They Say... They say follow your heart, but I'm thoroughly convinced mine doesn't know where the hell it's going. They say the heart wants what the heart wants. Mine wants to pull down the shades and get rip-roaring drunk. They say love yourself. I think if I love myself any more I'm going to join Narcissus at the bottom of that damn pool. They say put yourself first, but I'm so far in the lead that there's no one left for me to pass. But He says I'm broken beyond belief, that my heart is deceptive, and can't be trusted. He says that only fools follow the desires of the heart because they lead to bottomless pits, never satisfied. He says quit staring at yourself in that mirror, that my hope isn't found in self love, it's in the depth of His love. He says the first shall be last and to love my neighbor as myself, to help pick up the wounded runners rather than worry about what place I finish in. I love my heart, which is why it's so painful to admit that His Word sounds like truth, and culture sounds like childish chatter. Justin Farley
Sandcastles Poem About Hardships in Life The weariness of life is enough to make even the watchman tired. His heavy eyelids close with each complexity of life that breaches the palace gates. There he waits until all he aspired for crumbles beneath the harsh realities of life like the sandcastles he built as a boy, cold, green, frothy ocean dashing all his work in one motion jeering as the tide drags even what was repairable back out to sea. Who puts out the fire when the ivory tower erupts in flames? Who mops up the childhood pain that we slip on time and time again? The oldest wounds never seeming to mend because, like a cut on a joint, each time we bend beneath life's weight that weeping wound cracks back open, raw once more. There's no way to bar every door. There's no way to lock tight every window. Misfortune's finding a way in even though we believe we've created an impenetrable castle. Life will always have its burdens; they're still tough to bear even with solid walls around you. But we choose whether to build our castles on the sand or fortify them on the rocks. Justin Farley
Conversion A Poem About the Love and Grace of God I began divided. Quite selfish with a heart hungry for evil yet filled with a deep longing brewing below the surface that never seemed fulfilled by anything other than you. So what was I to do - in love with myself and my selfish desires but realizing more each day my need for you? I opened my ears to your voice but kept my heart safely distant. You told me to follow you. And I obeyed... at a snail's pace, slowly inching my way towards your grace. The closer I came the louder my name reverberated from your lips. Though the louder too were my selfish longings. Lust ran high in the dry, dusty desert of restraint and tried to pull me back into the slavery of gratification. I gave in time and time again but refused to allow my sin to convince me to hide in shame from you. For at the core of my being, I knew you held something true - an answer to a question about the essence of life itself that couldn't be answered along any other path but yours. So I continued hauling my heavy shell behind me and sluggishly crawled onward, but the way forward didn't get any easier. I only found myself more divided, fragmented into forces fighting within myself. My head became a bed for commotion, tossing me to and fro like the waves of the ocean. The inner struggle only made me more aware of the seriousness of my situation: I had a head full of God and a heart unwavering it its insistence upon serving itself. It was daunting, haunting me in its clutches and causing me to lose sleep like a nightmare stuck on repeat, waking me up in the night to the harsh realities of life. How was I to serve two masters and attend to both of their matters? My ego wasn't lulled to sleep nor cowered to the call for its destruction. But raged and rattled the cage your spirit had created for it. I trusted that your grace was vaster than all the stars shinning forth forgiveness in the dark to the farthest corners of the universe; surely my sin was no match for your goodness. I resolved to stop worrying so much about "do nots" that I never seemed capable of obeying and to focus on following through on the "dos" I was perfectly capable of undertaking. And there your spirit freed a seemingly unsavable prisoner from the bondage of self and turned me towards the Divine. For you kept me so busy doing your will that I forgot about mine. Justin Farley
Letting Go Poem about Trusting in God Troubles slip through my fingers like sand as long as I cling to your commands, letting your Word direct my way - floodgates to block and keep me at bay. But it's never easy to deny yourself entry, shackling your will under lock and key of the sentry. Not more grit, more letting go. Not what I can birth, what you can bestow. There's no carrying crosses with only my will; my volition is far too volatile. I can get swayed by the winds of the world, unable to predict my will after they've whirled. But you're unchanging, stable, and steadfast. You provide strength and aid when we ask. Bury pride and leave it dead in the dust. Victory is praying through trials and learning to trust. Justin Farley
Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback
Thank you for your support!
Satan's Speech A Narrative Poem with Religious Themes Satan stepped up to the podium, cleared his throat, and tapped the microphone to address his legions of demons gathered with each new, human generation to discuss matters of military penetration. "It is no longer necessary to corrupt good for evil," he said. "It's quite satisfactory to distract the mind and heart from mission to resignation, carried away by the slews of sedition, soul-numbed in leisurely pursuits. Preferable, in fact. For who questions convenience? Which one of your clients challenges comfort or inspects the tools built by good intention?" "If there's one thing we know, dear friends, is how given the choice, the allure of sin is stronger than righteousness in even the nicest fellow. But sin disguised as harmless, helpful, fun, beguiled by necessity for modern life... well, that's the Trojan Horse that turns the tides of war - the break we've waited eons for." A light echo of laughter broke out across the room. Abaddon leaned in close to the mic, "If you don't understand the chuckle of your neighbor, you're far too young to understand our plight across the ages and the countless battles we've fought for control of the human heart. For even the wisest sages are penetrable in a world of distraction. We no longer need to trade truth for lies. Just simply plant alibis to embrace the easy and immediate in favor of the important and inconvenient until it becomes buried beneath a pile of endless beeps, dings, and buzzes, and they'll forget Truth was ever there to begin with." He grabbed the mic from the stand and began pacing across the stage, his powerful, intoxicating shadows dancing across the walls, magnified by the candlelight. Lucifer continued, "Could it get any easier, my friends? Remember the centuries when we'd have to convince them to pluck the fruit fully aware of their sin and our whispers slithering out of the bush?" "We now simply need to convince them that the world has grown far too large for them to make a difference, that their lives are too busy for prayer, and that reading is antiquated... far easier to keep that vile book we all abhor out of their hands than convince them it belongs in the trash." "Don't you know 'faith without works is dead'?" Belial said with a smirk. "And modern technology keeps their restless hearts so busy, they don't even realize they're dying inside." A deep, wicked, bellowed laugh amplified from the stage and an applause rang throughout the crowd. Justin Farley
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
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
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
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
The 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
“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10
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