Devotions

Monthly Archives: September, 2017

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor James Clouse | 
Student Pastor

Growing up at Faith Waterford was a blessing that is beyond what words can describe. Being raised a Catholic I truly never understood what salvation meant until I attended a church camp with Faith when I was 12 years old. It was the Summer of 1995 that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

From the time of 1995 to my high school years, there were many people from Faith Church who had an impact on my life including youth pastors, student leaders, and Pastor Jim. These people helped mold me into the man, the husband, the father, and the pastor that I am today. Without them, I do not believe I would be where I am at today.

In high school, on a church missions trip to Mexico, I felt a tug on my heart to ministry of some sorts. At the time I did not know how that looked. The years went by, and I felt that God had something special planned for my life.

Finally, I listened to God and His plan for my life and knew that I belonged in full-time ministry. There were many amongst the church that pushed me to pursue an education, and I kept pushing that aside. My wife Amanda and I were working with the youth group at the Waterford campus, and I knew that was where I belonged…with teenagers. I finally started pursuing what it took to become a Youth Minister. A couple of years later I graduated from Liberty University and started searching for a job. I knew that it would be only God that could uproot me from Faith.

He did just that. God moved my family to Georgia to be a Student Pastor. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; to move away from my church and my family. But I knew that God had a plan for us. While in Georgia, God taught me so much about ministry and how to be a Pastor. He taught me how to have a deeper appreciation for who He is and how He works in our lives, how to have a closer relationship with Him and how to be an effective Pastor.

Three and a half years later I received a call from The River Goodrich to be their new Student Pastor. This was a dream come true; to work for the man that I admired so much growing up. Now I know that God has so much in store for me here and I can not wait to work together to show the surrounding communities the light of Christ.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Holly Wells | 
Assistant to the Pastor

Pastor Jim has talked about “John 3” and “John 4” believers – essentially those who grew up in the Church and those who did not. Well, I am a part of the John 4 group; I did not grow up in a Christian home or Church. I did, however, spend a couple of years during my early childhood in Catholic private school. I was about 8 or 9 years old at the time and do not remember much other than panicking over the prayers I was supposed to recite to some scary priest during confession to make my first communion. My mom, older sister, and I were CEO Catholics (attending Christmas, Easter, and Other) while my dad was apparently an atheist at the time.

Fast forward a few years, my parents were now divorced, and life was a gigantic mess. My dad was living with his new family while my older sister, a young teenager, fought with my mom constantly, and I became my mom’s confidant as she shared the pain of divorce and worries of being a single mom. And my life soon became rooted in fear. I feared that my sister would carry out threats she made against my mom in anger and hurt. I feared that my mom would follow through when she told me she wanted to drive off a mountain near where we lived. And I eventually shut down emotionally when my dad stopped talking to me for over a year when I did not stay the night with him and his new family at Christmas. I experienced immense brokenness for the first time in my life, and all I knew to do was to “be good” because everything else was so bad. So much happened during these next several years including an abusive dating relationship where fear ran deeper and grew higher than ever before. I internalized all of it while coming to my own conclusions that “this is just how relationships are” …that is until someone told me the truth: this was not how relationships were supposed to be.

This person and I were dating by this point, and four years later, he and I were married. In our early 20s, we were trying to figure out life and marriage while working and going to school. Life was good – we were best friends and had the best time together. We had decent jobs, a house, cars – nothing extravagant but nice. We “checked-in” to church most Sundays to only “check-out” as soon as service ended. We were benchwarmers for about one and a half hours on Sundays as “Christians,” then back into the world, we went! It is no surprise that without the Lord, our marriage was a ticking time bomb. As the years set in, so did life. The newness of being newlyweds wore off, selfishness became priority, and soon our own agendas became more important than the other person. Sin is sin no matter how you slice and dice it – and sin kills.

We made it about six years before we were separated and living apart with very hardened hearts, fighting constantly and without much regard toward one another or to God. I was already receiving biblically-based counseling to work through my past and continued with it, slowly learning about God. My counselor recommended DivorceCare, so I started attending every week. I learned more about God’s Word, His character, and heart as well as His truth and instruction about the marriage covenant and divorce. A few months went by, and my heart began to change.

As I learned about God’s presence, faithfulness, redemption, safety, and love for me, He gently and patiently waited for me to trust Him. The Lord used Psalm 139 to minister to my heart, and I became His. Verse 14 says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well” (NKJV).  God continued to He meet me in all of my brokenness, in all of my pain, in all of my shame and sins. He started making changes in my life, and by the Holy Spirit inside of me; He led me to pursue reconciliation with my husband on several occasions. I knew and believed with great conviction and without any hesitation that God desired to redeem our marriage. I knew He could do it; I prayed for years that He would. It did not matter to me that our divorce became final, I still believed He could do it. The thing is, while God does desire to restore and heal marriages for our good and His glory, His priority is our individual relationship with Him one-on-one.

It has been over ten years since giving my life back to the Lord, and in this short amount of time, He has done an incredible work. He has been ever so faithful to me each moment of every day. God, my Father, has been with me through all the tears and healing processes of life (and forever will be).

As I seek Him, He continues to teach me more about Himself as my Redeemer, Provider, Protector, Counselor, Best Friend, and more.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Chris Cain | 
Women’s Ministry Director

The year was 1995, and I was invited to go to church. I had been awaiting an invite. I wanted my kids in church. You see, I had been doing all of the “right” things; reading them Bible stories, praying with them, even enrolling them in a preschool that was held inside a church building.  So, now I just had to get them to church to be baptized, and that would be it, they would be set. Right?  Kind of funny how I thought it would be good for them to be in church, but not necessary for me. It was not necessary because there was no hope for me.

I was raised in a home where we went to church every Sunday. My loving parents worked hard and had solid values. Summers were filled with VBS, and for most of my childhood a Gingellville Baptist Church bus picked me up for AWANA every Monday night.  I was a good kid. But then, in 1983, at age 17, I did something that would change my world. I messed up. And I was going to straight to hell. The guilt and shame that would follow me for over a decade were overwhelming.  I hated myself. I deserved hell. There were people along the way who tried to help me. They would say, “Oh you just need to learn to forgive yourself” or “Time will heal all things” or “Do not be so hard on yourself.”

The day arrived. I managed to get myself and four kids ages three months to five years old, fed, dressed, and ready on time.  That sweet church in Waterford was so welcoming to us. They were so helpful.  I even signed up to be on the ladies’ softball team. Wow, this was exactly what I wanted for my children.   They loved it.  I loved it. Week after week we went Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, midweek services, any time that the doors were open.  This was home.

As I began to fall in love with the Word and with Jesus, I began to see that there really might be some hope for me.  Those Scriptures I had memorized as a child in AWANA started to come alive. The love and grace of Jesus were so powerful, but I still could not seem to transfer what I knew of Him and His Word into my own past circumstances and life.  Again, I heard from others, “You need to forgive yourself” or “Time heals all wounds.”  That did not make sense to me.  But it did drive me deeper into the Word.  And somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 I saw that God’s promises stand. I saw the ways He brings His promises to fulfillment and my trust in His faithfulness grew. I can stand on those promises, even when I do not understand the circumstances that seem to contradict it.  No, I did not need to forgive myself, I just had to trust in His proven faithfulness. I was determined that I was no longer going to allow my past to become greater than what Jesus did for me. I did not need time. I needed The Healer! He forgave me; He delivered me, He loves me, then and now.   

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Laura Combs | 
Wife of Pastor Jayson

September 27

The moment we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we have a calling on our lives to follow and serve Christ as our Lord and to walk in His ways. I believe, however, God was working in my life, personally, for generations. My grandmother, a God-fearing woman with “unfeigned [genuine] faith” as described in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, along with my grandfather, passed on a spiritual heritage more important than money can buy. But it did not start with her. Grandma recalled her own father, my great-grandfather, living out the words from Deuteronomy 6:4-7,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

From as young as I can remember, I was told my great-grandfather took the words from Deuteronomy to heart and prayed the following words often during bedtime devotion and prayer, “Lord, I pray for the salvation of each of my children, and their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children. Amen.” Now, if I get my “children’s children” correct, my great-grandfather prayed directly for the salvation of my mother, for me, and even for my son! Wow! How amazing! And not only did he pray for our salvation alone, but he diligently taught the Word to his own children and further passed on an importance of loving the Lord, loving His Word, and walking in His Word each and every day. I am forever grateful for the legacy of my great-grandfather, my grandmother, and my mother.

Of course, it has not always been easy. There have been significant moments and trials in my life where I had to decide for myself whether I would follow the Lord, or just ride on my families’ coattails. God’s faithfulness, however, has undoubtedly been evident. The testimonies and stories in my immediate and extended family of God’s faithfulness are simply undeniable! Their stories are His Story, and I only desire for my story to reflect His Story as well.

Consequently, I am compelled and persuaded to pray the same prayer my great-grandfather prayed. Lord, I pray for the salvation of my children, and of their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children. And further, I pray they will fall in love with God and fall in love with God’s Word. Our own flesh, the world, and the enemy will seek to destroy us. Only our faith in God and feasting on His Word will guide and direct us along the path of life. What heritage will you pass on? Do you love God’s Word? Do you want the generations after you, and even the people around you, to love God and His Word? How will you show them? What will you do?

As my grandmother also prayed, “God grant that the circle will be unbroken.” Pass on a Christian heritage that will never by broken!

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Jayson Combs | 
Family Pastor

Man, did I ever hate life. It was the first day of my freshmen year of high school. I walked into a brand new school, not knowing a single soul. That summer, I had moved from the suburbs of Detroit to what felt like the suburbs of nothing. My dad had recently retired from General Motors and became the Pastor of a very small church on the corner of a corn field. We moved from everything we knew, including friends, family, and our home church, to the small farming community of Pigeon, Michigan. The town had one stop and no fast food restaurants. The closest mall was an hour away, and my friends were two hours away. I just wanted to go back home, to all my friends and quite frankly…civilization. Man, did I ever hate my life.

For many weeks, I spent a lot of time alone. Most evenings, I would go into my basement, flip the ping pong table up and hit the ball back and forth to myself…over and over and over again. I got pretty good. Yet, it was easy for me to sit in my loneliness and ask why? Why here, God? Even though God felt a million miles away, He was still in control, and things slowly began to change.

A few weeks into that school year, I found a group of kids that seemed pretty cool. Some of them went to a small Mennonite church, and they invited me to their church Bible study. Very quickly, I realized these kids had a sincere faith. It was not too long after that that we started to have our own Thursday night small group. Because we all went to small churches and none of us had an official youth pastor, we decided to lead our own Bible studies and alternate homes each week. We began to invite people from school and would sometimes have over forty high school students on any given night. We would take turns talking about what God was teaching us throughout the week and challenged each other to dig deeper into God’s Word for understanding. We were doing small groups before small groups were even cool.

The church my dad pastored was very small. The youth group consisted of me…and me. But during my sophomore year of high school, we started a kid’s club ministry held on Wednesday nights. The church was able to purchase a 15 passenger van to pick up kids from two neighboring towns. As a 16-year old, I would drive to one town to pick up as many as 25 kids. Yes, I know I was 16, and yes, the van was packed. I think the statute of limitations is up, however, so I think I am okay. Anyway, I would drop the kids off at church before driving to the next town for another 25 or so kids. My mom did the crafts and music each week, but I taught the Bible lesson before driving the kids home. Kid’s club on Wednesday nights is where I ultimately learned to teach the Word, love kids, and serve. God blessed that ministry, and a seed was planted in my heart to minister to God’s people.

As I reflect on those years in high school, I now see that it was a defining moment in my life. I had grown up in the church, and I was saved at a young age, but God took those four years and discipled me into a true follower of Jesus. Man, I am so thankful for that time in my life.



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