Win the Crowd

Have you ever seen the movie Gladiator? This is really a silly question-who hasn't? For me, I had just graduated high school when it was released, and the blood-drenched Coliseum floor left a mark on my soul. My life suddenly was inspired by violence, heroism, and greatness; and it allowed me to define my masculinity within these realms. What young man does not fantasize about standing victorious on the arena floor over your slain opponent, the sun drying blood splatter upon your skin, and raising your sword overhead while the masses roar? We all want to be a champion.

The more times I have watched Gladiator over the years my thoughts are less entertained by the carnage and more intrigued by the underlying themes and the overall message of the narrative. The story has become less about his ability kill and more about his ability to lead. Many kill. Anyone can extinguish a life. Our history books are filled with leaders that have left a wake of decimation and death behind them. For Maximus, this was not his fate. He learned a lesson that went far beyond the power of the sword; he embraced the power of influence. The pivotal moment in the story is when Proximo pulls Maximus aside and says this, “Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.” In his pursuit of revenge he embraced this philosophy and sought to win the crowd.

I do not believe that quality leadership is attained through consensus and vote. It is also not achieved through the relentless pounding of an iron fist. One may be feared but neither are respected. Effective leadership is defined by the influence one attains. Maximus could have killed and destroyed until he had no one else left to face. However, he could not complete his objective by death alone. His future was empty and hopeless, and Proximo breathed life back into it with this lesson. The power that this can create is proven when Commodus gave the thumbs down for Maximus to kill, and Maximus looked him in the eyes and defied him. In that moment his power became greater than that of the Emperor’s, and the crowd praised him for it.

My challenge to you is to win those you know by winning their hearts. This begs the question, how are you doing at winning people? There is no way to win people without engaging in relationship. We run into the same people in the same places. Whether they are the one in the cube next to us, the one that sleeps beside us, or the one that volunteers with us, are you winning in those relationships? You must know who they are at more than just at a surface level. Do you know their struggles? Do you know their needs? Do you know their faults? If so, are you doing something about it?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you are not their champion. We all must develop our skills at engaging people, caring for them, and fighting for them. The result is that they will find success and a true friend; and as a byproduct we will never have to enter an arena, a fight, or a conference room alone. One day we too will have the opportunity to defy the Emperor. The potential results lie somewhere between being praised as a hero and being escorted out by HR. The key differentiator in the outcome will be our level of influence. Like Maximus, let us fight like champions. Let us live as heroes!

 

 

*Edited by Dave Snyder #doaksnyder

Glowing Faces

There are, everywhere, the faces of gods illuminated

Managing kingdoms with the flick of the wrist, as a conductor their orchestra

With great focus and care their dedication resolute

There is no thing the divine will not sacrifice to compromise fixated gaze

Relationships – disregarded and degraded

Intimacy – declined, as if a weakness

Freedom – forfeited, by design

Offspring - abandoned

This creation slowly leeches marrow from the bones

All this to sustain a false kingdom - a fake reality – vanity

 Tragically these heavenly beings sufferer for the worship of their idols

Yet their faces glow, ignorant of their folly

 

 

 

*Edited by Dave Snyder #doaksnyder

Youthful Restraint Part 3: Men as Mentors

Sorry ladies this one is not for you, but feel free to keep reading. Then, print it out and leave a copy next to your husband’s, boyfriend’s, or dad’s toilet. This is the third and final installment on youthful restraint. If you have not already, please go back and read the first two installments before you continue. We have established the value and purpose of youthful restraint in Part 1. In Part 2, Boundaries, we looked at restraint in nature, juxtaposing floods and rivers as a vivid illustration of how restraint is powerful and beautiful. As great as all of this is in concept, there is a looming problem.

I have yet to meet a man that has improved himself to be the person that they he has desired to be, that God has desired him to become, on his own.  Rare is the young man that considers the ill effects of sustaining life as an adolescent into their 30s, and none of these men accomplish this of their own volition.  Few are thoughtfully considering the long term impact of poor decisions today on their future. “Tonight, We are young, So let’s set the world on fire, We can burn brighter than the sun” (Fun). This is the attitude we are up against. Young men need to be challenged. Young men need to be called out. Young men need to be called up. IT TAKES FATHERS AND MENTORS!!!

How is it that the powerful generation before me has become so weak in the twilight of their existence?  The pendulum ride of modern manhood is terrifying, having traveled from powerful and chauvinistic to neutered. The bulk of an aging generation has rendered themselves ineffective by the mere weakening of the masculine persona. The result is an emerging generation with no one to guide them. There is no one to challenge them or to hold them to a higher standard. Fathers, spiritual and natural, are few, and many are anemic at best.

Maybe, instead of thinking that a generation of boys need to man up, we need to sack up and engage them. I can guarantee that many of the lessons that we have learned long ago, and take for granted, are useful to another. Because of Woody I learned the dangers of drugs and the awe of God’s redeeming power.

Through the influence of my father I learned how to work hard, care for a family, and be a spiritual leader.  My grandfather modeled for me how to love and cherish a woman. Because of Tim Wimberly, my heart for people was shaped. Because of Tim Mossholder, I know how to hear from God and battle for spiritual things. So, shut off the TV, stop watching You Tube videos, and give something up. While you are at your poker night, a young man is in a back seat making decisions that will change his life forever! There are stories of failure that need to be told. There are stories of success that need to be shared. There are challenges that need to be made. There are times we need to grab that young man by the shirt collar and scare the hell out of him. We have been granted authority from God; we have the life experience that makes a difference. Do not relinquish that authority! Do not surrender to passivity. Find a way to enter a young man’s battle and teach him how to fight by getting in the foxhole alongside him.

So, today’s challenge is a simple question.  What are you doing to make those young men behind you better?  I can tell you for sure, they are lost without us!

*Edited by Dave Snyder #doaksnyder

My Problem with the Poor

A couple months ago, on a warm Saturday afternoon, wandering amongst towering pines and drawing deep upon clean mountain air, I had a conversation with my good friend Andrew. We discussed the poor. It is clear throughout scripture that God’s heart is for the poor; those unfortunate, hapless, and having no means of support. Andrew was musing on the fact that serving the poor is one of the primary ways we can minister directly to the heart of God.

We often serve God. We love God. We obey God. But, have we ever considered that we can minister to God? This was a revelation to me. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve even seen serving the poor through this prism. It was at this moment I realized that I do not minister to God very well.  In fact, I probably don’t minister to God much at all.

Fast forward about a week. I am sitting alone in a hotel room just outside of Sacramento, CA. The words “minister to God” are still ringing in my ears. I spent about an hour trying to watching every TV channel at once working hard not to be bothered these thoughts. Try as I might, I was unsuccessful.  Rather frustrated, I relented to His Spirit, grabbed my Bible, and dug in. I spent the rest of the evening looking up every scripture I could find on the poor, and widows and orphans. Then I got to Matthew 25, a passage I have read countless times. But, this time it was different. It was as if I had never read it before. 

“34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

            41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

The cursed are not those that partook in evil. They are not those that do not believe. They are those that did not give food, did not give drink, did not welcome, did not clothe, and did not visit the imprisoned. Am I among the cursed? I rarely do these things. And, when I do, I am often passing judgment. I am NOT ministering to God!

In applying this to daily life, it is clear that we are commissioned to serve the poor. All of us. Callousness and avoidance are not acceptable. We develop this callousness and accept avoidance by passing judgment imposing a generic typecast on “the poor.”  This typecast may even be generically untrue!  However, the reality is that it is much more difficult to pass judgment on a person, and certainly any excuse to avoid “doing unto the least” cannot be applied to every person in need. Therefore, it is necessary to break through the typecast. This is going to require that I, that we, engage those who are unfortunate, hapless, and have no means of support.

How do I do this?  I begin to think about who I can engage and reach out to.  Who is the least? Then I am faced with another startling fact. The poorest people I know have a place to live, food to eat, and a means to earn wages. They may be broke, but they are not poor. My life is insulated. My conduct is exclusionary. This is going to require some work on my part. It may get messy. But, we must engage.  And when we engage them, we will then get to know them. If we know them, we are forever changed.  For to look into their eyes and offer kindness is to touch the heart of God.  Let us never be the same!  Let us minister to God! Let us evaluate our thoughts, motives, actions, and then get a little messy!

“Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” 

Let’s go out and do this, as unto Him!

*Edited by Dave Snyder #doaksnyder

Lent

Growing up in a home where Lent was a not practiced activity, I was relatively ignorant of this monuments and historic religious event. For the majority of my life Lent was nothing more than memories of people discussing what food (usually red meat, which I discovered is why fast food restaurants are always running fish sandwich ads during this time) they were giving up for the period. I am, however, quite familiar with the principles and practice of fasting, but my impression was that the two were not really associated. Fasting seemed to be a spiritual experience, and Lent seemed to be a religious practice. I remember thinking to myself that Lent seemed a rather arbitrary practice. How does giving up meat improve your relationship with God? I am sure that in many cases it does not. For many, it is simply a religious activity that they have always practiced. But, the fact is, it is it does not have to be. Lent is a fantastic opportunity to give something up in order to increase focus and to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. The difference lies with the purpose one has for this Lenten period. Is it a random traditional check box, or do you wish that it would hold a greater purpose?  Easter week is a time to reflect on the price our Messiah paid for us, and for his ultimate victory over death for all of Mankind.  Shall we prepare for this with the proper reverence, drawing closer to Him, and perhaps bringing about a greater change in our life as well?

Preparation for the celebration of Easter has been documented far back to the early days of the church and became regularized with the legalization of Christianity in 313 A.D. The idea of preparation for a coming important event is quite common in our lives. We prepare for a wedding, a test, a date, and many other milestones in our lives. So it should not seem too odd that we would do it for our Savior? As with any ritual that has survived thousands of years, the practice of Lent has changed over time. Its rules and regulations have been disputed and changed. Even the exact timing is not fully agreed upon. It is traditionally 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending around Easter Sunday. Some people count Sundays, and some do not as they are already set aside for spiritual practice. The clear commonality is giving up something from your daily life to prepare for Easter.

The thing that is most intriguing to me about this entire process is the items that are chosen to fast. Rather than just choosing something that is traditional or arbitrary, I would like us to consider an alternative method of selection. It begins with some self-evaluation. In thinking of our lives and relationship with God, we need to ask ourselves, “What are the things that hold us back, what are the things that we rely upon, and what robs our time and steals our attention?” We need to unplug from the unnecessary things that are feeding us. Yesterday in service, my pastor was talking about the “high places” in our lives. In simple terms, these are the marginal sins that we partake in and justify to ourselves that we have them under control. They are compartmentalized. They are things that we value that don’t really honor God at all. The reality is that these high places are areas that can have control over us and are frequently the things holding us back from a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father. In preparation for Easter, let us focus on root causes rather than symptoms. In my case, I know that God is not as concerned with whether or not I eat beef or chicken as He is with my gluttony. I encourage you to take a few moments to think and pray about these sorts of areas in your life. He will reveal them. The quest is to break away from the things that hold us back so that we might know God more deeply and honor Him in our thoughts, words, and actions.

Ash Wednesday is in two days, and I would like to invite you to join me in the process of preparing ourselves for the celebration of the Risen King.

*Edited by Dave Snyder #doaksnyder

Youthful Restraint Part 2: Boundaries

In my previous post, we discussed the advantage of early restraint laying the foundation for future success. If you have not already read it, I would suggest that you do before you continue (click here). It will frame a more complete context for this continuing discussion. Moving forward, what I would like to develop further is a vivid picture of what successful restraint looks like in nature. We will be contrasting floods and rivers.

In the past few years the world has been ravaged by floods. I am reminded of tragic pictures from India in 2010, terrifying videos from Japan in 2011, and closer to home, in Colorado this past year, they experienced the devastating effects of a flood with roads gone, houses washed away, and loved ones murdered by Mother Nature. No matter the geographic location, the aftermath is horrific. It is a travesty to humanity with death, destruction, and devastation being the calling card. I don’t know that I have ever heard of a natural flood being associated with anything of value. A flood is an ugly manifestation of water unbridled.

In stark contrast is a river. They are beautiful. They are useful. They are full of life. Below is a photo of Horseshoe Bend at the Grand Canyon. Take a moment to absorb its beauty. What you are looking at is full of life. It is host to an entire eco system. The water is serving a greater purpose, and a few hundred miles away, just outside of Boulder, NV, its power is harnessed and its potential is realized at the Hoover Dam. It delivering life and power to hundreds of thousands of people and exuding beauty at every bend along the way.

A flood and a river are quite similar in many ways. However, there is a single distinction. Boundaries. Without boundaries, a river is nothing more than a flood. So it is with our lives. Without boundaries, our lives create nothing more than the aftermath of a flood full of death, destruction, and devastation. We have the power to decimate the world around us. If we want to be full of life, if we want to be powerful, if we want to be something that others would gaze upon as beautiful, the placement of boundaries is paramount. Restraining ourselves is the only way to foster life and inspire life to the world around us.

Youthful Restraint Part 1

This may come as a shock to those that know me, but God did not create me with a runner’s physique:) Over the past few years, I have gone against my natural propensity, taken up running, and successfully completed two half marathons. With my age and aches and pains not reducing with each passing year, I decided that one of my goals for 2014 is to run my first full marathon. There was a time just prior to my 30th birthday that running one mile, seemed as daunting as running 26.2 does today. But, I have experienced that with enough determination and proper training, I can do many things that I never before thought possible. One of the unexpected byproducts of running is that I have learned many lessons through the countless hours and miles of training. Most of them are about my own weaknesses, but I have also learned many things that relate to the way we should be living our lives.

Early in the morning, sometimes just before daylight, thousands gather in virtual silence. All are wearing their favorite running gear and best pair of shoes. They are stretching, jumping, moving around, and waiting in massive lines for a last minute restroom stop. Most have spent months and countless hours training for this day. They gather into their corrals, the National Anthem is sung, and the gunshot sounds. Adrenalin shoots through the roof. Feeling no pain and a sense of euphoria, many commit the most common mistake made on race day. They are running a pace faster than they ever have before. It is one that they cannot maintain. The result is that many end up at a crisis point later in the race and some are then unable to finish. So went my first race. I was running way too fast off the starting line, and by mile 10 I fell apart. I walked most of the last three miles in extreme pain and was completely exhausted. The second time, I consciously made a decision not to make the same mistake again. I held myself back for the first half of the race conserving energy and sticking to my plan. I ran strong to the end of the race, and I was able to sprint to the finish line. Instead of just finishing, I was victorious.

The goal of many good runners is to run the first half of the race at a pace slower than the second half. That way energy is conserved and the finish is stronger than the start. This is much of the same way that we should look at our lives. The first half of our lives needs to be lived with restraint so that we can run faster and stronger to the finish. The problem is that most start in an all-out sprint. They run in every freedom available and soon find themselves burnt out before they are half way through the marathon of life. The burnout happens on many fronts. It can be financially bankrupt, relationally spent, sexually shallow, emotionally exhausted, etc… They go too far at a pace that cannot be maintained. The end result is people that are embittered, detached, and trudging to death. We see them all of the time. When asked, I am sure that most people would say that they would rather show restraint today in order to be full of life, success, abilities, and freedom in the future. Saying no to a new car, holding your tongue, and not hopping into the backseat are not hard to do if that is what we purpose to do. The key is deciding what we will do before the situation arises. If you have ever run with me, you know that EVERY time I sprint to the end. It is my goal to be able to run the second half of my life stronger and faster than the first with sprint to the end. I invite you to run the same way.

Student Loans: Making Informed Decisions for Your Future Success

There are few things that get me fired up as much as a discussion about student loans. I am absolutely appalled at the number of young people in our county, in my community, that are taking out loans without a solid understanding of what they are doing and how it will affect their future. Peers are pushing them, colleges encourage it, and parents are cosigning blindly. It is my desire to educate and challenge students and parents alike in making an informed decision when it comes to spending on education.

I would like to start with ruffling a few feathers in regard to the way that we think about the amount we spend on education and the path in which we choose to get there. Here are my 5 challenges to common myths.

  1. Pedigree does not pay: There are a limited number of instances where this may not be the case. But, in general, it does not really matter! This is especially true when paying for private education. You will not make 500% more for spending 500% more. Your degree is your foot in the door, and I am not currently aware of any large companies that have a sliding pay scale based on the university attended.
  2. Your journey does not have to be linear: Your degree does not say, “It took them 6 years to complete”, or “went to xxx junior college first”, or “took online classes at another cheaper school while enrolled here.” It only says that you graduated. I encourage taking a creative approach to the end goal keeping cost in mind and mitigating debt.
  3. Taking longer can work to your advantage: Get four years out of your mind. More and more often students are taking longer to get through school due to no fault of their own. Why not make it work to your advantage? Working, saving diligently, and maybe extending your plan a year or two can greatly affect your future debt load.
  4. Experience is more valuable than education: What you have learned is not as important as what you have practiced! In every interview I have been in or I have conducted, the conversation ALWAYS goes to, “What have you done?”

What I desire is that people would know what they are getting into before they have a $1,900 a month student loan payment and a $25,000 a year job (negative cash flow). Or, worse yet, they have no job.

I have created some tools below to help you, your loved ones, or anyone you may know to make informed decisions when it comes to creating an execution plan for college. I guarantee that the end cost will shock you. I am very much pro education. I am also not against taking student loans to accomplish a goal, but if you must take student loans, finance a mission, not an experience! Debt is the fastest way to prohibit yourself from achieving your future dreams and goals.

College Costs:

This is a quick view of estimated costs (tuition, room, board) for a few schools (updated 2013) for your reference.

Click here to download.

Calculating Student Loans:

This spreadsheet helps develop three different things. 1. Calculating the cost of college. 2. Comparing your loan to the projected median starting salary for your chosen industry. 3. Considering investing your tuition rather than spending.

NOTE: This spreadsheet is built with a best case scenario. It is awarding the maximum possible amount of subsidized loans.

  • Tab 1. Education Plan: In the yellow boxes, enter the school information, costs, and what you can contribute. Don’t forget books and materials on the bottom left hand side. After all of the information is entered, you will see exactly what your monthly payment will be when you graduate based on the current stated interest rates (Updated 01/14). It will also highlight the difference in future monthly payment if you make your interest payments while you are in school.
  • Tab 2. Salaries & Loans: Using the dropdown on the upper right hand side, select whether you are going to make interest payments while in school. This tab illustrates the median starting salary for different degrees for last year in the U.S, what percentage of your gross income your student loan will be, and what percentage your total loan is of your annual salary. This helps illustrate if you will be able to make the payment, live with the payment, and consider how it will affect your life.
  • Tab 3. Invest vs. Spend: This tab shows the power of the time-value of money and what could happen if you invested instead of went to college. This is not to discourage college, but to show how powerful compound interest can be when it is working for you and not against you. You enter your age, the amount you would have spent out of pocket, and the 10 year payment auto populates from the previous tabs. In the bottom section, you will find what you would have to start contributing every year to a retirement account. This is starting immediately after graduation all the way to retirement.

Click here to download.

Student Loans: Making Informed Decisions for Your Future Success

This is a PPT presentation I developed for a student loan workshop to introduce this information. It can be modified to help you walk a group through these concepts.

Click here to download.

The Freedom We Can Possess

So often we view God’s commandments as rules, regulations, and restrictions. The Bible can feel like a laundry list of things we can’t do and a dictator like God is just waiting for us to mess up in order to punish us. He tries to make our lives miserable by not allowing us to do the things that we want to do, other people do, and that we have the RIGHT to do.

I can tell you that this is simply not the case at all. I want to start with three statements by three great Christian men. 1. “God has logical and loving limitations” (Dean Sherman). 2. “God is not a restrictor. He is a fulfiller and a releaser” (Pastor Tim Wimberly). 3. “Sin reduces choices” (Pastor Dan Daugherty).

As we start to unpack all of these statements, I believe that God’s heart is revealed clearer and clearer. Like any good and loving parent, God has rules and restrictions. He wants us to live free. And, he desires that all of His children would have a bounty of good choices available to them.

For the sake of example, take a couple of instructions from the Bible. Don’t get drunk! Don’t get into debt! It is easy to say that I can do what I want. I’m not hurting anybody. The list goes on and on. These, like many other things, we want to do, other people do, and we have the right to do. However, are they things we should do? Having too much to drink does not give us more choices. Hurt yourself, get pulled over, or injuring someone else all look like ways to have the number of life choices before us reduced. It does not enhance relationships or your physical well-being (fights, weight gain, hangovers, etc…). Getting into debt is much the same way. We can take on a student loan, car loan, finance a couch, or even rent a TV. We have the right to do all of these. The problem is that we become a slave to the lender, and once again, our life options narrow. We lose the ability to take a lower paying job. Stress is increased. Savings is harder to come by, and financial and life margin reduce.

Worst of all, disobedience to God’s ordinances can cause us to miss out on what God may call us to. We can’t drive the church buss with a DUI. Our shiny new car may not allow us to care for widows and orphans or give to people in need. Would Peter have had the ability to drop his nets and follow Jesus if he had been completely drunk or was strapped to a monster house payment?

The point here is not to merely focus on our drinking or spending habits. Where we need to focus is on a change of perspective on our part. We need to move away from our micro view, poisoned by our immediate wants and desires, and try and see things from His macro view. When we think of God gazing upon us as an infinite and loving father, interested in us living free, and wanting us to have a variety of choices, it is much easier to see that His logical and loving limitations give way to freedom.

The Value of a Name

Ecclesiastes 7:1a “A good name is better than precious ointment”

What is a name worth? For us to understand this verse, we must first comprehend the value of ointment in the ancient world. It was a coveted luxury that was very expensive. It would be mixed with various spices and resins to create a pleasing aroma. Often times it was placed in a valuable alabaster box where its fragrance could be preserved for up to several hundred years. Since it was so expensive, it would only be used for special occasions. It would be placed on the head and cloths for festive events, it would be used to adorn dead bodies in burial, and it was used in ceremonial anointing. This was a precious commodity with great value and was not for common use.

Considering this item of great value, does it compare with the way that you treat your name? When your name is spoken, what do people think? How is your family name viewed in your community? Though many do not consider its worth, a good name has great value. Proverbs 22:1a “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”. If you were to go back to Ohio where my family originated, my family name represented generations of alcoholics. My grandfather was the first generation not to be consumed by alcoholism. In the sixties, he moved his family to Southern California. Now, after almost fifty years and three generations later, we are known as a family that is dependable and loves and serves Jesus. It took a half of a century and a new location to establish a good family name. Having a good family name gives those that carry it instant credibility, influence, and security. It is our job to and duty to improve, protect, and preserve this commodity.

Upholding and representing our family name is important and well worth every effort. However, there is a family that is much more important to represent well. It is the family name of Jesus Christ. How well are we upholding, representing, and protecting this name? It is the name that is above all names, and it deserves to be treated better than a precious item of great value. If we profess, we represent everywhere we go in everything that we do – even when no one is watching.

Source: www.zacharystark.com