Author Archives: Richie Henson

The Weight of Sin

Forsaken | Devotion #2: The Weight of Sin
Richie Henson | Production Director

Often times, when writing about or discussing the Bible, there are clear and obvious parallels that help us relate. For instance, in Romans chapter 7, when Paul discusses his struggle to do what he knows is right, we get exactly what he means. We have all lived this experience. It is truly shared by all believers who seek after Jesus. However, there are other passages of Scripture that feel substantial to the point of excluding themselves from our personal experience. I believe Matthew 27:46 to be such a one. 

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” 

What an excruciating moment. How deeply painful to think of our Savior taking on the full weight and consequence of our sin. A weight was so heavy that Jesus, for the first time in all of eternity, feels the separation of intimacy with the Father that is the ultimate consequence of sin. What unbearable pain Jesus took on Himself that He might save wretched people like us. 

I do not think I will ever understand how awful this was for Jesus. I do not think I will ever be able to express in words how horrible the death of Jesus was. That being said, I am forever grateful that Jesus would take my place. I am so full of joy that Jesus would sacrifice His own intimacy with the Father that I might have intimacy through His blood. 

Reading this passage reminds me of how powerful the Gospel really is. Jesus gave up everything to save us. Jesus willingly laid down all He cared about to bring us out of death and into life. As we ponder this glorious truth, may we all express the joy of the Gospel to each other and everyone we know so that the name of Jesus will continually be exalted.

Christmas Choke Artist

The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #2: Christmas Choke Artist
Richie Henson | Production Director

My wife is a wonderful gift giver. She always seems to know exactly what to get. Each Christmas, I open my gift, and I fist pump like Tiger Woods while crying tears of contentment and joy. I, however, am a terrible gift giver. It is not that my wife does not drop great subtle hints (literally sending me texts with photos), but I am, to coin a phrase, a Christmas choke artist. It is so bad that one year I may have given her an electric toothbrush as part of her gift. Before you boo and hiss or try to key my car, let me say, I am improving. I know that I am no expert like my wife, but each year, I get a little closer to buying a good gift.

When I think about my lack of gift skills, it reminds me of my relationship to God. Many times, I feel like I have some great idea of how I can give a gift to God. I feel as though when I do these great acts of service, or give of my resources to help another, that in some way, I am giving a good gift to God. However, I am reminded by Romans chapter 6, that my wages, my works, have earned me nothing but death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How quickly I forget that before I knew Jesus, the only thing I had to offer was sin and destruction, but because our Father is such a magnificent gift giver, I now have the ability through salvation in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit to offer my life not as a gift, but a sacrifice. 

Serving God is not about giving gifts to God. Instead, it is all about the gift that our Father has given us through the Son, Jesus Christ. I could never earn it or repay it. So, I give my life in thanks for it. My prayer for us this holiday season is that we be a light in the world to show the vastness of our Father’s gift of eternal life.

Long-Term Memory

Define It | Devotion #4: Long-Term Memory
Richie Henson | Production Director 

Each day, our brains are flooded with mounds of new and differing information. Some of it is sensory, like all the cars, trees, and the buildings we see while driving. Others are more intellectual in nature, new ideas we come across while reading or skills we develop through training or conversation. No matter how “busy” you feel on a given day, there is no doubt that your brain is under constant bombardment. I think that is why God designed long-term memory the way He did. As part of God’s great design, our brains consolidate information we receive during the day and items that are repeated multiple times make their way into our long-term memory. Our brains preserve these memories and store them throughout our brain ready to be recalled when the time comes. This is an amazing function that God has placed in us, but like most things in this fallen world, it can be a stumbling block in our walk with God. 

I grew up in the church, but my relationship with Jesus did not become my own until I was 17. Since that time, I have been trying my best to lay down my life and pursue the purpose God has for me. However, there are days when all I can think about are memories of my past life that plague me. There was a time in my life when I was full of hatred, and I took it out on everyone around me. I remember fights at school or with my parents that got out of hand. It makes me wonder if I can ever be the person God wants me to be. It makes it hard to feel that I could ever change.

I think the woman at the well probably lived this experience. Jesus called out the sin she was living in so that she could understand her need for Jesus to save her. I believe the woman at the well got saved, but I also know that her long-term memory was filled with actions she could never take back. It can be a struggle to live in the present when your memory banks are filled with the regrets of your past. 

I believe Paul is a prime example of someone who worked to combat this. He was haunted by a recent past full of hatred towards Christians, but he was able to overcome his past by the power of God to be the greatest leader of the early church. Paul gives us a glimpse into how he did this in Philippians 3:13, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Our brains are designed to remember the big events from our lives. There are times where this can be painful as we consider our poor choices and actions. However, Jesus did not save us to live in our past, and He saved us to strain forward to what lies ahead. Your past is exactly that, past. I pray we all would work to leave it there.

What is in a Name?

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #5: What is in a Name?
Richie Henson | Production Director

I was given the name Richard after my grandfather on my mother’s side. My name means “strong leader or ruler,”and I can tell you, this fact has had zero bearing on my life. I think the same could be said for many people in America. All of us have names that in all likelihood have a “meaning,” but that meaning does not impact our daily life. Due to this, I find the stark contrast of names in the Old Testament to be intriguing. It seems that no one in the Old Testament was named arbitrarily. Instead, each name has a very specific meaning that in some way relates to the narrative of said person’s life.

With respect to names and meaning, I think we are hard pressed to find a more interesting story than Jacob. Jacob begins his life, for lack of a better term, a hustler. He schemes and connives to get his way. In fact, at one point, Jacob even wrestles who appears to be Jesus. As Jacob wrestles with Jesus, he refuses to relent until he receives a blessing. Part of the blessing given was a name change. However, this name change appears not to stick until much later in the story. 

At the outset of Genesis chapter 35, Jacob has once again been forced to flee due to an unresolvable conflict with his neighbors. God instructs Jacob to flee to Bethel and to set up an altar there. As Jacob follows God’s instructions, Jacob’s enemies become afflicted, and Jacob is saved. It is at this point that God reminds Jacob of the name change given earlier in his life.

Genesis 35:10 says, “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel.”

 The name Israel means, “God fights.” In essence, God is telling Jacob that no matter what comes, Jacob will receive the promise because God fights for him.

 Our names do not always mean much to us, but what is undoubtedly meaningful is what God calls us. God names us so specifically. He calls us loved, saved, set apart, and friend. This world and the devil continually work to tear us down. I personally struggle with being reminded that I could never be good enough. No matter how hard I work, it is true that Richard Craig Henson will never be the person he needs to be. However, I know that with God, I am no longer Richard Craig Henson, I am Dikaioumenoi (“justified” Romans 3:24), Kleronomos (“heir” Romans 8:17), and Kainh Ktisiv (“new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17). My given name has little day-to-day meaning for me, but what God calls me, means everything. 

“God Tested Abraham” 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #1: “God Tested Abraham”
Richie Henson | Production Director

Life is lived on a vast spectrum of emotion. For some of us, we experience certain emotions more than others. For instance, I struggle with anxiety. For those of you who may be less familiar, simply put, I worry all the time about everything. Often, this worry can be crippling. Being that anxiety is a very real part of my life, I think my favorite feeling is relief. There is little as sweet as walking through a period of anxiety only to reach a resolution and gain a sense of relief.

Although not everyone deals with such strong anxiety, I know we all can think of times in our lives when we felt overwhelmed in our circumstances. As we finish Genesis chapter 21, Abraham is coming to the end of a very challenging portion of his life. Abraham made the terrible mistake of not trusting God for a son and had a child through Sarah’s handmaid. Now, at the age of 100, Sarah is finally bearing a son, and it seems that things are getting back on track and Abraham can finally have some relief from the stress of his situation.

We then come to the next chapter, and the very first verse says, “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Genesis 22:1). Abraham has just come through a very difficult time in life, and God turns around and decides to test Abraham. What would the purpose of this be? Why would God choose to test Abraham right after Abraham just completed a test?

This seems like a difficult question, but I think there is a simple answer. God is not content for us to stay the same. God wants us to continue to grow and become the people He desires us to be. The best way to grow is to be tested and stretched. As imperfect people, we always want things to be easy, but if we are willing to embrace the difficult, God will work to make us more like Jesus. 

I think at this point in his life, Abraham understood this as he immediately responds to God’s call. My prayer for us is that we would be willing to answer the call of God even when we would rather take the easy road.

Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 |

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.