Author Archives: Kyle Wendel

My Living Hope

Gather | Devotion #3: My Living Hope
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

Summer Camp is always my favorite time of the year. I absolutely love spending the week investing in student’s lives and showing how the Gospel can transform their lives. This past summer was special. God was just doing some amazing things, and it was just incredible to see and be a part of it. I think one of the things that made this camp so special was the worship. The band just did an incredible job, and you could feel their passion for the Lord in their songs. One of the nights the band was wrapping up before Pastor Jayson was to come out and preach to the students. As the band started to walk off the stage, we heard the crowd chanting, “One more song! One more song!” It gave me goosebumps hearing that. This was before the sermon was even preached! It was so cool seeing a group of students wanting to just worship in song together. There was such a power to it. Seeing students just want to worship together in a song was just something else. There is a certain power when we gather together to worship our Lord. Words just cannot describe it. You can just feel the Holy Spirit moving.  

One of my favorite songs from that camp was “Living Hope.” Some of the lyrics go like this: 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus, yours is the victory, whoa!

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

I found this song to be so powerful for worship. I highly recommend going and listening to the whole song because all of the lyrics are just amazing. However, these few verses really stuck out to me. Just think about that morning that Jesus rose from the grave. His body laid in silence in the tomb. Then the next moment Jesus began to breathe again. At this moment the promise of His return was fulfilled. Jesus came out of the grave no longer as a meek human, but instead, as a roaring lion, powerful and majestic. At this moment Jesus declared that the grave had no claim on Him, you, or me. Death and sin can no longer call me their own. Instead, Jesus said I am His! The victory is His! He has defeated it all! 

Now all I can do is sing the next couple of verses in full assurance that Jesus set me free from my bondage in sin and death. Death no longer has any hold on me. My salvation comes in Jesus’ name. He is my living hope! It gives me chills just writing these words down. I am awed just thinking about the morning that He rose. That morning has forever changed my life. How thankful I am that Jesus rose from the grave and saved me from my sin. He proved that He is who He said He was. He showed that He is more powerful than any sin could ever be.

Train in Righteousness  

Chain Reaction | Devotion #2: Train in Righteousness 
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I want to start out by asking a question, for what are you training? I played hockey growing up and had to train to be able to be good at it. I was one that took practice seriously. Some would want to skip practice and go straight to games. But I knew that you had to take practice serious to get better. Your practice would show during a game. I trained to become a better player. When I was not on the ice for practice, I was running, practicing in my driveway, or watching videos of players and how they played. I spent the majority of my time on hockey and training myself to become a better player and teammate. We all have something that we are training for in some way. These things do not have to be a sport either. Some things we could be training for are parenting, being a good employee, or playing an instrument. While some of these things may be good, they are not the most important thing that we should focus our training. 

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Bible tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God. This is saying that the Bible as a whole is God’s Word. Yes, the Bible was written by human hands, but it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. God was giving them the words to write. When we look at the Bible this way, it changes how we should view it. It is no longer just a book written by man, but it is a Word from our God! The importance of the Bible now becomes infinitely greater. If we continue in verse 16, we see all the things the Bible is profitable for such as teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. We cannot focus on only verse 16; we must also see the reason for these things in verse 17.  

I want to focus on “training in righteousness” and what that means for us. To be righteous means to have the quality of being morally right or justifiable. We see in Scripture God’s righteousness and His call for us to be righteous. Now we are only made righteous by the blood of Jesus alone, and we can do nothing to become righteous. However, that does not mean we do not change when we accept Jesus as Lord. Now we are living life to worship Him. When that is our focus, our lives change, and we want to become more and more like Jesus.

The Bible is the way we can train ourselves in righteousness and be more like Jesus. The Bible is God’s Word to us on how to follow Him. If we want to become better followers of Him, then we will take God’s Word and not only read it but apply it to our lives. We must train ourselves to be in the Word daily. The more we are in the Word, the closer we will become to God. The less you are in it, the more you fall into sin and draw yourself further from Him. It is our way to train to be like Him. We must discipline ourselves to make the Bible a huge priority in our lives. It is living and active and can change our hearts and lives. We do this so that we may become a man of God that is complete and equipped for every good work. We should want to become the best follower of Jesus that we can. Not that we can be the best, but that we can live as a sacrifice to Him for what He did for us on the cross.

There are a few questions you should discuss as a family this week. 

For what are you training? 

How can you be training yourselves in righteousness more? 

How often are you and your family spending time in the Word? 

Are you applying the Word to your life?

Humble Mind 

Bonded | Devotion #4: Humble Mind
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

Humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance. 

Humility is something that is a very close subject for me. Pride and humility go against each other completely. Being humble means to put yourself under or below others and to make others more important.

When I came out of High School, I knew I wanted to go into youth ministry. I could feel God calling me to it, and I could not get away from it. Ministry was not something I saw myself ever doing. I am a pretty quiet and shy guy. Also, I hated public speaking. So in ministry, you kind of need to be someone that can talk with others and to be able to speak to a crowd. That was the complete opposite of what I was. So as I felt God’s calling to it, I laughed. But after months of prayer, I knew that is what He wanted. My thought was that I would get to go into ministry right away. God had some different plans for me. 

For the first three years of my time on staff here at The River, I was a maintenance guy. I went from thinking I was going straight to youth director to cleaning toilets. At the time I thought it was awful, but today I can tell you it was the best thing for me. God knew I was not ready for leading just yet. Being the maintenance guy taught me a lot of things. First off, it taught me I needed to be willing to do anything for the Lord. Cleaning toilets was serving Him and taught me that to be the leader, I needed to be able to do the lowly items. Second, I was able to see behind the scenes of ministry. I saw all the cleanup and set up that people do not notice or realize. I learned many more things, but most importantly I learned to be a servant no matter what the circumstance is. 

We see this same attitude with Jesus. In all ways, Jesus humbled Himself and had a humble mind. Jesus could have easily come to Earth and told everyone to worship Him as a king here on Earth. But instead, we see that Jesus came and humbled Himself to human form. We also see in John chapter 13 that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. That was something that was for the lowest servant of the house. Feet back then were disgusting. They did not have the roads and such that we have now. Roads were dirty, and feet were gross. Jesus, of all people, showed humility to the point of washing His own disciples’ feet. If that is not humility, I do not know what is. 

Matthew 20:28 (NIV) says, “Even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” 

Jesus came as the Son of God to serve His people. Nowhere do you see in history kings serving their people as Jesus did. Ultimately, Jesus served us by giving up His life on the cross to save us from our sins. He put us before Himself. He humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross. That is what our example is. Jesus shows us that if we want to serve God that we need to be willing to do anything for Him. Washing feet, cleaning toilets, chair setup, teaching, and preaching are all things that glorify God. We need all of those things to work. 

What are some ways you can work on being more humble? 

Got Word?

Grow | Devotion #4: Got Word?
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

You will often hear the terms “Reach, Gather, and Grow” here at The River Church. We believe these three principles are a key thing for the church. Each member should consistently be doing their best to achieve these in their lives. 

In focusing on growing, 1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

We all know that children are supposed to be constantly growing in their lives physically. If they are not, we start to figure out why and try to address the problem. Infants need their milk to grow properly and become the toddlers they are meant to become. Toddlers and children need their fruits and veggies to grow as they should.

Children are constantly growing and need select food to do so. Our spirituality is the same way. We need our nutrients to grow. One of our nutrients, in a spiritual sense, is the Word of God. We need to be in the Word to be growing as the Bible has called us to do. We never see in the Bible that God wants us to stay stagnant in our walk with Him. We see over and over He wants us to grow and know Him deeper. If we are not growing, we are not doing what God has called us to do. 

Do you long for the Word of God in your life? It is a simple truth but one that we often do not find in our lives. If the Word of God is not found in our lives, we are not growing. To grow, you need food, and the Bible is our food. If you want to do what God wants, then you need to be in His Word. His word will change your life. The more time you spend reading, the more you will grow as a follower. 

I want to challenge you to dive into the Word today. Take a few minutes away from your phone and distractions and just read. You will be amazed how much you can learn and grow if you just spend a few minutes every day in the Bible. I challenge you to go and do as the Lord says. Grow and become more mature. Do not stay as an infant never growing. We all know that a 20-year-old should not look the same as an infant, right? So why do we do that with our relationship with the Lord? 


Delivery Plan • Caiaphas
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

Have you ever wondered how an evil man could be a part of God’s plan? How can someone like that ever be used for the glory of God? One such person is recorded in John 11:45-53.

“Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, ‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.”

Caiaphas was the High Priest at the time of Jesus’ death. He was a Sadducee and a bitter enemy of Jesus. Caiaphas was one of the main advocates to plot to kill Jesus. After many people started to follow Jesus, the Pharisees had a meeting on trying to figure out what to do about Him. Jesus was stirring up all sorts of trouble for the Pharisees because the Gospel went against everything they were doing. The Pharisees had to figure out what to do about Jesus. Caiaphas had brought forth his plan to the group. He said it would be better for Jesus to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish. He was referring to the Romans possibly taking out the Jews. So, Caiaphas planned to kill Jesus to save the nation, but also because of the trouble Jesus was causing for the Pharisees.

Later on in the story, we see Jesus was taken to the house of Caiaphas before He was taken to Pilate. There he most likely would have been questioned by the Sanhedrin and Pharisees before they decided to take Him to Pilate and ultimately decided to crucify Him.

We could wonder how Caiaphas could be a part of God’s ultimate plan. However, Caiaphas was a part of the plan. God allowed Caiaphas to have a strong opposition to Jesus to ultimately fulfill the prophecies of Christ’s death on the cross. There would have to be an opposition to Christ for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

We may wonder how we can learn something from Caiaphas today? I think we can take that sometimes we need to trust in God’s plan and who He has allowed in positions of power. God had allowed Caiaphas to have his seat of power to orchestrate the ultimate plan of salvation. Today there are tons of people in power. We may not always like or believe in them, but we must remember God has allowed them to have that position and it can be part of a greater plan that we do not even know yet.

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