Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Tension of Obedience

During our missions training we had a school mate who decided not to prepare breakfast for everyone because she felt the Lord had told her instead to spend the time with her kids. So we all missed breakfast that morning. So much for house authority. So much for school authority, and so much for kindness to fellow students!

I was shocked that she could so easily ignore house rules. But in the many years since that time I have encountered the same tension she experienced between obeying what she thought God had said while still honoring human leaders and established policies. I’ve experienced times in which I attempted to follow God’s leading and bumped into fences and roadblocks of policies and rules and misunderstanding from God’s leaders!

Reflecting back, I may have looked just as foolish as my former school mate. I also realize I might have missed God’s timing or ways, and God might have wanted my godly leader to nudge me back on the path where I had missed an obscured turn. Had I listened to my leader, I could have waited more patiently for God’s perfect timing. I’m not at all sure, even now. Knowing God’s will and honoring God’s leaders, and following the rules can be complicated!

Jesus faced this dilemma during his time of ministry. He did hear from God. He did know God’s ways, and he did have his timing right. He did not intentionally snub leadership or rules, but he was clearly honoring God’s authority by his obedience. Even then, the religious leaders questioned his healing and deliverance ministry and challenged his teaching. They were irritated by his friendship with sinners and his popularity with the common crowd.

Things came to a boiling point near the end of his ministry when the religious leaders challenged him in the temple, “By what authority are you doing these things and who gave you this authority?” They hit the nail on the head. Their contention with Jesus was really about authority and power. But they had it wrong. They were the ones not operating under the authority of God. They had missed God’s cues. They had missed his heart. They didn’t know God’s ways. They ignored his prophets. And they were clearly operating under the thumb of the Roman government and fear of the people. “By what authority are you doing these things?” was the question those leaders needed to hear. And Jesus gave them three stories to expose their wayward independence (Matt 21-22).

From Jesus’ example I can learn how to honorably do God’s will when it seems out of sync with the rest of my religious world. Jesus was boldly confident in God’s clear directives for every word and action. He allowed no room for missed timing or ungodly ways. Jesus also carried out God’s directives with kindness and generosity towards the religious leaders while speaking truth. He preached in their synagogues and ate in their homes. Only when they publicly challenged him did he confront with a fist-in-velvet-glove manner.

But I can also learn from the religious leaders how easily any one of us can slip into the same state! We can become pompous in our spirituality and lash out at those who do ministry differently or apply biblical truth in an “extreme” way. How different it was for the few religious leaders who actually checked Jesus out with an open heart and mind. And how important it is for me to lay down my easily-biased views and invite God’s perspective on other ministers and their ministries. The religious leaders forgot that God is the final authority not them. That truth is critical for me to walk in the humility and confidence God intended. This humility can make the complicated journey of doing God’s will and honoring God’s leaders far less treacherous.

picture from http://www.public-domain-photos.com/.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Good Habits Work Against Us

My habits were strangling me. No, I don’t mean addictions. I mean routine patterns I had developed for my quiet time. For a number of years previous to this point I set my goal to read through the Bible each year. But eventually my consistent habit of daily devouring chapters of the Old and New Testament left me dry and spiritually listless. My habits had finally begun to work against me.

My finely tuned habits for regular “devotions” served me well through high school, college and even into missions. They kept me on track, provided regular spiritual input for the routine traumas of life, and periodically gave me a kick just where and when I needed it! But the time came, when my well established routines actually stunted my growth. And that is what I’ve been pondering - this strange phenomenon of how habits, routines, and even traditions can fail us and actually work against us.

Routine habits can become cumbersome. Okay, in some things I am a routine junkie. If something is worth doing, it is worth a good routine. Routine junkies are tempted to keep fine tuning their habits until the task requirements become so daunting that the routine collapses or they begin to avoid the task for self preservation. The habit can relate to having a quiet time, regular prayer time, answering email, preparing a teaching, or even exercising. I can be an expert at making anything more and more complicated!

For a while, I was getting up before dawn every morning for my quiet time. Coffee at hand, Bible spread out on my desk, computer open to commentaries, and I was off and running. I wrapped up my quiet time with an extended time of praying my new found insights into my mission setting. Sounds great (and it was awesome!) But after a while, I dreaded the early hour and couldn’t quite stir up the enthusiasm for extended prayer times. My spiritual passion was still there, but my fine-tuned routines had become too tedious. Another routine bit the dust…until I established my next routine.

Routine habits can actually prevent improvements. When I’ve established a noble habit, it is profoundly difficult to dislodge that fortress of efficiency! It’s mine. I created it. It has served me well. How could I possibly change it? Enter, my quiet time that was killing me. No matter how good it was to read my Bible through every year, the ease of my daily ritual delayed even thinking about improving the quality of my devotions. It was convenient to drag myself to my chair, open my Bible, read through my assigned chapters, and check off my list. Done for the day!

My well established routines were like wall paper covering cracked walls. Until I began peeling back the rituals, I was unaware of the emptiness that had crept into my relationship with God. And when I really saw the cracks, I was willing, even eager, to let go of my devotion rituals. Only then did God lead me down a new path of Bible reading and journaling that led to deeper reflection on his character and to learn about myself.

Routines can be very helpful in establishing patterns for Bible study, communication, church attendance, exercise, healthy eating, or building relationships. But when good habits begin to become cumbersome, ineffective, growth-stunting, or block needed change, I am left with one option. Let God challenge my routines and direct uncomfortable changes that will move me on to deeper growth and deeper levels of yieldedness. I can’t afford to let my good habits work against me.

picture from pixmac.co.uk

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Discovering Forgotten Treasure

Gold  key on treasure chest | royalty free photos #39922955
I love going through a cupboard to find treasure. This began as a little girl when I was forced to clean the walk-in closet in the large bedroom I shared with my sister. We had periodically “cleaned” our room by tossing our possessions into the back of that long dark closet. So when we reluctantly tackled the closet I was delighted to rediscover clothes, shoes, books, games, and toys we had blithely tossed into the darkness. The cleanup was tedious, but I discovered the pleasure of treasure hunting.

So yesterday I got to tackle one cupboard in my mother-in-law’s kitchen because I needed to get at the roasting pan. It’s not my kitchen, but I was still stirred by the spirit of discovery. In that one cupboard I found some amazing “treasures.” I mean, really. My mother-in-law has a heavy duty roasting pan that is more than fifty years old but still as good as new. I got to try it out today!

And on the bottom shelf, buried under stacks of saved paper bags and boxes of wax paper and foil I found the most amazing like-new cake pans just awaiting an eager cake-baker. I also found a little packet of original sample “Ziplock bags” with the words “you’ve never seen a storage bag like this before!!!” This well preserved sample could be in the Dow museum.

In the busyness of our recent transition I’ve been pondering forgotten treasures. While walking through the “lostness” that normally accompanies transition, I’ve been recalling the memory treasures we have piled up through our years of serving in Africa. I have flashbacks of chatting with friends over tea, under a tree, in a sidewalk cafĂ©, and while bouncing over the ruts of an African road. When I miss the direct ministry, I take a foray into recalling the faces of students we have taught in simmering heat under thatch, in the icy cold of a morning, in spacious airy classrooms, and under trees. I revel in the parade of students who have become leaders and missionary statesmen. Treasures imbedded in my memory.

In this new season when we are so far from our teaching and traveling life, I’ve experienced a sense of emptiness. I’m not teaching a workshop. I’m not discipling new missionaries. I’m not visiting or praying with missionaries. But God stepped in to remind me of the hidden treasure he’s created inside of me through many years of service. Through hardship he’s shaped my character and taught me longsuffering and patience. He’s nurtured in me a deep sense of trust in His faithfulness. And he’s hammered out knowledge, skills, and tools for teaching and inspiring learners. Rubbing shoulders and even clashing with others has dug deep wells of understanding and empathy. Treasures gathered along the missionary journey.

I fully expect God to direct us about how to continue ministering into Africa from our new location. But for this season of separation, I’m enjoying the treasures I’d forgotten. Jesus told his disciples, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." (Matt 13:52) I’m enjoying the new treasures I’m finding in serving my mother-in-law and the new insights I’m discovering in my reading and studying, but I want to be a wise householder who brings out old treasure, polishes it, and puts it to use again. I love rediscovering hidden treasure. What about you?

picture from www.pixmac.co.uk

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Discipling is Messy

zen of grandson's dirty dishes
Jesus did not just cast out words for the sake of lofty ideas. His intention was to make disciples. Not only was he charged with speaking truth from the Father, he had the added challenge of gathering a group of men that would follow him around, learn from him, become like him, and carry his message.

Unfortunately many of us are satisfied with being biblical philosophers casting out pearls of wisdom without intentionally planning to be a discipler. Discipling gets messy. Discipling means having people hanging around, and constantly asking questions or challenging us. Having people always watching our lives doesn’t fit well with our culture of individuality and comfort! We want our space and it should include privacy as much as possible! Our natural tendency is to put up fences so people don’t come too close or stay too long. But, that is not how Jesus did discipling.

Jesus sought people who wanted to be like him and intentionally shouldered this huge responsibility of discipling. Jesus wanted disciples who would follow him everywhere he went so they’d observe how he responded to lepers, tax collectors, and arrogant leaders. He wanted followers who would savor his every word and question his assumptions. Jesus’ teaching content was not just his wonderfully delivered sermons, it included his life. He didn’t just depend on being an excellent word monger. He depended upon being an excellent model that others would want to shape their lives to.

In the end, the sign of Jesus’ success was not just having crowds of eager learners around him, but having men and women who would duplicate his compassion, his boldness, his humility, his profound devotion to the Father, and his willingness to set aside his own aspirations to serve others. Only such men and women were qualified to carry his Good News message.

If we are serious about imitating Jesus, we also must be serious about making disciples - nurturing Jesus Wannabes. I’ve made a short check-list to help me be more intentional:

1. Be a radical disciple of Jesus: There’s no way I can create Jesus-disciples if I am not radically committed to be like Jesus in my attitudes, behavior, speech, and actions.

I wanna teach like Jesus
I wanna love like Jesus
I wanna lay down my life like Jesus
I wanna speak truth like Jesus
I wanna forgive like Jesus
I wanna suffer like Jesus
I wanna be meek like Jesus

I can’t pick and choose – I have to want to BE like Jesus – the whole package. I have to let go of “me” to live like him. I can’t hang onto pride, selfishness, or stubbornness. There’s no room for arrogance, ambition, or defensiveness.

2. Check my measure of success: Do I measure my success by how many Jesus wannabes I inspire? It’s not just about filling my schedule with teaching and ministry. And it’s not about filling our classes, workshops, Bible studies or churches with people. We know from Jesus that crowds of followers are not the same as a handful of stout Jesus-disciples. Am I inspiring people to live like Jesus in every aspect of home, business, community, and ministry?

3. Make lifestyle changes: By nature, I’m a privacy hog. I love privacy and root it out wherever I go. That is counterproductive to discipling like Jesus! After all, discipling requires being available and visibly demonstrating Christ-likeness in all areas of life. For me “laying down my life” for the sake of others means giving up my “need” for alone time and my craving to “be invisible.”

When it comes to really imitating Jesus, discipling is messy. It can’t be neatly compacted into a six-part Tuesday evening series. Jesus-style discipling overflows into sharing everyday life with those who are eager to follow Jesus and allowing them to learn from me how to do it. But that is Jesus’ way to produce messengers who carry his message by their lives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bathroom Fiascos, Order, and God

Moving into my mother-in-law’s house has made me sharply aware of patterns of order. Now, I love order, but I’ve discovered that not every one has the same ideas about what order looks like! Just this morning, I had to use the “basin” towel to wipe down the shower since the appointed “shower” towel was not available. I tried my hardest to right my wrong before my mother-in-law’s discovery. Too late. She discovered the “basin” towel missing before I could replace it. She was totally gracious, but it did disrupt her world.

In my own flat in South Africa I also had an appointed rag to wipe down the shower. In addition I had a bath mat which I kept over the tub when not in use. Several years ago I was sorely tested as a hostess when I continually found the white bath math on the floor conveniently located for dirty shoes. After several days of repeatedly replacing the mat over the tub so it wouldn’t get dirty, my guests cleared up the confusion by explaining that having a mat on the floor in their homes was how you kept your bathroom beautiful! Conflict of order nearly did our friendship in!

These minor bathroom fiascos simply illustrate the wide variety of personal approaches to order. I’ve also discovered that it’s not good enough to have a sense of order (although some of us women might disagree with that statement). I’m learning how important it is to understand my mother-in-law’s detailed rules of order and try to accommodate as much as possible while living in her house! I try to get it right. I try to honor her as owner of her house. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

The issue of order has been nagging at me for several weeks. I overheard a shouting match between two parents outside my house while their daughter looked on, hearing the vicious cussing and name calling. I wondered how God felt about the disorder in this little family that he loved. And I questioned how God feels about disorderly conduct between believers, ministry team members, and ministers of the Gospel. How it must grieve him to see hearts sullied by insensitive comments, selfish attitudes, and careless words. His orderly world has been disrupted.

God loves order. He created a magnificent world with complex order that we are still trying to discover after centuries of scientific study! His natural laws oversee order, and he’s given us biblical truth to maintain order in relationships at every level! He is passionate about order in couples, in families, in teams, in communities, in cities, and in nations.

I might be able to argue sometimes that I have better ideas of order than my mother-in-law, but I can’t argue with God’s appointed order. It’s his house. It’s his rules. And he rules in unselfish love for each member of his household. His order is meant to benefit every person. Who can argue with that!

I have to be a learner in my mother-in-law’s house. And out of love and respect I’m in the process of adapting my own patterns to accommodate her rules of order for the kitchen, the office, the bathroom, and the refrigerator! How much more we need to constantly learn about God’s desired patterns of order and make alterations in attitudes, words, and behavior so as to accommodate his order for friendships, sexual relations, parenting, leadership, and church. So, here’s to continued learning, loving, respecting, changing, and accommodating. Let’s work to restore order in God’s house!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Power of Contrition & Apology

In a recent article Dan Berrett looked at the moral benefits of Rev. John I. Jenkin’s apology to the parents of a student who died in an accident while in the care of his university. As the president of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. Jenkins startled the academic world with his public apology that crossed the grain of the more traditional responses of defensiveness and silence.

While many have been impressed with Father Jenkin’s courage in taking the blame for the student’s death, others view his public apology as a risky gamble that could jeopardize the university legally or economically. The article reports some critical issues that organizations consider when deciding whether to apologize or not for perceived mistakes, injustices, accidents, or deaths.

Organizations are not alone in this decision process. Every individual goes through a similar decision making process when deciding whether to apologize or not for something we’ve done or said to our spouse, our kids, our coworkers or our neighbors. Our final decisions may not be so public or come under such scrutiny, but we would benefit in examining our decision making process, as I did, to consider the true basis of for making that decision to say “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

In high profile cases, organizational leaders normally consult with their lawyers to consider the financial or legal risks involved in public admission of sorrow or apology. Of course, it makes sense to seek council, but such risk assessment centers primarily on self preservation and does not necessarily focus on the victim or family’s needs during such a time. It begs the question, “Is admission of sorrow and apology given for image management and damage control, or is it given sincerely out of grief for the damage and hurt done to others?”

Lest I be accused of casting stones at others, let me throw a few at myself. I may not consult lawyers in making a decision about apologizing, but I certainly do a risk assessment! What will she think of me? Will she retaliate with cruel words? What if I admit I was wrong? Will she heap me with more criticism? Maybe she’ll melt and admit her wrong. Maybe she won’t ever consider promoting me again. I have scanned the potential risk for myself without a thought about whether an apology would benefit the other person!

In his article Dan Berret did allude to the benefits of contrition and apology. The family could be grateful. He pointed out that “families want compassion, care, and even an apology: a heartfelt sincere statement that 'I’m sorry.’” And herein lies the heart of the virtue of contrition. Admission of regret and apologizing for wrongs are powerful because they minister grace to those who have experienced offense or loss. God has prescribed contrite sorrow and apology as the means of healing relationships devastated by wrongs.

God knows how people work. He knows that genuine sorrow and apology benefit the recipient. The offended receives whispers of grace and kindness from those least likely to give it. Expressions of genuine sorrow or regret communicate compassion when compassion is least expected. A person’s apology shares the burden of blame for shattered relationships and demonstrates the value he places on restoring that relationship. A humble apology creates an atmosphere of openness that nurtures restoration.

God knows that contrition and apology benefit the giver as well by helping to relieve his heavy burden of guilt and regret. By apologizing, the offender is relieved of the inclination to hide or distance himself from others. A person’s honest acknowledgment of fault is critical before healthy changes can take place. But most of all a personal encounter marked by repentance marks the first steps down the path of restoring relationships.

I admire Father Jenkins for taking a public stand to express his heartfelt apology. I’m convinced that God longs for more Jesus-followers to salt the earth with genuine contrition and courageous apology in the face of potential risk. Whether at an organizational level or in interpersonal relationships, may we courageously embrace God’s ways and radically demonstrate the power of contrition and apology.

photo or Mr. Rudd's public apology compliments of Flickr Photos

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trusting God’s Reward System

I was stunned at age sixteen to be told by doctors that I would never have children. Of course it was devastating to have my dreams of having children demolished in one flash, but my most crushing struggle was questioning why God would let that happen when I had committed my life to missions. Even though I wrestled with that question on and off for many years, I persisted in my calling, married, and headed off into missions.

My continued insistence on his healing was rooted in a wrong understanding of his love and my expectations of his reward for my commitment. When I recall the depressing effect of my unrelenting questions and demands, I realize that I didn’t really have a workable understanding of God’s reward system.

I know I’m not alone. I’ve observed believers and even ministers of the Gospel in a wrestling match between living on the edge of poverty and pressing in for a modicum of comfort or provision. Other ministers are known to feverishly grasp the promises of God for blessing and insist on extravagance to prove God’s riches and their own faith. When Christ’s servants are not clear or comfortable with God’s reward system they can weave and waver in their call to sacrificial service and relationship with the Master, just like I did.

Some servants ground their reward-thinking in Scriptures that speak of God’s promised spiritual blessings and focus on eternal rewards. Others search out passages of promised material blessings and scramble after the here-and-now blessings. Neither view is completely correct! Neither one reflects the fullness of God’s character and ways. A view that skews towards only spiritual blessings darkens God’s compassion and care for his servants’ present needs. A view that ignores future blessings casts long shadows over the greatness of God who plans eternity and stores up unique treasures in Heaven for those who serve Him. Either way God’s reward system is a magnanimous expression of his mercy, grace, and goodness.

While we need to find a view that embraces the fullness of God’s reward system, there are inherent dangers in insisting on here-and-now rewards. First, I could miss out on enduring treasure of far greater worth. If I insist on house or spouse or praise or raise, he may give me second best rather than other intended blessings! After years of insisting on healing, I finally yielded to God’s ways and settled into deep contentment with his love. I was able to recognize the treasures God had lovingly given – the gift of an adopted son, the amazing joy and grace that go with adoption, many spiritual children all over Africa, and an increased capacity to trust God’s ways.

Second, if I focus on temporal blessings I am much more prone to be shortsighted in how I live. Temporal rewards are delightful for a season but do I want to sweat and slave for present comfort or am I called to live for the future? When I was seriously questioning God, I went through periods of longing for a child that diluted my passion for evangelism, discipleship, and godliness. I became more like a donkey being led by the carrot in front of its nose. With my eyes crossed on the promise of immediate blessing I missed seeing the other delights of the journey and lost sight of what was far ahead.

Third, if I insist on immediate gratification for my service I might miss out on the most important treasure – the friendship and intimacy with God. There is something very special about pressing into the will of God regardless of hardship, discomfort, and living without. In my times of deepest longing, God pressed closer. My personal breakthrough came during an encounter with God that was so real that I knew He was all I ever needed. I saw the longings that had separated me from him were like a hearth of ashes compared to the fellowship of bearing the yoke beside Jesus. In the intimacy of that moment I willingly yielded to his ways.

Does God promise temporal blessings? He sure does. I could write a book about the sweet delights I’ve received at his hand. But in the end, I’d rather be surprised by his choice of immediate blessings than to insist on my way at the cost of disappointment at baubles that melt away like cotton candy. Today I am definitely more comfortable with the mysteries of God’s reward system and content to let him surprise me with the treasures he plans for me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Too Fossilized for Change?

I’m not really a dog person, but I accidentally volunteered to feed my mother-in-law’s dogs twice a day when she was going in for surgery. And here I am again months later, now serving as the “expert” in dog feeding. One of her dachshunds is 16 years old, gray hair and all. As far back as I can remember Freddy has always yapped his sharp bark the whole time his food dish was being prepared. When I wasn’t the dog food expert I could go outside to escape. But now that dog food preparation is my job, I decided something had to be done about that yapping. But the question is, can a 16 year old dog learn new tricks? I discovered that, yes, an old dog can learn new tricks.

Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about flexibility and change. There are major changes in my life as we’ve uprooted from our South African home to return to the States. And instead of driving for days to visit our missionary friends we will have to be flying in across the oceans. These major changes are difficult enough, but I’ve discovered that sometimes it is much more difficult to make the smaller changes in our lives. Changing habits or the way we’ve always done things is much harder.

In moving into my mother-in-law’s house to help care for her I ran smack into my own set patterns that I was unaware of in my own home. I had well-honed patterns for meal preparation. I liked to leave the house to arrive at the exact time for church, not 30 minutes before and not late. And I allowed myself only a few minutes to prepare things before leaving. Works for me! But my patterns did not merge well with my mother-in-law’s lifestyle or needs. I needed to make some changes in how I did things but found just how decrepit and inflexible I felt. Was I too fossilized to change?

When I recognized that my inflexibility was in direct conflict with my desire to be godly and bring Him glory, my training began in earnest! The next element of training was serious prayer. And the Master Trainer took over and started putting me through my paces, including daily opportunities to make choices based on my mother-in-law’s needs rather than my own habits and desires. I’ve been able to see some of my patterns changed and I’m slowly learning “new tricks.” Just like Freddy, I’ve had days of relapses in which I just wanted to be me, or should I say “the old me.” But persistence is winning the day. I never want to get too fossilized for change. I’m so grateful that the Master Trainer is always ready to teach me “new tricks.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Stamp of God’s Grace

Sunday afternoon relaxing meant sitting in the sun on the couch in our 8x10 room reading a book. I was basking in the sun coming in the open door and the lazy schedule that meant I didn’t have to cook for the community of 20 missionaries. Suddenly I froze as I noticed out of the corner of my eye a black shape sliding into the open door and slithering behind the book shelf that divided our tiny home into living room and office. In that split second I realized two things. One, that black shape was a spitting cobra. Two, it was sliding towards Randy who was enjoying his quiet Sunday on the other side of that book shelf. In the next second I screamed and leaped out the open door onto the small veranda. My scream communicated the urgency and Randy raced out to join me.

It wasn’t long before other members of our team joined us as we awaited the departure of our unwelcome Sunday visitor. More than an hour later the cobra casually slithered outside the door, but at the sight of a waiting crowd it raced to shelter under the nearby container, conveniently out of the reach of the men armed with stones and grass slashers. We continued to rehash all the details of this event and swaggered on with more snake stories until the supper bell rang.

Remembering that event more than 16 years ago, I can only laugh. What an odd form of entertainment we had in those early days of missions. We had snake visits and obnoxious monkeys stealing our crops and intimidating our dogs. We fought raging bush fires that threatened the borders of our campsite during dry season, and during the rainy season we dealt with the floods that covered the bridges that we used to visit our neighbors. We had spontaneous and community oriented entertainment in those days. There was little privacy so every event gathered the troops. And every event ended with more stories and laughter and natural camaraderie. Those were difficult days, but I miss those days.

As a mission community we didn’t have much. We lived in small camp-site rooms and had cold water showers. In response to frequent power outages we often cooked and ate by candlelight, resorted to using the pit toilets we had dug, and hauled our water with buckets from the river. But we were a team who shared the challenges and adventures together.

One thing I learned during those days was that I could adjust to almost anything. Outside ablutions, cleaning dishes with cold water, and even pit toilets became “normal” after time and I could almost not imagine another life! And I learned that I could do it with joy. In these days when my husband and I are in major transition and strained by tight living quarters in my mother-in-law’s house, I am reminded of those early days. And I know that I will be victorious and will one day look back and see the stamp of God’s grace and joy on this season of our lives also.

Picture from http://www.freesnake.com/spittingcobra2.html.