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.