It means "writings." I write things.

7:57 AM

Where's the enthusiasm?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was reading in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance last night and I came across something interesting. The author was writing about enthusiasm and it's relation to doing quality work on a machine (i.e. the machine called "us"). He brought up an interesting point. The Greek word in which we derive our word "enthusiasm is "enthousiasmos." The interesting thing about this word is that it literally means, "full of theos" or God. So our word enthusiasm, which Webster defines as "strong excitement of feeling" was originally a word who's meaning denoted a strong fervor for God.

Think of the implications of this. The American Church seems to be at polar extremes on the enthusiasm scale. American Christians seem to be either religious nut-jobs who take the fervor thing to ridiculous extremes, thus looking like a bunch of crazies, or they are totally apathetic and go through the motions each Sunday. Isn't there a balance somewhere. The community I live in is totally apathetic towards God. Actually, let me qualify that statement a bit and say that they are excited about their churches, but not necessarily God. Try and engage in a conversation with your average Christian sometime, and what you'll find is that they will spout out a lot of facts that they know about God, but they exhibit little enthusiasm for really letting him change anything about them. However, if you mention the Indianapolis Colts game (and by the way, they're horribly overrated), and they'll show great animation as they speak of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and the like. I can't lie, I'm guilty of this from time to time as well. What's the source of all of this?

Could it be that we're not all that full of God? Going to church every Sunday doesn't mean that we will automatically recognize God's presence in us. Reading your Bible every day doesn't assure this either. Most Christians don't want to hear this, but to be full of God is to live like Jesus. It's to strive each day to live as he lived, not just learn what he taught. We've really screwed that up over the years. Our churches are full of people who know a ton about Jesus and about God, yet it's made no real difference in them. Thus they lack enthusiasm for God. What this yields is a crop of Jesus-followers that lack quality in their lives that Jesus came to model and show the world was attainable to all in God. It's time for the Church to be full of God. After all, it wasn't Peyton Manning who said, "I came that may have life, and have it to the full."

9:12 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

I spent the entire day yesterday at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. I was spending the day there with the family of one of my high schoolers who was having her fourth surgery on a problem that the doctors can't seem to fix. I came to the conclusion that children's hospitals are probably the saddest places on earth. If they aren't first on the list, they're up towards the top with nursing homes and refugee camps. The hospital administrators have done everything they can to make it a cheery and welcoming environment, but there's really no way of avoiding the sadness of small children with cancer, and various other diseases that other hospitals can't treat. This is the first time I've been to Riley since becoming a parent myself, and I guess it just hit me harder this time.

I found myself watching families waiting for their children to get out of surgery. I watched them as they tried to hide their nervousness and anxiety, and failed miserably at it. I watched them pace back and forth, waiting to hear anything from a nurse or doctor on the condition of their child. I watched them play cards with glassed over and disinterested looks on their faces in the waiting area. They watched the cards, yet their minds were in the operating room with their children. I wonder at their circumstances; how they arrived there, when they arrived there, when and if they'll leave with their children. I think of my own beautiful son and I think about how much I would be freaking out at that moment were the circumstances of these parents to become my circumstances. I found myself praying for these families as I observed them. I couldn't help but feel their pain.

I can't get one little girl out of my mind. I don't know her name, so I'll just call her Riley. Her mother came in to the waiting area to eat her lunch. Riley couldn't have been more than 9 months old and she was being pulled in a Radio Flyer wagon. Behind the wagon was a series of machines that the girl was hooked up to. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She had beautiful, bright eyes and she soaked up the world around her as she waited for her mother to finish eating. She looked at me and smiled one of the most beautiful smiles I've seen. As she smiled, I can't explain this fully, but I saw a glimpse of God in it. I came to an understanding of some stuff that moment. I realized that God holds these little ones close to himself. They are precious to him. And although we can never fully understand the circumstances they find themselves in, Riley has taught me in one beautiful smile that God is present in the sufferings of his little children...and in ours.

9:37 AM

What I'm reading

Posted by Brad Polley |

Ok, my last post told what I'm currently listening to (not that anyone really cares), this post will tell you what I'm currently reading or have finished recently.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
I love the fact that when I mention this book to other Christians they immediately start sweating and twitching and think I'm going to move to Tibet. That reaction alone makes it worth reading. If you know nothing of this book, it's a story of a man and his son taking a motorcycle journey through the West. He speaks of their adventures, interspersing his philosophy of how fixing motorcycles has a great deal to do with fixing society. That's an incredibly ignorant and simple summation of the book, but I don't feel like boring you with a gigantic description of it. Anyway, I'm about halfway through it and it's fantastic.

The Divine Conspiracy - Dallas Willard
If you've never read any Dallas Willard, stop reading this post, go to Amazon and buy all of his books. Have you done it yet? Now? Waiting...waiting...waiting. Ok, good. Now that you have all of his books coming shortly, you'll soon enjoy them as much as me. Anyway, this book is all about how the Church has totally missed the boat as far as Jesus' message. We've taught that Jesus used the phrase, "Kingdom of God" as an otherworldy place we go when we die. However, Jesus was speaking of an earthly Kingdom where God's people live in such a way that brings about real life as it was intended to be. I can't wait to finish this book.

The Fingerprints of God - Robert Farrar Capon
The author uses a series of images to describe how God has worked through history. One of his main points is that the Gospel writers and many of the New Testament writers opted to focus on who Jesus was (and is), and not just what he did. You'll have to read the book to see how he sews all of this up, I recommend it.

9:47 AM

Stuff I'm listening to

Posted by Brad Polley |

Here's a list of what I'm listening to currently.

Bill Monroe "Anthology" - A collection of traditional bluegrass from a Mandolin master.

Bob Dylan "Blonde on Blonde" - Yes, I know his vocals tend to be a bit whiny, but who cares, his music is amazing.

Bob Dylan "Live - Rolling Thunder Revue 1975" - I recommend this to anyone wanting to start listening to Bob Dylan

Robert Johnson "King of the Delta Blues" - One of the original blues masters of the early 20th century. Legend has it, he sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play guitar. I'm beginning to think that's the only thing that will make me a respectable guitar player and not a total hack.

Sufjan (pronounced "soofyan") Stevens "Greetings From Michigan" and "Illinois" - Anyone who can play 20-some instruments deserves respect and a listen.

Grateful Dead "Workingman's Dead" - Brilliant from start to finish.

Bob Marley and the Wailers "Exodus" - Anytime I'm having a bad day, I put in Marley and let the three little birds tell me "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing is gonna be alright."

Derek Webb "Mockingbird" - He asks a lot of good questions about the current state of the American Church, great album. One line that I love, "My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or's to a King and a Kingdom."

That's about it. From time to time, I'm going to start giving lists like this. I'll probably do some stuff about what I'm currently reading as well.

11:52 AM

Why I follow Jesus

Posted by Brad Polley |

People have asked me why I follow Jesus. So here's why I follow Jesus:

- I love the fact that his first miracle was turning 150 gallons of water into 150 gallons of vintage wine. What a party.
- He touched the untouchables.
- He sat down and had dinner with people he didn't agree with.
- He said things like, "Love your enemies," and then went out and loved his enemies.
- When he looked at people he didn't see a prostitute, adulterer, tax collector, Pharisee, Roman soldier, Samaritan; he saw people that he loved.
- When he looks at us today, he doesn't see prostitutes, drug-dealers, meth addicts, alcoholics, rebellious children, homosexuals, abortionists; he sees people that he loves.
- When all of his disciples abandoned him, he returned and simply said to them, "Come have breakfast."
- His heart breaks when our heart breaks.
- He's patient with me when I mess up.
- When all hope in someone is lost, he shows up and breathes hope into them.
- He looked at the religious establishment and condemned it for helping no one.
- He still looks at the religious establishment and expects it to help someone.
- He wasn't afraid to say what was right even though they killed him for it.
- He set up the Church to be his hands and feet on earth and to take care of one another.

Those are just a few of the reasons. I have more...many more.

12:02 PM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Sunday night, I had the opportunity to have a two hour drive all to myself. I sort of enjoy these times, because I can think about stuff while I'm alone. There's wisdom in solitude. There's also wisdom in watching the road instead of blindly staring out of the windshield in pensive thought, but that's for another post I suppose.

Anyway, I was traveling around dusk through a fairly flat part of Indiana. Actually, the word "fairly" probably doesn't belong there at all, it was totally flat. I was able to watch the sunset out of my side window as I drove down the road. It was beautiful with blue, pink, orange, and purple hues, depending on what minute you looked at it. There was a small bank of clouds near the area where the sun was setting. At the beginning of sunset, this bank of clouds was illuminated in a fiery orange glow. As the sun sank lower and lower toward the horizon, these clouds transformed from orange, to pink, to purple, to blue, and finally seemed to disappear into the blackness of night. I watched this happen over the span of about a half an hour and I got to thinking that it seemed an awful lot like the cycle of life.

I remember that sunset because of its beauty. I watched it change and was, in some way, connected with it while it lasted. I want to be beautiful (I'm in no way speaking of physical beauty, because physical beauty is shallow and man-made). I want to be remembered as beautiful. It sounds morbid, but we're all headed toward the twilight of our lives. I don't dwell on this fact, but it is inescapeable. For some the sunset comes sooner than it does for others, but make no mistake, darkness will come at some point for all of us. The question is what will our sunset look like? Will it be spectaular and beautiful, one that people will remember, or will it be marked by dull gray clouds and darkness?

There's a proverb in the Bible that speaks to this, it says, "The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot." This is essentially a question of beauty. Think of Mother Teresa. She was a beautiful woman who will always be remembered by the world as just that. What legacy will we leave? One of beauty and light, or one of darkness? I want to be beautiful. When people attend my funeral one of these days, I want them to be able to say honestly that I was a good man. I want them to say that I was a good husband and a good father. I want them to say that they appreciated the fact that I loved everyone regardless of who they were. I'm not sure what they would say were my sunset completed today, but my goal is to work toward a legacy of beauty. What legacy will you leave?