The following essay is found in the book Hold the Starch: Brief Thoughts About God, Me, and You by Bunyan J. Towery (who is actually Dr. Jeff Morton, Pastor of Discipleship at Hillside Baptist Church in Dickinson, ND). Entitled “Hold the Starch”, this collection of essays is not “stiff” or pretentious, but the author communicates simple yet deep nuggets from every day life in an easy to understand way. I like to keep this book by my bedside for a little nighttime encouragement and something to ponder. I read this essay a little while back, and it’s truth has just stuck with me. (Besides, I too hate snakes!) Overcoming the power of sin through Jesus Christ is one of the wonderful promises of the Gospel of life! Hope you enjoy!

Snake Management 101

The only good snake is a dead snake. It’s not an African proverb or the punch line to a joke, though it could be. But in the little Liberian village where we once lived, my made-up saying was a way of life. On a side note: I always thought it interesting that in the language of that village, Manya, “saa” means snake or death depending on the tone.

I remember one time there was a whole lot of commotion in a house across the road from us. The women came running and screaming out of the house. Kids were crying. The men, for the most part, were not in town but out on their farms. The women came out to grab long and thick sticks; these were used to beat rice to separate the chaff from the kernel. These sticks are anything but small, maybe 3 inches in diameter and about six to eight feet long. Rice can’t stand up to such a beating. And neither does a snake.

I didn’t go in the house across the road, but I heard the racket, more screams, and then the persistent pounding and pelting proceeded. Thud, thwack, thud, thud, thud; the beating continued for at least 30 seconds. Then silence. Ladies of Samodu 1, snake 0. A handful of seconds later a woman came out with the limp, lifeless, reptilian intruder. To say the serpent was flattened doesn’t do justice to the hammering that poor, albeit poisonous, slitheringly slippery serpent suffered. If they hadn’t told me it was a snake, I wouldn’t have recognized it. It looked like a blown-out bicycle inner tube.

Liberians know snakes are dangerous. Snakes aren’t pets. Liberians don’t go to the zoo to see snakes. Liberians go into assassination mode when they spy a snake. Snakes are not something to manage; they must be killed, annihilated, and obliterated.

Paul wrote, “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (Romans 7:11). Sin in my life is a snake that must be killed, not a pet to be managed. Sin is deadly, not warm and fuzzy. When it comes to sin in the life of a follower of Jesus, it should be viewed as a beast of the jungle that, given half a chance, will inject its poison or squeeze the breath out of him. If there is sin in our life, we must not play with it or try to hide it, let alone feed it. It needs to be bashed to smithereens.

I had a friend who owned a rosy boa. The snake was fascinating – as long as it remained behind glass. Every week or so he’d feed the snake a live mouse. Poor little Mickey didn’t stand a chance against the boa. I always wondered why the mouse didn’t pull out a sword, a ray gun, make a face, or at least run away, but the mouse had nowhere to go. It was trapped in the terrarium. That snake is sin. I am that mouse. When I’m face-to-face with sin, I’m going to be swallowed up every time unless I rely on the power of Jesus to defeat the temptation of sin.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord” (Romans 7:24). Unlike the mouse that has nowhere to hide, I hide my sinful self in a sinless Jesus. This sinless man protects the sinner from the fangs of death, from the constrictor’s strangling hold. When I’m hiding in Jesus, sin is forgiven; death is conquered. A sinner is saved. And I don’t even need a ray gun!

Snake management 101 means to recognize my sin is not a pet to play with, but a repulsive, ravenous reptile deserving of death.


Hold the Starch is a simple look at God, values, morals, and donuts through the eyes of a transplanted Californian now living on the plains of North Dakota. It can be purchased in book or Kindle format on Amazon. Cheaper than a coffee at *$, and much more edifying! 🙂

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