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Living just east of Crazy

Beautifully Flawed – The Healing Power of God’s Love

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Mar• 25•17

I found myself in an odd position. My heart ached from deeply hurting wounds, yet I had the burning desire to express love to those in need. How could I be in need of healing, and still have this care for those who are in need? I soon discovered that the leaking wounds were the flaws that revealed the power of Agape – which is the love of God.

What I learned during my struggles has only grown my determination to share what I’ve discovered with others.

For the most part, only those close to my family know that my marriage came to an end. Since the question comes up, I’ll say up front that, to my knowledge, there has never been infidelity in my marriage on either side. It was something I never thought would happen to me. The details of the death of my married life are not important, but out of the ashes emerged a deeper understanding of the power of God’s healing love.

I was caught off guard because I underestimated the problems beginning to pop up. At first, I was shell shocked and couldn’t seem to find my feet. For nearly a year, I struggled to have even cursory God-time. It was all I could do to sort out the thoughts running through my head. Yet one thing I have learned over the years is to forgive and that it isn’t my job to carry the burdens of life. I soon found my feet, but it would be a year before I would begin to experience the life I once felt in my soul.

True healing began when I started meditating on this truth in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

And the comfort we have received IS the love God pours into our hearts. I like the way Ephesians 3:18-19 states:

 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The problem is that you and I can’t fix ourselves, our circumstances, or others. When we look to others or ourselves, we can never find hope, but lack. A needy soul can only sap life from others; however, God is big enough to satisfy that need. You can’t sap the life out of Him. The problem I’ve seen is that people don’t truly believe in God’s love, for we put the same merit system on God that we find in human interactions. It’s too easy to believe that until I do something to become worthy, God can’t accept me, but this is far from true.

God is not concerned about what you’ve done, but where you are going. The real life of the Christian begins when we believe in the love He has for us, and allow the Lord to fill our lives. He first fills the empty heart to meet our need, and continues to fill – even though we leak. Yet the more we learn to trust Him, the more we are able to allow Him to fill us beyond our ability to contain it. That’s when the hurt washes away, and emotional and spiritual health emerge from the overflow of what He floods into us. His love is inexhaustible, thus making our flaws irrelevant. The beauty of life springs from the flaws that once ebbed life away.

In my life, what I found was that though the healing took time, the love of God was greater than my hurt. Instead of anger and bitterness, I began praying for those I felt hurt me. I had to break off many relationships because the burdens of their condemnation were too great to be added to the burdens I was already struggling to survive.

But once life emerged, anger died. Bitterness washed away. Hurt soothed. Once my heart was full, the love of God didn’t stop flowing, so it had to go somewhere. I found myself having no way to resist loving those I once held in offense, and I wanted to touch others who were hurting and struggling with rejection.

For some time I have been planning to have a grace conference this April. I wrestled over the questions of whether to go through with it now, and if it should be scheduled at all. Was I ready to step onto a platform? Is it hypocrisy to stand and speak about the Gospel of Grace when few people even know I’m divorced. Now April 23rd is only a few breaths away, and I never felt peace about cancelling. These last few months have been an amazing, but challenging journey. The Lord has flooded me with comfort, joy, and peace, which prepared me for many difficult circumstances. My time with the Lord over the last week altered my focus on the conference.

He has shown me that my journey is where my focus should be. People hurt in many ways. People struggle with addictions in their behavior, substance, and have suffered the loss of many things of value in a futile attempt to fill the emptiness within. Others have been wronged and struggle with bitterness. While some just found themselves stuck in the undertow of life.

The truth is, everyone is flawed. We may hide it under pride, pretense, religion, sin, or any other human construction. Many are ashamed of their flaws. We hide it from the world, and even from those we love. Some flaws are so painful, we hide it from ourselves. However, the grace of God changes everything. God doesn’t promise to take away our flaws, but to overcome them. His love makes us beautifully flawed. It’s only then that we learn to be honest with ourselves and others. Our flaws make us trophies of grace. His love makes us flawless!

Condemnation turns flaws into destruction, but the love of God first makes flaws irrelevant by becoming the strength for our weaknesses, and then makes flaws conduits of grace to others so that we can now comfort others with the comfort we have received from Him.

Rest in Him. He has made you flawless!

Eddie Snipes

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Free Book – Help I Think I’ve Committed the Unpardonable Sin

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Mar• 04•17

Through Saturday, 3/4/17, this book is free on the Kindle. Do you know someone who is struggling with the fear of condemnation?

Condemnation is the evidence that we don’t understand the love of God. The Bible Help, I Think I've Committed the Unpardonable Sinassures our hope in Christ, but this is undermined by the misunderstanding of scriptures that have been used to create fear of the so-called unpardonable sin. This book examines these scriptures in context to understand what is being taught. According to the Bible, God’s love casts out all fear, and the hearing of the word produces faith. Any teaching that creates fear is not founded upon the truth of God.

It’s time to get out of fear, and discover the amazing teachings of scripture. These not only give us the assurance of salvation, but also disarms many doubts that create fear in the Christian life.

-Did you know that God swore an oath that under the New Covenant of grace, He will never again be angry at His people?
-Did you know that the Bible teaches that it’s God’s job to suppress sin in your life?
-Did you know your righteousness is a gift of God, and sin cannot destroy this work of Christ?
-Did you know that a blasphemous thought cannot overcome the righteousness of God which was given to you?
-Did you know that sin was put to death in Christ, and this was foretold through the coffin that sat at the center of all Old Testament worship?

Let’s leave condemnation in the grave, explore these scriptures together, and discover what the Bible calls the abundant life. This is when you’ll find rest for your soul in the finished work of Christ.

Click here to view the Kindle version of the book.

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Stupid People?

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Feb• 14•17

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6

Have you noticed that the roads are filled with stupid drivers? Everyone thinks every other driver is stupid. But not us. It’s ‘those people’. What makes people stupid drivers in our eyes? They interfered with us on some level. The same holds true for the above statement in the humorous picture, “The hardest part of my job is being nice to stupid people.” Who are the stupid people? Those who interfere with us on some level. They may be new and don’t know their job well, or have skillsets that don’t match the roles they are put in.

This may seem like a petty rant, but consider the words of Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

The word corrupt means: poor quality, worthless, or rotten. When I call my co-worker a stupid person, am I speaking that which edifies, or that which gives an image of poor quality?

Here is why this is important. First of all, people naturally rise to the level of the expectation put on them. If you expect good and communicate a positive image, people will both knowingly and unknowingly rise to that image of good expectation. Second, the quality of our attitude is either building up morale, or tearing it down. I cannot expect good relationships when I am teaching one person to think poorly of another. My words build expectations. I’m building a good or bad expectation on the person I’m speaking of, and I’m building up or tearing down the expectations of others toward that person.

Shortly after my high school years, I worked in a warehouse. When someone was hired, our manager, Steve, would come back and say, “Paul is doing a good job, isn’t he.” Everyone would immediately think about what Paul might be doing right. Either directly or indirectly, Paul would get the message that he was a positive part of our team. How do you think Paul responded? He felt good about himself, and he rose to a higher level of work ethic to match that expectation.

Steve was promoted, and a new manager took over. We’ll call him, Jeff. Jeff was the opposite of Steve. His attitude was demanding and he was critical of everyone. He was worried that employees might be getting paid for doing less. He would come back and say, “Is Paul going to cut it? If he’s not pulling his weight, we need to get someone who can.”

Everyone would look at Paul with a critical eye to see if he was doing anything wrong. It wasn’t only Paul that was negatively affected. The team soon stopped being a team. Jeff’s critical attitude created critical perceptions and negative expectations. Production dropped, people quit, new hires struggled to find acceptance, and instead of rising up to a higher expectation, people started worrying about whether others were doing less, and one guy said, “Why bother doing anything extra? No one in management will notice anyway.”

It’s hard to be positive when you are already under the weight of failure. When someone expects you to be a failure, it’s hard to prove your worth. People don’t thrive under negative reinforcement.

The label of stupidity is often that weight of failure. How many people are really stupid? If someone is trying to learn, does inexperience mean they are stupid? Does calling people stupid create good peers and working relationships? In reality, the person who thinks others are stupid is putting demands of perfection on others that the demander also cannot achieve. It is a creation of negativity and has no real value.

Building up will cause people to grow, and eliminate many mistakes. Tearing down will not.

Another counter-productive label of stupidity is when we focus on someone’s weaknesses with a critical eye. Let me tell you the story of Mike. When I was working as a technician at an airline, we had a coworker, Mike. Mike was very slow at doing the things his job demanded. People called him incompetent and stupid. I got to know Mike, and he was a very intelligent guy. It was frustrating to wait on Mike, and he was a drain on our team. The problem wasn’t that Mike was stupid or incompetent. The problem was that the role Mike was given wasn’t compatible with his strengths. He was being forced to use his weaknesses to do the job.

Some people wanted him to be fired. Feeling the pressure, Mike started applying for other jobs in the company, and to my surprise, he landed a very good position. In one day, Mike went from incompetent to exceptional. His new job was a perfect fit for his skillset. The detail oriented personality he had was a poor fit for the fast paced environment of our team, but was an asset to his new role.

What we think is incompetence is often our expectation that someone think or act like us, or to expect someone’s weakness to be a strength. The truth is, if I had Mike’s new role, I would look incompetent. If you have to do something that is outside of your abilities, you will look stupid. What we often call stupidity is actually demanding a duck to run like a gazelle, and demanding a gazelle to climb like a monkey. No matter how much you demand the gazelle to climb better, he will still look like a fool trying to do something he was not designed to do. Contrary to the Wizard of Oz, there are no flying monkeys. And he will look very stupid running around the field, flapping his arms and trying to fly. A duck may roll his eyes and say, “Stupid monkey, flying is easy,” but reverse the roles, and the duck will be the one who looks stupid.

There are two conclusions I want you to take from this. First, don’t let anyone tell you that you are an idiot or label you as stupid because you are branching off to learn new skills, or because you are out of your element. The expert of today, was called incompetent and stupid yesterday. Yet how much quicker the newby will grow if watered with encouragement instead of scorn.

Second, shift your expectation from a critical eye, to a positive expectation. Failures of others is not stupidity. Failures and mistakes are the steps that everyone must brave in order to grow. The hardest part of your job is not being nice to stupid people. The hardest job is to maintain a positive attitude toward others when our expectations are not met. You’ll be surprised at how much happier you will be when you stop being critical of others. You’ll also eliminate frustration when, instead of wasting your energy on criticism, you make it your goal to impart your understanding to the person who lacks what you have learned through experience.

The greater stupidity is to complain about someone’s lack of ability and do nothing positive to help them grow, which will soon be a help to you.

Eddie Snipes 2017

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Humpty the Rock Star

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Oct• 31•16

My parents weren’t fans of cheaply made Halloween costumes. I’d look at the pictures of Superman and beg to buy one of these costumes so I could pumpkin-babylook like that on Halloween. Instead, Mom would decorate me with varying household objects.

One year I was to be Humpty Dumpty. Mom pulled out a pair of Dad’s long-john underwear and grabbed some pillows. I stepped into them and she stuffed me until I bulged. I looked in the mirror and sneered. I wanted to be Superman, not a tick wearing thermal underwear. “You look good,” Mom said. “Everyone likes Humpty Dumpty.”

It was a chilly night, so Mom insisted that I put a cap on my head. “Humpty doesn’t wear a hat,” I protested.

“It’s cold, so you have to wear something on your head,” she said. I pouted. That didn’t work, so I cried. Mom sighed and went to the closet. She returned, pulled off my hat, and plopped a wig on my head.

“Humpty Dumpty doesn’t have hair,” I wailed.

“He did when he was your age,” she said. “Now get in the car if you want candy.”

My cousins were loaded in my aunt’s station wagon, and we piled in with them. None of them had store-bought costumes, but they were dressed like vampires. And they didn’t have hats on their heads.

Aunt Kae drove to a nearby neighborhood and we all piled out with our bags. I ‘accidentally’ dropped my wig in the backseat. “Get back here,” Mom said, and plopped the wig on my head. “You have to wear this or you’ll get a cold.”

I ran to catch up to my cousins and my pillow-stuffed long johns fell down. I pulled them up and ran onto a porch. “Trick or treat,” I said.

“Are you a fat rock-star,” the lady asked.

What? Do rock stars wear long underwear? “No, I’m Humpty Dumpty,” I said.

“Your hair looks like you’re trying to look like the Beatles.” I didn’t know who the beetles were, but I wasn’t pleased.

I ran off the porch and my pants fell down again. I pulled them up and ran toward my sister and cousins. I sprinted up the stairs of a house and felt my pants slipping again. I dropped the bag, pulled them up, and ran to the door.

“What’s with the Beatle’s hair?” the man holding a bowl of candy asked. “Are you Paul McCartney after retirement?”

“I’m Humpty Dumpty!” I snorted.

“I didn’t know he had hair,” the man chuckled, and then dropped a peanut shaped marshmallow into my bag.

Peanut marshmallows were the worse candies to get. “Mommy says he had hair when he was younger,” I said. The man laughed. I didn’t have time to debate the issue. Especially not with someone who gives marshmallow peanuts. The man laughed louder when Humpty’s belly and pants fell to the ground again. I pulled them up and ran toward the station wagon. “Mom! My pants won’t stay up,” I complained.

“You probably need to have them pulled up higher,” she said. Mom grabbed my waistband and pulled upward. I levitated off the ground. “There. That should be better.” I wasn’t sure a Humpty wedgie would do it, but I couldn’t slow down. There was candy to harvest.

Five strides later, my pants dropped again. A group of passing girls giggled. Actually, giggle might not be the most accurate word. They were bent over and wheezing. One of them said something about not being able to breathe. I turned back to the car. Mom wiped what looked like a smile off her face and tried to look serious. “Mom!” I whined.

“It’s okay, Eddie. Just hold your pants up with one hand.”

I pouted. I thought about having a meltdown, but then remembered that lost time was lost candy. I huffed in protest and trotted off to find my cousins. A few houses later, my pillow popped out. Mom stuffed it back in. I grumbled, but there was candy to get. I hit a few more houses and a man said, “What are you? An out of shape member of the Beatles?” I stomped my foot in anger, and the top pillow fell out of my shirt onto the porch. The man laughed and said something about rapid weight loss. I stuffed the pillow back into my shirt, and my pants fell down again. I pulled them up and tried to ignore the man’s rude cackling.

My bag of candy grew heavy, and I panted while trying to hold up my pants with one hand. A very tired hand. Half my pants hung down, and the pillow hung sideways through the gap. I staggered to the next house, hoping it wouldn’t drop out. It did. The man on the porch looked at me and said, “You better slow down on the candy. It looks like you passed a marshmallow.”

Another man on the porch said, “I wish I had hair like that. What are you supposed to be, Ringo Star?”

“I’m Humpty Dumpty,” I chuffed at him.

One man looked at the other. “Does Humpty Dumpty have hair?”

“I guess if he can poop a marshmallow, he can grow hair,” the other one said. They both laughed and then dropped a piece of candy into my bag.

I snatched up the pillow and staggered toward the car. I could only take tiny steps because Dad’s long johns were hanging around my ankles. “I don’t want to be Humpty Dumpty!” I shouted.

Mom put my pillows in the car, and then pinned my top long johns to the bottoms with a safety pin. Unfortunately, she only had two pins. It held my pants up, but I felt a breeze on my bottom for the rest of the night. No one called me a fat beetle from that point on. Instead they kept saying something about a homeless rock star.

Oh the price we kids had to pay in order to get a bag of candy!

Eddie Snipes

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Next Bully, Please

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Sep• 13•16

superheroI didn’t enjoy fighting, but sometimes it’s the only way for boys to resolve their differences. One of my best friends began as a bully that I tired of appeasing. It took two fights to convince him. He was sure the first one was a fluke, plus he had to defend his pride. On the second fight, I managed to land a hit hard enough to break his nose. That ended the battle for good. His dad called my parents and demanded we pay for the ER visit, but after a lecture from my mother about his bullying, and a reminder that the second fight began when he came after me in my yard, the amateur bill collector decided to wave the fee as a one-time courtesy.

A few weeks later, when I came inside for the evening, my mother said, “Isn’t that Dale? You are playing together?”

“Yes,” I said. “We’re friends now.”

Such is the social order of the male. What looks like fighting is often actually male bonding. From that time on, we were inseparable. For the next five years, we did everything together, until his father took a new job and moved away. A few years of long distance friendship soon faded into a fond childhood memory.

My first encounter with a bully was when my friend, Jamie, was running around the monkey bars screaming like a banshee. A rather large kid was in hot pursuit. The playground at E. L. Fiquit school was a proving ground for the Lord of the Flies. No teachers and no rules. Just fun. Especially for those who had fun squashing first-graders into jelly. It was a rough school. One of my classmates brandished a switchblade knife on the playground. How he got it was a mystery. Oddly enough, the big kids never selected him for their aerobic fun. They did, however, enjoy using my friend Jamie for their intramural sports.

I sat on top of the monkey bars, safe from the chaos below, when I heard cries from my neighborhood friend. “Help me, Eddie!” he cried as he lapped around the monkey bars. The brute chasing him was a good foot taller than Jamie. Which also meant he was a foot taller than me. I wasn’t interested in being stomped to a jelly. I vowed to be a conscientious objector. But Jamie kept calling my name. I heard his voice again swirling below. “Help, Eddie.”

After the third cry for help, my brain turned off. I have no idea what I was thinking. Actually, I do know. My mind was blank. Reason departed and I jumped off the bars and landed in front of the two sprinters. My friend ran past, and the gorilla of a kid angled to pass me, but I stepped sideways into his path. He stopped and stared down at me. I don’t think he could read the blank expression on my face – and for good reason, which I’ve already stated.

The kid stepped to the left, and I stepped in front again. He stepped to the right, and I shuffled in front of him again. We Waltzed a few moments at 2/4 time, so I knew one of us was out of step.

The bully looked down at me and sneered. I looked up at him with a blank stare. For several more moments we continued gazing into each others eyes, and then I won him over to the blank side. He blinked, then turned and walked away. Unable to discern my state of mind, he decided that there might have been a reason for my complicated expression and figured it wasn’t worth the battle. Either that, or he was intimidated by my spaghetti legs and toothpick arms.

Our neighborhood was only slightly safer than the school. My next door neighbors were law abiding citizens, but some of the other kids were not quite ready to relax with tea and cookies under the Catalpa worm tree. I was six, and the neighborhood hoodlum was twelve. His name was Daryl. He was a skinny kid, so he probably built his confidence by tormenting little kids. He was very intimidating to our lanky gang of five and six-year-olds. We avoided him when possible, but when he found us, his games were on.

We ran home and told many times, but it never affected him. One day I was catching bees among the clovers with my pals, and the bully showed up. He taunted us, pushed us, and then did the ultimate assault – he took my jar of bees.

There was a game we played – see who could catch the most bees in one jar without them escaping, and without getting stung. I had sixteen bees in my jar, and was leading the pack by seven bees. I had been on a roll! I almost got stung once, but managed to recover and continued to increase my jar’s population. But now my jar was in Daryl’s hands. An hour and a half of labor wasted. That was like, uhm, one-third of my life’s work. And it was hard to get a half-gallon jar. But that poo-head snatched the jar out of my hand and claimed it as his own. I protested, but he threatened to break the jar. I threatened to tell, and he laughed. Then he pushed me down.

I ran to my house to tell. My mother and my aunt were in a serious conversation. I tried to interrupt, but my mom told me to wait. I counted to fifteen and tried to speak again. She told me that they were talking about something important. I waited forever. It must have been at least a minute, then I interrupted again, and my mother said, “Eddie, stop interrupting.”

“But Daryl has my jar,” I protested.

“That can wait,” she said.

I crossed my arms and stomped out of the room. Then something in my brain snapped. That was my best bee jar. “I’m going to get Daryl!” I spat into the air. Then I hunched my shoulders up, balled my fists, and went to find Daryl.

I crossed through the yards behind our rental house and stepped onto the hot asphalt. Daryl was fifty yards away. I didn’t see my jar, but he looked at me and smirked. Then he saw my expression and his smirk faded. I started walking toward him. Daryl picked up a handful of rocks and started throwing them at me. He was a bad aim. I danced out of the way of the few that came near. He hurled until he ran out. Then I charged. He bent down to pick up more rocks. He looked up and saw me closing in, and he began picking up rocks at a frantic pace. I reached him before he finished reloading. I saw the sweat glistening on his bare back. It became my target.

With all the strength my thirty-five pound frame could muster, I swung my arm in a wide arch, and my hand made a loud noise that sounded like a whip cracking a bowl of butterscotch pudding. I hate butterscotch pudding.

My hand felt like a firecracker exploded in my palm. Pain shot through me. Pain, glorious pain. It was the pain of great gain. Daryl dropped to a knee and rocks scattered across the road. He screamed like a cicada having toothpicks shoved under his fingernails. That would be if cicadas had fingernails. A bright red blotch illuminated on his back – a blotch with four fingers and a thumb. Daryl staggered to his feet and started running toward his house, crying out words that could only be understood by the Swedish chef. My arm throbbed, but the aroma of victory was morphine to my pain.

Not long after this, we moved to my childhood home in Marietta, GA. I know this will be hard to believe, but there was a class bully in my school in Marietta. I was playing at recess with my new friends, and a huge kid named Mark came up and threatened to tie our skinny little bodies into pretty little bows. Then he pushed my friend Norman to the ground. Emboldened by my successes, I smirked. I know how to handle bullies. I’ll dispatch of Mark quickly, and then we’ll get back to our games. I stepped between Norman and Mark, pointed my finger in the bully’s face and said, “Mark, you are nothing but a fat pig!”

I heard a thudding echo ringing between the two school buildings around us, and then another strange sound reached my ears. It sounded like the air being crushed out of a half-full milk carton. Then I realized the sound was coming from my lungs as my body wrapped around Mark’s pig-like fist. Strange lights formed behind my squinting eyelids, and I crumpled in a helpless heap at Mark’s feet.

In the distance, I heard Mark’s muffled voice saying, “Don’t you ever call me a fat pig!”

Roger that! I reflected on my choice of words and decided I should be more diplomatic in the future. Big Bird was wrong. I couldn’t be anyone I wanted to be. Superman was off the table. There were other factors to consider. I determined that I didn’t have the stomach for fighting crime.

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