It means "writings." I write things.

9:53 AM

Yeah, I can see that

Posted by Brad Polley |

I stumbled upon a really great bookstore yesterday in our mall that sells a ton of really old hardback books. I happened upon a great book by Kahlil Gibran entitled, "Jesus, the Son of Man." It was written in 1928 and it tells the story of Jesus from the viewpoint of a bunch of people surrounding Jesus. It shows how each of these people may have viewed Jesus. I started reading it today, and I was instantly intrigued. I read the Mary Magdalene chapter today and I was fairly moved by it.

As the Bible states , Mary Magdalene was a "woman of ill repute." In other words, a prositute and slut. Her chapter in this book speaks of her first encounter with Jesus. Before I recount the scene from the book, I want to give you some context. She has already seen Jesus from afar and spoken with him some, and she is now trying to lure Jesus into her house.

And I said, "I beg you to come into my house." And it was all that was sod in me, and all that was sky in me calling unto Him.
Then he looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and He said, "You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in your self. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended.
"I alone love the unseen in you."

I have a couple of observations about this passage. First, it gave me the chills to think about Jesus' words and the fact that he utters the same words to us. We're all prostitutes, we all have other lovers besides Jesus, and yet, he is the only one who loves us as we really are. He's the only one that loves the unseen in us. Second, does anyone else wish they could see everybody through the same lens as Jesus? I noticed myself people-watching at the mall yesterday and I became shamingly aware of how quick I am to pass judgment on those I see. I make judgment calls based on the outside "seen" things in a person. How ridiculous. We're called to be like Jesus, and part of that is to see people as he sees them. I suck at it, do you?

12:38 PM

Symptoms of a Greater Disease

Posted by Brad Polley |

There's been a great deal of debate over the lat couple of weeks pertaining to many "mega-churches" cancelling their Sunday services on Christmas. I think I'll weigh in on the issue with the full knowledge that no one gives a crap what I think anyway. Here goes.

I've done a great deal of thinking about this, and I've tried to look at it from both points of argument and I've come to the conclusion that cancelling Christmas service makes about as much sense as me being employed at a modeling agency. I understand that "mega-churches" require a lot of people to run their average service, I totally understand. My question is then, why can't you scale down your service and just have a sripped-down approach to worship without giant bands, Sunday school, dramas, and all the other superflous bullcrap that goes along with your normal Sunday? Why can't people just show up and worship God together, even if the attendence is 1/3 of what it normally is? My feeling is that, as a church, you worship with whoever decides that Jesus is important enough in their lives to show up to church, and if people want to stay home instead, so be it.

I know that these churches are having multiple services leading up to Christmas day, which is fine. However, somewhere during the last 2000 years of the Church, someone thought that the birth of Jesus was importnat enough to set aside a special day each year to celebrate it. Why wouldn't people want to worship together on this day? Personally, I'm looking forward to being with my brothers and sisters on Christmas day to worship together. I'm looking forward to singing, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" together and all of the other songs pertaining to this special day.

The greatest argument that I've heard from these churches who are cancelling is that Christmas is a family day. I'll certinaly be doing family things on Christmas day as are most people. My question in return is, what better way for a family to spend Christmas together than acknowledging the birth of our Savior? What can be more family oriented than that? The truth of the matter is that this whole argument is just a sympton of a greatly diseased North American Church.

For most American "Christians," Jesus is just something else that you do. So when Jesus gets in the way of our family time, we just cast him aside as another inconvenience to our plans. "I just don't have time for church with our Christmas schedule." "I just can't fit church into today, because we have to go to Aunt Mabel's house, and then go to Grandma and Grandpa Jones' house." The fact is that most people want Jesus in their lives until following him becomes inconvenient. "Give me Jesus, just don't let him get in the way."

I think presents can wait until a little later in the day this Sunday. After all, God's gift of his Son might just trump your new Ipod.

8:14 AM

Confidence and Peace

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm still studying Isaiah. In fact, I'm pretty sure that God keeps adding new chapters every day. I'm on chapter 134; I thought there only used to be like 6o some chapters. Anyway, in 26:3, I came across a great passage.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

"Steadfast" is a poor translation, because no one even knows what the crap it means. The Hebrew word is samak and it means, "confident." So the passage basically says that God grants perfect peace to those whose minds are confident. Confident in what? Confident in our God. Confident that he is good, and that he provides. Confident that he is loving.

Think about the correlation between confidence in God and having peace. What in the world could bother you if you have complete trust and confidence in God? What a sense of peace that would be!

A couple of things come to mind with this passage. First are the words of Paul, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, bring your requests before God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." In other words, stop freaking out about stuff and give it to God. Easier said than done, I fully realize. However, if we had confidence and trust in God, this would be easy, then we would have peace that surpasses all understanding.

The other thing that comes to mind is this quote from Thomas Merton. It's so good, that it deserves a bigger font.

"For perfect hope is achieved on the brink of despair, when instead of falling off the edge, we find ourselves walking on the air."

Will you all now join in one big rousing "freakin' a"? Thank you. Now moving on, how many of us in tough times find ourselves falling off the edge instead of floating on air? I know I do most times. All of these things are connected. Faith, trust, confidence, and hope. It's all intertwined and it all leads to peace.

May God grant you peace in any circumstance.

12:45 PM

Augustine is on to something

Posted by Brad Polley |

No...I didn't say that St. Augustine was on something, I said that he was on to something. Anyway, at the ministry conference I recently attended in Nashville, I had the privilege of taking in a great seminar with Tony Campolo. In it he used a quote from St. Augustine which said, "The Church is a whore, and she is my mother."

I have a tendency to be a little skeptical of the Church and, yes, negative about the Church at times. I think that it is a natural part of being a minister. I don't know of many ministers that aren't cynical about the Church because we've all experienced the same stuff. We've heard guys who call themselves "leaders" suggest and say things in meetings that aren't even remotely biblical. We've seen the Church sell out to the very things that Jesus couldn't stand. We've been verbally attacked by people who don't think we have feelings. We've heard people call themselves by the name of Jesus and then turn around and spit on his memory by the things they do and say. We have every right to be cynical.

However, this quote has haunted me since I heard it. I can't get it out of my head. Every time I start griping about the Church, this quote pops into my head in an almost phantasmic way. It whispers to me things like, "The Church has been worse off than it is now." "You may be mad at the Church, but that's the body of Christ you're mad at." I can't shake it.

This quote, to me, basically means that the Church is always going to be a mess because it is made of fallible human beings. Even if I demanded its perfection, which I (subconsciously) do at times, I'm just as messy as everyone else. I certainly don't have it all together. This means that I injure Christ by what I do just as much as other people. I seem to remember Jesus saying something like, "Why worry about the speck in someone else's eye, when you have a plank in your own?"

The fact is that the Church is a whore. The Church continually runs after other lovers that can't give what our bridegroom can give to us. However, this whore is my mother, and it is my duty to love her as Jesus loves her.

12:50 PM

And there was evening and there was morning

Posted by Brad Polley |

Something sruck me today as I was studying. It wasn't a particularly revelatory moment or anything, just something I found interesting. In Isaiah 21:11-12, I read this,

"Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?" The watchman replies, "Morning is coming, but also the night."

Morning is coming, but also the night. That seems to be a fairly enigmatic statement, yet one that drips with truth if you really let it soak in. That's how life works isn't it? Everything is bright and sunny, and yet, evening and darkness is inevitable. Every bit of daylight must be balanced equally with the same amount of darkness. When God created everything, his recipe read, " one part light, one part darkness." If you look at the creation story, at the end of every "day" it reads this, "And there was evening, and there was morning..." It seems that from the beginning, God wanted to get the point across that there had to be equal parts light and darkness for the universe to function as it should.

In the verse from Isaiah the watchman lets everyone know that morning was here, but darkness loomed in the distance. This would seem a good warning for us to all heed. Maybe when we're going through crap and times of night and darkness, it would help for us to realize that this is how the world is. It isn't that God delights in our suffering, maybe our suffering is just part of the created order of the universe. For every light, there must be darkness as a counterbalance.

Perhaps what we really need isn't another Joel Osteen self-help book to show us how to always be happy, maybe we should embrace the darkness (doesn't mean we have to necessarily enjoy it) as God's natural creative work in us to bring us to the perfection he desires from his creation. May we embrace our times of darkness as necessary parts of life, and may God say of us, "and it was good."

12:46 PM

Is this a bad sign?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I woke up this morning ina slight panic. Panicked about what, you ask? I had these thoughts of, "I have no freaking idea how to be a father." Don't get me wrong, I'm totally stoked about being a dad, but how in the world do you parent in such a way that you don't end up on the Maury Povich show listening to your kid blame all of the world's problems on you? Not everyone with a problem child is a bad parent (at least I don't think so). I don't know of many parents who really want to raise a drug addict or a porn star. I look at some of the kids at the junior high and high school and think, "Good Lord, if my child is like that, I will kill them." How do I keep my child from being completely sucked into the world without sheltering them to the point that they can't cope with anything? How do I keep a daughter (if I have one) from ending up on Maury with her three boyfriends waiting for a paternity test to find out who the father is? How do I keep a son (see parenthetical statement on daughter) from being a sex-crazed maniac with a tatoo of a woman's rack on his arm?

I know that the easy answer is, "Look at God, he's the ultimate father," but last time I checked, I didn't create the freakin' universe either. I understand unconditional love, I just suck at it. I think I need a heaping helping of God's grace to get me through this one.

1:30 PM

Mini me

Posted by Brad Polley |

I never thought a fuzzy blob on an ultrasound could be so cute. This is baby Polley. He/she is 8 weeks old and the size of a blueberry. The important thing is that he/she is healthy and doing well right now. Please pray for continued health for baby Polley and mommy. I personally think he/she looks like Mandy, but has my eye sockets.

2:27 PM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Over thanksgiving I went to my in-laws. This isn't the real story though. At some point we passed a church in their area and I saw a sign that made me do a double-take. They had a sign out front that was adverstising their coming Christmas dinner theater. The name of the dinner theater? Extreme Christmas. No wait...X-treme Christmas. After I finished laughing, I thought, "What exactly is extreme (x-treme) about the Christmas story?" Then I thought, "Didn't the "X-treme" marketing thing end like 10 years ago?" Apparently not.

I started perusing the Christmas story in the Bible and I didn't find the part where the baby Jesus burst from the womb on a snowboard holding a Mountain Dew. Perhaps I missed it. Wasn't the first beatitude "Blessed are the gnarly, for they will inherit the surf"? Anyway, I really wish I could get tickets to this dinner theater to watch the angels and wise men doing 360s and fakies. Good stuff.

12:11 PM

See the heart

Posted by Brad Polley |

In Isaiah 11, we read of the Branch from Jesse. This is a prophecy of the coming Mashiach (for those of you Hebrew speaking types), or Messiah (if you prefer to stick to English). At the tail end of verse three it says this about this man who is to come:

"He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears."

As Christians, we believe that this passage obviously speaks of Jesus. If we're going to agree that the point of being a disciple of a rabbi is to be like the rabbi, then I believe we need to pay serious heed to this statement in Isaiah. It says that Jesus did not judge by what he sees or hears about someone. This means that Jesus used some other way to make his calls about someone's character. Jesus looked at the heart of a person to determine who they really were. See his statements to the religious leaders when he calls them dirty cups, whitewashed tombs, etc. He basically told them that on the outside they looked great and together, but on the inside they were filled with death.

Does anyone else suck as badly at this deal as I do? I think it's human nature to see someone and immediatey make a judgment call on their personality. To be like Jesus in this area takes a tremendous effort of our wills with the nudging of the Holy Spirit. It takes a constant prayer of, "Lord, let me see people as you do."

I want to be the type of person that doesn't judge by what I see or hear about a person. I want to be a person that can see past all of the superficial crap in a person, and see their heart. I guess I want to be like Jesus, but I know I have so far to go.

1:20 AM

All in all...

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was listening to The Wall by Pink Floyd tonight because, well, it's awesome, and I got to thinking about the implications of the famous line "all in all you're just another brick in the wall." I'm a big believer that all truth is God's truth and that God co-opts little bits of truth from the world and makes them his own. Look at Paul's words to the men of Athens in the book of Acts, look at Paul's words to Titus, "as the pagan poets say..." Anyway, back to Pink Floyd.

I got to thinking about this phrase. I decided that you can look at this line in a couple of different ways. There may be more ways to look at it, but my limited cerebral capacity can only handle so much. You can look at this line from a negative viewpoint (which, incidently, is probably the way it was written) or a positive viewpoint. Let's look at the negative first (that way we can end on a happy fun note, because we know that Jesus hates sorrow right?).

On the negative, the line, "all in all you're just another brick in the wall" means that, at the end of the day, everything is hopeless because you're nothing special. You're no prize, no one is. We all share the same fate as being just bricks in the wall of life. What's the point in striving for anything if you're just another brick in the wall? What's the point in thinking you can make a difference in the world if everything is pointless? It's an almost nihilistic viewpoint of life ("We believe in nussing. Yeah, nussing Lebowski"). About two of you will get that joke.

Now for the positive. You can look at this from a Kingdom of God point of view. By the way, save the comments concerning my overstating the song and it's meaning; remember the God co-opting truth thing. We may be bricks in the wall, but bricks in God's wall. We're all a small part of something infinitely larger than we are. A wall that has no beginning and no end. A wall that goes on forever. As bricks in this wall, we are created with the ability to do great things. It's more of a teamwork thing. We can all, as bricks, do what we can to build the wall of God's Kingdom. Just a thought. Totally random, but it made sense to me, so back off.

4:10 PM

Jesus with mustard and relish

Posted by Brad Polley |

Howdy everyone (read: "all four of you"). I just returned from Nashville with 25% of my reading audience. We went to the Youth Specialties convention and "learned more about youth ministry" (read: "watched a great deal of football"). It was a good convention I suppose. There were 7500 youth ministers there, which meant that we had to hold the main sessions in the Gaylord Entertainment Center (I'll let you stop laughing before I go on)...which is where the Nashville Predators play hockey. My brother and I noticed something quite funny during the main sessions. Did I say "funny"? I meant "damning."

They sold concessions at the main sessions. I'm not just talking about Testamints and Jesus-flavored fruit drinks, I'm talking about popcorn, hot dogs, and the such. So we're standing there "worshipping God" while the guy next to us is masticating a tube of faux meat on a bun. I asked myself, "Self, what would a non-Christian think if they came in and someone was singing to Jesus while cramming their gullet full of popcorn?" Has our consumerism become such a problem that making ourselves more obese can't be put aside for an hour or so of worship? I was slightly perturbed, because if you were an outsider looking in, you would think it was just another concert. I'm pretty sure if we were living in the Old Testament times, the entire arena would have collapsed on us all. Thank you Lord for your mercy and patience. Any thoughts?

11:36 AM

More thoughts on Pat Robertson...and us

Posted by Brad Polley |

"Out of the adundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." - Jesus

Isn't it amazing how words that were spoken by Jesus so long ago still apply today? It's obvious that Pat Robertson's heart is filled with hatred and war, because this is the type of language he uses. Jesus' statement is pretty straight-forward; if you speak hate, you're filled with hate, if you speak love, your heart is full of love. The buck doesn't stop with Pat Robertson though. It isn't really about Pat Robertson at all, it's about us. God will deal with Pat Robertson in whatever way sees fit. But, in turn, he'll deal with us in the same way.

It's easy for us to sit back and throw stones, but what are we doing to change the perception? Whether we realize it or not, whether we like it or not, guys like Pat Robertson are the mouth pieces for "Christianity." They are the loudest and most vocal, therefore, they are the ones who shape people's opinion of Christ and his Church. Obviously with statements like Robertson's, people's opinion of Jesus and Christianity is marred and not necessarily positive. So what are we doing differently? It's easy to sit back, piss and moan about this guy, and wish curses upon him, but are we throwing our voice out there (however small it may be) to change the way people see Jesus? Are we feeding the poor? Are we loving unconditionally, even our enemies? Are spreading peace wherever we go? If not, then we're in the same boat.

These are some things I've been thinking, I hate it when the Spirit convicts me.

12:00 PM

This has to stop

Posted by Brad Polley |

Televangelist warns of evolution doomsday

WASHINGTON - Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting “intelligent design” and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the influential conservative Christian Broadcasting Network and Christian Coalition, has a long record of similar apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements.

Last summer, he hit the headlines by calling for the assassination of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of President Bush’s most vocal international critics.

“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected him from your city,” Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, “The 700 Club.”

“And don’t wonder why he hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for his help because he might not be there,” he said.

The 700 Club claims a daily audience of around 1 million. It is also broadcast around the world, translated into more than 70 languages. (People for the American Way provided a video file of the 700 Club statement.)

In voting Tuesday, all eight school board members up for re-election in Dover, Pa., lost their seats after trying to introduce “intelligent design” to high-school science students as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Adherents of intelligent design argue that certain forms in nature are so complex that they are best seen as the handiwork of a designer rather than the result of natural selection. Opponents say it is the latest attempt by conservatives to introduce religion into the school science curriculum.

The Dover case sparked a trial in federal court that gained nationwide attention after the school board was sued by parents backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The board ordered schools to read students a short statement in biology classes informing them that the theory of evolution is not established fact and that gaps exist in it.

The statement mentioned intelligent design as an alternate theory and referred students to a book that explained the theory further. A decision in the case is expected before the end of the year.

In 1998, Robertson warned the city of Orlando, Fla., that it risked hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist bombs after it allowed homosexual organizations to put up rainbow flags in support of sexual diversity. (End article)

This guy has to be stopped. How did the peaceful message of Jesus get turned into a threat-based, hate-filled message. I hate the fact that God loves Pat Robertson too. He is the type of person that Jesus had no tolerance for. I love drug dealers more than I do Pat Robertson. He has done more damage to Christ in his 110 years of being on TV than anyone else. The church has to unite and put an end to this guy's television career.

11:24 AM

Patriot Act - 1, Brad Polley - 0

Posted by Brad Polley |

Holy crap, I'm in the process of applying for a passport to go to Africa...and I'm failing miserably! Since 9-11, apparently our "government" has decided that they will make it just a fraction under impossible to aquire a passport. I'm printing off the application as I type this and I'm hoping it will be done printing in three hours. I didn't have to fill out this much stuff when I bought my house. On top of the application, you have to bring in approximately 300 documents proving that you're alive and not a terrorist. Because we all know that if you weren't born in the United States, you are, without a doubt, a terrorist/communist/fascist/anarchist. I'm guessing that before Bush is out of office, we will probably have to undergo a rectal scan in order to obtain a passport.

I think on line 37 I have to provide the date of my last bowel movement, as well as a sample in a petri dish. On line 1,230, I have to provide a test tube full of my mother's afterbirth in order for them to test it for American patriotism. Once this is all completed, I will hopefully be declared an American citizen worthy of traveling to some less free country.

The best part of the application is I have to provide two "recent" photos of myself. This is quite interesting. If I didn't think I would spend the rest of my life eating stale bread at Guantanamo Bay while a soldier hooks up electrodes to my nipples, I think it would be hilarious to submit a picture of myself holding a grenade with a t-shirt on that says, "slaughter the infidels." I laugh just thinking about it.

Anyway, wish me luck as I try to prove that I'm patriotic enough to want to leave the country for two weeks in February.

6:00 PM

You know what I'm tired of?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm tired of hearing about the end times. I'm tired of people pointing to wars, riots, tornadoes, and record hurricanes and saying without any sort of reservation, "We are living in the end times." The fact is that we might be, but we may not be either. Everyone is so freaking busy plotting Jesus' next move, that they forget to try and take someone with them when he actually does come. Here's my opinion, who cares when he comes back, just be ready.

Jesus himself bascially says that the day and the hour is unknown, even to him. There's another story in the beginning of Acts that I think is fairly telling in all of this. In Acts 1, some of Jesus' followers ask him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus' response is, "As long as you really want me to and accurately predict it." Just kidding, his actual response is this:

"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Let me give you the New Polley Version of these verses, "It's none of your freaking business, go do something about helping the world; go tell people about me."

Let's face it, the only reason preachers keep preaching that we're living in the end times, is that they figure they can scare a few more people into warming the pews in their church. I hate that crap. It drives me crazy. Jesus never scared anyone into believing that he was their Savior, why do we feel like we have to do it? If a church feels like they have to scare people into Jesus, then frankly, that church sucks. Plain and simple. They have nothing to offer people, so they try and freak them out enough, that they'll "come to Jesus." And the hits just keep on rolling...

11:35 AM

Walk like Jesus

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was reading in 1 John today and read a great passage. "Anyone who claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." How great is that? How many people in churches are actually doing it? Am I?
The point of being a disciple of a rabbi was to live as the rabbi lived. We've exchanged this for "teach what the rabbi teaches" and "soak up as much information about the rabbi as possible." This passge is telling us to simply live as the rabbi lived. Walk as he walked. Respond to people as he responded to people. There's a great ancient rabbinical statement that said, "May you be covered in the dust from your rabbi's feet." In other words, cling as closely as you can to him. This is what John is getting at. How would our churches, communities, country, and world be different if Christians took this seriously? How would things be different if ministers took this seriously? Ouch.

4:51 PM

I find this a little sad

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was driving in town today and I saw a church sign that said, "Free wight-loss class, Tuesday night 8:00. Public Welcome." I have no problem with churches offering weight loss classes, God knows we can use them in this country. However, the message on the sign tells us a great deal about the state of the American Church. Does anyone else find it sad that a church has to put "public welcome" on a sign in relation to one of their programs? Is it possible that this isn't as harmless as it sounds?

The fact is that people should know that they are welcome to a church for anything. It's obvious that this church felt it important to put on their sign that the public is welcome because there is a perception among the public that they need an invitation to church. I don't fault this church for their message, I fault the Church as a whole for closing themselves off for so long, that people think they need a personal invitation to come. Man, do we have a lot of work to do.

8:22 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Seeing as how Halloween is upon us, I've been thinking some about masks. A mask, by definition, is something that we wear so that our real identity can be hidden. The masks I'm talking about should not be confused with "The Mask," a nightmarishly awful Jim Carrey movie from the 90s. But I digress. A mask is used to reveal identity, this is why thieves often wear them to hide their true selves from the cameras and/or employess that are robbing.

Well, I've been thinking about masks a great deal this week because of church. This past Sunday, I preached a sermon on breathing and talked about all of the crap that we carry around with us. We were not created to carry around all of this junk that we carry with us. God desires us to breathe that stuff out to him, so that we can breathe him in. At the end ofthe sermon, I asked people to come forward to be prayed with if they needed it. My thinking being that if they would come forward, someone could bear their burden with them (I think that's in the Bible somewhere), therefore making it easier to breathe out. Guess what happened? No one came forward. This problem is that I know for a fact that we have some people in our church dealing with some heavy stuff. Stuff that they can't handle alone. Stuff that they need to breathe out. So after the service, someone came to me and asked me to pray for something. My wife then told me on the way home that someone told her that they wanted to go forward but were embarrassed.

Who are we trying to fool? Everyone in churches are so self-sufficient and closed off, that nothing ever gets revealed in the open. We're so afraid that someone may see us for who we are; a messy person. I would be willing to bet that 90% of the people sitting in the church had something they needed prayer for. Maybe it was a secret sin, maybe it was depression, an addiction, whatever. It's no wonder American Christians are so screwed up. We're all a mess, but we put on a facade of perfection. If we can't be open at church with our brothers and sisters, then we're in serious trouble. We have to regain this ability to be open with each other.

Jesus had a term for people who wear masks...hypocrite. The word "hypocrite" is derived from a Greek theater term that spoke of "painted faces" or "actors." Jesus couldn't stand actors. He couldn't stand people that were polished on the outside, and dead on the inside. He realized that life was found in the heart and wearing masks and pretending that everything was ok, didn't lead to life.

It's time to put away the masks and be real. Our lives depend on it.

10:15 AM

I wish I was smart enough to write this

Posted by Brad Polley |

I have another thought from Brother Lawrence, who just so happens to be my favorite 17th century Parisian monk. I was reading in "The Practice of the Presence of God" yesterday and this statement caught my eye:

"God desires to possess our heart completely; if we do not empty it of everything other than himself, he cannot act nor do there what he pleases."

Ok, so good thoughts from Brother Larry, but it raises some questions for me. How does someone get smart enough to say something so simple, so eloquently? What does it mean to let God possess your heart completely? What does that look like? Is this something that is possible for us to do outside of the cloister? If so, how the crap do you do it? When you go to a Chinese buffet, when have you eaten enough to lose your self-respect?

I agree wholeheartedly with Brother Lawrence that God desires all of us (i.e. "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me"), not just part of us. He wants it all. I'm just wondering how this is possible in today's world, with so many distractions around us. Even in ministry, most of my week is consumed with doing busy work that has very little to do with Jesus at all. I'm so frail, like all of us, and I get distracted so easily, I sometimes wonder if he even has 10% of my heart. I'm almost sure that most of our problems (including my own) exist because we haven't allowed God to have all of us, so he hasn't been allowed to "do there what he pleases."

I know very few people who have an effective prayer life. You know what I mean by "effective," when they pray, things happen. In my own life, my prayers rarely seem to work, which isn't God's fault at all, it's mine. Maybe if our hearts were tuned in to God's frequency, we would notice that stuff happens when we pray. I don't know, maybe I'm off track, it wouldn't be the first time. Any thoughts?

P.S. I'm not sure when it is you cross the line of self-respect at a Chinese buffet, but I'm sure I cross it just about every time. Mmmmmmm...General Tso's Chicken...

8:43 AM

A Strange Dichotomy

Posted by Brad Polley |

This past week, I had the privilege to visit a new mom and baby in the hospital. As i was sitting there, looking at this beautiful baby, I got this really weird feeling. I started thinking about the fact that, as I was sitting there, someone on the other side of the hosptial was laying in intensive care on life support. As this family was feeling joy at their new life, another was experiencing deep sadness at bad news from a doctor. I don't know, it was just one of those times where the dichotomy between life and death became very real to me. It was strange to have this sense of life and death going on all around you in the same building. Does anyone else ever have times like this?

10:21 AM

Just how far does His grace extend?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I heard on the news this morning that a mother in San Francisco chucked her kids off of a pier and into SanFrancisco bay. Not only did she have the nerve (or whatever the freak it is that makes someone do this) to do it, she did it in front of people.

This raises a number of questions for me. How do you get to the point in your life where you would do something like that? What circumstances contributed to this action? What went through her head in the moments leading up to it? Where is God in all of this? What does he think when he sees something like this happening? How does he keep himself from vaporizing her into billions of particles for killing her children? Finally, how far does his grace extend?

Here in lies the greatest mystery of God. He is a God of judgment and a God of love. Are the scales really balanced? Does his love trump his judgment, or does his judgment trump his love. Who knows if the woman will even ask for forgiveness for what she has done. God is a great paradox, it seems that he is full of contradictions at times. I guess my thoughts extend from the fact that I want a nice, predictable God who dances when I play the fiddle, and always acts in the same way. To be a being who is both judgment and mercy, wrath and love, seems incongruous to me, but maybe that's why I follow God. Maybe deep down in the recesses of my heart, I need this adventurous Deity who is wild and seemingly erratic. Maybe that's what draws me to him.

Whatever he is thinking right now about this woman, I am sure that he loves her, although his heart breaks for her and her children. This Sunday, this family will be on the prayer lists of many churches and I'm guessing only a handful of churches will pray for the mother. Join me now in praying this prayer for this mother, who in a moment of senselessness, killed her children.

Almighty and Everlasting Father, we pray now for this woman in San Francisco who desperately needs you. Her actions, Lord, are both despicable and disgusting, and yet she is your creation, who needs an invasion of your Holy Spirit. There will be those, Father, who will call for her immediate death, but we pray for her life. May your grace cover her and release her from the power of the Enemy, and may you give her life, even in the midst of the tremendous guilt she now lives with, in the name of your Son, Jesus, Amen.

3:27 PM

This is what Jesus had in mind

Posted by Brad Polley |

I got this in the mail today at church. Anyone else see a problem with the first line of this? Please tell me you do. Posted by Picasa

7:48 PM

I'm not going to lie...

Posted by Brad Polley |

...this may be the funniest picture I have ever seen. I came across it quite awhile ago and just came across it again in my "my pictures" file. I laugh every single time I see it. Posted by Picasa

2:38 PM

My Church Rocks

Posted by Brad Polley |

Ok, so it isn't "my church" persay, it's more like Jesus' church, but I figure I had to use the parlance of our times. Anyway, we had our one-year celebration today. It was pretty sweet. We had a cake, we sang happy birthday. I think what I like about the church is that it is so messy. We don't have too many people who care to put on a "starched and pressed" facade on Sunday mornings. We genuinely love to be with one another. That's what I love the most. The people actually want to be there, they (probably not all, of course) aren't there out of compulsion, they're there out of joy and desire to commune with one another and with God. We're no where near perfect, but maybe that's the best part.

9:05 PM

Why Are Ministers So Insecure?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've always been a big proponent of discipleship over numbers in my ministry, but for some reason, I'm almost continually plagued by insecurity. i'm definitely not the only minister who is like this. I'm guessing if you took a poll, you would find that most ministers share the same problem. I still get down when our Sunday attendence is down for a couple of weeks. I still worry about people going somewhere else instead of our church. I don't know why. I'm always worrying about whether or not I did something to drive someone else away. If someone misses for a couple of weeks, I automatically in my mind think that they're gone for good and it's all my fault. As you can tell, I'm just a smidge discouraged right now. I don't know why. Satan has a way of taking me (all of us?) from the heights to the depths within a matter of days. I hate it.

9:01 PM

No Wonder Saul Hated David

Posted by Brad Polley |

I came across a story today in Scripture about Saul and David. I always wondered what the turning point was in the relationship between these two men. At the beginning, Saul really likes David, but then at some point, he pretty much starts hating him. The story goes like this.

After David kills Goliath, he and Saul are traveling back to Israel with their armies. As they're passing villages, the women come out and sing a song to them. The song goes like this, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands."

Ok, so if you're a macho tough guy like Saul and you hear a bunch of women basically singing that you aren't as tough as this little kid, wouldn't you be hacked? It says that Saul was irate at this song. Yeah, no kidding. From this point on, he hates David and seeks to kill him. I really have no point to this post, I just thought it was interesting. I guess the cult of macho can get you into real trouble, Saul's life was never the same.

3:50 PM

I'm not sure why this keeps happening

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm not obsessed with suffering or anything, in fact, I'm not a huge fan of it myself. However, God keeps sending me these thoughs and ideas. I'm not sure why this is. I keep waiting for something really bad to happen. There seems to be a pattern to the things I'm reading right now, and that pattern is suffering. Anyway, I came across this prayer today while praying the hours.

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to the joy before he first suffered pain, and did not enter into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that I, walking in the way of the cross, may find it to be none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son my Lord. Amen.

It seems once again that the way of suffering is the way to life and peace. This certainly makes sense in the light of Jesus' life. I don't think we should deliberately seek out suffering, but it seems as though it finds us pretty well on it's own. I heard a saying once, "God doesn't want us to live under the circumstances, he wants us to live despite the circumstances." Maybe that's an oversimplified version of what this prayer and Brother Lawrence's comments are talking about.

9:42 AM

What is with kids?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I spent the day yesterday substitute teaching at the junior high. I've done this numerous times, and I always leave at the end of the day with the same question on my lips, "What is with kids?" Maybe it's because I've been out of school for so long, but I can't remember being as bad as some of these kids. I'm sure I had many of the "fine" qualities that these students now have, but I was never disrespectful. I was so afraid of being sent to the principal's office that I always sort of "towed the line" in order to stay out of trouble. Not only are most of these students not afraid of getting in trouble, some of them streak toward it like it's the gold at the end of the rainbow or something. They delight in it and revel in it. One kid actually said to me (after I told him many times to be quiet and stop jacking around), "I'm sure you've heard about me, I have a pretty bad reputation." My first thought was (as he laughed about it), "You're actually proud of that?" I was sitting there watching a lot of these kids and, this is awful, but I was thinking, "That one won't graduate, neither will that one..." And what about their souls? If they don't care about their grades, and their reputation, they certainly aren't going to care about the state of their souls. They're dead and they don't even know or care.

I sit and observe the students while they're working and as I do that, I sit and pray. I pray for God to show me a way to reach kids like these. I want them to live. I want them to realize that the universe is bigger than them, and that there is a big God who cares about them so much. I want them to learn to live for someone other than themselves.

I understand that the Bible says, "with God all things are possible" but I'm also starting to think that maybe John Calvin's doctrine of predestination has some validity to it. Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.

5:30 PM

The Suffering From God

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was reading "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection today and I came across this statement in a letter he wrote to a nun in 1690.

"God often permits us to suffer alittle in order to purify our souls, and to make us remain in him." He then says in another letter: "The worldly do not understand these truths, and I am not surprised; the reason is that they suffer as citizens of this world and not as Christians. They consider illnesses as natural afflictions and not as graces from God..."

Ok, so does anyone else find this a little strange and, maybe, more than a little bit disturbing? This isn't something you're going to hear Joel Osteen and the rest of the prosperity gospel guys preaching about on TBN. According to them, God wants you to be healthy, rich, and beautiful. Brother Lawrence, however, says that God allows us to suffer so that we may be reliant on him. I don't know about you, but even though I find this idea slightly disturbing, I think he is closer to the truth than Joel, and Benny, and the rest of their ilk. I think I'll believe a 17th century monk who renounced everything for the sake of Christ over someone who lives in a 1.5 million dollar house in Houston, Texas.

Brother Lawrence then gives us the good news about suffering and illness: "I wish you were convinced that God is often closer to us in times of sickness and suffering than when we enjoy perfect health." May we run to God in times of suffering, rather than run away from him. May we see that he is closer when we hurt than when we don't. May we rest in the arms of the Great Physician and let him cure us, rather than blaming him for the suffering. May we let our suffering purify us and draw us near to the One we serve. Amen.

10:33 AM

Welcome to Kethuvim

Posted by Brad Polley |

Hey all three of you! Welcome to Kethuvim (writings). I hope you enjoy this blog. I'll have more to share later.