Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ghost Mountain

You have to be willing to make a detour...and the road, though paved, is full of potholes. Of course that doesn't mean people slow down in the least. They seem to know where the holes are in time to swerve around them while they are whizzing past me at 70 miles an hour. I'm sure the speed limit on those roads is forty five, because it isn't posted, but they must think there is no limit. Ah well, there's very little traffic out here, even on a day so beautiful. It's around seventy five degrees; thy sky is full of poofy clouds, and there's a myriad of little red roads to explore.

Claye and I took a little time off from our drive home. (Actually we added a few minutes to the drive home...which, oddly enough comes out to the same thing) After inadvertently entering a driveway and asking directions from the farmer's wife, we found a road that led right up to the foot of what looked like "Ghost Mountain". (It's Oklahoma, ok? Anything taller than the grain elevator is called a mountain) I don't know where it got its name. Really, there's no place for ghosts to hide on it at all, but that's what the kids called it. Looking at it up close reminded me of a certain sophomore class party a few years ago when we decided to climb Ghost Mountain.

It was an easy climb to the top, and I probably would have forgotten the whole incident were it not for the foolish insistence of three girls who, ignoring advice and clearly stated direction, decided to climb it once more after supper so they could "watch the sunset from the top". They slipped away as we cleaned up the picnic detritus. We called. They giggled and pretended not to hear. Soon, they sighed triumphantly from the top as the sun slipped down into the wheat fields. Suddenly, it was dark. They had no flashlights, not even cell phone lights because they hadn't been invented yet. There was a lot of squealing, and terror, and bold rescuing on the part of the brave guys in the class, who led the clinging girls back to the safety of the ground--which lends understanding and perhaps motive to the girls' uncharacteristic lack of judgment.  They all made it down to the cars with only a few scrapes and bruises.  I fussed and fumed all the way home about how the party could have ended in broken legs and backs, and who knows what! By the time I got home, I had murmured it out of my system and was able to face the rest of the year without strangling a small subset of the sophomore class. Never-the-less, I haven't taken any more classes on a "Mountain-climbing" party.

Today, Claye and I parked the car beside the road and got out. If we had only obtained permission from the farmer, who was plowing nearby, we might have ventured a small climb of our own. As it was, we just poked around a bit and took pictures.

Our three word Wednesday prompt was : cling, murmur, taken

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Weaker Brother

I've been thinking a lot lately about convictions: why it's so important to have them, and moreover, why it's so tragic to break them.  The apostle Paul was adamant about the danger of our causing a brother to sin by leading him to break a conviction that we may not hold ourselves. "So what's the big deal?" you might ask. "There's nothing wrong with that."

People may serve the same God, even attend the same church, yet, especially in the area of practices not discussed in the Bible, may hold to different standards. Some of this is due to upbringing; some is due to dedication. Paul felt that "food offered to idols" was just that--"food offered to things that had no power to change it". He ate the food and it didn't damage his conscience to do so.  However, he also refrained from eating that same food in the presence of those who felt it a sin to partake of it. His explanation was as follows: If I do this, and they follow my example, it would be against their conscience. I would cause my brother to sin.

 Breaking a conviction hardens the conscience. Anything that hardens the conscience leads to spiritual numbness, and scar after scar makes a hard heart.

That's why it's wrong for a Christian to induce other Christians to break the "scruples", "laws", "mores", and, most importantly, "convictions" they hold or have been raised with. No, you may not see anything wrong with a certain thing, but it may be devastating for them. First it's a minor step, a small thing, then another, then one step more. They begin to question everything they once stood for, and you have just helped to shipwreck a life.  If, indeed, it's important for someone to abandon the principles they once held as an honor to God, we should let God's Word convince them, not ours.

Most of the time though, "importance" doesn't enter into it. We just want to "set people straight on the issues of what we can or cannot do and still serve God".  Maybe, it's because we feel they are ridiculous and too rigid in their beliefs; but it might also be because we want someone else to do what we are doing so we can feel more justified in doing it. For disciples, the danger is rather with the one who follows farther behind...not the one who follows too closely.

Was Daniel "weak" when his conscience did not allow him to eat Nebuchadnezzar's food? Hardly. It was his conviction to hold fast in this minor thing that kept him  strong when circumstances challenged his faith. Later, his very life was tested, but he held to what was right. What if someone had convinced him that the "sin" of eating unclean food, was not relevant to his position as a war captive? What if he had eaten along with the rest? Perhaps his name would be just as obscure as the names of a thousand other captives.

When Paul speaks of the "weaker" brother, he's not condemning that disciple, nor does he try to change him. He refers to a "weak" that means "vulnerable".  It is not our job to persuade someone that they are giving up too much for God, to liberate them from their dedication, to talk a Samson into cutting his own hair--one strand at a time.  

Odd Mounds

If you wander around Western Oklahoma, you see interesting windmills broken by the wind that once gave them life... or black cows in green fields next to red roads.

From the interstate, I always see a set of odd-looking mounds in the distance. For years, I have wanted to drive over there and investigate them.

So a few days ago I left the beaten path--or driven- upon path if you will--and explored. For all you people who have wondered, here's what they look like up closer.

There are actually several sets of them. Some are being mined for red gravel or maybe potting soil. Others, grass covered, just sit there and look knobby. Cows graze around their skirts.

This one was outlined in hay bales.