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


 

photo credit: De lujo y miseria via photopin (license)

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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

Remaining Humble and Relying Upon God

king davidDuring my morning study, I read through David’s Song of Deliverance in 2 Samuel 22. I have been making my way through the Bible, determined to read it from start to finish this year. King David has been a familiar character through 1 and 2 Samuel, but this morning I was really struck by David’s reliance upon God. Here we have a king who is Israel’s most powerful leader, and he is admitting that he owes his strength to God:

“You save a humble people,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.
For you are my lamp, O LORD,
and my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.”
(2 Samuel 22:28-30)

David was not perfect my any means, but his life is a great example of humility and what God can do when we give him the opportunity. No one thought that a young shepherd stood a chance against the mighty Goliath, but David did. He didn’t believe that could defeat his enemy because of his great strength or his power, but because he knew that God was with him. David trusted in God and depended upon God to carry him through his darkest moments. And God never let him down.

The wonderful thing about David and why the Psalms are such brilliant pieces of poetry is that they are directed to the proper recipient of glory – God. It would be very easy for David to look at how great he’d become and write about how much he’d attained by hard work and strength, but he doesn’t mention those things. He continues to point back time and time again to God and tells us that in his weakness, God made him strong.

David also teaches us that the best leaders are first servants. David had numerous opportunities to take the throne from Saul, but he did not put his desires over the will of God. He respects the fact that God chose Saul and continues to remain a servant until it is his time to become king.

I think we can learn a lot from looking at David’s life. He had riches and power far beyond anything we will ever know, yet he still relied on God for his salvation and deliverance. This is no easy task, as most of us who live in western culture can attest to. When we get the big promotion, the big house, or the luxurious car, we want to pat ourselves on the back and pride ourselves on our hard work. But David doesn’t do that. He continues to say it’s you, Lord, who have given me all of this. It is you who has delivered me from the hands of my enemies, not because of my strength or might.

God gives us a great example in David of what he can do when we put our trust in him and let him control our lives. If the greatest king of Israel needed to depend on God, we surely do!


 

photo credit: Kong David (ca. 1976) via photopin (license)

Remain Humble

“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Issac, and to Jacob.

“Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.” (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)

The more we follow Christ and work on our sanctification, the greater the temptation there is to look down on those around us or be prideful. When we are blessed, it can be easy to accept the gifts God gives us without gratitude, but feeling as if we deserve it for our work. How many times do I look down on other people, judging them, and thinking that they are getting the life they deserve?

As the above passage shows, we do not inherit the kingdom by our own works, but because of the works of Jesus. The warning to the Israelites is a warning we still need today. I’m sure many of them felt above the rest of the nations and took pride in thinking that they were better than everyone else. They were God’s chosen people and many probably felt that they earned that right. But the narrator of Deuteronomy quickly reminds them of their grumbling and stubbornness during the exodus – how they didn’t trust God, and he led them anyways.  It was God’s mercy, love, and covenant promises that saved them, not their own works.

When God leads me out of slavery in my own life, out of the trials and problems I face, am I praising him for the work he did or pridefully accepting a trophy for my great work in rescuing myself? I have to be willing to let God do the work, but it is still HIS work, not mine.

As we grow in Christ, many of the old sins fade away, but new temptations arise. And worse, pride and arrogance are usually much harder for us to recognize. Just because something was easy for us to overcome doesn’t mean it is easy for our neighbor. God challenges each of us in different areas of our life, and we shouldn’t judge or put others down because they are struggling. The greatest temptation in overcoming a challenge is thinking that you did it by your work. Sure, we act and even believe that we are blessed for what God has done for us, but if we’re putting down others what does that say about who we really believe is responsible?

I think this is one of the justifiable arguments that the world has against Christianity. Many have followed Christ, only to tarnish his name by putting down others and being judgmental. This doesn’t mean that we accept sin and accommodate it, but we loving help others overcome sin and to follow Christ as equals, not as superiors.

As we walk into the Promised Land, may we not pat ourselves on the back, but look to the One who led us here. Let us recognize that even if we are a changed person, we are still sinners and have not earned the right of salvation any more than the prostitute or drug dealer, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us walk with gratitude and humility.