Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chris Craig and Questions

Looking through my journal this morning, I saw that in 2002, I heard a thought-provoking message by Chris Craig. It was based on the book of Jonah, the rebellious guy who was swallowed by a whale in his efforts to get away from God, who told him to go warn Ninevah that they had better turn to him.

Jonah boarded a ship, hoping it would take him far away from God, but God caused a ferocious storm. The men who formed the crew of the ship were disturbed, of course, as they tried to save themselves. They decided it must be Jonah’s fault, and they asked him some questions:

"How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."

Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"

He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."

This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)

The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"

(Eventually, they threw him into the sea where a giant fish swallowed him. Jonah was, of course, in deep despair, sure he would die. He realized that he could not go anywhere to escape God. He prayed in repentance; after three days, the fish cast him up on the shore, and he went to Ninevah to do God’s bidding.)

Chris asked whether unbelievers today (the sailors) have the right to ask Christians these questions:

“Why don’t you pray?”

“Why don’t you shine?” (Why has evil come upon us?)

“Why don’t you serve?” (And whom do you serve?)

“Why don’t you testify?” (Tell us.)

“Why have you departed from God?”

“What shall we do with you that we might have peace?”

The answer is yes, they do have the right to ask believers these questions. Providing answers is one of the responsibilities of a Christian. Thank God, Chris added, for not giving up on us.

The picture is found at this site:


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mountain Lion Encounter

Hunters sometimes find themselves among the hunted. My son B learned this lesson recently.

B went to a valley a few miles from his home in a northwest mountainous state to bow-hunt deer. He stalked quietly through a wooded area on the edge of a large open meadow, just to take the lay of the land and decide where to put his pop-up deer blind.

Suddenly, he was looking into the eyes of a large mountain lion about 25 yards away. He realized his bow and arrows lay on the ground in a clearing behind him. He reached for his bear pepper spray, but the belt was empty; he usually carries it only when he goes up into the mountains. He had not brought a pistol. He opened his pocket knife, which has a three-inch blade, and thought about its insignificance.

He and the lion stared at each other for a moment, and then the lion glided away into the trees and brush. Quite relieved, B went on with his setting up, about twenty yards out of the woods in the edge of the meadow. Before long, a group of deer wandered into the meadow to graze. B watched them, hoping they would come his direction, and readied his bow.

Mountain lions are an endangered, protected species that range mostly throughout the western United States and parts of Florida, according to an Internet search. An adult lion can grow to seven-eight feet long, from nose to tail, and weigh between 120 and 180 pounds. Mountain lions are said to be highly effective predators that consistently kill larger animals, such as deer and elk, and unprotected livestock.

They are territorial; a male lion may rule over as much as 100 square miles. They often attack people or other animals that come too close to their food stashes. Silently stalking their prey, mountain lions usually attack from behind after a short, fast sprint.

Two yearling deer, too young to shoot, meandered past B’s blind, about fifteen feet away. One stopped to graze, and the other walked into the edge of the woods behind B. After a few seconds, the young deer burst out of the woods with the mountain lion in hot pursuit. The two young deer and the others outran the lion. It sank onto its haunches and watched them disappear into the distance.

Then the lion turned and stalked back toward the edge of the woods, passing close to B’s blind. It stopped to stare at him; this time he had the bow ready. Then B yelled, “Git! Go on, cat! Get out of here!” But the tawny animal just lowered to its haunches and continued to watch him, unafraid. Then it rose and disappeared into the woods.

A few minutes later, B had a sudden realization that the mountain lion was frustrated and hungry, probably even then watching him from the cover of the brush, waiting for the right moment to attack him. He would not have known the lion was still there if the yearling deer had not wandered into the woods.

He thought about his family and his life and his chances of fighting off a full-grown mountain lion, and it was not worth the risk. So he took out his sharp, long-bladed skinning knife for defense if needed, and rolled up stakes and ropes and deer blind; he put on his backpack, hoping to look very large and frightening, and made his way to his pickup.

On his way home, he thought about the beauty of the animal, its rippling muscles and fearless grace. And he understood a little better the fear of the hunted. He realized how unusual it is for a human to be a close witness to such an encounter. Next time, he would take a gun--and a camera.

Picture and information borrowed from National Geographic website.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Birthday Celebration

Today is October first, my father’s birthday. If he were still alive, he would be ninety-eight today. He died in 1988. My mother is younger; she’s only ninety-three.

A couple of days ago, my mother and I talked about his upcoming birthday. We used to always ask him what kind of cake he wanted. He answered, “Oh, I think I’d like to have either an applesauce cake or a banana nut cake--you decide.” We knew he’d say that, and we made one or the other for him.

After I got married and moved away, I still asked, and if we weren’t going to be together, I would make a loaf cake--applesauce or banana nut--and mail it to him. Once the banana nut cake I made collapsed in the middle, for some unknown reason, into a gooey mess. My husband and I ate the outside edges, and I mailed my dad an applesauce cake, which he said he liked.

When we talked about these things the other day, I said, “Let’s have a cake in remembrance of him.” And we did. This morning while I cooked breakfast, I made a banana nut cake, in cupcake form. I bought some cream cheese frosting to go on top. Mother and I had hamburgers for lunch, and then we iced up the cupcakes.

I was about ready to take a bite, when Mother lifted one slightly gnarled index finger, ready to direct. She had a mischievous smile, and I understood. We sang the birthday song--a loud version. And then we laughed, remembered him, and ate our cupcakes. He would have liked the walnuts.