Author: Various Authors

The Local

Written by Various Authors
on September 15, 2020 in Devotionals

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the worldJohn 16:33 (NIV).

Have you ever gone to a new resort with your friends? It is super fun to explore new territory but you don’t really know where to start. On the other hand, have you ever been to a new resort and met up with a “local” who has ridden that resort their whole life? The person who knows where that awesome cliff is or the untouched powder? Without a doubt, it is way more fun riding with the “local!”

Our Christian life is same way! We as Christians have a big book called the Bible and it is hard to navigate sometimes and we just don’t know where to start. It is so important to have someone that we know who is a believer to walk alongside us, “the local.” God says in His word that in this life you will have trouble! It is important to know that God has overcome the world and will give us peace, but God still states that in this life we will have trouble. In my life I have found some people who have been Christians longer/have more wisdom than me. I will go to them and see how they navigate the Christian life. It has helped me to see what has and hasn’t worked in their life; and this has helped me to put lots of things into perspective. They can point you to Christ when you don’t have the energy to do so yourself. They can point you to Christ when trouble comes your way.

God calls us to live in community with other believers so that we can build each other up in Him. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I have found it has made my life so much better walking alongside someone who has more wisdom. I have also found it way better riding alongside “locals.” They show me the awesome places, teach me new skills, and challenge me to strive for more than the groomers! It is the same way in our Christian walk. We need someone who challenges us to follow God with our whole heart!

We need to be finding people to walk alongside us in our walk with Jesus. We also need to be walking alongside others! This life can be hard to navigate so don’t try and be a superhero and walk it by yourself.

CHALLENGE


Who are you going to ask to walk alongside you?
Who are you going to walk alongside?
I challenge you to find someone today! Don’t live on groomers!

By Michael Dyck | Capernwray, New Zealand

Posted in Devotionals

Living in the Light of Eternity

Written by Various Authors
on September 8, 2020 in Devotionals

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” Philippians 21-23 (ESV).

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58)”

The apostle Paul was the “poster child” when it came to living in light of eternity. His life revolved around making the most of his time on earth – don’t believe me? Take a quick look at what Paul had to say to the Philippians: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” PAUSE – Let’s reexamine what Paul just said; “To me to live is Christ…if I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” Paul had no interest in wasting his time or his life – Paul’s sole purpose in life was serving God and making the gospel known to all people (fruitful labor).

He goes on: “My desire is to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith…” (Phil. 1:21-25)

Paul did not fear death – “to die is gain.” In fact, Paul greatly desired to depart and to be with Christ, but he knew that God was not done using him yet: “convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress…” What do these few verses show us? 1) Paul was extremely confident in his eternal destiny and 2) Paul’s confidence in his eternal destiny motivated him to help others come to know Christ and develop to their full potential.

Paul did not live his life seeking his own comfort or advancement. Paul’s life revolved around the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, no matter what it cost. Need proof? Take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 – Paul provides the Corinthians with a list of all the things he had to go through in order to make Christ’s name known (lashed, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, etc).

After reading through this list you may ask yourself: Why? Why would Paul go through all of that? What was his motivation? Because to us, this list seems crazy, ludicrous even. Why would someone continue to go through all of this pain? For Paul, the answer was simple – the gospel. The gospel was Paul’s driving force, his motivation, and the purpose behind his ministry. Paul was happy to embrace the suffering and to count it as all joy, because of the gospel. And this is what Paul was seeking to help the Corinthians understand; that because of the gospel, all of their labor (all of their suffering/work for the ministry) served a purpose, it wasn’t in vain.

Why? Because death has been overcome! Christ defeated death and has made life after death possible for all of those who belong to him! And because Christ defeated death they could be confident that everything that they were doing was preparing for them an eternal weight of glory: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). It all served a purpose.

CHALLENGE


How does life beyond death motivate you to live your life?
How are you going to make the most of your time?
Over the next week spend some time reflecting on the gospel and the life that has been promised to you as a result of what Jesus has accomplished – what should you be doing in response?

By Ryan Leeds | Dillon, CO

Posted in Devotionals

Grounded in Truth

Written by Various Authors
on September 1, 2020 in Devotionals

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

2020, to say the least, has been a crazy year thus far. A pandemic, injustices publicized like never before, and an election year to top it all off.

As part of the leadership team at my church, I have witnessed and heard lots of opinions on these topics. For example, the debate of masks: “I’m not coming to church if people aren’t required to wear masks” and “I’m not coming to church if I am required to wear a mask.”

Wherever you stand on any of the hot topics of today, before you make a stand on any of them, read the Word. If we, Snowboarders and Skiers for Christ, have the mission of being the light of Jesus, then our foundation must be Jesus. 

I have observed that the discussion on these topics has created a lot of division nationwide; especially the body of Christ. There shouldn’t be division in the church if we are all looking to the same place for guidance–reading our Bibles and striving to be like Christ. We find one of the clearest descriptions of what it means to be like Christ in Philippians 2. Philippians 2:2 says consider others more significant than yourselves and to do nothing out of rivalry. Yet, the very opposite seems to be going on today. We cannot possibly be a light for Christ when we are acting the opposite of Him. 

Perhaps we find ourselves in this place because the foundation of our beliefs is not grounded in Christ. In the book of Jeremiah, he is constantly telling the Israelites not to listen to the false prophets, but to God. Friends, get in the Word of God! Get alone with God and read it, devote time to it daily. If we don’t do that, the opinions of the world are going to creep into our foundation of beliefs and we will not be grounded in Christ. Let us together study the Word and let that lead us to where we stand on the issues in today’s world.

CHALLENGE


Before you go on social media or the news, spend time in the Bible.
Commit to reading something in your Bible with a friend. 
Pray the Church would be grounded in Christ and be able to ignore the lies of the world.

By Eunice Jenkins | Lincoln, NH

Posted in Devotionals

Friends and Dreams

Written by Various Authors
on June 30, 2020 in Devotionals

“Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”  – Proverbs 27:9 (NKJV)

I just came back from Japan where I lived for almost a year.  Before I left Canada, a good friend challenged me with a question:  “Would you be ready to die there? Away from family and friends?”  I know Psalm 41 and 55 like the back of my hand (God is faithful–check ’em out!)–so after two long seconds I answered, “Yes”. My intention was to establish myself and make disciples. It was my second time in this country. (I spent the winter of 2016/2017 serving at Northstar in Nagano). But, I only had one contact–a snowboarder/surfer missionary named JP, in Hokkaido. 

I studied the language over the summer in Sapporo. For work, I made beds at a hotel in the morning; for fun, I hung with the skaters at Odori park during the weekends.  These skateboarders immediately welcomed me in, even though I can hardly skate and could barely remember their names. I would dig into their instagram to avoid the shame of not being able to reply properly each time they shouted my name with enthusiasm. I would go to the Sapporo International Church–but I had a hard time with my own theology then, and connecting with people took a lot of effort. I was inconsistent with reading my bible. Intentionally praying was rare other than lamenting over how boring my job was.  

Although I was proficient at work and snowboarding was surreal (if we look at the stats, the average yearly snowfall of Copper Mountain is 8 meters, Kiroro is 21), I was not on top of my game spiritually.  I even got to take a few laps and a couple drinks with Heiki Sorsa and Eero Ettala which added to my winter stokedness. 

What I am realizing now is that I would rather do something I don’t like with friends than doing something I love alone. When I look back, the highlights of my time in Japan were the 4-5 moments I had with JP, moments in which we would pray, share the gospel, encourage one another with stories, laugh, have fun and just be real honest with our struggles. If there is one thing this trip to Japan taught me, it is that I fooled myself thinking I was strong enough in my faith to go alone. I need friends. I willfully put God on the back burner and got sucked up doing things I will later be judged for. My advice is this  If your dreams do not involve your most valuable relationships, those dreams are most likely going to turn into nightmares.

To end on a good note, I do not regret going. Mercy triumph over judgement. God is not surprised and it is humbling to remember mistakes can be a part of being out of focus or just learning. Both are human. I am grateful that I still believe Jesus Christ is my savior and there is nothing that can separate me from His Love. Maybe one seed of the few I was able to sow will take root?

CHALLENGE


Take time to ask God:  
1)  Which are the most important relationships in your life?
2)  What are you passionate about in life, aspirations, dreams?
3)  Is there anything you can initiate or join that puts your answers from 1) and 2) together?

By Benjamin Poitras | Montreal, Quebec 

Posted in Devotionals

Valuable

Written by Various Authors
on June 23, 2020 in Devotionals

John 4:1-26

We live in a world of partiality. Whether or not we believe or acknowledge it, we all live with certain biases that affect the way we view and treat others. We give leniency or preference to some, while others we criticize and set aside. By our words and actions we deem who we believe to be worthy, accepted, and valued, and who is not. 

In John 4 we see Jesus go against every societal bias in that day. Jesus, a Jewish man, sits at a well and strikes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. Not only was it uncommon then for a man to show any sign of respect for a woman, but the Jews despised the Samaritans. You would never have seen a Jewish man reach out to a Samaritan woman. Ever. Even the woman thought it strange (John 4:9). Jesus, however, is not bound by societal norms and expectations. Instead, He is moved by the heart of God to show God’s love to His children. 

This woman had a fairly colored past, one littered with brokenness and shame. To herself, she was worthless; to the public, a disgrace. It was likely that at every turn she was met with looks of disapproval and disgust. Then she met Jesus, a man full of mercy and compassion. 

In every interaction–with every word and deed–Jesus showed people their true value. A value based not on the subjective biases of the cultural, but on the intrinsic value established by their Creator. Every human possesses great value, not because society says so, but because God says so. Jesus knew this and He lived it. 

Like Jesus, we should be moved by the love of God to show all people they are worthy, accepted, and valued, especially the oppressed and rejected. Every word and action should be directed toward this end. Unfortunately our sinful hearts get in the way of seeing and treating others in this way. Our own prejudices fight against the very heart of God for His children. May this be no more! We must battle against our sinful nature and strive to show honor, respect and love. In doing so, our broken and suffering world will be drawn to its Savior, in whom it will find perfect healing and restoration.

CHALLENGE


What makes you feel valued?
How are you showing others that they are valuable to you?
In what way can you act like Jesus to bring healing and restoration?

By Chris Willett | Springville, UT

Posted in Devotionals

In the Spotlight

Written by Various Authors
on June 16, 2020 in Devotionals

John 3:22-36 (NASB)

“He must increase, but I must decrease”. These words are not common to us. Certainly not in a world that regularly exalts personal status. Sure, we love the idea of rooting for others, that is until they start to invade our territory. We want others to succeed so long as they don’t supersede. Rarely one willingly takes the backseat to another that comes after them.

But this is not so with John the Baptist. He was one who was specifically called to prepare the way for the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3; Mk. 1:2-5). He came preaching a message of repentance–a turning of heart back to the one true God. Accompanying this as a sign of one’s repentance was baptism (hence the name John the Baptist). So whenever you see John in the gospels you generally find him both preaching and baptizing. In John 3:22-36 we see John the Baptist doing just that. 

One of John’s disciples hears word that Jesus has also been baptizing and comes to John with a concern. He says, “the one who you testify about is also baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” Or in today’s words, “John this Jesus guy is stealing all our clients. He is taking all our followers. We are being overshadowed by him.”

John’s response is beautiful. He depicts a wedding saying, “The groom is who the bride is for. But it is the groom’s friend who rejoices for the groom to receive his bride.” John had never forgotten that in God’s story, Jesus was the focus. While John had a very important part to play in this story, his role was to proclaim and rejoice in Jesus. John had not mistaken his place before God’s anointed Son, the Messiah. Because of this, we see John exclaim with great joy, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”

Could we, like John the Baptist, say “Jesus must increase and I must decrease”? Or are we the ones who would say “Jesus, you can increase, as long as it doesn’t come at an inconvenience to me, as long as I don’t lose my comforts and securities. You can increase as long as I don’t have to sacrifice.” I pray that we would have such a view of Jesus–of His greatness and majesty–that we would harold “Jesus, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice or loss, no matter the inconvenience, You must increase.”

CHALLENGE


In what ways do you hold onto the spotlight?
Why is it so difficult for us to let Jesus “increase”? To let others “increase”?
How can you act in healthy humility?

By Chris Willett | Springville, UT

Posted in Devotionals

Lament

Written by Various Authors
on June 9, 2020 in Devotionals

“At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over” Daniel 10:2 (NIV).

Skiers and snowboarders are tough. After taking a rail to the shin or catching an edge on a landing, we get back up and start riding again. Yeah, it hurts, but we’ve trained ourselves to be resistant towards pain–to ignore it.

While this sentiment is very helpful when it comes to hitting massive jumps or hand rails–it’s not necessarily the best rule in every situation. When we are hurting, sometimes it makes sense to ignore it and push on. While it goes against our “tough guy” nature, sometimes the best response to pain is sorrow. 

There is so much darkness in the world. Our world has experienced much of this darkness these days–sickness, hurt, pain, and injustice. We are doing our best to keep up. 

Get beat up, but get back at it. Right? You’re a skier/snowboarder. Be resistant to pain! But what if you wreck yourself trying a switch-backside-double-cork-12? Should you keep riding or should you go to a hospital and get that crap checked out? (For you super-shredders, the answer is go to the hospital). Resilience is important. Preventing sickness and death is essential. Fighting against injustice is mandatory. But sometimes when you are very broken, you need to give yourself time to heal. Right now our world is very broken.

Mourning isn’t enjoyable, but it is a necessary part of healing deep hurt. Jesus sets this example for us in a time of deep pain, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Jeremiah summarizes the importance of sorrow in Lamentations 7:2-3: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting…Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (Lamentations 7:2-3). A sad face is good for the heart. If you don’t give yourself time to mourn, you don’t give yourself time to heal. However, if you DO give yourself time to mourn, you equip yourself to be a stronger agent of renewal. 

Taking time to mourn, (in whatever way that looks like to you–weeping, exercising, napping, sitting in quiet solitude, etc) is not a cop out. Mourning is not being complacent. In mourning you grow stronger. Weep, reflect, listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and act on them. Don’t forget that you need to act. Let your mourning lead to a genuine outpouring of positive change for you and others. If you need time to be sad, that’s okay. Take a break, reach out to friends, and get the support you need. And then, when you feel strong enough, do everything you can to help your fellow brother & sister. Let’s be in this together.

CHALLENGE


What does allowing yourself time to mourn look like?
How can you take time to listen to the Spirit?
How do you feel the Holy Spirit specifically calling you to act?

By Ellie Heethuis | Byron Center, MI

Posted in Devotionals

Repentance

Written by Various Authors
on June 2, 2020 in Devotionals

Luke 7:36-50

Most of us haven’t enjoyed quarantine, but we have enjoyed receiving our stimulus checks in the mail. However, that stimulus check won’t do you any good if you don’t take it to the bank and deposit it. So much potential wasted if you don’t make the choice to put it to good use. (Yes, I know that some people got their stimulus via direct deposit but please quiet down that doesn’t fit with my analogy). What if you have a $1,200 debt from a pair of designer pajamas you bought for the stay at home order, and you receive a $1,200 stimulus check that you don’t even take the time to cash? Or what if you receive the check and promptly rip it up and throw it in the trash. Seems a little silly, doesn’t it?

Last week we talked about debt and the fact that God has sent His Son to pay off our debt. Why do some people receive Jesus & salvation, and some people “rip it up and throw it in the trash”? Why is it so difficult to let someone pay the price for our sins? Well, pride for one–but mostly because of this thing called repentance. Repentance is the process that we go through to “accept the check”–aka, accept Jesus’ death on the cross as a payment for our sins. And, repentance sucks because we have to admit to ourselves, our peers, and our God, that we have sinned and fallen short, that we are not good enough, that we are sinners, and that we are in need of a savior. Our shortcomings are not often something we are proud of, or want to make public–in repentance, this is necessary.

How do we go about repentance? C.S. Lewis explains in his Mere Christianity that fallen mankind “is a rebel who must lay down his [or her] arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, and saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor–that is the only way out of our ‘hole.’” Why is repentance hard? “It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

So if repentance is really this difficult, why does anyone do it at all? (Maybe my debt isn’t looking so bad anyway…) Although repentance may be hard work, it’s the testimony of people who have already repented that make you curious. They share their newfound freedom, security, and joy! You start to wonder, maybe this repentance stuff is worth a try?

In Luke 7, Jesus explains how it is the people who are rescued from the greatest amount of sin who are the most thankful for the freedom of repentance. No matter how deep a hole you have dug, Christ wants to help you in your process of repentance and give you the freedom only found in loyalty to Him.

CHALLENGE


Are you curious about others’ post-repentance joy? Curious enough to try it out yourself?
Do you feel trapped by a specific sin? 
Who can support you in your process of repentance? It is not something you have to go through alone!
Are you currently benefiting from the freedom of repentance? Tell someone about it! Support someone in their journey!

By Ellie Heethuis | Byron Center, MI

Posted in Devotionals

Debt

Written by Various Authors
on May 26, 2020 in Devotionals

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.” Matthew 18:23 (NIV)

How many of you are in debt? Student loans, car payments, mortgages, credit card bills, etc. Or perhaps you are totally debt-free! (Dave Ramsey would be proud). That would feel pretty good wouldn’t it? To be totally free of debt? Despite how much money you do or do not owe the bank, I’m afraid that we are all in debt in one way or another. (Remember that one favor you promised your friend? Yeah, they haven’t forgotten. You might want to get on that). 

Monetary and social debt is something that we can tangibly understand. Because of that, it is actually a good point of reference when we think about salvation. You know when you get a statement in the mail that says, “this is how much you owe, and this is why”? Romans 3:23 does that for us regarding our debt to Christ: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are indebted to Christ because of our sins, and we–by our own means–have no way of paying it off. This is where Jesus comes in.

But wait, hold on!–why are we in debt in the first place? If God really loves us and is planning on forgiving our sins through Jesus anyways, can’t he just save some time and agony and cut us some slack? While this seems like a reasonable suggestion, no–God cannot. 

There are some humanly impossible contradictions–like how Starbursts are somehow both solid AND juicy like a liquid?? In the same way, it’s impossible for humans to be simultaneously just and merciful. God, on the other hand, is perfectly both: “For I, the LORD, love justice” (Isaiah 61:8) & “delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18). Because God is perfectly just, it’s impossible for Him to shrug his shoulders and say “eh, whatever, your debts are forgiven.” But, because God delights to show mercy, it is in His perfect character to maintain justice while still offering forgiveness. This beautiful contradiction is what I am now dubbing the “Jesus loophole.”

In God’s perfect justice, He cannot “forgive” our debt. God does not “look the other way” at our sins. There is still a price to be paid for falling short of the glory of God. Yet, our Father knows that we, by ourselves, are not capable of crawling out of the hole we have dug ourselves into, so He sends His son to bail us out. (John 3:16-18).

God extends grace to us through His merciful gift of Jesus Christ even while we are stuck in the bottom of a self-dug, sinful pit. We have fallen short, we have fallen into a mess that we made ourselves. In doing so we have transgressed against our perfect God and are indebted to him in ways we cannot pay. Because God is just, the debt must be paid. Because God is merciful, he sends his son to pay the price for us (Ephesians 2:4-5).

As C.S. Lewis summarized in Mere Christianity, “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.” This fresh start is continually offered to you, no matter what situation you find yourself in (or how many times you find yourself there). What accounts do you have that need to be settled up with the King? He is extending you mercy and opportunity to start fresh, take it!

CHALLENGE


How have you sinned and fallen short of the glory of God this week?
How have you seen God extend his mercy throughout your life?
Have you taken His offer to start fresh? If yes, how? If no, why not?

By Ellie Heethuis | Byron Center, MI

Posted in Devotionals

Missed Messages

Written by Various Authors
on May 19, 2020 in Devotionals

John 2:13-25

Signs and riddles–what an interesting way to communicate truth. You would think that if someone has something important to say, they would say it in the clearest way possible. Yet these tend to be Jesus’ go-to teaching methods. 

In John 2 we see Jesus get into a little confrontation with the Jewish leaders. He catches them defiling the temple, God’s House and the Jewish holy place of worship. Enraged by such a terrible offense, Jesus drives everybody out of the temple, flipping over tables and dumping our money bags. 

Imagine this from the standpoint of the Jewish leaders. They’re thinking, “who in the world does this guy think he is? What gives him the right?” So they ask Jesus, “By what authority do You do these things? Prove yourself!” Little did they know they were talking to the Son of God.

Jesus could have just come right out with it saying, “Guys, I’m literally God in the flesh. You know, that one whom your teachers have been speaking of for centuries, that’s me.” and then give them sign after sign as He was standing in their midst. Instead, He spoke of a sign that was to come. He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” The Jewish leaders–certain He is crazy–responded, “This temple took decades to build, you would rebuild it in three days?” Clearly they had no idea what He was talking about. 

Luckily we get some behind the scenes commentary on what Jesus is really getting at. John tells us that Jesus was speaking of the day when He would be crucified and then raise back to life three days later. He was pointing to His death and resurrection as a sign that proclaims Him to be the Son of God, the One who came to take away the sins of the world. 

I believe many of us are like the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day–constantly missing God’s message to us. God has gone through incredible lengths to draw us to Himself and to our Savior. Unfortunately we miss what He is trying to tell us. There is an easy solution though! The Bible is God’s megaphone through which His love and grace is shouted to the ends of the earth. Let’s turn to its pages and dive deep!

CHALLENGE


Do you have a riddle that you are working through in your life right now?
What is confusing about it?
Where have you looked for answers? How can you look for answers in the word of God?

By Chris Willett | Springville, UT

Posted in Devotionals