Author Archives: Kyle Wendel

When to Throw It Away

Leftovers | Devotion #6: When to Throw It Away
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director

What do you do with leftover food that you have? Do you throw it out or store it in the fridge? Do you do any meal preparations? Do you have it for lunch the next day? Does it sit in your fridge for weeks until you notice a rotten smell when you open your fridge? There are some things that take a long time to go bad, and there are things that go bad quickly. Have you ever had leftover fast food? What is wrong with you?! Fast food goes bad like five minutes after you order it. Do not get me wrong, I love a good trip to Taco Bell, but it is never good as leftovers. 

I have never been someone who is into leftovers at all. Once I eat a meal, I am done with it. By the time the next day rolls around for leftovers, that meal no longer sounds appealing to me. We could have some leftover chicken and my mind will always go to, “Pizza sounds really good right now.” Does a new meal just sound so much better? My wife hates this about me. She is the kind of person who wastes no food. If there are leftovers, we are eating all of them. Over the past couple years my wife has opened my eyes to leftovers and how they can actually be pretty good and a way to save money and eat healthier. The Lord knows I need her in my life, even for the small things. I may not get all the pizza I want, but it is better for me in the long run. 

The real question is for how long are leftovers good? I know I have toed the line a few times on how close something is to going bad. You almost always can rely on the smell test. If it smells rotten, do not touch it! Throw it away and be done with it. We need to look at our lives in this perspective sometimes. How often do we allow leftovers in our lives to turn bad before we take care of them?

Bad leftovers can be a multitude of things. It can be old baggage we carry, old relationships that bring us down, bitterness, jealousy, sin in our lives, anger, old ways, and a host of other poor choices. We let these things begin to stink in our lives. We leave these leftovers in our lives, and we do not take care of them. We let them sit in our hearts, and we begin to rot because of them. With leftovers, once one thing begins to rot, the whole meal is gone. You must throw it out once it is spoiled. 

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We need to examine our lives and see what has gone bad in our hearts and lives. Are we holding on to sin and allowing bitterness to destroy us? We must throw it in the trash today. Do not let sin take root in your heart and begin to spoil everything in your life. Throw out the garbage that is in you. Only keep what is still good. That good is the goodness from Jesus. We need to learn when to throw out the bad leftovers in our lives. Jesus shows us how to do that very thing. I love how Ephesians 4:31-32 shows to throw out the junk and to put on Jesus. Put on the love that Jesus has shown. Put on the forgiveness that Jesus so graciously gives. How can we hold on to such things when Jesus has forgiven us of all sin if we believe and trust in His sacrifice?

What are some leftovers that have spoiled in your life? 

What are you going to do to throw them out today?


Main Dish | Devotion #1: Sides
Kyle Wendel | Children & Student’s Director 

Everyone loves a good side to complement their dinner. What are your favorite sides? There are so many from which to choose. There are soups, salad, vegetables, rice, fruit, and loaves of bread. Personally, I love any kind of bread. Instead of having a salad with dinner, I would rather take a double or triple serving of rolls. Rolls of any kind trump all sides. Have you ever had so many rolls or sides that you were full before you even got to the main dish? I know I have. Then there is the moment where you eat about two bites of the main dish and you are done. 

I think we do this too often spiritually as well. Too often we get so caught up in the sides of this life and not the main dish. Jesus is our main dish. He should be our main focus. However, we fill ourselves with the things of this world, and by the time we come to the main dish, Jesus, we are full. We have no room left. We spend so much time on everything else that we have left no time for Jesus.  

Sides, in a sense, do not have the same amount of nutrients that you need that the main dish does. Spiritually it is the same. There is nothing this world can give you that will give you even close to the same amount of spiritual nutrients that Jesus can. So why do we spend so much time on the sides of this world and not Jesus?

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” Paul says that things in this world can be okay for us to do. It is okay to love sports, it is okay to love your job, and it is okay to enjoy these things. However, that does not mean that everything is good for you. I love sports, but sports cannot become the main dish in my life. I will not be filling myself with the nutrients I truly need. We need to be filled spiritually with Christ alone. We cannot fill that void with other sides. We will always be trying to get the nutrients we need from Jesus from these other sides, and we will never get them. It is okay to enjoy these things, but if they take the place of the main dish, we will be in trouble.  

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Colossians 3:17 adds, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians chapter 3 tells us to seek the things that are above. If we seek the things of God, we are seeking what is truly helpful to us. We should focus on Jesus through everything. Our sides should always be pointing and complementing our main dish. Do not try to mix sides that do not go with Christ. Keep your minds set on Him and His truth, love, and grace. Do not try to make something the main dish that should never be in His place. God needs to be the number one priority and thought in our lives daily. If that happens, we will be filling ourselves up with the spiritual nutrients that come from God alone.

What are some things that you put in place of God in your life?

How can you make sure to keep that from happening? 

How can you keep Jesus as your main dish?

My Living Hope

Gather | Devotion #3: My Living Hope
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

Summer Camp is always my favorite time of the year. I absolutely love spending the week investing in student’s lives and showing how the Gospel can transform their lives. This past summer was special. God was just doing some amazing things, and it was just incredible to see and be a part of it. I think one of the things that made this camp so special was the worship. The band just did an incredible job, and you could feel their passion for the Lord in their songs. One of the nights the band was wrapping up before Pastor Jayson was to come out and preach to the students. As the band started to walk off the stage, we heard the crowd chanting, “One more song! One more song!” It gave me goosebumps hearing that. This was before the sermon was even preached! It was so cool seeing a group of students wanting to just worship in song together. There was such a power to it. Seeing students just want to worship together in a song was just something else. There is a certain power when we gather together to worship our Lord. Words just cannot describe it. You can just feel the Holy Spirit moving.  

One of my favorite songs from that camp was “Living Hope.” Some of the lyrics go like this: 

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus, yours is the victory, whoa!

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

I found this song to be so powerful for worship. I highly recommend going and listening to the whole song because all of the lyrics are just amazing. However, these few verses really stuck out to me. Just think about that morning that Jesus rose from the grave. His body laid in silence in the tomb. Then the next moment Jesus began to breathe again. At this moment the promise of His return was fulfilled. Jesus came out of the grave no longer as a meek human, but instead, as a roaring lion, powerful and majestic. At this moment Jesus declared that the grave had no claim on Him, you, or me. Death and sin can no longer call me their own. Instead, Jesus said I am His! The victory is His! He has defeated it all! 

Now all I can do is sing the next couple of verses in full assurance that Jesus set me free from my bondage in sin and death. Death no longer has any hold on me. My salvation comes in Jesus’ name. He is my living hope! It gives me chills just writing these words down. I am awed just thinking about the morning that He rose. That morning has forever changed my life. How thankful I am that Jesus rose from the grave and saved me from my sin. He proved that He is who He said He was. He showed that He is more powerful than any sin could ever be.

Train in Righteousness  

Chain Reaction | Devotion #2: Train in Righteousness 
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I want to start out by asking a question, for what are you training? I played hockey growing up and had to train to be able to be good at it. I was one that took practice seriously. Some would want to skip practice and go straight to games. But I knew that you had to take practice serious to get better. Your practice would show during a game. I trained to become a better player. When I was not on the ice for practice, I was running, practicing in my driveway, or watching videos of players and how they played. I spent the majority of my time on hockey and training myself to become a better player and teammate. We all have something that we are training for in some way. These things do not have to be a sport either. Some things we could be training for are parenting, being a good employee, or playing an instrument. While some of these things may be good, they are not the most important thing that we should focus our training. 

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Bible tells us that all Scripture is breathed out by God. This is saying that the Bible as a whole is God’s Word. Yes, the Bible was written by human hands, but it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. God was giving them the words to write. When we look at the Bible this way, it changes how we should view it. It is no longer just a book written by man, but it is a Word from our God! The importance of the Bible now becomes infinitely greater. If we continue in verse 16, we see all the things the Bible is profitable for such as teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. We cannot focus on only verse 16; we must also see the reason for these things in verse 17.  

I want to focus on “training in righteousness” and what that means for us. To be righteous means to have the quality of being morally right or justifiable. We see in Scripture God’s righteousness and His call for us to be righteous. Now we are only made righteous by the blood of Jesus alone, and we can do nothing to become righteous. However, that does not mean we do not change when we accept Jesus as Lord. Now we are living life to worship Him. When that is our focus, our lives change, and we want to become more and more like Jesus.

The Bible is the way we can train ourselves in righteousness and be more like Jesus. The Bible is God’s Word to us on how to follow Him. If we want to become better followers of Him, then we will take God’s Word and not only read it but apply it to our lives. We must train ourselves to be in the Word daily. The more we are in the Word, the closer we will become to God. The less you are in it, the more you fall into sin and draw yourself further from Him. It is our way to train to be like Him. We must discipline ourselves to make the Bible a huge priority in our lives. It is living and active and can change our hearts and lives. We do this so that we may become a man of God that is complete and equipped for every good work. We should want to become the best follower of Jesus that we can. Not that we can be the best, but that we can live as a sacrifice to Him for what He did for us on the cross.

There are a few questions you should discuss as a family this week. 

For what are you training? 

How can you be training yourselves in righteousness more? 

How often are you and your family spending time in the Word? 

Are you applying the Word to your life?

Humble Mind 

Bonded | Devotion #4: Humble Mind
Kyle Wendel | Children’s & Student Director

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

Humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance. 

Humility is something that is a very close subject for me. Pride and humility go against each other completely. Being humble means to put yourself under or below others and to make others more important.

When I came out of High School, I knew I wanted to go into youth ministry. I could feel God calling me to it, and I could not get away from it. Ministry was not something I saw myself ever doing. I am a pretty quiet and shy guy. Also, I hated public speaking. So in ministry, you kind of need to be someone that can talk with others and to be able to speak to a crowd. That was the complete opposite of what I was. So as I felt God’s calling to it, I laughed. But after months of prayer, I knew that is what He wanted. My thought was that I would get to go into ministry right away. God had some different plans for me. 

For the first three years of my time on staff here at The River, I was a maintenance guy. I went from thinking I was going straight to youth director to cleaning toilets. At the time I thought it was awful, but today I can tell you it was the best thing for me. God knew I was not ready for leading just yet. Being the maintenance guy taught me a lot of things. First off, it taught me I needed to be willing to do anything for the Lord. Cleaning toilets was serving Him and taught me that to be the leader, I needed to be able to do the lowly items. Second, I was able to see behind the scenes of ministry. I saw all the cleanup and set up that people do not notice or realize. I learned many more things, but most importantly I learned to be a servant no matter what the circumstance is. 

We see this same attitude with Jesus. In all ways, Jesus humbled Himself and had a humble mind. Jesus could have easily come to Earth and told everyone to worship Him as a king here on Earth. But instead, we see that Jesus came and humbled Himself to human form. We also see in John chapter 13 that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. That was something that was for the lowest servant of the house. Feet back then were disgusting. They did not have the roads and such that we have now. Roads were dirty, and feet were gross. Jesus, of all people, showed humility to the point of washing His own disciples’ feet. If that is not humility, I do not know what is. 

Matthew 20:28 (NIV) says, “Even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” 

Jesus came as the Son of God to serve His people. Nowhere do you see in history kings serving their people as Jesus did. Ultimately, Jesus served us by giving up His life on the cross to save us from our sins. He put us before Himself. He humbled Himself even to the point of death on a cross. That is what our example is. Jesus shows us that if we want to serve God that we need to be willing to do anything for Him. Washing feet, cleaning toilets, chair setup, teaching, and preaching are all things that glorify God. We need all of those things to work. 

What are some ways you can work on being more humble? 

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