A Leader’s Lament

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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!

I’m Not Happy Today, Please Forgive My Bluntness

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I’ve got one life, one chance, one opportunity

The world says, “Eat, drink and be merry”

One life, one chance, one opportunity

The church says, “Retreat, judge and be petty”

#Justice

 

One life, one chance, one possibility

Yet people are more concerned about their standing

Comfortable lives, self-absorbed priority

While history records, 60 million girls missing

#PreciousInHisSight #HalftheSky

 

Violated lives, the numbers are stunning

World’s exploiting children, sex for money

Church still talking about feelings and ethics

Yet 1 in 3 children under 5 do not officially exist

#everynewborn #birthregistration

 

Ego, insecurity, fame, it’s all the same

Christians with opinions, yet not in the game

Every 1.5 minutes, a woman dies from baby labor

And 18,000 children under 5 die every day

#savinglives

 

I’m not happy today, please forgive my bluntness

Too many meetings, addressing the superfluous

Too many feel good, please like me, teachings

While 80% of girls from Niger are married before 18

#endchildmarriagenow

 

Whose phone is the smartest, 1st world problems

While epidemic rages, rampant female genital mutilations

The rich become richer, the poor become statistics

Tell congress to end the back log of 400,000 untested rape kits

#endthebacklog #NoFGM

 

Girls forced to give birth too young, fistula’s the effect

They become untouchables and husbands and families reject

It comes down to justice, the prophets loudly declared

It comes down to “What’s so scary about smart girls?”

#BringBackOurGirls #fistula

The Generosity of the Poor

The Canyon

“You say you care about the poor? Tell me their names.” ― Craig Greenfield

The life expectancy is 40 years.
The lucky live on $2 a day.
The hope is one meal a day.
The dirt is their floor and the stars their roof.
The smell of methane fills their lungs.
The lack of choices interrupts their dreams.
They live 10 minutes from the richest country in the world.

These are the lives and challenges of the children and families in the closed garbage dumps of Tijuana, Mexico known as “The Canyon”.

As an American, many things are confusing and unsettling in “The Canyon.”

1. The Mexican government closed the dump, covered it with a couple feet of soil, marked off lots and sold this land back to its poorest citizens knowing that the health risks are devastating.

2. The desperateness of the situation attracts drugs and gangs leading to some very dangerous neighborhoods.

3. The lack of education(most have at best a 7th grade education) drives families to collect trash, burn it and take from it the few precious metals it leaves behind and sell it to the local multi-million dollar recycling company.

4. Children get caught in a vicious cycle where education becomes more difficult to continue as they grow older due to the cost and the need for a birth certificate by the 6th grade, while at the same time, parents need their kids to burn trash to look for income generating metals or watch over their younger siblings while they go off to work somewhere else. These are all obstacles to a higher education.

All of this is the definition of injustice. The first time an American takes a tour of “The Canyon” numbness, sadness, anger and guilt are the emotions that come flooding forth.

But the longer an American hangs out in “The Canyon”, other emotions and observations come forward.

1. There are heroic organizations, private schools and churches that have dedicated their resources and purpose to serve this forgotten community.

2. David Lynch started a school on a blue tarp and 20 years later, almost 100 children, ages 3-5 are getting an education, in a beautiful facility, learning English and computer skills, the two things that will eventually get them out of the canyon creating more options of making and living a decent life.

3. Dave Hessler, a retired American, has an office at the Blue Tarp school and is the unofficial community leader and connector of resources to needs. He meets with families and connects them to food, medical help and better home construction, while advocating for school child sponsorship and newer and bigger computer labs. Dave is a connector but most of all he is a conduit of hope as he listens and prays with each family, and though he can’t meet all the needs, people know he cares and that they are not alone.

4. One of the residents of “The Canyon”, Javier, a father of 6, with his 7th on the way, who lives in a 10 x 20 home, a large home for the canyon, advocates for the less fortunate in his community, having families stay with him while their smaller homes are getting first time roofs or dirt floors are being replaced by cement or walls are being expanded. Javier has so little yet his smile and gratitude is very humbling. Surprisingly Javier’s attitude is representative of many of the residents in “The Canyon”.

With all the injustice and heroism you see in “The Canyon”, as an American, the biggest thing I took away from “The Canyon” was a sense of my own poverty. My life lacks so much.

My lack of gratitude.
My lack of contentment.
My lack of caring for my neighbor.
My greed, ignorance and self-focused priorities exposed my poverty.

As I think of ways to help fight poverty in “The Canyon” I am also thankful for how they are helping me with my own poverty.

This is the way God works. He confounds the seemingly strong and successful by teaching us through the seemingly weak and forgotten.

John Steinbeck in the “Grapes of Wrath” wrote, “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”

The times I have spent over the years in the canyons of Tijuana, Mexico to the valleys of La Mission and Guadalupe, Mexico, Mr. Steinbeck is exactly right.

The generosity of a meal given by a single mom who has nothing, the working along side a father who is struggling to make ends meet, who is helping his homeless neighbor build his house, to a young child wanting to give back to me a portion of the candy I had just handed him is counter-intuitive and mind sheering to an American who never has enough, is constantly worried about the future and holds on to things way to tightly.

As you decide to fight injustice and care for the poor, AND YOU MUST, it is God’s mandate, brace yourself for the lessons you will learn and the freedom you will experience and the strength you will discover through “the least of these.”

sponsorship

http://lifeinthecanyon.vpweb.com/default.html

TOP 10 THOUGHTS BOUNCING AROUND IN MY HEAD THIS WEEK (nearly unedited)

ten

And not in any particular order:

10. To acquiesce to evil is the same as perpetrating it.

It’s easy to preach about it, talk about it, know about it and even agree on it, but we are asked to put our life on the line for it. For sake of heaven and hell.

As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I’m tired of talking about it.

9. Feeling good does not nearly feel as good as doing good.

As we live on the shallow surface of feelings, true joy waits for those who mend hearts that have been broken and give hope to lives that have been forsaken.

Christians need to quit living their faith off of  feelings.

8. Narcissism 1) excessive interest in self & physical appearance 2) extreme selfishness w/grandiose view of own talents & craving for admiration

Narcissism: hmmmm….this might be our problem.

People who are narcissistic are really insecure. And people who are insecure are narcissistic. I don’t know which one comes first. I have been both.

7. Acronym for victim is witness. When we witness: to see, hear or know by personal presence & perception, then we have no time to be a victim.

Steve Maraboli shares this thought in a very subtle way, “Your complaints, your drama, your victim mentality, your whining, your blaming, and all of your excuses have NEVER gotten you even a single step closer to your goals or dreams. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of the delusion that you DESERVE better and go EARN it! Today is a new day!”

I think he was talking to me.

6. Find young people who want to change the world, spend time with them, mentor them, challenge them, dare them to be great and lead by example.

This new generation is looking for our validation, but they are also looking for a dare and at our actions. They need truth and a dare, a dare to change the world.

Quit looking on the surface of their lives and know that there is a thirst in their soul that can only be quenched by brave, selfless living.

5. Most are paralyzed by the moment. Visionary leaders liberate people to a better future.

Visionary leaders see the past as something to learn from but not to get stuck in.

Visionary leaders see the problems around them  as opportunities to make progressive change and not to get depressed from them.

Visionary leaders see the uncertainty of the future as glorious and hopeful and not immobilized by fear.

Martin Luther King Jr. was being a visionary leader when he said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

I’m tired of people pointing out the problems. It doesn’t take a genius to know we have problems. Someone point out the solutions and I will follow you!

4. One life, one opportunity, one change, one legacy, may we love mercy, walk humbly & act justly.

When it comes down to it life is pretty simple, so why do I complicate it? I am easily distracted.

3. Keeping your eye on the prize will not always make you popular, but it will bring you respect. None of us are called to be popular.

There is nothing worse than hanging around someone whose number one goal is to be liked.

Scott Boyle explains the difference between popularity and respect: “The simple difference between popularity and respect is that popularity is a state while respect is a trait.”

The state of popularity is fleeting and fragile.
The trait of respect is earned and durable.

2. Stay focused on your vision today. Many people will try to sidetrack you from the passion and purpose that you have been divinely given.

To do something great, to accomplish your divine mission will definitely not be easy, but God never promised easy.

Winston Churchill challenges me with these words, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”

You may be discouraged, not seeing things working out like you want them to but remember the words of Francis Bacon, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”

1. Justice is practical, relentless, courageous. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good but it puts you in the center of God’s heart.

It has been said that, “From ancient times the God of the Bible stood out from the gods of all other religions as a God on the side of the powerless.”

These are just a few thoughts bouncing around in my head, and they are edited, trust me.

From Charity to Justice

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St. Francis once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. For it is in giving that we receive.”

Being involved in charity, which is not a bad thing, means to give to a person or an organization who will be doing the reaching down and the lifting up of people.

They are what you would call, a middleman, buffering you from the actual experience of reaching and lifting.

Charity allows you to help someone or a group of people without having to experience the pain or discomfort or inconvenience of what they are going through. Charity protects you.

But charity also robs you. It robs you of depth, purpose and the joy that can only come from reaching down and lifting up the people that your charity has actually protected you from. Charity can actually distance you from God.

Did I say that charity is not bad? I think I did. And it’s true. We need charity. We need generosity. We need to give to causes that we cannot personally be involved with.

Organizations that are on the front lines of war, disease, hunger and extreme poverty need our charity.

Yet…ultimately, God is not a God of charity but a God of justice. And because God is a God of justice, then so must we.

Justice is about a young girl in Africa having the same rights and opportunities as a young girl in the United States.

Justice is about a mother in Guatemala having the same access to medical care as a mother in the U.K.

Justice is about an inner city student being given the same quality education as an upper class suburban student. Bill Gates has said that “Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.”

Justice is about a foster child in America receiving a family support system that will propel them towards a sustainable future.

Justice is about a hungry belly at the bottom of the caste system in India having the same access to food as the bulging bellies of the upper caste system.

Justice is harder than charity.
Justice demands results.
Justice requires skin in the game.
Justice means sometimes eliminating the middleman.
Justice means we have to get our hands dirty, our knees skinned, our ego’s humbled and our comfort shaken.
Justice means we must learn to get along with each other so we can accomplish a greater good.

Justice is harder than charity, but it is exactly in these hard places that we see and experience the heart of God.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

He also said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, which reminds us that we must be involved in local and global justice.

I am not sure if you will meet God in a worship service and I am not sure you will meet God in a sermon(there are some bad ones out there), but I am sure that you will meet God when you get involved in justice.

Shane Claiborne says “Charity can function to keep the wealthy sane. Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, also function as outlets that allow Christians to pay off their consciences while avoiding a revolution of lifestyle. People do their time in a social program or distribute food and clothes through organizations which take their excess. That way, they never actually have to face the poor and give their clothes, their food, their beds. Wealthy Christians never actually have to be with poor people, with Christ in disguise.”

This is counterintuitive to our segregated, protected, “stand at a distance” kind of church life, but we must not just care about the poor, or give to the poor but we must meet, hang out, know, befriend and touch the poor.

Shane Claiborne goes on to say, “But when we get to heaven and are separated into sheep and goats (Matt. 25), I don’t believe Jesus is going to say, “When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me” or “When I was naked, you donated to the Salvation Army and they clothed me.” Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He is seeking concrete actions: “You fed me, … you visited me, … you welcomed me in, … you clothed me.…” If we are to truly be the church, poverty must become a face we recognize as our own kin.” http://www.thesimpleway.org/resources/content/downward-mobility-in-an-upscale-world-by-shane-claiborne/

When Jesus says feed, shelter, comfort, visit, clothe,  you are doing justice and it can be difficult but that is where you will meet him and you will experience a joy that cannot be taken away.

When the prophet Isaiah says to defend the defenseless and to fight corruption and abuse, you are doing justice and it can be painful, but that is where you meet the God of Justice and your legacy will be as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of cities, and you’ll experience a sense of fulfillment that you have been  searching for.

When the writer of Proverbs says that when you give to the poor, you are lending to God and he will repay you well, you are doing justice, and it may be cause you to have to change your lifestyle, but you will learn to trust the God who will provide for your every need and you’ll experience a spirit of generosity that will set you free.

God simply asks us to show up, for a grieving mother, a lonely elder, a sick child, a hungry family, a struggling addict, a lost soul, and as we show up, though we can’t solve everyone’s problems, somehow God uses us as agents of healing and miracles happen.

I see it all the time, by just showing up.

A few Saturday mornings ago, 250 people showed up to my church campus at 8am in the morning. All in glow-in-the-dark t-shirts.

What were they doing? Where were they going?

They showed up to love forgotten seniors by fixing abandoned decks and to build liberating wheel-chair ramps.

They showed up to plant 1600 life giving vegetable so that hungry families can eat nutritious food this year.

They showed up to bring dignity where there was too little and hope where there was only despair.

TakinItToTheStreets

250 people.

Saturday morning, 8am.

What were they doing?

They were doing justice.

They were meeting Jesus in disguise.

I challenge people who call themselves Christians to show up.

Show up in your own backyard where orphans are called foster children, to the jungles of Peru where mosquito’s kill children, to the slums of India where young girls are violated, to the famine deserts of Africa where bloated bellies scream for nourishment, to the inner cities of America where young men are growing up fatherless and drug dealing is the career of choice, I challenge you to show up.

For big causes of justice and small causes of justice, show up!

Albert Einstein said, “In matters of justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”

He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor

responsibility

There is an old Hindi proverb that says, “He who cannot dance puts the blame on the floor.”

In this life, taking responsibility is always harder than not taking responsibility.

It’s easier to stay bitter than to choose forgiveness. To give into temptation than to over come it. To eat every piece of candy at Christmas, than to have a little discipline and just take a few bites.

It’s easier to watch TV than to exercise. To spend money than it is to save and to give it away. To gossip rather than remain silent.

Yet, every human must take responsibility for their own actions.

But blaming gets in the way.

We blame the temptations that surround us, the people who discourage us and the hurts that have scared us.

Blaming is the “kryptonite” to taking responsibility.

I know people who have made blaming an art form to avoid responsibility.

They avoid things like discipline, hard work, love, forgiveness, perseverance, even success, to focus on whom they can blame and why they are the victim.

Jim Roan writes, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstance, the seasons or the wind but you can change yourself through the power of God’s grace.”

My mother is a great example of responsibility.

She was born during the depression, her father left her at a very young age, and then, while her mom was searching for an identity, gave her up to be raised by her strict Irish grandmother.

There was dysfunction all around her.

There was alcoholism and broken relationships.

She had a lot of excuses to not take responsibility for her life.

She had a lot of reasons to be bitter.

She never had a “real” relationship with her mother except for an awkward, reversal of roles relationship, where as I was growing up, it seemed like my mom was more her mother and her mother more the child.

She never had contact with her real dad.

With dysfunction all around her, she decided that as an adult, she would break the cycle and do life differently.

She made a choice that she would stay away from the things that brought destruction all around her during her childhood.

My mom and my Dad have been married over 55 years, and her commitment to family, while experiencing the loss of two grown daughters, her faith in God and her devotion to serving others is entirely inspiring.

When I hear people try to blame their situations on the hurts, dysfunctions and abandonment’s of the past, I have to feel for them, cry with them, understand their pain, but then I have to tell them my mom’s story.

SHE HAD A CHOICE.

She chose the road less traveled.

It’s always harder to take responsibility than not to, but it’s always more rewarding.

The gift my mother was given at a young age, in the midst of all that turmoil, was she was introduced to the love, truth and Grace of God.

And while there was brokenness all around her,  she allowed Him to be her healer, wisdom, strength and Heavenly Father.

Ernest Hemingway in his book “A Farewell to Arms” writes, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.”

My mom has allowed the broken places in her life to become the places where God was honored most.

There is nothing glamorous about taking responsibility for our lives. It just comes down to hard work.

Donald Trump is famous for saying, “When we want to do something, we find a way, but when we don’t we find an excuse.”

Michael Angelo who spent four years lying on his back, painting the ceiling of the Sisteen Chapel wrote this “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.”

Author and pastor, Charles Swindoll writes, “What is the sign of maturity? It’s taking responsibility for your life and using it to serve others.”

“For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:5

Fractured

fractured

My heart has been broken with the recent tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut.

Words are hard to come by and emotions are hard to control.

I am holding on to this promise for them that, “God is close to the broken hearted and he lifts up those who are crushed in spirit.”

The closest way I can explain how I am feeling is what Jeremiah recorded in the ninth chapter of his book: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.”

I told my church over the weekend that I was thankful for them because we could grieve and pray together, in community, for the families, leaders and people of  Newtown.

It really struck me how important being a part of a healthy community is.

The Apostle Paul gave this wisdom to the Romans when he said, “Rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Mourn with those who are mourning.”

We stay in dark places when we grieve alone.

Something supernatural and healing happens when we grieve in community. It is hard to explain, but I felt it this weekend.

Many in Newtown have expressed how knowing the nation and the world is grieving and praying with and for them has helped their wounded, stunned hearts.

But there is something else about being a part of a healthy community that is very important.

The healthier the community, the less of these kinds of tragedies will happen.

Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity has stated that, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”

Yet, many communities are not whole or healthy.

While people are more concerned about their own “bottom line” and cities wanting the “homeless” to go somewhere else, communities will not be whole or healthy.

While the media continues to exploit children with violence and sex and the philosophy of the day is to incarcerate rather than rehabilitate, communities will not be whole or healthy.

With the low prioritization of the mentally ill and the ignorance the impact that broken families have on social and economic health, communities will not be whole or healthy.

If we keep thinking that technology is the answer while people have never been more isolated and lonely, communities will not be whole or healthy.

And if we continue to be a nation of “survival of the fittest”, even though the scriptures tell us to “love the least of these”, communities will not be whole or healthy.

Charles Dickens said a long time ago, “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.”

There is a lot of discussion about what “laws” do we need to change to make sure this never happens again.

We don’t need more laws, we need face to face “soul encouragers” helping those in their community who are hurting and struggling to be “brave and true.”

Laws divide and polarize and keep us from getting to the heart.

Jesus didn’t come to change laws, he came to change hearts.

I don’t have any problem debating whether we need better, more or less gun laws. I like a good debate and I think they can be enlightening for both sides.

But thinking laws will solve this complicated, multi-layered issue is like talking about what size of rain gutters should I get while a category 5 hurricane is approaching my house.

This is also not about trying to go back to the ‘good old’ days.

The rhetoric of going back to the ‘good old’ days is a weak argument, since the ‘good old’ days were full of racial bigotry and women having few rights.

This is not about going back, but rather moving forward.

This is about moving forward towards different priorities.

This is about a high level commitment and understanding how important community is. To paraphrase William James, “A community is only as strong as its weakest link and life, after all, is all about community.”

We cannot continue to live in our locked up homes, thinking that if we don’t look out our window, then we are safe and not responsible for what we do not see.

This is a dangerous lifestyle and it compromises healthy communities. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We must move forward committing our lives to the greater whole.

We must move forward to a new way of living.

Where a child’s protection will trump a companies profits.

Where a forgotten senior citizen is remembered and celebrated.

Where the homeless are befriended and empowered.

Where the rich learn from the poor.

Where the single mom is valued and lifted out of poverty.

Where the addict is embraced and equipped towards recovery.

Where the mentally ill are understood and assisted.

Where broken families are given tools to help them repair.

Where everyone in the community is treated equally, with deep respect.

Where everyone is on “common ground.”

It is what the scriptures call JUSTICE.

We must move forward.

“You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” Isaiah 58:12

Isaiah 58

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‎”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

Listen to the message this weekend from Ken Burkey about being an Isaiah 58 church.

http://www.gvcconline.com/files/audio/07%20The%20Power%20Of%20Immersion.mp3

Isaiah 58 (NLT)
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
2 Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.

A Leader’s Lament

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!

Big World, Small Minds

It’s a big world with small minds
Distractions and riches make eyes blind
Egos clash, religions rage
God is love, just keep him caged

Titles and treasures, I am willing to share it
I want to change the world, as long as I get the credit
Philosophies built on Fox News, CNN, Dr. Phil
I am afraid of the wrong things, naivety kills

Pray for my enemy, they were made in God’s image
My prayers fall short, I divide who should be forgiven
It’s easy to do good, but great is what we should
Better to fail at great, then to succeed at good

The shirt I wear, a kid made so far away
The rich get richer, while he barely gets paid
I should care about justice, I know it’s wrong
But my appetite for things, my addictions are strong

I give God my all, I give God my best
As long as it fits my schedule, that is the test
I go to church to feel good, to be entertained
While in Niger, 1 of every 3 girls marries before fifteen

Girls exploited, objects of pleasure
Used as property, yet made as God’s treasure
Seen as the least of these, yet so much potential
Educate, liberate and see the world more powerful

There is no longer Jew, Gentile or color
In the words of Mr. Hybels, “You have never looked into the eyes of a person Jesus didn’t die for.”

We have the medicine, the resources to give
In the words of Mr. Hewson, “Where you live should not determine whether you live.”

Lose your life to find it, you are more blessed when giving
I’m holding on too tight, I’ve lost the point of living
My Father loves it when I invest and share it.
My culture loves it when I keep and spend it.

Life’s mixed with blessings, struggles and pain
Make sure you laugh, cry and help those through the rain
The only thing certain, is that nothing is certain
Except for eternity, on the other side of the curtain

Today is a gift, tomorrow not guaranteed
Love overcomes evil, captives are freed
So what is required, heaven will applaud
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.