Devotions

Author Archives: Pastor Tommy Youngquist

Wearing a Mask 

Radioactive | Devotion #4: Wearing a Mask
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

My wife and I became homeowners in June of 2016. Shortly after that, we had our first child, Heidi Lou. She has filled our hearts with so much love; we cannot even contain it. We want the world for Heidi. We want to love her, take care of her, be there for her, and protect her. Now that she is walking around and wanting to be outside, I keep thinking to myself that I need to fence in the backyard. In case you have not noticed, we live in a crazy world. I do not want to constantly worry about something happening to Heidi while she is focused on fun and playing outside. I want to protect her from cars, stray dogs, other animals and honestly, creepers!  So, I will slave for multiple hours putting that fence up. Why? To protect her.

Let me ask you something. How come we, as parents, will go the extra mile to physically protect our children, but slack in the area of spiritual protection? I am guilty. I will let things into my home (the very institution structured to protect my family) that spiritually harm them in the form of movies, music, video games, and social media. In 1 Peter 5:8, it says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour!” Why do we let him prowl in our homes?

I recently counseled with a couple that needed help with their fourth-grade son. He was suspended from school because of a violent game he had created on paper to play with other kids during recess. The game involved multiple “weapons” to use to kill each other. The object of the game was to be the last person standing. When I asked the couple what types of video games he was allowed to play at home, I heard games like “Call of Duty, GTA, and Fortnite.” You could see the parents immediately put two and two together. They had allowed something into their home that was desensitizing their son to the value of human life. They had not spiritually protected him.

That is just one example. I could go on and on about movies that I hear elementary age kids talk about, lyrics I have heard them sing, and posts that I see on their social media accounts (How do they have these accounts when they are not even old enough?). We, as parents, are charged by God to protect them. The protection is not only physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. Most of the time, with children, protection means withholding something that they want because we know it is not good for them. Spiritual protection also entails teaching them to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind (see Deuteronomy 6:7).

It is not too late fellow parent!  You can make a change in your family today. It is my prayer that you place extreme importance on spiritual protection in your home. Lead your family. Set a godly example for them. Put a fence up around their hearts. Protect them from the enemy. Then watch God do amazing things with your children as they learn to love Him with all of their heart, soul, and mind.

Gospel

Bonded | Devotion #6: Gospel
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

Why have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind? It is because family life is better when everyone is practicing those character traits! But, is there a bigger reason? Dad, what if there is a more powerful reason you are to treat your children with those qualities? Wife, what if there is a reason you are to hold to these values that is far greater than the well-being of your marriage?  What if that reason is the Gospel? What if it is all about Jesus? Is our existence here on earth basically about Jesus or us? In other words, do I hold to those characteristics in my family life because it is what I must do or about what He has done?  

Jesus bled, died, was buried, and rose again for you, me, and all of humanity.  WOAH! Let that sentence marinate for a minute. Remind yourself that because of that, you can live life here on earth abundantly and then live life eternally afterward.  Remember the Gospel.  Personally, I am so grateful. Because of the Gospel, I get the opportunity to be a husband and a father. That is the base motivation for everything.  Showing our family who Jesus is, is the reason we take on those character traits Paul talks about in 1 Peter 3:8.  

We strive to create unity within our family because Jesus created a way to have unity within the church. We have sympathy for our family members because Jesus sympathized (and when He lived here, truly empathized) with us. We love each other because He first loved us. We keep our hearts tender toward our spouse and children because Jesus’ heart is unconditionally tender towards all people. We set our pride aside for the betterment of our families because Jesus humbled Himself for our future. Do you see why Jesus needs to be the base motive for everything we do?

It is my prayer for your family that the Gospel is why you do what you do. When we finally realize that Jesus is the reason for everything, we begin to love as He loved. We start to show our families, instead of just say, who Jesus is. They, in turn, will start to do the same.

Luke 12:35-38

The Return of Christ | Devotion #2: Luke 12:35-38
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor 

I am about to be way too honest with you, but there are times in my life where I will think about the second coming of Jesus, and the thought will run through my head, “Not Yet!” I mean, there are so many things I want to experience in this life. My wife and I just had our first child, and we want to see her grow up. I want to have more children.  I want to see the world. I want to experience being a grandfather.  “There are so many things I want to happen before my life is over,” I will think to myself. But then I check myself, and I have to realize that when Jesus comes back, true life begins!  It will be a life that is so much better than the one I have here. Imagine eternal life in a world that is perfect.

The Bible says in Luke 12:35-38, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!”

We are not only supposed to be ready for the return of Christ, but we are supposed to be anticipating it! “Stay dressed for action,” Luke says. Something is coming, and you need to be ready for it. Be prepared. You should be thriving with anticipation because it could happen at any second! 

When my focus shifts from “Not Yet” to “Get ready for Awesome,” my priorities change during my daily routine. Instead of focusing on earning money to do all of the things I think I want to do, I focus on the only thing I can take with me to that “Awesome.” Human souls are on balance.  I will spend more time with Ashley and Heidi. I will spend more time with the RiverKids. When I am forced to decide between earthly or eternal, I am more apt to choose eternally. Part of preparing for the second coming of Christ is doing everything humanly possible to get as many other people ready as you can. Are you doing that? Are you going to be the blessed servant that is awake when Jesus comes back? Or is your mindset “Not yet?”

Romans 3:23

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #2: Romans 3:23
Tommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

I hate going to see a doctor!  I always think to myself, “This will pass, and I will be fine,” no matter what it is.  If I am sick, I never think that what I have is worth the trip, effort, and time it takes to see the doctor.  Most of the time the doctor just tells you what you already know and charges you a fee to do so.  Therefore, I am usually miserable until whatever I have “passes.”  Can any of you relate to this type of thinking?  Am I the only one?

This type of thinking reminds me of how the natural man views sin.  Sin is not a problem to them.  Human nature is not viewed as a bad thing.  “There is nothing wrong with me, and I do not need a doctor,” they think to themselves.  Why try to fix something if you do not think it is broke, right?  The problem is that all of humanity is sick and in need of a doctor.  We are debilitated with our selfishness.   

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The first step towards fixing any problem is recognizing that there is a problem.  Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Once you realize you have a problem, you will be more apt to let someone fix it.  This is our problem: All have sinned!  All of humanity has been branded with sin.  I have sinned (and still do).  You sin.  We have a sickness, a sickness that is destroying us.  When we realize this, we allow God the opportunity to fix us.

When we come to the point of realization about our sin, humble ourselves, and repent of our sin, Jesus starts to work in our lives.  He starts to heal our brokenness.  He begins to remedy our sickness.  He waits for us to come to Him.  He is always there for us, too.  Unlike the doctor, He does not charge us a fee to tell us what we already know.  He paid the price!

Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is God | Devotion #5: Isaiah 9:6
fTommy Youngquist | Children’s Pastor

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.”  Isaiah 9:2-5

Holy Smokes! That is some victories right there! Why are all those victories happening to people that are so oppressed? Why are people who have lived in darkness being shone a great light? Why has the rod of oppression been broken? It helps to look at the next verse for the answer.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Why are all those victories going to happen? The victories will come because Jesus is coming!  God is going to make everything right by sending his Son to earth. The Wonderful Counselor is going to reunite God’s people with Himself. The Mighty God is going to right all of the wrong in the world. The Everlasting Father is going to take His children home forever. The Prince of Peace is going to calm the chaos. We have hope!

When I read these verses, I can relate to the person Isaiah mentions in the first five verses. My life seems so oppressed sometimes. It can be oppressed by finances, culture, social, and economic issues and to be frank, people’s negativity.  I have to remind myself that there is hope. Hope because Jesus is God and Jesus can right the ship. Today, bank on the fact that with Jesus, you get all those victories. Be faithful to Him until you get the win!



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