Monthly Archives: April 2011

Much Needed Encouragement

Hello again friends! It’s been almost a week since my last post, so I was really feeling like I needed to get on here and do some thinking, which is really all this is.  As things come into my life, I think about them, and if I can’t stop thinking about them, I get on here and type out my thoughts! (That’s probably why some stuff on here doesn’t make much sense =P)

When I got up this morning, I was in a bad mood.  I didn’t sleep well last night (the results of taking a 4 hour nap during the day…oops!), and when I woke up I was just really bummed.  My friends had gone to Boulder, so I was pretty much stuck up at school for the day.  I thought, “I’ll just go read my bible and that will put me in a better mood!”…well, I went to read my bible, but I was completely unfocused in mind and heart and didn’t really get anything out of it.  I was reading the words on the page, but because of my distraction, they weren’t anything more than that.  So I came back to my room and was sitting on my bed wallowing in self-pity, complaining to Anna about how bored I was, and how unsuccessful my morning reading of the bible had gone. Well, being the beautiful and amazing girlfriend that she is, Anna gave me a verbal slap on the back of the head and said “try again. Pray and refocus your mind and try again.”  And me, being the (at times) selfish person I am, didn’t want to do that.  But prior to that, she gave me a bunch of ideas of things to do, one of which was to go over to the Snyder family‘s house and hangout with them, which is always fun.  So as I was walking over to their house, I got another text from Anna that said “make the best of your time. give thanks in all circumstances.”  That was exactly what I needed to hear.

I got to the Snyder house and was welcomed in by their youngest daughter, who immediately instructed me not to touch the heater because, well, it was hot (amazing how logical 2 and a half year olds are), and she didn’t want me to break it.  I was then offered coffee and toast, and got to sit and have breakfast with them, an experience I will never forget.  The youngest Snyder girl talked my ear off about bugs, and how helpful ladybugs are to farmers, while other bugs aren’t as helpful because they eat stuff.  Haha I couldn’t help but laugh and be encouraged by the conversation. I realized that while other people were struggling to find food and shelter, God had blessed me with the opportunity to talk bugs with the Snyder girls!

Immediately I stopped and begin giving thanks to God for the blessings He has seen fit to give me, and took Anna’s advice, making the most of my time.  I sat with Erik and talked about life while I drank my coffee and listened to the girls laughing and playing.  It’s amazing how much you can learn from children. I was reminded of how joyful life really is, and how much Christ loves us as Camille (the youngest of the Snyder girls) yelled (her usual means of communication) “Jesus is alive!”  Wow. I was getting schooled by a two and a half year old in what it means to celebrate life through Jesus.

It amazes me how God works things out in all areas of life.  In my relationship with Anna, my relationship with friends, and my relationship with Him.  Things work out much better when I just sit back and let Him do the heavy lifting, instead of interfering.  I was very discouraged, so God led me to the Snyder house for some much needed encouragement.  If you asked him, Erik would claim to be wise.  He would say that he is just living in Christ and offering advice from the experiences God has given him.  We talked a lot about our parents, marriage, what it looks like to have a God centered relationship, and how to put faith and trust in Christ to be the provider for your family.  When I left their house (it was nap time), I couldn’t believe how much my attitude had been changed by the amazing conversation and laughter with the Snyders.

When things don’t go my way, I tend to get frustrated and disappointed, as I talked about in my last post.  So this morning, when I got up and realized I had nothing to do today, which is rarely fun, I got frustrated and bitter.  So when I read my bible, I wasn’t even interested in being open to hear God’s voice.  It took the loving slap in the back of the head from Anna to jump start me into realizing that I had nothing to be mad at.  Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  It’s amazing what can happen when you do these things, and live in God’s will for your life.  Our guest lecturers said this week (Joe Urcavich and Colonel David Neetz) that God’s will for our lives is not an action as we tend to think of it, it is the way in which we live.  When we live in God’s will, we are able to simply do what we want, because when God is our focus we will want to do what He wants us to do.

I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life as encouragements.  It it weren’t for Anna and the Snyders, my day would not have been the day that it has become: A day of thankfulness.


Back on Track

So some of you may have noticed that I had a post earlier today called “The Simple Life.”  Funny story…I spent about an hour describing my plans for the summer, what I wanted to do, how I was going to do it, etc.  Which isn’t at all why I originally started this blog.  So, when I clicked publish, it said that it had published, but when I went to view it….it was blank.  And when I refreshed the page, it was like I had never typed it at all.  So, naturally, I got mad.  Borderline angry in fact.  Part of it was that I had spent an hour of my life typing all this out, and it was gone, but I think the deeper anger was seeded in my pride.  That post had been all about me.  You might think, “well ya it was about you, it’s your blog.” Which is true, but when I was typing it I was purposely not mentioning God.  I thought my last few posts had been too “preachy” and started worrying about what you, the readers, would think.  I realize now that my whole purpose for even starting this blog was to proclaim Christ and His work in my life.  So I think the “error” was God’s way of saying, “I’m sorry, who is this blog about again?”

After praying about it and coming to this realization, I started thinking about how angry we (myself included) get when things don’t go our way.  When we are little and things don’t go how we want them to, we cry, throw tantrums, scream, and act like our whole world has crashed down.  When we are adults and something doesn’t go our way, we become bitter, distant, and try to think of ways that we can get back at whoever or whatever prevented our wishes from coming true.  How childlike is that?  If it weren’t for our ability as adults to keep our facial expression composed, we would look like children pouting in the corner!  I’m totally guilty of this.  When that post didn’t work, I found myself sitting with my brow furrowed and my arms crossed like a 2 year old who got a toy taken away!

Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” But wait, I thought Paul said in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and yet do not sin…”  And many many times in the Old Testament you find the phrase “The anger of the Lord burned”.  So how can the Bible, which doesn’t contradict itself, say that we shouldn’t be angry when God Himself gets angry?

The answer is really another question: what are you angry at? and why?  When God gets angry, He is angry because of the sin that His people are committing, or because someone (Moses specifically comes to mind) was doubting Him and basically saying, “I know what You said, but I think I’ll do it this way instead, it seems better.”  Psalm 145:8-9 reads, “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.  The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.”  When God got angry, it was out of His righteous and love.  He could see that what the Israelites, or whoever, were doing, and was angered by their sin and disbelief.  Most of the time when we get angry, is it for the benefit of others?  Probably not.  It’s a selfish anger that stems from our pride.  Now when Paul says to be angry but don’t sin, he means that we should imitate God in His righteous anger.  Be angry at slavery, be angry at sex-trafficking, be angry at poverty.  Be angry at the things that make God angry: sin and injustice.

In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus said, “You have heard is said, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be subject to judgement.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be subject to judgment.”  WOAH! Let’s see, by my count, I’ve committed murder at least 5 times today.  How about you?  How on earth are we expected to live up to that standard?  The truth is, we can’t live up to it, but Christ did, and can through us.

There are countless teachings like this one, that we often view as harsh or unreasonable, but are part of Christ’s teaching.  I view these teachings as reinforcement for the fact that there is NOTHING I can do to save myself.  There are no deeds I can do to make myself righteous before God.  But the amazing thing is that since Christ is living in me and through me, when God looks at me, He sees perfection.  Christ died once and for all so that all of our anger and hatred would be paid for.  When Christ was hanging on the cross, the last thing He said before He died was “It is finished.”  The Greek word for this phrase was the same word that merchants would stamp on receipts when the person had completed their payments.  It literally translates to “The debt has been paid in full!”  How sweet is that?!  When Christ died, He paid every sin that I have committed, and all of the sins that I will commit in the future.

I was writing that other post out of fear of what others might think, but now I realize that I would be doing everyone a disservice by hiding the LIFE that Christ offers.  So what are you waiting for? This is the best gift that anyone could receive, and it’s available to everyone! All you have to do is ask for it!!!

Isaac

I’d love to talk with you about any questions you may have regarding any of my posts.  Feel free to email me at Isaac.Shoman@comcast.net or send me a facebook message.  Can’t wait to hear from you.


How Sweet the Sound

This week our guest lecturer is Zane Black.  He is on staff at Timberline (one of our sister schools just across the mountains) and also works with Dare-2-Share, an awesome ministry that equips young people to talk about their faith.  Zane is on fire for Christ and it has been awesome learning from him so far this week.

He said something last night that struck me: “Your story is really His story…and that’s all you need.”  I have never been good at sharing my faith, and I think that’s because I have been so focused on having all the answers, and less focused on whose story it really is.  I don’t have to have all the answers, and that is really comforting.  Hearing Zane say that made me realize that it’s not all about head knowledge, it’s about life experience, and how Christ has worked in my life.  So I thought I would get on here and share a little bit about my story.

I was born at a very young age (I couldn’t resist) on November 14th to my lovely parents, and joined my sister in making their life more difficult.  I was raised in the church, but my faith was always just my parents faith.  I went to church because they did, and I kept going because I got lots of candy and got to hang out with my friends.  Skipping ahead, when I got to high school I was still going to church (I was even singing up front helping lead worship), but I was living a double life.  When I was at church, or church events, I was the one that knew all the verses and typical church answers.  But when I was at school, I was whoever I needed to be liked.  Towards the end of the summer before my senior year of high school I was hanging out with some guys and got a phone call that one of my best friends since elementary school had been in a car accident, and that one of the other people involved in the crash had died.  I became so angry with God.  Why would He allow that to happen? My friend didn’t deserve this. Who did He think He was doing this to my friend.  After that I turned my back on God.  I didn’t want to worship a God that would let that kind of thing happen.  So I turned to the things of this world.  I used the gifts God had given me for evil.  I started drinking a lot and partying more.  I would  tell girls whatever they wanted to hear so I could get what I wanted from them, and then never talk to them again.  I had become so consumed by this lifestyle that I shut everyone out.  Even my best “friends” weren’t really my friends.  I was never open with them unless it was of some benefit to me.

I graduated high school as a kid who had no idea who he was.  A lot of my older friends were at U of O (University of Oregon), and I heard they had a really good party scene, so I decided to go there.  I could feel God telling me not to go, but I had ignored Him for so long, and my heart had become so hardened towards Him, that it was barely more than a whisper.  And a whisper is pretty easy to ignore.  At U of O I continued my life of sin, joined a fraternity, and lived the “college life”.  I was beyond drunk almost every weekend, and although I put on a front of happiness, I was miserable.  Apparently the Holy Spirit doesn’t enjoy hangovers, and He was letting me know it.  I almost completely stopped going to class, and I honestly don’t know how even passed my classes.

When I moved home from Eugene, I was angry. Angry at my parents because they told me that they weren’t going to pay for me to go back to school just so I could barely get by, angry at God, and angry with myself. I didn’t want to set foot into a church again, but because of the respect I have for my parents, I decided I would suffer through it every week. My parents told me that I should pray about where God wanted me to go. The idea of praying for guidance was a foreign concept for me. But I decided I’d do it because I didn’t expect to hear an answer, so I could tell my parents that I prayed, and then do whatever I wanted to do, just like always. I didn’t talk to God anymore, so why would He talk to me?….or so I thought. Now, I’ve heard stories about God dramatically intervening in people’s lives, but I never thought it would ever happen to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  For whatever reason, I decided I’d go read my bible and pray…because I assumed that was the correct order of things.  For three days in a row, I would flip through the pages with my thing, close my eyes, and randomly stop somewhere and read it.  Well, for three days in a row I found myself reading Jonah…I know…crazy right? Especially because in the midst of the mini-novel sized books of the Old Testament, Jonah is only 4 chapters, and is only 1 page front and back.  So as far as probability goes…I shouldn’t have stopped on that exact page once, let alone three days in a row.

Now, in the midst of all this my parents were renting out the extra rooms in our house.  I was really skeptical, and expected to have to put up with weird people.  What I didn’t expect was to come home to find two of the kindest, most joyful, God-fearing women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I didn’t understand how they could be so genuine when they asked me how I was doing. Most of the time it upset me that they could be so joyful when I was so angry at everything. Although they didn’t know it at the time, I was very close to walking away from Christ altogether. But because of the love that they both showed me in my time of need, Christ melted my heart of stone. I can look back and honestly say that if it weren’t for them, there is no way that I would be at a bible school in Colorado. It was absolutely God’s will for them to be in my parents’ house, and to become part of my family, and without them, I would still be lost.

By the end of summer I wasn’t nearly as angry as I had been, and although I wasn’t living my life for Jesus yet, I was beginning to come around.  I started taking classes at a local community college and was living at home, surrounded by the love of Christ.  I still wasn’t sure why God had made Jonah about as obvious as a neon flashing sign, but I kept thinking about it.  So when I went to church one Sunday and my pastor said “We’re starting a series on Jonah this week…” it was like the sign just got made into a billboard, and everything hit me all at once and I started crying in church before the sermon even started (I can’t imagine what the people around me thought, seeing this kid crying before the sermon had even started…usually that doesn’t happen until afterwards).

So, I ended up turning back to God, realizing that it was pointless to run (as Psalm 139 makes it clear, there is nowhere you can go to escape God), and went to a bible school.  It wasn’t until a week ago today that I gave me entire life to Christ.  Everything I’m now doing, is not me, but Christ doing it.  As Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I can’t even listen to the song “Amazing Grace” without tearing up.  “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”…I find myself speechless when I try to explain my gratitude to God for rescuing me from my life of sin.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by GRACE you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Did you hear that? It’s a gift.  You don’t have to do anything but accept it.  Sure, you can argue theology all day, but you can’t argue the change that has occured in my life because of this gift of grace.

I am no longer the man I once was, for “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17).  The same God who created the heavens and the earth loves me, and has redeemed me. And He loves you too…so what are you waiting for?  All it takes is to accept the gift that Christ freely offers, and you will “have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).

This is my story. Which is really His story.  He’s waiting to tell His story in your life.  Will you let Him?

 


The Mountains

This is the view I had while on Pole Hill on Saturday. I hope this gives you a better understanding of why I was in such awe of God and His creation.


On the Hill with God

After listening to the sermon on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-21; found here), I thought I would take advantage of the beautiful day yesterday and go on a short hike up to the top of Pole Hill (the hill that my school is on) and spend some quality time in the Word.  As a side note, on my way up I couldn’t help thinking, “I wonder what Moses felt like, being 80+ and having to keep hiking up and down Mt. Sinai?”  I mean, I’m 21, and granted I’m not in the best shape of my life (far from it), but come on…God couldn’t just let him go half way up or so?

But anyways, I was up there, and was amazed at the view!  I was perched at the highest point on Pole Hill, and could see every one of the many surrounding mountains.  All of them covered with snow and glistening under the illumination of the sun.  Before I started reading I was in awe that the same God who created all of these mountains made me as well.  And not only that, but that God views us as his MASTERPIECE! He breathed His life into us at the creation of man, and we were made in His image, and He saw that we were good.  Yes, the mountains are beautiful, and God loves His creation as well, but we are his most loved creation.  And He loved us so much that He send His Son to die for us.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  How awesome is that?!  Christ sacrificed His rightful throne in heaven to become a man and suffer and die for each one of us, with the goal of presenting us as righteous before God.  It’s hard to fully wrap our human minds around it, and we probably never will, but that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that we take advantage of this amazing gift that has been given to us, and live our lives to glorify Him.

I was reading in Romans 5, and was confronted with how much God truly loves us. Verses 6-11 read:

6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through who we have now received the reconciliation.”

Can you believe that?! Just look at the love of Christ in these verses!  Before Christ died for us, we (the human race) were helpless, so God sent Christ to die for us at His perfect time.  Then Paul basically says “Nobody would want to die for a righteous man, but I guess someone might think about dying for a good man, but Christ died for us while were still His enemies!”  Would you die for your “enemy”? I know we don’t have enemies like they used to have in the medieval days, but think of someone you really really don’t like…would you die for them?  What Christ did for us is beyond words.  And not only did He reconcile us with Him while we were His enemies, but now we shall be saved by His life (verse 10).

What I believe Paul to be saying is this, “You can’t do it.  You never could.  But Christ died for you to make you righteous.  So just live for Him and let Him bless you through His life.”  So be joyful!!! God loves you! Christ died for you to express that love, and now it is up to us to live into the story of Christ, and, through faith in Him, live life as we were created to.

 

Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me, or post a comment at the bottom.


Joy!

This week has been one of the most revolutionary weeks of my life so far. I was sitting in Starbucks on Tuesday working on an assignment for class that involved searching through the Gospels.  I was repeatedly struck with the love that Christ embodied to everyone He came in contact with, even the Pharisees who continually set themselves against Him. Chris Thomas (International Director of Torchbearers) is teaching through Romans with us right now, and Tuesday morning in class he said that if you don’t feel obligated to share the Gospel with others, as Paul talks about in Romans, there is something wrong. Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?”  This is Paul’s driving force in his ministry.  He is proclaiming the gospel and planting churches all over Asia (besides the fact that Jesus flat out told him to) to repay God for all of the blessings that He has given Paul.

After thinking about it, I realized that I didn’t have the desire to share the gospel, and that really convicted me.  It got me thinking about my life and how comfortable I’ve made it.  Besides coming to Ravencrest, every major decision I have made since high school has been based on how comfortable it would make me.  I have been choosing comfort over God’s plan almost every time.  I finished the assignment I was working on and began to pray, asking God to instill in me a passion for the gospel. For the first time, I felt the joy of the Lord in me.  I don’t really know how to explain it exactly, but I felt that for the first time I was now 100% focused on Christ. I started thinking of all the ways I could do that, which included starting this blog. I would make posts and share Christ through them, and, through Facebook, allow my friends to read it. As I started signing up for a blog, it was almost audibly that I heard God say “Is this really all you are willing to do for me? I felt God saying to me, “Seek me, and I will teach you how to share the Gospel”.

I feel like God might be calling me towards the pastorate…which terrifies me. This Fall I am going to start progressing towards a degree online through Oregon State and get a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences.  I didn’t really want to do it, it just seemed like the easiest thing to do.  I kept trying to justify my decision by saying “it’s interesting to me, and if I feel like going into ministry later, it will come in handy.”  The problem with that is that I was focusing on what I want to do, not what God wants me to do.  I realize now that God can use any decisions I make (good or bad) to complete His will.  At first I was only going to get this degree because it was easy and comfortable, but now I am confident that God is going to use the knowledge I gain in whatever ministry He has planned for my future, whether that’s a pastor, or something else.

I emailed my parents and sister because I value their opinion more than anyone else’s.  The response I got was amazing.  My dad greatly encouraged me! He suggested that I  get involved in ministry in my church in some capacity to find out what my strengths are, and to let God direct me to the branch of ministry where He wants me.  I found myself in tears, standing on the deck of my dorm, not knowing exactly why I was crying.  I realized the next day that they were tears of JOY!  I was finally connected to Christ in a real, powerful, and life-changing way, and I was moved to tears.  There are a lot of changes happening in my life, but I know that whatever decisions I make won’t be made outside of Christ.  I can’t explain it, but it’s as if nothing is as important as my new found relationship with Christ.  So whatever God asks me to do, my answer will be yes.

Our guest lecturer this week was Richard Dahlstrom, pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle.  He was leading us through Genesis giving us life lesson after life lesson, and even though I had read Genesis multiple times, I finally connected with it.  Through my experience on Tuesday, I became terrified.  I kept thinking “I couldn’t be a pastor, or teach…I don’t even know where to start. He couldn’t possibly be asking me to do that.”  Richard kept emphasizing how God calls the weak again and again through Scripture.  And that it isn’t about what I can and can’t do, because Christ lives in me, and He can do all things.  Philippians 4:13 reads, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  Only now have I come to understand the true meaning of that verse.  When I am living my life for Christ, he will equip me to do the things He calls me to.  That, to me, is one of the most amazing things that God does for us.

I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years, or if I’ll even be here at all.  But I am confident that God’s will is going to be done, and that I don’t have to worry, because He is in control, and I’m not.  And I love it.


Welcome to my blog!

If you’re reading this, you either know me, or took a wrong turn somewhere in the Inter-webs.  Either way, I’m glad you’re here!  I’ve never been much of a writer…which seems pretty counterintuitive to read in a blog.  Nonetheless I wanted to start this blog as a way of getting my thoughts on paper (albeit electronic paper) and allowing you, the reader, the chance to give feedback if you feel the need. Hopefully I’ll have the courage to post the tough stuff, and keep at it!  This is also a way for me to keep you all updated on my life, even if you don’t really care! 🙂  Life is moving fast for me, and I probably need this blog more than you do, but I’ll keep telling myself that you really want to read it.  Just to make myself feel better.  I’m currently facing a lot of different options for what to do in the fall (typical college student…I know), and I’m trying my best to live into God’s will for my life, and not my own.  So, as I figure things out, I’ll make more posts to keep you updated! Happy Wednesday!