Devotions

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Worship 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #4: Worship
Philip Piasecki

The older I get, the more I realize how difficult it is to remember everything that I have to do. When I was in college, I never had to write anything down. I could just remember what I was supposed to do and do it! After graduating, getting married, having a kid, and Mary getting pregnant again, we have so much more going on now. I have gotten in trouble multiple times by double booking us because I did not put the event in the calendar. Calendars and to-do lists are so important. Unless Siri reminds me that I put the clothes in the washing machine, they are going to sit there wet all night. I could go on and on about different situations where I just forgot and needed someone to remind me.

Genesis 12:7 says, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”

Why did Abram build an altar? He built an altar so that he could remember. Anytime, for the rest of his life, as he walked by that altar, he would be reminded of what the Lord had promised him and what the Lord had done for him. Why do we worship? Why do we sing and praise God? It is so that we can remember. Our world is built on being busy, it is so easy to get swept up in that and forget about Christ. We get so bogged down by what the Lord “has not done for us” that we so easily forget the amazing gifts that He has given us. We get so focused on who we are that we forget who Jesus Christ is. This is why we need to worship God; this is why we sing on a Sunday morning. When we finally get through the doors of the church building, we can exhale, sing the words on the screen, and start remembering who Christ is. We get to sing about how He has never failed us, about His reckless love for us, how He is our only King, and about the glorious day that our sins were forgiven. All of these things help us remember. 

Our praise and worship is an altar to Christ. It is on this altar that we sacrifice our selfishness, forgetfulness, and our sinfulness, and we remember who Christ is and what He has done for us. There is power in God’s people coming together, proclaiming the truth of Scripture in song, and together celebrating who Christ is. Do not let it become something that is an afterthought, or you may find yourself forgetting. Worship and remember what Christ has graciously done for you.

Testimony: Taylor Hundley

Testimony: Taylor Hundley
Worship Intern

I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was young. I have gone to church my entire life. However, I was not truly striving to live for Him. This changed when I was in my late teens. From the time I was 17 until I was 19, I went through a large storm in my life. I had health issues that caused me to pass out and have seizures multiple times a day. This affected many aspects of my life. There was a period of time where I was constantly in and out of hospitals, seeing different specialists with no answers. After some time, when multiple diagnoses finally came, I was told that there was no cure.

For a while, I had the attitude, “Why me?” It was hard for me to have a positive attitude, because I was focused on myself and my weakness, instead of the Lord and His strength. I had a realization that something needed to change. I started praying more and changing the way I prayed. I sought to strengthen my relationship with the Lord and stopped praying only for healing. I started praying for His will for my life, guidance with understanding, and strength. I focused on Him and not the storm.

It was during this time that I truly found strength when I was at my lowest. I started seeing days where instead of 20 “episodes” a day of passing out and having seizures, I would have five, and then one. It has now been over four years that I have been healed from something I was told had no cure. I look at life differently now. I truly value my relationship with the Lord, I seek Him, I read His word, and I strive to live a life honoring God.

There are many verses that I focused on during this storm. This section speaks of the strength that I found during my weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Testimony: Justin Dean

Testimony: Justin Dean
Student Director

Growing up, the church was always part of my life. When I was two years old, my father became a youth pastor and after that my life consisted of being in church three to four times a week. I knew a lot about who God was and what He did, but I never started my own relationship with Him. When I was five, I prayed the prayer everyone tells you to pray, but I did not truly understand what I was doing. I still continued to live the same way and not much changed for me. I did not have a personal relationship with God; I had one through other people.

It was not until I was on a mission trip to Detroit when I was in middle school that I really began to figure out what salvation was supposed to look like. I realized that who I was as a person and what a follower of Jesus looks like were very different people. I began to see that sin, anything that was against God was regular in my life and that I was a slave to it. I realized that sin had broken my relationship with God and that I could not do anything to fix it. I needed a savior, a perfect sacrifice, to take the punishment for my sin. I realized truly that that is who Jesus was. He was God and man who came to die for my sin so that I could be saved. I began to understand that His resurrection meant freedom from sin and death. I recognized that He was Lord and that I was a sinner who needed Him.

I started my own personal relationship with Jesus on that mission trip, and my life was forever changed. I was free from the sins that I had wrestled with for a long time, and I began to cultivate my relationship with God. I started to love to read His Word and began to understand what it truly meant for me and my life. Life with God started then and will last into eternity with Him.

Testimony: Pat Rowland

Testimony: Pat Rowland
Pastor of Locations & Development

I was blessed to have been raised by parents who found Jesus as adults and sought to raise their children with an influence of the church and Jesus.  As long as I can remember our family was involved in the church and it greatly affected my life.  I made a decision in my childhood to trust Jesus and ask him to forgive me.  That decision was followed with baptism. However, it was in my adolescent years that I struggled with what it meant to have a heavenly father.

When I was five years old, my biological father passed away from cancer and a couple of years later my mother was introduced to the man that raised me as my father. It was his first and only marriage which immediately made him the father of three kids.  I will forever be grateful to him for all he has done for our family as well as his commitment to Jesus.

In my teen years, I struggled with needing to know who I was and where I came from wanting to know more about my biological father. I had felt abandoned, but God showed me that it was a lie from the enemy. I was not fatherless because I had been blessed with three Dad’s.  Psalm chapter 68 says God is a father to the fatherless and He is our Heavenly Father. As I was about to graduate from High School, I fully trusted my life to Christ and felt for the first time I had a relationship with Him. That decision also strengthened my relationship with my earthly father and brought peace of not actually knowing my biological father.

As I entered college, I sensed God was calling me into ministry even though I had no idea what that meant. I began taking classes at a local Christian College and eventually graduated with a degree in ministry. During those college years, my calling was shaped by mentors and my now wife. To this day, I believe my calling has never been to be a “Pastor” or to a position in the Church. My calling has been to the Gospel. I have been fortunate to serve as a Youth Pastor for 12 years, a Family Pastor for 8 years, and as an Executive Pastor for 3 years at churches in Indiana, Tennessee, and Michigan.

Paul writes to the Thessalonian Church, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy”(1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, NIV). I want to live each day to be the glory and joy of my fathers and to return the same for my family and the church families I have been part of over the last 24 years. Like all of us, I am far from perfect and still have my struggles. I am grateful for fathers that have loved me through it all, and I pray that I can do the same.

Testimony: Patrick Bicknell

Testimony: Patrick Bicknell
Operations

I grew up in a normal, church-going family. My parents would take me to church every Sunday since I was a baby. I did not have many struggles growing up. I got saved when I was about seven years old and was baptized shortly after. I also grew up in a very athletic family which meant that as I grew up, I began to go to the kids and youth group stuff less and practice and games more. I decided to go to church camp the summer before my eighth-grade year. At this camp something sparked inside of me; I felt that I was being called to ministry. That school year, I brought my Bible to school every day and would read it whenever I had free time. I wanted to show people that Christ was the center of my life.

That fire only lasted in me until I entered high school and got my first dose of peer pressure. I began to smoke and drink nearly every day during the spring of my freshmen year. I turned and ran away from my faith for three years. All throughout high school I began to be sexually immoral, smoke, and drink. I became a very different person. I thought that I would just have my fun in high school and college and then come back to Jesus once I was done, but that all caught up to me quickly in January of my Junior year. I became a father at 17 years of age. That was the scariest, lowest, most depressing point in my life. This made me realize just how different I had become, but instead of facing my problems I started to smoke and drink more to cope with my shame.

For a while, I felt worthless, until one night Jesus came to me. I was sitting on my bed crying out to God. As I was doing this, I felt something sit on my bed, I looked up, and it was Him. I began to cry even more and got scared because I actually thought I was dying. He gave me a hug; the most warming hug I have ever felt in my life. I just sat in his arms for a while, and I eventually said what do I do? He first told me that He loves me and forgives me, and then He gave me all these memories of when I used to want to be a pastor.

Ever since that day, I have begun to commit my life to Christ fully. He has taken my addictions, my guilt, and my sin all upon His shoulders and has given me such a better and new life. I could not imagine where I would be today if He had not stepped into my life or if He stopped chasing after me. Luke 15:24 says, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.”This verse and parable have spoken into my life, and it constantly reminds me that Christ has forgiven me, and accepted me with open arms.



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