Ben Schnipper

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Proverbs for Life Part 3-Don’t Forget

In Proverbs 3:1, there is this great command/encouragement/awesome nugget of wisdom by Solomon written to his son.  It says, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will be added to you.” Solomon is warning his son not to do something we all do: forget.  I am an awesome forgetter. It’s a gift. Not one of those good gifts, but more like getting underwear for a gift when you are 7.

 Who wants that?  I am really awesome at forgetting two things: 1. what my wife tells me, and 2. what God tells me.  Now I don’t want to get into number 1 because there could be trouble there, so let me talk about number 2 because I think we might all struggle with this. 

Solomon is giving his son some great practical and spiritual wisdom throughout Proverbs and wants him not to forget the spiritual truth he is sharing.  I have to think that some of the heart behind this is a man, Solomon, thinking “I wish I hadn’t forgotten.”  So why is it that we forget what God says to us?

We forget when times are good.

Often when life seems to be going great, people forget about God. Your Job is great.  The family is healthy.  You have extra money.  When some or all of this happens, you instinctively jump to “look how great I am doing.”  You don’t intentionally leave God out, but in your blissful life, God somehow gets forgotten about. 

We forget when times are rough.

When you are stressed or life isn’t going well you often forget about God.  You jump to worry and thoughts of “how am I going to get myself out of this mess.”  God becomes an after thought or a last resort.  You try everything you can think of, and when those don’t work, then you go to God. 

We forget when we get busy.

How many of you are too busy for God?  Those exact words wouldn’t come out of your mouth, but you have filled your life with so much stuff that God gets the scraps at the end of a hectic day which usually amounts to nothing.  If your relationship with God is supposed to be the greatest thing you have in life, then how much good are you letting get in the way of what is great?

How do you not forget about God

The key is consistency.  This is not a “you should read your Bible more and pray more” post, those things are good though.  If I am going to remember something, I have to constantly be going over it in my head.  I repeat it over and over again until I have it down.  If you are going to remember what God has said to you, all the promises and commands, all the blessings and warnings, you must have them consistently in front of you.  And what it means to have God consistently in front of you may look different for each person. 

God’s Plan for Your Life

At our student small group, we have gotten onto the discussion of God’s plan for our lives as we read through the book Love Does by Bob Goff.  When it comes to God’s plan for our lives, I believe we have individualized it too much.  What if God’s plan for your life isn’t this huge mystery that you must go on some “Lord of the Rings” type quest to find out?  What if God’s plan for your life isn’t a mystery at all?  And what if I told you that God’s plan for your life might just be the same plan He has for my life?

I believe that God’s plan for life is pretty straightforward in Scripture, and here it is:

“And Jesus said to him, ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”             Matthew 22:37-39

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”               Matthew 16:24

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”                          John 13:35

There it is. That’s God’s plan for my life, and for yours. You can thank me and pay me later.  Maybe we have over complicated this “God’s plan for your life” thing.  We treat it is as if it is one of those choose your own adventure books and if we make the wrong decision at the beginning, then the whole rest of the story (or our lives) are completely screwed up.

I know what you are thinking and saying. What about this job or that one, what about this relationship or that one, what about moving here or there, or what about this cat food or that cat food.  What would happen if we gave our entire hearts to loving Jesus and loving others? Wouldn’t that be a great plan?  What if you took that desire and fleshed it out with your gifts and your passions?

We are all wired and gifted differently.  I can strive to love Jesus and others with all my heart, but I could never do it in the context of being an artist (unless drawing disproportionate stick figures became an art form).  I can’t do it in that context because I am not gifted, wired, nor passionate about that, but you might be.  And if that is you, then love Jesus and love others in that context and that just might be God’s plan for you.

I am okay saying that God’s plan for my life might be the same as His plan for your life because it is a glorious, all-consuming plan.  It is a plan that is filled with joy and pain and suffering and laughter, but it’s a plan that I don’t have to do myself.  It’s a plan that I get to live out with others and for others.  It’s a plan that neither I nor you will fully accomplish, but it sure is a great plan.

So let’s not over complicate this God’s plan for your life thing, but let’s also not consider it too easy, because it is not.

What Our Childhood Dog Taught Me About Freedom in Christ

For most of my growing up years we had a dog.  One dog that we had for a very long time was named Rocky.  Rocky was a large hairy dog that was part Saint Bernard part Collie.  He was great with kids and bad with cats.  This large dog was terrified of our two pound Siamese cat.  We had a good sized rectangular backyard that we walked the perimeter of, with Rocky when he was a puppy so that he would know his boundaries.  Not every time but many times when we would let Rocky out to use the bathroom he would slowly walk the perimeter of the yard looking for just the right spot.  Most of the time this was fine except when we were in a hurry or worse it was raining.  I can remember standing on the porch watching Rocky slowly walk the yard all the while getting completely drenched with rain.  Often we would yell something like, “Rocky get up here,” to which he would look up, as almost to say, don’t rush me, and then continue his leisurely stroll around the yard.  When he would finally get up to the porch he would be drenched.  We would attempt to dry him off, and then confine him to the kitchen until he completely dried so as not to soak anything or anyone else.  Rocky was so wrapped up in his own way that he wouldn’t listen.  The freedom he thought he had ultimately led to punishment and confinement.  Where he may have thought our rules were to constricting, what we really offered was freedom, freedom to roam the house, but he couldn’t see that.

Many Christians treat sin like this.  They do whatever they want whenever they want and never consider the consequences of their choices.  Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set you free.  Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”  Paul was talking to people who thinking that God’s love for them was somehow based on their willingness to keep the law or their interpretation of the law.  Paul is telling them we are free from that.  We are free from the worry of have I sinned too much for God to love me, or have I done enough good this week to make God happy.  We are free from that.  Not only are we free from that worry, but we are also free to do something.

We are now free to love Jesus with all our heart and life.  We are free to see the Christian life not as a list of rules and restrictions, but as a possibility to live in close relationship with God.  And the warning against sin is not God taking freedom away, but showing us what it means to be truly free.  Not to be confined to the leash of sin, like Rocky was to the kitchen.  However this is not a freedom to do whatever we want.

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.  But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature.  Instead use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Paul says our freedom is best used when it is in consideration of others.  This is how we show that we are one of Jesus’ followers (John 13:35).  We are now free to love Jesus with all of heart and love people as we love ourselves.  And while to many this may sound like a chore, it is actually the place we will find the most joy and freedom.

The Proverbs of Life Part 2-The Work of Wisdom

I want to be one of those people that can learn something new in a week.  Those people that can pick up a musical instrument and in a month’s time be playing recognizable songs make me sick.  The people who just hear a new language and start speaking it almost instantly make me want to never speak again.  Who are those freaks and why is life so easy for them?

Well there is at least one thing that no one (and I mean no one) can just pick up, and that one thing is wisdom.  Wisdom takes work.  You can’t, in a month’s time, just decide “I want to be wise,” pick up the The Idiots Guide to Wisdom, and BAM! be wise.  

Listen to the instructions that Solomon gives his son regarding wisdom in Proverbs 2:1-4:

receive my words
treasure my commandments
make your ear attentive to wisdom
incline your heart to understanding
call out for insight
raise your voice for understanding
seek it like silver
search for it as for hidden treasures

Wisdom is not something you can go to Wal-Mart and just pick up with your canned goods and dog food.  It takes work, dedication, and time.  And do you know what you get when you finally have wisdom?  If you do all that, Proverbs 2:1-4 says that you will then “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”(2:5) 

 So you have to decide is that something worth going after.  Do you really want to know God? If you do it is going to take work.  Not a week or a month, but a lifetime.  You see, you can’t get all wisdom at one time.  There is no magic time period to do all that. 2:1-4 doesn’t say, and then you get wisdom, and you can stop.  Seeking wisdom is like loving your spouse, you might get better at it over time, but you never get to stop.  

Wisdom is also not something you can obtain; it is something you are given.  Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom.”  So when you have wisdom, “you find the knowledge of God” and if you have wisdom you have it because the Lord gave it to you.  Tell me that doesn’t make your head hurt.

If you think that wisdom is just a cerebral thing, you would be wrong. It also has to do with what kind of person you are.  Proverbs 2:7 says, “he stores up sound wisdom for the upright.”  God gives wisdom to those who have good character.  In fact it says that God stores it up for those who have good character.  So wisdom takes work. The work of the mind and the work of the heart.

The Proverbs of Life-Knowing You Don’t Know Everything

We live in a culture that does not value seeking advice or a willingness to admit that we may not know everything.  To say that we don’t know something seems to be a sign of weakness

 or ignorance, so instead of just saying, “I don’t know” a person will spout an answer that makes no sense in an attempt to save face.  Where did this come from, this unwillingness to humbly say “I may not know everything?”  Continue reading

Faith Like My Child

Our second daughter, Sara, is 19 months old and she is a climber.  Our first daughter was not a climber when she was a toddler, but Sara is.  Sara has some kind of “kitchen chair radar”

Continue reading

Sunday Night Recap-2-8-14(The Lord has left)

Last night we finished up the story of Samson, by looking at Judges 16 which is mostly the story of he and Delilah.  This chapter also provides for us the lowest point in the story and that is Judges 16:20.  How can Samson not even realize, “that the LORD had left him?”  How far gone spiritually did Samson have to be to not even realize that God was no longer with him?  How easily we can point a finger and say, I’m glad I’m not like Samson, but what if we are?

How many of us have taken our faith or a relationship with God for granted?  How many of us by our action or inaction just assume God is with us so we can do whatever we want?  How many of us feel far away from God and begin to blame Him, when instead we ought to look at our lives and ask ourselves, when is the last time I spent QUALITY time with God?  When is the last time I let Him search my heart and bring the sin to light, I don’t want others to notice?

I’m thankful this story is in the Bible.  In this story we see God’s grace in full affect.  In this story we see a man full of flaws, there are no perfect people here.  We see men and women who lie, cheat, and steal.  We see opportunities to act with holiness completely disregarded.  We see decisions made my emotion and not by spiritual wisdom.  In the end though we see, “The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” Psalm 103:8, in this story.

Relationship Advice from Samson
I told the guys that there is great relationship advice in this story
1. Don’t EVER call your wife a heifer (there is possibly once exception and that is if you are dressing up like a cow to get
free food at Chick-Fil-A)
2. A goat is not a good gift for your wife, if your trying to make up with her.
3. If your wife tries to kill you RUN.
4. If you forgive her and she tries it again RUN, RUN, RUN.


Falling Off My Bike, Literally and Spiritually

I have a nice bike that I ought to ride a lot more than I do.  A couple of summers ago, I bought clipless pedals to ride with.  Clipless pedals are pedals you put onto your bike, and a certain pair of shoes clip into them so that you become one with the bike.  I got great advice from someone at church, but one thing they said struck me as odd. They said, “you will fall off your bike.”  Continue reading

Sunday Night Recap-Super Bowl Party

Last night we did a Super Bowl party for youth group and it went extremely well.  The funniest part of the night was immediately after circus catch was made by the Seahawks to get them down to the goal line, a warning popped up on the dish that said, due to an extremely long time of inactivity we will be shutting down the dish, would you like to do this yes or no.  So I had to run upstairs as quickly as possible to make sure the dish did not shut off.  So we had no idea what the ruling was or what happened.  Thankfully I got it turned on quickly enough so that we could see one replay before they ran the next play.

At halftime we watched two videos and yes I had students disappointed that we did not watch Katy Perry but here is a link to the two videos we watched.  We also gave away some music at halftime also.



Hit by a Swing and Leveled by Sin

I have been hit in the head by several things,

 sometimes it was my fault and other times, well mostly it was my fault.  My sister would probably tell you that I ruined one of her birthday parties by getting hit in the head. Continue reading

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