Author Archives: Wes McCullough

1 John 3 • Devotion #6: Opportunity is Knocking

I am not good at stepping out of my comfort zone. In too many instances, I have passed on an opportunity to bless someone in some way. Many times I tell myself, “it is not convenient for my schedule” or “if they are still there on my way back,” I will approach them. I like to help people, but my quiet nature wants to avoid awkwardness. Every time I pass on one of these opportunities, my heart feels heavy. God had blessed me with the means to be a helper to someone in need, but I chose to go around what God had put in front of me.

In 1 John 3:19-24, John includes a reference to Jesus’ teaching in John 15:5-6, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” This is a sobering passage. It really condenses the cause and effect of a true relationship with the Savior. Jesus said it plainly, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). 

If you ever feel guilty for missing an opportunity from God, 1 John 3:20 offers some encouraging words, “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” It is great that we are loved by such a powerful God. He knows our every failure, but His grace abounds. Thankfully for us all, our salvation is not based on works. 

I encourage you not to bypass any opportunity God puts in front of you.

Church • Devotion #3: Martin Luther

I hope everyone who reads this and everyone everywhere can say confidently that their church organization does not have dictatorial or dominating leadership. The Bible provides rules and guidelines for pastors and informs us that they will face stricter judgment from God. Sadly, church organizations have not always held an honorable position in this regard. 

In the early 1500’s, Martin Luther rocked the religious world by challenging the Roman Catholic Church on doctrine and theology. Luther argued that eternal life is the free gift of God and cannot be earned with good behavior. He challenged the authority of the Pope by teaching the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Luther translated the Bible from Latin to the German vernacular making it more accessible to the common man. His work influenced Tyndale’s translation to English, the Gutenberg Bible, which is amongst the first mass-produced books.

The Bible paints a picture of the role of church leaders and it has been missed by many. The shepherd and sheep is the analogy the Bible uses many times. Shepherds (pastors) are supposed to let sheep do their own thing – eat, play, sleep. Pastors do not insert themselves into the lives of others unless their sheep are threatened to require them to become aggressive and defend their sheep. When a sheep wanders off they pursue it and lovingly bring it back. 

Church leaders have the important job of teaching the Word of God. A good leader should welcome feedback, constructive criticism, and varying opinions. If you feel a church leader is prideful, hypocritical, or manipulative you should, for the sake of the entire church, lovingly confront them. Pastors have their biblical mandates and everyone else has the mandate to challenge each other to live in godliness (Hebrews 3:12-13), confront one another when necessary (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 17:3), carry one another’s burdens, and pick each other up when we fall (Galatians 6:1-2).

We are all tasked with supporting and improving each other. We should all strive to make each other better examples of Christ to the world. 

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Government • Devotion #5: Honor

Being honorable and respectable is very important to me. I like it when my reputation goes before me and carries weight. I like to be known as reliable. My yes means yes and my no means no. 

The Bible has much to say about honor. We are instructed to honor those in authority over us because they are placed there by God (Romans 13:1), but we can frequently find them not deserving of it. Parents make mistakes but must still be honored. Bosses can seem like they do not care about your life but you must still honor them. We may have a major disagreement with state and federal authorities, but still, we are instructed to behave honorably towards them.

Romans 13:7 can be hard to live out sometimes, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” 

Pastor Craig Groeschel has encouraging advice for those who struggle to give honor, “If you’re a married woman, but you don’t particularly like your husband – maybe he’s not the leader that you want him to be – honor him. If you treat him as ordinary and common, he won’t feel empowered to lead your family. But if you honor him, give him the opportunity to rise to the occasion, to become honorable. Treat him like he’s the man you want him to be; with grace and honor, help him envision himself as a better man.”

Pastor Groeschel also applies this approach to church leaders and I believe it can be applied in most cases. If you are unhappy with those in authority over you, rather than tear them down and out of that position, build them up and encourage them to be the kind of leader you want them to be. Honoring those in authority is good practice in humility.

Romans 12:10 adds, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” 

“Maybe you’d like to be the boss someday. 

Before you can learn to be over, 

you have to learn to be under. 

Practice being under 

by showing honor to those people

 whom God has put over you.” 

Craig Groeschel

Gather • Devotion #2: “I Choose to Praise”

I count on one thing

The same God that never fails

Will not fail me now

You won’t fail me now

In the waiting

The same God who’s never late

Is working all things out

Is working all things out

Yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley

Yes I will, bless Your name

Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy

For all my days, oh yes I will

I choose to praise…

“Yes I Will” by Vertical Church

As I write this, the summer of 2019, it has been more than four months since my wife went to Heaven. Our seventh anniversary is five days from now. I met and married her knowing her medical prognosis was pessimistic, and our time together could be much shorter than a lifetime. After years of waiting and looking, it was clear to me that God was telling me to marry her. I never second-guessed God’s plan.

Five years into our marriage, cancer showed up again. It had spread significantly. We were told most patients in this situation have two to five years left. I had to say goodbye less than two years later. 

I am thankful that I had several months to prepare for the possibility of losing Heather. While my hope stayed high, I could see the decline in her condition. I knew God could miraculously heal her, but He might not. My understanding has always been that life does not always go the way we want it, but God is in control. He has a plan that is beyond our understanding and perspective. This understanding has really helped me through my heartbreak. It has protected me from anger towards God. I have submitted to His will.

If you are facing or dealing with the loss of a loved one, I can testify that there is peace and freedom in surrendering it all to God. 

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.” Psalms 27:5

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Medical Symbol

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 2: Medical Symbol
Wes McCullough

Sometimes children fuss for no reason. Life is not exactly the way they want it. This attitude will make some parents think, “Stop crying, or I will give you something to cry about!”

It is easy for us to read the Old Testament in hindsight and understand God’s plan, but for the Israelites living it day by day, it was far from easy. God provided for and directed their journey through the desert, but it was a long and exhausting trip. Like they had done many times before, they complained about Moses and God because life was not everything they thought it should be. Like before, God saw fit to straighten them out, this time by sending snakes to bite and kill them.

Initially, I thought it odd that God would direct the Israelites to look to an object for saving. With some research, the concept became clear. Serpents were often used to represent sin. Bronze was associated with judgment because it is made by passing through fire for purification. John Wesley explains it clearly,

“This method of cure was prescribed, that it might appear to be God’s own work, and not the effect of nature or art: and that it might be an eminent type of our salvation by Christ. The serpent signified Christ, who was in the likeness of sinful flesh, though without sin, as this brazen serpent had the outward shape, but not the inward poison, of the other serpents: the pole resembled the cross upon which Christ was lifted up for our salvation: and looking up to it designed our believing in Christ.”

God was teaching the world a long time ago that salvation would not come from man’s efforts. We would have to look up and have faith in the efficacy of God’s grace.

John 3:16 is a very well known Bible verse. The verses preceding it say, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

One final note of interest: can you picture the modern medical symbol of a serpent wrapped around a post? Surely you have seen it many times and not thought of the origins of its design. Now you know. It is so cool to see all the influences biblical stories have had on our world and culture.

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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.