In Loving Memory: A Pilgrim Witness for the Gospel (1966-2019)

PilgrimWitnessDad

I remember the first time I thought about blogging in early 2015. Dad was excited for me and would always share my posts with others. Now, nearly five years later, I said my earthly goodbyes to my wonderful Superman on Christmas Eve 2019. This is the most difficult blog post I have ever written, not because God isn’t giving me words to say as I type, but because I am still trying to process what life will look like without the physical presence of Dad.

He had been living his last month and a half in my grandparents’ living room. I slept in a bed behind a curtain so I could respond when he called for help. So I could also just simply be near him. I remember sleeping in his bed in my much younger years when I had nightmares. Now I was close to him to respond to his nightmares. Last night, when I accidentally moved the curtains, for a split second, I waited for him to call out to me. He didn’t. I am in pain. I am hurting. I am having so many anxiety attacks. I am not okay. Yet the glorious truth is that in Christ Jesus it is okay to not be okay. As I am weeping, our Savior weeps with me.

I also know that my faith sustains me. My faith in God assures me that Dad is no longer in pain. He is spending eternity with our Heavenly Father. He breathed his last breath with us at 6:50 PM in the presence of family and friends. His next breath was in the presence of Christ. It wasn’t labored. He didn’t have to struggle for that breath. It must have been a joyous and peaceful breath. And oh what he must have seen. I can only imagine. I wish I could for a split second see even one-hundredth of a percent of the glorious splendor in front of him. So much more magnificent than the Grand Canyon Dad and I were blessed to enjoy together in 2016. I take joy in knowing that I will one day join him and see all of the sights with my own eyes.

If you ever want to know who inspired me most on this Earth to pursue ministry and a seminary education, I’ll tell you. My Dad. From an early age, he gave me a love of Scripture by reading to me the stories of the Bible. He used hymnals and Gaither VHS tapes to help me fall in love with music that glorifies our Creator. We even had a game where he would whistle a hymn and I would have to guess which song he was whistling. I never could whistle, so when it was my turn, I would hum a song. What wonderful memories this little game gave us.

In my first semester at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, I was grateful for the support of caring professors who showed me kindness and love in this difficult season. In one of my classes, Dr. Mike Stroope discussed how we might look beyond just the traditional language of mission and share the love of Christ intentionally with everyone we meet in every circumstance. He used a term that has stuck with me since. Pilgrim Witness. As we pilgrim throughout life’s journey, and as we meet people along the way, we are, as Christians, to witness to others through our words and actions. How we treat others is our witness. I have thought about this term quite a bit lately and it came to me that Dad is the best example I can think of as a pilgrim witness.

Everything I saw in Dad was someone who loved others and I have seen his heart break far too often on behalf of others. I cannot imagine a more faithful pilgrim witness. Throughout my life, Dad has loved me, comforted me, encouraged me, fought for me, and has guided me more times than I could ever count. When I fell as a little kid, he would pick me up. When I was sick with chickenpox or hospitalized before my fourth-grade year, he took care of me. When I started having symptoms of Crohn’s Disease in high school, he took me to countless appointments and hospital procedures. When an emergency surgery had me worried that I would miss my high school graduation, he was there to tell jokes and cheer me up. During my UMHB years, we went to so many football games and worship events together. When I gave an academic presentation of my research on William Wilberforce, he was there. There are so many other examples, I can’t count them all.

He was a pilgrim witness to me, but also to others. I have heard from several of his friends who were blessed by his presence during his years working at Channel 25 in Waco in the 90s. For the past two decades, he helped my grandparents care for their foster children and eventually their adopted kids (his brothers and sisters) once they became permanent members of our family. They have so many stories of their own that I have been blessed to enjoy hearing over the past few weeks. Since 2005, he worked in Special Education as either a paraprofessional or as a teacher, and he poured his heart into so many kids. I always felt as if I knew so many of them personally even though I had never met most of them. He loved those kids. I will miss his stories of them and the ideas he shared with me on how to make their lives more fun while at school. He was the kind of person who would help supply kids with food, clothes, and shoes if they needed them. His coworkers over the years have shared with me how much he encouraged them as well. And any time he saw injustice in the world while watching the news, I often saw his heart break for either trafficked kids or victims of hate crime. There are so many other reasons that he was the ultimate pilgrim witness that it seems impossible to name them all.

Dad meant the world to me, and even though his physical presence is no longer with me, he is still with me through the Holy Spirit. Oh, that I might be just a small fraction of the pilgrim witness that was my Dad. For now, I will rejoice that he is no longer in pain. He is celebrating eternity with the Father. So, you will never hear me say that he lost his battle to cancer. No. He beat cancer. Cancer has been defeated. He did that. God did that through him. He had victory over death thanks to the gift of Christ’s victory over death.

I want to see what he is seeing. I want to smell, taste, hear, and feel what he is smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling. Right now, all I can do is imagine. Honestly, I cannot wait. Even if I live for 70 more years without my Dad, those 7 decades will pale in comparison to the eternity we will spend together. What a day that will be!

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15-17 NKJV).

Dad, you have fought the good fight. You have finished the race. You have kept the faith (see 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV). I love you with all my heart, beyond description. Until that glorious day when we shall see each other once again, see you later Superman!


This Is Just What Heaven Means to Me by Vestal Goodman

Oh Happy Day by Walter Hawkins, Leann Faine, and Angela Spivey

That’s when God wants to hear you sing

SupermanCrusader

It’s been two months since my last blog post. At the time, I wrote about my amazing Dad (a.k.a. Superman). This post is also about Superman, but it is one I never wanted to write. It’s a post that, honestly, I wish I never had to consider. Allow me to provide some context.

Two weeks ago, I planned for a weekend of fun with Dad to celebrate his 53rd birthday. We were going to spend some time at home watching college football together and with BigDaddy and Nana. Baylor playing Texas Tech, UMHB playing ETBU, and of course, the Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners. On Sunday, I was going to take him to the church I work at as a part-time custodian, Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, TX. Then as a birthday present, we were going to have some food at On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. It was going to be a blast.

I got home Thursday evening, the eve of his birthday on October 11, and we were already talking about the food we were going to eat on Sunday. I couldn’t wait. Friday, his birthday, I took him to Scott & White for his CT scan. By the time we got home, he became quite sick with nausea and a headache, so we decided to take him to the hospital at Scott & White Round Rock. I was hoping that maybe it was just a reaction to all that nasty stuff they make you drink before the scans.

After a night spent in the hospital, he had an MRI. Then, from his hospital room, we watched the Texas game, both becoming irritated at their losing to the Sooners. Not long after, a doctor revealed to us what the MRI found. There is a spot in his brain, and if treated with radiation, could lead to significant brain damage. Then she mentioned the word that pierced my heart. Hospice. She asked if we wanted to consider end of life care. I was at a loss for words. My jaw dropped, my heart raced, and I felt a nauseating sensation in the pit of my stomach.

Hospice? I couldn’t wrap my mind around this. So many thoughts flooded my mind. I want him to see me preach my first sermon. I want him to see me graduate from seminary, to see me become an ordained minister, get my first ministry position, watch me fall in love, and get married. I had even asked if he would officiate the ceremony when the time came. I want him to spoil his future grandkids. And I know that these are all things he wanted to experience with me as well. The thought that he might not get to experience these events with me filled me with grief, sadness, and anxiety. But more than anything, I just don’t want to say goodbye to my Dad, my Superman, my best friend.

At this point, as I am typing this, I am weeping. I still can’t face the reality that all of this is happening. If a complete stranger asks me, “How are you doing?” my answer is “good.” If you know me well enough, I’ve reached the point, where I’m blunt about it. I’m not good. I’m not fine. I am in pain. And yet, I find peace in a Heavenly Father who walks with us in all of our struggles and pain.

Fortunately for me, I am surrounded by wonderful and kind people at Truett and Seventh & James. I have received encouragement and prayers from friends in Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. Former high school teachers have uplifted my spirits. My church families at Lawler Baptist, FBC Florence, and FBC Belton are praying with my family and me. Pastors have helped bring me peace and comfort during this time. To help me get my mind off things, my former government teacher from high school spent late into the evening one night, conversing with me about other things. I felt we could talk for hours. We would have probably talked longer if I didn’t have homework and an 8AM class the next day. Others cried with me. One of my former teachers simply reminded me that God loves me and that she loves me. Dr. Todd Still, the dean of the seminary, gave me a hug and assured me he would be praying for my family. My new friends at Truett have shown me their kindness each day. Professors in have encouraged me more than I could ever thank them. I am thankful for all of these people. Also for close friends in Cody Earp, Greggory and Amberlee Miller, Katie Stringer, and Michael Baker. Also for so many others not mentioned here. I don’t know how I could handle this without these wonderful people in my life.

Going back to Dad’s hospital stay, I remember him thanking Jesus and telling our Lord and Savior how much he loves Him. I have never kept it a secret that the one human being who has given me this steadfast love for and faith in God more than anyone else has been my Dad. We have faced so many challenges, even before his first cancer diagnosis in 2013. In the midst of these trials, and still today, Dad gives me hope. He reminds me to trust in the goodness and sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. Yes. We declare. With all our hearts. God is still good. Even when everything seems so overwhelming, God is still good.

I believe in miracles. So, I am constantly praying for one. I’m praying for a miraculous healing for Dad so he can be here for many years to come. But even if that miracle doesn’t happen the way we want it, I still have hope in Christ. It hasn’t been easy. There has been lamenting. I have also said words I so desperately wanted to take back. I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be. But I still have hope in Christ Jesus. Dad has instilled in me that hope. Speaking of miracles, I believe meeting Christ in Heaven, no longer suffering on Earth, is a miracle too. I just hope for one that allows me to spend so much more time with my Superman here on Earth. Call me selfish if you want, but I want him to be at my wedding. Recently, he reminded me that he will certainly be there in one form or another.

Last week, Dad reminded me of his favorite verse in scripture: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV). Why am I still hopeful, given all of our challenges, especially this one? The answer is faith. My faith is in Christ Jesus. I am confident that Christ is with me. I trust in His amazing grace and sovereignty.

Every night, no matter how busy I get, and right now we’re in the middle of midterms, so I’m talking busy, I take time to video chat Dad. This is something I look forward to daily, and that is ending my day seeing his smile and us telling each other about our day and how much we love each other. Sometimes, there are WiFi issues, so occasionally, we must settle with a simple phone call, but the point is that I end each day spending time with Dad even when I’m at Baylor.

I’ve been singing numerous songs lately. This includes hymns such as “In the Garden,” “It is Well,” “Amazing Grace,” and my all-time favorite, “Because He Lives.” I’ve also listened to some newer songs on repeat. “Holy Ground” by Passion, “All My Hope” by David Crowder and Tauren Wells, “Way Maker” by Leeland, and “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters.

I love music. It’s uplifting. It reminds me of the faith I have in Christ, the same faith Dad has shown me my entire life. Growing up, a wonderful couple of evangelists, Paul and Vanessa Cherry, would lead revival at Lawler Baptist each year. A song they sang by Greater Vision that I have listened to and have sung to myself for years is “God Wants to Hear You Sing.” The chorus goes like this:

God wants to hear you sing
When the waves are crashing round you
When the firey darts surround you
When despair is all you see
God wants to hear your voice
When the wisest man has spoken
And says your circumstance is as hopeless as can be
That’s when God wants to hear you sing

Now I find myself singing even more often. In crowds at worship events and sometimes with a hymnal in my apartment. In the midst of everything around me, with the weight and burdens I’m carrying, when everything seems so overwhelming, I am singing. I am using these songs to cry out to God. I am using them as a source of encouragement. I am using them to remind me of God’s goodness. I am using them in prayer and in my lament. God has granted me with so many wonderful songs of his love, grace, and the blessed assurance that He is there.

To my Superman, I love you. Thank you for this level of faith I have in our good, good, Heavenly Father. You have been and continue to be the strongest person I know. I love you beyond description. Though this challenge is great, God is greater. When sadness overwhelms us, I will continue singing, “That’s when God wants to hear you sing!”


Griffin, Rodney. “God Wants to Hear You Sing.” Google Play Lyrics. Web. 25 Oct. 2019.


God Wants to Hear You Sing by Greater Vision

All My Hope by David Crowder and Tauren Wells

God Moves Strong!

2018BlogPhoto1

In just three days, I will begin studying at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. If you were to ask me to name one person, here on earth, who has made the most impact in my life and my desire to pursue ministry, you would get a quick answer. My Dad.

Throughout my 25 years of existence on earth so far, Dad has been my source of strength, compassion, and wisdom. I simply could not fathom how my life would have been without this Godly man to serve me as my father. Even before I was born, he chose the name of Joshua for me. The Hebrew origin of the name means, “The Lord (YAHWEH) is my salvation.” Dad chose this name for me to serve as a reminder that the Lord is always with us.

Growing up, Dad taught me how to pray. I still remember keeping a prayer journal and we would use it to pray for those on our prayer list each night. When I was young, he helped me fall in love with God’s Word by reading me the stories of the Bible. When I had questions, it seemed to me that he had all the answers. One of my other favorite things I would do with Dad was a little guessing game we used to play. One of us would hum (I couldn’t whistle and am still unable to do so) the melodies of our favorite hymns while the other would have to guess which hymn was being hummed.

These are just some of the many memories I have of Dad guiding me along my spiritual journey. He has and continues to be the Godliest man I know. In some of the darkest valleys, he has reminded me to always trust in God’s plan for our lives. In moments of great joy, we have given God the glory for those good things.

When he went back to college while I was in elementary school, he chose the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Occasionally, he took me with him to the campus, allowed me to sit in on a couple classes of his, and over time I too fell in love with what would become an alma mater to us both.

For several decades now, Dad’s passion has been working with kids who have special needs. Part of this stems from taking care of some of the kids my grandparents cared for in foster care and later through adoption into our amazing family. As he worked on his education degree while at UMHB, Dad also worked with many kids in the public-school system who have had various special needs. I have seen the love he has for ministering to kids in this way firsthand. That, in addition to the many stories of how great of an impact these students have had on him, have given me a passion for loving and serving others. His humor (sometimes filled with sarcasm and practical jokes), compassion, and hard work ethic have helped shape me into who I am today. His love for others has inspired me to love others, which has now led me to begin the exciting journey that is a seminary education.

Going into my sophomore year at UMHB, I was thrilled about new classes, new opportunities, and the new friends I would make while being involved in student-led ministries. Roughly a month before the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, I received news that no one wants to hear. “Your dad has cancer.” I was in shock and absolute disbelief. I could not understand how the strongest man I knew had cancer. It was beyond my comprehension that the same person who cared for me my entire life— waited on me when I was hospitalized both as a 4th grader and as a senior in high school, took me to all of my doctor’s appointments, and prayed with me when I couldn’t understand what was wrong with my health— had cancer.

Yet even after his first surgery that summer, he pointed to the heavens repeatedly and said, “Thank you, Jesus.” In the years that followed, he continued to praise a living, amazing, good, good, Heavenly Father who watches over us. In his moments of most difficult pain, he would listen to Kari Jobe and the Gaither Vocal Band on repeat, still praising God with his every breath.

After he defeated cancer the first time and finished chemo, I said, “Hey Dad. Wear your Superman shirt and let’s take a picture.” Since then, I have often called him my Superman, and plenty of people will ask me on occasion, “How’s Superman doing?” One of my closest friendships at UMHB started when a young woman came up to my Dad during Spring Revival (we only knew each other through Facebook at that point) and said, “Is this your Superman?” After I said yes, she shook Dad’s hand, and said, “Sir, I love you so much. You are such an inspiration.” When my Dad beat cancer the first time, we praised God together.

SuperDadandMe

Then I reached Junior year at UMHB and Dad developed a brief infection from chemo that made him feel far worse than the chemotherapy ever did. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how much pain he went through. As I was also struggling with Crohn’s Disease, not understanding why I was feeling extra sick one day, Dad texted me something that I will never forget to this day, something that had me in tears. His text read, verbatim:

It came to me in my weakness that God moves strong. He is shaping me into something awesome for His glory alone. Show me this text in a month and we’ll praise Him together. Love you boy.

God moves strong. God Moves Strong. GOD MOVES STRONG.

Those three words echoed in the back of my mind for some time. Any time I feel discouraged about any circumstance, I remember those words: God Moves Strong.

It reminded me of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What Paul reminds me here, and what Dad reminded me in that text, and still reminds me today, is that while I may not understand why difficult circumstances happen, God can use those weaknesses, those pains, those sufferings, for His glory. While at any point, we may be weak physically, emotionally, spiritually, or in any other way, God can use us and our weaknesses to show how awesome and mighty He is. It’s this simple truth that has given me so much joy, even in the midst of so many hardships. It is why my favorite hymn is a song written by Bill and Gloria Gaither, two of my favorite hymn-writers, titled, Because He Lives. Dad told me recently that he would sing this over me even before I was born. So, naturally, this song is even more meaningful to me.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives

It is only because of the precious blood of Jesus Christ that I can face anything. Bill and Gloria Gaither remind me of this in their song. Paul reminds me of this in scripture. Dad reminds me of this constantly each day. Even in our weaknesses, our pain, and our hurt, we can have hope in Christ Jesus. Life is worth the living because He lives. God can use every part of us for His glory, and to me that is worth celebrating every single day.

In every dark moment I have faced in life, Dad reminded me that God is always with us. In every happy occasion, Dad has taught me that we serve a magnificent God, and when we follow Him obediently, He celebrates with us in those good moments in life. In a few days, I will begin the exciting journey that is seminary. I have so many people to thank for helping me get this far in my spiritual journey. Dad is at the top of this list.

My Superman is still fighting this fight with the good news recently that most spots are either stable or shrinking. He has faced more battles than I can count, and yet he still reminds me of those three simple words he texted to me 5 years ago, words I proclaim every day.

God Moves Strong!


Gaither, William J. and Gloria Gaither, 1971. “Because He Lives.” Google Play Lyrics. Web. 21 Aug. 2019.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 21 Aug. 2019.


Because He Lives by Bill Gaither, Ben Speer, and Guy Penrod

Because He Lives by the David Crowder Band

A Living Hope

As I reflect on the past year, my mind keeps going back to a simple truth, and that is “God is always with us.” For me, the past 12 months has been quite a roller coaster of emotions, trials, hardship, good things, exciting changes, and miracles that remind me the power of our Living God.

Just 12 short months ago, I left the halls of Georgetown High School not knowing what my future would hold, yet trusting in the plans God had for my life. Several weeks later, I received a call from Academy Middle School asking if I would teach Social Studies to 6th and 7th graders. Georgetown was a blessing in my life, but God was directing me to somewhere new. I would transition from an Eagle, whose fight never dies, to a stingin’ Bumblebee. I decorated my new classroom with maps, flags, and posters of people such as MLK, Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, and Maya Angelou to remind kids (and myself) that everyone can make a positive impact on others.

Then came the start of a new school year. I greeted each of my close to 150 students as they walked into my classroom for the first time, not yet knowing what kind of impact they would have on me, but hoping that I could make at least the slightest positive impact on them. Like any teacher, I learned what activities worked and led to fun learning and what… well… didn’t. Overall, I hoped that students would learn to explore the world around them, ask questions, and embrace and respect the awesome differences of people on this planet.

Being in a Social Studies classroom, we learned of both past and current events, and sometimes this led to tough discussions as to why people have to be so cruel to others. Our collective world history has been rife with challenges and violence of individuals and groups of people with hatred and discrimination towards others. For centuries, people were taken from their homes, traded as cargo, and forced to live lives as slaves. A madman and his brown shirts sought to wipe away an entire group of people because of their Jewish faith. Marchers were beaten and killed in the American Deep South and in South Africa because they believed that everyone should be granted basic human rights including the right to simply cast their vote. Slavery still exists, Authoritarian regimes, such as China’s, are still persecuting Christians, Muslims, and others, and hateful people still attack people of faith in Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and Sri Lanka. Yes, bad things happened and still happen, but as I was reminded from the kind hearts of 6th graders, there are so many people who show love and kindness to others. If anything, I hope that the positive stories that we did share reminded them to be lights in their communities.

During our time together, we learned that in the midst of slave trading, John Newton left his work as a slave trader, repented of his wrongdoing, became a monk, wrote the words to Amazing Grace, and tirelessly campaigned to end the slave trade. Martin Luther King, Jr. used his eloquent speaking skills to rally people around the idea that people should not be judged based on the color of their skin, Malala Yousafzai proved that girls deserve an education, Irena Sendler risked her life and was tortured for daring to rescue countless kids from the Nazis, and Nelson Mandela inspired the world to join his cause in ending the Apartheid. I constantly wanted to remind kids that they too can be lights in their communities. “Who’s someone who inspires you,” I once asked. One kid replied, “J.J. Watt. He does kind things for people. I can too.”

Of course, we also learned of the varied culture in this world. Rock-a-billy, Motown, Country, Jazz, and Hip-Hop music that shaped America’s musical landscape, bizarre foods in other parts of the world, dances, holidays, sports, and the various religious traditions of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and many others. I hope that I made Social Studies fun for students and helped them understand that while all of us are different and unique, we are also human beings who can show kindness to one another.

Before teaching about our state, our country, and our world to my students, I always prayed for a good day in which I could encourage at least one student if not more. And then there were moments where they encouraged me. There were countless times when students would stick around after class for a few more seconds to tell me something exciting happening in their lives. I learned that a student got a yorkie that she was constantly excited about. A few others wouldn’t leave my classroom until I shared at least one pun with them. Sometimes, they and others would have jokes of their own. “Did you hear about the kidnapping,” one student asked. “No.” I said. There was a slight pause before he smiled and said, “He’s okay now. He woke up.”

A few gave me drawings, plenty of different presents, and one gave me a thoughtful letter at the end of the year to thank me for teaching her things she had never learned before about history. I am thankful for my interactions with these students.

Of course, there were challenging circumstances outside of school as well. Dad’s cancer came back in several locations, including his brain, and with that, radiation and chemotherapy. Yet through all of that, Dad has been the one who has most encouraged me and has reminded me that God is there. God is with us. God will bring us through any circumstance. God is faithful. He cares for and loves us. Trust in Him always. God is good all the time.

My students saw me trying not to get emotional one day. They asked about me. I had just spoken to Dad on the phone before that class period. I told them my good thing of my Dad’s cancer shrinking. They cheered and celebrated with me. With the recent news that the spots in his brain have shrunk to almost nothing, my coworkers have also celebrated with me.

It’s difficult to understand why certain things happen, whether it’s evil in this world or a loved one battling a dreadful disease. Yet even in the midst of all of the pain and hurt in this world, I still have hope. My students have given me hope. Dad gives me hope. And the unfailing, majestic, powerful, good, good, Heavenly Father gives me hope.

We will face trials, hardship, and setbacks, but a song sung by Bethel Music I have been listening to lately reminds me that in Christ there is hope to be found.

Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope

Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus, Yours is the victory, whoa!

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope!

What a beautiful reminder that we serve such a powerful God. The same God that created the universe, the giant galaxies, and the subatomic particles, is the same God who created us. We can have hope in God. Death could not defeat Him. Death cannot defeat us. In Christ, I have hope.

I am now leaving Academy a better person than when I arrived at this wonderful school. As I embark on an exciting new journey of ministry as I study at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary, I will always be thankful for the memories made as a Bumblebee and the continued hope I have thanks to not only God and my family, but also because of these students. I am blessed beyond measure!


Some verses for encouragement:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

~ Isaiah 43:2

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-9


Bethel Music. Living Hope. By Phil Wickham and Brian Mark Johnson. Google Play Lyrics. Web. 06 Jun. 2019.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 06 Jun. 2019


Living Hope by Bethel Music

Living Hope by Phil Wickham

I Am Not Alone!

Well, it’s been two weeks since I last posted my blog, and somehow the same thought keeps running through my mind, “I am not alone.”

If I could sum up the last two weeks since my last blog, that is the simple statement I would use to describe my thoughts, “I am not alone.”

In all the trials and circumstances, I have faced, or I have seen others face, I am left with the reassurance that Christ is always with me and that he will never leave or forsake me. Another thing I am sure of is the fact that as a collective body of believers, we are never truly alone. We all go through something, we all struggle, and we all face hardship. Yet when we join together as believers, we realize that so many people are fighting are battles alongside us and we are joining them in their fights as well through the power of prayer and living life together. I can’t tell you how many times people at school will come up to me and ask how I am doing, how school is going, and how my Dad is doing.

I have learned that other believers truly care what circumstances you are facing, and that’s one of the many things I love about going to a small Christian school in central Texas, people care.

Last Thursday was our second night of Worship in the Quad of the school year, a weekly worship service Michael Baker and I lead every Thursday night at 8:00. The first week, I gave a message on defining ourselves by the power of Christ working in us instead of defining ourselves by our own shortcomings, and last week, I shared my testimony while reminding others that they have a powerful story worth sharing.

I am excited for this year as I have had a couple of people already wanting to share their testimonies at Worship. Over the past few years, as I have helped lead this wonderful ministry, I have seen just how true the statement “I am not alone” truly is. We all have a different testimony, a different story of how God has shaped our lives. Every single one of our stories is unique. I have gathered a strong sense of community by inspiring others with my story and having them inspire me and others with their stories. In this, I have realized that as believers, we are all in this thing called life together. When one person is going through something, we must support him or her through the power of prayer and by simply living life with that person.

I have also learned this truth when I am with my amazing family. Throughout high school and college, I have faced a number of challenges, and every time, my family has been there to lift me up and remind me to always trust in God with all my heart. And when they face trials themselves, I have sought to repay their love and kindness with more love and kindness. That’s what families are supposed to do. They are supposed to lift each other up when one needs support and encouragement, and this truth extends to the greater Christian family as well.

The past few months with the return of Dad’s cancer and seeing him start the process of a long six months of chemo, I have realized that we are not alone. When I am going through something, I know my Superman Dad and my awesome grandparents are there to cheer me up. And as my Dad endures the pain of chemotherapy, I hope he never forgets that he is never alone. I am with him. Our entire family is with him. People he doesn’t even know are with him. Most importantly, Christ is with him!

Dad and I absolutely love football, especially Baylor, Texas, and Texas A&M, as well as UMHB games when we can make them. Every weekend, I always look forward to some awesome time spent with him watching football. During halftime of last Saturday’s Baylor game, as Texas and Texas A&M were also winning against their opponents, we watched the tail end of the Oklahoma at Tennessee game.

Early in that game, it looked as if Tennessee was sure to win. With less than 5 minutes left in the first half, Tennessee was up 17-0 when Oklahoma scored a field goal to make it 17-3. With no one scoring in the 3rd quarter, it would look as if Tennessee, having the home field advantage was going to secure the win. Then Oklahoma rallied, scored 14 in the fourth to send the game into overtime. First overtime: both teams score a touchdown. It’s now tied at 24. Second overtime: Oklahoma scores a touchdown and now Tennessee must answer with a touchdown to send it into yet another overtime. After two plays and a false start by the Volunteers, the Oklahoma Sooners intercept the ball to win the game. Both Oklahoma’s offense and defense helped upset Tennessee on their turf.

While the Sooners may have struggled to begin the game, they realized that they had their other teammates to help them when one player had a bad play or when two interceptions were thrown by the quarterback. As Christians, we must realize that like football players on the field, we are never alone. We don’t just struggle by ourselves, we all struggle together, and when we realize that we are in this thing called life together, we are stronger. As the goal of football players during a game is to win the game, our goal as Christians should always turn towards Christ. When we are together in that, we realize that our mission becomes so much easier.

Even a much greater example of coming together in the midst of our individual trials comes in how a nation or an entire global society comes together during horrific tragedy. Last Friday was the 14th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Several thousand people, including those from every continent lost their lives that day. Yet even in the midst of such turmoil, people came together as we realized that we were not Republicans or Democrats or Independents. We were Americans, and in a greater context, we were of the global human race. We came together, and in the midst of our trials, we became stronger, because we were together.

Not only are we not alone as other believers are there with us, but more than that, God is with us! Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV) tells us:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

No matter what we face in this life, we are never alone. In every situation both good and bad, in every happy moment, in every hardship, in every circumstance, God will always be with us. He will go before us.

As I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart this morning, I cried as the radio played, “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe.

When I walk through deep waters 
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through 
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

I cried tears of joy because I know that I am not alone, I know that Dad is not alone, I know that you are not alone. We are never truly alone when we go through something. For my Dad, of course chemo will be rough, but he will have an army of believers behind him every step of the way, and more than that, God will always be with him.

When we choose to follow Christ, we must realize that we are never alone. We are never ever alone!

Even when I face trials, even when those I love face trials, I will remember these words: I AM NOT ALONE!


Jobe, Kari. I Am Not Alone. By Kari Jobe, Austin Davis, Ben Davis, Mia Fieldes, Grant Pittman, Marty Sampson, and Dustin Sauder, 2014. K-Love. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.


I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe

God With Us by MercyMe

In Christ Alone

What should I write? How should I say it? These were some of the questions that crossed my mind as I thought about this week’s blog. As always, God used various things such as music to share a different aspect of His truth with me.

As many of you know, I love love love music. I frequently reference a variety of Christian music in my blog. Yesterday, as I was getting ready for church, Dad started playing songs sung by Michael English. One song stuck out to me and that was the song, “In Christ Alone,” (see video below) which made me realize that it is only through Christ that I can do anything, and when something glorious happens, I should boast only in Him. When difficult circumstances arise, the first person I should turn to is Jesus. In Christ Alone.

So before I continue with my thoughts, here are the lyrics to this song…

In Christ alone will I glory
Though I could pride myself in battles won
For I’ve been blessed beyond measure
And by His strength alone I overcome
Oh, I could stop and count successes
Like diamonds in my hand
But those trophies could not equal
To the grace by which I stand

Before I continue with the rest of the song, allow me to focus on what this first verse showed me. I could talk about all of the different things I have accomplished in life, such as good grades, various scholarships, achieved goals, but the truth is that none of that could have been possible without Christ. I could talk about all that He has blessed me with, yet I cannot overlook that is He who has given me those blessings. All these successes, and all of these blessings in life are great, but none of it could possibly compare to God’s matchless grace. None of these “trophies” could equal to the eternal relationship I have with Christ. In Christ Alone.

The chorus goes like this…

In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone

In every circumstance, good or bad, instead of trusting in the world and relying on Earthly things, I should place my every trust in Him. Only through Him, can I accomplish anything worth accomplishing. Sure, I certainly work hard, and hard work is needed to accomplish many of life’s goals, but without Christ, all that hard work would be for nothing. Christ loved us so much that He sacrificed Himself on the cross so that we could have a forever relationship with Him. So that is where I will find my glory, in the power of what He did on the cross. When I am victorious, let it be said of me that my ultimate source of strength, the biggest reason why I succeeded, the reason I had hope that it could be done, is only by the power of Christ. In Christ Alone.

The second verse is as follows:

In Christ alone will I glory
For only by His grace Am I redeemed
Only His tender mercy
Could reach beyond my weakness to my need
Now I seek no greater honor
Than just to know Him more
And to count my gains but losses
To the glory of my lord

I have come to realize that even in the bad circumstances, I should praise Him. Only through Christ, can I overcome any challenge or any trial. For truly through Him, I am REDEEMED! When I am with Christ, when my hope is placed in Him, I am not broken, scarred, bruised, ashamed, sick, or afraid. Instead I am loved, I am His, I am REDEEMED! Only His grace and mercy can pull me out of any situation. So in every circumstance, I should seek His face. Therefore I glory in trials, and I thank Him for my weaknesses, my sufferings. These circumstances allow me to fully rely on Him, and they draw me closer to Him. There is without a doubt no greater honor than to know Him more and more. Only by His love, can I live a life worth living. In Christ Alone.

So why should I fear, why should I worry? If my life is filled with Christ, if I am alive in Him, what is there to fear? In Christ alone, I can find courage, peace, and reassurance. And if am successful, how can I not give Him the credit for giving me the strength and wisdom to get the job done? It is in Christ alone, that I can truly find meaningful success. Without Him, my accomplishments would be for nothing. When life is going great, how can I not thank Him and give Him the glory? It is in Christ alone that I can truly be happy and enjoy life to the fullest.

Therefore, because of all of this truth, I will only boast in Jesus. How could I possibly boast in anything else? This reminds me of part of a song sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean called “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I cannot boast in anything else! Any talent I have, any success I have is absolutely worthless without Christ. Therefore let my heart give Him all the glory, and let me boast in Him above all else. He gave His life for me (yes me!). I am so unworthy, of this sacrifice, yet He gave His life for me anyways. The very least I can do is give Him all the glory and boast in Him. In Christ alone will I boast!

As imperfect as I am, He chose me to be used for His glory. He chose me despite any weakness I have. What an honor! He chose all of us according to His purpose. He didn’t choose perfect people. He chose imperfect people. Never believe the lie that God cannot use you. Society may sometimes overlook you and tell you that you are worthless, but who cares what society thinks? God’s opinion is the only one that truly matters and He thinks you are precious and someone that can be used for His glory! It is often those society overlooks whom God uses to carry out His plan.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (The Message) says this:

26-31 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

Worded in another translation (NIV), the last verse says this:

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Society may tell you that you are a nobody. God thinks the opposite! He can use you and every part of you for His purpose. So boast in the Lord. Blow your trumpet for Him! It is in Him alone, that anything is possible.

When life is going great, when we find success, let us give Him the glory and remember that only in Him are all of these blessings and successes meaningful. When life has us “down,” let us remember to call ourselves REDEEMED and know that only in Him can we find strength and courage to overcome any challenge. When we feel worthless, feel as if we cannot be used for His glory, let us remember that we can be used for His purpose, and that it is through Christ that we find worth. So let us boast in Him and blow our trumpet for Christ.

In every situation, let us always remember these words: IN CHRIST ALONE!


English, Michael. In Christ Alone. By Donald A. Koch and Andrew Shawn Craig, 1991. Lyrics007. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.

Phillips, Craig & Dean. How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. By Stuart Townend, 1995. SongLyrics. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.

The Message. Bible Gateway. Web. 3 Aug. 2015.


In Christ Alone by Michael English

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by Phillips, Craig & Dean