It means "writings." I write things.

7:54 AM

Part 3

Posted by Brad Polley |

I had a great experience in Ezra being born...I got to cut the umbilical cord. In the weeks...months...years...eternity leading up to Ezra being born, I was torn as to whether I was going to cut the cord or not. However, when the moment came, I decided to go ahead and do it. If you want to recreate this experience (and I know that so many of you are just dying to), the best thing I can tell you to do is to find the sharpest pair of scissors in your house, and cut through a bratwurst. I guess it's kind of like that, except with less blood and no screaming child attached to the other end...anyway, I digress (can you digress from nothing?...perhaps Nietzsche would have something to say about that)

I came to realize something as I cut the cord. Ezra took his first step of growth. He was taking a step toward independence from his parents. While he was in the womb, he relied on my wife for everything. That cord was his entire life force. He received everything from that cord. All of his red blood cells came through that, all of his nourishment, everything. He wasn't able to do anything on his own. Now that he's out of that cursed ovarian bastille, he has to work for his food, his liver must produce it's own red blood cells. His organs all have to function on their own. See what I mean by him taking a step toward being independent from us? He still has a long way to go, but he is taking steps toward that. Soon enough he will be eating cereals, then baby food, all the while needing his mom's milk less and less. The he'll start using a spoon on his own and won't need us to feed him anymore. Then the next thing we know, he'll be married and put us in a nursing home (too big of a leap?).

My point with all of this is that I think there's a greater truth in all of this. When we first begin seeking God, we're attached by a cord. Maybe I should say that when we first come to the consciousness that we're seeking after God, because I've mentioned before that I think we're all seeking for him although we may not necessarily put it in those words. When Jesus becomes the man we follow, we're nothing more than infants. We're in desperate need to mature, or we'll perish, in the same way that Ezra must mature or he won't be around long (I think I just threw up in my mouth typing that). Paul (a writer in the Bible) puts it this way, "But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it." The problem with the Church today is that we have so many Christians that are content to be on milk their entire lives. They just sit there and let everything happen to them. They are content to never mature. The crazy thing is that no one cares about this fact. Can you imagine seeing a twenty year old sucking on a bottle full of formula? We would think they were crazy and we would question them about it. But the Church is full of twenty year olds sucking on bottles (figuratively speaking of course).

What is the by-product of all of this? A Church that says that it's the poor people's fault that they're poor and they can help themselves. A Church that claims that you have to be a Republican to be a "good Christian." A Church that thinks it's ok to have multi-million dollar buildings. A Church that believes that violence can bring about peace. A Church that resorts to the very legalism that Jesus hated (i.e. don't drink that, don't say that, wear this, don't wear that, etc.).

I don't know about you, but I think it's time for some solid food.

7:55 AM

Part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

The second thing I realized when I looked at my son is that I never want anything to harm him. I also realize however, that this is totally unrealistic. I don't want Ezra to hurt. I don't want him to ever have to deal with a broken heart, broken bones, cuts, scrapes, grief, etc. I love him too much to want to see that. The problem is that he lives in this world. This means that he's going to break a bone, he's going to get cuts and scrapes, he's going to have to deal with sorrow and pain.

I realized something about God in all of this. I've always wondered (like most, if not all, of us have) why a supposedly good God allows us to hurt and grieve. It clicked with me when I saw my son that it isn't that God wants us to suffer, but that it is inevitably part of living in this messed up place. Watch the news for three seconds and you realize that this world has issues. In fact Jesus says something along these lines, "In this world you will have trouble..." In other words, crap happens. It happens because this world is a mess, and we can't help but be caught up in the mess.

So this leads to another question: why does a good God not insulate us from the mess? Think about it; if I don't want Ezra to hurt and don't ever want him to find trouble, I can insulate him from the world. I can lock him in the house and not let him leave. But what kind of a person would that make him. If I give him everything he wants and form a cocoon around him to protect him from junk, I'll end up with a male Paris Hilton (with a great deal less money of course), an entitled, awful human being. This makes sense to me when it comes to God. He doesn't keep us from suffering because suffering can form us into better human beings (or bitter human beings if we let it). We end up loving God, not because of all the stuff he gives us or because he acts as a barrier from trouble, but because he's God. We love him for the sake of love, not out of a sense of duty.

One last thing with this. The end of that verse from Jesus says this, "...but take heart, I have overcome the world." In other words, if we cling to him, we win. When Ezra gets a cut or scrape, I'll be there to clean up the blood, dry his tears, and wrap him in my arms while assuring him that it will be alright. When we are wounded, God seems to have just the salve we need to let us know that everything will be alright.

**On a much lighter note, I had a dream the other night that I was one of the X-men. Apparently my only real power was the ability to wake up in a puddle of saliva with a loss of feeling in one of my arms. Not exactly extraordinary.

8:30 AM

Parenting and God - part 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

Just a quick update on the boy and mommy. He's great, she's great. He's eating like a hog. When he isn't nursing on mommy, he's fruitlessly trying to nurse on me.

So it says in Genesis that people were created in the image of God. This means that there are elements of God in all of us, we just need to look hard enough at our surroundings to find it. In watching Ezra being born, I started to think about certain aspects of God in a whole new way. The next couple of posts will deal with some of my thoughts.

I was one of those dads that kept vehemently insisting that I wasn't going to watch my kid being born. I was just going to stare at mommy's face and be a support. After all, I saw the birthing video in eighth grade, and it scarred me for life. But alas, I watched. I happened to glance down and I saw a cone-shaped head with peach-fuzz on it. When he was pushed all the way out, they placed him on Mandy's chest (cord and all) and wrapped him in a blanket. It was in that moment that I had this thought, "So that's what God thinks about us."

When I saw him laying there screaming from trauma, I realized that God's love is infinitely larger than anything we can imagine. Higher than the heights, deeper than the seas, that sort of overly poetic stuff. I think I always knew that God loved us unconditionally, but I didn't understand it (or at least partially understand it) until last Monday. To see something that you created be born was an experience like no other. Nothing that kid could ever do could make me love him any less than I do right now. He's going to say things to me to hurt me, he's going to wrong me in a lot of ways throughout his life, but I'm never going to stop loving him.

God's love is like that. We hurt him, we go against what he knows is good for us, and yet he always loves us. Even if we don't love him back, even when we curse his name, he responds with love and acceptance. Contrary to popular belief, God isn't waiting for us to screw up so that he can drop us into hell. He's genty coaxing into a better way of life. A life of joy, a life of peace, a life of good decisions. When we deviate from that plan, he still loves us. He always has, he always will. That's how God feels about you.

10:03 AM

Dear Cousin Chelsea...I'm here

Posted by Brad Polley |

Well, it finally happened. The boy was finally born...all 8 pounds, 11 ounces of him. To say that he's the cutest baby ever born is, of course, an understatement. Don't believe me, check it out for yourself:

See? I told you so. That's a great picture, but not as good as this one:

I think he likes his car seat. He's just masking his real emotions.

Anyway, he's the cutest. I'll be blogging fairly frequently in the next few days. This whole experience has caused me to think a lot about what God thinks of us. I'll share my thoughts.

9:07 AM

Gestating like an elephant

Posted by Brad Polley |

Seriously, has it been like two years that my wife has been pregnant? Does she have the gestational cycle of an elephant? If you can't tell, we are still sans-baby and still heavily fetus in this whole birthing process. And if you can't tell, my patience is wearing a bit thin.

I'm past the point of being nervous about being a dad and I'm to the point where I'm wondering if I will, in fact, be a dad sometime before Armageddon (not the Ben Affleck "Armageddon", the biblical one).

Speaking of Ben Affleck, I can't stand him. Let's be honest, he's played one good role in his entire life and that was as O'Banion on Dazed and Confused. Speaking of Dazed and Confused...

11:44 AM

Holy crap, I'm going to be a dad!

Posted by Brad Polley |

My wife is due a week from today. We went to the doctor this morning and we are scheduled to go in next Monday to induce her labor if she hasn't gone into labor on her own before that. In the Doc's words, however, he said, "I don't think you're going to make it until Monday." Of course, he say this while he's "examining" her. I'm going to write to Webster's Dictionary and make an urgent appeal to change the definition of the word "disturbing" to mean this: (1)watching a male gynocologist examine your wife's nether-regions while hearing him say words like "ripe" and "cervix" in the same sentence.

All awkwardness aside, the fact that I am going to be a father in a week or less seems a bit odd. In the eternity that my wife has been pregnant (and an eternity it has been), I've known that I'm going to be a dad, but when you see the light at the end of the tunnel (which apparently my son is seeing right now as well) reality sets in. Butts to be wiped, bottles to be made, puke to clean up...that sort of thing. The cool thing is that despite my apprehension, I couldn't be more excited. On the way home from the doctor today, I was daydreaming about what it will be like to hold him, kiss him, play ball with him when he gets older, watch him as he goes out on his first date, gets his heart broken for the first time, etc. Everything I saw on the way home seemed to be more beautiful. I started noticing things with new eyes for some reason. Maybe there's God in all of that. When you create a human being out of a sense of love, you can't help but love that creation with everything you have. This causes you to find beauty in places where you never saw it. It causes you to see beauty in everything and everyone, or at least it should. Maybe this is how God sees everything. His love causes him to find beauty in even the most mundane and ordinary things. All of the mundane and ordinary us.

7:05 AM

Why don't we get it?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I have a quote from Mother Teresa on my wall that says this, "We are not called to be successful but to be faithful."

What would this country be like if churches understood this? Would there be less haggling over budgets? Would there be fewer megachurches and fewer people going to bed hungry at night? Would there be smaller auditoriums and more people with homes? Would the bickering stop over music styles and songs? Would people stop looking out for number one and start looking out for everyone else?

I'm so tired of the Church (notice the capital "C") striving for success. It's all ego-driven no matter how much the Church talks about wanting to reach people. The fact is that preachers (for the most part) want a successful church because it feels good. It makes them feel like they are a success in this world. It puts them on a plane with the successful business man living the American dream. It gives them something to brag about at their Bible College homecoming (Don't believe me? Go to a Bible College homecoming sometime and see how long it takes for a conversation between two ministers to turn to this, "Where are you now?" "Oh, I see, how many people do you have?").

The problem is that God defines success differently than we do. His measure of success is in how faithful his people are, not how many there are. I think that when God looks at a church, he's not looking for masses of people, he's looking for people that are going to be true followers. Just look at Jesus, by the world's standards, he was highly unsuccessful. He really only had 12 close followers, one of which sold him out for money. I doubt Jesus would be asked to speak at too many ministry conventions, and he probably wouldn't be approached by too many publishing companies either. But Jesus was faithful ("Not my will, but yours be done."). What would our world look like if we understood this? Who knows. We can either just sit and wonder, or we can start a revolution and find out for ourselves.