Friday, February 20, 2009

Purple Cows and Stiff Necks

I never saw a purple cow;
I never hope to see one;
but I can tell you anyhow;
I'd rather see than be one!
by Gelett Burgess, written in 1895

Most of the time my mind is a bunny on a long and winding trail. The day this old poem popped into thought I was out for an afternoon hop.
Actually I was ironing a bunch of my husband's shirts. I was using some starch to make the collars stand up nicely when a scripture came to mind. Acts 7:50. An expanded translation by Kenneth S. Wuest puts it like this--"Stiffnecked, stubborn, headstrong, obstinate, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, as for you, incessantly do you strive against the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so also do you."
Let me set the stage.
A couple thousand years ago church was happenin'! People were getting saved, needs were being met, the sick and lame were getting healed and even some of the big time preachers were starting to walk the walk. (vs just talking the talk)
There was one guy in particular, Stephen, who was full of grace and power. He was working all sorts of miracles and creating quite a stir among a bunch of churchy bigwigs from the "Synagogue" because he was talking about Jesus and grace and faith and freedom from the law and death.

One day these bigwigs started an argument with Stephen, but he buried them. My Bible says, "And yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking." They were frustrated and ticked!

So, they made up a bunch of lies about him, found themselves some false witnesses and took him before the Council. They claimed he bad-mouthed the Law and the holy place and, of course, he mentioned the name of Jesus.
Once they gave Stephen a chance to speak, he let them have it. And in his speech, he called them a bunch of stiffnecks! (See the scripture above.)
Finally the spiritual bigwigs and Council got so upset...

Verse 54 says, "Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him."
(EEWWW! That sounds very uncivilized.) Anyway, they ended up throwing rocks at Stephen until they killed him. (VERY paraphrased)

So what does all that have to do with starch and purple cows? Word association I guess.

That particular day I worked very hard to make the necks of my hubby's shirts stiff. I didn't want those collars to fold or fall. I wanted them to stand their ground (so to speak). That's okay when you're talking about collars.

But then I thought about my own neck. It is stiff. Stiff from whiplash (more than once) and old age. So stiff it is, that I find driving hard to do--even dangerous (until I get limbered up) because I can't look over my shoulder to see if cars are coming. I'm in a lot of pain most of the time. Having a stiff neck is not good.

Then I thought about what it means to BE a stiffneck--a spiritual stiffneck. Spiritual stiffnecks can't look around to see other people. That makes them self-focused. They can't watch for trouble coming up from behind so they are bound to get taken by the enemy. They can't bend or bow to a Higher Authority, so they are proud and haughty. They are stuck, like they are, and can't be changed. That makes them unusable. They causes a lot of pain for The Head, and for the body. If a stiff neck doesn't get limbered up, it is a problem and a danger, and so is a stiffneck.

So I got to thinking...I have a stiff neck, but I sure don't want to be one. (I think I might would rather be a louse.) I often think about what I want to be. I want to be a writer, a good mother, a lovable mother-in-law, a praiseworthy wife, a millionaire, a skinny beauty, a spiritual giant, and the list goes on.
In my pursuits of what I want to be, am I sometimes a stiffneck, resisting the Holy Spirit and what God wants me to be? I hope not, but I should make sure I stay limbered up.

Hopping on down the bunny trail, I thought about a purple cow. I've never seen one, but I'd rather see than be one!


Brittney said...

ok, much deeper than I care to get right now. Have never really thought about being stiffnecked in a long time. I think the last time was when I was living in Kansas and had a Bible Study that Beth Moore put together about Mose and them being out in the stiffnecked they were. Thanks for giving me something to think about

ktwalden said...

I love your analogy and your descriptions make me laugh out loud! You are what my grandmother used to call a "hoot". Bet there's a lot of laughter in your household. Thanks for the interesting lesson....

Talkin' Texan said...

Brittney, I'm glad I can make you think! And ktwalden, I'm glad I can make you laugh! One thing on my list of things I want to be is a hoot! I love it! When my sister and I get together there is a lot of laughing, but I don't think my kids and husband think I'm all that funny. And Brittney, I don't believe they see me as "deep" either. LOL! Thanks for your comments!

Cindy said...

Resisting the Holy Spirit. I have actually thought about that a lot this week. Last weekend the Holy Spirit told me to do something and I didn't. I don't know if that is what you are refering to as stiff necked people and if so I guess that is what I was. I certainly do not want to be that way. I certainly pray that I get better at doing what I am ask in the real near future. Brittany I too have heard Beth Moore talk about Moses and the stiff necked people and actually thought of that when I was reading this.
By the way there is a resturant in Plano that is called the Purple Cow. It is a good place to eat if you are ever there. They have stuffed purple cows and the place is purple all over.

Talkin' Texan said...

I think sometimes we disobey or ignore the Holy Spirit, and naturally that is not good. But when we are convicted and repent, we are not being stiffnecked. I think if we look at all those other words in that scripture--stubborn, headstrong, obstinate, we can get a better idea what a stiffneck looks like. One that repeatedly resists the Holy Spirit and insists on his/her own way goes beyond disobedience and into the state of stiffneckedness. (I know that's not a word, but you know what I mean.) Repentance and a desire to do things God's way, (even when its not the way we've always done it before) keeps us from being a stiffneck.
I'll try to remember about the Purple Cow if we ever need to eat while in Plano. (Don't get through there too often, but you never know.)

Travis said...

Maybe I shouldn't have stopped to read this post, but your crazy purple cow drug me in. Now, I realize that I might be one!


Great job!

Talkin' Texan said...

Travis, Thanks for stopping in. I'm glad you are interested in cows and curious about purple ones!
Limber up that old neck of yours cowboy! :)