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.


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

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Opus Dei – A Poem 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 by 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


 

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Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Like Me – A Poem About Loving Yourself

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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God doesn’t make mistakes. It’s easy to compare your weaknesses to other peoples’ strengths and become discouraged; it’s easy to let it tear down your self-esteem and think you have no value or self-worth. But often times, it is our weaknesses that have the greatest potential to transform other people. Our weaknesses are what make us human and give God the greatest opportunity to reveal his glory and redemption. As hard as it is sometimes, by learning to like our weaknesses and accept them instead of hiding them in the dark, we can allow others to see God’s light and give others the confidence to open themselves as well. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve them or allow them to run our life because “that’s the way God made me”; it means we have the courage to admit we’re weak, have issues, and allow God to transform us instead of pretending like they don’t exist or trying to do all the work ourselves.

Like Me – A Poem About Loving Yourself

I like me.
I’m learning to love the flaws
I see staring back at me in the mirror…
They keep me humble.
Each time I stumble humility grows
And flows through my eyes. allowing me to accept others’ shortcomings.

I like me.
Just as crazy as I come,
Never refusing to silence the feelings that drip
Like sweet drops of honey from the tip of my tongue…
They keep me honest and open, vulnerable and true.
They give others the confidence to let down their guard
And feel comfortable walking in their own shoes.

I like me
With a belly full of fear
And a heart filled with angst…
It keeps my pride in check
And my will at bay,
Knowing that left to my own devices
I’d likely be lying in a grave.

I love me
Even when I don’t like me,
For after all, this is the way God made me.
Who am I to critique his work?
What can the clay say to the Potter,
Except to appreciate and accept
The art sculpted by His hands.
I like me because in the chaos created by my flaws
I know He brings order from anarchy and has a plan.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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The Black Veil – A Poem

5150943940_b94fffd722_bThe Black Veil – A Poem

I wear this black veil of despair
Like the wrappings of a mummy,
Covering my self-inflicted wounds.

My face frozen in cold, blank stare
Trapped within my tomb,
Alone in my room.

Why do you continue to test me?
Why do you hold out savory meat
Only to snatch it from my hands?

It is wrong for me to question your authority,
To question the good of your plans,
To hold you in contempt, unable to understand?

I wear this lonely shroud of betrayal.
Spend my days wondering
Why is it I who should be denied?

Haven’t I sought to be faithful?
Why are the wicked given an easy ride,
Never facing near the trials you’ve thrown in my life?

Is it too much to ask
For an outlet to this love,
Just to have a companion by my side?

Each time the die is cast
Comes another lashing to my pride,
Another time where I’d discarded and thrown aside.

Why is it that romantic lovers
Are often the ones alone,
While cheaters, liars, thieves, and betrayers come home to open arms?

But though anger stirs, I’ll patiently wait to discover
Why you seem set on placing me in the midst of harm,
Why alone is always where you think I belong.

I wear this black veil of despair,
But I trust that you know more
Than what sits before my somber scene.

I guess that life is not always fair,
So be my rock upon which I lean
As I wait in solitude until you send to me my queen.

-Poem by Justin Farley


 

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Fear of the Lord – A Lesson On What It Means To Fear God

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10

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As you read through the Old Testament, fear of or fearing the Lord is a common theme. It wasn’t until a recent study through the book of Proverbs that I truly grasped this concept and understood it completely. The Bible continues to reveal new things in spite of what we believe we have mastered. The Word is a tree that continues to sprout new shoots even when we think it can’t grow any taller or wider.

Fearing the Lord was one of the concepts I thought I truly understood. I struggle with an anxiety disorder that is often exacerbated by the threat of God’s wrath or judgement. There are few who can understand fearing God like someone with an anxiety and panic disorder; yet, it may be this very fact that kept me in ignorance of wisdom.

I sought out help in the book of Proverbs to deal with specific sins that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop doing consistently for more than a few days or weeks at a time. But I found nothing, nothing that would really help me move past my own weakness and overcome the temptations I face. If I’m honest, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I read chapter through chapter, hoping that surely the next I read would contain the knowledge I was missing. Still nothing.

Humility quickly turned to frustration. Surely, if this was God’s Word and if God really wanted to help me he would give me the knowledge I needed. All I kept hearing was “fear the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, blah…blah…blah. Thanks, God. Think I got that one covered. But because I was looking for what I thought I needed, I was missing the message God was trying to reveal to me.

Unintentionally, I began to start contemplating what that phrase really means. My understanding was right at the surface level. Obviously, to fear God means to fear him. You do something bad or turn away from him, watch out because his wrath is likely to fall on you.  But as I dove deeper into meditating on the phrase, I realized that I think the word “fear” is really lost on our culture.

We are a society built on individualism. Fear is only understood as a response to a danger that we perceive can hurt us or threatens our individually. Fear in ancient cultures was more than just a threat; it also dealt with honor or respect. I would say that the vast majority of people fear breaking their country’s laws, but crime still occurs in high numbers everyday. Why? Because the people breaking the law may fear the law, but they don’t respect it. They may fear the consequences of their actions, but ultimately they think the rules don’t apply to themselves, or they respect their desires more than they respect the rules.

And as I pondered over this concept of fear, I began realizing how finite my understand of the “fear of the LORD” truly was. I realized that I was relating to God exactly the way a criminal relates with their county’s rules. I feared God’s wrath, but I didn’t respect him or honor him. When choosing to follow God’s laws became difficult, I always failed. It wasn’t because I powerless, as I often times felt; it was because I respected or honored by own desires and rules over God’s. I ultimately “feared” my ego and pride more than I feared God.

Fear has a lot to do with respect and even admiration. It is even a sense of awe and wonder, knowing that whatever we are fearing has more power than ourselves. If you fear a dangerous animal, such as a bear, you would never walk into its den because you respect their territory. My fear of God was sneaking around in his world, not respecting him, but hoping that he would either be sleeping, forgive me without ever changing my behavior, or not get caught.

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” because it makes you humble and opens your eyes to your lack of power. Yes, it does deal with the concept of God being a very real threat and danger, but I believe biblical concept of fear goes much further than that. “Fear” is probably not the best word to use in translation to get across the meaning to our culture who does not generally think of fear and respect as two sides of the same coin. Fearing God means submitting to his power, admitting that you know very little, and that his wisdom surpasses anything which you could ever conceive.

Strangely, what began as a search for a way to fix my lust problem, ended with the revelation that my problem was not really lust at all. Not fearing God was. Respecting my ego and selfish desires over God’s law was. Now lust is still a part of the equation, but I believe it to be a small part. The main thing that was keeping me from overcoming my desires was not lack of power, but lack of will.

Somewhere in the depth of my heart I believed (and still do to some degree) that I knew better than God. Somewhere I believed that I should be able to seek out pleasure wherever I want to, and if I’m honest, never wanted to stop. And I don’t think that’s ever going to completely disappear. Our very fallen nature as human beings is to look out for ourselves before anyone else, including God. The more humble we are, the weaker that desire becomes, but I think will always exist. The essence of “fear of the LORD” is not necessarily the threat of vengeance. It is viewing God as a loving parent who we respect and who’s rules who choose to follow, regardless of whether we think they are fair, right, or in our best interest. It means keeping our pride in check and understanding that God’s wisdom far exceeds our own and that even when we don’t understand or disagree, we know that he knows better than we do.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

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Be Aware. Be Alert. Be Ready – A Commentary For Advent

No One Knows That Day and Hour

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is the servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

-Matthew 24:36-51

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Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, and my personal favorite time of the year for reflection and prayer. Advent is particularly seen as a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is also a time period for those of us in the northern hemisphere where the days are colder, days are getting shorter, and where your work days begin and end in the dark.

But winter is not just a season of darkness, but also of stillness and quiet. Though we are called everyday of the year, Advent in particular gives us a chance to reconnect with our center, spend time in quiet prayer; and be aware, alert, and ready for the coming of Christ.

The scripture reading above is not popular; it does not make us feel warm and fuzzy and is easily tossed aside because we don’t want to confront the truth – that we will be held accountable for our actions and there will come a time when Jesus comes again.

Furthermore, I think it really shakes up our image of Jesus as this fun loving character; this hippie with long hair, a beard,  is all about peace and love, and doesn’t really care about how you live your life as long as you believe in him. Many people have no problem with the New Testament, but swear off the Old as archaic and filled with a God they want no part of. The New Testament is often seen as containing a God of love, while the Old Testament is riddled with a God of anger and wrath.

The problem is that if we have that preconceived notion, it means we haven’t been reading very carefully. If we see Jesus as just our buddy who never judges our behavior and offers us unconditional love and grace without any hard truths, we’ve been cherry picking his teachings. We come across passages such as the one above and either purposely skip over them or water them down by saying, “Well, he didn’t actually mean it that way…he was just being extreme to make a point.” We must be very careful and make sure we are serving the real Jesus, and not the culturally cool Jesus. The same God who resides in the Old Testament resides in the New.

Jesus warns us that there will be a time of judgement and one person will be left, while the other one taken. he stresses, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” As if the fact that some will be left behind is not scary enough, even more frightening is that I don’t believe he is referring to “good” and “bad” people. If that was the case, there would be little use in giving a long sermon about being alert and ready. For the most part, I think we all know whether we fall into society’s class of “good” or “bad”. No. I don’t think he is preaching to wicked people; he is directing it at believers who are asleep or have not fully given their life over to him.

Being a follower of Jesus is not an easy walk. There are time periods in our lives where it is not convenient socially or personally to stay true to the Gospel. How many times have you desired to develop a closer relationship with God or known you need to change certain behaviors, but you put it off to a later date because you’re too busy, too young, too proud, or not ready yet? I know I have countless times and still continue to use those excuses.

For the overwhelming majority of the population, I think we believe in God, want a relationship with him, and want to be a “good” person; but now is never a good time. We’ll get around to it next year, 10 years from now, when we retire, or before we die. And we are exactly the people Jesus is referring to as the “wicked servant” who puts off his duty and falls into sinful behaviors because “my master is delayed”.

Jesus does not say, “if the Son of Man comes”, but “the Son of Man is coming”. When he does, will I be ready? Personally, I have always wondered how so many of the Jews could deny Jesus when there were prophecies all throughout the scriptures promising that he would come. How could they be right next to him and not know he was the Messiah? I think it’s for the same reason that we believe in him, but don’t alter our behaviors or procrastinate following him – it’s not easy and forces us to let go of our ego and selfish desires. They could not see Jesus for who he was because they were not alert or ready, even though God promised he would come.

God has also promised us that he will come again. Let us not be like the Pharisees, but be ready and be doing the master’s work when he returns. I think we all have a conceived notion of the End of the World as some drawn out event  in which we can quickly change our ways before it’s too late. But in the parable of the servant and the master, Jesus portrays a much different view. We have already been warned that he’s coming, so if we’re not ready it’s because we haven’t listened and are wicked.

It’s not just the End of the World that we have to worry about. No one knows the time of place they’ll die. It could be tomorrow; it could be 50 years from now. But don’t wait to do the master’s work until he surprises you at your door.

I don’t think Jesus used the passage to scare us, but because he loves us. Who lets their child go into a dangerous situation without warning them first? God is no different. He is merely trying to get our attention that we need to not take this lightly and need to be prepared.

During this Advent season, as we prepare for the birth of Christ, let us retreat into the silence and open our minds and hearts to what God is speaking to us. Let us analyze our behaviors and motives, making sure that we are alert and ready for the Light of the World. Let us take this season to finally fully commit our life to Jesus and not put it off any longer, so that we can joyfully embrace the master when he arrives home and not be surprised and ashamed when he knocks at the door.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

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The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

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The Mirror of Truth – A Poem

Into the mirror I gaze
and am wrapped within the frame
of a smoky haze of secrets swirling within glass.

I can’t deny the face,
can’t pretend I don’t know,
have no trace of realization that the figure before my eyes is me.

It’s unsettling to see the darkness,
to discover the demons in the flesh,
to witness my flaws, flogging me in the face.

Beneath this mask of pride,
there is a face scorched and seared
by lies, deceit, and by the heat of betrayal.

I know the image I wish to see,
I know the reflection my heart believes;
but within me is a darkness I prefer not to acknowledge.

The mirror of truth does not lie,
does not flinch when it brings onlookers to their knees,
does not hide delusions, but pierces the veil of our ego.

The mirror of truth is a loving master,
a humbling stone meant to trip our feet,
a pastor to turn us towards joy and away from the bonds of slavery.

I may not like the face that stares back at me,
I may not like the icy eyes, the lips of pride,
but I have the opportunity to reconstruct my image.

Morning sun, be my witness –
when you lay down to rest tonight, the flames may remain
fueled by my darkness, but will crackle beside the waters of love and grace.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Build Within Me A Foundation of Thanksgiving – A Poem of Praise to God

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Build Within Me A Foundation of Thanksgiving – A Poem of Praise to God

May your rays of righteousness
pierce through the clouds and shadows of my heart.

May my mind give way to your fruit –
take up your shears and prune these vines that ensnare me.

Give thanks, give praise to the tree of life,
whose branches stretch out into infinity’s depths.

Give thanks, give praise to the tree of life,
whose leaves cover and provide shelter from worldly strife.

May wisdom flow like a river, filling my well –
knowledge of you soothing my parched lips and restoring my soul.

May I not walk by the power of my own two feet,
but make the journey through life on my knees, yielding to your majesty.

If I find nothing to be grateful for, nothing to praise you for,
surely my eyes are closed like curtains to the light of morning.

If my ears do not hear your name praised throughout the forest,
surely I am deaf to the songs and melodies of mother nature.

Build within me a foundation of thanksgiving –
a cornerstone on which my heart and soul rests.

Build within me an unquenchable thirst to praise your name,
never ceasing to be marveled by the brilliance of your glory.

Still the river of desire that flows through the heart of man,
unceasingly paddling down torrential waters, never satisfied, never able to rest.

Still the winds of lust, of jealous breezes,
our noses consistently sniffing for scents trying to sense what we don’t have.

Let our hearts not beat for what we’re missing,
but become firmly grounded in the grace which we already have.

Let our hearts not beat for foolish wishes,
but boil over with thanksgiving for your endless bounty and be glad.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Like the Summer Wind – A Poem

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Like the Summer Wind – A Poem

I yearn for you like the summer wind –
vast, cool, refreshing upon my cheek;
a shelter to soothe beneath the furnace of life’s heat.

Your character radiates and pierces
through the layers of lust surrounding my heart,
pushing foolish desires aside; shredding selfishness apart.

Your faith is a fortress –
a castle that contains a bounty of beauty;
an unfamiliar treasure invigorating. intriguing me.

Respect reflects from your resolve like an echo –
a lovely sonata to my ears,
finding all the melodies attractive that you hold dear.

Purity has never been pursued by me,
but you make it as arousing as naked flesh.
seductively strutting your sexuality within a soul of righteousness.

Romance flares up; sensuality beckons me
to brush your lips, to feel your kiss.
and have my hands caress and rub out all your loneliness.

You’ve got me on the hunt,
pursuing an prize I’ve never seen –
my bow is strung, my arrow nocked, and aimed for the heart of a queen.

I long for you like stars in a void of black –
hopeful, resilient, a lamplight to guide the way,
and your flames lick at my heart, burning to speak your name.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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