Avoiding Your Mohegan Bluff


In 1590, a war party of 40 Mohegan Indians left the mainland of North America, from what is now called Rhode Island. They traveled out into the ocean in a number of large war canoes, headed to an island 13 miles off the coast. They thought this island to be part of their home territory. They had heard others were living on it and decided to take back what they considered to be rightfully theirs. After making the dangerous ocean journey in the small crafts, the warring band of Indians landed on the rocky shoreline of what is now called, Block Island.

After scouting through the lush, hilly island, they located the inhabitants, called the Manissean’s, and decided to attack them. What the Mohegan’s did not know was that these Indians had lived on the island for many, many generations. This was their home, and even thought it was only 10 square miles in area, it was their land and provided everything they needed to live peacefully. There were deer and rabbits, plenty of fish to be caught at sea, trees to build shelter and provide fire wood, plenty of berries and vegetables growing in the rich soil and fresh springs in abundance. They were isolated from the outside world, and happy to live at peace in this secluded island kingdom.

What the Mohegan’s also did not know was that the Manissean’s were substantial in number, and well able to defend their territory. In fact, their spotters had been watching the war party coming when it was still miles out to sea, and the whole tribe was ready for the invading force when it hit the shore. Waiting to see what the invaders were up to, the Manissean’s made a plan to quietly encircled them, using the numerous small valleys and ridges for cover, and if need be, drive them off the island and back into the sea. Once it was clear this foreign tribe, with it’s foreign language, was going to aggressively take their land, the Manissean’s put their plan into action, and into the history books as well.

The band of Mohegan’s were indeed surprised, and forced into a backwards retreat as their only escape. They were badly out numbered, and driven up the inclined slope at one end of the Island. Their final destination was a high ridge topped in thick brush, now called “Mohegan Bluff”. This slope abruptly ends in a 200 foot cliff that drops straight down onto the rocky, ocean-swept shoreline. A fierce battle ensued, and the invaders were all killed by being driven over the edge of the cliff and falling to their deaths. The Manissean’s celebrated this great victory for days and were rewarded with the acquisition of the Mohegan canoes, axes, spears, arrows, bows and animal skins. Little did they know that in a few years, settlers from England would land on the island. With that arrival, the Manissean’s would vanish almost over night, many meeting the same fate as their Mohegan enemies.

This true story from our pre-colonial history serves to remind us that nothing lasts forever. Every area we consider to be ours by right, and every enemy we fight off to defend it, only gives us a temporary victory at best. At any moment, something can come along to challenge or change all we thought we had established. We are simply a job loss, an illness, a bad decision or a selfish choice away from the upheaval of all we have worked for and wanted. Even if we have reinforced everything with a backup plan, or a safety net, in life, “stuff” just happens. When it does, the sobering question you must ask yourself in that moment of truth is; “is it worth it?” If the answer is yes, then you need to stop complaining and embrace that change, because in the end, you were the one who put it in motion. The point is, every change comes with a price. Even on Block Island, there has been a great price paid by those who live here, and a few examples may help you to understand what I mean.

Until a few years ago the island’s electric grid was supplied by five massive, World War II diesel powered generators. When two of them caught fire, most of the island was left without power, and a plan was devised to build a modern power plant to supply the growing energy needs of the island’s growing “summer people”. You see, the permanent residents number 800, but the summer population is about 27,000, which is compose of city people who are quite wealthy. Everyone rejoiced over the new power plant, until they realized the pristine ocean view was marred by five massive windmills just off shore. Now the “summer people” are angry and want a tax break. They say their view is ruined and their property values have gone down.

With the onslaught of wealthy “summer people”, the cost of a 400 sq ft, one bedroom condo, if you can find one, is $380,000. The cost of a small, two bedroom, 1000 sq ft camp is $750,000, and the price for a very modest home starts at $1.5 million and goes way up from there. To buy a typical lunch, like a bowl of soup, a cup of tea and a simple sandwich for two runs $55 plus a tip. Shopping for food? Well butter is $8 a pound, yogurt is $3 a small cup, fresh Salmon is $25 a pound, milk is $6.50 a gallon, and a dozen eggs is $6.50. The round trip ferry trip ride to the mainland and back for two people and a vehicle, is in the neighborhood of $140. If you buy food in bulk on the main land, you can’t just pack it in your car and return. Oh no! At the ferry you must unload the food into a shipping container and pay for your vehicle, each passenger and for the shipping container of food as well. Basically, all this is another “Mohegan Bluff” of a different kind.

Be it large or small, there is a price to be paid for everything we insist we must have, and every change that comes with it. This is why Scripture says it is so important for us to “count the cost” before we forge ahead. Clear thought, calmed emotions, honest evaluation, wise counsel and prayer are essentials before you jump headlong into something, no matter how good it looks. This is the prescription for a healthy, well-balanced life, that will not be filled with regrets and “what-if’s”, at it’s end. Let’s face it, looks can be very deceiving, and there are always unknown things that show up after we have all the facts.

The final reality check for a good life is that we must slow down and survey things, before they have been put in place. The spiritual, emotional and natural topography around us must be understood, or we could end up at our own “Mohegan Bluff’s” one day. In this season of life, where rapid change has become the norm, do yourself a favor and take the time to really pray and look things over, before you make that “have to” decision. Who knows, it may not be so pressing after all. You could save yourself, and those you love, a great deal of emotional distress, and personal expense, by avoiding an unnecessary fall over a cliff you should never have been standing on in the first place. Think it through you may find yourself standing at the precipice of your own “Mohegan Bluff”.

Asleep At The Wheel

is (1)When I was a young man of 18, I had a Canadian girlfriend named Mary, who had beautiful skin, cute little freckles and long red hair. Our romance began when we met one summer at Meacham Lake Public Campsite. She was camping there with her family, and I lived on that campsite all summer while running our family’s seasonal boat business. It was love at first sight, and we were inseparable from the moment we met. After their vacation was over and she went home, we wrote letters every day, and I drove to Montreal at least once a month to see her. I gladly spent my weekends on the couch at her family home, so we could be together.

Needless to say, the weekends went by too quickly no matter what we did. Often we were awake until the early morning hours talking, going out to eat and just enjoying every moment with each other. When it was time for me to leave on Sunday evening, the lingering “good-by’s” got harder all the time. In an emotionally wrung-out, physically exhausted state, I would climb into my car and start the 4 hour drive home. Often I would drive for many miles and not remember anything about the road I had just been on. Worse yet, I was so tired that my eye lids would droop down and close for a few seconds at a time, as I drove along.

On one such drive home, I was fully absorbed in the memory of our weekend activities and contemplating asking this young woman to marry me, when something happened. There is a long straight stretch of road between McCallum and Paul Smith, NY. At the end of this is a sweeping curve around the end of Mountain Pond. It was right at the beginning of this long, slow curve that I slipped off into a half-memory, half-sleep state. My eye lids slipped shut, and a warm relaxed feeling swept over me. I was there with Mary once again, as we walked along the streets Old Montreal, holding hands.

From some place in the distance, a deep thumping noise pulled me back to reality. As I broke through the sleepy fog and confusion, it felt like something was hitting my car. Very loud thumps in rapid sequence filled the air which startled me awake. When my eyes snapped open, I realized I had been asleep at the wheel, and drifted around the corner to cross head on, into the oncoming lane. My two left tires were in the gutter, and my left front bumper was clipping the cement guard rail posts on the wrong side of the road. At that moment, the car was ready to pass the final guardrail, fly over the steep bank, and plunge 150 feet down into the ice-cold water of Mountain Pond.

Instinctively I turned the wheel, crossed back over into my own lane and found a place to pull off the road until I regained my composure. As I inspected the bumper of my car, I was amazed at how little damage had occurred, and was filled with gratitude to be alive and completely unharmed. The knowledge of just how close I came to an untimely death was a sobering thought indeed. Just two seconds more and I would have been passed the guard rails, over the bank, into that deep, cold water and lost from sight. Who knows when or if my body would have ever been found.

Let me explain why I am giving you this life lesson. Any time we get distracted and keep pushing beyond the healthy limits of life, we needlessly put ourselves and others at risk. Some consequences may be mildly inconvenient, while others can cause irreparable damage that may have an impact on generations to come. The point is, we are all just one stupid decision away from something that might disrupt everything that was supposed to be. Get distracted and fall asleep at the wheel of your life for a moment, and the great blessing that was just around the next corner, will never happen!

Let me suggest to you that now is the time for all of us to stay alert, and do what has to be done, the way it has to be done. It is not the time for distraction, compromise or being lulled to sleep on the important things of life. Things like loving God, honesty, integrity, honor, being good to your word, honest work, staying out of needless debt, emotional stability, compassion for others and having self-control are the foundation stones of a healthy life. With these in place you will do great things. However, without them, you will have nothing but trouble.

How long have you been asleep at the wheel? If there is noise and confusion that fills your life on a regular basis, it is time to wake up my friend, before it is too late. Open your eyes to all that is flashing by you. The fact that you are reading this means there is still time to grab the wheel of your life, and get back into the lane where you belong. There may be some damage to deal with but that is minor compared to what will happen if you fail to make the needed changes.

I believe for some who are reading this, this is your last wake-up call. You have wasted your life, and everyone’s time.You have made endless excuses, but the bottom line is, you have stubbornly refused to change. Listen to me, the guard rails are about to end, and now is the time to grab the wheel of your life, and take control. If you keep sleeping behind the wheel, we will all see your tail lights fading into the dark, murky waters of a broken life. Is this what you really want? Only you know the answer to that question!!!



Wait For It



Over the years I have watched many people, both young and old, have a desire for something that took root in their heart. It may have been a want or a genuine need, but whatever it was, trouble started when that desire began to overtake their life. What I mean is, they lost the ability to enjoy life as it is, because life as they wanted it to be, was not within their immediate grasp. Over time, it became the driving force that ruled and ruined their life. In fact, many have gone into debt or worse, just because they could not “wait for it”, and by so doing, complicated their life in many unforseen ways.

The morotcycle you see here was one of my great desires. It is a V Twin Honda Shadow 1100. I owned a much smaller bike, a Honda CX500, for years but always wanted something larger for my wife and I to enjoy on longer trips. The thing is, I refused to go onto debt to get it and made up my mind to just wait. We really did love that old CX500, and it served it’s purpose well. In fact, over the years I put over 20,000 miles on it. What I especially loved about that bike was the fact that it was purchased for only $300 and I was debt free.

That being said, the desire for a bigger motorcycledid not go away over the years. However, I never let that desire for it take my life over. I looked through Craig’s List over the months, I went on ebay motors, Facebook buy and sell, and numerous local on line sites to look for “my bike”. I found a few over time, but they were either way too expensive, had too many miles on them, or were just too far away. Through all of this, I never, ever wanted it so badly that I manipulated things to get it at any cost. No, I had a goal in mind of staying debt free, so I set money aside and I let the desire move me on, but not rule my life.

Then last week it happened! There on Craig’s List was “the bike” I had always been after. A liquid cooled, shaft drive Honda Shadow VT1100C. It had one owner, 12,256 original miles, not a scratch on it, showroom condition, leather saddle bags, spotless chrom and everything had been customized as well. Best of all, the owner lived 1 hour and 35 minutes from my house and was motivated to sell. After negoatiating the price to less than half it’s value, I drove to his home with a trailer, picked it up and pulled out of the yard with this amazing machine, and I was still debt free!

Why am I sharing this? I share it because this is not just a story, it is a life lesson on the importance of waiting. My father always told me when I was a boy that good things come to those who wait, and he was right. As I learned to contrlol my desires, my wants and  my wishes, and uncovered how to use them to motive me in the right direction, I have been blessed over and over again. Want a few examples? I got my wife Esther this way, and we got our house this way as well. We got our entire church facility and all the land it sits on this way. Esther got her car, a Cadilac CTS, and I got my Trail Blaze the same way. We waited on God and He brought everything to us in His perfect time and way.

I can tell you that the list of blessings just goes on and on. All this has come because we were willing to “wait for it”, and not let the desire to have it now drive us to obtain it under our own power. The Bible says that when we allow God to direct our path, He will give us the desire of our heart. That means He will put the correct desire in our heart, and then bring us to the place where we obtain it with ease. We will not be burdened with constant problems, confusion or mounting debt.

If your life has been over run by any of the above, there is a better way. We are designed by God to be His example to a broken world, of clear thought, the blessing of God and increase in every vital area. If you are not walking in the fullness of your Christian heritage, perhaps it’s time to consider a better way. I am no expert, but I do know that patient endurance, prayer and learning to just “wait for it”, always brings the blessing of God. Who knows…..today could be your day to begin a new chapter of frutiful living. All you have to do is ask, and God will answer in ways you can’t possibly imagine.