Life-Giving Hope

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“I was a ‘good’ kid with great parents who spent a lot of time with us, loved us, and invested in us. I would have called myself a Christian and even made a profession of faith when I was seven, but there was no evidence of genuine faith in my life (no Spirit-wrought conviction over sin, no desire for repentance or for God’s Word).

“My dad was diagnosed with AIDS when I was a junior in high school. Back in 1991, there was little known about the disease. At the time, we were told he contracted the disease through dental work. We were also told it was terminal, but for the next two years, he got better. He worked from home, allowing us to spend more time together. He was my best friend, and I assumed that God wouldn’t allow my dad to die.

“The summer after I graduated high school, his health quickly went down, and in a couple of months, he died. His death was devastating to me as an 18-year-old. I wanted to escape from my grief. And my time became consumed by two things: racing cars and drinking.

“Shortly after my dad’s death, my mom remarried, and that fueled my anger and grief even more. I moved out and cut communication with my mom, continuing to spiral downwards, running away from God, and pursuing things of this world.

“My older sister saw the kind of life I was living – bouncing around to different friends’ houses, sleeping in my car, and jobless after being fired from a mechanic shop job because I was stealing car parts to sell on the side. She suggested I move in with her and her husband at Texas A&M.

“Moving seemed like a fresh start, but I quickly found out that it wasn’t my circumstances or my surroundings that were causing me to sin. It was a sinful heart. I moved places but found myself doing the same exact things.

“My sister had one condition: I had to go to church. I obliged, and after about a year of attending, the Lord opened my eyes to my sin and brokenness through the preaching of the gospel. I finally saw the beauty and truth of Christ, who lived the perfect life I couldn’t live, died the death I deserve for my sin, and was raised from the dead so that I could have new life. In short, he saved and changed me by His mercy.

“Instead of racing on Wednesday nights, I got plugged in at a local church and was discipled by my college pastor. He taught me so much about living as a Christian, and he challenged me to read Scripture.

“Within weeks, I sold my race car and could not stop consuming God’s life-giving Word. After a couple of months, I read through the entire Bible. (At 21, this was the first book I had ever read from cover to cover!)

“From Genesis to Revelation, the life-giving hope and message of what Christ did for me changed my life. It was in those months that I strongly felt the desire to study, live, and teach God’s Word.

“A short time after, we reconciled with my mom, and she told us about a lot of sin in my dad’s life that she had kept from us. Learning about my dad and his sin was an absolute shock, but in God’s kindness, He used those things to drive me to Himself and His Word.

“Had I found out the truth about my dad even a few months before, my life would’ve unraveled even more. It’s the Lord’s mercy that He saved me when He did. I was already being shaped and changed by His Word, and this reality of our lives drove me even more to Him. Now, God’s Word drives me to be a faithful father and husband, and I love to teach it.

“My thirst for learning culminated in me doing a PhD in theology, and for the past decade, I have taught theology at Southern Seminary and Boyce College in Louisville, KY. Now I have the opportunity to teach in the Watermark Institute and serve as Watermark’s Senior Director of Equipping. I have said many times that I think the Lord called me to teach His Word because I need to hear it most. It’s been so shaping and transformative in me, and before anyone else, I need to hear God’s trustworthy, life-giving Word that’s fulfilled in Christ. What a gift!

“And if that’s not enough, God has graciously given me even more, which is seen most clearly in my wife, Cindy, and three kids. Through marriage, infertility, miscarriages, grief, and now parenthood, we continually thank the Lord for His undeserved favor. My wife is further proof that God’s grace is stunning and undeserved, and our kids are a sweet joy to us. Grace upon grace.”