It means "writings." I write things.

9:02 AM

Weakness - Part 3

Posted by Brad Polley |

The thing about Jesus is that he was so different from everyone else around him. Not "side-show circus freak" different, but different in the way he looked at people and responded to the culture around him. I've already showed you how Jesus gave the verbal middle finger to Rome by saying that the way to be blessed was not by force, but by being weak. That was just one instance. There were a million other situations where the words of Jesus flew directly in the face of popular thought. It all had to do with the fact that the way to win victories in this world were through love, humility, weakness, and acceptance of people.

It seems like the church doesn't do any of those things well anymore. We suck at love, we suck at humility, we strive for power, not weakness, and we only accept people that are like us. If you're reading this, and you don't consider yourself a follower of Jesus, I want to apologize on behalf of my brothers and sisters who say they believe in Jesus and yet look nothing like him. I'm sorry if you know me and I have acted this way as well. I'm sorry, I really mean it. Don't let the Church get in the way of you following Jesus, he was a beautiful man who lived a beautiful life. The way of life he proposed is the best way to live. It's a life of peace, a life of love, a life worth living.

So what is the solution? Well, it would help if we would take Jesus seriously. Jesus is easy and fun until he starts asking something out of us. When he gets uncomfortable, we start giving excuses as to why we can't do what he's asked us. I'm going to Haiti next year with a group from my church. We're going to be helping people by passing out shoes to children who have none, building houses, and that sort of thing. I've had so many people say to me, "I just couldn't go, I don't think I could do it." Bullcrap. The truth is that you don't want to, not that you can't. Going to Haiti isn't exactly within my comfort zone, I hate flying, but to be honest, I'm tired of living in my comfort zone. I don't find the words "comfort zone" in the Bible. But I digress.

It's time for the Church to take Jesus seriously. It's time for the Church to stop striving for power, marketability, and prestige, and start striving to be humble, loving, caring, and weak (by the our culture's standards). I really believe that if the Church recognized just how weak it is, God's strength would blow us away. Children would stop sdying from starvation, AIDS would be a thing of the past and young girls in Thailand would stop being sold into sexual slavery. Let's allow God to be God, and stop trying to produce his strength on our own.

12:43 PM

Weakness - Part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

Sorry, it's been awhile since I posted. You can sop up your tears of sorrow over that fact, because here goes...

I mentioned in the last post how right wing fundamentalist Christians are striving for power to try and bring about some glorious theocracy in this country. I also mentioned that I feel like this is contrary to how we're supposed to be. The Bible makes it very clear that when we are weak, we are actually strong. Jesus said in Matthew 5, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." I looked up the word "meek" in good ole' Webster and found three definitions:

1. enduring injury with patience and without resentment
2. deficient in spirit and courage
3. not violent or strong

In other words, meek=weak. Jesus calls those are weak in the eyes of the world "blessed." We can come to one of two conclusions, either Jesus was a complete nut-bar or he was really on to something. Now we have to look at the last part of Jesus' words to get the full meaning of what he is implying. Jesus tells the people the meek will inherit the earth. The word "earth" is actually better translated "land." This was a very political statement against the Roman Empire who controlled Judah at the time of Jesus. Roman culture was aggressive and bent on world domination. Put the pieces together. Jesus was telling the people that the way to inherit the land back was to be weak. Obviously, Jesus wouldn't get a job on any military strategy boards, but maybe he should. What would happen in this country if Christians stopped trying to gain political power, and we just sat back and loved people the way Jesus asked us to? We may lose some "rights," churches may have to start paying taxes, but really who cares. God is stronger than any policy any country can throw at his people. The book of Daniel says that the Kingdom of God has the power to crush all other kingdoms. However, this is only accomplished through love, humility, and service.

Let's turn to Paul, he seemed to know a little bit about God. In his first letter to the Church in Corinth, he says this,

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."

It doesn't seem to get more direct than that. In God's Kingdom, the have-nots beat the haves. The nerds beat the jocks, the uglies beat the supermodels. Please tell me that you see how different this is than the rest of the world we live in.

I've gone too long in this, so I'm going to add a part 3 in a couple of days.

8:37 AM

Weakness - Part 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

Judges is quickly becoming a fascinating book of the Bible for me. I was studying the story of Gideon this morning and found it interesting. Gideon starts out with 22,000 men to fight against the Midianites. God then tells him that he is going to reduce that number so that the Israelites can't claim that they won the battle by their own might. God then reduces the number to 10,000 and eventually to 300. The Midianite army on the other hand was said to have men and camels beyond number. The amazing thing is that, according to Jewish Historian Josephus, the three hundred were the most cowardly among the Israelites. The text says that these three hundred drank from the river lapping the water from their hands like dogs. This was, apparently, a sign of cowardice in ancient times. So Gideon is sent up against an innumerable army with 300 pansies and God admonishes him to be without fear. Rrrriiiiigggghhhhhttttt.

This is one of those stories where God seems to me to be a little bit crazy (I'm sure Gideon thought the same thing). To top it all off, Gideon's "army" is comprised of men that aren't even real soldiers. How do I know this? Gideon doesn't even give them real weapons. He equips them with trumpets, a jar, and a torch. Does this seem a bit crazy to anyone else? Long story short, they surround Midian's huge army camp in the middle of the night armed with torches, jars, and trumpets. The Midianites wet themselves (presumably) and run like scared little girls. Gideon's army of wussies wins without weapons.

I think there is a lot to see in this story. I also think that there is a lot that the Church doesn't get about this story. In a time where Christians in this country feel like it is our main goal to gain political clout and power, it seems that this story should be one that we take a serious look at. The idea of weakness being the ultimate in strength is all throughout the Bible (which I will show in part 2). Why do Christians strive for power (politics, corporate world, church growth, etc.) when the very Bible we claim to follow suggests that we're only strong when we are at our weakest? Our faith is not defined by laws that are passed. If someone wants to take the Ten Commandments out of a court-room, who cares, it doesn't mean that God is somehow weakened by it. If the government says that abortion is constiutionally legal, who cares, go out and love someone who gets pregnant outside of marriage and show them a better way. This is going to sound terrible, but if your faith is defined by laws that are passed for or against Christians, then your faith is worthless. Our strength is found in God and God alone, and nothing can take that away, nothing.

1:44 PM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Seriously, this kind of crap has to stop. Take a look at this:

I'm not even sure how to respond. I love the look on the kids' faces. The only thing to complete the look would be a tattoo on their foreheads that says, "Please beat the crap out of me!" I'm just glad the Evil One now has no hold on our children. Dear Lord...

10:08 AM

Anger and Mercy

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've always had trouble with the description of God in the Old Testament. I can't lie, I'm bothered by the wars, the killings, and the apparent harshness of some of the Torah. I'm currently studying Judges and I came across a passage in chapter 3 that made me think a bit. Most of the stories of each individual judge start out like this, "and Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord..." It will then repeat that God, in his anger, handed Israel over to a certain nation. Israel would then be enslaved for a number of years and, in turn, cry out to God for help. Here's what I find amazing: he always listened and always sent a judge to get them out of their troubles.

The Bible says that God is slow to anger. I believe this to be true. I believe it because I am not just a burnt spot on the ground somewhere. However, we can't avoid the fact that, at times, God gets angry. He gets angry at injustice. He gets angry at disobedience. The reason he gets angry at disobedience is because he knows that following the Torah (and Jesus' summation of the Torah, love God, love people) is the best way to live. It's the way that leads to life. He gets angry at times because he desires so much more for our lives. His anger is fueled by disappointment. In the same way, there will be times when Ezra gets older that I will be angry with him for disobeying me. I won't be angry because of my own pride (i.e. "How dare he break my rules!"), but because I want so much more for him. I want him to live a good life that is marked with love. When he doesn't do this, I'll probably get angry with him.

The coolest part of the story in Judges is that God doesn't hold a grudge. When his people cry out for help, he listens, and he responds with love. If you look throughout the Old Testament, he does this with Israel hundreds of times. It's like it's part of a huge cycle, disobedience, anger and enslavement, mercy and grace, repeat the cycle. I'm amazed at God. I'm amazed at his infinite patience and love. I'm amazed that I can never be so far away from God that he won't allow me to return. I can never be so far away from him that he won't love me. I'm starting to be ok with a God who gets angry, I just have to remember that his mercy balances the scales.

8:23 AM

My son...future Governor?

Posted by Brad Polley |

All Hail Governor Forehead!

Posted above is a picture of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. You may be wondering (probably not) why I'm posting a picture of Senor Noggin. I only post this picture to tell you that my son now has the exact same hairline. My wife and I can't quite explain it. I've always seen babies lose hair on the backs of their head for obvious reasons (i.e. rolling around on the back of their head and whatnot), but I've never seen a baby's hairline recede like a 40 year-old man's hairline (or...mine). The hair on the back of his head seems to be getting heavier, but he's losing the hair on the front. It's hilarious because when he gets mad, he wrinkles his face up like some crotchity old man in a nursing home who's chicken and rice wasn't pureed enough for his liking. Now that he has the hairline to match, his brief tantrums seem quite charming and adorable. Who knows what the future holds for my son and his freakish hairline, perhaps a Governorship?

9:58 AM

How can 9 pounds of human poop this much?

Posted by Brad Polley |

Seriously. If I crapped as much as my kid, I wouldn't have any bones left. We're going through diapers like the Irish go through Guinness. Also, I didn't know that the best way to get a child to poop is to put a brand new diaper on them. Last night I was changing him before bed and no more than 30 seconds after I put his diaper on him, I saw the classic look: furrowed brow, pensive look, squirmy legs. Sure enough, soon following was the inevitable gastro-intestinal explosion. I didn't have to check the diaper to know that he just dropped a deuce in his Huggies, the look of relief on his face was enough to know what happened.

So this morning before I left for work, he was in his swing and sleeping. I leaned down to tell him I loved him. No sooner did I get back up that I heard the same unmistakeable sound. I'm not sure if it's a good sign that everytime his dad looks at him, talks to him, thinks about him, he loads his pants. Maybe he's trying to tell me something.