“When we hear the voice of God or heed Jesus’s invitation to follow him, it leads us out of captivity into freedom. When we hear God’s voice, we finally find our voice. When we find our voice, we discover we finally have something to say, and that when we speak, our words have power. We bring voice to the hopes that have long been lost to a world trapped in a noisy silence.” ~Erwin McManus, The Artisan Soul

Ask It

I recently just finished watching a six-week sermon series online that a friend’s mom suggested I watch. I am so glad that I actually looked it up because this is one of those series that can change the course of where you are heading in life. In the two weeks since I began the series this concept has quite literally changed the way that I respond to most situations, invitations, questions, etc. The series is presented by Andy Stanley and is called Ask It:The question that answers just about everything. 

This is a series focused around one question and it is a question that is so life changing that as Andy Stanley put it, this is a question that “would save you a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of tears.” I would highly recommend this series to anyone. In fact I will be starting a six-week Sunday night life group for any Reach students interested.

I would encourage everyone to give the series a chance, I think that you will only find good things to say, at a bare minimum watch the first two installments and if you’re not convinced of the life altering ramifications that this question can have on your life then I am at a loss for words.

The series is all about wise decision-making and I have included a link to the series website above in the series title, as well as here. If you have questions or comments about the series feel free to message me or comment below. This is something that I have found very useful and am becoming more and more excited about as I am seeing significant changes in my day-to-day life!

Blessings,

MJS

 

Forgiveness

I recently gave a message on forgiveness at the youth group where I am a sponsor at because we are in a time of transition between youth pastors and here are some of my notes and thoughts on the subject:

In the book of Matthew, Peter asks Jesus a question:

How many times must we forgive? Now I think Peter asks that question having someone in mind, it could be a (parent, brother, friend, another disciple) maybe that person did this or that, but Peter is ready to be done with them. So he wants to know what Jesus has to say about forgiving them and how many times he has to forgive.

Do any of you have a similar person? (i.e. bully, brother, parent, grandparent or teacher)

I did. When I was in middle school I had two bullies and they were best friends. It lasted for 3 years and it became so bad that in the middle of my 7th grade year my mom wanted to transfer me to a different school.

Anyway, Jesus replies to Peter’s question with a parable. If you remember a parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant – Matthew 18:23-35:

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[a] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[b] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[c] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[d] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[e] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

NIV footnotes say that “a talent was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wages.” and that “a denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer.” So this was a serious amount of money owed versus a much smaller amount. This is incredibly similar to what God has done for us. God has forgiven all of our sins past, present, and future. Much like the servant who owed the 10,000 talents we can’t ever repay what Jesus did for us on the cross, because of Jesus God forgave everything you have ever done, or could ever do wrong.

We need to be the opposite of the unforgiving servant, because all of our sins have been forgiven, we must forgive others for their sins against us. Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

This statement makes it pretty clear that forgiveness isn’t optional.

Transitioning back to my middle school bully, I was sitting at a coffee shop a number of weeks ago and my old bully recognized and approached me and he apologized and asked for forgiveness for what he had done back almost 7 years ago and then we talked for about 10 minutes about how he had recently come to faith and was plugged in at a local church, really it was just an awesome story.

Now while it was great that he apologized something that we all need to understand is that an apology is not required to forgive someone. (Fortunately, I was able to forgive him years ago) You see the apology doesn’t matter, you can only control what you do because Some people will never apologize for what they have done. That doesn’t change the fact that Jesus said to forgive.

And sometimes forgiveness is regularly required, because sometimes you have already forgiven someone, but the pain of what they did hasn’t gone away and you get angry or hurt again and you have to forgive them in your heart again. As Pastor Mark Driscoll put it in one of his sermons, “sometimes, they keep sinning, so you need to keep forgiving.”

Who do you need to forgive?

~MJS

Controversy in Kansas – Take the poll!

So recently a lot of controversy has been happening over Kansas HB 2453, so what better way to get people to read my new blog then asking people about this bill. So I want to know if you were in the shoes of a member of the Kansas legislature how would you vote on the bill?

Make sure to subscribe to my blog and follow me on twitter @MJSnowSnow

~Michael

#firstworldproblems

So the other day I posted this question to twitter:

You can see some of the responses below, Olive Garden and Panera Bread tried to get me to go to their restaurants which was cool, but this tweet has stuck with me over the past  week.

Since that tweet, I have been remembering to be thankful that I have what we jokingly call “#firstworldproblems” because we live in a world where people are really hurting and this was just a reminder to be thankful!

You can also see the Panera Bread and Olive Garden tweets below and a funny tweet from my friend Josh!