Have you heard about Metal tape?

Have you heard about Metal tape?

This past week while setting up for Good Friday service one of the other pastors asked me if I had any ideas on how to secure a black curtain to the stage wall. Well, it just so happened I had used metal tape a couple of weeks prior for the same function in my office. I excitedly explained how I had used metal tape in the past for various functions including counter top installs, as temporary brackets, and other uses. As setup continued, he asked for tape to use to secure cords on the stage… any guesses what my suggestion was? In thinking back on this event I realized how much advertising I have done for metal tape over the years since I discovered it. There is something that happens in most people when they find that product or thing that really works… every time there is an opportunity, we tell others about it!

Marketing companies have caught on to a cool fact in regard to what happens when we share our enthusiasm for a product. According to marketing research, testimonials have an 89% effectiveness rate to turning over sales! And 88% of people trust online reviews from everyday consumers as much as they trust a personal contact.

At Westside we have been emphasizing “The power of the personal invitation” this year. Because research shows that your voice matters to those around you! For those in Christ, it is not to sell a product… but to reach our community with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ! It was amazing to see the results of the enthusiasm our church had for this year’s Easter celebration. We had a full house, and on top of that, we had to pull in extra chairs to line the back wall. People brought in goodies to eat before service (not arranged by the staff) and even came dressed extra nice all in anticipation for this special day of celebration. This did not happen because of the marketing genius of the staff, or because we put on the best show in town or have the most free stuff. This happened because our people invited their families and friends to something that they love, something that is special, something that is far greater than metal tape.

Hopefully, you got to experience this enthusiasm in your church this past weekend, but I want you to know that your love and enthusiasm for sharing Christ and inviting others to come and celebrate does not end on Easter Sunday. If you are resurrected in Christ, you have reason to celebrate every day! You have a reason to tell everyone at every turn what Christ has done for you, who He is to you, and the hope you have. Easter and Christmas serve as sort of special anniversaries to remember what God has done, but as in any relationship if you only get flowers on the anniversary and there is nothing in between… Take every opportunity to proclaim your love for Christ because of the love he first had for you. Have you ever heard of metal tape?… How about Jesus Christ?

Open Doors

This past weekend, as I got out of my car to see a mosquito trying to get out. I left the door open for a minute to let it fly away. No matter how long I waited with the door open, it insisted on trying to fly through the closed window. It ignored the fact that the door was wide open providing escape, and instead kept smacking itself into the side window. Finally, I turned my car back on, rolled down the window, and the mosquito left. (A lot of effort for a common pest) I rolled my eyes and closed the door, not thinking much of it at the time.

Later in my day, a thought finally hit me. How many times am I so focused on my own plans, that I ignore the wide-open door that God has for me? For many of us who believe in Christ, we try to do our best with our eyes are set on Christ and what we can do to serve His Kingdom. Most of us don’t have bad intentions in our actions and dreams and yet sometimes it seems like we hit a brick wall. We often begin to stumble and panic at this immovable force. Just like the mosquito, we can see our goal on the other side. But, rather than look around, we fluster and try to force our way through an obstacle when God has another plan.

It’s hard for us to want to look around. We are so desperate (and often impatient) that we squirm and fight anything keeping us from our goal. Sometimes we get through, but many times we face hurt and frustration in the process. We cry out in confusion and frustration to God, asking us to help us. We may wonder if God has brought us to this point just to leave us to our own devices. Even the great Moses struggled with this. In Exodus chapter 5 early on in Moses’ story, God has sent him to free Israel from Egypt. But instead, Pharaoh increased their labor and made it harder on Israel so that the people turned against Moses. In frustration, Moses cried out to God “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” In the middle of the path God has laid out it can be difficult to see the end. Moses, like the mosquito, saw what God wanted to do through the glass, and yet he did not understand that there was a longer road to fulfil God’s purpose. What would it be like to travel back in time to Moses, at this moment… and tell him of the wonders God was going to do through him? Pillars of fire, parted seas, and mana from heaven… would you believe it? God may give you a clear goal, but sometimes a different path to get there that is far beyond what you could expect. He will open the door for us to achieve His goals, we have but to be surrendered to Him and open to his leading instead of set in our own ways.  

This week, if you are feeling like that mosquito-like you are hitting a wall and can’t understand why you can’t get to your goals I challenge you to look around and see what doors God might be opening up for you to achieve His goals. He may be helping you in ways you would have never suspected.

Ian Jeffries

Ian Jeffries currently serves on staff as the Youth intern at Westside Christian Church. Say hi to Ian on Sunday

The Sighting

On January 22, 2019 the first day of the semester at Sacramento State University, I was walking from the parking garage to my office before my first class. It wasn’t raining. It was beautiful. Sunlight was waking. The chaos had not yet begun.

Walking my usual path into the central part of campus, I catch the movement of something to my right. I turn. About 9 feet away is a coyote, walking slowly, just barley off the concrete path, in the opposite direction. I blink. He is still there. He is still a coyote, not a dog, not an apparition. He is lovely, not frightened nor hurried.

Although there are several students also walking along the same path, they do not notice him. They are plugged in elsewhere. I stop and stare at the coyote. I turn around and walk slowly in the direction he is traveling, staying parallel to him. Then a student comes up beside me and also notices him. The student and I lock eyes,

The young man whispers to me, “that’s a coyote.”

“I know. He’s beautiful” I say.

We smile, as if we have just discovered an elusive treasure.

This coyote does not look like the ones I have seen many times before from afar, usually surprised or hurried. He is very close and in a different, almost surreal, context. He stops. I stop. He looks at me for a fleeting moment—no fear, no signs of aggression. He allows me to study him momentarily and then walks off.

To say the least, this encounter made my day! And, fortunately, by the afternoon, there were videos of the coyote posted to reassure me that I was still sane—at least early in the semester, anyway.

Now, ironically, that morning on my way to work, I had prayed, “Lord, help me to see what you see.” I was not expecting a coyote. Perhaps the Lord knew I needed a distraction, something to observe outside of myself. God is full of surprises.

What the coyote encounter made me think of is how we observe our surroundings and our circumstances. Sometimes we see God in the details. Sometimes we do not. What we see depends on our focus. The Holy Spirit cannot reveal spiritual truths or simple wonders to us when we are preoccupied with our own self reflections, when we see life in a mirror, instead of through God’s window.

At His last supper with His disciples, Jesus saw what the disciples could not. He saw those who loved Him, the one who would later that evening deny Him, and, of course, the one who would betray Him. Jesus set aside his very real and personal fears of impending torture and death to prepare His followers, His friends, His heirs, present and future, for His departure from this earth. He bequeathed to them, and thus, us, a very personal gift, more precious than our Mother’s pearls or our Father’s truck. He gave us a symbolic ritual, Communion, an act that would tangibly remind us of His sacrifice and love, remind us that He would still live in and through us. Moreover, He promised to send us a divine counselor, the Holy Spirit, someone to guide and refocus us when we are distracted, troubled or consumed by challenges and trials.

Jesus is never far away, His Love sacrifice is with us always. And he wants to reveal Himself to us if we but ask to see what He sees. If we set aside our own understanding and cry out for His deeper wisdom and insight, for His Holy Spirit. Whether it is a coyote sighting, a divine healing, or the tenderness of Love for a stranger, we do not need to go far to experience His extraordinary wonders, to know our Savior, our living God, and His will for each of us.

Lori Neuffer is a professor at Sacramento State University and a member of Westside Christian Church. Lori currently serves on our communion devotional team and as a member of our Celebrate Recovery Leadership team.

Coffee Stains

One day while setting up the chairs in the church auditorium I took note of some of the stains in the carpet. Whenever we see a new stain it always comes up as a topic of conversation in staff meeting. At times it has been debated weather we should ban coffee from the auditorium altogether. The conversation of stewardship and caring for what God has given to us inevitably ends in a decision to keep the coffee in favor of maintaining a welcoming place of worship. As caretakers of the church building, at times spills and mistakes can become an irritation. After all, we are all adults… how is it possible that we have so many spills? How many times will we have to clean these carpets? But this afternoon I came across one stain in the carpet belonging to my son. I recalled the Easter event where we let the kids play with dyed eggs. Who would have thought that old Easter eggs still had pockets of dye in them?

Looking around I saw other stains and I began to think about the people who regularly sat there. Perhaps the stains belonged to those individuals. Maybe they were left by a guest or maybe a person no longer at our church, I don’t really know where each of the stains came from. But all of them got there because of us… the human element. The carpet that had once been brand-new now was full of visible signs of our mistakes. The carpets are cleaned a couple times a year but some of the stains just do not come out.


This day I was grateful for the stains. Some might just see the mess, but I see the place where my family gathers. Where all of us with our spills and mistakes get to come together and worship Jesus. This is the home of Westside Christian church where the redeemed gather every Sunday to worship together, take communion together, and seek the Lord in His Word together. I love the people here and I would never turn any of them away over spilled coffee. Today I am reminded that Jesus does not bar those who are stained, he does not turn us away because of the mess we bring in, He just wants us to come! I love the words of Revelation 22:17 “the spirit and the bride say, “come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” These words in the final chapter of Gods word reveal the heart of our most high God, the lover of our souls. He tells us to simply come. These words in Revelation fulfill God’s promise in Isaiah 55 to come and buy without cost. We can do this today because Jesus has paid our cost so that we might return to the way God intended in the garden. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve the garden and told them to eat of it. Free and without cost to experience the richness of His creation. God delights in lavishing his love and because of Christ, we have a way back to that love. In John 14 Jesus promises that when we come and put our trust in him, He will make his home in us, stains and all. What is even more amazing is because of Christ in us, the father does not even see our stains. They are removed as far as the east is from the west. I Love the lyric in the song by casting crowns song that says “how far the east is from the west…from one scarred hand to the other” showing us that Jesus embraces us… sin and all in those scared hands. This is not to say we now have a license to sin. And in the same way I would not expect to see anyone in our church intentionally pour a cup of coffee on the floor to test our resilience, so we do not continually labor in sin to abuse the work of Jesus. Not because anything we do could mar his work or take it away, but because as we gaze into Jesus and see the beauty of his work, we are swept up in it. Transformed and made more and more into his likeness so that when the heavenly Father looks on us; it is as if the father looks on a masterpiece, like the Sistine Chapel, or Buckingham Palace. Because when he looks at us, he sees Christ. When I think now on those stains, I am reminded of the scars that paid for them. Sin no longer holds shame and regret, all my past stains are a reminder of the beautiful scars that paid for them, the joy set before me and the reason I praise the name of Jesus.

Thomas Hartung

Pastor of Worship and media arts

Reflections of a child of God

When we think about the birth of a child, we get a sense of pure amazing love that fills us up as we look into the precious face of our little one. We find it pure joy to watch them as they grow and learn. They begin to coo and smile, then comes laughter and interactions. We watch in anticipation as they begin to crawl and then walk and start to talk. Each milestone is exciting and we document it with pictures and videos. We can’t help ourselves in sharing it all with the people in our lives. As they become more independent they begin to make their own choices, be they good or bad. We set boundaries and teach them right from wrong in hopes that they will make “good choices” as they continue to grow and learn. We discipline them to cause them to think about the choices they make. Sometimes they learn and other times they do what they want to do regardless of the consequences. We try to spare them the same mistakes we have made with our own lives. But ultimately, it is a choice that each of us has to make for ourselves.

Such is the love of our Father in heaven. He looks upon his children in our infancy with a love which is steadfast and enduring. He finds it pure joy to watch us as we grow in faith and in his spirit. He smiles as we begin to interact with him. He watches with anticipation as we take steps toward him and learn from his word. In each milestone, he takes us to another level of faith. He allows us to make our own choices, be they good or bad. He also lets us suffer the consequences to teach us right from wrong. He wants us to let him lead us through his holy spirit so we will hold on to the hope he has promised. We each have a choice to let him lead us. When we accept him into our lives, we become his precious children.  We as children then feel a need to share his love with everyone, just as he commands it.

Hosea 14:4 The LORD says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.”

In reflecting on this amazing truth, I recall how I was rebellious in my youth and I made a lot of bad choices. In The same way, parents sometimes must endure the choices of their children, God let me make those wrong choices and learn from them. And even though it hurt God to watch me make them, when I asked for his forgiveness, God embraced me with His eternal love and has forgiven me. I have to admit that I don’t always surrender to His will but through his Holy Spirit, He is teaching me how to surrender more and more. I know he will never leave me and nothing can separate me from his love. He has given me peace and hope for the future. I want others to know what I know. God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. He is waiting at the door. Will you let your Father come in and embrace you? It’s really very simple, “just open the door”! He will do the rest!

Romans 8:14-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ Abba! Father!”

Karen Ingram

Karen Ingram is a member of Westside Christian Church who serves on our first touch team and as a leader in our Celebrate Recovery at Westside.