Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prodigal



Cold dark shame,
A withered soul rejected and ignored,
Empty dusty altars,
And What moments of my life I can afford

Look oh God!
At what I just tracked in
The filth from all the places
Where I know you know I've been

My mind wants
Nothing more than to run,
From the burning sweeping light
It's been hiding from

I refuse
To pretend today!
This is me. I've come home
Can I stay?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Prosperity Doctrine: Lies from an Idol



Come unto me and I shall give you riches
Cast on me your every care and want
For just a quarter I'll grant all your wishes
Just drop it in the plate and pass it to the front

Prepare your lines for their recital!
Plaster up your cracking idol!
You're suits don't hide your naked sinful shame.
The rotten smell of Mammon's breath
The unmistakable scent of death
Leaks from every poison pore
Of your brand new Babylonian whore
And chokes its servants as they praise its name

Come unto me and I shall give you riches
Cast on me your every care and want
For just your soul I can grant all your wishes
Just drop it in the plate and pass it to the front.

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Wings Like Eagles


Over this last year I got very out of shape physically. Through a combination of poor eating choices and an even poorer exercise schedule I allowed myself to start fattening up and losing some of the fitness I had worked hard to build up in the past. I had never been a terrific athlete but I had tried to stay in shape. A couple of summers ago I was eating a low-calorie diet, lifting weights, running four miles a day, and training consistently for a martial arts program.

This period of extreme dedication to getting my body in shape had been accompanied by a time of increase in my dedication to knowing God in a very personal way. It was the best time of my life and the time I spent with God gave me the most peaceful and content feelings I had ever had.

As I confronted my poor physical shape, I realized that my spiritual shape was far worse. Not only had my daily devotional dried to non-existence, but I often did, said and thought things that were against God's will. It had been a very dark year, and when I finally woke up and realized something needed to change I couldn't get myself off the ground. I felt like a lame man trying to walk. It felt utterly hopeless.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time for things to change. I left my house and began a 2.5 mile run. It was cold outside and with each inhalation my throat and lungs received an icy shock. By the end of the first mile, those inhalations had become deeper and more frequent. I was exhausted, and I felt terrible but I still had a mile and a half to go. After fighting the urge several times, I stopped running, and started a slow walking pace, with the plan that I would walk several blocks and run again. That never ended up happening; I walked the remaining mile to my house. When I got inside, my body hurt and I felt like a huge failure.

I tried again several times but every time I had similar results. It bothered me not only that my body was out of shape, but also that I didn't have the will power to keep running when it hurt. It was pretty discouraging, but I could tell that something was changing.

A couple of days ago, I left my house, and drove to the college football field. There is an asphalt track running around the field and I knew that four times around the track is equal to one mile. I started my run as I had before, but my mind began wandering as I ran and, except for occasionally counting the lap number when I reached the white line where I had begun, my mind was focused on something else. I thought about the last year and about all the things that had changed for me. It seemed for the first time, like something I was looking back on, and not something I was involved in. Lap 7 came around and I realized that I was beginning to feel very tired. I was coming in on the last long stretch of the track and I decided that when I hit the white line I was going to start sprinting and not stop until I got all the way around the track.

I prayed right before I got to the line "God please help me do this". I'm not sure why but it seemed important to me. I left the line as quickly as I could make myself go and immediately my muscles and lungs started revolting. My mind, though, jumped to a very popular verse from the Bible, Isaiah 40:31. "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." I began to say the verse to myself as I rounded the turn that led to the final stretch. I felt renewed and I sprinted at top speed feeling none of my former pain and repeating the verse to myself. When I got to the white line I kept running, eventually finishing after lap 10.

That night I had a wonderful devotion. I spent the greater part of 3 hours talking to God, reading scripture, and completing a chapter from a workbook on discipleship. Over and over again my mind went back to those words "They shall mount up on wings like eagles..." and went back to the exercise I had just completed. The connection hadn't occurred to me while I was running, but that night I remembered something else that had been going through my mind while I was sprinting. Things had seemed to rush by as I ran the effortless final stretch and I remembered thinking, "This has to be what it feels like to fly"


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cranium

I played the board game "Cranium" today. It's the first time i had ever played it, or heard of it. The objective of the game is to move your (3-person) team's game piece around the board by completing certain tasks. The tasks are dictated to you by a card which vary from your team members taking turns saying the letters of a word backwards to one team member shaping an object out of clay and the other two team members guessing what it was.

It was actually pretty fun. I played with my cousin and her boyfriend on my team. We quickly took our place in the back of the pack after getting stuck on a blue (Drawing, Sculpting and other art related talents we don't possess) 5 times in a row. It was a fun game to play, especially with the group of intelligent and creative people we had there.

Thanks to those involved with making a particularly hard day easier. I had a good time.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Header

I worked on a new header today; that's about the extent of my Photoshop skills. I might get some help from someone who knows what they're doing someday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

First Day Back

Today was my first day back to work from my Christmas Break - a period of time that allows me to reflect on how lucky I am to be going into teaching. What other job gives their employees two weeks off for Christmas? Immediately before said sabbatical one of my conducting Profs was commenting on the "abysmal" state of teachers' wages in Oklahoma. I thought then that perhaps he was a little unfair in his evaluation, so I looked into it a bit. This is what Google and I found:

According to the State Minimum Teacher Salary Schedule, as of 2007 teachers with a bachelors degree and 0 years experience must earn at least $31,600 dollars a year. We'll create for the point of argument a young man who has just left college and entered into his first year of teaching. Let's assume he works 38 weeks (9 weeks x 4 quarters + 2 in service ). Let's suppose that he works 8 hours a day 5 days a week. That makes a total of 1520 hours a year.

All of this basically means that the worst paid teacher in the public school system makes $20.78 an hour. Granted, that's not great money, but it sounds like the pinnacle of affluence when compared to the $7.25 an hour I got for shoveling the most putrid slop one could possibly imagine out of an antiquated grain elevator the last couple of summers.

I love being a teacher.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In The Forge

I'm trying my hand at blogging once again. I started a ridiculous blog last year and amassed a sum total of 2 posts before stopping. If I should continue to post it will soon become apparent to any reader that this is an idiom for me. My life thus far has been a long sequence of "trying my hand" at a lot of things and never attaining a level of proficiency at any of them.

I decided the name of my blog should be In The Forge. I feel that this describes the creative process God is using to change my life. I'm very far from perfect, but God has plans for me, and he's working on me. I plan to chronicle a brief part of his progress here.

Expect a post tomorrow if your optimistic, or if your glass is half empty expect me to fail.

Until Then,
Blackstubble