gift exchange.


Four Marks of a Living Church

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2.42-47)

At the conclusion of Acts 2, Luke gives four identifying characteristics of a “living church” – evidence the first Christians were drawn together in relationships.

First, they were related to the apostles. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They sat at their feet and submitted to their authority. A living church is an apostolic church, committed to believing and obeying the teaching of the apostles.

Second, they were related to each other. They devoted themselves to fellowship. They loved each other. They looked after each other, providing for one another’s needs. A living church is a caring church.

Third, they were related to God. They worshipped God in the breaking of bread and prayers, formally and informally, with joy and reverence.

Fourth, they were related to the world. They saturated the community around them with the message of the Gospel and as a result “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” A living church is an evangelizing church.

John Stott relates an experience he had in Latin America. He was introduced to a group of Christian students who had dropped out of church. They called themselves Cristianos Descolgados, “unhooked Christians.” They visited every church in their city and had been unable to find what they were seeking. And what was that? Without knowing Luke’s “four marks,” they were looking for a church in which

  1. the Bible was taught
  2. there was a loving, caring fellowship
  3. there was sincere, humble, and reverent worship
  4. there was a compassionate outreach to the world outside.

Simple characteristics identifying the church of Christ that was established on the Day of Pentecost when the Gospel of Christ was preached for the first time. Let that be our sole model – and pray those four marks of a living church reflect our fellowship at Westside.

 – grace and peace to you all, Bill

[John Stott, Through the Bible – Through the Year, 312]


Beer & Brats after Church – Everyone’s Invited

The local Lutheran Church is hosting a “Traditional Oktoberfest” today following their morning worship services. Complete with an outdoor tent, there’ll be “German music, Brats & Beer!” Hot dogs and wine will also be available. Everyone is invited to wear a costume. Admission and food is free – but they’ll charge you for the booze.

The word worldly means “relating or devoted to the temporal world.” Worldliness is the condition of being concerned with worldly things, especially to the neglect of spiritual things. Scripture has much to say about “worldliness,” none of it good.

In fact, there is to be a clear distinction between worldly people and Christians. Read Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian brethren: This I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles walk…(Ephesians 4.17).

He wrote to the Christians in Corinth to go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6.17) and James encouraged his readers to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

Perhaps the clearest language on this matter is Romans 12.1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Peter reminds Christians that we should refrain from worldly behavior: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2.9).

Without meaning to be harsh or judgmental, I see a great inconsistency in professing to worship God in holiness one hour and then conducting a “traditional Oktoberfest” complete with beer and wine the next. How is that different from the world? How does that proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light?

grace and peace to you all


The Back Page 11-29-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith, Jacquie’s mom…Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes….Carol’s niece Valerie CroftBoomer and Amanda have closed on their house in Kearney!

Thanks! To all who helped with yesterday’s clothing giveaway. Those who came to get clothing for their family really appreciated it. What a good way for Westside to be seen as a giving church!

On the Calendar

Thursday, November 2Women’s Bible study will finish 2 Timothy 1 and begin chapter 2, 10:45 – Noon, Sunset Apts.

Thursday, November 2Grief Support group, 7-8:30 pm, Imperial Library.

Today, October 29 – Areawide Singing hosted by the Stratton church at the former Girl Scout Camp, 3:30 pm Central Time.


Insights from the Early Church

“The Church…was created before all things; therefore, she is old, and for her sake the world was formed.” – Shepherd of Herman, AD 150

“Christianity is not a matter of persuasive words. It is a matter of true greatness as long as it is hated by the world.”  – Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, AD 110

“This age and the one that is coming are two enemies. This one talks about adultery and corruption and greed and deceit, but that one renounces these things. We cannot, therefore, be friends of both; we must renounce this one in order to experience that one.” – Clement of Rome, AD 100

“Be eager, then, in coming together as often as possible for God’s Meal of Thanksgiving and for His praises, for if you meet frequently, Satan’s powers are broken; what he threatens you with is dashed to pieces on the unity of your faith. There is nothing better than the peace by which all warfare waged by heavenly and earthly powers is abolished.” – Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, AD 110

“Therefore prepare for action and serve God in fear and truth, leaving behind the empty and meaningless talk and the error of the crowd, and believing in the one who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave Him glory and the throne at His right hand.” – Polycarp of Smyrna, Letter to the Philippians, AD 120

“Instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And He said to love not only our neighbors, but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.” – Irenaeus, Against Heresies, AD 180


The Magic of Changing Lives


Mountain States Children’s Home Benefit Gala

Mountain States Children’s Home will present the Annual Benefit Gala, “The Magic of Changing Lives” on October 14th at 5:30 in the evening.

The path our children embark on when coming to MSCH becomes a journey of discovery that seems amazing and magical at times. There are glimmers of hope along the way with flashes of confidence as self-esteem is revealed.

You can be a part of this change. There will be Silent and Live Auction items, entertainment, a meal and the opportunity to be a part of the children’s success in life.

This change is not an illusion – it is a reality that is brought on by the glow from many of your hearts, people who affect each child who comes our way.

Please come join us for the Magic!

I just received this in the mail on Friday, so there hasn’t been any time for planning – but wouldn’t it be great to take a van full (or more) of folks from Westside to this event?! Think about  it – but think quick!

By the way, here’s a great way to give: name Mountain States Children’s Home as your charity:


Design Argues for a Designer

The universe demonstrates order and design; therefore, there must be a designer. The existence of order and system demands a cause for such order. Beauty, form, design, and purpose in nature all imply a creative mind, an intelligent architect.

The word teleology derives from the Greek root telos, meaning “end, purpose.” Teleology is the study of final, or ultimate, causes and suggests that design and purpose are evident in nature.

I should note that teleological explanations are not scientific explanations. Rather, they are conclusions based on observation and reason.

Here is an example:

A single human adult brain weighs about three pounds and contains 100 billion (1,000 million) nerve cells called neurons and 900 billion (nine times the number of stars in our galaxy) neuroglia. Neuroglia are specialized connecting and supporting cells of the brain and spinal cord. Yet the myriad of cells and component parts of the brain are so designed and ordered, within a structure smaller than a shoe box, that the human brain thinks, creates, contemplates, loves, hates, senses, and worships.

The central nervous system in general and the human brain in particular, constitute the strongest teleological argument for the existence of God. Otherwise, in the absence of God, the only explanation is that a cloud of hydrogen gas of unknown origin, through chance, evolved into a compact mass of highly organized and different matter, which in the body of a person, is capable of contemplating the universe!

Now which is more reasonable? Mind or Matter? Chance or Choice? Void or Intelligence?

– Bill


Comforting Those in Grief

Handling Grief is Hard for Most of Us

The truth is, most of us have no idea how to handle grief, so we do not handle it well. We try our best to be there for the bereaved, but all too often our well-meaning gestures put a wedge between us, our grief-stricken loved ones feeling isolated, judged, misunderstood, and alone.

And though grief is deep and personal, it is not meant to be experienced all alone. In fact, families and friends who can share their grief gain a depth to their relationship they would not have otherwise found.

What NOT to Do: Common Grief Misconceptions and Barriers

So what are some of the common misconceptions of grief that get in our way, and what can we do about them?

  • First we don’t always need to “say something.” The truth is, when someone has just experienced a major loss, there is usually nothing that can or needs to be said. Just being with them is good enough.
  • Second, trite reassurances do not usually help. “They’re in a better place,” “At least they’re no longer suffering,” or “Time heals all wounds,” though well-meant, are better left unsaid.
  • Third, talking about our own loss experiences is not a good option. Sharing our experiences with loss, saying “I know exactly how you feel,” or “I understand completely,” usually makes the griever feel as if you are minimizing their experience or pain.

What TO Do

Then what is the best way to support someone through grief? It’s simpler than you might think.

  • Just be there. Listen. Let them talk and cry and talk and cry without putting a time limit on it and without judging.
  • Don’t get tired of hearing them tell their “story.” Encourage expression of the facts, details, and emotions related to the loss; it is a simple but profound method of healing.
  • Check in on them. Say, “I’m just calling to see how you’re doing today.” No pressure or expectations, simply a friend checking in.
  • And hold your tongue. When you feel the urge to say something trite, like, “This too shall pass,” don’t. Instead, just say, “I’m so sorry,” let them cry, and cry with them.

– Bill

[Westside will host a six-week Grief Support group each Thursday evening beginning October 12 and continuing through November 16; 7 pm in the Lied Library conference room.]