Last week, I posted about thanking Christ for our sufferings. I mentioned that in my own life, I have faced the challenge that is Crohn’s Disease. This battle has at times been challenging. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very outspoken about my faith, but being the imperfect human that I am, my faith has at times weakened significantly. There were times where I have asked God, “Why!” “Why me?!” and sometimes I have even yelled and have gotten angry with God. At these moments I start defining myself and my life as I am sick, I am hurting, I am in pain. Too often (and even once would be too often) I ignore the blessings God has placed in my life. Too often I forget just how much I am loved by the awesome God who created me.

Although I hate it when I get discouraged as humans tend to do, I absolutely love it when God shows me His presence and his unfailing love. And sometimes He will show me this love through my amazing family including: my Dad who has conquered so much and still proclaims God’s wonders in his life, my grandparents who always lift me up when I feel the least bit discouraged; and all of their precious kiddoes that brighten my days with their smiles every time “Joshua enters the room.”

The other day, as I walked to my 20th Century Europe class, I listened to “Completely” by Among the Thirsty, and when I heard this song it was as if God was saying to me, “You are never alone, I am right here. I’m not going anywhere. Put all your hurt aside and just come to me. I am stronger than everything that you could ever go through.”

God was saying this to me as I listened to these lyrics:

I am completely surrendering
Finally giving You everything
You’re my redeemer, I run to the cross
Because You are more than enough
Lord complete me
Cause I’m Yours completely

The words “You’re my redeemer” reminded me of something my friend Mike Perry once said as he was praying with me last year, “Lord, let Joshua realize how awesome you are. Instead of him saying, ‘I am weak, I am broken, I am sick’, let him say ‘I am redeemed. I am loved. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the God of the Heavens, the God that created everything in existence and took time to create someone like me, the God who goes before me, the God who will never leave me!” Those weren’t his exact words but the gist of what he was praying for me and somehow it stuck with me.

In every circumstance, we have two choices:

1.) We can choose to be defined by our circumstances and by what the world tries to tell us OR 2.) We can choose to be defined by the most awesome and mighty God who loves us.

When I think of this, I am reminded by the story of Zacchaeus.

Luke 19:1-10 describes the story this way:

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Everyone else looked at Zacchaeus and said, “Look at this sinner.” He probably felt unloved. Maybe he felt that he was nothing but a traitor, someone that’s greedy and selfish. But he wanted to know Christ, to change the way he looked at himself. Like Jesus loved us, He loved Zacchaeus. And like He did with Zacchaeus, He tells us “You are mine. You are redeemed. You are loved by the one who created the stars in the sky and the Earth around you!”

When Zacchaeus saw himself through Christ, he was a changed man. He saw himself no longer as a greedy, selfish traitor, but someone that was REDEEMED!

We all experience hardships, and many of you may in fact be experiencing hardships as we speak, but know that you are never alone. I challenge anyone who reads this, myself included, to do this:

Instead of defining yourself as, “I am sick. I am broken. I am alone. I am afraid. I am ashamed. I am tormented. I am persecuted. I am struggling. I am in pain.”

Define yourself as, “I AM REDEEMED. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who created the heavens and the universe. I am strong because though I may be weak, through Him I am strong. I am loved by the one who shed His blood and died a painful death just because He loved me! I am chosen by Him! I am protected by Him! I can do all things through Him who gives me strength! I AM REDEEMED!”


I personally have health problems and while I may fall short in doing so myself, I challenge everyone:

Instead of defining yourself by your weaknesses, define yourself in Him saying, “I AM REDEEMED!”

Works Cited:

Among The Thirsty. Completely. By Ryan Squitieri and Stephanie Lewis, 2014. K-Love. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Completely by Among The Thirsty

Greater by MercyMe

Thank you Lord for when I suffer…

So here we go… Blog post #2…

I have plenty to be thankful for in my life. I have an unbelievably awesome second home in UMHB with caring professors and amazing friends, wonderful friends back home, a family that never stops pushing me to reach my full potential while encouraging me to rely on Christ in all of life’s challenges, and most importantly, a sovereign Lord that loves me beyond all my human shortcomings. I have much to be thankful for.

The main point of this post, however, is not about being thankful for all the good things that happen in life, but the bad things; the things that cause pain, that start to stir up so much emotion, and at times cause us much frustration. Now, you may be thinking… “Joshua, why on Earth would you be thankful for the bad?”

The answer is this… Because it is the difficult circumstances that cause me to rely on an all-knowing, always present, always loving God. And this gives me so much hope. Hope that guides me through these very challenges, because I know that I serve a Savior who knows my every desire, want, hurt, and emotion that I could possibly ever go through.

As I have mentioned before, I suffer from severe Crohn’s Disease. Throughout high school and for a short period of time in college, I was shy about the fact and embarrassed that I had a stomach problem. But when I realized that we all endure various problems in life, God showed me that I can use this pain for His glory.

So many times I questioned God, “Why me? Why must I suffer with this?” Too often have I asked “Why?” and this is easy to do when we are struggling for answers, struggling to understand why we have to go through this pain.

I don’t know the answers, and I never will, but one thing I do know is that all of us face trials. All of us face fears, emotions, pain, hardships, and we will continue to do so at various times throughout our lives. Yet, we can use all of those circumstances to share the Gospel by sharing how God grants us peace and gets us through all of those trials.

This is why, every time I think about it, I try to thank God for my suffering, and quite often it is the hardest thing to pray, but I try to pray it anyways. While I also pray to be well, to one day experience what it’s like to live some semblance of a normal nutritional diet, I pray most of all to be closer to Christ. Because I would rather be sick for the rest of my life and be close to Him than to be well and yet have us be miles apart.

Romans 5:1-5 shows us that we can find hope in our trials and sufferings…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (NIV)

These verses show me that in all circumstances, good or bad, I should boast in Him. I may not understand why I go through what I go through, and I’m okay with that. What I do know is that my sufferings can create in me a desire to conquer other challenges in life while showing Christ’s love to others in the meantime. My sufferings make me who I am, and it is through my trials and imperfections that I can place my trust in Jesus Christ who gives me hope, hope that passes all understanding.

So many people in this world, even in our communities, do not have that hope, because they do not have that relationship with Christ. I cannot even imagine going through life’s challenges without knowing God. This is why we must proclaim the Good News that is the story of our blessed Lord and Savior, so that they too can have hope, hope in that we, as my favorite hymn says, “can face uncertain days, BECAUSE HE LIVES!”

So when you feel lonely, hurt, and afraid, place your hope in Jesus Christ and turn to yet another pair of verses in scripture, 1 Peter 5:6-7:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (HCSB)

And this is why I thank Him for my sufferings. These trials make me the person I am today, and I can use these circumstances for His glory. With my testimony, I can proclaim His Holy name to those around me, that Jesus died for my sins, that He faced unimaginable pain, much worse than I will ever imagine, that He rose from death, and He did all this to show that no matter what, I can cast all my troubles on Him, because He cares for me!

For anyone who reads this blog post, I pray that you find the courage to thank God for every circumstance in life, and that you find ways to use your trials to give Him glory by sharing your lives with those around you.

Works Cited:

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Holman Christian Standard Bible. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Because He Lives by the Gaither Vocal Band:

Because He Lives by David Crowder and Bill Gaither:

How He Loves: Knowing that Christ Loves YOU

For some time I have wanted to do a devotional blog, and for various reasons, some legitimate, some not, I have put this blogging endeavor of mine on hold. I have tried to figure out what I wanted my first post to be about. Then, I heard someone say something that really stuck in my brain. Last week at my meeting for UMHB’s Ministry Leadership Council, different students were sharing their takeaways from going to Passion 2015 at Houston. The message that stayed with me as I was hearing students share their experiences was this… God loves you for who you are, not what you will become or what you strive to be, but God loves you just as you are!

For all of last week, I thought about this statement. Too often, it can become easy to forget the fact that we can come to Christ as we are and He will welcome us. Even with all of our baggage, weaknesses, and struggles, we can bring our imperfect selves to Him because He loves us. I also thought that with Valentine’s Day coming up, this would be a perfect topic… God’s love for us!

As some of you who are reading this may know, I have different health problems such as Crohn’s disease which essentially causes my stomach to hurt every day. Often, these health problems can make life more difficult than I would like. With exams and book reviews and a lot of reading for class, these health problems can sometimes add even more stress.

But one thing I got out of other students sharing their Passion experiences was that God loves me for who I am and that is what I should focus on. Would He love me if I didn’t have to deal with these health problems, would He love me if I didn’t commit the sin that I do in life? Of course He would. But the beauty of His love is the fact that He loves me for me. He looks at my broken, sinful self and tells me, “I love you!”

This reminds me of one of my favorite songs, one that is probably sung at nearly every church and worship event from time to time: How He Loves…

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us all
Yeah, He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves

And we are His portion and
He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
And Heaven meets Earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets When I think about, the way…

I absolutely love everything about this song. As I thought about how Christ loves me for who I am, I focused on these lyrics. “He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane. I am a tree.” Perhaps, I never stopped to think and focus on the truth in these lyrics. He is jealous for ME, not who I want to be, not who I would be if I were perfect or without scars, but for who I am today! To know that He loves me so much that He is jealous for me and yearns for my focus on Him, how powerful is this truth!

Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree… Jesus loves me so much that His love is like a hurricane. His love is so powerful, so wonderful, so mighty and overwhelming. If we were strong trees firmly planted in the ground, His love would be so powerful that it would pull us from our roots and bend our strongest branches. His love is unfathomable. Sometimes we take for granted just how much He loves us. If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking… I could go on, but the point is this: He loves us for who we are!

He loved us so much for who we are that He sent His son to die for us. I cannot begin to imagine the suffering Christ endured, but He suffered as a sign of His love for us.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

God loves us so much that He gave His only son for us. Whether it be on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, remember this:

Jesus loves you for who you are!

Works Cited:

David Crowder Band. How He Loves. David Crowder Band, 2009. K-Love. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

New King James Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

How He Loves by the David Crowder Band:

Jesus Loves Me by the Gaither Vocal Band:

More Than Conquerors: Why I’m blogging…

For some time, I have wanted to start a weekly devotional blog. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love God and love people. I constantly strive to encourage others throughout my every day life. This is just how I’m wired. So why blog? I was driving over the summer down a country road, listening to my local Christian radio station, when suddenly I felt as if God was revealing so many things to me, and it was all at once. Thought after thought after thought. Somehow, He allowed me to grasp in some way what He was saying to me. I decided I wanted to write this down and encourage others, so the idea of a blog came to mind. For quite a while, I have found excuses to put it off, but now I decided to start blogging.

My goal is this: Every week, I will post about a topic that the Lord has been showing me recently. My hope is that through the use of blogging and social media, I might be able to encourage others to build a stronger relationship with Christ.

One huge aspect of creating a blog is having a name. I thought and thought about this, and after some thought I decided to go with “More Than Conquerors.” I went with this title to reflect upon my favorite verses in scripture. The title of the section is “More Than Conquerors,” so I found the title quite fitting!

Romans 8:31-39

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I get excited as a follower of Christ every time I read this. Always remember, you are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus our Lord!

The first blog post will be posted tomorrow!

Works Cited:

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.