A Leader’s Lament

motherteresatogether

Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
I beat the drum often, not wanting others to forget
Not sharing in my passion, they insincerely acquiesce

Only a few things matter, yet my brain is scattered
One word of criticism, and my worth is shattered
When it comes to living, when it comes to teamwork
Everyone talks the talk, but the walk is misgiving

“We” are stronger than “I”, as long as “I” gets the credit
My humility most impressive, I’ll tell you all about it
I want the truth, desperately seeking transparency
Yet words are guarded, dishonesty flowered deceptively

I’m here for you, I’ve got your back
I believe in you, there’s nothing I lack
Unless someone disagrees, unless someone moans
Then I need to step away, I need courage on loan

A fish out of water, is a fish out of air
I have something in common, it’s something I share
Take care of my cause, take care of my needs
Then I’ll let people know, you are a wise man who leads

But leading isn’t popularity, it isn’t first to please
It isn’t taking polls, it’s not putting people at ease
It means having deep convictions, having secure beliefs
It means staying true to course, not taking relief

The hill I climb is lonely, often feeling stranded
The hill I climb is baren, often taken for granted
The hill I climb is noble, the hill I climb is inspiring
As long as it does not get in the way of your living

Females raped and murdered, where is the rage?
It seems important, but message gets back page
The church is the answer, the message of justice we bring
But the words get muted, arguing over the songs we sing

Children die before 5, $20 is the solution
My debit card is low, comfort my main concern
I have the money, but I’m keeping up with the Jones’
Car, House, Boat, busy paying off the loans’

The world needs billions, seems overwhelming
Billions would not compare, if Christians were tithing
I can’t do it all, but I can open the door
If I learn to say “No”, I can do so much more

Boys without role models, absent of fathers
They are not on my block, so why even bother
But the needs are great, the opportunities do not lack
I am the change I pray for, but my schedule is packed

Options are good, until there are too many
Poverty cries out, “I don’t have any”
America the beautiful, everyone given equal chance
Unless born in the hood, equality becomes a fat chance

More concerned about position, more about my security
My dreams are much more daring, as I live in my safety
Been told to be quiet, told “balance” is for the wise
There’s no more heroes, “well rounded” is our demise

I check my heart, I check by pride
I check my will, putting desires aside
I live in abundance, my challenges are few
When I say I have problems, I ask, “Compared to who?”

People want the world to be like them
I say, they should want the world to be like HIM
As soon as I say my theology is a lock
I have just put God right in a box

My faith is bigger than Republican or Democrat
My faith is stronger than where the world is at
Jesus created this world, then gave his life
He asks me to love this world, then give up my life

Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
But one thing I know, one thing I am sure
That loving orphans and widows is a religion that’s pure!

It’s Time!

TheCanyon2014

One day a hopeless alcoholic named Bill W. makes a choice, “I will not take another drink. If it kills me, I will not.”

He has made a thousand promises before, but this time he decides, “Whatever it costs, I will pay. However I have to rearrange my life, I will rearrange my life. Whatever help I need to get from beyond myself, I will get. I’ve decided.”

That one choice led to the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous and has changed the lives of millions of alcoholics.

Henry Nouwen was at the top of his profession: “Everyone was saying I was doing really well, but something inside me was telling me that my success was putting my soul in danger. I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with my ego and self-image. I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place. In the midst of this I kept praying, ‘Lord, show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear and unambiguous about it!’ Well, God was. In the person of Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche communities for mentally handicapped people, God said, ‘Go and live among the poor in spirit, and they will heal you.’ So I moved from Harvard to L’Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and woman who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of our society. It was a very hard and painful move.”

Nouwen went on to say, “It was hard, but over time I re-discovered my faith, I regained my soul, and I discovered a joy and a peace and a contentment that was no where to be found in my previous “successful” world.”

One of Nouwen’s most motivating quotes was, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope”

Choices. They shape us and make us.

One of my heroes in my life is a guy named Dave.

Dave had retired early from a successful career and was living the comfortable, American retirement dream.

Yet God was going to ask him to make a decision.
“Will you live the rest of your life, comfortable and safe, or will you take an adventure of a lifetime, that will be anything but comfortable and safe?”

On a short term mission’s trip to Baja Mexico, Dave encountered a church that was trying to feed children breakfast every morning before they went to school.

The Mexican government had closed down a Tijuana garbage dump, covered it with a couple of feet of dirt, and divided the land into lots, and sold them to the poorest of the poor.

This is where the church existed.

If a child is born there, and lives there his entire life, their life span is somewhere around 35 years.

The toxins are deadly. You cannot grow food there.

This church was trying to feed children with limited resources and a few volunteers.

They needed a leader. They needed someone whose heart was being called by God to make a radical decision.

Dave, who knew very little Spanish, who knew very few people, who knew not how hard this would be, moved to Tijuana and began to lead and build up the breakfast club.

A few years later, 300 plus breakfasts are being served daily, children are being helped to enroll and stay in school, families are connecting to resources and the church, a lunch program has started, medical attention has happened, families are getting their very fragile homes fixed and hope is beginning to flood this toxic valley.

Children now have an advocate and Dave’s plan is to get them educated and move out of these closed garbage dumps and live productive lives.

C. S. Lewis once said, “The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important.”

I was recently flying out of Heathrow Airport in London on a 747 and I have noticed that when a 747 starts to take off, there is a point of no return, a speed threshold at which the pilot is powering up and at that moment the plane either has to take off into the air or face a certain crash on the ground because it’s going too fast to stop.

There are tens of millions of Americans sitting in pews or padded chairs (or in Green Valley’s case, plastic orange chairs) weekend after weekend, hearing sermon after sermon, and they have been sitting on the runway for years.

Some have been revving their engines for years but have never taken flight.

Has there ever come a point in your life where you made a complete, whole hearted, unreserved, without hesitation commitment to your creator and His Son, Jesus Christ, and said, “God, I’m going to decide to live my life the way You want me to live it.”

I don’t know how long you’re going to live. You don’t either. But choose to make it count.

I love what Wes Stafford, President of Compassion International says about his travels: “I go to parts of the world that are hurting and broken and I ‘comfort the afflicted.’ And then I come home and try to ‘afflict the comfortable.’ And I have to try to love them the same way.”

Bill Hybels challenges us with these words, “Life is too short and the world too compassion starved for you and I to keep subsisting in situations that drag us down and curtail our potential to help advance the Kingdom of God. There’s too much at stake. Eternity is at stake!”

Your choices make you and shape you.

It’s Time To Decide!

DAVE HESSLER http://lifeinthecanyon.wordpress.com

My One and Only Fabulous/Imperfect Life

“It’s too late for me” is my lifetime cry
“Second tries aren’t possible” screams out the lie
Bitterness feels good, a drug that fills
It’s an unnatural high that quickly kills

I’ve sanctioned my actions, sold out to compromise
Defrauded my mind, it’s made me unwise
I am wonderfully made, it’s called Amazing Grace
My life’s full of fear, it’s such a disgrace

Children should learn, the world needs their illumination
My focus on “I” has muted a powerful generation
More for the rich, more for the strong
Can I keep affording to be wrong?

Prophets redundant in their admonition
Promising pain and affliction
I use up my resources without permission
While missing the point of true religion

Self-indulgence, gluttony, greed, I easily meet
From the inner city down to Wall Street
Covet my neighbor, keeping track of what they own
My happiness is fragile, I don’t even know the Jones

Called to eternal reasons, called to bigger dreams
Called to deeper thinking, it’s harder than it seems
Obsessed with brief amusement, my aim is so small
Bombarded by shallow living, I’ve succumbed to the fall

I’m far more powerful than I believe
Truth is, if I walk in, scarcity must leave
Cynicism rules the day, it has strangled my soul
Stops me from changing, it has taken its toll

Parched soil, empty bellies leads to much heartache
Many won’t eat today, while my plate is too great
I’m not here to manipulate, to throw out guilt or coerce
But I’m missing opportunities that bless and don’t curse

In the words of Paul, “I don’t do what I should”
He goes on to say, “I’m not always good.”
In the words of James, “Your faith might be dead”
He goes on to say, “They’re not works if just said.”

I compromise with apathy, bragging I’m doing no harm
I do just enough, showing off my charlatan charm
Justice is calling, it’s a Kingdom mandate
My comfort zone is charity, I’m missing my fate

The message is simple, it’s clear and concrete
My directive is obvious, overt, not discreet
Hand over my life, it’s the power of surrender
It’s about loving the least of these and a heart that is tender

The One Thing That Can Change Our World

rembrant-prodigal-son-detail

I wrote this poem about the one thing that can change our world:

“It is hard to explain, but you know it when you see it.
It is meek, but you can’t contain it

Hard to grasp, but you know when it’s around.
It is hard to teach, but it can be found.

Exceedingly quiet, while deafening loud.
It is extraordinarily humble, yet aptly proud.

Thieves want to own it, but it cannot be stolen.
Many are for the strong, It is for the broken.

No one’s ever dreamed it.
No one’s ever owned it.
No one’s ever bought it.
You just get it when you receive it.

No politics can claim it.
No business can sell it.
No celebrity can wear it.
The poor and outcast possess it.

It is private, yet transforms communities.
Largely diverse, yet brings unity.

It is unfair, yet purely just.
More powerful than our strongest lusts.

Often emulated, yet falling short.
Eye for an eye, it is karmas retort

Always talked about, yet seldom shown.
It is something you must experience to be known.

It is not so much a destination, than an eternal trip
You can’t get by trying, you just open the gift.

It is multi-faceted, never looking the same.
It is the one thing that will never change.”

This poem is about Grace.
Grace is a scandalous thing.
It will get you kicked out of your religion
It has gotten quite a few people killed.
Yet, Grace is the only hope for you, me and our world.

I am hesitant to try to explain Grace in a simple sentence or catch phrase but…when we forgive our enemy, serve the poor, fight injustice, love someone who is different than us ethically, politically, or spiritually, that is a picture of Grace.

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.  In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

Brennan Manning “The Ragamuffin Gospel”

What Will Be Said of our Generation?

girl education 1

http://www.kennethjordanphotography.com/

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

A generation blinded by wealth where poverty cannot be seen.

A generation who talks about feeding the hungry while paying for Weight Watchers because they can’t stop eating.

A generation that believes in sheltering the homeless, as long as they’re not near their over bloated homes.

A generation that worries about their growing status and expanding pleasures while children are worried about empty bellies and fragile futures.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

A generation that is more globally aware than any other generation yet is obsessed with celebrity reality shows and stock market results.

A generation that is technologically brilliant yet socially stunted.

A generation that knows things ARE getting better but is afraid to finish the job.

A generation that is torn between self-indulgence and self-righteousness.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

There is enough food for everyone.

Churches have more roofs than there are homeless.

Most diseases that kill are preventable.

The lack of education is fixable.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We prayed for the poor while building bigger barns.

We preached for justice while closing our eyes.

We fought sex trafficking while watching pornography.

We judged the homosexual while worshipping our idols.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We ignored building God’s kingdom while building our own.

We gossiped of our brothers and sisters while singing songs to our Creator.

We multi-tasked and networked while sitting alone.

We opened our mouths to poverty while closing our wallets to solution.

BUT WHAT COULD BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We tithed, creating a mass of wealth that stunned the world and ended extreme poverty.

We adopted the orphan, ending the foster system as we know it.

We supported organizations like International Justice Mission, declaring that the end of slavery would happen on our watch.

We sponsored children around the world ensuring them an education, antiviral HIV drugs and an introduction to faith.

WHAT SHOULD BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We decided that the gates of hell would not prevail and good would win over evil.

We decided that the most important part of a church service is what happens once we leave the parking lot.

We decided that it doesn’t profit to gain the whole world but lose our soul.

We decided that God is close to broken hearts and crushed spirits.

WHAT DO I HOPE WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

We shunned consumerism and found joy in minimalism.

We ignored the American dream and pursued God’s pleasure.

We simplified our lives so that others could simply live.

We preached always and occasionally spoke words.

WHAT WILL BE SAID OF OUR GENERATION?

“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”
―Bono

Other writings by Ken Burkey on this subject:

http://kenburkey.com/2014/02/03/the-power-of-an-orange-chair/

http://kenburkey.com/2014/05/31/im-not-happy-today-please-forgive-my-bluntness/

http://kenburkey.com/2014/06/18/the-worlds-most-powerful-weapon/

An Orphan’s Voice


http://www.kennethjordanphotography.com/

This poem is dedicated to children all around the world that have been forgotten.

Children who have no voice.

Children who have been victims of injustice, war, disease, abuse, lust and greed.

Children who God asks us to defend.

I wrote this poem based on David’s writing of the 68th Psalm where he says, God is a “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.”

I wrote this poem with the children of India, Africa, Mexico and our own inner cities in mind. You will see a piece of each of them in the poem.
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AN ORPHAN’S VOICE

My mama’s sick, my daddy’s gone
My bellies empty, I’m all alone
I can’t grow food, the ground is poison
Religion says, it’s the path I have chosen

My papa lives in a new steel home
It’s a solitary place, no room to roam
His hug feels good, I need to cleave
I have to go, and he can’t leave

The man with car, driving up the street
He gives me things, always bitter sweet
I will find love, even if it hurts
Pain has become, the way I feel, the way I divert

He says he loves me, I want to believe
He beats me sick, my skin starts to bleed
My actions compromise, he’s gonna make me rich
I need a new definition, love shouldn’t feel like this

I sweat with fever, mosquito’s rage
Can’t get a net, it’s a two week wage
Rain forgotten, water brown
It’s all I drink, intestines pound

Church round the corner says they have good news
But only open an hour a week, I am confused
They say that Jesus loves me, I better get in
I tell them, I need to experience God, with bones and skin

Gunshots past my window, sunset brings a brand new show
I survive another corner, I survive another go
I’m told there is a God, I’m told he’s a father
I’ve been burned before, I’m not gonna bother

New job in the city, there’s a new hope pending
I’ve been lied to once again, now I’m a slave never ending
My parents think I’m safe, I’m making a living
I’m used everyday, more animal than human being

I have no value, I have no worth
Accidents happen, including my birth
I have no future, I have no sight
But I will survive today, I’m ready to fight

I need a dad, I need a mom
I need a house, I need a home
I’m one of millions, yet all alone
I’m looking for a place where love is shown

I’ve heard of children, with gold in their hand
I want to go there, this forgotten land
Where a bitter pill will make me better
Please someone notice, I’m praying for a letter

I want to go where children aren’t fatherless
Where my bellies full and the streets are harmless

I want to go where love doesn’t hurt and mosquitos don’t kill
Where churches are trading and Grace is the deal

I want to go where I’m safe, no longer looking behind me
Where I can find God, my heavenly father, who places the lonely in families

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Some other writings and poems about justice by Ken Burkey
http://kenburkey.com/2012/10/19/hope-for-haiti/
http://kenburkey.com/2013/07/24/what-will-be-said/
http://kenburkey.com/2013/05/20/from-charity-to-justice/