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Productivity and walking with God

Monday was a rough afternoon. Feeling stressed, frustrated by circumstances. We got home from Costco, unloaded the car, and I asked Heather if she would mind if I headed out to the shed for a bit (where I recently moved my office). She asked, “Are you going to mope around out there?” Ouch.

Mope – to be sunk in dejection or listless apathy; sulk; brood. Random House.

“No,” I replied, “I’m gonna go cry for a little bit and then talk to God.” “Ok,” she said.

I grabbed my jacket and laptop with iTunes while the mope comment began to gnaw. In the last year, especially, I’ve begun to pay really close attention to my emotions when I am upset. So I sat down, trying to feel my way through the mope comment as well as why I had been feeling so stressed out.

Almost immediately, I realize – she’s totally right. I tried to start arguing in my mind, of course. Because what does it say about me if she’s right? But the argument goes nowhere. I realize that my wife is 100% correct. I usually go out to the shed to mope around when I am feeling sorry for myself about some other situation. After that dawned on me came the part where, in fact, I did cry for a little bit and then talk to God about why.

Why is it that when I feel the emptiest inside, the first solution that usually comes to mind is trying to work harder outside? When I feel like I don’t have anything to offer as a husband, a provider, or a father, the questions I ask myself are – what can I go do right now to be productive? How can I perform better? What can I accomplish to feel better about myself? How can I prove my worth as a man, a husband, a father? And apparently, I often conclude that the best course of action is to go organize the shed. (Or as my lovely wife would say – mope around.) As if somehow getting “control” of some small part of my life will help the rest of it feel manageable.

I put a couple songs on and sit quietly, worshipping God, purposefully not thinking about anything except the lyrics and the music. A few songs in, I hear one from Mark Schulz, who I’m not really familiar with. But the chorus stings. “Even when it feels like there is no one holding me, be still my soul, He is.” Yes, please, my heart screams, wanting it to be true, wanting to feel what it feels like to be held, comforted by God, to be sure of myself in him. My head knows that’s always available. My head knows that I just have to ask. So why do I forget so easily? Why do I forget so often?

One of the great battles of my life so far in my relationship with God is the idea that he is genuinely interested in me. I concluded a long time ago that God will talk or interact with me when I do something good for him. Kind of a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ relationship. He gives me a job, a mission, a task, whatever. I knock it out of the park – and only then can I really go back and talk to him, because I’ve somehow earned it. I’ve been working hard the last couple years to overcome this conclusion. And I’ve spent a considerable amount of time asking God what he thinks about it. A couple years ago he said to me, quite clearly, “You don’t have to be productive in order to talk to me.” Another time he said, “You don’t have to prove anything to me.” Last night he said, “I just want to spend time with you. I love your heart so much.” And he reminded me of yet another time, when I had been seeking direction, desiring focus, trying to figure out all the what’s and how’s of something. I asked him, “Where do you want me to be spending my time?” And he replied, “With me.”

Whoa. Not being productive, not accomplishing goals, not making ministry plans, not achieving, not striving. The King of the Universe thinks that I should be spending my time with him. Now I don’t think God was giving me permission to just sit around and do nothing except seek Him all day…but what if He was?!?! Are your provider/responsibility/get things done for the kingdom alarm bells going off? Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Abraham on the trip with his son or Gideon as God is telling you that 300 are better than 30,000 when you’re going to war?

Sitting here today, I don’t believe there is a quick solution, an easy answer, to this dilemma. I’m ok with this conclusion: making sense of life and following God don’t really go together. I genuinely believe that what God wants more than my productivity is a relationship. That he’s really more interested in the journey than what I can produce. And that journey is one that fulfills me when it starts and ends with him.

Real Freedom. Really Possible.

Unbound Ministries is officially launched! Many thanks to each and every one of you for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support in making this happen!

 A few days ago a friend of mine called me with a  story. Earlier in the day, his wife had overhead a group of gals talking at a Christian school. They were discussing how sad it was that pornography existed and how sad it was for the people who were into that. It got me thinking. How many of us have been involved in a conversation like that? Or overhead one? One of the worst nights of my entire life, many years ago – I was sitting in my backyard with my only close friend, talking about a guy who was leaving his wife and two small kids. Turned out he had a pretty significant online porn problem. But what I remember about it was sitting there, desperately wanting to tell my friend that I had that same problem. But I was so afraid of what would happen if I did, because in twenty years of going to  church, I’d never heard of a guy admitting that he struggled with porn and not getting yelled at, shunned, kicked out or fired. So I kept my mouth shut, just like most men.

Did you know that last year, one of the largest divorce lawyer groups in the US surveyed their 1400 lawyers and found that pornography was the reason for separation in nearly 1/3 of all divorce cases? The headline on the back of Becoming Unbound: From Pornography to Freedom says this:   It’s time to start a real conversation about a difficult topic. And it really is time, isn’t it? How much longer are we going to wait to talk about the epidemic of pornography in our culture, our families, and our churches?

You can be a meaningful part of starting this conversation!

Read the book. If you’re a man, it’ll open your eyes to what real freedom in this area looks like and help you start that journey. Or at least it’ll help you understand the battle that half of all the men in the American church deal with on at least a weekly basis. If you’re a woman, it’ll shed light on what may be a very confusing issue. And maybe even more importantly, it’ll help you understand how to stand alongside your man and your boys as they fight this battle. You can purchase the book directly from Ezra (just reply and ask) or via Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Unbound-Pornography-Ezra-Snyder/dp/1935359673/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1293646759&sr=1-1

Visit the website. www.unboundministries.com is up and running. Check it out and submit a contact form with your feedback. Typos, spelling errors, suggestions, we’d love to know what you think about how we can make it better!!

Help others find Unbound. While you’re at the website, like us on facebook (UnboundMinistries). Follow us on twitter if you use it (@BecomingUnbound). Share a page that was meaningful to you with some friends on facebook so they can help others as well.

Spread the word. Consider introducing us to other pastors or leaders. We believe that every man and woman in America deserves to hear the message of Becoming Unbound. You don’t have to call anyone, just drop us a note with the name of the pastor or leader we should reach out to. Send them a quick email letting them know that we’ll be calling. The offer to them will be a cup of coffee, a free copy of the book, and an understanding of what Unbound Ministries can offer them.

Thank you, again, for all you’ve done to make this a reality. As God brings Unbound Ministries or the Snyder’s to your mind, please pray the Kingdom of Jesus Christ over every area of Unbound Ministry and over every area of the Snyder’s life. That we would be saturated by His Kingdom. That it would fill us to overflowing, light our path, inspire us, and faithfully continue to provide life changing encounters for the men and women who desire freedom and transformation in this area of their life and their marriage.

Let’s make it true – Real freedom. Really possible.

Ezra Snyder

Becoming Unbound – December Update

Greetings friends and allies,

The book is printed!

Becoming Unbound: From Pornography to Freedom is sitting in boxes at the printer in Minnesota waiting to be shipped!!! I probably cannot accurately express in words what it feels like to write those words. But the short answer is probably equal parts “wow” and “FINALLY!” Everything else is queued up. A signed agreement with the local distributor who will be storing the books as well as working with wholesalers to get the book into bookstores and available for book signings and the like. The website content is finished and we are just a few hours of work away from completing the templates and structure of the site. It’s even up on Amazon.com! Out of stock at the moment, but hopefully not for long!

Would you consider helping get the book into the hands of men who need it? The final invoice from the printer is $2,138.12. This covers the final cost of printing the books plus shipping costs. In my earlier estimations, I forgot to include shipping, hence the higher total than the $1500 estimated last month. Many of you have graciously donated already. Thank you so much! We would not be this close without you! Please pray and ask God if He wants you to financially support Unbound on this last leg of book publishing. We deeply appreciate your prayers and support, both financial and encouragement! Unbound would not be where it is without you. Truly. So thank you again. As always, donations are tax deductible and can be mailed to Unbound Ministries, c/o Adventure Community Church, 26632 NE Stella Street, Duvall, WA, 98019.

A few days ago, I had coffee with a friend of mine. He was sharing with me some thoughts regarding a retreat he attended recently. One of the speakers, a man whom I also deeply respect, shared this thought:

“If I do not step into Christ at the start of each day, the twin thieves – regret of the past and worry of the future – lay hold of my heart and steal from me the day He had for me.”

For the last couple months, our family has been in a difficult financial position. As people ask me how things are going, I’ve come to realize that my answer to that question directly reflects where I’ve spent my time and effort that day. It seems that the best days are full of pursuing Christ, living in the present, attacking the day’s responsibilities with abandon and embracing the large story of eternity and how God wants to use me to advance His kingdom. And it seems the worst days are full of pursuing understanding about my finances, planning and scheming about how to fix them, spending a lot of time trying to think about the future and how things might end up, and generally soaking in the small story of my current circumstances.

I really identified with the phrase “lay hold of my heart” in the quote above. Isn’t that what it feels like sometimes? That something has laid hold of our hearts and won’t let go? The “thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) is trying to break into our hearts and steal our day right out from under our very noses. Trying to pick the lock of our hearts with regrets and worries. Because surely if our hearts are overflowing with those, we cannot also be filled with the peace of the Holy Spirit, can we? I know I can’t. So it is a daily battle. Choosing to pursue God on a daily basis. Choosing to pray, to battle, to fight against the thieves of past regrets and future worries. Choosing strength to find true life in Christ instead of all the false hopes that our culture offers.

So I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. Webster defines merriment as gaiety and fun. Sounds like a birthday party to me! May your December be filled with merriment, peace, joy, love and lots of days filled with choosing God right from the start.

Ezra