It means "writings." I write things.

7:46 AM

The selfish gospel

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was studying Philippians this morning and came across Paul speaking of preaching the gospel. He says that some people preach the gospel out of envy and rivalry, and some preach it out of good will. He then says that as long as the gospel is being preached, he rejoices. I hate this passage, it seems wrong. I've been wrestling with it all morning.

Here's my problem with it: if we preach the gospel out of a sense of rivalry with others, is that realy the gospel at all? Richard Foster says, "We cannot preach the good news and be bad news...what we are offering the world is life as it was intended to be." I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. The gospel is about God saying to us, "I have a better way for you to live, my shalom is available to everyone, including you." If we're offering life as it was intended to be, how can we preach that selfishly? If we preach selfishly, we're not offering people anything different than the rest of the world. We're saying that the world is about us. We're saying that we'll look out for number one and everyone else can take a hike. How is that different than the corporate world? This all seems inconsistent. Any thoughts?

11:59 AM

The earth is the Lord's...

Posted by Brad Polley |

Modern Christianity tells us that there is a secular world and a sacred, or spiritual, world; as if God created two separate entities. This is why we have "Christian" bookstores (which are terrible), "Christian" radio stations (which suck), and "Christian" television stations (no words to accurately describe how awful these are). We, as Christian, have sectioned ourselves off from the rest of society in order to not be polluted by the unending Hedonism of the outside world. The problem with this is that the Bible states very clearly that "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Psalm 24:1). This means that God owns it all.

The Bible never makes a distinction between sacred and secular. In fact, Paul tells us that "All things are yours" (1 Corinthians 3:21). This means that everything is ours for the taking. If it's true, it's God's. This means that if I find truth in a Pink Floyd song, it's mine, God co-opts it for his Kingdom. This happens a couple of times in Scripture. Paul tells the men in Athens that the temple to "an unknown God" is actually speaking of Yahweh. He then says in the book of Titus, "as your poets have said." Paul would have had to have known the writings of the "pagan" poets in order to use their writings for God's glory.

I'm currently reading "New Seeds of Contemplation" by Thomas Merton (which, incidently, rocks my face off). Merton says this about everything God has created being holy, "There is no evil in anything created by God, nor can anything of his become an obstacle to our union with him." I think that's pretty self-explanatory. He also says this:

"When we are one with God's love, we own all things in him. They are ours to offer him in Christ his Son. For all things belong to the sons of of God and we are Christ's and Christ is God's. Resting in his glory above all pleasure and pain, joy or sorrow, and every other good or evil, we love in all things his will rather than the things themselves, and that is the way we make creation a sacrifice in praise to God."

What all of this means is that stuff, in and of itself, cannot be evil. It is made evil by our own devices. But the beauty is that we can take anything in God's created realm and make it holy and beautiful unto God. It's time for the Church to stop retreating from culture, but to dive into it and redeem it.

8:10 AM

The Masai and us

Posted by Brad Polley |

In a book called Christianity Rediscovered, the author Vincent Donovan talks about experiences he had with the Masai tribe in Africa. He was talking to one of the village elders one day and they started talking about lions. This is how the author recounts the story.

The Masai greatly admire the hunting skills of the lion. So much so, that they use the imagery of a lion hunting its prey as a metaphor for their search for God. The lion picks up the scent of its prey and then commits its total energy to hunt it down and catch it. All its power and agility is used in this pursuit. Once it has caught it, it wraps itself around it and envelops it. This is the way the lion hunts, and this is the way the Masai had traditionally thought they must search for God. The Masai leader then said, "You told us of the High God," he continued, "how we must search for him, even leave our land and our people to find him. But we have not done this. We have not left our land. We have not searched for him. He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God."

Could it be that this is the reason why the Bible speaks often of God and Jesus as a lion? Is it possible that God pursues us long before we pursue him? The story of the Lost Son lends some credibility to this. When the son returns, the father sees him a long way off and pursues him. He doesn't wait for him to come back and apologize, he runs after him, no questions asked. It seems that the Church would do well to understand this point. That God is seeking after his people and that we need to be letting people know this. We always wait for people to come in our doors and assume that they are the ones seeking God. What would happen if the Church started proclaming the good news that God is seeking his people and is after them as a lion is searching for its prey? What would happen if we proclaimed that there's a searching father who desperately longs to envelop his children in love? What would happen if we got off our butts and pursued people in love as God pursues them, instead of waiting for them to show up at church?

7:09 PM

Funny and Sad

Posted by Brad Polley |

This video is from the show King of the Hill. The clip is about church shopping and it's both hilarious and incredibly sad because of the truth it conveys. Enjoy.

8:54 AM

This gives me chills

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm currently reading a book by Steve Chalke called, "The Lost Message of Jesus." I was reading this morning and I came across this statement as he was writing about Jesus' parables of the lost son, lost sheep, and lost coin. If you know nothing of those stories, it speaks of people who have lost something of value to them, and will stop at nothing to find it again, feigning everything else in pursuit of their loss. Chalke says this of the parable of the lost son:

"It is often said that there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that Jesus, by telling this story of the son who breaks his father's heart, is declaring that there is a people-shaped hole in the heart of God."

I'll let that sink in and say no more.

7:54 AM

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Posted by Brad Polley |

...oft gang agley. Oh, I'm sorry, you're not Irish, I meant to say, "often go awry." I'm not a mouse, I'm a man, but I share a bit of comraderie with my fellow mouse in that my best laid plans more than often go awry (Incidentally, the plans of my mouse friend in my garage definitely went awry when he decided to consume an entire box of D-con in an hour). What are my plans you ask (you're probably not asking that, you're more likely asking, "Why am I wasting my time reading this ridiculous article?")?

As my wife's tummy has grown in her pregnancy, I have grown around the midsection considerably. I call it "sympathy fat" but I have yet to see it recognized by a reputable medical journal. My love handles are more like love leviathans. Every morning when I get dressed, I put on my pants and they wheeze like a fat asthmatic kid. In between wheezes, they say things like, "Hey fatty, need a little help here" and "Have another ho-ho, Chubbs." My plans are to lose two inches in my waste before next summer when I will travel to Haiti to do some mission work. I've made resolutions like this in the past and, like my mouse friend, my plans have gone terribly awry. Of course, my plans haven't resulted in me being glued to the garage floor by my own dried blood like him, but, you know...

Anyway, I'll be in Haiti in June, so the temperature will be somewhere near 150 degrees with 300% humidity. That being the case, I'm going to need to shed a few pounds and be in decent shape in order to avoid collapsing from my fatness and out-of-shapeness. At the very least the Haitians can just call me "White Devil" and not "Chubby White Devil." Chances are pretty good, however, that I will be the same size, or bigger, by next June. Ah, the best laid plans...

7:54 AM

Adventures in Breastfeeding

Posted by Brad Polley |

Last night, my pregnant wife and I attended a 2.5 hour breastfeeding class. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to it, but actually learned quite a bit and was glad I attended. Here are a few observations from the evening.

1. There may not be anything more awkward than watching a video full of boobs with your wife. We watched a forty minute video on breastfeeding technique and whatnot. I saw more boob than Hugh Hefner on a Viagra bender. There was nothing sexual about the video, but it didn't lessen the awkwardness nonetheless. You're watching the video, trying to glean some information from it while giving your wife the, "I swear it doesn't mean anything to me honey" look. The video could not end quick enough.

2. The "lactation consultant" used the word "teat" last night. I was probably the only one in the room convulsing in repressed laughter, but I don't care, I embrace my childishness. Not to mention the fact that the word "teat" is one of the funniest words in the English vernacular.

3. My job as a husband and father is to be a sort of breastfeeding cheerleader for my wife. I will be purchasing a skirt and pompoms and a copy of Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey" before the kid is here. I will also be developing a new cheer of "Go kid, go kid, latch, latch, latch."

All in all, I'm now fully prepared for breastfeeding. At least I'm ready to cheer my wife on. We have about two and half months left...or this side of forever until the kid is born. I'm not sure I'm ready to be a dad, but I'm excited about it nonetheless.