Lord, give me faith like Isaac’s…

Too often, it can become easy to ask, “Why?” “Why does this or that happen?” “Why must I go through this?” Even if we don’t find ourselves asking “Why?” sometimes we still might get discouraged because of the various trials we face in life. The past few weeks have been beyond overwhelming for me as I try to complete the many papers, book reviews, and exams that come with being a college student in the midst of all the inconvenient challenges that just have to occur in the middle of all of this. That’s when God says, “Trust in me!”

To be honest though, I have not always been faithful in trusting in God’s plan. Too often, I have told God what I think should happen, and how I think things should play out. When things didn’t pan out the way I wanted, I became frustrated or I questioned God.

Throughout high school, I shouted at God when my Crohn’s Disease became too unbearable. I asked Him, “Why? Why? Why?” as if He should explain why He didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to. As my faith has grown in college, I have learned to trust more in that He has a plan for me and a purpose for me. But even still, there are times where my faith still isn’t what I would like it to be. I don’t read my Bible as much as I should. I don’t sit in silence with God as much as I should. Too often, I try to find excuses of “Oh, I can do that later God.” “Maybe tomorrow.” “Next week, God. Next week.” “Perhaps when my semester is over.”

It is then when the outspoken faith of a 10 year old shows me what it truly means to be on fire for Jesus. Yesterday was absolutely amazing! My grandparent’s youngest adopted child, Isaac, proclaimed to the world that he is a believer in Christ by getting baptized. He asked me a week ago, grinning from ear to ear, “Joshua, are you coming to my baptism?” Of course I told him that I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Isaac being baptized, and the picture we took later that day...

Isaac being baptized, and the picture we took later that day…

As long as I have known him, Isaac constantly proclaims his love for Jesus. Even in the midst of way too many challenges for a young kid like him to face including health problems of his own, he never stops telling others that Jesus loves him and he loves Jesus. The compassion he shows for others just absolutely amazes me.

He also shows me what it means to thank God for everything you’re given in life, both the good things and the challenges. A few weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, we all gathered around, my Dad, grandparents, and all the kids, as I read passages from the Gospels on the sacrifice Jesus gave us. We used Easter eggs to illustrate each stage in the story. Each egg had an item in it symbolizing a different part of the story. The last one was empty symbolizing that Christ is no longer in the tomb.

Before sharing the Easter story, I listened as Isaac prayed for us. He told God everything he was thankful for. “Lord thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you for Ronnie. Thank you for Joshua. Thank you for Paige.” He continued until he named everyone there. Then he said, “Also, thank you God for the pollen even though it makes me sneeze.” Everyone chuckled when he thanked God for the pollen.

This made me realize, however, that we should be thankful for everything. Yes of course, we should be thankful for the good in life, but also the trials and even the small inconveniences in life such as pollen.

The past week, Isaac had been overwhelmed with excitement and would constantly remind us that he was getting baptized on Sunday. He left us no doubt; he was excited to share his faith with the world. He wanted to show others just how much Jesus loves him. I was so happy for him. As the hour of his baptism approached, it struck me just how much I admire this little guy. Throughout his life, he had every reason why not to trust in God, so many reasons to say, “No. I don’t believe in Him.” But the awesome thing is that not once have I heard him get mad at God for the trials or inconveniences.

The truth is that I look up to Isaac. He has truly shown me what it means to be a follower of Christ. I cried tears of joy as I watched him smile as he was being baptized and as I loved on him when he returned to our pew afterwards.

When I thought my tears of joy had stopped, we then began singing “Forever Reign.” I was overcome with emotions when we sang these words:

You are more
You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord
You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here
You are here
In your presence I’m made whole
You are God
You are God
Of all else I’m letting go

Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
No other name
Jesus, Jesus

I know that I don’t always live out my faith as I should, but if this experience has shown me anything, if it has emphasized anything, it’s that, like Isaac, I should not have any hesitation in proclaiming His name to the world. I should be thankful for both the good and the bad. I should trust that God has a plan for each of our lives. Therefore, may I let go of everything holding me back in my faith, may I run into the Lord’s loving arms, and may my heart sing no other name than Jesus, Jesus!

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I pray that I never forget that God’s presence is always with me, that no circumstance deters me away from that fact, and that I always overflow with joy in knowing that God watches over me and cares for me beyond what words can say. If Isaac has taught me anything, it’s that in everything we do, we should strive to constantly be on fire for Jesus.

So Lord, let my faith be one like Isaac’s, one that constantly has my heart overflowing with joy for You!

Hillsong Live. Forever Reign. By Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan, 2010. AZLyrics. Web. 27. Apr. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Forever Reign by Hillsong Live

Glory by Phil Wickham

Give up but don’t give up!

Stress, stress, and more stress. The more people I talk to, the more I hear this in conversation. It’s that time of year again, the semester is almost over. With many friends graduating college and deciding what to do next, with a sister about to graduate high school, and friends preparing to share the Gospel all over the world in India, the UK, Guatemala, Honduras, and elsewhere, life can seem, well… stressful!

I myself feel as if there is too much to accomplish in such a short amount of time. One exam, two research papers, a book review from a book I haven’t even opened yet, another book, a number of reading quizzes, an article review, a Scholar’s Day presentation, and quite a few study guides. All of this, not including 4 final exams, in the next three weeks. Somehow, I’m probably forgetting something and just exactly how I will get all of this done remains a mystery, but in some way I know that it just will, and as someone still trying to keep up a 4.0, it would be nice if I could get this done and done well. Needless to say, this can be described indeed as “stressful.”

But that’s all part of this crazy, hectic thing we call life. While I may be trying to make it through the next couple of weeks without metaphorically pulling my hair out, one thing that I must always remember is that God has a plan for me and I should lay all my anxieties at His feet.

Recently, I have heard many friends share with me all that stresses them about life right now. For those who are graduating, stress can come in trying to find a job or deciding how to pay for grad school. Others may feel uncertain of how to pay for next year’s tuition, while others deal with depression, lack of family support, the loss of a loved one, ongoing health problems, or fears that come with an upcoming missions opportunity. Whatever, it may be, Satan sometimes tries to use all of these obstacles to keep us from focusing on building our relationships with God and others.

This is when we must learn how to give up without giving up. What I mean is that we should lay all of our cares, emotions, desires, anxieties, and wants at the feet of Jesus, and as we do so, He can help us to press on and conquer those challenges. So give up what keeps you from focusing on Christ, but don’t give up on your goals thinking “it” can’t be done.

When we lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus, He can give us strength to “keep on keeping on.”

One thing that I have been praying for recently is that God helps me accomplish all that needs to be accomplished academically, but that it doesn’t keep me from building a relationship with God and with other people. While I strive to achieve all that I can to be academically successful, more than anything, I don’t want it to be an obstacle from growing in Christ and growing with others as we grow together in Christ.

Life can be stressful. Too often, it can beat us up, knock us down, and try to keep us down. But we must try to give up all our worries to Him.

1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us, “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.”

What Christ is telling us is that we can lay all of our challenges at His feet, because He “has our back.” Jesus is telling us, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

Now, I’m not saying give up as in giving up on our studies, our preparations for our future (whether that’s a job or a mission trip). I’m saying, give up your cares to Jesus, and He will help you to not give up!

The honest truth is that we will face many obstacles, challenges, and trials, and the fear of the unknown can sometimes cause us to have the desire of giving up. But we must trust in Christ and keep on keeping on. We will face trials, but when we walk with God, He can help us overcome those obstacles.

Even when life seems so chaotic, remember what John 16:33 tells us: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

The honest truth is that we will face many trials, but we must lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus and have peace in Him. We will face many challenges, but He has overcome all of that and much more.

So give up your anxieties to Jesus, but don’t give up on this crazy thing we call life!

Holman Christian Standard Bible. Bible Gateway. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin

Give Up by Howard & Vestal Goodman, Michael English, and Lillie Knauls

Let Revival go on, even when it’s over!

One of my favorite weeks at UMHB, is without a doubt, Spring Revival. Every year, I think, “How is next year going to top this year?” And somehow, in its own unique way, it does. Each year, as Revival gets closer and closer, I get excited! I count down the days when I can go and sit under the big white tent and worship the Lord with friends as we listen to an awesome Christian Rock band and a phenomenal speaker.


UMHB’s Big Tent where Revival was held from April 6-8, 2015

And as always, I can’t wait to see how unique each Revival is. My first year, Runks Runkles used his unstoppable energy and humorous anecdotes to emphasize that we are all unique and loved by God, and that through Christ, our weaknesses make us stronger. My second year, Tiny Dominguez pulled on our heartstrings to encourage us to say, “God, you are mine and you love me.” So, I was absolutely thrilled to hear what Eric Bryant had to share with us, and as always, the speaker for Revival revealed to me things I absolutely needed to hear.


This year’s speaker, Eric Bryant, and me. Eric Bryant is the author of an awesome book, “Not Like Me.”

His basic message for the week was about loving God, loving others, and loving yourself. These three aspects of what it means to be followers of Christ can at times be difficult. In order to love God, we must trust God and not miss the little things God puts in our lives.

When I go home, I pray for an enjoyable and relaxing weekend, one full of family time and rest. My Dad and I love netflixing, so sometimes I pray that the Wi-Fi works well so we can watch Netflix together.

It may seem trivial, but there is nothing wrong with thanking God for answering the small things. Every time I go home, my Dad and I watch Star Trek. I guess you could call us Trekkies. We will have marathons throughout the weekends, watching maybe 6-10 episodes a weekend depending on what else we do when we’re together. Recently we finished the Voyager series and are almost done with the second season of the Next Generation.

I absolutely love this time spent with my Dad, and I thank God for Star Trek. Sure it’s something simple as in a tv show to help us wind down and enjoy each other’s company, yet God places small things like Star Trek shows into our lives so that we can grow closer to others and be reminded that God loves us by giving us these small things. So thank you God for Star Trek.

Eric Bryant told us that sometimes God says yes to these small things, so that we can be prepared for when He says no to the big things. I have said in other posts, I don’t know why things don’t always work out the way we want them to. But God has a plan for our lives. He has a purpose even when we can’t comprehend why He might say no to the big things.

It may be difficult, but when He says no to the big things, let us try to trust that He is sovereign, thanking Him for the small things.

Loving people can also sometimes be a challenge, especially when they are not like us or when they have done us wrong. When Eric preached about this, it’s like he was talking directly to me. God has called us to not only love those who are like us, but also those who are different. Often, it can be easy to judge, but instead of taking one glance and avoiding someone for being different, let us show that person that Christ loves and cares for them. I know this may be a cliché saying, but we may be the only representation of Christ they see, so let’s be a good representation of HIM.

We must also love those who do us wrong. This can be extremely difficult, and I’ll be the first to admit that, but when he mentioned loving those who wronged us, I thought of people who have wronged me in the past. We don’t have to be fake and act like what they did was okay, but we must learn to love as Christ would love. This can be very difficult, but it is something we should try to do.

As we love God and love others, we must remember to love ourselves. God has a purpose for all of us and He sent His only son to die for us simply because He loves us. God has gone tremendous lengths to rescue us.

Colossians 1:13-14 states, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

He has done so much to rescue us, bringing us out of the dominion of darkness, so that we can have a brand new life in Him. He did all of this because of His love for us.

Eric Bryant reminded us that we can experience new life and in doing so, we should help others experience new life. God has healed us so we can heal others.

God loves us them so much that He sent you in their life, so love yourself and love others. Also, value yourself, because you are of infinite worth.

I absolutely loved Eric’s message of loving ourselves and loving others as we love God. Every year, I get absolutely pumped at Revival. The Revival Committee, led by amazing students, always manages to bring together an awesome speaker full of insights and an awesome band to lead us in worship. Worshipping to “How He Loves” and “Oceans” overwhelms me. It was amazing to see so many students sing at the tops of their lungs with arms open wide, praising His name! I was also blessed that my Dad was able to attend one night and praise God with me!

I was blessed that my wonderful Dad could attend Revival with me the second night!

I was blessed that my wonderful Dad could attend Revival with me the second night!

Here's a picture I took with this year's worship band, The Digital Age.

Here’s a picture I took with this year’s worship band, The Digital Age.

But let us not let Revival end here. Let Revival continue. It can be easy to be on a sort of Revival high and then as soon as it’s over, go back to the way things were before. However, that is not how we should look at our relationship with HIM. Let us continue to be on fire for Him, sharing His love, His gospel, His message of hope and restoration to those around us.

Part of loving God is to be constantly on fire for Him, glorifying Him in everything we do. As imperfect as we are, we will fail at times, but when we do, let’s try and get back up, loving and serving others by openly praising His name, because again, we may be the only “Christ” they see.

So don’t let Revival stop in your hearts now that the event is over. Let Revival continue!!!

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

Oceans by The Digital Age

Jesus, why do you love me!?

Last year at UMHB’s Revival, the speaker Tiny Dominguez, told us that he loves love movies. “Not that vampire/werewolf nonsense, because in my day, vampires and werewolves were supposed to be scary. But actual love movies.” He told us that he was man enough to admit it. I then thought, “I’m not the only one.” Think what you will, but I’ll be man enough to admit that I cried when watching The Notebook and The Vow, and I don’t cry often during movies, but these movies brought out the tears in me.

There is a love story, However, that I know outdoes any Hollywood love stories, and that’s the story of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Why? Because He loves us.

Growing up, I have learned many songs as a kid depicting the love Christ has for us. Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children are probably two of the most taught songs in Sunday school. Now as I am older, the question I have is “Why does Jesus love me!?” Why does He love me so much that He would die for me? Does He not know that I am imperfect? Does He not know that I am a sinner who will only continue to fall short and sin constantly? Why would someone so perfect love someone so imperfect?

The answers to these questions are answers I will never have. I will never understand why He would love such a broken human being like myself.

But here’s the awesome truth behind it all… I don’t have to understand why He loves me. I just have to trust and know that He does love me more than my mind will ever comprehend. And this magnitude of love gives me so much comfort, because I know that no matter what I face in life, no matter if times are good or bad, my Savior will always love me, and He will love me unconditionally.

Last Wednesday, UMHB held its annual Easter Pageant, depicting Christ’s miracles, trial, death, and resurrection. This was the third year I have witnessed this spectacular performance of the greatest love story ever told.

Unlike years past, as my eyes watched underneath my sunshades, I wept as I realized just how much the Father loves me. As I sat outside, listening to “Via Dolorosa,” with the clouds majestically floating by, I witnessed the depiction of guards mocking and crowds shouting at Jesus, I watched as Jesus hung on a cross made for the worst of criminals, and as I watched, I realized that He did this for one major reason, His love for me.

I still remember the first time I watched The Passion of the Christ. I remember trying to hold in my emotions as I watched the scene where He was beaten by Roman soldiers, and I failed miserably. While this movie might be the most gruesome depiction of the pain inflicted on Jesus, it pales in comparison to the suffering He actually endured. Yet, just seeing a small glimpse of what He endured makes me forever grateful that I serve a God who loves me so so much.

I don’t have the answers as to why Christ loves me, yet He does. I don’t deserve His love, yet He loves me anyway. I am so unworthy of His love, yet to Him, I am of infinite worth. I have fallen short so many times because of sin and will only continue to do so as I am imperfect, yet He loved me so much that He was willing to pay the price for my sin. He was willing to be convicted of my own wrongdoings, suffering the consequences of my own actions.

The question of “Why?” still comes to mind. Why? Why? Why?

That is when He tells me, “Because I love you. Do I need any other reason?” That’s the beauty of unconditional love. His love is one that I cannot earn, yet He gives it anyway. His love is one I don’t deserve, yet He gives it anyway.

Watching the Easter Pageant, I cried tears of overwhelming joy as I was reminded that He suffered the cross because He loves me. But you see, this amazing love story doesn’t end there, because after He was buried, He arose three days later and is still alive, watching over us every step of the way. As two students beautifully sang these words, the Pageant’s Jesus walked out of the tomb…

Arise, my love
Arise, my love
The grave no longer has a hold on you.
No more death’s sting
no more suffering

My heart was overcome with joy. Yes, I have heard this story countless times. Yes, I have seen this Pageant 5 other times (twice my first year, three times last year), but this time it was as if Jesus wanted to really reassure me that He did all of this for me.

As I was walking to class this morning, I listened to Kari Jobe’s song, “What Love Is This.” Again, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched the clouds float by as the birds flew in formation.

What love is this, that you gave your life for me
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess you’re always enough for me you’re all I need

I look to you, I see the scars upon your hands.
And hold the truth, that when I can’t you always can.
I’m standing here, beneath the shadow of the cross. 
I’m overwhelmed that I keep finding open arms.

What love is this that you gave your life for me 
And made a way for me to know you
And I confess, you’re always enough for me
You’re all I need

Jesus in your suffering you were reaching your thought of me
Jesus in your suffering you were reaching your thought of me

I will always be amazed at the love Christ has for me and if you ask me exactly why He loves me, I will not be able to give you a definite answer. What I can tell you is that “He just does.” How amazing is it to know that He loves us so much that He suffered the cross while thinking of us. He loved us so much that He was willing to lay down His life, He was willing to suffer and die, He was willing to endure all of our suffering, take on all of our sin, and defeat death simply because He loves us! And His love is truly all we need.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

The awesome truth is that He loves us so much that He endured the cross and defeated the grave just because He loves us, and that to me is the greatest love story ever!

The sad truth is, however, that not everyone has heard this awesome love story. There are so many people all across this world and even on the campus of Mary Hardin-Baylor that have never heard this story. I cannot imagine living life without this blessed assurance that Christ loves me and that as my favorite hymn proclaims, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!” So as believers, let us not keep this love story to ourselves. Let us proclaim it at the top of our lungs so that the whole world my hear that Jesus left His throne in Heaven, became human, was convicted of our sin so we wouldn’t have to be, rose from the grave, and promised His return just because He loves us.


Jobe, Kari. What Love Is This. By Lincoln Brewster, Mia Fieldes, and Kari Jobe, 2012. MetroLyrics. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

New King James Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

NewSong. Arise My Love. By Eddie Carswell. MetroLyrics. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

What Love Is This by Kari Jobe

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us by Selah