Westside Family

Care Communities | Generosity Story

John Markert: Randy and Roseanne, when they decided to build in our neighborhood, we met them and the idea of battle life group for Westside came up and my wife and I, we decided that yeah, we know some neighbors that we could start a life group. So we started a life group.

Chris Barcus: So we joined it and it's all of our neighbors and we've gotten to know a lot of our neighbors just by being here.

John Markert: We have people that are in our neighborhood and people who are not in our neighborhood, but it's become a great group of friends and friendship. And out of all that came the idea that we probably should go a little bit further with our group and we started to investigate supporting a foster family.

Harmony Holman: I was looking for a reading tutor for my foster daughter and I was directed towards the Westside Church and they got me in touch with the Care community.

Chris Barcus: So Harmony is a foster mother, she's a single parent, she has an adult son and for foster children who are under the age of seven.

Harmony Holman: Oh my gosh, to have the Care group come alongside me, I feel like they've just invested in me so much so that I can invest in the kids. For so many years, it was taking everything out of me to take care of the kids. Not that I regretted any of it, but it was definitely like I was at the end of my rope and trying to do everything and just anything that they give back to me, I feel like I can just take that and put that into the kids and whatever they need.

Chris Barcus: Our life group is one of the first life groups at Westside that is trying a program called the Care Community and so we were given a foster family to kind of come alongside and just kind of be bonus aunts and uncles to the mom and the children.

Debbie Barnes: And it's been such a joy to do that. It's been awesome getting to know Harmony and her children and it's really been a super two-way street though because she's open her house, her home and her children out to us.

Chris Barcus: You know, besides just like the physical things of bringing food or helping me with the laundry or helping me watch the kids or distract the kids while I'm trying to organize things. I think the more important part has been the relationships that developed between the kids and the members of the Care group. I mean, every one of my kids has one or two members that they're like, "Are they coming tonight? Are they coming tonight?" So they've all connected with different people and that's what I've been praying for for so long for these kids that there would be adults that would be willing to be invested into them.

John Bridgewate: The kids love us being there, they love us and we love them.

Nancy Bridgewat: These children have so much energy. The kind of energy you want to can and keep for yourself, but to also utilize that energy to create.

Barbara Nelson: Well, we were asked to think about what gifts we might have to offer, and I thought about the fact that I'm an artist and I could help the oldest child do artwork.

Debbie Barnes: How wonderful that people can come along beside like we're doing it. It's a wonderful and it's easy. It's simple. It's a joy. It's fun. It's great.

Chris Barcus: They didn't have a place out in their backyard and they were going to the park, which is a lot of work for a foster mom to get four or five children out of the house to a park. So we pitched in and purchased a play set at Costco and went over and spent a couple of days and built it in the backyard and cleaned up the trees and made room for it. They have their own little park in their backyard now.

John Bridgewate: Harmony has an older son, Andrew. So we're putting this swing set together and Andrew is sort of watching and Hey, Andrew, come over here. And it was sort of more of a mentoring with Andrew and working with harmonious group of people, all working together. It was a great experience.

Chris Barcus: So our hope and Westside's hope and Harmony's hope is that every foster family would have a Care Community to come alongside them and do what we've done for her in the short two months that we've been with her. It's just been a as much of a blessing to our life group as it has been to her and her family.

Harmony Holman: You know, they become a second family to us. The aunts and uncles and grandparents for the kids and friends and role models and mentors for me. I can't imagine my life without them now.

Desrae | S.H.A.P.E. Story

So when I was 18, I went off to college and that was an experience that I didn't necessarily know how to manage per se, and just was living a pretty party, wonderful life. And I got involved with a young man, and well, next thing you know, Desrae is going to have a baby. So that was ... I don't even know. It was very surreal to see those two pink little lines and you're like, "Oh my goodness." But it was exciting, but all at the same time, I was scared to death. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? I don't even have a place of my own and I'm ready to be a mom? Made the best decision I thought what was best for me, it's very way. So I went to a clinic and it was taken care of, and in that moment, I didn't think I was going to survive.

So years later and through many miracles that happened, I ended up here at Westside Family Church. I heard in the service or one of the connect cards or wherever, everything online, is the SHAPE Assessment. And I remember asking, "Is that for me?" I'm kind of in a weird place. I'm not on staff, but I companion work directly with Jason Morris through the online ministry and where we see thousands of people, which is amazing. I didn't know it was possible to minister to people halfway across the world. Why not, give it a try?

So I took the SHAPE Assessment. I got an email from Amy saying, "Are you ready for the next step?" And I'm like, "Okay." So I scheduled with Debbie. The words that came out of my mouth, the verse where it says, "They bubble up from your heart," I couldn't have stopped it if I tried. But it was because she was listening with her heart, I felt no need whatsoever to edit. She's like, "I have this woman that has been working in the past with post-abortive women." And I'm like, "Really? You do that here?" I thought I was just going to be a part of the group. I'm going to be leading the group in the fall.

So not only do I get to now reach the lost through the online community, I also get to minister to a different group of lost, women lost in shame, women that are struggling with their past that keep them from their brightest future, and I am absolutely scared to death. So for Westside Family Church to be willing to come alongside women, it's an honor to be a part of that.

-Desrae Richter

John and Kay North and Jimmy | Generosity Story

John North: Well, we moved back to Kansas City in 2005 and found Westside.

Kay North: And out kids loved it, and I think that's the most important.

John North: Yeah, at that age, it was the kids, the kids' program.

Kay North: The kids would ask, "When are we going to go to church again? When are we getting to go to church again? I want to go to church. Why are we not going to church today?" I mean, they asked all the time. That's what I wanted, and that's what we got from Westside.

John North: It's so awesome how Westside partners with families and my situation specifically with Pastor John Huber. We just have these daily conversations. Sometimes they're five minutes. Sometimes they're a lot longer. And it's grown our relationship up to the point where Pastor Huber's come and picked up my son and taken him to lunch just to talk about some issues he was having at school.

Kay North: So, throughout my time at Westside, I've also been involved in medical mission trips. Through my best friend from medical school, her organization was able to build a orphanage, a school, a church, and a medical clinic, and now a birthing center in Malawi.

Jimmy Sandram: I came at orphanage because I lost my birth parents and then because of some other issues at my house. And then I went to the orphanage because my family couldn't afford everything that I need in school. I received Jesus Christ there because we are learning a lot of Bible stuff there. I ended up to be a worship team member at that orphanage.

Kay North: And finally in 2017 I was able to make my first trip over there. Loved every second of it. It was beyond hard, hard, hard to see, but loved every second of it.

Jimmy Sandram: I met with her when she was there because I was one of the kids that help people translating English into Chichewa because some of them they don't know know how to speak English. So, that's when I met with my mom.

Kay North: And then it was last summer just was kind of talking about the future of some of these kids and John asked, "Do you have any kids that would like to come over here?" He said, "Yep." John said, "Done." It was pretty much that simple.

John North: Six weeks, seven weeks after saying yes he's here and a month from going to school.

Kay North: Once he got here he just was ready to fit in and go somewhere. And so, through Pastor John, he helped us a lot. We asked him we were like "How do we do this? What do we do? Where do you think is a good spot for him?" And so he just plugged us right in. He helped us plug Jimmy right in.

John North: Well, during KidsGiG he was chosen to serve on the worship team.

Jimmy Sandram: It was so amazing, and I was feeling more excited singing in KidsGiG. They ask me if I can help teaching with kids there, and it was also amazing working with kids at Westside Family Church and teaching them.

Kay North: Even though we consider him ours like one of our kids, it's really kind of a scholarship. He was brought over so that someday he could give back. He knew that he was going to be going back this summer to the orphanage. But I don't know if he knew what he was going to do there, how it was going to work, what it was going to be like. But when we started the Believe series, it was almost right away, he would, "I want to teach this. I want to teach this. This isn't good. This is what I need to teach the kids back there."

Jimmy Sandram: I feel like God was speaking to me that I have to do Believe when I go to Malawi, and I was kind of like "So how can I be able to find the Believe book and every resource that I need to teach back in Malawi." And then I talked to Pastor John Huber, and then he give me the Believe shirts and then bags and also, he add more Believe books and give to me.

John North: Just overwhelmed us with what they gave us. And Jimmy was so excited because now he went through the Believe series himself. He's impassioned because he wants to go teach from the orphanage he came from, teach these kids the Believe series.

Jimmy Sandram: If I can take that to share with kids what I have learned here it's going to be perfect to them, and it's going to make them to change their life also to learn some other new things that can help them to grow in spiritual way. So I was feeling more excited to take the Believe books to go to Malawi and to teach them so that they can learn what I have learned here in Westside Family Church.

Orphanage kids: Thank you, Westside Family Church!

KidsGiG 2019 | Generosity Story


Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families, and share Christ's love, here and around the world.

Hey, we are wrapping up an amazing week that KidsGiG here. And we are so thankful for all the volunteers and all the parents who made a commitment. Your generosity has helped us reach over 2,000 kids, students, and leaders.

The chance to impact kids when they're young, and plant a seed in their life, it doesn't get any better than that because you know that God is going to do something with that as words faithful to return fruit.

I love doing all the songs with the kids and watching them learn them. And then as the week goes on, they are powered up, and they are crazy excited to worship with us.

But they're also learning how to communicate with everybody, and they're learning how to praise the Lord. And they're learning how to have fun with each other.

I love KidsGiG.

I like learning about Jesus.

I like the teachers.

I like the dancing and singing.

We are just so thankful for all of the volunteers that make this happen in order for kids to understand the love that God has for them.

I volunteer because it's always fun teaching little kids about Jesus, and just showing them how fun it can be growing in God with others.

I volunteer because I love seeing all the kids happy and then growing in their faith.

I've done KidsGiG the last two years, and I wanted to lead a group this year.

We could not pull up KidsGiG without the amount of volunteers it takes to pull this off every year.

I volunteer because they make me. I'm just kidding.

I've been working in many different places. I started in the Little Minis, but I transferred into Missions. And it's my favorite thing to do. It's just so cool teaching kids about other places, and about them being thankful for what they have.

And so without the church's generosity pouring into KidsGiG, so that we can then take KidsGiG, not just here in Kansas City, but around the world. None of this would be possible. So thank you Westside.

I want kids to grow up knowing that Jesus is fun to serve, that it's fun to dance and raise your hands, and scream out. And when the spirit moves you, you just move with it. And I want to teach kids that.

I love KidsGiG.

Westside Family Church.

You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.

Baptism | Generosity Story

Well, it's been a journey. It's been a long time coming just because after a lot of struggles and trying to figure out who I am, this church really took us in.

I never really grew up very close to God.

Well, I've never been baptized other than sprinkled.

I started coming to church last year and every time I come, I just feel like I'm a part of something greater.

Before I knew Jesus, I was just lost.

Full of turmoil, honestly. I was full of turmoil. I was angry all the time. I didn't know ... I had no direction. I didn't know what was going on. Through this, I found peace and that's why I'm here today.

Wasn't coming here expected to accept Jesus into my heart, but it completely changed my life and I felt like it was important for me to get baptized and I'm speechless. I don't know what to say.

It was a really amazing experience.

What I needed was God and Jesus and I just needed him in my life.

I wanted to do it the last time it was offered, and I hesitated and got up all kinds of excuses not. For me, this time is a renewal, a beginning. A new beginning.

Now that I've accepted him into my life, I feel like I'm a changed woman forever.

I hope to set an example for my son.

It's the best decision you could ever make. It'll change your life for sure.

Getting baptized was the best experience I have ever had.

I love my church family and I wanted them to be a part of this for me.

That was probably one of the best parts about it, having everyone around there to support you.

It was time for me to take the next step and commit and you know, lead the Christian life in [inaudible 00:02:02].

I feel that if you have it in your mind, go ahead and do it. If you're feeling that tug, that's the Lord pulling on you to go ahead and solidify that faith, so I would definitely say just go for it.

Oh man, I just feel wonderful. It's the best thing I ever did. I'm so glad I did it. I didn't know how wonderful I would feel.

Gary and Victoria | Generosity Story

MS, it's a lot of times, it's not that bad. I just happen to have the kind that's paralyzing and real bad and quadriplegic so I needed Vicky more than I knew.

We dated for four years. Got married in 1971. We had our daughter in 1972 and that's when we started noticing MS symptoms.

Yeah, I never would've known, when we got married how important Vicky would be to me. It continues to be that way.

He's a really, really neat guy. I'm glad to have him.

Probably five years ago, that Vicky, she just screamed out with pain.

And I put him in bed and I went to push his bed and my back snapped and I mean, it hurt, it hurt a lot.

They ran some tests on her, did some blood work and they came back and they told Vicky that she had cancer.

I've known Gary for probably 40 years at least. We both worked down at Procter and Gamble.

I haven't seen Rudy for a few years once I went on disability and quit working.

Then after that, low and behold, we met at Westside. Didn't have a clue that we were going to the same church and it just kind of evolved from that.

I had no idea how much help that he would be giving us. He comes up on Sunday morning. Rudy's an early riser. Gets me dressed. We've got a lift, he gets me out of bed. Throws me in my wheelchair and we got to church.

So that's how it started. I just started coming up and trying to take some of the load off of Vicky because she was trying to you know, chemo kicks your butt.

So the church sent people over with food and they'd come every other night. So Rudy and Cathy were in the rotation.

And without really being in a life group and having those connections, I don't know what I would've done without them. I mean, they were just the sweetest group of people and how we all intertwined and got so close because of our illnesses and stuff like that. If I hurt, they hurt and if I needed something, they were right there to do it. And we were really blessed. We had the neatest group.

She has just laid her life down to be there for Gary. Made so many sacrifices for him and she's always upbeat about it. She has never complained. I have never heard her complain. I've been up here when she was so sick, she couldn't hold her head up and she would get up and go and take care of Gary.

Vicky had been dealing with this for 30, 40 years. So what I've done is nothing compared to what she has done and what a lot of other people have done also.

I have no idea what it would be like without Vick. Actually I don't know that I've even thought about that much.

He's my best friend. He's funny. He's an irritation. He's been a great dad to our kids. He's a really good husband to me. If I had this to do all over again, I'd do it. I can't imagine being married to anybody else. God's just always been right there taking care of us. So it's been a good life. People think I'm crazy when I say that, but it has, it really has.

Sharing My Faith | Generosity Story

My husband went to middle school with Ryan Parker, and so when Brandon and I got married, I inherited the Parker clan. And we just became really good friends. And they invited us to Westside many times.

Back when we were doing the people you wanted to pray for, and you put people on a list, Brandon and Jodi were on my list.

Oh, I'd probably been invited Brandon to come to things for quite a while, after he went through a divorce with his first wife. I'd invite him to firesides or just whatever. And then just eventually that turned into invites with Jody, also, both of them. And just being there, as she was going through times after a loss of her grandfather.

Well, last fall my grandfather had passed away and he was a very, very important person in my life. And I felt a little lost. At his funeral, they had read his testimony and I learned so much about him, about different experiences in his life that I wasn't aware of. And his faith and love for God was tremendous and he helped so many people get to that point.

So I knew he knew something wonderful and great, and I really wanted to know what else was. So we decided to start going to church, and we decided to come here to Westside at the Speedway with Ryan and Michelle. And it's been a life changer basically.

You could tell that she was trying to absorb everything, and that she was like open to what was going on.

When I started coming to Westside, my first three attendances were basically in tears. But I had that feeling that one moment that all of a sudden I had this pain in my heart, and my heart just kind of opened up and I was like, "Is that a heart attack? Or is it? But it feels really good." I didn't know what it was.

But it was just my heart opening up to God. And it was pretty much at that moment it's like, "Jesus is my savior. This is where I need to be. This is my new life."

When I heard Jodi was going to be baptized, that's really cool because that's just such an expression of where we're at in our faith when we understand that we're dying with Christ to be raised again.

So of course I had to be there, front row and cry, and while I watched her get baptized because I was so excited.

Well, without the invitation that the Parker's gave many times over, I don't believe that I would be where I'm at right now.

Yeah, so Brandon's daughter came to the women's conference Saturday, his youngest daughter.

She accepted Jesus and she decided to be baptized. You know, the invitation from the Parker's extended to us, and then now it has extended to our daughter.

It is definitely so a God thing. And there's always these times in life where you feel like the Holy Spirit's telling you, "Hey, tell this person this or ask this person this."

I was very lost after my grandfather's death. And so that invitation was right there within reach. And it made it very simple for me to find a church. I love them and adore them. And thank you. Thank you.

When you're faithful in those things that God tells you to do, and then when he allows you the opportunity to have a front row seat to watch it come to fruition, wow.

Westside Cares | Generosity Story

I first heard about Stephen Ministry from my mom. I just was curious. What is that, what are you doing? I was fascinated. And then I heard that the church here at Westside was going to be training some people, and I couldn't sign up fast enough, that just sounded like exactly what I wanted to do.

Well, a lot of times I'll get all into a room, and they're surprised. They're moved by the fact that the church has someone to come and visit with them and pray for them.

LifeLines are groups of individuals that gather together to talk about similar experiences they may have had. They're very easy to join, you just find one that speaks to you and your life experience. There's ones around grief, divorce care, addiction issues, sexual abuse issues. I had some experiences in my life that I had gone through alone, and then later on in life, when I came to be a believer in Christ and became active with the church, I realized there was a much better way. And I wish I had had that when I was going through it, and so I joined in and became a leader.

Pastors can't do it all. So we come alongside someone who's hurting, who may have had a death in the family, who may be caring for an elderly person. It can be just a difficult time in their life. They just need someone to talk to.

So we prayed for this woman, we anointed her with oil. She was very anxious, couldn't stop talking, she hadn't slept for for quite a long time. And I had talked to her about a week later, after we had done all of this, and she said she was doing better. And then several months later I saw her at one of the family baptisms out by the pond, and I noticed it was her, and I didn't even hardly recognize it. The transformation was just unbelievable. So that was really, really neat to see.

After God put it on my heart to become involved, I simply started talking to some of the staff here at Westside, and it's amazing that they were able to provide for us, not only a curriculum, but the materials, but the place to meet, and put it out online for advertising, all at no cost so that people could find the groups when they need them. And it's invaluable, it's a valuable resource.

My husband was diagnosed with... He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, in September, and he was gone in August of 2015. And I found myself, after the 15 weeks of training, all the books I'd read, all the training I'd had, the caring I'd done for other people. It's different when it's you. But when you're walking that walk, you know the signs of grief, you know what's coming next, but when it's you. So I reached out and I got my own Stephen Minister.

Well, it always helps me to bring the Holy Spirit to the surface, and not just for me to bring my spirit to the surface, but hopefully my spirit interceding with their spirit will be brought to the surface also.

Not only is it amazing to be among non-judgmental people that are based in Christian beliefs and talk about real life experiences that you have in common, but if you put God's word and his love in the middle of that also, it's magical, and that is not found any other place.

I'm not just a Stephen Minister. I was asked to help lead the Stephen Ministry training for the our like people, for people in the church that want to come alongside people and do that walk. I took a SHAPE test, and found out my first gift is faith, my second one is mercy, and my third is service, so it just really fit me to be a Stephen Minister, and I love it.

Yeah. I would like to thank the church for giving us the ability to visit these people, to create this ministry. I have a heart for these people. I appreciate it very much.

And for this church to do that for us is incredible. It's a program that I don't think you can put a dollar sign on.

They are a tremendous resource. You don't have to go through anything alone here, and the support and the love that you find is overwhelming.

The Least of These | Community Impact Generosity Story

Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families and share Christ's love

here and around the world.

Then the king will say to those on his right.

Come you who are blessed by my father.

Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food.

I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

I was naked and you clothed me.

I was sick and you visited me.

I was in prison and you came to me.

Then the righteous will answer him saying.

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink?

And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you?

And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?

And then the king will answer them. Truly, I say to you as you did it to one of the least of these, my

brothers, you did it to me.

Your generous giving enables Westside to maximize our impact for the Kingdom of God throughout

Kansas City.

When we serve the hungry.

The stranger.

The sick.

The prisoner.

The most vulnerable among us, we serve Jesus.

I got involved in the human trafficking ministry at Westside when God gave me the burden to reach the

women and the children in the Kansas City area.

I see Jesus in the transformed lives of the believers here at Lansing. The joy that they exhibit, despite

their circumstances is remarkable. It can't be anything other than the work of the Holy Spirit in their

lives.

I love how Westside partners with schools. We're able to serve so many families in our own backyard

and we give support to teachers and resources that they desperately need. When schools and churches

partner together, that's what excites me the most. Seeing Jesus work in that way in this community.

I see Jesus at Avenue of Life and how they work with the homeless population to break the cycle of

poverty. The model Avenue of Life uses in their programs has reduced homelessness in the Kansas City,

Kansas, School District 500 by 60% or more. That model is being duplicated in other cities and other

programs because of what they do here. And that makes me so proud to be a part.

We wanted to adopt when we realized that we were adopted into God's family, chosen and loved by

Him, and we wanted to provide that for kids in a practical way. I love how easy Westside makes it to see

and then get involved in the foster and adoption care ministry.

Where do you see Jesus?

Where do you see Jesus?

Where do you see Jesus?

You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.

Find Your Motivation

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Truth statement: I am in much better shape now than I was in my 20’s and 30’s. How did I pull this off? Simple: I found my motivation. Let me tell you the story.

When I was thirty-two, I had a bulging disc in my lower back (between L5 and S1 to be exact) from playing basketball. If you’ve never had such an injury with sciatic nerve pain screaming down your leg, well, let me tell you…it is no picnic. On the back end of surgery, my doctor told me the key to preventing this from happening again was exercise. I didn’t want to experience that again, so I began my exercise regimen in1992. I found my motivation. While I don’t particularly enjoy exercising, I always ask myself, “What’s the alternative?” The alternative is to put myself in a place where I have another back injury or worse. So, I strap on my tennies and get after it. This has worked for me for over 25 years now.

Paul was trying to pass on a similar message to his young prodigy, Timothy. He said, “physical training is of some value.” No kidding. When you exercise regularly it helps your blood pressure, your heart rate, increases your energy level and endurance, heightens your mental acumen, builds up muscle, helps control your weight, helps you sleep better, feel better, and best of all, it enables you to pick up and stay up with your grandkids. People who consistently train physically, win more. I know if I stop exercising, I am intentionally and knowingly reducing my chances of experiencing these outcomes. Each morning I say to myself, “I can either spend my entire day feeling guilty I didn’t exercise or I can get it done in 30 minutes first thing in the morning, check it off my list and walk through my day guilt free.”

Paul said physical training is of “some value.” A better translation would be, “value for a little while.” A disciplined regiment of exercise improves the quality of your life and often the duration of your life on earth. But it pales in comparison to eternity. That’s why Paul follows this admonition up with an even greater one – “but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  Spiritual training not only improves the quality of our lives now, but carries on with us into eternity.

 Paul said to the folks in Philippi, “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Anybody want to experience peace? Then practice your faith. God tells us when we are still, we will know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). Knowing God might have its benefits, you think?

The list of assets from practicing our faith is massive:

·      We have joy in spite of our circumstances (John 15:9-11)

·      We make better decisions (James 1:5)

·      We are better people to be around (Galatians 5:16-23)

·      We’ll live in the center of God’s will (Romans 12:1-2)

·      We will be more successful (Joshua 1:8)

And the list goes on…

Spiritual discipline is like prayer. Bible study, offering my time and engaging in community can sometimes be like strapping on a pair of tennis shoes and taking off on a 5K run in the cold. We often want to take a pass for sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips watching a show on Netflix. I get it – I love potato chips (salt and vinegar are my favorite) and I love Netflix (particularly if it has at least five seasons to watch). To find my motivation, I ask the same question –  

“So what is the alternative?”

Who Cut in on You?

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7

Paul loved to use the metaphor of running a race to describe the journey of the Christian life.
In his letter to the believers in Jesus who were living in the city of Galatia, he told them they were running a good race. That meant they were making progress, growing, on track, pointed in the right direction, winning.

Then he asked them, “Who cut in on you?” When a runner intentionally cuts in on you, they’re trying to take over your lane, slow you down, throw you off track or even cause you to fall. Back in chapter three verse one, Paul posed the same question in a different way. He asked, “Who has bewitched you?” Putting the two questions together, we might say that a person is “running off at the mouth” telling lies about Christ and the Christian way of life, and you are believing it. They’re “casting a spell” over you. When you take the bait, it throws you off track in pursuing the good race that leads to freedom and spiritual prosperity.

For the Galatians, it was the Judaizers. These were early Jewish Christians who were opposing Paul by persuading Gentile believers that they needed to follow the laws of the Old Testament, including being circumcised, in order to truly be a Christian. It’s really hard to believe that we can be freed from our sin and inherit eternal life in God’s presence purely on an act of grace through faith in Christ, but it is totally true. Anything else, Paul says, is a “different gospel – which is no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatian believers needed to reject this distraction as a lie and get back on track moving towards the goal line.

What ways are people “cutting in” on believers today who are running a good race?
Here are a few of the dominant and persuasive voices of our day that are derailing numbers of believers:

• “You have to be stupid to believe there is a God.”
• “When you die, you just die. There’s nothing else.”
• “The Bible is a book of fiction and fairy tales, not a book inspired by God.”
• “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
• “Oh, nobody believes that anymore.”

These are the modern day Judaizers who draw us off track with God:

• The boyfriend or girlfriend who isn’t interested in spiritual things.
• The college professor who makes you feel small for believing in God.
• The addiction that draws you slowly down a dark path.
• The group of friends who won’t let you belong if you don’t do what they do.
• The co-worker or “friend” who is jealous of your success and life.
• The adult who abused you and convinced you that you are unlovable.
• The voice in your own head that believes you’re out of God’s reach.

How do we prevent others from cutting in on us and derailing the good race we’re running?

1. Know what you believe and why it matters.

Here are the top ten questions every believer needs to be able to answer with deep conviction. We have clearly and concisely answered these questions in the first ten chapters of the Believe journey. The challenge is to know these ten key ideas like the back of your hand.

a. Who is God?
b. Does he care for me?
c. How do I come into a relationship with God?
d. How do I know God and his will for my life?
e. Who am I?
f. How does God accomplish his plan on earth?
g. How does God see us?
h. What about the poor and injustice?
i. What is God’s call on my life?
j. What happens next?

2. Practice your faith with the discipline of a winning athlete.

When you engage your faith and practice the disciplines that Jesus modeled, it embeds the ten key truths deep into your heart. When a belief takes up residence in the heart, not just in our heads, it will shape us into the kind of person God intended us to be from the very beginning (Romans 8:29). Here is a list of the key practices found in the Bible:

a. How to worship God
b. How to pray
c. How to study the Bible
d. How to establish priorities
e. How to live a sacrificial life
f. How to live in community
g. How to use my spiritual gift
h. How to use my time
i. How to manage my money
j. How to share my faith

This is the focus of the second ten chapters of Believe. The goal is for every believer to not only know about these key disciplines of the Christian faith, but to be functionally competent in their practice of them. Every day that you practice your faith, you’ll get stronger and wiser. So the next time someone tries to cut in on you, you won’t let them. You will have the sense about you to spot their scheme, and you’ll have the skills to overtake them and stay focused on your goal – to win the race set before you.

6 Things to Give Your Children for Christmas

Westside Partner, Christ the Victor Freedom Initiative, moving into a KCK neighborhood to better LOVE KC!

Once in a while, I attend a meeting where God gives such clear direction that I am stunned and amazed.

Westside helped launch the “Christ the Victor Freedom Initiative” (CTV) last year as a church for men and women who are incarcerated in our state prisons. We now have worship services in Lansing and Topeka Correctional Facilities with a total of almost 500 in worship each week. We have been working to plant a new congregation on Wednesday evenings at Avenue of Life for those who are released from prison.

Last night, at a leadership meeting for the new church, our team was discussing the men who are recently released from prison. Each of them is being mentored by someone from our leadership team. We have been able to find housing for them in an apartment complex at the corner of 18th and State Street in Kansas City, KS, about two miles from Avenue of Life.

As we discussed each of the men we quickly realized that they were all struggling with life on the outside. Early optimism gave way to harsh reality as we realized all of the men were showing signs of drug use and on a path that would lead them back to prison.

We talked about the need these men have for more constant fellowship. We talked about the urgency of establishing NA and AA groups. We talked about the community where they live and the spiritual darkness that is so real there. It wasn’t long into this discussion that someone suggested we consider moving our new church plant from Avenue of Life to the apartment complex where these men live. We realized we needed to be more aggressive in our efforts to disciples these men and establish a base for the gospel in the community where they live.

So last night the leadership team of Christ the Victor decided to take the church to the neighborhood.

We agreed to rent an apartment in the same complex to host Bible studies, NA and AA groups. At least once a week we will host a meal for the entire complex out of this apartment and at all times we will prayerfully look for ways to share Jesus with this community. Our hope is that we will not only effectively disciple the men in our congregation, but we also believe we can create an outpost for the Kingdom in the community. 

Our hope is that we will not only effectively disciple the men in our congregation, but we also believe we can create an outpost for the Kingdom in the community. 

This morning I was talking on the phone with Troy, the pastor of CTV. As we were celebrating this new move we acknowledged the profound need for a prayer covering. We invite YOU to pray for this new congregation. As we work to build an outpost for the gospel in this apartment complex we realize there is an enemy who will work against us. Pray for the spiritual and physical protection of our men and their leaders. Pray for the neighborhood to be transformed by the gospel!


Christ the Victor Freedom Initiative's vision:
To create an intentional Christ-centered community that values everyone's sacred worth, understanding what we have done and yet affirming what we can still be, united together through shared spiritual disciplines.