Author Archives: Wes McCullough

Safe Place

Birth | Devotion 5: Safe Place
Wes McCullough

This is one of those special Bible stories that smack you in the face with God’s awesome plan. Sometimes it appears that everything in life is against you, but God guides you through step by step.

When my best friend was a toddler, he drowned in a filthy river in the summer heat. His father was able to revive him, and he was rushed to the hospital where doctors expected his best case scenario was extreme brain damage and a comatose state. God had other plans for him. My friend made a full recovery and went on to live a healthy life, play high school football, and serve in the Air Force. He and his wife now have three children.

I heard his drowning story when we were in high school, and I knew God had big plans for him. It was no stroke of luck that he had survived in such a miraculous way. My friend went through his rebellious phase, but then something changed. God spoke to him, and he listened. He began to make changes to his life; distancing himself from unhealthy friendships, volunteering in church, and going back to school to prepare for ministry. He was hired as the worship pastor at our home church and has been preparing himself to become the senior pastor one day. He has gone from a friend I felt I was mentoring to a friend I admire and in whom I can receive godly counsel.

I see in Moses’ early life a similar plan from God. A little boy who was supposed to die was saved. Pharaoh decreed that Hebrew boys should be drowned in the Nile, but it was that river that carried Moses to a safe place. Moses was raised in the household that ordered his death. Laughter is an appropriate response when you read that Pharaoh’s daughter offered to pay Moses’ mother to nurse him.

This story is a reminder that God is all-powerful. He is bigger than our circumstances. He can turn our roadblocks into open roads. Always trust the path on which God puts you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
 and he will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Few Words

Paradise | Devotion #6: Few Words
Wes McCullough | Production Director

“And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:43 

There is a simple and profound concept conveyed in this one verse; your salvation comes from faith in Jesus alone. Sadly, some are taught that one must be baptized and have a long record of good deeds to reach Heaven. Luke 23:43 shows us that even in our final minutes we can receive salvation and be headed for Paradise.

It is good to look at some context surrounding this verse. Jesus is on a cross between two criminals. In these two criminals, we see opposing ways humanity responds to judgment. Some respond with indignation and denial, lashing out with anger, mockery and blaming others. On the contrary, some recognize and admit their guilt and accept that they are rightfully due punishment.  

It is interesting that the repentant thief recognized Jesus’ royalty and lack of sin through such minimal interaction. He witnessed the verbal onslaught against Jesus and saw how severely He had been beaten. Jesus responded, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At that moment Jesus was focused not on His physical suffering but on fulfilling God’s plan. It was certainly a life-altering revelation for the thief to see the servant King in action.

As someone who is not much of a talker, I find it encouraging that the repentant criminal did not need a wordy and dramatic prayer to receive salvation. He spoke to Jesus the best way he knew how, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). God knew his heart, his repentance, and that he had turned to Jesus for salvation.

Years later, Paul would write to the church in Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). From the repentant thief, we learned that God’s salvation is instant. There is no payment of good deeds required, nor a lengthy life of obedience. Come as you are and be welcomed into the family of God. 


The Gift of Eternal Life | Devotion #1: Biking
Wes McCullough | Production Director

When I was young, there was little better than an early morning mountain bike ride with Dad on the mountains in the Phoenix area where we lived. Dad had spent much of his young life riding and working in bicycle shops and even owned a shop. I had been on two wheels since shortly after my third birthday. Biking was our special father-son time. 

As Christmas approached when I was around ten years old, I spied an incredible mountain bike on display in my Dad’s bike store. It was chrome with purple trim, awesome Ballistic front shocks, and Shimano rapid-fire shifters. Without even sitting on it, I was sure it was the perfect size for me. I immediately pointed it out to my Dad and begged for it. He casually agreed that it would be nice for me to have but that was as far as the subject went. Christmas morning came shortly after and there in the living room was the bike! My Dad had custom built it and “hidden” it in plain sight. 

The oldest modernly recorded person lived 122.5 years. That is a long time. The Bible tells us Methuselah lived 969 years (nearly a millennium). No one can imagine living that long. As long as that is, it is still just the blink of an eye relative to eternity. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Sometimes it is hard for our finite minds to remember that our day-to-day and year-to-year problems will not matter when this life is over. Our bodies on this Earth are a temporary home, and everything we have stays here when we leave this life. 

As Christmas is now so close, much of our focus is on the presents we will give and receive. My Dad gave me a bike so we could spend time together bonding. The one true God offers something we can get nowhere else, eternal life. Because of the sacrifice of His Son, God offers the present that will let us be in His presence for the rest of time. I pray you will not pass on this gift.

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.”

Amazing Grace

Stand On It | Devotion #3: Amazing Grace
Wes McCullough | Production Director

Do you know anyone unfamiliar with the song “Amazing Grace” by John Newton? It seems even among the unchurched this song is known and sung. It is arguably one of the most famous songs ever written. While most have the lyrics committed to heart, they are unaware of the story of the writer or the circumstances that brought him to these words.

Before he was a theologian and preacher, John Newton was in the Royal Navy and then a sailor in the slave trade. His language was beyond profane, and he lived without respect for others. He rejected the faith of his parents and mocked those who lived out their faith. His biography describes him to be quite a wretched individual.

In 1748, Newton’s ship was caught in a violent storm that led him to call out to God for mercy. That moment was the turning point for him, and he eventually left the slave trade and pursued God’s calling on his life.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Each of us has lived in sin. We have made mistakes and have our own personal testimony of how God has forgiven and redeemed us. Some testimonies are stories of incredible transformation from God-hater to God-lover while some are that of a lifelong Christian. Each testimony will be used by God. 

John Newton put his “skeletons” into a song, and it has been ministering to souls for nearly 250 years.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

The skeletons in your closet provide a perspective of God’s gift of amazing grace. In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Do not hide your skeletons. Stand on them and use them to show others that no sin is beyond God’s redemptive love.

Genesis 50:15-21

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #1: Genesis 50:15-21
Wes McCullough | Production Director

“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:15-21

Here we see one of the more incredible stories of forgiveness in the Bible. Because of his brothers, Joseph had been thrown down into a well, nearly killed, sold into slavery, and imprisoned for years. When they reunite, Joseph is second in command of all Egypt and could have had his brother killed for what they did to him. Incredibly, there is no animosity in Joseph’s heart toward them, and their submission to him brings him to tears.  

Why was Joseph not out for revenge? Verse 20 is the key, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Joseph did not blame his brothers for the hard parts of his life. His enslavement was not directly because of his brothers. Joseph chose to see the big picture of God’s plan. He resolved that God had allowed events in his life to put him in just the right position to save his family and even their nation. Joseph accepted God’s plan, good and bad, and it saved his heart from sinful attitudes. 

You will have hard times in life. They may last for days, weeks, months, or years. Remember that this life is temporary and strive to secure your eternal salvation.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.