How Anxiety Distracts Us From God

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 The Noticer

Let me be a noticer of things in your world
instead of a dweller of my inner thoughts,
worries, and selfish longings
that only keep me distracted from you.

For when I uproot myself out of the present moment
and plant my focus on myself,
I rob myself of the joy
of witnessing your glory and beauty
all around me.

I have always been a highly observant person, picking out minor details that others often miss. On my morning walk in the woods today I noticed an old, wooden beam with rusted barbwire wrapped around the edges that had clearly once been a fence post. The problem was that I’d walked this path dozens of times before. Worse, it only stood a few inches off the trail.

What may seem an unimportant observation worried me. I should have noticed this a long time ago. But then again, maybe I’m not quite as observant as I once was…not since anxiety and worry have become a constant companion.

I sat there looking at that fence post, noticing for the first time the rotting wood and the crumbling decay of age. In my perifocal view I then noticed a bee hovering around a flower and insects crawling along the earth. I was struck with the realization that I have formed a habit of being so stuck inside my head observing my anxieties and worries that I have lost an awareness of the world around me.

I’ve decided I’m still a highly observant person; I’ve just been preoccupied with the wrong details. Anxiety and worry cause us to retreat inward, focusing on only our thoughts and feelings, preparing for the “what ifs” of the future. In the process they rob us of the joy and experience of life in the present moment.

God dwells in the here and now. God speaks in the present. God walks with us in this moment. When we try to place ourselves in the future, we make no room for God. For the future is determined by His will, not ours. And that is what anxiety and fear inspire us to do, don’t they? To just sprint past God and try to prepare, plan, and control what happens next. We lack faith in God’s providence, so we seek out our own providence. We are finite creatures who are not built to withstand that kind of responsibility. When we put ourselves in control of managing our future, we collapse under the weight of worry.

Even more importantly, when we are constantly distracted by our worries and removed from the here and now, we miss out on the wonderful experience of witnessing God’s glory and beauty all around us.  The beauty of a sunset, the feeling of the wind against your skin, the magic of the leaves changing colors, the love in another’s eyes, the wisdom God passes on in seemingly unimportant things.

It’s a hard fight to pull yourself out of your own head and leave all the worrying behind. It’s maybe an even harder fight to trust in God. But there are opportunities for redemption all around us, yet we have to be attentive to the present moment to recognize them. If we remain focused on the incessant cycle of self-centered thoughts, we deny ourselves the gift of seeing God’s divine presence right here, right now.

-Post and Poem Written by Justin Farley

Trusting in God Instead of Your Understanding Poem

Be My Vision

 

Be the eyes through
which I see –
so that I may not gaze
into the past with regret
or worry about what’s before me.

In past, present, and future
let me only see you and your will.

May I not be obsessed with
the weather in my life –
so that I trust in your love
whether the sun is shinning
or I’m alone in the dark of night.

In joy, pain, and in the plain
you remain utterly in control.

Let it be your will
that I’m planning –
so that I’m not tossed
off-course by human vision
and lean on my own understanding.

I’m powerless to understand your thoughts and ways.
Let me just rest, assured in your love.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Poem about Sin and God’s Grace by Justin Farley

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Mistakes and Promises by Justin Farley

My mistakes are unlimited,
my promises are sometimes half-hearted and indifferent,
and my character can get thrown wherever desire moves me,
swayed like willow branches in the wind.

But when the waves of my sin pass,
guilt juts through my soul like shards of glass,
and I’m left to brood over these deep moral wounds
that I continually pick the scabs off of,
yet all the while praying they will heal.

The paradox of the heart is puzzling,
for the evidence is compelling
that man can’t even trust himself
and is a slave to his savage instincts –
often powerless to persuade the heart to righteous action.

So the ladder to heaven looms high –
A daunting force towering in the sky –
leaving these fractured bones aching
at the thought of making the climb
and conquering these demons we shamefully
find pleasing in our ears.

The baggage is too heavy to carry;
our errors are too large to bury,
but the good Lord in his omniscience
knew the battle was lost before it had begun.
In his mercy, he offered up his Son –
a cross where all our sins can be hung;
so we can stand victorious now and forevermore.

My mistakes are unlimited.
My promises are sometimes half-hearted and indifferent.
But the only promise I need is found in Christ,
who wipes my slate clean with each acquired debt
and gives me the grace to try again.

Poem Written by Justin Farley

God Will Provide Poem

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
-Isaiah 43:2-3

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God Will Provide

When you feel strangled by your mistakes
and crushed beneath the weight of guilt’s landslide,
trust that your shame will give way to redemption,
for God will provide.

When your crops fail you
and your harvest withers at your side,
believe that your table will soon be filled –
for God will provide.

When you’ve come to the end of the causeway
and trouble surrounds you on all sides,
see the way beyond what the eyes can see –
for God will provide.

When your dark night feels eternal,
and it seems the sun refuses to rise,
know there’s already a dawn waiting for you –
for God will provide.

When hope seems all but lost
and tears feel permanent in your eyes,
wait patiently for your redeemer –
for God will provide

When the wind of the world extinguishes your lantern,
and you feel you’ve lost your only guide,
a fire will be lit within you –
for God will provide.

God will provide when it’s hopeless,
when failures engulf your successes,
and when all other paths lead you astray.

God will provide strength to the weary,
a lending hand to the burdened,
and a way where there is no way.

God will provide a key to unlock addictions,
he’s the hero that rises up to slays your dragons,
and he’s the breaker of destructive pride.

God will provide food for your soul,
he gives the restless heart a home,
and is a friend to those the world casts aside.

Yes, in all trials that greet you,
when no road rises up to meet you,
God will provide.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

 

You can find some of my other Christian poems by clicking here

Religious Christmas Poem About Jesus Birth

A Christian Christmas Poem About the Birth of Christ

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“ILLUMINATION”

Seeds of fire grow with smoky breath.
Tongues of flame lick the darkness
and eat away the barriers to sight.
Slowly shadows melt off of objects
once obscured beneath black blankets of night.

As the heat rises, images of revelation meet the eyes.
Secrets are revealed.
Knowledge comes crashing like water through a flood gate
beaten by a power it can no longer contain.
The Light illuminates life
like a candle in a pitch-black room.
Wisdom finds a new master
as it discovers it was a fool.

The Light flashes before the eyes
in waves of soothing warmth
and unravels the threads of night’s curtain.
Fear loses meaning in the face of safety.
The proud humble themselves before Him,
in light of life’s true meaning.
Glory dances in joyful sway.
Tongues of fire rise from the black sea
to reign over a new day,
licking eyes and crying, “Holy, holy, holy”,
illuminating a world once covered in utter darkness.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

You may also these Christian poems and posts about Advent and Christmas –
Be Aware, Be Alert, Be Ready – A Commentary For Advent
When Love Stepped Off His Throne
Emmanuel – God With Us.

You can find all of my Christian poetry HERE

Christian Poem About Having An Inflated Ego and Being Selfish

A Christian Poem About the Dangers of Being Selfish and Prideful

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“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18 (KJV)

“Me, My, Mine” 

Ignorance is expressed as “me, my, mine”,
ignoring in every facet of life the presence of the Divine.
Covering your eyes doesn’t make the sun not shine.
but pride is sure to make you stumble and walk around blind –

blind to the truth that we were made
in God’s image and goodness finds the keeper of His ways;
blind to the harsh reality that we are weak and must be saved
by the One death could not hold, who walked out of the grave.

In these times, it’s easy to get lost
in delusional thinking and high, proud thoughts,
in believing that joy can be found in the things we’ve got,
and in turning blessings into things we’ve “earned” and bought.

When I elevate myself higher than you,
I eliminate the need for compassion and to walk in your shoes.
When I look at the world through my selfish view,
everything is made for me, and there’s nothing forbidden for me to do.

A self-centered nature will never leave you complete.
Attitude is determined by the thoughts you eat.
A fat ego bumps into everyone you meet.
“Me, my, mine” are words of arrogance and deceit.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Beyond the Poetry

Pride and an inflated ego is the quickest way to destroy a relationship with God and anyone you come into contact with. Pride is the worst possible sin there is. Why? Because all other sins give you the chance for redemption. You know you’ve done something wrong and must ask for forgiveness. A prideful person, however, doesn’t see the need. Being prideful places you above anyone else and puts you in the place of God.

Selfishness is a byproduct of pride. When you believe you are more important than others, you deserve more than everyone else and should always be the first in line and get the best things. When you have a selfish mind, it’s impossible to appreciate the blessings that God has given you and be thankful. Nothing is ever going to be enough to keep you satisfied and someone is always going to have something you want.

I am guilty of pride and likely you are too. We all feel the need for more.  The only real solution is turning to the cross to see that God sees us all the same as sinners in need of His mercy. Jesus didn’t come to help us out, but to save us and pay the debt that we owed. Because of Jesus, we can look at every single person and see the image of God, knowing that we are no better than them.

Humility is the beginning of wisdom because a prideful person is unable to learn from another. If you are not humble, it is unlikely you are going to listen to God’s Word either. You will make excuses and create your own rules. Using “me, my, or mine” is usually a good indicator that you are being self-centered. Following Jesus requires us to start using “he, she, and them” much more often than pronouns about ourselves.

You may also enjoy my other Christian Poetry

A Christian Poem About God’s Love, Grace, and Renewal

Jesus Poem About God’s Love, Grace, and Renewal

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Beyond the Break of Dawn

Beyond the break of dawn
Hope sings a renewal song
To start anew –
To begin a journey out of the darkness
of your past and into the now.

Beyond the break of dawn
is the unbreakable promise that my wrongs are gone,
that guilt will no longer hang over my head
like an ax-wielding executioner, ready to strike.

Beyond the break of dawn
lies the inspiration to carry on.
The crushing veil of night has been lifted
and my eyes are able to see a new day before me.

Beyond the break of dawn,
after a darkness fought so long,
after many sleepless nights beneath the shadow of hopelessness,
waits the gift of love, grace, and renewal.

The Son rises in his glory,
hanging high with outstretched hands,
and all of what once was is hushed to sleep.
Love rises out to meet us
on the road to freedom
and grips our hand with belief,
yet transcends the limitations of the human mind.
God rests us in the palm of his glory,
giving us the only promise we’ll ever need
and rewrites a once hopeless story.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Beyond the Poetry

God’s love transcends the vastness of our darkness, some of which we’ve created and some which is an inevitable part of life. One of the greatest gifts that Christianity offers is the promise of love, grace, renewal, restoration, and forgiveness. Dark days are followed by sunny skies and joyful living. It’s never too late to come home and accept the love and grace that is extended to everyone, regardless of race, gender, or age.

Dawn is a beautiful thing to witness. It goes deeper than beauty that you see in the sky. It’s a reminder that there is always a chance for a new day and that your life is not so broken that it can’t be restored. I think that’s a feeling that all humans feel, regardless of whether you believe in God or not. But the work and love of Jesus is an even greater dawn that pulls you out of a darkness so thick that it seems to be impossible to navigate out of. Jesus gives you a hope when hope seems lost. Jesus gives you a life when life once only felt like death.

The power of God’s love and transformation lies in the fact that we don’t have to fix all the damage that we’ve done; he’s done it for us. It’s a forgiveness of all our debts that we know are beyond the reality of ever paying back. It’s a loving hand of grace willing to completely wipe out the scoreboard and let us start over. Not once. Not twice. But every single day, we get another chance to accept God’s love and grace and leave behind the mistakes of yesterday.

You may also enjoy some of my other Christian Poetry.

Life is in the Eye of the Beholder Poem

Life is in the Eye of the Beholder

Life is in the eye of the beholder.
It remains constant through the ages,
But changes with each person’s view.
The pixels of your life’s image
Are formed and determined by you.

The lens we choose to look through
Is the filter that determines our fate.
Blessings abound for those with humble hearts;
Misfortune for the proud awaits.

Curses and gifts are wrapped in the same packages;
Their contents are named when opened.
Curses will find those who feel entitled;
Gifts will present themselves when chosen.

Be patient in judgments.
Let the season pass before crying out your dismay.
What often begins as terrible weather
Ends as part of a beautiful day.

Trust that there’s meaning in the madness
Or mad you will become.
A glass is either half-full or half-empty,
And your happiness to bound to either one.

Life is in the eye of the beholder.
Its blessings are as numerous as the stars,
And its scars outnumber the droplets of the sea.
The choice is given in the pair of glasses
From which you decide to see.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

There are events in life that are clearly tragedies and others that are clearly blessings, but most of what happens to us is determined by our expectations and our viewpoint. In my life, I’ve dealt and deal with many things that could be considered misfortunes – addiction,anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder. At the beginning of this week, my anxiety was very high, and I found myself in pity mode, asking, “Why me? Why does it have to be so hard? Why has my life been robbed by mental illness?”

The only person I could seem to find blame with was God. If God is in control, he is the one to blame. Sometimes when you’re brought so low by something outside of your control, it’s hard to trust and believe in a God of goodness and mercy. But one of the blessings of Christianity is that He knows that. There is no shame for us at times to feel abandoned and confused, for Christ himself shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But the danger is staying in that place too long and not looking at the big picture of life. The danger is turning away and not seeking council through prayer and patience. I received an answer when a thought popped into my head asking who I would be without the struggles I have had in life.

There’s no doubt that I would have more worldly success without mental illness and addiction. But when I thought about the type of person I would have become, I had to admit that I would likely be extremely arrogant, prideful, hateful, feel no need for God, and have none of the good qualities and values that I’m grateful for. I am quick to blame God for pain; yet know, as stubborn as I am, often times it’s the only way to get me to listen.

The pain in life is not enjoyable and often feels hard to bear. For me, the error lies in my assumption that I’m entitled to feel no pain. I’m entitled to have complete control over my life with no consequences. I’m entitled to have a smooth life with no struggles or battles.  The reality is that our character is formed by those hardships. The hardships are what force us to do the things we don’t want to do, but know we need to do. What we label as “misfortune” is often a blessing that stirs within us the question of “why”, calling us back towards God and off the dangerous path we’re on.

There are times too when there is no answer and our circumstance is too terrible to see anything good in it. The only thing we are called to do is to wait, be patient, and trust that God will work goodness out of darkness. Often, what seems like unbearable tragedy is looked upon as saving grace years down the road.

Goodness and blessings occur everyday, but it is up to us to find them. It’s so much easier to notice all things that are wrong with our lives instead of cherishing the abundance of blessings and goodness. Our outlook on life isn’t going to prevent us from ever going through pain, but does keep things in perspective and allows us to have joy even when we’re not happy temporarily, knowing that our joy is not bound by the ups and downs of this world.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my poem, “Everyday Miracles”, about finding the presence of God everyday in ordinary things.

Christians in Business

Christians In Business- Can We Live Out The Gospel and Run A Profitable Business?

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Are Christianity and Business Success Compatible?

As a Christian business owner myself, it is often difficult to mix the necessity of profits and making money with the language of the Bible considering the numerous warnings about money. Furthermore, I believe today’s culture labels business owners as greedy and always using other people to become successful. We now have a entitled society who bashes those who make money and believes everyone should be allowed to reap the benefits of success, regardless of whether they have sowed seeds of hard work or not. That doesn’t mean that some of society’s arguments about rich, wealthy business owners aren’t valid; it just means that for Christians in business, it’s easy to feel guilty or even sinful to make money and be successful.

Christianity and business (as well as money in general) are both compatible and incompatible. The key aspect that determines which category business men and women fall into are the business’s values. What contributions is the business making to society? Does it simply exist to rake in the highest profits at any cost? What are its core values? Are they consistent with the teachings of Christ? Is the business team using their talents towards the glory of God and to help serve a need in the community through a product or service?

Let me be clear here. I’m not talking about running a nonprofit business. A business has to make money and profits must fall somewhere among the top of key goals. But it must not be the only goal. There has to be something more – a key set of values and principles that it is founded on that are sacred and are never disregarded in search of higher profits. There is no need to apologize for being successful, but success comes with obligation to make a difference in the lives of others.

I think for Christians in business the main question we must meditate on and ask ourselves daily is “Am I running my business to serve me or serve others?” When we keep our focus on others, we can forego all of the guilt and hold our heads high in the face of public criticism of business in general. I think as Christians we often think of serving and helping others in terms of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, etc. And while these are things every Christian is called to do, I believe that God calls each of us to help and serve in different ways. Monetarily we can help, but we may not be called to the front lines on a daily basis physically. Our contribution may be making or designing a product or service geared to bring laughter to a child and put a smile on his or her face. We may be called to help people file their taxes, help people save money, provide a good or service that makes peoples’ life easier or better. And we must make money doing so. But Christianity is compatible with business when we ask ourselves what we can do to help serve the community, rather than serve ourselves. The mark of a great company is that it gives something back. It produces, but it does so by serving a need and making a difference in the lives of others.

Even as Christians in business, we have to make profits, or it wouldn’t be a business for very long. Usually though, when we place others in front of our own pursuits and constantly ask how we can improve the lives of others with our talents, profits naturally increase. What we do with those profits and with the gifts we’ve been given determines whether we’re serving God or serving self. Christians in business have tough obstacles and temptations, but we can be assured we’re in compatibility with Christian teaching when we wake up each morning with the customer in mind, instead of ourselves.


photo credit: Dr John2005 Shoreditch Bridge Portraits 265, Shoreditch High Street, London, 26 August 2016 via photopin (license)

Opus Dei – A Poem About the Work of God In Your Life

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Opus Dei – A Poem About the Work of God In Your Life

Your hot breath has blown on me
and provided the oxygen for glowing embers of love
where there was once nothing but cold, hard coals.

You’ve cultivated my soul
and provided the rich, black soil for roots of patience
where there was once rash temperament without restraint.

Your loving hands have lifted my head hung low in shame,
while your fierce winds have blown like a cyclone across a barren desert,
beginning to level this wall of pride.

You’ve provided for me a solid fortress
deep in the heart of your city
with ramparts tall and wide, impenetrable by the sufferings of this world.

You’ve blessed me with the gift of wisdom, to pause for breath.
I once dove headfirst into life’s battles like a torpedo of chaos without thought,
only to be whipped into retreat, scrambling for cover alone in the dark.

Your tongue has embraced my closed eyelids;
your passionate kiss has restored my sight.
You’ve given me a new pair of eyes able to see farther than myself.

Your loving discipline has provided the humility capable of producing laughter
when I take myself too seriously,
caught up in grandiose schemes and dreams of personal glory.

You’ve implanted in me fragments of courage.
Each day I’m getting more comfortable stripping off clothes of delusion
and encouraging the world to look at my naked frame; imperfect, bound in anxious chains.

You’ve taught me how to sow, where I once only reaped.
The seeds of contemplation have grown into hope,
setting my heart on distant destinations, where not long ago I accepted defeat.

The Spirit moves in incalculable paces like a dancer swayed by rhythmic beats.
You’ve given me a new appreciation for the wind, smirking at how it blows wherever it wishes; I was once engulfed by anxiety embracing unpredictable forces.

Faith has given me footsteps where my feet were once immobile, heavy as iron.
Fear remains, but it doesn’t incapacitate me.
I can walk on water as long as my vision is focused on you.

I’m no longer terrified of your wrath; you’ve given me the green light
to doubt, to challenge, to investigate, to verify, but you’ve also allowed
my heart to accept that sometimes our walk requires steps of blind faith.

It’s becoming easier to call you Captain and turn over the keys to my fate,
finally able to humbly accept that I am incapable of steering this ship,
understanding your hands are the only ones qualified to take the helm.

You’re consistent affirmations are beginning to ease my mind over finite time.
I once restlessly rattled the cage, unceasingly beat and banged
upon the heavy door of immorality, feeling owed admittance.

But you make peace of mind a possible reality; detached from the bondage of self, starved from the selfish desires of the flesh. You give me food filled with substance where I once only chewed and swallowed emptiness.

I am far from at peace.
I am not absent of fear.
I am still riddled by questions without answers.
I am not unmoved by my sufferings.
I come unhinged by my own madness.
I am inhibited by narcissistic obsessions.
I am wavered by trials.
I can be found in moments of doubt.
I still unsheathe my tongue as a weapon.
I am sometimes caught without showing patience.
I am occasionally guarded and scoff at love.
I still sometimes rage against offering others my hand or my time.
I am not always victorious over my passions.
I fall prey to temptations.

Yes, I admit that I am far from perfect.
But your perfection is slowly, but surely
working to change me into a better man.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Opus Dei – Latin for the work of God


 

photo credit: 2750 Hot colors for a cold days via photopin (license)