Friday, June 2, 2023


By Gary Bittner


Hello RC Family,

I want to start today’s devotional with an immutable truth:

God is good and He does only good things.


Our assignment is to merely believe what He says about us and receive from His hand.


But, too often we think and believe that if we are to walk in ANY blessing or ANY favor we must ‘be perfect,’ because if we’re not perfect He will be always angry with us and withhold from us.


Now certainly we are to live righteous, holy lives as empowered by the Holy Spirit. Certainly, there are consequences (sowing and reaping) for the choices we make to either live in obedience to God or not. BUT whether we live righteous, holy, obedient lives or not has no effect, none, on whether or not we are accepted by God and the availability of this abundant life…for it is all about HIM and HIS goodness, not us and our badness. It is about HIS faithfulness, not our unfaithfulness. It is about HIS unwavering commitment to us, not our wavering confession.


Cor. 4:8-9 (New Living) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but

we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.


Any feel Pressed by trouble? BUT YOU ARE NOT CRUSHED AND BROKEN!


Any feel Pursued/Hunted down? BUT GOD NEVER ABANDONS YOU!

Any feel Pushed/Knocked down? BUT YOU CAN GET UP AND KEEP GOING!


Maybe these truths will help. I put these together from various sources years ago, and I still refer to them from time to time. Soooo Good!


 Who I Really Am:



John 15:9-17 = I am Jesus’ friend.

Romans 5:1-9 = I am made right with God, justified, clean, and spared from the punishment of sin.

I Cor. 6:17 = I am one with the Lord in spirit.

I Cor. 6:19-20 = I am bought with a price and I belong to God.

I Cor. 12:12, 14-27 = I am part of God’s family.

Ephesians 1:1 = I am a saint.

Ephesians 1:3-8 = I am chosen, adopted, redeemed.

Ephesians 2:18 = I am one who has access to God by His spirit.

Col. 1:13-14 = I am redeemed and forgiven.

Col. 2:3-10 = I am complete in Christ.



Matthew 5:13-14 = I am the salt and light of this earth.

John 15:1-5 = I am a branch of the True Vine and a channel of His life.

John 15:16 = I am chosen and appointed to bear fruit on His behalf.

I Cor. 3:9 = I am God’s co-worker.

I Cor. 3:16 = I am God’s temple and His glory lives in me.

  1. Cor. 5:17-21 = I am God’s ambassador and minister of reconciliation.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NLT) = I am alive with Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) = I am His masterpiece and He is pleased with me.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) = I am one who can approach God with confidence and freedom.

Phil. 4:13 = I am one who can do all things for Christ strengthens me.



Romans 8:1 = I am free from condemnation.

Romans 8:26-28 = I am one who can pray in the spirit and see all things work for my good.

II Cor. 1:21-22 = I am established, anointed, and sealed by God.

Phil. 1:3-6 = I am one piece of work…in process, but His work will be finished in me.

Phil. 3:30-21 = I am forever a citizen of heaven.

Col. 3:1-3 (NLT) = I am hidden with Christ in God.

II Tim. 1:7 = I am a person of power, a sound mind, self-discipline and not timid or weak.

Hebrews 4:14-16 = I am a ‘throne approacher’ and I am one who can find grace and mercy in my time of need.

I John 5:18 = I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.

Romans 8:31-39 = I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ, and I am secure, forever, no matter what has happened, what is happening, or what will happen.

 God bless,

Gary B.


Thursday, June 1st


By Galen Troyer


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8 (ESV)


The old hymn “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” reflects well what the scriptures say about Grace:


Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin; how shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?

Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free, for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost. By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost. Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty; for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled; by its transforming power, making him God’s dear child.

Purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity, for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.


Refrain: Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea. Higher than the mountain sparkling like a fountain, all-sufficient grace for even me.

Broader than the scope of my transgressions, greater far than all my sin and shame, oh magnify the precious name of Jesus; praise his name!


God’s grace is sufficient for anything and everything that we face, now and in the future. (II Cor. 12:9)


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:16 (ESV)



Wednesday, May 31st

Coffee and Jesus Podcast with Joey Stroup

Episode 16 with guest Bob Elliott

Listen in


Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

 Godly Wisdom

 by Lynn Koehn


If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)


Occasionally I find myself realizing I’ve not invited or involved God in important decisions throughout the day. These words from James and scriptures like it are good reminders that God offers a more fruitful way of ‘doing life.’ He doesn’t want us to make unnecessary mistakes. He wants us to make wise decisions with our time, money and relationships. God promises to give Godly wisdom to those who ask.


Proverbs 3:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

  • trust the Lord
  • don’t rely only on your own understanding
  • seek His will
  • and He will guide you

As we trust God with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all our ways, we have within us His guarantee of absolute guidance!


Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. In other words, the wisdom we need does not rise up from within us. It comes from God above as we purposefully and intentionally seek him and involve Him in our decision-making processes.


Monday MAY 29th 2023


By Jonah Lang

 PSALMS 103 17-18

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.


Everlasting to everlasting seems like a pretty long time… God’s love is truly from all eternity past and for all eternity future.

And what’s more… blessings upon blessings for your children’s children… 

What an amazing God we serve.


Friday, May 26, 2023

God’s Goodness Know No Bounds

By Gary Bittner


God's goodness knows no bounds,
His love for us forever abounds,
In every moment of our lives,
He's there to guide us with His light.

Through trials and tribulations,
He guides us to His planned for us destinations,
His mercy and grace are always near,
To strengthen and wipe away our every tear.

In times of joy and trials as well,
Of His goodness I will not cease to tell,
His blessings continually pour down from above,
As He showers us with His endless love.

So, church let us praise Him every day,
For all the blessings and gifts He sends our way,
And may we let His goodness shine through us bright,
His goodness always fueling our light.


God bless,

Gary B.


Thursday, May 25th

He Sees

By Galen Troyer


For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. II Chron.16:9 (ESV)


King Asa learned the hard way when he took matters into his own hands and went to Ben-Hadad the King of Aram for help in order to defeat Baasha, king of Israel; rather than seeking God as he had in the past. As a result, he later lost a victory over the king of Aram and after that faced one round of war after another. Sadly, Asa didn’t learn from his mistake. He didn’t repent and he didn’t seek God’s help later when his health failed him.


In Acts, we read the story of Cornelius, a thoroughly good man. He led everyone in his house to live worshipfully before God and was always helping people in need, and had the habit of prayer. One day as he was praying, he had a vision and an angel appeared. The angel told him that his prayers and neighborly acts had brought him to God’s attention. As a result, he and all his family heard the gospel message from Peter, and were filled with the Holy Spirit. You can read the full account in Acts 10 (MSG).


The encouragement for you today is that God see’s your heart and your desire to please him. He promises to support you and give you strength in every situation.


Keep believing and trusting him, no matter how long it takes for your prayers to be answered.


Wednesday, May 24th

Coffee and Jesus Podcast with Joey Stroup

Episode 15

Click to Listen in.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

 Ah, Lord God

 by Lynn Koehn


‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too difficult or too wonderful for You—  Jeremiah 32:17 [AMP]


I can’t tell you how many times those words went through mind as my wife and I drove through eastern Oregon, Northern/Southern Idaho, all of Montana and Western Wyoming. We encountered the snow-covered mountain peaks of Yellowstone National Park, the roaring waterfalls into the deep canyons below, the large herds of bison who survived the long harsh winter months now with their newborn baby calves (called Red Dogs) at their side. We saw the gentle flowing mountain streams, full of ice-cold snow-melt meandering through the lush green grassy meadows, and the largest high elevation lake in the nation. Yellowstone Lake was completely frozen over and much, much more make you, along with Jeremiah shout, ‘Ah, Lord God!’


Allow your heart to be filled again today with AWE (a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder) to our Creator, THE CREATOR of Heaven and Earth as you read the scriptures below.


Nehemiah 9:6 [NIV] You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.


Revelation 4:11 [ESV] Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.


1 Chronicles 29:11 [ESV] Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.


For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen. Romans 11:36 [AMP]


Monday May 22ND


 BY Jonah Lang


Galatians 5:13 NIV


You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.


This is such an awesome verse, I think it sums up the whole of chapter 5… Be free, don’t waste it, serve one another in love… 


Friday, May 19th

Isaiah 42 Meditations

By Gary Bittner

Watch Video


Thursday, May 18th

What Are You Hiding?

By Galen Troyer


Has anyone ever asked you that question?


Things hidden, especially in our hearts, are not usually forgotten. Good or bad, we think about them, perhaps every day.


King David said: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Ps. 119:11 (ESV)


As a child I memorized the verse this way: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. KJV)


The Apostle Paul’s prayer for us and all who believe: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…

Eph 1:17 (ESV)


How do we store up God’s word in our heart, and how do we receive the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him?


Our brother Danny shared his personal testimony with us last Sunday and told us how it’s done. By daily reading the Word and surrendering our life to the Holy Spirit. In reading, praying and meditating, we are filled and the Holy Spirit reminds us throughout the day, and night, the truths we have hidden in our heart.


Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32


Abide, Know, Be Free!


Wednesday, May 17th

Coffee and Jesus Podcast  Episode # 14

By Joey Stroup

Listen here


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

by Lynn Koehn


Matthew 14: 28-30 Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”


If it’s been a while since you’ve read this full account of Peter’s encounter with Jesus I encourage you to take a minute to do so now, Matthew 14:22-33. It’s a quick read. I promise you, you’ll be challenged and inspired as you watch this series unfold. Especially when you see the outcome in the final episode.


As we travel through this journey called life we will inevitably find ourselves in situations and circumstances that are out of our control and seem to have no way out. Short of divine intervention, we’re at risk of imminent sinking. As we see early in this account, Jesus knew his disciples were in serious danger. He responded to their helpless/hopeless situation and at the end of the story, Jesus exercised authority over the wind and everyone got through the storm in good shape.


However, the real lesson in this story is about keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on the storm. As you know, as long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus, Peter walked on top of the raging sea. The moment he turned away from Jesus and began to analyze and worry about the next wave he started going down.


We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)


Again, calamity, tragedy and disappointment happen. As with Peter, we must choose to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Being confident of this, Jesus is above your storm. He has all authority and he is able to calm our storm; get us back in the boat and get us through the storm.


With our eyes on Jesus, let us be blessed, encouraged and inspired, even as we go through the storms!



Monday, May 15th


 BY Jonah Lang


Hebrews 4:16 ESV


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


I appreciate so much that we are so invited to enter into the throne room, and that we can enter with boldness, not timidity. WOW God loves us a lot!


He gives us exactly what we need when we are in step with Him. He gives us mercy and we get the grace we don’t deserve in times of trouble...


Friday, May 12, 2023

Two Things That Don’t Change

By Gary Bittner


I’m sure we all know people who are going through very difficult circumstances. We all know people who are experiencing significant health issues, significant financial issues, significant marital or family or relationship issues.

The good thing is that all these situations are subject to change BECAUSE God and His word DO NOT CHANGE and He promises to heal, to provide, to restore, to bring victory on our behalf.

The Bible teaches that God's Word is eternal, unchanging, and powerful. In the book of Isaiah, it says, the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is referred to as the Word of God, and it states that he was with God in the beginning and that all things were made through him. (John 1:1-3) Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. This verse emphasizes that God's unchanging nature is eternal, just like Jesus who is the Word of God.

Again, Isaiah 40:8 says, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. This verse highlights the everlasting nature of God's Word, which remains constant and relevant throughout time. God's Word provides guidance and wisdom, and it is a firm foundation that we can rely on.


Malachi 3:6 speaks to the unchanging nature of God, For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. These verses, and many others in the Bible, testify to the fact that God's character and nature remain constant and unchanging throughout all of time.

God and His word are eternal and unchangeable. Everything on earth is temporary and subject to change. Nothing on Earth is permanent, and everything is subject to change. Even cancer. We know of many people, people close to us, that are undergoing the cancer battle. As they fight, we stand with them in prayer and encouragement.

Vonnie and I were recently at a memorial service for a dear friend who died of cancer. The pastor who officiated the service read this declaration, and I felt to share with us for this weekend devotional as we remember, cancer and that diagnosis is subject to change, BUT GOD and His word and His promises DO NOT CHANGE.

The declaration…



Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith

It cannot eat away peace

It cannot destroy confidence

It cannot kill friendships

It cannot shut out memories

It cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul

It cannot reduce eternal life

It cannot quench the spirit

It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection

 God bless,

Gary B.


Thursday, May 11th

Your Heart - It’s a Big Deal

By Galen Troyer


Above all else, guard your heart, for

everything you do flows from it. Prov. 4: 23 (NIV)


How do we guard our heart? It’s obviously very important since everything we do flows from it. The heart is referred to many times throughout the scriptures, probably more often than anything else.

Consider these verses:


As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Prov. 27:19 (NIV)


A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Lk. 6:45


Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Mt. 6:8


The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Sam. 16:7b (NIV)


Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12


After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Acts 13:22


He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Lk. 8:21


The calling for all Christians is to be people after God’s own heart. Jesus said the way to know them is to watch how they live-they hear the word and put it into practice.


It is a high calling and the only way to really be alive.


Wednesday, May 10th

Coffee and Jesus Podcast Episode 13 with Guest Warren Stroup

Listen Here

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

 God IS My Defender

 by Lynn Koehn


I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter.

Psalm 62:5-7 (GNT)


When someone says something I don’t agree with or they disagree with something I said, it often makes me defensive.


Individuals, kings and even entire kingdoms disagreed, criticized and attacked King David his entire life. But David chose to put his hope, his dependency not in himself but in God. He made a choice to believe and trust God to defend him.


The Bible says, When [Jesus] was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God, the righteous Judge. (1 Peter 2:23 GNT). Jesus chose not to fight back. He made a choice to believe and trust God to defend him.


We are most like Christ when we say nothing in the moment of disagreement, criticism or false accusations. We’re most like Jesus when we remain silent, believe and trust God to be our defender.


Like David, let us choose to believe and trust God to be our protector, our Savior, our defender, our victor and our shelter. Let us depend on Him alone.


Let this be our daily prayer: I come to you, Lord, for protection; never let me be defeated. You are a righteous God; save me, I pray! Hear me, Save me now. Be my refuge to protect me; my defense to save me. Psalm 31:1-2, [GNT] God hears our prayers. He is faithful. And He will be your Defender.


Monday, May 8th

With All My Heart

BY Jonah Lang


Psalms 9:1 kjv I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;


Yesterday during the service, God recalled this verse to my mind…


And I thought what does it look like to praise with all my heart?


I know that it looks different from person to person but the thing is… when we are totally devoted to Him in worship nothing else matters, the circumstances we may find ourselves in should seem less significant if not totally insignificant. 


I think this is a glimpse of what heaven will be like… 


Friday, May 5, 2023

Joy That Sustains

By Gary Bittner


Joy is powerful, it can bring light and happiness into our lives. Joy is a gift from God that should be cherished and celebrated every day. As Christians, we know that true joy comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ and the hope we have in Him. In this devotional, we will look at joy and how we can experience it even in difficult circumstances.


Scripture References:

  • Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! - Philippians 4:4
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. - Romans 15:13
  • These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. - John 15:11
  • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. - James 1:2-3


Joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Biblical joy is a state of being that comes from within, as a result of our relationship with Jesus, it is a fruit if the Holy Spirit. When we're filled with the Holy Spirit, the fruit of joy will supernaturally come forth, for in Him we have an abundant source of joy that sustains us even through the toughest trials, circumstance and situations.


The Bible tells us to rejoice always, even in difficult circumstances. This doesn't mean that we should be happy about everything that happens to us, but rather that we can find joy in the midst of trials because we know that God is with us and working for our good.


In fact, the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, which in turn produces more joy. So, when we face trials, we can count it all joy, knowing that God is using the situation to strengthen us and grow our faith.

As we continue to walk with Jesus and grow in our relationship with Him, we'll experience more and more of His joy. It's a gift that keeps on giving and one that we can share with others.


Let's choose joy today, and every day, as we trust in the Lord as we find our hope in Him.


God bless,

Gary B.



Thursday, May 4


By Galen Troyer


Most likely, you’ve sung this song:


Majesty, worship His majesty

Unto Jesus be all glory, honor and praise

Majesty, kingdom authority

Flow from His throne, unto His own

His Anthem raise.


So exalt, lift up on high, the name of Jesus

Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King

Majesty, worship His majesty

Jesus who died, now glorified

King of all kings.


The words and music to this song were written by Jack Hayford, a pastor, author (50 books) and songwriter (more than 500).

He described this song as a statement of the fact that our worship, when begotten in spirit and truth, can align us with His Throne in such a way that His Kingdom authority flows to us-to overflow us, free us, and channel through us.


Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things (center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart). Philippians 4:8 (AMP)


Be encouraged and blessed today.


Wednesday, May 3rd

Coffee and Jesus Podcast Episode 12

By Joey Stroup

Listen in


Tuesday, May 2, 2023


 by Lynn Koehn


Congratulations to all the students who diligently and faithfully completed all that was required and graduated or will graduate soon.


We, who are pursuing God and His kingdom are in a similar process. We reach a certain level of our understanding of God’s word and God advances us into the next phase where He begins to reveal a whole new level of Himself, His kingdom and His plans for our lives. We graduate from glory to glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 [AMP], And we all, with unveiled faces, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.


Romans 12:2 [ISV], Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.


The word transformed indicates the continual process of learning, equipping and advancing. God graciously takes us through and up to a certain level. At that point we celebrate. We acknowledge all that God has done. We appreciate, rejoice and thank God. We graduate!


And then God moves us into the next phase of becoming more and more like Christ Jesus. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 [NLT]

Monday May 1st 2023

For One to Get This, One Must do This...

By Jonah Lang

Proverbs 1

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Read that again and this time read each verse and then verse 7, then the next verse, and then verse 7 and so on…

God use your word to educate us, to give us knowledge, let us Fear the Lord. Let us not be fools that despise wisdom instruction, but let us cherish the opportunity of being instructed and the process of gaining knowledge. 



Saturday, April 29th

The Power of Love…Vlad Update

By Gary Bittner


Perhaps you’ve heard the illustration that a fish can’t outgrow the size of their tank. This is true. But while it may seem this is because of the size of the tank, it is more likely that a fish will stop growing due to the unfavorable conditions of the tank; the fish unfortunately doesn't get the opportunity to fulfil its full potential…It’s the same with people.


We have seen this truth played out in the life of our grandson Vlad whom many of you know. You see him at church each week, being with people he loves and experiencing the love of his friends at the River Center. Vlad is being changed by the power of love.


It's hard to imagine that Vlad lived 15 years without his forever family. So much of his life was already lived before the Johnson/Bittner family became a part of it. 15 years lost without the gift of family, 15 years filled with trauma, abuse, and neglect. 


When Jed and Kimber (our daughter and her husband) made the decision to adopt Vlad and bring him into their family, the people at the institution where Vlad was existing (yes, existing as he was not really living) told Jed and Kimber ‘You know, he will never learn, he will never grow.’


But look at Vlad now! He is so smart, so joyful, so loving, so ‘alive’ and he is taller than Grams. He is growing so much in every way….


Intellectually; he now speaks 3 languages, reads Ukrainian and English and is learning more each day, is learning math, money skills, and more.


Emotionally; he is learning that it’s ok to be sad. We don’t have to be happy all the time just to please the people around us. It’s ok to feel nervous, to be concerned for this family back in Ukraine and at the same time feel happy and safe here in America with Grams and Papi.


Spiritually; Vlad loves God, and he knows God loves him. And that love is changing him. We often see him getting teary during worship on Sunday mornings or when he is watching a YouTube video of Ukrainian worship. He is ‘thinking about’ getting water baptized, so awesome.


Vlad is so strong. He daily overcomes obstacles that most of us never have to think about, and he is thriving. So much so that he just got a promotion at his job. Awesome. 


Kimber says ‘Trust me when I say, his progress and growth is to his credit, not ours. We love him and do our best, but his growth is a testament to his amazingly strong, survivor spirit and God's miraculous love and healing power. Vlad is a walking miracle.’ 


For those who have only known Vlad for a short time while he’s been with us here in Oregon, you need to watch this video as Jed and Kimber advocate for his adoption and rescue from the Ukrainian institution.


Kimber is narrating and she says ‘what he really needs is a family, he needs to be adopted.’ And so, they did! And we are all blessed as a result.


Watch this…

God bless,

Gary B.


 Thursday. April 27th


By Galen Troyer


But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory (and my honor), and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3 (AMP)


What is your shield of choice? Where do you go for protection when you are facing fear and opposition?


David learned to trust God at a young age. Remember when he was going to fight Goliath and Saul wanted him to wear his armor? It was way too big and cumbersome and besides David knew that he could defeat Goliath without it, so he didn’t wear it; because his shield was God himself.


Now, he was king and his son Absalom was hunting him down, hoping to kill him. It wasn’t just Absalom looking for him, he also had thousands of soldiers on his side. How fearful would you have been if you were in David’s shoes? What would you have done?


I love the example David gives us. He prays to God and tells him what he’s facing. Even though God already knew what he was up against, he desired to hear it from David’s mouth. The same is true today, God desires to hear from you and me about the things we are facing- our fears, our hopes, and our confidence and trust in Him. It’s our faith in Him that defeats the enemy.


Oh, Lord, how my enemies have increased. Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of me, “There is no hope for him in God.” Ps. 3:1-2


With my voice I was crying to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awakened, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be intimidated or afraid of the ten thousands who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!

Ps. 3:4-7


There is no better shield.

There is no greater glory.

And no one better to lift my head.


You, O Lord, are a shield for me,

My glory, and the One who lifts my head. Ps. 3:3


You can always trust Him. He gives joy in place of fear. He is worthy of our praise.


Wednesday, April 26th

Coffee and Jesus Podcast

By Joey Stroup

Episode 11


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

 God’s handiwork

 by Lynn Koehn


Am I not able, house of Israel, to deal with you as this potter does? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:6 (NASB)


Don't I have the right to do with you people of Israel what the potter did with the clay? You are in my hands just like clay in the potter's hands. Jeremiah 18:6 (GNT)


This is one of the passages of scriptures Pastor Warren highlighted in his preach this past weekend. Here are a couple relevant thoughts he shared that are worth remembering and putting into practice.


-Let the Lord be Lord.

-Give it to God and keep your hands off.

-Trust God for the outcome in your life and the life of others.


Clay is one of the most plentiful substances on earth. In its raw state it is practically of no value. However, in the potter’s hands it can be transformed into a beautiful and priceless vessel.


At the end of the day, God holds everything in His hands was one additional thought Pastor Warren shared regarding Jeremiah 18:6.


I invite you to rejoice with me today in the following wonderful amazing truths. Eph 2:1-3, God selected each one of us while we were just a lifeless lump of clay. He chose to place us on His potter’s wheel. That’s mercy. Eph 2:4-9, He began the molding and shaping process. That’s grace. And, according to Philippians 1:6, that molding, shaping and making-us-better process will continue throughout the rest of our life.


Eph 2:10, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Monday, April 24th 2023

He makes all things new

 By Jonah Lang

Revelation 21

A New Heaven and a New Earth 

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death" or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”


God put the thought of this in my mind today… God makes all things new, maybe it was me remembering the song from a few years ago or maybe God Reminded me that he will indeed make all things new in the future. After sin entered the world the world was no longer good as God initially declared. When one comes to Christ he/she becomes a new creation. Becoming a new creation affects the way we live. God’s Word reminds us to put off our former, sinful ways of life. Instead of living in sin and for ourselves, we are called to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator”  

Thank God that that He is making all things new.


Saturday, April 22nd

Oregon Springtime

By Gary Bittner


In Oregon, it is often long awaited.

As the rain continues, sunny Spring days are long abated.

But we can have hope and in our future invest.

For indeed, Spring is coming, and an Oregon Spring is the best


Oregon Springtime awakens Winter’s slumber.
As new life bursts forth from the soggy under.
The drying earth, once muddy and still,
Will bloom with bright colors, vibrance and thrill


The rain-cleansed air carries the scent of rebirth.
As the world awakens from its rainy wet dearth.
Buds unfurl into green leaves and pretty flowers.
And with the warming days come longer sunny hours.


Late in the evening birds sing melodies into the night,
As they take to the skies in joyful evening flight.
Their wings beating with a newfound lightness and grace,
As they explore their world with a fresh and expectant face.


The world seems to be coming alive with a new energy,
As Spring brings forth a renewed synergy.
It is a time of growth, a time of new colors all around,
As new life springs out from the trees and up from the ground.


So, let’s worship Him as He brings this new season of life.
So, let’s honor Him as we show forth His beauty and light,
And let us always be mindful, faith does not grow without some pain,

And Oregon is so green and beautiful, all because of the rain.




Thursday, April 19th


By Galen Troyer

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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. John 15:4-6 (ESV)


It was towards the end of his ministry on earth that Jesus shared these words with his disciples. They had always been with him, in his physical presence; they had no idea, and they didn’t even want to think about how their lives were going to be if he wasn’t around-to see, to hear, to touch them.


By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:8-11(ESV)


To abide is to dwell, remain, or stay; to live there. There is no other invitation that compares to the invitation we have from Jesus, “Abide in me, abide in my love.”


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! II Cor. 5:17


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2



When we live in him, he lives in us.

We bear much fruit.

He loves us.

We keep his commandments.

His joy lives in us.

Our joy is full.


A quote from Pastor Gary in his message last Sunday, summarizes well what these scriptures say “Get a revelation of the Risen Christ. It will change your life.”


May your days be filled with Joy!


Wednesday, April 19th

Coffee and Jesus Podcast Episode 10

By Joey Stroup

Listen now

Tuesday, April 18th


My Sheep Hear My Voice


by Lynn Koehn


These five words jumped off the page and hit me squarely between the eyes during my recent daily Bible reading. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (ESV)


The Message Bible uses the word, ‘recognize’ in the place of ‘hear.’ Numerous versions use the word, ‘listen’ rather than simply ‘hear’ and God’s Word Translation uses the word ‘respond.’ My sheep respond to my voice, and I know who they are. They follow me. The word ‘respond’ makes these words of Jesus personal and more interactive in our relationship with Him. He knows us, He speaks to us and we respond to His voice.


In order to have a relationship with someone, you must speak to them. You must listen to them and they must speak and listen to you. Communication reduces confusion and misunderstandings in relationships and nurtures a harmony that produces sustainable growth that leads to maturity. Without communication, relationships grow stagnate, unproductive and often fail.


One of the major differences between Christianity and other religions, is that God is alive and He wants to have a relationship with us. Listening (hearing) to the voice of Jesus and responding to His voice is the way God designed for us to develop and maintain a healthy, productive and vibrant relationship with Him.


Generally speaking, it is safe to say that the more you communicate with someone and the deeper your communication goes, the closer and more intimate that relationship will become. This is true with human beings. And it is true with God.


I encourage each of us to be a person who God can speak to. Let’s not get so busy in life that we forget what is really important. Sometimes we just need to quiet ourselves and listen. Be a good listener. God wants what is best for us and He’s looking for people who will listen and respond when He speaks.

Monday, April 17th

Jeremiah 17:7

By Jonah Lang


But blessed are those who trust in the LORD

and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat

or worried by long months of drought.

Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7

During pre-service prayer God put this verse on my mind.

We simply have to trust God and put our hope and confidence in Him to be blessed.

When we follow God, we have such an expectation of Him working in our lives…

When we are planted along the river bank, our roots will grow deep, the heat won’t bother us, drought won’t bother us, our leaves will be green, and we will never stop producing fruit.

God, plant us along the river and let our hope be and confidence be in you...




Friday, April 14th

Endurance Thru Trials 

By Gary Bittner

Watch Video

Thursday, April 13th

Power, Guaranteed

By Galen Troyer


On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5 (NIV)


This setting takes place after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He is talking to the apostles, and gave them this command-to wait for the gift. In earlier verses, the author (Luke) tells us that Jesus, showed himself to these men over a period of forty days, giving them many convincing proofs that he was alive-and spoke to them about the kingdom of God.


Can you imagine all the questions they had after listening to Jesus?


So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 6-8 (NIV)


There is no power that compares to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This power comes from God. No one receives it without receiving the Holy Spirit. The world has nothing that can even begin to compare to this power that is ours.


The world throws many distractions at us, and we are not unaware of the enemy’s tactics. Stay close to Jesus.


I enjoyed listening to Josiah Stroup’s podcast (episode 9), where he described his desire for a closer relationship with God, and the steps he’s taking in order to hear his voice. It is inspiring.


I love the Apostle Paul’s prayer for us: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:17-21 (NIV)


We’ve been given great power.

Live in it & Give Him all the glory!


Tuesday, April 11th

Check out the latest Coffee and Jesus podcast from Joey Stroup

Listen to the Podcast

Tuesday, April 11th


My Peace…the Gift that Jesus Gives


by Lynn Koehn


John 14: 25-27 (MSG) I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So, don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.


John 14:25-27 [Amplified Bible] I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]


Jesus had just told his disciples that He would soon have to leave them. He knew this bombshell would be a huge rock in their pond and had the potential to create a ripple effect that could lead to apprehension, anxiety, doubt and fear. Jesus also knew, some two thousand years later you and I could be (and many times are) dramatically affected in the same ways by unwanted or unexpected news.


The scriptures above are life-giving words of Jesus and fill my heart to overflowing with gratitude as I read them. I invite you this morning to take a moment to quiet your heart, lean back in your recliner, close your eyes, breathe in deeply and allow your heart to be filled with: “peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”


Thank you Jesus, for giving us your precious gift of peace.  Thank you Jesus, that my mind and my heart are guarded and controlled by peace rather than anxiety, apprehension and fear.  Thank you, Jesus, I am not troubled, nor am I am afraid.


Monday, April 10th

Jesus Talks to the Apostles, Mark 16:14-20

By Jonah Lang


14 Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.


19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]


I love the thought of what happened next; I love the … But I really love the story of Jesus rising from the grave. This is what’s happened next, the … of the Gospel. He said to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” 


In my last devotional, I referenced the Scripture in Philippians 2:9-11 where God exalted Jesus to the highest place, that was what was next for him.

Ours is to spread the GOOD NEWS.


Friday, April 7th

Three Spikes

By Gary Bittner


This morning I read the following from a friend, (so good.) Today we mark the day that Jesus was nailed to the cross, Good Friday (yes, I know Jesus was possibly crucified on Wednesday, but today is the day we remember it). Read our friend’s writing, and let it minister to you today. Then, at the link below take 3 minutes and listen to one of the best messages ever.


From our friend: “Thirty years ago, I recovered these spikes from an old farm house that was being renovated. Aside from the fact that I love old square-headed nails, I was taken by the size of these particular three.  More so, I was very aware of the sobering significance of what they represented.”


I kept them on my desk at ORU where I served as a university administrator.  My job, while highly rewarding and meaningful: was also a vast combination of frustration and vexation, often leaving me angered, usually after leaving a meeting with upper administrators. When this happened, I almost always went to my office, shut the door, kicked off my stylish (but painful) pumps and would promptly take the three spikes in my hand. 


Holding them was transforming. 


Whatever was so wrong, so frustrating, so damning, so ridiculous would slowly melt away. Hold