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Archive for the ‘expressions’ Category

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

To Be the Voices for the Voiceless

Christians have a calling to be the voices of victory. The victory over sin is ours. The victory over death and the grave is ours. We have this victory due to Christ and His sacrifice as well as His resurrection. We are given power through His authority. We have the victory and we are called to not just claim it but to proclaim it.

Christians are called to be voices for the voiceless.

We are charged to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are called to speak for those who have been silenced by systems and stigma. We are called to speak publicly on behalf of others. We are called to be voices for the voiceless.

Our voices are to proclaim victory for:

  • The Violated: Our voices speak against the countless violations faced by people. We raise awareness about the problems faced by people. We raise the level of understanding surrounded by the issues faced by individuals. We raise our voices for the violated.
  • The Victimized: Our voices speak against the victimization of others. When people are victimized, we are to become vocal. We have been commanded to love our neighbor, but we are also told that love does no harm to a neighbor as well as to consider others more than ourselves. We must see that victims are in need of advocates for justice and restitution. Therefore, we speak up for those victimized just as we speak for those who are violated.
  • The Vulnerable: Let our voices speak in defense of those who are not protected from violations and who are prime for victimization. Having a heart full of compassion, we must lift our voices in advance of the destruction beset upon those who are innocent. We must beseech the brethren to pray and lay hands upon such but also watch over and watch out for them as tender lambs of the flock of God.

Our voices to serve as echo chambers of God’s desires for all mankind. He speaks of what He is to the fatherless and a defender of the widow. Yet, He also equips and empowers us to be proactive in our stance in society, speaking up and speaking out for others.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

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8 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

Now is not the time to sit silent and watch.

The Bible speaks to it. MLK called fellow clergy out for their silence on the issue of segregation and the atrocities faced by those fighting for freedom in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail. We saw a similar wave of outcries in the wake of Martin, Brown and others who were killed senselessly based on nothing more than race or the color of their skin.

Open your mouth. . .

Open your mouth. . .

The Bible says we are to speak up and speak out about it.

Much of what we see on display with cities spilling over with protests stems from the outrage boiling over from oppression. Some peaceful demonstrations have turned violent. Looting and destruction have occurred. Curfews have been enforced. Yet, the media coverage and social media feeds may divert our attention from the issue at hand.

The emotions that have been suppressed by so many for so long have exploded into widespread discontent expressed through the solidarity of a rainbow of colors parading the streets with signs and chants to speak out against police brutality and social justice.

The mistreatment and disrespect for human lives has been a black eye for the United States historically due to colonialism, imperialism, enslavement, and exploitation. The most recent uproar has erupted due to the bleak picture of police enforcement provided to many via social media and the press of George Floyd dying at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. The very guardians of our communities who serve to enforce the law are expected to administer tactics and methods that allow for even the accused to have his or her day in court.

From a Native American perspective, could it be considered genocide when you look back at the Western expansion of America and the Trail of Tears, the Indian Wars, and the reservation lifestyle administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs? Is it any wonder that Latino or LatinX question the response to the “browning of America” when much of America west of the Mississippi River was once part of Mexico or occupied by Spain? From a Black or African American perspective, have mass incarcerations and the criminal justice system combined with the major health disparities served as the common obstacles of daily life regardless of economic status or educational attainment? I by no means could speak for everyone, but I am called by God to speak up and speak out against what I see as an utter wrong against my fellow man.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

Those who have no voice need advocates. We are to serve as the voices for the voiceless. We are compelled to speak up “for the rights of all who are destitute.” In other words, speak up for the ones “who cannot speak for themselves” and “defend the rights of all those who have nothing” (NCV).

It is biblical. It is logical. It make sense. It provides us with a means for supporting and loving our neighbor as we are called to do.

Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

We are called to serve as defenders of “the rights of the poor and needy.” It refrains the previous verse’s point of ” defend the rights of those who have nothing.” It places the responsibility on us, not God. He has empowered us and equipped us to engage on such matters and subjects. In this case, we need to serve as defenders.

The poor and needy are most likely not registered to vote. More than likely, the poor and the needy have not completed the census. In many cases, the poor and the needy might be undocumented, under the radar, and off the grid. Yet, the Bible is clear that we are called as their defenders, particularly when it comes to their rights.

Injustice has spilled over from the boiling pot and has licked the flames to a critical point of time. The issues of social justice and inequality have awakened hearts and minds of many. Solidarity has formed among many people of many colors on a widespread issue that seeks justice ad accountability.

But where are the Christians?

If anyone should speak up, it should be us. If anyone should be sickened by unfair treatment of people of any kind, it should be us. These two verses confirm such a stance.

Do not sit back in silence. Become vigilant and vocal about addressing wrongs that are happening right before your eyes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything  like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers?

Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation.
– Joel 1:2-3

When things happen- whether they be good or bad- we tend to talk them up with others. We broadcast the news. We share the latest happenings. We make a lot of noise about what we have going on.

Pass on the Good News. Let other generations to come hear about it
Let them read about it. Let our poetry, songs and other writings speak about it.

Publish it among all of the people so that it will continue to speak generation after generation.

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Believe him to be the Son of God,
and you will find him wonder upon
wonder, counsel upon counsel.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A few years ago, I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer through a play that depicted an interaction between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Ever since that introduction, I have read something by Bonhoeffer at least once a year.

Recently, I continued reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer.  Undoubtedly, it reminds me of the kindred spirit that Bonhoeffer offers me through his discourse on the concept of community to people of faith.  In all fairness, Bonhoeffer shares some inspirational words that should cause us all to pause for a moment and realize the true value of our Christian community despite the shortcomings and mistakes of our humanity.
I also started reading I Want to Live These Days with You, a daily devotional by Bonhoeffer.  I had read through it previously back in 2006 and 2009.  As I prepared for 2013, I decided to return to the devotional once again.  I had done the same with My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers and Morning and Evening by Spurgeon.

I suggest that most believers could glean something from Bonhoeffer’s writings.  He provides the reader with both inspiration and insight.

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12  Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:
13  therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
14  And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

Isaiah 30:12-14 (KJV)

Being broken is a circumstantial condition.  We feel broken due to the culmination of our circumstances.  Based on what has transpired, we feel a sense of brokenness.  We even take on the state of brokenness by taking personal ownership of living shattered and fragmented lives as badges of our broken lives of torment and terror.  We live as broken men and women.

I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. – Psalm 31:12 (ESV)

We do not have to live that way.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. – Psalm 139:3 (NIV)

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. – Psalm 107:14 (NIV)

O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. – Psalm 116:16 (NIV)

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. – Psalm 147:3 (NLT)

I wrote Broken Pieces out of my own agony and pain.  As I look back at it, I realized that what I penned in pain was not just for my own sake.  I published this collection and Lamentations in the Storm as I wandered through a deep fog of misery and melancholy much like Broken Pieces.  Both poetic works reveal that we do not have to live broken lives once god has set us free.  These poems and prayers express the depth of life in despair and how faith can carry you through in order to endure through life’s trials.

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One Question

The Undiscovered Paul Robeson: Quest for Freedom, 1939 - 1976
Artists must learn to become activists.  Artists must somehow yearn to become activists who speak up and speak out, giving an artistic voice to the voiceless and raising some sense of cultural and social consciousness in the society that surrounds them.  Without doing so, the artist leaves a void instead of a legacy along with a mere dent rather than an impression on life in his or her times.

One Question (originally, published in Words from the Underground by Bruce Jackson)

There is an alert.

Someone sounded the alarm.

They sang out like a herald,

Crying out for change.

Someone said something must be done.

Yet, I raise a question:

Who will do it?

Who will lead the change?

The ones who ask for it merely scatter.

The ones who said it was necessary cringed.

No one stepped up.

No one stepped out.

Who will lead the change?

Who will it be?

 
The question lingers on.  Will you lead the change?  Answer for yourself.

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1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV)

There are some things about God that are just so good that we should never forget them.  Some of these things come to our remembrance and we just have to bless the Lord and praise the Lord because they are so good.  They are so good because they come from Him who is so good- the Lord Himself.

He forgives.  He heals.  He redeems.  He crowns.  He satisfies.  He does countless things to bestow blessings upon us.  He does so much that we should readily praise His name.
David tells us “forget not all his benefits” (v. 2).  He calls us to give praise and bless the Lord, joining him in adoration and acknowledgement of the Lord and His goodness (vv.1-2, 20-22).  He offers an open invitation for others to join in the praise.  He says for us to give praise to the Lord by blessing His holy name with the “inmost being” (v. 1).  In other words, give Him all that praise that is due to His name with all that you have within you.
 
You don’t owe it to the worship leader.  You don’t owe it to the pastor.  You don’t owe it to anyone except God.  You owe it to Him because He’s good to you.  You owe it to Him because you have witnessed how good He has been to both you and others.  We owe Him all of our praise, every ounce that we can muster.  Praise God.

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46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:46-47

Christian churches are known for their fellowship.  In fact, it seems like there must have been a daily potluck of sorts after Pentecost in Acts 2.  We see the early church had a common faith that led to a communal fellowship.

In days like today, we need to come together in a similar fashion.  Think about ways that your congregation can share with one another in the joyous fellowship of Christian love and unity.  Let it be casual and comfortable.  Make it just a gathering that allows you to break bread and share praise and praise together. 

Have every family bring a dish with a message of praise placed near it.  Display the messages prominently so that all can see them.  People will not only praise Sister King for her potato salad but also for overcoming the challenge of losing her husband in faith.  They won’t only see Brother Gilbert as an excellent Sunday school teacher but a mighty good barbecue cook as well.  Fellowship together, sharing your praise for the Lord as one.

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I  will sing a new song to you, O God; . . .I will make music to you– Psalm 144:9 (NIV)

Poet or psalmist? Which is it? Oh, yeah… spoken word, poetry or psalms?

Today, much like in the past ages, people are caught up in titles.  They live by labels.  For some people, they are precisely who or what they think their titles say that they are to everyone else.  Even if it doesn’t fit them, they attempt to live up to the title by what they wear or drive and how they talk as well as who they hang around.  That’s just how some people go about it.

I am an author who writes poetry among other things.  As an author, I am convinced that some people will call me whatever they care to call me because of what I do.  Some will say that I am a poet, while others will simply call me a writer.  Then, as with most things, there are those folks who fully dress it all up and make it into a big deal by calling people like me: “inspirational writers” or “spiritual scribes.” The one that caused me some alarm was psalmist.  I had to do some more research before I could even stand to hear it come from another person’s lips.

Psalms are defined as “sacred song; a hymn” or ” a sacred song or poem used in worship.” Imagine one of my pieces used as a call to worship.  Or, if possible, picture a choir swaying and rocking in their elaborate and ornate robes as I clutched the mic and spit a flow of one of my more upbeat poems to a raucous drum beat with a twinkling piano and an eerie organ piped in as we praise God. Would that be a psalm? Would that make a psalmist? Or, would I still be a poet?

David and Asaph were psalmists in my mind.  Moses and Solomon were even credited with composing at least one psalm.  Marvin Sapp has a release entitled “Diary of a Psalmist” and many other gospel artists call themselves psalmists.  Even though the definitions of psalmist tend to loosely define the title as a composer or writer of a psalm, I just can’t see myself using the title.  If someone called me a psalmist, would I stop in the midst of praise and worship to correct them with my personal reservations about why I don’t prefer to be called one? No.  I don’t have a lot of time for that.  Would I refer them to this post to get my opinion or views on the title? No.  I will just praise Him and keep on praising Him as a poet, writer, author or psalmist.  No matter what they call it, I call it praise, worship and expressive joy.

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Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… – Psalm 107:2

The Book of Psalms has been referred to as the prayer book of the Bible as well as the scriptural praise and worship guidebook.  The American Bible Society considers the 150 entries in Psalms as “prayers and hymns.” Psalms are literally sacred songs or poems, even hymns.  Essentially, every time that we look into Psalms, we need to understand that someone was expressing how they felt, what they came to realize or observe about God, or to help boost the spirits of others such as the poor, the afflicted, the needy, and those with broken hearts and spirits.

Psalm 107 has been debated when it comes to authorship, whether it is a  Davidic psalm or not, but its authenticity is without question.  The psalm opens with an exclamation: Oh give thanks to the Lord (v. 1).  In fact, it does not just open up with an exclamation.  It offers a twofold rationale for such a claim.  The author says: A) for He is good and B) for His lovingkindness is everlasting (v. 1).  It echoes similarities to: Psalm 33:3’s Sing to him a new song, Psalm 22:23’s You who fear the Lord, praise him!, and Psalm 34:3’s Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.  The reasoning and rationale for such praise and worship for the Lord stems from our relationship with Him and stirs up a response out of us towards Him.  Comparatively, Psalm 96:8 speaks of giving God the glory due to His name- who He is- and bringing an offering.  In essence, our worship comes from our hearts and work through our mouths, hands and feet by dancing, lifting up holy hands, and

I say praise Him.  Praise Him for who He is to you.  Praise Him for what He has done for you.  Praise Him for what He did not allow to happen.  Praise Him!

You don’t need a worship leader to stir you up.  The Holy Spirit has already started on you.  Be certain to stay in your Bible, especially Psalms.  If you can’t seem to find a way to lift your spirits for praise and worship, even that ye old Baptist midweek Bible study and prayer meeting, I suggest going back to Psalms.  Dig in and get built up.  Dive into it and experience newfound joy.  Let the words speak to you, but don’t let them speak for you.  Write your own poems, songs and “psalms.” Praise God with your own expressiveness through words. 

Praise Him in your own words.  Praise Him in your own way.  Praise Him on your own. Praise Him!

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