Thursday, December 23, 2010


I was recently asked, "Isaac, what are you passionate about?"

It's funny, I've spent the past 3.5 years of my life pursuing what I thought I was passionate about, but when it came time to answer that question, I couldn't really put words together.

How can I be 21.5 years old and not know what I'm passionate about?

What really gets me going? What do I find joy in doing? What (as my professor might say) makes my socks go up and down? I know there's things in this world I care a lot about, but would I say I'm passionate... I don't know.

I love technology. The application of science to solving real problems is so interesting to me. As many of my friends would attest, I love solving problems and always take the opportunity to boast that I am an Integrated Science and Technology major when I fix a problem or situation.

I love Jesus. It's been mind-blowing to see the way my life has changed over these past few years. It seems like so long ago I committed my life to following Him, yet it's only been just over 6 years. I wouldn't trade anything this world can offer for what I have in Him, it is truly a life worth living.

I think what I'm really passionate about is finding a way I can make these two loves work together. How can I make the application of technologies to helping people work with my love for Jesus? I think if/when I find myself doing that, I will have found what I'm truly passionate about.

I implore you, my loyal readers, to question what you are truly passionate about. Maybe you already know. Maybe you found your passion years ago and have been earnestly chasing it ever since. I applaud you for that and I encourage you to keep going and sacrifice it for nothing. Maybe you don't know yet. Maybe you're like me and are just wondering now what in the wild world of sports you really care about. I encourage you to think. To try things. To take risks. Figure out what you are passionate about and do it!

"Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah."

-Psalm 39:5

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I recently heard the saying, "It's not the fruit that makes the tree, but the tree that makes the fruit."

As simple and elementary as that statement might seem, I think there's a lot of truth to it. Just because I can go pick an apple off a tree doesn't make that tree an apple tree. I could go hang a bunch of apples from an orange tree and confuse everyone. However, an apple tree will always produce apples. There's no way an apple tree can decide it's tired of the old Granny Smith and start making peaches. Therein lies the truth to that statement.

I heard this statement at my church (Aletheia Church) on Sunday. While I won't go into details about what Paul was preaching, I found that this statement really stuck with me... or at least has through the past few days.

I've found myself thinking a lot about the fruit I produce. Just because I do "good" things doesn't necessarily make me a good person. It's the kind of person I am that dictates the things I do. It's what is in my heart that dictates my actions. This is a hard pill to swallow. I don't want to be told that simply because I do good things doesn't mean I'm good. I don't want my works to be in vain. I've been reading in James how faith without works is dead. How can you tell me now that my good works don't really mean anything?

Aha! That's it. My good works only mean something if I have faith. What's inside dictates what's outside. What is in my heart dictates what my actions will be. Occasionally there might be an orange hanging from the apple tree (if someone puts it there), but if the tree's an apple tree, it will always produce apples. If Christ is in my heart, his work will always be done. Occasionally I might do some things out of selfish desire or pride, but on the inside, I remain in Christ.

Sorry for the lack of activity these past few weeks. It's the end of the semester and for some reason, professors don't think blogging is as important as projects... go figure.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unexpected, part 2...

I wrote back in August about unexpected events. That post was in response to one of my best friends breaking his neck in an accident playing in the water at the beach. This happened at the worst time (not that there is a good time to break your neck). Just a week or so before classes started back up he was in the hospital going through hours of surgery to fix his neck. More than three months later, he is doing fine. He can walk, he can talk, he is still taking classes, he is alive. He is still getting his full range of motion back, he still has a little nerve damage that is getting better, but he is alive.

A week ago today, one of my good friends from high school died in a hiking accident. Hiking with some other friends from high school, he slipped and fell.

I wrote back in August: "I think it's since we don't know what may or may not happen, that these events can shape us, mold us, bend us, and sometimes break us. I think that's the beauty of faith. We trust that God is going to use anything and everything he does for his glory."

As hard as it is to accept that my friend is gone, I still believe what I wrote three months ago.

He was a man after God's heart. He sought to know Christ better every day of his life. He put others before himself. He loved the people around him with the love of Jesus. He stepped outside his comfort-zone and was stretched by God.

As hard as it is to accept that he is no longer here, I know that he is with Jesus now. I know that he is forever with his Savior. He ran his race hard. He ran with perseverance. He ran to the finish.

I apologize for the somber nature of this post. I write this in hopes that if... when... you find yourself in an unexpected circumstance, that you realize the reason why you are there.

James 1:2-4 reads,
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Trials suck. I hate when my faith is tested. But, I know my trials are producing steadfastness. I know my trials are producing perseverance. I know that my steadfastness will have its full effect. I know I will be made perfect and complete. I know that I will be lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 has become something I read often. If... when... you find yourself in trials, I recommend reading it too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I love the Sermon on the Mount. I find it to be one of the most convicting few chapters of the Bible. Jesus completely flips the entire lifestyle the Pharisees had been living upside down. He pulls the rug out from under them entirely.

Sometimes I read this, and I'm like, "Yeah! Go Jesus! Show those dumb Pharisees what's up!" However, most times I read this, I'm like, "I am one of those dumb Pharisees. I care so much about what the people around me think."

The church I regularly attend (Aletheia Church) is in the middle of a series on the Sermon on the Mount and every Sunday morning I find myself convicted to change the way I live my life.

I find myself asking myself why do I do the things I do? Why do I live the way I live?

Is my utmost concern with glorifying Christ or is my utmost concern with glorifying Isaac?

A lot of times, I think I pick the latter. I want people to notice me. I want to be remembered. I want people to say, "Wow, Isaac sure is wise." I'll admit, even in writing this post, I am fighting my pride. I want everyone to read this, I want everyone to comment. I want to be important.

I wish I knew why I do what I do. I wish I knew what my true motivations were. I wish I could step back 10,000 feet and watch myself from a distance. Would I be appalled with my self-centered, narcissistic nature... our would I be surprised and comforted by my humbleness and willingness to go unnoticed?

I hope that each day I live less like I once was and more like Christ. That's all I really want to do.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I've found that one of the biggest things I struggle with on a day-to-day basis is knowing and believing that I am loved beyond all measure.

I don't know why I struggle with this so much. I sing songs proclaiming this truth. I read Scripture expressing this fact. I thank God for it. Yet... I struggle so much to simply believe it.

I find that often times I am very one-track minded. I get fixated on something that I think I want or would be good for me and I run all-out until I either attain it or it falls away. This is true for so many things in my life. I run all out after ministry, after future jobs, school, relationships, friends... the list can go on forever. I run, with blinders on, as hard as I can after what I think is best for me believing the lie that if I get it, I will finally be happy. That I will finally be content.

That is never the case.

Often times... most times, I run and run. I chase and chase. I pursue and pursue, forsaking all other things, for the opportunity to get what I so desperately want to find that I never get it. I end up broken. I end up frustrated. I end up angry. I end up hopeless. How vain must I be to think that I control the means of obtaining true happiness... joy... love?

I can say that God loves me... that he is my true source of joy... my true source of happiness, but I don't know that in the depths of my heart I believe it.

It comes back to this idea of Lordship that I wrote about a month ago or so. When I am not surrendering everything (and yes, I mean everything), I am not believing that God is my true source of life, joy, happiness, and love. When I hold on to things, I am saying, "No, no, I need this. I need this to be complete." I am stiff-arming God... I am boxing him in. I am saying, "You can have all this, but these few things are mine. I'm holding on to them."

I so desperately want this to change. I'm tired of chasing down things that I think are best. I am so tired of winding up broken, hurt, angry, frustrated, sad, hopeless, because I thought I knew what was best for myself.

I quit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pray, expect, go.

Those three words have become my mantra lately.

Pray: Pray to the God of the Universe.
Expect: Expect that he will hear your prayer.
Go: Expect that he will respond.

This is not my own idea. In fact, this idea is thousands of years old. I got it from the awesome story of Elijah.

He did a lot of wild things for the Lord during his lifetime. As most of the prophets of that era, he lived as a radical. The specific story I want to touch on is from 1 Kings 18. I highly encourage you to read it and base your learning off the Scripture and not my poor paraphrasing and summarizing.

Elijah is hanging out on Mount Carmel which if you've been to Israel you know that Mount Carmel is not piddly little hill. It is a mountain.
View from the top.
Anyways, Elijah is kind of in this prayer "battle" with the prophets of Baal. Essentially it's a sort of "anything you can do I can do better" battle. The prophets of Baal claim they can do this miracle, then Elijah shows them up with the power of God. This goes on and on until Elijah ignites the altar of the Lord after it has been drenched in water. They all fall to their knees in amazement. However, this isn't even the crazy part.

This whole time, in fact, three years previous to this time, the entire land has been under a terrible drought. It hasn't rained in years. After performing these wild miracles and signs, Elijah drops to his knees and begins to pray. He tells his servant to climb to the top of Mount Carmel and look for rain. Six times he sends his servant up, and six times the servant sees nothing.

The seventh time is different.

The seventh time, Elijah sends his servant to the top and far in the distance, the servant sees a rain cloud. Elijah prayed the drought would end. The drought ended.

He prayed. He expected. He went.
It's that simple... why is it so hard for me?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



I've been thinking about what it means to be flexible. Not in the physical fitness sense of the word (I mean seriously, is the 'sit-and-reach' a valid test of fitness anyway?) but I mean in the sense of time.

I've been job "searching" lately. It seems like every employer wants their employees to be flexible. Not so they can touch their toes, but so that when the proverbial curve ball is thrown, they will be able to react and take it all in stride.

I personally enjoy the curve ball. I get tired of the same thing. I get bored when my day-to-day routine becomes... a routine. I like being forced to be flexible. I like when someone asks me out of the blue to do something. I'll admit, sometimes it's very inconvenient and annoying, but I enjoy the change of pace.

I think Christ's example to us is that of flexibility. You don't have to look hard to find an example. Take the woman who had been hemorrhaging for years (Luke 8). Jesus is plowing his way through a big crowd trying to get to this man Jairus' house. Jairus' only daughter (12 years old) was dying, and he knew that Jesus was the only man who could heal her. As he's navigating his way through the crowd that "almost crushed him" (v. 42) a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touches the hem of his cloak.

Instantly he stops.

He asks, "Who touched me?" For one, I guarantee there were a lot of people touching him at that moment. The wild thing is, he knew the answer to this question. As his disciples try to explain to him that dozens of people are touching him at the same time, he says that he felt power go out of him. He knew that this woman had touched the hem of his cloak.

At this point, this woman is trembling in fear. Her hopes to just touch the edge of his cloak and slip away are totally shattered. Jesus has called her out in front of the entire crowd. She explains why she did what she did and he tells her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." (v. 48).

Meanwhile, the entire time this is going on, Jairus' daughter is dying. In fact, at this point, she is actually dead. Talk about being flexible. Jesus is on his way to save her life and he stops because a random woman touches him in faith that he can heal her.

I would imagine at this point Jairus is pretty upset. He gets news that his daughter has died, but as soon as he is told this, Jesus turns and says to him, "Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed." (v. 50). They make it to Jairus' house to find all the family grieving because of her death. Jesus tells them to stop because she is not dead, only asleep. Rightfully so, the family members laugh at him. I'd imagine that some where probably angry at him for making light of such a painful tragedy. If only they knew the power he had.

He commands the girl to get up. She wakes up and stands up. All is well. He brings her from death to life. She was dead. I wish that in blogging I could yell. SHE WAS DEAD! He brings her back to life! Astonishing.

The point I'm struggling to make here is that Jesus was the ultimate example of flexibility. It was not even an issue to stop what he was doing and spend meaningful time with some random woman who grabbed the edge of his cloak in hopes she would be healed. Even when a man's daughter was on her death bed, it wasn't a big deal. How easily I get frustrated when someone interrupts me from something of much less importance. I am striving to be flexible. It's not really "my" time anyway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Short, sweet... and hopefully to the point...

Sometimes I look at my life from the world's perspective. Sometimes I question who I am or what I do by the world's standards. Here's an excerpt from my journal:

"When you look 'rationally' at what we (Younglife) do, it doesn't make any sense. Wake up at 6:30, drive an hour round-trip to a middle school to spend 15-20 minutes hanging out with 10-13 year olds as they get off the bus in the morning. In the eyes of the world, that is one of the craziest things you could do. Who really wants to hang out with middle schoolers anyway?"

As I looked at my lifestyle from the world's eye, I found it almost comical. Most of my peers are asleep at 6:30 AM. If they're not, they're likely waking up to study, to get ready for class, or still awake from the night before.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not boasting in my works. My works mean nothing. Not a thing. I'm boasting in what Christ has done in my life. Back to my journal:

"That's a trick question... God does. And that is why I go. Because I said, "Here I am, send me." And he said, "Go." In obedience to him, because he first loved me, I go to share that love with kids who might not otherwise ever hear it."

I was afraid to say that. I was afraid to tell God I was here, ready to go. I was afraid where he might send me. I was afraid of what he might tell me to do.

I am so thankful I prayed that. He's called me to something I would have never otherwise found myself doing. He's called me to love on kids. He's called me closer to himself.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Be a man...

I apologize in advance for this post; it is likely going to be scattered with no purpose other than to hopefully condense my thoughts in one place.

What does it mean to be a man? What defines what a man is? Merriam-Webster defines man:
(1) : an individual human; especially : an adult male human (2) : a man belonging to a particular category (as by birth, residence, membership, or occupation) —usually used in combination i.e. councilman

An individual human. I agree with that. Society definitely defines a man as individual. We're never supposed to need help. We never ask for directions. We are the problem solvers. We are the go-to when something needs fixed. We are independent. We aren't supposed to need anyone. That would be weak. Only a weak man needs someone else to get by.

That's a tragedy.

By the world's definition, I am not a man. I am weak. Yeah I fix stuff. Yeah I can solve problems. Yeah I don't ask for directions. But, I can't do it on my own. I may put up a front on the outside that says I have it all together and that I am in control, but that is seldom the case.

The Bible defines a man as something completely different. For that, I am incredibly thankful. A man of God doesn't have it all together. A man of God relies on his savior. A man of God admits he can't do it alone. David was a man after God's own heart.

That is the man I want to be.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Personal wrestling match...

The following is an excerpt from my journal.

As a disclaimer, it is pretty raw and likely hard to follow. I wrote this at our YoungLife leader retreat in response to what we had been learning about the concept of lordship. I post this because I hope you can relate to it and maybe gain something from what the Lord is teaching me.

"What am I afraid of? What things keep me up at night, rack my brain, churn my stomach, really worry me? I am afraid of the next step. I like consistency. I like knowing what to expect. I like being comfortable. I like something constant. I like being in control. There are going to be a lot of changes in my life over the next 8 or so months. I'm going to graduate, finish my senior project research, hopefully get a job, and that is all the "knowns". There are a million and one things that are going to happen over this next year. Do I want to give these things up? Would I rather hold on to them or would I rather find freedom from these fears and worries? That is a simple question. I want freedom. I want to be care-free. I want to live life untethered by the fears that try so earnestly to hold me down. Why is it then, that I have such a hard time letting go? What am I holding on to? What am I hoping to gain? How much more free would I be if I let these things go? How much more would I gain by giving up? Just like Ava and the pearls. Why do I cling to my own purchases, my own fake pearls when my Father is pleading with me to give them up? What is it? What is keeping me from jumping in the pool of Your love and grace and seeing how deep I can go? Is it what people think of me? Is it a fear of the unknown? Is it a fear of giving up control in my life? Is it a fear of failing? Is it a fear of losing it all? I think part of it is I am afraid that God won't meet me there. I am afraid I will give it all up and he will leave me hanging with nothing left. Father, show me that isn't true. I know it's not but I don't believe it. Show me that you won't leave me. How deep can I go? How intimate? Lord, I don't want to be just Isaac, I want to be who you want me to be. I want to be like Enoch. I want to live in such close relationship with you, Father. What is holding me back? Lord, I am ready to give it all up. I want to have the faith that you are going to meet me right where I am. I want to believe that you have better for me than I have for myself. How can I possibly think that I have anything close compared to what you offer? You offer life, freedom, mercy, grace, love, hope, laughter, everything. I offer myself nothing. I cannot promise myself one thing. My days are but a breath. A vapor in the wind. Lord, I am ready to give everything else up. I am ready to let go of my fake pearls. I am ready for what you have for me. I am ready to start living. I am ready for freedom. I am ready for life. I am ready. Take away my pearls. Take away the things I cling to. I don't need them. You have far better things for me. Like Noah, I am going to trust your word. You promised to keep him safe and he trusted. Lord, you promised to be there throughout the storm and he trusted. I want to be like Noah. I want to trust you. I want to give it all up and trust you. What if he said no? What if Noah had refused to build the ark? He didn't. He trusted. He had faith. He believed."

Monday, September 13, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about priorities.

I like making lists so priorities are something that I think about a lot. When I have several things I need to get done, I make a list with each item on it and then I can begin to decide which is most important and then attack it.

When it comes to life, this approach is not so simple.

I have 24 hours in a day... 23 hours and 56 minutes if we're talking Sideral days (look it up). Some of those hours are taken up by mandatory things: sleeping, eating, Starcraft 2 (kidding), etc... So, if we subtract 8 hours of sleep and 2 hours for eating, we're left with 14 hours for me to spend as I please.

On an average day, I have 3 hours of class, so that brings me down to 11 hours. Subtract my travel time (to and from class) and that brings me down to about 10 hours.

What I do with those 10 hours is what I've been thinking a lot about lately. I've heard a quote that goes something like this... "I am afraid that at the end of my life, God will hold all the things I've done in his hand and blow away all the things that were not for him and nothing will be left." Maybe you are more familiar with the wheat and the chaff illustration. When wheat is threshed, the heavier kernels of wheat stay while the lighter chaff is blown away by the wind leaving behind what is desired... the wheat.

I've been thinking about what would be left behind if you blew all the "chaff" out of my life. Somedays it really scares me. I think about how I did so little or how I did nothing at all. I think about how I spent 3 hours playing Starcraft 2, an hour looking at a friend's pictures on Facebook, 2 hours watching SportsCenter (twice), an hour in the gym working out. See how quickly that time adds up?

I recently heard a quote from a guy named Jim Elliot. He said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." It is one of my hopes and dreams that at the end of every day I can say, I gave up everything for the sake of Christ. I want to give up the chaff. I want to keep the wheat.

I think these lyrics sum it up well:
So put your faith,
In more than steel,
Don't store your treasures up,
With moth and rust,
Where thieves break in and steal.
Pull the fangs,
From out your heel.
We live in but a shadow of the real.

Of Dust And Nations by Thrice

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mind: blown.

I was just reading through my study bible this morning about the book of James. My sort of "goal" this summer/fall is to read through all the epistles. As I was reading through this little commentary about who James was and the context in which this letter was written, I was blown away by a simple date:

James became a believer in 33 AD.

If you know much about James, I sure didn't before I started reading this letter, but James was the brother of Jesus. Yeah, that's right Jesus the Messiah. So if we piece this all together, Jesus was crucified in 33 AD. His brother became a believer in 33 AD. Therefore, James lived his entire life with Jesus not believing in who he was until he was crucified!

If I could yell over the internet, I would yell that last sentence again! My mind has been blown! How easy is it to give up on someone because they just don't seem to get it? You know they've heard the gospel a hundred times and they still live in sin. They still live in rebellion. James was the brother of Christ yet he still lived in sin and death until the year his brother was killed.

How can I give up hope on a person? There are so many examples of people who came to faith after the craziest of circumstances.

The bright side is, even if I do give up on someone (which I hope I never do again)... God never gives up on them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about unexpected things lately. I think that unexpected events are what really shape us... what really make us into the people we are. Unexpected things are hard for me to deal with. I love science. The major basis science works on is taking something that you know is going to happen and defining how it happens or what makes it happen. Life doesn't work that way. Life is filled with unexpected things. People who randomly show up in your life, people who randomly leave your life, things that happen to you, things that don't happen to you, the list goes on and on.

I think it's since we don't know what may or may not happen, that these events can shape us, mold us, bend us, and sometimes break us. I think that's the beauty of faith. We trust that God is going to use anything and everything he does for his glory. That is the difference between religion and faith. Religion, to me, is a practice. It is something you do. Faith on the other hand, is not a practice. It is a lifestyle. It is even more than that, though. Faith is stepping out into the unknown, the unexpected, and trusting. Trusting that God is there. Trusting that He loves you. Trusting that in all things He works for the good of those who love him.

I think that God uses unexpected events to help us grow in faith. If, for example, I knew everything that was going to happen to me over the course of my lifetime, it wouldn't take much faith. In fact, I don't think it would take any faith. I would know, start to finish, what was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and obviously what would happen after. It's when we are in a situation that we cannot see what is next, when we can't see what the outcome might be, that we grow. That our faith becomes stronger because we trust that God is at work and we trust that He is true to His word.

The best part about all of this is that even when we are not faithful, when we have doubt, when we have hesitations, when we falter, when we are reluctant--God is faithful. He is true to His word.

I might keep writing later, but that's all I have for now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I'm not a very emotional person by the worlds standards. I've never cried watching a movie. I don't cry at weddings. I didn't even tear up when I read Where the Red Fern Grows. The way I experience emotions is more like getting kicked in the stomach--having the wind knocked out of me.

You may be asking, why is Isaac writing about this? And that is a good question. Because I will tell you. Now.

As many of you know, I lead Wyldlife. For those of you who don't, it is a Christian ministry that seeks to introduce middle schoolers to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. By "leading" Wyldlife, I am in essence a leader at a middle school. I help organize events, hang with kids, but most importantly, share Christ with them.

Anyway, this week is our summer camp trip. I sadly couldn't go this year because of numbers, but, I went down yesterday to catch up with some of the guys who went with our other guy leader, Micah. Yesterday, the camp speaker presents the kids with a problem. A big problem. He lays out the problem of sin. He explains to them what sin is and how it differs from sins. He explains how there is absolutely nothing we can do to fix this problem. We've made our own choice to go astray and do the things we want to do.

It hurts to hear this message, but seeing kids begin to open up... to think about their own lives... to think about how there is something greater than girls, clothes, sports, school... is simply amazing.

After the talk last night, I headed back to the cabin that the guys from my school are staying in for "cabin time". It is essentially a leader-led time where we all sit on the floor and process what was just talked about. If you know anything about middle school kids, boys in particular, they have an attention span of 2 seconds, so cabin time can often be an adventure. However, last night was different. The guys were thinking, sharing about their lives, asking questions.

The thing that really got me was what one kid said. He hadn't spoken the whole 30 minutes we'd been talking, but he raised his hand and said, "We are like a work of art... like the Statue of Libery... when it was first made it was bright and shiny copper, but it quickly became tarnished and turned green. It was still the original creation, but something had changed... it wasn't perfect anymore."

I was floored. The wind was knocked right out of me. If I cried normally, queue up the tear factory. This kid, probably 12 years old, just made a brilliant comparison. I don't know if he's following Christ, I just met him yesterday, but that analogy struck me.

We are still the beautiful creation that God made us to be; however, something has happened. Something that can't be reversed. We've all become tarnished. Imperfect. Sin. The Statue of Liberty itself cannot clean off the tarnish, the imperfection. We are the same way. We cannot clean off our sin. Only our creator can.

Today the kids hear about the cross, about Jesus, that he did what we cannot do. It's the best day of the week. It's the best day of their lives.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One to the next one...

Well I have almost finished reading Jesus For President. Yes, I realize I've been reading it for about 4 months now. That is how I read books. I am a bit of a binge reader. I will go weeks without reading a page, then I will sit down and read 100 pages and not touch the book again for a couple weeks.

Enough about my reading habits... I think my next read is going to be The Diaries of Jim Rayburn. For those of you out there in the blogosphere, I am involved in an organization called YoungLife. The mission of YoungLife is to bring the gospel of Christ to adolescents and help them grown in their faith. Jim Rayburn is the founder of YoungLife. It was his idea, to step outside of the church, and take the gospel where kids are--schools, football games, parks, etc--that began the movement that is now known as YoungLife.

I am really pretty excited about reading his diaries. I feel like getting to peek inside the mind of one of the most godly and awesome men I've learned about is going to be a very encouraging and convicting experience. Sometimes I feel like I get disillusioned with my work as a leader when I lose focus on the goal. It will be interesting to see what ways Jim combated this feeling (if he even felt it at all).

I don't really have any major point in writing this other than cluing you all in on my next reading experience. I have approximately 27 days 'till school starts, so who knows, maybe I will get this book finished by then.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


If you're anything like me (which would be really surprising) you wonder about the meanings and origins of words sometimes. One thing I really enjoy is learning languages. Granted, I can only speak one fluently, I am fascinated with other languages. It is so interesting to me that the human race has so many different ways of explaining emotions, the world, actions, things. One of the things I really love about the church I go to is that we often dive into the original Greek and Hebrew that the Bible was written in. I gain such a deeper appreciation for what the author was trying to convey when I get to read it the way he wrote it.

This past Sunday, we were learning about Philippians 2 and discussing what it means to live a "Philippians 2" lifestyle. If you haven't read this chapter recently, stop reading my blog, go read it, and come back. You can pick up right where you left off.

Welcome back. In verse 20, Paul is writing about his beloved Timothy. He writes: "For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare." (ESV). The Greek word that Paul uses for "genuinely" here is: gnesios. This word literally means legitimately born, true, genuine, and sincere. I got to thinking... am I genuinely concerned for other people's welfare? Am I sincere? Am I true?

I got to thinking about the word sincere too. As you may or may not know, sincere comes from the Latin sincerus which means clean, pure, or sound.

So, let's ask that question again. Am I clean? Pure? Sound? Am I true? Sincere? Genuine? People now-a-days, especially the younger generations, are extremely good at detecting sincerity. They can tell when you don't mean what you say. They know when you are not genuine and they are often quick to call you out on it. I work with middle schoolers on a regular basis, and it is no secret that unless I mean what I say, they are simply going to ignore me.

I often have to remind myself of being genuine. I hate to admit it, but there's times I am just not interested in other people--I just want to sit in a dark room and be alone; however, I don't always have that luxury. That doesn't mean feigning sincerity--that will get you in more trouble. So, this is the problem. How do you act genuine when you aren't? That's a loaded question... you don't act. You are.

I wish I knew how to get there. I think I'm getting better. It's a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing. I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and be sincere... maybe, but I doubt it. I do; however, have a choice. Will I choose to take an interest in the people around me? Or will I be too concerned with me?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Testing... testing... is this thing on?

If you are anything like me, you don't like tests. Granted, I'm not typically the kind of person who freaks out, has panic attacks, or stresses out about a test; I'm just not a very big fan. They're usually mentally draining and leave me feeling a bit hopeless. After you finish, there's nothing left you can do--it's entirely up to the grader at that point to determine your grade.

Testing on the other hand is slightly different. I do enjoy testing. Being a scientist/engineer at heart, I love trying things out and see what the outcome will be. It can be day-to-day things like, let's see what happens when I mix peanut butter and pickles (very tasty by the way) or more thought out testing like, let's thermochemically gasify wood chips and see if we can power a spark-ignition engine with it.

If there's one thing I've learned in my life as a follower of Christ, it is that you must always be testing. I can attribute this learned trait to my Bible study leader and good friend, Bruce. I'd need more hands and feet to count the number of times one of us in our Romans study would start, "Well I think it says..." and Bruce would stop us and say, "No, what does it say..." as he pointed at his Bible. You must always be testing anything you hear, read, see with what God's word says. Isaac's word should probably be ignored all together (but don't stop reading my blog, please :) ).

I met with Bruce a couple of weekends ago to catch up, talk about life and what's going on, and to talk about some things I'd been struggling with. As I laid out how I was struggling with citizenship and how one source tells me this and another source tells me that and a third source tells me something completely different, he stopped me and said, "What does it say?" as he pointed at his Bible.

The feeling I felt then I can't put to words. It was relief, but it was also conviction. My eyes had been opened. I realized that I had become so attuned to listening to the world around me try to say what it means to be a citizen that I had all but forgot the only word that matters.

Therefore, readers, I ask of you this. I can't guarantee this is the only time I will give you homework, but bear with me. Always be testing. Test what I say, test what you hear, test what you read, test what you see. Test it all. Test everything. Test it against what you ask? Against God's word. What does he say? That's what matters. That's only what matters.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our manner of life...

As I've mentioned many times, I'm reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. I came upon an excerpt from Aristides the Athenian. He was a Christian in Greece around AD 137. He wrote:

"It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their smallness. Every one of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. If they see a traveling stranger, they bring him under their roof. They rejoice over him as over a real brother, for they do not call one another brothers after the flesh, but they know they are brothers in the Spirit and in God. If they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed for the sake of Christ, they take care of all his needs. If possible they set him free. If anyone among them is poor or comes into want while they themselves have nothing to spare, they fast two or three days for him. In this way they can supply any poor man with the food he needs. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.
- Aristides, AD 137

If that doesn't knock the wind out of your sails, I don't know what will. If I made this into a check list and went item by item for my own life, I might check off one or two of the multitude of attitudes and behaviors listed here. What has happened to the Church? What has happened to Christians? We have become less and less imitators of Christ. I want to get back to the way the Church was when it first started. I want to open my house to complete strangers and love them as a brother. I want to give until it hurts. I want to be aware of my smallness. I want to be an imitator of Christ.

What am I waiting for?

Monday, June 28, 2010

I hate being wrong...

I recently read a quote from Maya Angelou. It reads:

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

As I read this quote, I thought that it makes a lot of sense. You can easily learn a lot about a person when they're thrown into a situation they don't particularly like. I thought about my own life; how I act when I'm in a stressful situation or an uncomfortable moment. I thought to myself, I really hope that I stay true to who I really am and don't let it get the best of me. I thought a lot about what that looks like when it comes to really knowing someone. Siblings know how this works. People may say, "you two get along so well!" but you both know that things are not always smooth sailing. I thought about relationships and how people can look at a couple and think that they have it down so well, but if only they knew the struggles and hardships.

These thoughts soon passed as my mind wandered its way to other things.

Flash-forward to today.

I was driving my hour commute to work. I'm in a unique situation this summer. I am interning one hour from home, but I am lucky enough to have some friends who are willing to put me up a few nights a week for free this summer in exchange for some cleaning. So, I typically drive over Sunday nights or Monday mornings and stay through Thursday before I head back home.

That information aside, back to the story. I am about 30 minutes into my drive to work. Traffic has been minimal at best, I've got some good tunes playing, and I'm on schedule to arrive (according to my GPS) 4 minutes before 9:00 AM. Right on time. At about this time I realize that I've made a pretty substantial mistake. I'd packed all my toiletries in my toiletry bag, but...

I left it in the bathroom.

I don't have my glasses. My retainer. I don't have my contact solution or case. I don't have a tooth brush. I don't have tooth paste.

It's far too late to turn around now. So... I do the logical thing, I get mad. I get upset at myself for forgetting the last thing I packed. I get frustrated with my inability to remember anything important. This leads to me becoming agitated with the (minimal) traffic. This leads to me being annoyed that my MP3 player battery has now died. This leads to me wondering: "Why did I wait till this morning to pack everything and drive over?" This leads me to.... see where this is going?

I'm glad nobody was in the car with me, but at the same time, I wish someone would have been. Maya would have learned a lot about me today had she been riding shotgun. The frustration culminated with me letting out a big sigh and saying: "Today is just going to be GREAT." God took that opportunity to hit me with a sucker-punch of love. "You're right, Isaac, it's going to be great. It's another day I created. In fact, it's more than great, it's going to be the best. I created it for you. And you know what, I created you too."

Gasping for spiritual air after having the wind knocked right out of me, I opened my eyes to the situation I was in. My mind had taken the one-way train to "Bad-Day-ville". I was set on making this the worst day ever and anything that could help me get there was more than welcome. Thanks be to God that he switched the tracks and got me on the right track.

I don't know if today was a great day in my eyes. I don't think it was the "best" by my standards, but, mine don't really matter too much. As the old hymn goes:

This is the day that the Lord has made,
We will rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the day, This is the day,
That the Lord has made.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This life's not about me...

I'm not sure where this feeling came from. I'm not sure when it started. I think part of it came from the book I'm reading (Jesus For President) and part of it came from watching the World Cup. I've recently became conscious of this desire to know people. I want to experience cultures that aren't exactly American. I want to experience what people's lives are like under the surface of "Hello, how are you?".

I walked into an Exxon to buy a drink for the road after filling up with gas (reluctantly) and the guy behind the counter commented on my Brazil soccer jersey I was wearing.
He said something like, "Are you from Brazil?"
I laughed and said, "No, I'm just a fan of their soccer team."
"Oh no no," he replied, "I am from Argentina, I do not like Brazil." He smiled and laughed as we began to talk about the happenings in the World Cup that day.

I instantly wanted to just sit down and talk with this guy about his life. How he came to be in America if he was from Argentina. I don't know where this urge has come from, but I like it.

I don't know if I'm ready to up and fly to another country tomorrow. I don't think that's what I'm being called to do. I think what is happening is that I'm slowly becoming aware of people around me and less aware of myself. I'm not saying it's bad to be self-aware. Obviously, I want to be aware of who I am, what I'm doing, whether or not what I'm doing is hurting someone or bothering someone, but what I mean is that I'm becoming less concerned with me and more concerned with others.

This is something I've been learning a lot about lately. I am by no means saying I have it down yet... I definitely don't. I hope I keep getting better. I think the only way to get better is to quiet the voice inside that is so concerned with me and to listen more to the voices of people around. Not to brush off a "Hello, how are you?" but to engage and really ask the question and really hear the answer.

As I paid for my drink and pack of gum, we talked a little more about the upcoming games and who we thought was going to win. We both agreed we'd love to see an Argentina vs. Brazil final. I took my receipt and bid him a good night. I really hope he has a good night.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First of many I hope...

Well it seems like more and more people I know are blogging now-a-days. I think that's great. I love being able to delve into the minds of people around me, particularly those I don't see as often as I might like.

I used to post on here pretty regularly, but got away from that sometime during my Freshman year at JMU. Being a senior now, I think I'm going to get back into this. I want this to be a place where I can sort of "talk aloud" about the things I'm struggling with or thinking about. I'll probably write about experiences, conversations, music, books, anything really...

I guess to kick things off, I'm reading a book called Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne. It's a sort of collection of ideas that this guy Shane and his friend Chris Haw had about the interactions between politics and Christianity. Being one who has become so disillusioned with politics over the past few years, I was sort of reluctant to start reading it fearing it would be an analysis of the influence of Christianity in politics and how we need more solid, well-versed Christian leaders.

As I began reading this book though, I quickly found that my loosely-grounded assumptions were quite wrong. Shane and Chris delved into the language that Jesus used during his time of teaching. He exposed (to me at least) the heavy political language that Christ used and the purpose he had behind this language. All the words used to describe Christ--King of Kings, Lord, Messiah, Son of God, King of the Jews--were LOADED with political meaning and usually reserved for the heads of state at the time. As Christ began referring to himself as these names and people around him did too, it put a lot of pressure on the people in power and really bothered them.

Not only this, but Claiborne and Haw have spent a good deal of time discussing the Christian's role in politics. He's brought up some really good points that I've been wrestling with. For example, many people believe (and I once did) that America was MY country. That I was a CITIZEN of this nation. My views about that are quickly changing... It says in Philippians 3:20 that "Our citizenship is in heaven" and the question he brings up is: how can we be citizens of two places?

I'm still wrapping my head around all this and I highly suggest you read the book and don't listen to my poor explanations of things, but it seems to me he's suggesting that Christianity has no role in politics. They are two, separate, and VERY different things. "So the last will be first, and the first last" (Matthew 20:16). Explain to me how rising to the top of the political food chain puts you "last" in this case? That's what I'm struggling with. I am loving this book.

If you want a happy-go-lucky read, don't read this book. If you want to be challenged, stretched, probably irked a little bit too, read this book. I can't guarantee you will like it. I can't guarantee that you will agree with everything (or anything) that Shane and Chris write about, but I can guarantee you will re-assess your beliefs about the world and you will see things a little bit differently.