Autumn Lovely as the leaves decorated in their colorful clothes in the midst of October, brisk and crisp as the breeze that electrifies and blows at September's closure, and mystifying as the spells of magic that cover the forest in fall; it's no wonder I fell and never wanted another - my forever love, my all. 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
“But I like the inconveniences.”
“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.
“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. “You’re welcome,” he said.
-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
A Post-Modern Portrait
Steel covered sky.
Gun-stock gray rays.
Metallic molten moon.
Where do you turn when the hovering dome
That covers your head is sucked void of joy
Like an eternal vacuum, gasping for breath?
Is this really all there is left –
Empty shells consisting of robotic movements,
Resembling humans, but without hearts beating in their chest?
Why are the pure at heart so easily discarded as trash,
But the deceivers received as gold?
What kind of world do we live in when all meaning has been lost –
A heirloom remembered, but regarded as ancient and old?
I’m afraid the heart seeks a treasure that doesn’t exist,
Washed out by the waves of progress
And swallowed by the deluded ideals of feminists.
Woman, do you want to know why there’s no longer
Knights in shinning armor walking the streets?
Because you have become accustomed to the darkness,
Mated with the dragon, and your pride refuses to admit you’re in need.
Independence and self-reliance have paved the death of the soul.
Romantics lay in anguish,
Lost in a world gone cold.
When the Self becomes king,
Selfishness reigns supreme.
Love is shackled and silenced When “ME” “MY”, and “MINE”
Are the passions and desires the heart screams.
Gun-stock gray flock
Of unfulfilled passionate yearnings
Flutter across the cold, metallic sky.
Heartless, inhumane existence clatters
With each footstep of people passing by.
And I am lost in this game.
I don’t know how to join in the delusions.
I have no desire to come to your miscalculated conclusions.
I don’t know how to still the warm heart beating in my chest.
I have no desire to walk like a lamb to the slaughter
And watch my soul shrivel like all the rest.
I have no desire to play by the rules
Of this revised edition of the Game of Life.
I’ll boldly wait in my alienated prism reflecting the light
Rather than sell my soul and vulnerability for the sake of safety
And step out into that dark night.
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
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
Woman – A Love Poem For Her
You are like the waves lapping against the shore –
Repetitive, seductive, intoxicating, cleansing
Like holy water that wrings out the darkness.
I sit unceasingly upon the sands of time
Waiting for the rise of your tide,
To feel your waters once more by my side.
Staring off into the drab, gray horizon,
I admire flocks of sea gulls.
Only for a moment, but never long enough
To loose sight of your ebb and flow.
Woman is an ocean –
An endless vessel of mystery.
Who knows the measure of your depths?
Who can see the floor of your soul?
We all float in safety as sailors in the bosom of your rest.
Your ripples are enough to rouse suspicion,
To know that beneath your surface currents rage.
But we all long to dive within your waters
And be nestled within the confines of your embrace.
Your seas are salty,
Yet our tongues still thirst for more.
A water that never satisfies,
But opens the flood gates of passion’s door.
You are like the waves lapping against the shore –
A sweeping hand seducing, gesturing
Us to step away from the safety of land.
Woman, you are the demise and prize
Of the heart of each and every man.
-Poem Written by Justin Farley
Alien – A Poem
Feelings run too deep
like the full summer moon,
sinking in the sky’s dark sea of black.
Reminiscing, pondering over burnt out stars,
wishing their beautiful light could somehow be brought back.
But the ancient dust has crumbled,
scattered like ashes in the brisk solar wind.
But memories stand transfixed,
unaltered by time, suspended
in infinity’s domain without an end.
To navigate this sea without your stars for direction
leaves me scrambling, rambling without course.
No heat radiates by the fireside.
No flames flicker in the lantern at my bedside.
My burning passion is extinguished without a fuel source.
Shoot me across the atmosphere,
riding high tides of lonesome tears.
Won’t you pluck this bitter fruit from my hands?
I fear the past may be lost, withered beneath winter’s frost.
So queer to feel like an alien inhabiting Earth as a man.
-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
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.”
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