It means "writings." I write things.

8:34 AM

Survivor Sucks

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was sitting at home watching a show on TV that doesn't suck, when a commercial for one that does suck came on. It was a commercial for the new Survivor show. I think it takes place in Panama (or at least a Hollywood set that looks like Panama) or something. The new "twist" (please notice the quotes) is something called "Exile Island." Apparently one "castaway" at a time will have to stay on this island alone (which is due punishment for them agreeing to be on such a mind-numbingly crappy show in the first place), and try to survive. The commercial was hilarious because as it was describing this new facet to the game, it said something like, "On this island, they can find the key to winning the game...IF THEY SURVIVE!" This obviously begs the question, "Survive what?" Can they survive not being eaten by the camera crew, production team, and the team of medical doctors on the other side of the island? I'm sure the show would just let someone die off on screen.

Here's the reason I hate this show. These people aren't surviving anything. All it means is that the winner is the one who can go the longest eating worm larvae and rat pelvis or something. Who cares? Millions of people around the world have to endure that everyday and no one gives a crap. This has to be the most anti-climactic and boring show on television. There's no drama whatsoever. No one is going to die in this show, everyone will survive. If they want to do this show right, they need to drop 10 frumpy ignorant white supremacists in the middle of Compton, California with nothing more than their beer guts, and the clothes on their back and see how long they last. The last one standing wins...until he gets shot in the face. This format would solve a couple of problems. One, the name "Survivor" would actually mean something, and two, it would get rid of 10 morons. Maybe I should write to the network and make the suggestion.

8:45 AM

A Prayer

Posted by Brad Polley |

I came across this prayer in a book titled, "The Book of Jesus." It is a collection of writings by numerous authors concerning Jesus. I think this would be a good prayer to incorporate daily. What do you think?

"O God, who has proven your love for all humanity by sending us Jesus Christ our Lord, and has illuminated our human life by the radiance of his presence, I give you thanks for this your greatest gift.
For my Lord's days upon the earth:
For the record of his deeds of love:
For the words he spoke for my guidance and help:
For his obedience unto death:
For his triumph over death:
For the presence of his Spirit within me now:
I thank you, O God.
Grant that the remembrance of the blessed Life that once was lived out on this common earth under these ordinary skies may remain with me in all the tasks and duties of this day. Let me remember--
His eagerness, not to be ministered unto, but to minister:
His symphathy with suffering of every kind:
His bravery in the face of his own suffering:
His meekness of bearing, so that, when reviled, he reviled not again:
His steadiness of purpose in keeping to his appointed task:
His simplicity:
His self-discipline:
His serenity of spirit:
His complete reliance upon you, his Father in heaven.
And in each of these ways give me grace to follow in his footsteps.

11:19 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

I swear that I'm not obsessed with suffering. I don't like it anymore that anyone else, but for some reason, I keep happening onto these different passages concerning suffering. I can't get away from them. I come across them in the Bible, I come across them in other readings, I can't help it. I guess these passages stand out to me so much, because they fly in the face of the American Prosperity Gospel that is so prevelant today. Actually, most American Christians are raised on this type of thought and theology. It isn't all as overt and satanic as Joel Osteen's message or anything, but it's there nonetheless. For example, none of my preachers growing up ever claimed that God wanted you to be rich and powerful, but they still taught that, overall, God wanted you to be happy. So I grew up thinking that God wanted all to be happiness, and when something didn't make me happy, it was Satan's fault.

I've been studying Isaiah for quite awhile, and he touches upon this idea many times. I came across one I couldn't ignore this morning. These words I'm about to show you come from the King Hezekiah. He had been struck with an illness and then healed by God, and his words here are commenting on his situation.

"But what can I say? He [God] has spoken to me, and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. Suely is was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back."

I wonder how these prosperity guys handle a passage like this. My guess is that they skip right over it because there's no way to refute Hezekiah's words and change them to mean something else. They sure as crap don't preach a passage like this. Hezekiah not only says that God was directly responsible for his suffering, but he say that "by such things men live." He is essentially saying that we cannot be whole and alive without suffering and anguish. He then has the audacity to blame God for his anguish then turn around and talk about God's love. This is just beyond fascinating to me, because it goes against our natural human reactions to adversity. Our first reaction is to blame God for his absence and then say things like, "God has a plan in all of this," although we know when we say it that we're full of crap. We never think of God sending suffering our way as his way of loving us. We feel punished. Yet Hezekiah (and it seems everyone else in the Bible) see it as a loving Father desiring growth from his people. I could go on forever with this stuff, but I want to hear what you all (3 of you) have to say.

9:18 AM

Learning Are Fun

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was studying in "Five Cities of Refuge" again this morning and came across something I had never thought about. To be honest, it made me feel a little bit better about something that has bugged me about God for a long time. The passage of study was the "Akedah" or "Binding of Isaac." This is the story where God inexplicably tests Abraham and tells him to go and sacrifice his son on Mt. Moriah. Just as an aside, "Moriah" in Hebrew means "awe-ful."

This story has always bugged me. Why couldn't God choose a test for Abraham that didn't include the near-slaughtering of his child? Why not have him walk to the nearest watering hole and tell him to walk across it? Why not tell him to spit a loogie in the air and tell him to make it, by faith, levitate in the air? I've never understood it until I studied this morning.

Abraham is standing on a mountain with a knife raised in the air, ready to drive it through Isaac, when a messenger of the Lord stops him. In order to understand the full depth of what is going on here, you have to look at all of the other cultures around at that time. Every other culture had "gods" that required infant or child sacrifice to appease them. God had to do this to show Abraham that he was a different god. He was the true God because he was so merciful and wasn't going to require this horrific act of his people. Sacrifice animals, not people.

For me, this helps me to see more of God's true nature. He isn't sick, he's merciful. I understand that he sent his only Son to be a sacrifice for the universe, but Jesus had the choice to go to the cross. He was human and could have backed out, but he didn't, so the argument that God sending his only Son to die being proof of God's sickness is irrelevant here.

This study this morning just reinforced my love for God and his mercy. Hopefully it does the same for yours.

9:57 AM

Take a break, the world depends on it

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm currently picking my way through a fine book by the title "Five Cities of Refuge." It's written by two Jewish guys, Lawrence Kushner and David Mamet. It's basically comprised of their reflections on weekly Torah readings. I'm using them as a supplement to my daily study. I was reading this morning about the Creation account of God's rest. I always assumed that God created everything in six days, got tired (if the Almighty can in fact tire), and rested from his labors. However, the Jewish understanding of this passage is that the creation and the rest are inseparable parts of the creation. Kushner says this, "We bless God's work, and ours, by quitting. The work and the rest, together make the world. They are inseparable."

Another interesting thought has to do with the name of God. God's most intimate name is yod-hey-vav-hey in the Hebrew. We know it as Yahweh. The sixth day of creation ends with these words, "...and there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day." I won't try to explain this next point, I'll let the text of the book speak for itself.

"The Hebrew for "the sixth day" is yom haShishi. The first letter respectively of each word is yod and hey, which, when joined with the first letter respectively of 'And they (the heavens and the earth) were finished...' is vav and hey, together spelling yod, hey, vav, and hey, the ineffable Name, the Name of the One who brings into being all that is, the Name of God. At last the sweat and the sigh inseparable."

Our time has to be spent with the sweat and the sigh. Without both elements, God's work is incomplete, making us incomplete. People don't rest anymore. When we cease to rest, we do a dishonor to God's creative work by stating through our actions that the Sabbath rest isn't really a part of life. Take a break. You will not be whole without it.

12:40 PM

An Affinity for Darkness

Posted by Brad Polley |

I like darkness. I don't know why. Light is actually much better, but for some reason I am drawn to it. Darkness is scary, everything bad in life is associated with darkness, but for some reason I can't get away from it. Jesus says he's the light, and as such, his followers are to live in the light as well. He has a good point, but at this point in my life, I still choose darkness more than light. I wonder why?

Why is it that so many of us "light-bearing" followers of Jesus shun the light and dwell in the darkness. Why is it so freakin' hard to live constantly in the light? Could it be that we are born with a propensity for darkness? Think about it. Do you have to teach a child how to be bad? Heck no, they manage that just fine by themselves. You do, however, have to teach them how to be good. If we born into light, we wouldn't have to be taught how to be good. I think it's Adam and Eve's fault. God laid a choice in front of them. Choose light, or choose darkness. They, of course, chose darkness and the rest is history. I think something cosmic happened at that point. I think the very fabric of God's creation changed. From that point on, we would still have the same choice to make, but it would be much harder to choose light.

So I think that the reason it is so hard to be good and to choose light and follow Jesus is because it goes against the very fiber of our beings. There is something in us (call it the Devil or whatever) that bends us toward darkness. Paul called it the "sinful nature." There is no way outside of God to be good. There is no way, outside of God's grace, to continually choose light. It has to be from him, because he is the light. May we trust in that light and follow it forever.