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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watch Out for Snakes!

My grandfather used to say: “There are always snakes in the grass, just be sure you know where they are.”

I learned this paragon of wisdom in one of those times where my grandfather took an ordinary event and transformed it into an extraordinary moment of understanding.  It was a hot North Carolina day and as we toiled away at yard work, I was explaining how betrayed I felt when someone I knew tried to embarrass me behind by back.  I employed a cliché to describe my perception of them time and related them to being a “snake in the grass.” The more infuriated I became about it, the more my conversation developed into hate filled threats of what I would do the next time I saw them.

As my grandfather presented this quote, he pointed out a small black snake he noticed earlier near the firewood pile.  “Do you see that snake over there?” he asked.  “Yes sir,” I responded.  “Should I go kill it?” he inquired.  “I guess not, it really isn’t bothering us at the moment.”  I answered.  He agreed and further explained that black snakes are not poisonous and actually help control rodent populations.  Thoroughly confused, I asked the relevance.  He eloquently related the same situation to people and relationships.  How’s that?

He explained that, as social beings, its human nature to gravitate toward building relationships with people that we come in contact with.  There are people in our lives that we choose to build relationships with and there are those with whom we have to engage by virtue of circumstance such as work, school, church or some other group gathering activity.  Each relationship is different but one thing that we can count on is that there will be people who disappoint us, betray our confidence and many who don’t display the courage that friendship and truth requires.  In some cases we have the luxury of ending our involvement in those relationships, but much like working in the yard, often the job has to get done, even with the presence of a snake or two.

What we have to remember is that people are not perfect, we ourselves are not perfect and there will be disappointments.  However, it is not always beneficial to take an aggressive approach to every relational challenge.  What would happen if we killed all of the snakes on the planet?  Our ecosystem would likely implode and we would ultimately doom ourselves – why because even snakes have a purpose.  So what do we do?  We learn.  It is the same concept discussed in my post “Conquering Fear” (Click here to read).  Like my grandfather educated himself on black snakes, our goal would be to understand who those “snakes” are in our yards and realize where you are likely to encounter them and respond appropriately.  This is how to combat the “fear” of a detrimental incident with them.

In a further evolution of thought, my post “The Ratio of Life” (Click here to read), elaborates on how life is truly 10% what happens to you, but 90% what you do about it.  Going around and attacking every snake that appears in your life would be wasted effort in a crusade that will never end because there will always be snakes.  My prayer for you is that you learn how to deal with the snakes in your life appropriately. There may be some truly poisonous relationships that you will have to “kill” – as for the rest, just keep an ever watchful eye to know where you may have to deal with a snake.  More importantly, remember to be quick to forgive the bites and close calls as you learn from them, because we are ALL imperfect and you never know when you have become a snake in the life of another.  Refresh your perspective on this line of thought by reading my post “Emancipation by Forgiveness.” (Click here to read)  Be Blessed!

“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
Psalm 56:11 (KJV)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


My grandfather used to say “Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary problem.”

It was a solemn moment after the funeral of a high school friend that left me wondering…why?  Why would a young man in the beginning of his manhood want to take his own life?  What could have been so bad that he lost all hope for any possibilities in his future?  It was again one of those times, sitting with my grandfather on the tailgate of an old rugged pickup truck, where I poured out my confusion, frustrations and fears in a 90 minute rant.  My grandfather gracefully played his role of master listener, and then righted my tumultuous world with this simple statement.

Although the situation for the original application was much more extreme in result, the statement holds true with so many of the tribulations we endure throughout our lives.  When you are in the midst of one of those times were nothing is going your way, it can be easy to surrender to your despair.  But if you allow your frustrations to feed on selfish thoughts, catastrophe is only moments away.  The cliché that comes to mind is one used to describe many who make poor permanent decisions; its that they were on a “slippery slope.”

It brings to mind God’s words to Cain in Gen 4:7 “…Why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (KJV) What is he saying to us?  He is talking about our attitude and the outlook that we have on hope in the center of our challenges.  In that moment God gives a simple but profound warning to Cain that he should be careful of how he responds to failure…one scripture before Cain murders his brother Abel over a temporary disagreement.

My Post “The Ratio of Life” (Click here to read) from April of 2010 is worth a quick read, as it elaborates on this very subject.  What is it that’s challenging you right now?  Is your marriage a little rocky and you’re thinking about divorce?  Maybe you are a teen and thinking of giving in to peer pressure in reference to alcohol, drugs or sex.  Or maybe you are thinking of quitting your job, giving up on finding a good mate or think that God doesn’t care about your financial troubles?  Whatever life trial you may face, now or later,  be careful that you don’t make decisions with permanent consequences because of temporary problems.  Success and victory are often just beyond the moment you give up…so don’t give up!  My prayer for you is that when life tries to push you down a slippery slope, you grab on to the rope of hope and climb back on top.  Trouble may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  Be Blessed.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  ~Jesus Christ 
John 16:33  (KJV)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Do Over!"

My Grandfather used to say: “Recognize and never waste a second chance”

Have you ever blown it?  You know, those times when you thought that you made the right decision only to find that things didn’t go quite the way that you had planned.  Or maybe you made a plan for accomplishment and just didn't follow through.  I have.  I know firsthand the disappointment of a wasted opportunity.  My grandfather’s quote, however, casts an anticipatory light on opportunities that we often overlook or squander… second chances.

In basketball, there is a statistic tracked called “second chance points”.  They occur when a team misses a scoring shot, but gets their own offensive rebound, retries, and scores.  I can even remember playing football in the street as a kid, and when a play was interrupted by an oncoming car, we yelled “do over!” giving us a second chance to run our play.  Here is the thought; in many situations a second chance is available, but far too often it isn’t utilized, because it isn’t recognized.  Whether it is an opportunity to lose those extra pounds, quit smoking or say the right thing – this time, second chances are obtainable, if we acknowledge them and take advantage of the opportunity they provide.

In my post “Well…What Do You Know?” from March 2010, we evaluated the differences between life lessons and mistakes.  This post evolves that line of thought, and hopefully evokes a pensive evaluation of your future plans.  On the crested wave of our New Year’s celebrations, I want to cast a unique light on an age old tradition - the New Year’s Resolution.  Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?  Are there any that were the same last year?  Are there any that will directly affect anyone other than you?  What are these “resolutions"…really?

Resolutions are commitments to implement a solution to a personal challenge.  Resolve…that’s an interesting word.  At a simplistic glance it is an opportunity to “re-solve” challenges that we maybe didn’t get right previously.  My prayer for you is that you take 2011 as an opportunity to apply some re-solutions to the challenges in your life that really matter.  To take situations where you might have dropped the proverbial ball, you pick it up and yell “do over!” then go make a difference in your life or the life of someone you care about.  God’s grace fills our lives with second chances, seek them out and make the best of every opportunity.  Be Blessed

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
~ II Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)