It means "writings." I write things.

I've been working on patience the last year or so, with some prodding from my wife. I would tell you that I'm doing much better, she would probably say something different than that, but oh well, she's not writing this post, I am. Anyway, I say that in order to say that I've been wanting a few cds, but I have waited patiently to receive them for Christmas, or to buy them with Christmas money. Here's some of my new music that I'm currently listening to...

Come to Where I'm From - Jospeh Arthur
I've only recently been introduced to this guy. He's amazing, and he looks like John Lennon. The highlight of the album is "In the Sun" which happens to be the first song. The rest of the album is solid as well.

Redemption's Son - Joseph Arthur
75 minutes of ridiculously good music. A little more poppy than Come to Where I'm From, but very good. The highlights are: "Nation of Slaves" and "You've been loved."

Into the Blue Again - The Album Leaf
I haven't had a chance to formally absorb this one yet, but what I've heard has been great. Some of it is instrumental, and some of it has vocals. Give this cd a listen and then realize the fact that this leader of this band is also in a death metal band. Pretty funny.

American V: A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash
Cash's final recording before his death. This is an infinitely sad, and yet incredibly beautiful album. Most of the songs deal with death, which sounds depressing, but it isn't when you listen to an old man's quavering voice speak of death as a welcome inevitability. If you want to know what it means for a person to die with grace, listen to this cd. The highlights: "God's Gonna Cut You Down" and "I Came to Believe."

Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens
I've waxed idiotic enough on this guy's music in past posts, so I won't go on more here. A very simple album. Beautiful acoustic guitar and banjo arrangements. This album may never leave my Ipod. Highlights: "Abraham," "Seven Swans," and "The Transfiguration."

Mule Variations - Tom Waits
I'm new to Tom Waits. I've always been turned off by his gravelly baritone, but I'm starting to really appreciate it's uniqueness. A friend convinced me to buy this album because you can't find his new album anywhere. I'm loving it and listening to it as I type this. Highlights: "Hold On" and "Chocolate Jesus."

That's what I'm listening these days. I'm tired of mainstream crap music, and I can't stand contemporary Christian music, so I'm finding alternatives to listen to. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year is great as well. Try not to drink so much that you can't remember your name.

9:36 AM

T.V. preachers in Cosby sweaters

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was flipping through my 10 channels this morning and came across the know, news channels all reporting the same thing, and a myriad of T.V. preachers blowing off their crap-cannons while sitting in opulent other words, just what Jesus intended.

But I digress, I came across a guy, who shall remain nameless, wearing a hideously Cosby-ish sweater talking about various passages of Scripture concerning the Christmas story. He was talking about Zechariah (father of John the Baptist). If you don't know the story, I'll give you the Reader's Digest version of it. An angel appeared to a fairly old man named Zechariah and told him his wife would give birth to a boy who would be the forerunner to the Messiah. Zechariah proceeds to tell the angel that he must be mistaken because he and his wife are old. The angel says, "Ummm, yeah, I'm Gabriel, I told you this was going to happen, so it's going to happen" (from the New Polley Version of the Bible). The angel then tells Zechariah that he won't be able to speak until some time after his son is born because he didn't believe him.

The preacher then launched into a diatribe about how awful it is to question God and have any doubts. I've written extensively on doubt on this blog, so I won't go into my opinion much in this post, but I feel like the preacher was wrong. Do I feel like the angel's punishment was a bit much, considering the Bible describes Zechariah and his wife as, "well advanced in years"? Yes I do. Do I think that the angel had a reason for it, yes I do. It seems to me that doubt and questions have to be a part of a vibrant and growing faith. I can't stand when I hear any preacher (TV or otherwise) tell me that it's wrong to doubt and question God. You can't tell me these guys have never doubted anything before. The Scriptures are full of people who doubted and questioned, and God always resonded honestly.

For instance, God tells Abraham that he's going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Abrham responds with this accusatory question of God, "Will not the judge of all the earth do right?" God responds with, "Sure. Find ten righteous people in the city and I won't do it."

I'm tired of self-righteous Christians acting like they never doubt anything that God ever said. I think they're lying and I think that they lie about it because they're incredibly insecure about their weak faith. They're afraid to let anyone know that they might be flawed. I made a promise to myself when I entered the ministry that I would be transparent with people, it's my hope that I have been and will continue to be.

10:31 AM

Fountain o' bile

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was feeding my son this morning, which has become a favorite routine of mine. He's so sweet in the morning. He lays back with his eyes closed and eats and plays with my beard at the same time. Anyway, I gave him four ounces, which is usually a good stopping point for a burp. I couldn't get one out of him, no matter how hard I pounded and pounded. I decided that I would just go ahead and keep feeding. That would be what experts call a gigantic mistake.

He took two more ounces and then started squirming. I sat him up and beat on his back for a minute. He burped and then showered half (this isn't a huge exaggeration) of the living room, and me, with everything in his stomach. As God as my witness, he was a head rotation away from being the star of the Exorcist. He's puking, and I'm looking for a crucufix and screaming at the top my lungs, "I NEED AN OLD PRIEST AND A YOUNG PRIEST! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU, THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!"

I swear, I think he yacked up part of his colon. His duodenum is lodged somewhere in our Christmas tree. It didn't phase him one bit. After my wife and I hosed down our living room, I looked at him and he gave me a look that hinted at, "Hey idiot, that's what you get for not burping me the first time." He smiled real big as I headed for the shower. What a punk, I love him, but he's a punk.

10:00 AM

Ghandi said it better than I can

Posted by Brad Polley |

I came across this the other day. It's called the "seven deadly social sins" as laid out by Ghandi. Here are the sevens sins:

Politics without principle
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

See if you can pick out how many of these America is guilty of. For extra credit, see how many the American Church is guilty of. For extra-extra credit, see how many I have broken. Ah crap.

10:38 AM

I can't understand this

Posted by Brad Polley |

So why is it that we, as Christians, feel like we have to offend everyone that isn't like us? We whine and complain about the world "going to hell in a handbasket" (never really understood that phrase, and I'm not sure it's necessarily true either), and then we decide to alienate and isolate everyone who doesn't subscribe to our ideology.

Let me give you an example. I was driving home the other day and I passed a new billboard on the way out of town that said this, "An educated person knows the Bible." My crap detector went crazy and I started thinking, "so what you're saying is, is that if you don't know the Bible, you're a complete dunce." I wanted to pull over, stop the car, climb up to the board and paint, "And a Christ-follower doesn't even think things like that, let alone say them."

I can't fathom this kind of a thought process. The Bible says, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it..." If this be true, and I believe it to be so, then it stands to reason that any knowledge we have (even knowledge outside of the Bible) comes from him and thus is good. Do I believe that the Bible holds knowledge for living? Absolutely I do. Do I think that it is the beginning and end of God's revelation of knowledge? No. What I love is that Christians that believe that the Bible alone is knowledge, are the same ones with extensive libraries full of books on life and living. What's the point of having these books if the Bible is the end all-be all of knowledge?

Hey brothers and sisters of mine, can we please stop alienating everyone that isn't like us? Can we please start loving people instead of seeking to offend them into the Kingdom? I wonder how many times Jesus weeps for his Bride, the Church? I wonder how many times he screams from the heavens, "That's not what I had in mind!"? May we seek to show love to all of his creation and his creatures. May we seek to live as Jesus lived.

9:18 AM

Miscellaneous information on the boy

Posted by Brad Polley |

I thought I would give an update on Ezra, because I have a few pictures and whatnot to show off.

He had a good thanksgiving weekend with his grandparents and all of my wife's 3000 cousins and aunts, and uncles, and former roommates, and anyone else that decided to show up and eat. On Friday we took him to a dairy. Doesn't sound all that exciting, but I'm a nerd and that kind of stuff fascinates me. The dairy was huge, beyond huge actually. If you ever drink Dean's or Kroger brand milk, you are drinking milk from this dairy. Anyway, it was cool and I got to carry Ezra in his Mini-me carrier. Here's a picture:

That picture actually reminds me of something I've seen before. Oh wait, here it is:
In other news, I laugh hysterically every time Ezra yawns. He gets these creases in between his eyes and his eyebrows go diagonal. I guess the best way to describe how he looks is with picture associations, so here goes. He looks like a mix of this:
and this:

Finally, he had his first go around with Rice cereal yesterday. To say that is was funny would be a gross understatement. This picture should pretty much sum up the experience.


Or at least he liked the 1/3 of a teaspoon that actually stayed in his mouth. This may be my favorite picture of him. Anyway, that about brings you up to date on the life of the boy. More updates in the coming days, weeks, months, years.

4:53 PM

What was Jesus really like?

Posted by Brad Polley |

Sounds like a strange question for a minister to ask, but I'd really like to know. We get a glimpse from the gospels as to what he was like (i.e. loving, compassionate, full of grace, accepting, etc.), but I want to know more. Did he have a sense of humor? I would think he would have to, because if he didn't, he would have killed his disciples after about a year with them. Was he nice? We generally like to think of Jesus as nice, but frankly, some of the stories of him in the gospels show a man who said scathing things against the Roman Empire and against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of Israel. Did he do stuff as a kid to earn the anger of his parents? Probably.

I've been thinking about all of this recently because I've been reading a book by Christopher Moore entitled, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It's a fictional retelling of Jesus' life as told by his friend Levi, who is called Biff. Firstly, if you're a stuffy Christian concerned with correct doctrine, don't read the book. You'll miss the humor in it (of which there is plenty), and just get mad. I've read the book twice now and I like it because it causes me to think about what Jesus was like, especially as a kid. My guess is that he was mischievous like any other kid. He probably pulled pranks on his friends, had a boyhood crush, etc. Thinking of Jesus in this way only makes me love him more. I love to contemplate the human side of Jesus; the side that struggled with temptation, got into trouble as a kid, had his heart broken by his friends, that kind of stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm impressed by the healer Jesus, the Jesus who could walk on water, the Jesus who could rise from the grave, but I'm more impressed with the Jesus who touched lepers because he loved them and ate in the homes of those who were hated by society. Think about Jesus as a human being, not just as divine, and I think you'll find a Jesus that you never knew.

1:01 PM

The unknown of doubt

Posted by Brad Polley |

I remember leaving Bible College over four years ago and thinking something to the effect of, "I'm not sure I believe much of anything that I was just taught." I was raised in an environment where it wasn't really encouraged to express doubt about God or anything in the Bible. This lead me to reject basically all of science and, in fact, saw science as a natural enemy of Christianity. Maybe I didn't reject all of science, just the parts that disagreed with my particular ideology. I wasn't just raised in an environment where it wasn't safe to question, I spent four years at Bible College where it wasn't safe to doubt and question either.

Basically, all of this led me to a point in my life where I looked out at the world in which I resided and realized that the faith I had carried with me for so long didn't really work once I started using my brain. I was lucky enough to have my brother and another really good friend dealing with the same sort of thing. Realizing that we would most certainly be branded as "liberals" (as if that's a bad thing or something), the three of set out to develop a faith that went beyond the fundamentalism we were all taught was true. I started realizing that the Bible, far from being an answer book (which is how it was presented to me my whole life), was really a book of questions. The more answers I sought, the fewer concrete answers I found, and the more questions I ended up with. Seeing as how my entire livelihood is based on teaching the Bible and being some sort of a pillar of strength and confidence, this naturally scared the crap out of me. Ministers aren't supposed to question, they aren't supposed to have doubts, they're supposed to have all of the answers.

Four and a half years later, I'm still searching, still doubting, still questioning. I feel like I'm playing a game of cat and mouse with my Creator, a game of divine hide and seek. The thing that scares me is the unknown of my whole situation. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to doubting and searching in the spiritual realm. I have no idea where my journey is going to lead me. Will it lead me to having to choose another career path? Will it lead me to dismantle everything I've ever known to be true? Will it lead me into the arms of God? I have no idea. Time will tell. There a few things I have found to be true in my searching. There is a being out there named Yahweh and he won't stop loving me no matter how hard I try to distance myself. This Yahweh is mysterious beyond anything I can comprehend. There was man named Jesus who walked the earth a couple of thousand years ago and he lived an amazing life of love and acceptance, which ultimately led to his enemies killing him. I believe that his resurrection brings me life everyday. Aside from these few truths, a lot is still up in the air for me.

10:45 AM

Poop, pee, and puke: thoughts from a new dad

Posted by Brad Polley |

So Ezra turns four months old this week (I like how I made that sound like a gigantic milestone), so I thought I would spew out some thoughts on the whole "being dad" thing. Actually, come to think of it, it is a big milestone seeing as how I somehow killed a Beta fish in six days while I was in college. From everyone I talked too, that's pretty hard to do, so naturally I was a little nervous about taking care of a human.

To start things off, I'm not sure how he's gaining any weight as much as he lets fly using various methods. There isn't a more helpless feeling than hearing him burp and looking around, only to find that there isn't a burp cloth in sight. God have mercy, this kid pukes more than a college binge drinker. He also loves to wait until he has a clean outfit on to unleash said vomit. He also pees more than a ninety year old in a nursing home, not to mention the fact that he poops more than his grandfather after thanksgiving dinner. Given all of these factors he should weigh somewhere in the range of 3-3.5 pounds, however, he's somewhere in the ballpark of 15 pounds.

Secondly, I love being a dad. Ezra has a smile that melts me, which is all well and good until he gets to the age where he figures out how to manipulate me with that smile. Anytime I've having a bad day, he seems to give a smile at just the right time to cheer me up. He's growing up too fast already. Part of me wishes he would stay this age forever, because he's the sweetest kid in the world, and I know he's going to go through the "terrible twos" (which, incidentally, aren't nearly as terrible as the "threes"), and he's going to grow into a teenager that tells me he hates me from time to time, and so on and so on.

Thirdly, I hate that my job takes me away from my family almost every night of the week. Seriously, in two weeks, we had one night at home. Last week, I was only home before 9:00 pm on one night, that's after going in at 9:00 am. I'm burning out and I hate it. I'm neglecting my family and I hate it. Sometimes I wish I had a job where I knew I was getting off at 5:00 and I could leave it and just be home for the night. Sounds nice. Someone who's new to our church asked me last week if what I did what a full-time occupation. I didn't know whether to laugh or punch him in the face. I laughed, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on parenthood and whatnot. As I learn new things, I'll lovingly pass them along to the masses.

Politicians are a bunch of babies. Seriously, if I see one more political commercial, I'm going to scream. Far from helping me choose who to vote for in this year's election, all of the negative campaigning has made me want to stay in bed an extra hour instead of going to the polls. I remember a time when political commercials were used to let you know what a candidate thought about certain issues. I haven't seen one commercial for this election that has dealt with what a candidate believes, they've all been about nothing more than smearing the name of their opponents. I'm tired of it. Republicans and Democrats are guilty of it. They're all jerks, they're all corrupt. I'm so glad that I've chosen to not align myself with any party, because I would be ashamed to be aligned with any of them. All of these politicians are making a mockery of our country. They're accomplishing nothing, all they're doing is calling each other names and bashing one another like they're part of a junior high clique. I deal with this crap enough in youth ministry, I don't need to deal with it every time I turn on the TV.

8:24 AM

Pensive Musings

Posted by Brad Polley |

Here's some stuff I'm thinking about right now.

1. Can I possibly get any fatter?
2. Is there a more annoying singer than James Blunt?
3. How do you get a group of self-centered teenagers to really follow Jesus?
4. How did Jesus get a group of self-centered teenagers to follow him?
5. As a pastor, will I ever be able to read the Bible for enjoyment, and not just to get a teaching out of it?
6. Why is it not acceptable to be neither a Republican or a Democrat and be a Christ-follower at the same time?
7. How can a person be pro-life and not even blink at the fact that our country is responsible for killing untold thousands of Iraqi civilians?
8. When it comes to eating stewed prunes, is three enough, or four too many?
9. How can Christians speak out against gay marriage under the guise of preserving the sanctity of marriage, when the divorce rate among Christians is over 50%. Is that what sanctified marriage looks like?
10. Does listening to Simon and Garfunkel make me a pansy? Actually I'll go ahead and answer that one...yes it does.

10:53 AM

Feel like another face in the crowd?

Posted by Brad Polley |

This search engine that I found today will either help you with that problem or make you slip further into a crippling depression, depending on the popularity of your name.

There are 6 other people in this country that have my name. And, for your information, there is only one person in the USA named Seymour Butts. I am the pinnacle of maturity.

8:25 AM

Blown Away

Posted by Brad Polley |

I always have people at church tell me that I'm such a good guitar player. I always respond with something to the effect of, "You obviously have never heard a good guitar player before." This isn't false humility, it's the truth. I'm a total hack. To prove it, I want you to watch this video of a guy named Trace Bundy.

Now you know what an amazing guitarist sounds like. Incidentally, you can find more videos on his website:

8:00 AM

Gnawing on the bone of youth ministry

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was thinking about something yesterday. That's an earth-shattering fact for anyone that knows me, but that isn't really relevant to this post. Being a youth minister, I think quite a bit about the nature of youth ministry, where it sucks, where it's going well, that sort of thing. I'm constantly trying to improve how I do youth ministry, I don't mean improve it by using flashy stuff, because I don't do that. No, I mean really improve it at its very core.

Anyway, I had a thought yesterday about how adults really don't want students to be a part of the Church. That's actually why I have a job at all. Parents don't want to do their job (biblically speaking) of raising their kids in the ways of God, so they ship them to me for an hour or two a week and then pat themselves on the back for sacrificing their time to bring their kids to church. It's nice and convenient, and they don't miss one down of the Colts game in the process. So what churches do is they hire a youth minister to develop programs that are both edgy (please pick up my sarcasm because I'm swimming in it right now) and x-treme (notice the "x" instead of "ex." I'm the coolest and most happening youth minister ever), so that parents can shirk their responsibility. This way, the adults don't have to mess with their kids and they can have big people church in peace without being bothered by the ones they decided to spawn.

This, however, is only part of the reason that I say that churches don't want students to be a part of the Church. I started thinking about all of this when a lady at my church told me that she had "a perfect project for the kids to be a part of." This "perfect project" was actually nothing more than a menial task that she just "didn't have the time to do." That triggered something in me. I started thinking that students in a church are nothing more than a scapegoat for people. Do you have something that will take up too much of your precious spare time? Call the youth minister and tell him that you have a good "service opportunity" for the youth group. So people are more than happy to have the students do menial tasks and call it "service," but ask if they can preach sometime or be a part of the leadership of the church and you will get something to the effect, "Oh, no they aren't old enough or mature enough for that." Don't get me wrong, my church does better than most I've seen at involving the youth, but I still get perturbed when they're constantly asked to do things for "service," when really someone was just too lazy to accomplish the task.

Don't think that the students don't understand what's going on, because I've had conversations with them before where I've asked them if they feel like they're a part of the church. They understand when people are just throwing them a bone. They understand that people only want them to be a part of the Church when they need something done. Kids aren't stupid. This kind of stuff has to stop. I think that this is a contributing factor as to why so many kids leave the faith when they go to college. They have no youth group anymore, and they were never connected to the Church, so why be a part of it now.

8:19 AM

Great quote

Posted by Brad Polley |

I have a quote on my office wall that I look at regularly. It's from Tony Campolo and I think it's fairly damning for the American Church today.

Jesus never says to the poor, "Come find the church," but he says to those of us in the church, "Go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned," Jesus in his disguises.

I think the Church today is delusional. I think we're still assuming that we live in a "Christian" country. Looking back throughout history, I'm not sure this was ever a Christian country, but if it ever was, it certainly isn't now. I think the Church still assumes that people are just going to walk through the doors in droves when they realize the mess they've made of their lives. That may have been true at some point in American history, but certainly not now. You aren't going to find a great many homeless and poor people just waltzing into church on Sunday morning. The problem is that the Church doesn't understand this. We build our multi-million dollar buildings, throw a coffee shop in them, design elaborate programs, and then wait for people to show up. This is so contrary to the Bible.

It's time for a movement to begin in this country (and maybe it has begun on a small scale) where Christians will realize that they've wasted millions on buildings that don't matter, programs that make no difference in the lives of anyone but themselves, and slick worship "experiences" that just give people a fake temporary spiritual high, and go out and find the poor in their communities to make a difference. And when I say "make a difference," I don't mean just throwing money at them. I mean investing time into people to improve their lives and expand the Kingdom of God. Teach the homeless how to find a job, and keep it. Teach the poor how to be better parents. Help addicts get over their addictions and rely on Jesus who will bring them real life. This takes time, it takes patience, and it takes love.

As a minister, I'm tired of being forced to design programs. I'm tired of being expected to build a youth program or build a church. It seems like the longer I'm a minister, the more I have to stop following Christ's example of ministry and the less people I actually help. I can't tell you how frustrating that is. I just want to help people and I'm not sure I can as long as I have the tag "minister."

11:57 AM

I love this picture

Posted by Brad Polley |

Great picture of my boy. I love the pensive stare, accented by the small bit of drool out of the corner of his mouth. He loves being in nothing but a diaper.

He almost has a bit of a "You talkin' ta me?" mafia look about him in this picture. Maybe I should start calling him "Drools," it could be his mafia name. Or maybe Ezra the Bull. Who knows. All I know is that if I find a dead union boss in my trunk, I'm going to be frightened.

1:44 PM

Christian nut-jobs

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm so sick of hearing about people like the lady in this article, I could just scream. Read this:

For starters, I could understand making an argument that the book was trying to "indoctrinate children in the ways of Wicca" if, in fact, J.K. Rowling was a Wiccan, but she's not. Why would someone try to indoctrinate millions of children into something that they don't practice themselves? The answer: they wouldn't. So bye-bye to that argument.

Next on the list, show me a teenager that claims to be a witch or wizard because they read Harry Potter. I have yet to find one. If your child becomes a witch because of reading a piece of children's fiction, then you suck as a parent and your child had a number of issues to begin with.

Most of the people who claim that Harry Potter books are evil have never read them, and if they did read them, they read them with a pre-judgement of what the books were going to contain. Anyone who has read these books for sheer entertainment (like myself) will see that the books are, essentially, the story of good seeking to triumph over evil. That sounds familiar...where have I read something like before? HHmmmmmm...oh yeah, I read it in the Bible.

Lastly, the people who shield their kids from Harry Potter are generally hypocrites because they will let their kids read Lord of the Rings (written by a Christian) and the Chronicles of Narnia (also written by a Christian). Those books also have witches, wizards, and incredibly dark and evil people in them as well. What makes those books any different than Harry Potter? If you're going to throw out Harry Potter, then you have to throw out Frodo and Aslan as well.

The worst part of all of this is that people who don't follow Jesus see this and think that this is how all Christians are. I can't wait to read these stories to my son, if that makes me evil, then...well, I guess I'm evil.

8:14 AM

My boy Hercules

Posted by Brad Polley |

So I realized yesterday that my son, who is almost 12 weeks old, is tougher than I am. We took him yesterday morning to get his first of what will be something like 8,000 rounds of immunizations. And by "immunizations" I mean, "extreme needle torture in which they inject your baby with a number of viruses." As we drove to the clinic, I had flashbacks from when I was a small child and my mom and a nurse had to literally chase me around the doctor's office to pin me down before I got shots. Seeing as how Ezra can't move enough to be chased, I didn't foresee this being much of a problem, but I was praying to our Lord in heaven that the experience would go better than that.

He was smiling all morning, obviously not realizing that he was about to be shot up with a few ounces of deadly disease. We got him into the room and the nurse was very nice. She had me hold him facing out, which was nice because he couldn't give me the, "I thought you loved me, why are you doing this to me?" look. She jammed the first of three needles into his thigh (at this point, it took everything in me to not jam the needle into the forehead of the nurse and scream, "How do you like it!!!???") and he let out a scream that I can only describe as something akin to the noise made by the Raptors in Jurassic Park. The nurse (mercifully) was very fast with all three needles. Then the funniest thing happened. Ezra stopped crying after about five seconds. It was at this point that my proud dad, uber-male instinct kicked in and I realized that my son is, in fact, Herculaen by nature. Whereas I still wince and almost vomit at the thought of a needle, my twelve-week old son cryed for about five seconds, then smiled as we put him back in his car-seat. It was a knowing smile; a smile that said, "Hey dad, you're a pansy and in a couple of years, I'll be kicking the crap out of you and your giant love handles." Ah, I couldn't be more proud.

9:27 AM

The sweetest boy alive

Posted by Brad Polley |

I haven't posted a picture of the boy on here in quite awhile, so I thought I would indulge you.

Indisputably the cutest kid ever, except for the excessive vomitting and amazing amounts of poop. But I suppose I can handle all of that, seeing as how he's one of the most laid back babies I've ever been around.

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?

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.

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.

11:30 AM

Shalom and why we don't have it

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm preaching this Sunday at church. I've been preparing this message in my mind for awhile and the more I delve into the subject, the more I realize it is endless. I'll be talking about brokenness and the flip side, wholeness. I was chewing on this subject a little bit today and I came to realize that everything we do is motivated by a sense of brokenness and a search to be whole. Every addiction (addiction to anything, not just the biggies like drugs and stuff) is based on being broken. We may not spell it out this way, but I think we all long for something bigger, something of substance. Some may call it happiness, joy, or whatever. If you're like me it is spoken of this way: Please tell me that there is more to life than this. In other words, we all long to be whole, so we run after all sorts of crap in order to make us whole. The problem is that it is all temporary smoke and mirrors that covers up all of our junk for a short time, there's never any long-term resolution. The band Waterdeep puts it this way in their song "If You Want to Get Free":

I'm so often deterred from my actual intent
By distractions in a cellophane wrap
And the cruel voice that taunts me when I open them up
To find just one more box full of crap

All marketing is based on this brokenness. Think about it, ads are designed to convince us that we need a certain product and we can't live without it. In other words, your life will complete when you purchase ___________. Don't believe me? Look at the cell phone industry. I can't tell you how many people I have heard say, "I don't know what I did before I had my cell phone" or "I just couldn't live without my cell phone." It's all bullcrap. You can live without one, you've just bought the lie that you can't.

Jesus had a lot to say about this kind of thing. As I was studying, I came across this passage where he says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world." The word "peace" in Hebrew is "shalom" and doesn't mean just the absence of conflict. The word "shalom" is loaded with meaning and it speaks of a wholeness that comes from God. When you say "shalom" to someone (I doubt many of us do, know...just in case you ever do) you are saying to them, "May the wholeness of God rest upon you." Given this meaning, Jesus' words here take on a whole lot of meaning. True shalom (wholeness, completeness) is only found in following the teachings of Jesus. Everything else is an illusion that will lead to more brokenness. This world is broken and fractured, this means that as we live in this world, we will find brokenness as well. Jesus can put the pieces back together, in fact that what he really wants to do. He's overcome the world, he won. By clinging to him, we win also, and can find wholeness in the midst of a broken and shattered world.

11:45 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm tired of trying to be super-pastor to everyone. I'm tired of being told that good Christians are Republicans. I'm tired of ignoring the poor, but I don't even know where to start helping. I'm tired of my nice house. I'm tired of all my crap that I own. I'm tired of the Church acting as if the Kingdom of God is something futuristic for when we die, and not something ever-present. I'm tired of talking a good game and walking a crappy one.

I'm tired of church. Church isn't supposed to be this difficult. Why do we need meetings to discuss outreach opportunities, why can't we just go out and be with people? Why do we need committees lined up to direct the Church, why can't we just follow Jesus in our community? Why do we strive for more and more people in church, when Jesus makes it clear that very few will find the narrow way? I'm tired of talking about budgets, as if God lives by a budget. I'm tired of talking about buildings as if that is what makes a church a church. I'm tired of future planning. I'm tired of worrying about upsetting people, when I know that the man I follow ticked a lot of people off. I'm tired of what we pass as "worship." I'm tired of Christians, including myself, who talk about devotion to God and yet exhibit something completely different in their lives.

I'm tired, not mad, just tired.

11:45 AM

Just one more thing...

Posted by Brad Polley |

...that makes me wish I wasn't a Christian. Actually, I take that back, there's nothing Christian about this. There's so much wrong with this news report, I'm not sure where to start.

I think I missed Jesus' teaching about his followers making sure that they are a major market force in the nation's economy. Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us.

11:16 AM

Attaining the resurrection

Posted by Brad Polley |

"...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

Those are Paul's words in Philippians. I've been thinking about it this morning. Apparently Paul is saying is that the resurrection is something that we have to attain. My questions are then, what does this mean? and how do we do it?

Any thoughts?

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.

9:30 AM

News from the womb

Posted by Brad Polley |

I thought I would give you an update from Fetusville. We had another doctor's visit yesterday and everything seems to be going well to this point. The boy is growing at a normal rate (except for the groin region, where I am sure he is an absolute albatross).

The best part of our visit yesterday was the fact that my wife had to drink this bottle of orange liquid for her glucose test. The best way to describe this stuff is orange-tinted sugar. She had to drink it in the span of five minutes or less in order for the test to be effective. So we broke out our old bong and she tipped it back with no problem. I'm sure the boy enjoyed the temporary sugar rush as his fragile system was bombarded with the equivilent of five Snicker's bars and a gallon of really strong Kool-Aid. If he comes out with three heads and a gimpy arm, we'll know the source of the mutation.

We have about 11 to 12 weeks left (or thirty five years, which is what it seems like) until our bundle of joy arrives and our lives as we know it end. We're looking forward to it all, except for the inevitable "Hey mom and dad, I'm crying because I pooped all up my back, and somehow in my hair" moments of parenting. Oh well, you take the gutter balls along with strikes I guess.

7:44 AM

I just don't get it...

Posted by Brad Polley |

So I received something in the mail today for a youth event here in our community. It's being put on by a couple of churches and their youth groups. They're having a speaker come in and some local Christian band is doing a concert. Anyway, the flyer had a statement that sent my crap detector into overdrive. It said, "Come to something that is out of the world" (editor's note: italics used for emphasis).

Never mind the lame attempt at a quippy play on words, the message is what bothers me. Since when are we as Christians supposed to retreat from the world? The message of this flyer is clear; this event is for Christians, non-believers need not show up. I am so incredibly tired of this type of crap, I could just scream. Let me show you a passage from the Apostle Paul that applies pretty well here.

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world."

What part of this passage do we not understand as Christians? Oh wait, the entire second part, that's it. Paul is telling us that we cannot retreat from the world. In fact, his tone seems to suggest he would have thought it ridiculous to do so. My problem with this event is the same problem I have with Christian radio stations, Christian book stores, and Christian television. It all sends a message to non-believers that it belongs to us and no one else.

I don't understand how we can talk so much about the Great Commission, and yet we can suck so badly at fulfilling it. Jesus tells us to "Go and make disciples of all nations..." The interesting thing is that the Greek for "go" is actually better translated, "as you are going." In other words Jesus is saying, "Hey, while you're out there in the world, make disciples." We can't do that if we're constantly removing ourselves from the world in order to huddle with one another in our "sanctuaries." It's no wonder why the American Church is completely ineffective.

8:22 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

So lent ended on Sunday. I gave up sweets for lent and it was hard, but I survived. I figured that if Jesus could be nailed to a cross, I could give up sweets for 50 days.

If I'm not mistaken, the point of lent is to sacrifice something that controls you in order to focus on God. Also, I think a by-product of lent is to try and work on an area of life that needs work. So I decided that my love handles are large enough and if they get any bigger, I'm going to look like a Christmas tree with small top, large middle, and small lower end. During lent I made a mental list of all the sweets I was going to eat when lent ended. First on my list was a Cadbury Egg. Other items included brownie with ice cream, chocolate milk, and anything emanating from the entire flippin' Willy Wonka factory.

On Sunday, my pastor handed me a Cadbury Egg at church. I proceeded to wolf it down like Augustus Gloop on a chocolate bender. I enjoyed the frothy goodness of sugar and fat until it mixed with the acid in my stomach. Keep in mind, the only other thing in my stomach was communion, which doesn't amount to a whole lot from a volume standpoint. At that point my stomach was saying something to the effect of, "I hate you, you stupid (insert long string of expletives)." I was pretty sure I was going to barf somewhere mid-sermon. At that point, I realized that my body was sending a clear warning that I was probably going to have pace myself on the whole sweets thing. At this point, I've done pretty well in that area, but it's taking everything in me to not shove my entire carmel-filled chocolate bunny into my mouth at once. I just figure my pants are tight enough and I'm not buying a bigger size to accomadate my girth.

7:59 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

My hope drifts away as I see the last wisp of smoke disappear. You said you were the light, yet all I see is darkness. You promised the world, yet all I see is a closed tomb. The candle of my hopes and dreams has been extinguished and I'm left with nothing but a burned wick. Where did it go wrong, O Light of the World? How is it that the fire from the house of David can lose its fuel? Who has the power to extinguish God's own flame? You must have been a farce. To be the light emanating from God's own light would mean that your flame is eternal. Obviously your fire was of a different sort. A much more carnal sort. You seemed so convincing, not like the others from the past who made the same claims as you. You seemed to speak with authority, but now I know that you were just a better public speaker, more persuasive in your speech than the rest. You used smoke and mirrors and spoke in enigmatic parables. We thought you were brilliant, now we know that you were nothing more than a slight of hand artist with good people skills.

So what's left? What do I do now? I guess I'll go hide with the rest until all of this blows over. Sometimes when the light goes out and darkness prevails, the best thing to do is hide.

8:05 AM

Life, Growth, Death

Posted by Brad Polley |

The more I study the Bible, the more I realize that how no words are wasted in it. In the creation story, we read of God entering into a chaotic atmosphere (the Hebrew tohu vavohu) and bringing order to it. By bringing order to the chaos, God set up a great many systems and patterns to the world. Patterns such as, erosion, adaptation, growth, life, and death. It's the last three that I want to deal chiefly with.

If you look throughout all of creation, there is a continuity to all of it. No creature, including humans, is exempt from the natural order of things. It's almost planting time in Indiana, which means that farmers will soon plant millions of seeds in the ground an inch deep and then let nature take its course. These seeds will be "born," grow, and then die. I'm having a son, my first child, in a few months. That child will be born, grow, and then, God willing at an old age, die. The same goes for me, my wife, my family, and everyone else on the planet. We can't escape this.

This all sounds so morbid and negative, but it isnt, it's just the way God created us and everything around us. In the words of Donald Miller, "we are all just getting born, just growing up, just dying off." There's something beautiful to think about how connected to nature we really are. God made everything beautiful, but that beauty has to fade and disappear in order to give way to new beauty. I'll watch the soybeans grow in a few months, become full and green and beautiful, and then wither and die. But in a year or so, the beauty will return.

Jesus wasn't exempt from this either. He was born, lived the most beautiful life in history, then died. However, he completed the cycle by returning to beauty for eternity when he walked out of his grave. I love the fact that everything in the universe is so connected, including God being connected to it all as well.