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
Tug O’ War
Engaged in a constant game
of tug o’ war between your will and mine.
Sweating out the hours.
Eking out the days,
muscles bulging in desperate exhaustion,
clinging to dust.
Why do I wrestle with you?
Why does my foolish heart
still insist it knows better
despite a lifelong record of defeat?
Because I’m a sinner,
flawed at the deepest depths of my core.
But despite my imperfection
you lovingly continue to play the game
even though you could pull my will
right out of my hands at any moment you choose.
And yet you don’t let go of the rope either.
You patiently keep tugging at my heart
until the day I willingly choose
to let go of my will
and take a hold of yours.
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
Christians In Business- Can We Live Out The Gospel and Run A Profitable Business?
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)
You, Oh Lord, are the wellspring of wisdom that is never empty and is always rising to the lips of those who are thirsty. When my worldly eyes go blind and walk towards the cliffs of destruction, you await to halt me – to reattach my spiritual blinders. Man walks by the heart, but is easily strayed from your path by the ways of deceit. But in the midst of chaos you never leave. You remain as a nagging, shouting whisper that beckons me to your presence. And when I come before you…all is revealed. My mistakes, my falters, the ways in which I have followed the desires of the heart and not the desires of the Lord.
The feelings of the heart feel good. That is why they are quick to lead us astray. It is man’s seductress who dresses up in skimpy clothes and asks to be joined. Who can resist? No one without ample prayer and counsel . The heart wants what it wants and will blind us by any means to get what it wants. But you, Oh Lord, are a God of Mercy; A God who waits for those who wander and a Shepherd anxiously waiting to gather your lost sheep and return them to the fold.
When I am led by my heart, stop me! Stall me in my tracks and weigh my intentions against your law. May you no longer let me stray without warning. Open my ears to the still, quiet voice that beckons to be heard. For your wellspring only flows wisdom and from wisdom, truth. Truth pulls back the shades and reveals the world and it’s people as they truly are. But most of all truth pierces my heart and turns me from my worldly pursuits, to your face.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
– Mark 1:16-20 ESV
Discipleship – A Christian Poem About Following Jesus
Don’t let your bondage hold you back.
Don’t let your misfortunes,
Your dark secrets, or your mischievous ways
Blind your eyes to the light.
Don’t let arrogance, pride, fear, or greed
Mute your ears to the command of his call –
That’s not follow me when,
Follow me if,
Or follow me but…
It is “follow me”
Without restriction or based upon circumstance.
It doesn’t leave time to pack a suitcase.
It doesn’t leave time to say goodbyes.
It doesn’t promise ease or relaxation.
It isn’t a decision to think about and ponder
That sits disconnected from time.
It is a command in the present,
A call to action, right here, right now.
Throw down your nets far behind you
So that you don’t get caught in their snare
On the way forward.
Leave it all behind you
To gain it all in front of you
And “Follow me”
-Poem Written by 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!
This weekend I was curious about a certain aspect about writer and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis’s life. When I sought the information on the internet, I stumbled upon a page and was appalled by the article that was written by a Christian pastor. He basically claimed that because Lewis did not come out and bash Catholicism and deem it to not be a Christian religion that he was a heretic, should not be read, questioned whether he should even be considered a Christian, and gave the impression that the “Chronicles of Narnia” are plagued by pagan myths, witchcraft, and sorcery and should not be considered Christian.
This ridiculous hated and self-righteousness is exactly what turns so many non-believers away from Christ and further tarnishes the Christian name. Are there many aspects of Catholicism that I find to be non-Biblical and apostasy? Yes. But there are also beliefs held by certain Protestant denominations that I consider to be wrong as well. Am I right? Maybe. But it is also possible I’m wrong. To conclude that someone is not a Christian just because they are a Catholic, associated with someone who is Catholic, or even doesn’t belong to your personal denomination of Christianity is a very dangerous and self-righteous game.
I have a big problem with Christians on the far right who use the Bible as a weapon and use it to defend every position they hold. Don’t get me wrong. I hold the Bible in the highest esteem. But just because you believe the Bible is inerrant does not mean that your interpretation is. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago that people were using the Bible to justify slavery and that those who didn’t hold their view were also “deviating from scripture”. There are literally thousands of Christian denominations in the world. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that not all of them are right. So when these individuals start spouting off about how all their beliefs are right and anything else is “non-Biblically based” the chance that they are right is slim to none. It is likely that all of us have certain aspects of our theology that is incorrect. Your ability to have a perfect understanding of God depends on your perfect interpretation of every verse in the Bible. Just as we all fall and sin, none of us can possibly interpret scripture perfectly.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone else, respectfully debating someone, or trying to point out their error in love if you suspect it, but to stand upon the roof of a castle built on false pride and declaring everything under the sun except your opinion as wrong is just non-sense and frankly, if anything is non-Biblical, it’s that kind of behavior that frequently fills newspaper stories and the public’s bias towards Christianity.
People, we’ve got enough enemies in the world targeting and persecuting Christians; we don’t need to fight among ourselves. It’s time we set differences aside and agree to disagree on our issues. We need to join together as brothers and sisters in Christ and help each other grow in love. There is so much time spent debating and discussing the Bible, but no action taken. Reading scripture is not the only aspect of Christianity; following Christ is much more difficult than that. What about the poor, the sick, the suffering? What about the homeless, the mentally ill, the starving? Spending your days calling out people and accusing them as not being Christians, is not drawing anyone closer to Christ; it is pushing people away. I believe that we can learn something from each denomination and can coexist without falling to pride and self-righteousness.
The world is tired of dogma. The world is tired of religion with corrupt leaders preaching “my way is better than your way” rhetoric. I am not saying we should fall prey to relativism or deny Christ’s sometimes hard teachings. What I am saying is let’s start spreading that message with love, with joy, with peace and get rid of the constant condemnation. Let’s live in such a way that non-believers know who we are by our shining example of love. Let’s live in a way that really makes the world question their own beliefs and realize that we have a power within us that the rest of the world doesn’t. We are followers of Christ. It’s time we started acting like him.
The Abundance of Your Mercy – A Christian Poem For Lent
In the hour of my tribulation,
I fail the same trials and tests
Time and time again.
Delighting for a fleeting moment in my selfish pleasures
Before becoming quickly convicted of my sin.
Do I find peace, joy, or comfort in my lustful wallowing?
Surely not more than a meager taste,
Only to leave starving all the more.
So why do I continue to turn away from you
When you hold the keys to my prison door?
I simply don’t have an answer for my actions,
Besides some part of me that longs
For the taste of forbidden fruit.
In my moment of heated passion, my heart deviates from reason
And accepts selfish lies and denies eternal truth.
It is not only action that sentences me,
But waves of remorse and guilt that fill me up
And cut me to the core.
After all my deceit and broken promises
How do I come crawling back and call you Lord?
But let not my finite mind
Rule out the abundance of the love
And mercy that fills your cup.
Let me simply praise your name,
Humbly accept it, and drink the New Covenant up.
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems, Lent poems, or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/
My God – A Christian Poem About Jesus and Salvation
My God has hoisted up the world
And bore its weight upon his shoulders
While it was spitting in his face
And driving nails through his limbs like 2x4s.
Who descended from heaven on high
And embarked on a journey unwalkable by human flesh.
Who allowed his body to be hung on a tree
So that you and I might not taste the sting of death.
My God was not meant for sleep,
Nor to be bound by the power of the grave.
My God comes filling cups of unending mercy.
My God comes mighty to save.
Who looked into the eyes of the broken,
Understanding their pain and wiping away their tears.
Who didn’t think a distant God could be grasped,
So he humbled himself and drew near.
My God is not for the perfect and unblemished,
But for the filthy, wicked, and lost.
Who invites you with open arms to approach his table,
For he’s already paid your due with the cross.
Who healed the sick, fed the hungry,
And calmed mighty storms.
Who remained humble through brutal lashings
And reigned wearing a crown of thorns.
My God is the Good Shepherd
And gathers his sheep in his arms.
Who laid down his life
To keep them from harm.
Who came to serve, give grace,
And to pay the price that was due.
My God died for the believer,
But My God also died for you.
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
If you enjoyed this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you like, share, or comment on it. Follow my blog to receive notifications when new posts are published. You can find my other Christian poems or inspirational poems at https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/
One of the hardest things to do as Christians is to uphold the truth of the Word, while at the same time not judging or condemning people. Comments like: “If they’re offended at what I say, they need to take it up with God because all I am doing is spreading his Word” seem to be an excuse for self-righteousness and does nothing but fuel hate and anger. Many non-believers hatred of Christianity steams from this idea that Christians are hypocritical and judgmental. In many ways, I think they have a point. But do we just sit back and let the people we care about make sinful and damaging choices without speaking up?
This topic is much easier said behind the safety of a computer screen. When I was wishy washy in my faith and even strong in my faith, I’ve never wanted to be the annoying jerk that feels they need to call out every person’s flaw and threaten them with hell if they don’t repent. But last night, someone I care about mentioned wanting to do something that is totally against God and everything I stand for. Something that I never thought in a million years I’d hear this person say. And anger fueled within me. I became the person I never wanted to be and wanted to lash out at them and tell them how wrong they were. The only way we can spread the Word lovingly is by remembering God’s mercy for us. In the midst of our sin, he sent his son, Jesus, to die for us. We can’t console with love and compassion until we realize that God’s grace is the only difference between the sinner and saint. Never compromising, but speaking from a place of love, not anger.
Loving In Spite Of Sin
Your words set my heart on fire,
Anger burns, steaming like smoldering coals,
But I can’t allow the heat
To escape my mouth.
I close my chimney and seal my lips shut.
But the pressure boils.
Smoke clouds my vision
Without the flue damper open.
How do I stay true to my heart
Without scalding the recipients with my words?
How do I strip away the pride, anger, and self-righteousness
So that only God’s voice will be heard?
How do I keep loving them
When their behaviors disgust me?
How do I walk on the path of truth
With love, but without compromise?
The bonfire burns in my belly
And ash builds on the tip of my tongue.
My conscience is convicted,
But my love is dazed and stunned.
A glance in the mirror
Reveals your divine wisdom
and shatters my arrogant pride
In broken shards scattered across the floor.
My reflection reveals
That I’m just as filthy as the next man.
In your eyes, by my own righteousness,
I am just as unclean as the darkest sin.
And I have not been able
To bathe in soap and water and scrub away
my mistakes by own own actions,
But only by bathing in your precious blood.
Guide me in grace.
May my actions and words
Always wear your face,
And may my convictions be spread with love.
– Poem Written by Justin Farley
If you enjoyed the post, you may be interested in my other Christian poems or inspirational poems https://alongthebarrenroad.com/category/poetry/
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8)
Many times my selfishness wishes my ears were mute to the Lord’s whisper of “whom shall I send”. I have been searching for God my entire life and yet have never completely found him. I feel his presence, but he is not intimate. For many years I’ve wondered why he’s kept me in a middle ground with him. It almost feels better to be without God, than to have him near, but not intimate. It is like trying to be just “friends” with someone you are in love with. It causes more pain than anything.
When you live without God you can get away with turning your eyes from him and doing your own will. When you live in the middle ground, you get no comfort from sin and you’re convicted of it; at the same time, you have no one to run to in times of need. I’ve prayed for him to draw near, but found no relief. Why would God hide himself from me when I was reaching out to him? But over the past year I’ve realized that he wasn’t hiding from me, I was hiding from him. I wanted to go to God and have an intimate relationship with him without losing myself. I wanted all the benefits of his love, but I didn’t want to give him my love.
So I changed. I desperately sought out God and was willing to turn my life over to him. In the past year, I have seen drastic spiritual growth, but there is still something that is missing. I feel like I am now inside the city gates, maybe even inside his palace, but not yet intimate with him. I couldn’t understand it. I do the right things, have turned over the areas of my life I know needed changing, and spend time in the Word and prayer everyday.
But the other day I was thinking a lot about service and all the people in the world who are in desperate need. Out of the blue those dreaded words from Isaiah hit me like a ton of bricks: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Except my answer wasn’t nearly as noble as Isaiah’s. It was more like trying to hide, pretend that I didn’t hear them, or even answer “anyone but me”. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t turned everything over. There was still one area of my heart that I was guarding, and it was the reason I was still left wandering around the city and not in the throne room.
I’ve always wanted God, but I admittedly have a narcissistic personality. Not necessarily selfish, just an obsession with self. If someone asks for help I have no problem sacrificing to do so. But sometimes dwelling on myself blinds me from areas where I could be helping people who are not directly asking for it. From an early age, I knew my connection/desire to seek God was not normal. I remember really enjoying seeking God as a child and wanting to please him until I started reading stories about the lives of saints. God was always doing drastic things in their lives and having them do things they didn’t necessarily want to do. And that scared me to death.
I didn’t want someone to have complete control over me. I didn’t mind serving as long as it was on my terms, but what if God came to me and asked me to do the things that he had of the saints I’d read about? Well, from there on out I was determined to keep my distance from God. I didn’t want to turn completely away from him, but I didn’t want to be close enough to hear him either. If I stayed just outside his radar, maybe then I could get away with pleading ignorance. My greatest fear was that I was going to have a conviction to enter into Christian ministry (missionary, pastor, priest, monk, etc.) because that would mean my whole life would be centered around God. For selfish reasons, I never wanted my job to be focused on talking about God, primarily because I’m deathly afraid of public speaking.
But the other night when I heard the call, it dawned on me that I was still keeping that secret from God. It wasn’t as if I was now unwilling, but I had a grip so strong on that piece of me, that only by God appearing before me and demanding that I answer him would I say, “Here I am! Send me.” And it definitely would not have included the exclamation mark.
For all I know, God has no plans to use me in ministry. But then again, maybe he does. It doesn’t matter his plan, the point is my fear was trying to dictate the direction of my life. I thought that turning over 99% of my life over to God was good enough, but it isn’t. It takes surrendering 100% of your life to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus does not tell us to pretty much die to self, but to die all the way. Anything that you keep hidden or off-limits to God puts a wall in your relationship. No secret is too dirty or wicked for God to deal with, but you have to present it to him. I think we have the tendency to pretend things will just go away if we don’t deal with them. In order to experience the intimacy of God, he has to experience your intimacy; it is not a one way street.
What question are you dreading God asking you or are covering your ears in response to? What desires and wants are you clutching onto while still seeking an intimate relationship with God? May we all have the courage to stop running around with our fingers stuck in our ears and boldly answer, “Here I am! Send me.”