Author Archives: Tommy Youngquist

Recognize | How?

Recognize | Devotion #6: How?
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

“I still cannot believe what everyone did to Jesus!”
“I know, man; I wish we could have done something to help.”

Can you imagine what the two believers on the road to Emmaus were talking about as they traveled?  The conversation had to be heavy!  The Bible says that these two men were believers in Jesus, but the region had just witnessed Jesus being killed!  Think about it.  These believers just witnessed the crucifixion of the person they were putting all of their hope in to save them.  Their hero was dead!

As they were walking and talking, someone catches up to them and joins them in their travel and conversation.  The stranger asked them, “What are you guys talking about?”  With their faces downcast, they report to this stranger that their hero was just crucified and now they are confused as to where their hope lies.  Then the stranger starts to give them a motivational pep talk.  The Bible specifically says, “He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’ Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25).

Every time I read this pep talk, it serves as a reminder to me to not lose heart.  Like these two travelers, I will get depressed about my call in Jesus and wonder if it is true.  I know, but I do!  I cannot believe that I think that, but if I am telling the truth, I do.  It is as if I know that Jesus finished everything and I can wholeheartedly trust that, but I wonder where He is at sometimes.  Just when I find myself thinking this way, it is like Jesus disguises Himself as someone to slap me upside the head and kick my rear back in gear.

The best part of the story is that the two travelers invite the stranger to stay at their house and it is during dinner. The stranger reveals to them that He is Jesus!  Their hope is restored, and that toxic, depressive thinking dissipates.

I love it when Jesus does that for me.  He is the ultimate hope, and we can rely on Him.  When you start to think negatively, be open to a motivational pep talk from Jesus, even if it is disguised as something besides Him.

Satan’s Family

Delivery Status • Satan’s Family
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

Imagine with me that you are on a flight to Japan. While crossing the Pacific, your plane goes down and lands on a secluded island. You survived, but you do not remember who you are, where you live, or what your purpose is. Worse yet, this island has no light. It is completely dark. After being stuck on this island for sixty days, you see a faint light in the distance. Then you hear the sound of the helicopter getting louder as the light grows bigger. It is a rescue team! Someone is there to save you from this dominion of darkness, loneliness, and ultimately a slow death. How would you react to this helicopter pilot?

In Colossians 1:12-14, the Bible says: “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul was telling us that if we believe in Jesus, we are rescued from something far greater than our earlier scenario. We are rescued from the domain of darkness here on earth and for eternity. Not only are we rescued, but we are transferred to an even better situation than we could have ever imagined. We are transferred into the kingdom of Jesus!

When you start to understand the gravity of the situation in which you dwelled and from what Jesus saved you, a deep love starts to form for your Savior. Satan enslaved you to the point of death, but Jesus saved you from him. It is incredible to think about that salvation! Then, once you get it, your love for that Savior and His grace towards you turns into motivation to live for Him. You start acting in a manner worthy of the family to which you have been adopted. You can look forward to your inheritance in Heaven. Most of all, you are excited about the prospect of spending eternity with the One who has done all of this for you.

Realize something church family, on our own we live in a world with no purpose, nowhere to go, and nothing to look forward. But when you “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9-10), you are saved from that domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Jesus. This is an incredible thing to celebrate today!


Blooming • Joy
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

I Believe God’s Promises.

Walk in the Spirit!? How in the world do I do that? I have asked this question multiple times. I am sure you have, too. Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16 (KJV) to “Walk in the Spirit.” Then he goes on to list all of the things our flesh wants to walk in like drunkenness, sexual immorality, and anger. You know, sin. After listing our fleshly sins, he lists nine things to help us combat those sins and “Walk in the Spirit.” I would specifically like to address joy.

A simple definition of joy is believing God’s promises. Now, it is easy to believe God’s promises when the bills are paid, no major health issues are happening in the family, and everyone is happy and worry-free. However, what about believing in God when something horrible happens? Take Paul, for example, a man who lost his sight for a while, was constantly put in prison, beaten, ridiculed, and lonely, but said, “In all my affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 7:4). Where did he find this incredibly durable joy?

It came from simply believing (with all of his heart) that God’s promises are true. Jesus taught us in the Gospels that the storms of life will happen. Translation: bad things happen, even to good people. Paul’s joy came from something beyond his momentary circumstances. True joy comes from knowing what Jesus did for you and trusting in Him to fulfill His promises to you. So what are His promises?

– Salvation to all who believe in Jesus (Romans 1:16-17)
– Everything will work out for good for His children (Romans 8:28)
– Comfort in trials (1 Corinthians 1:3-4)
– Peace when we pray (Philippians 4:6-7)
– Supplying all of our needs (Matthew 6:33)

I could go on and on. You could read many, many more promises in the Bible. The choice you need to make is are you going to believe (with all your heart) God’s promises. If you choose to believe, your joy does not change when things do not go your way because you trust God no matter the circumstance.

Collateral Damage

Herod • Devotion #5: Collateral Damage
Tommy Youngquist| Children’s Pastor

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained form the wise men.  Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18

Oh Snap!  Here we go with another prophecy in the Old Testament being fulfilled.  Imagine the scene.  Jesus had just been born.  You know, the King of Kings.  So naturally the king of those days (Herod) gets a little peanut butter and jealous.  Herod wants Jesus dead.  So, he sets up a plan to try and make it happen.  Herod tries to manipulate the “We three kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we traverse afar” into finding Jesus and telling him where He is.  Plan fails! Herod gets super mad that his evil plot did not work so he makes a decree to kill all male babies under two.  Do you remember Moses and Pharaoh?  What is it with these crazy kings wanting to kill babies? Anyways, an angel of the Lord had told Joseph to go to Egypt before the decree came out so baby Jesus was safe.  Phew!

The first question I would like to pose to you is: How would you react if you were a parent of one of those “under two year olds” that was murdered by Herod’s decree?  What if your child was collateral damage in this scenario?  When Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled, the Bible tells us how Rachel reacted.  She wept for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

I am a parent now.  The love that I feel for my daughter is unexplainable.  I could not imagine being Rachel and losing her children, not child, children.  I believe she got very angry and bitter at God for what happened.  Look at everything from her point of view. Her children died because of a king that wanted Jesus dead.

The second question I would like to ask you is:  Do you blame God for the bad things that happen in your life?  God gave us free will.  Personally, I am very thankful for the right to choose.  Along with free will though, comes consequences for your choices.  Good consequences for good decisions and bad consequences for bad decisions.  In Genesis, one man made a bad decision and the consequence was this icky thing called sin that was passed to all of humanity.  But we need to get real, if it was not Adam it would have been someone else, and for sure me.

I hate sin!  I believe it is the reason bad things happen in this world.  It is not God’s fault for letting us choose.  How could we truly love someone that made us love Him.  We can choose God or not choose God.  What about you?  Are you going to blame sin and learn to hate it for the bad things that happen in this world? Are you going to choose God and trust that He is almighty, loving, and faithful?  Do you realize He has a plan for you even when bad things happen? God created a way for us to defeat sin when Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose for us.  Do not be sin’s collateral damage. 

Winnowing Fork

Ministry #5  November 17 Winnowing Fork

Let me set the stage.  Hundreds of people are gathered at the shore of the Jordan River.  Imagine: you are meandering through the crowd of people, and John the Baptist calls you to repent of your sins and turn to the Messiah.  You find yourself believing what he is telling you, and John baptizes you in the river.  Excitement comes over you.  The feeling is great!  You make your way back to the shore and right after you get done drying off, the same guy utters these words:

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  Matthew 3:11-12

Then you think to yourself: Winnowing fork? Threshing floor? Chaff? Unquenchable fire?!?  What in the world is this guy saying?  Did I not just get baptized?  But now he is telling me someone is going to baptize me with the Holy Spirit and fire??

I asked myself those questions while reading this portion of Scripture.  Let us start with what we do know.  The Bible is very clear on how to be saved.  John 3:16 covers that.  After you have truly believed that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to pay for your sins, the Bible is clear that your next step is to be baptized.  It is a step of obedience.  This step tells other people you are now associated with the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  The word ‘baptism’ means ‘immersion by water.’  Jesus Himself was baptized by going under water, and we are all supposed to imitate Jesus. So, what does John mean when he said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire?”

John uses this powerful analogy to prove a point.  He is simply saying that he only has the ability to baptize you with water.  But the Messiah (who is Jesus) is coming after him and has the actual power to incorporate your soul with the Holy Spirit.  When you believe in Jesus, the belief baptizes you in that fire.  You take on the Holy Spirit who helps guide you through life so you can live it more abundantly.  Then, and only then, when Jesus separates (with his winnowing fork), those who have believed (wheat) from those who have not (chaff), will you be able to withstand the fire that separates the wheat from the chaff.  Wheat stays in Heaven and chaff is burnt up with unquenchable fire.

Water baptism is symbolic of being baptized with the Spirit.  It is an outward expression of an inward connection to Jesus.  So how about it?  When life is over, and you stand before God Almighty, is He going to take his winnowing fork and sift you like chaff?  Or is he going to gather you like wheat?

Tommy Youngquist

Children’s Pastor

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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.