It means "writings." I write things.

10:38 AM

Let me clarify

Posted by Brad Polley |

Seeing as how my latest post on advertising set of a firestorm, I feel like I need to clarify what I am trying to do with my posts on advertising.

I agree 100% that the problem isn't capitalism. Capitalism has its problems (as do all economic systems), but I don't think that we should up and go to over to socialism either. I believe that the problem is materialism and a "gotta have it now" culture that we live in. There are always deeper problems than what appear on the surface. One of the most brilliant aspects of Jesus' teachings is that he was always focusing on the deeper reasons behind things, and not just the surface stuff ("You've heard it said...but I tell you...").

My issue is that hardly anyone in our culture looks beneath the surface of anything anymore. Most people can't see past their noses because it would take too much time to do so. So what happens is that people fall for all sorts of crap, not realizing that their problem is much deeper than being gullible. My hope is that by calling out the tricks behind some of these advertising campaigns, people will wake up and see that they're being duped, thus stopping them from continuing down the path of materialism and greed. I understand and agree wholeheartedly that the problems are deeper than the advertising, but my hope is that by calling it out, people might just look a bit beyond the end of their noses.

9:05 AM

Token holiday greeting

Posted by Brad Polley |

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa. Peace to you and yours. May you gain many pounds, attain many things, and enjoy your day(s) off of work.

10:02 AM

The ole' best-of list

Posted by Brad Polley |

It's that time of year when numerous bloggers wrongly assume that anyone cares about their opinions, and they start putting out their best-of lists for the masses to ignore. And, seeing as how my post yesterday was apparently the equivalent of punching the baby Jesus in the face, I'll write something today a little more on the lighter side. Here's my list of the best albums I purchased this year. Keep in mind, most of these albums aren't technically new, but they were new to me. Also, these aren't in any sort of order.

1. Cease to Begin - Band of Horses
The lead singer is a mix of Perry Farrell and the dude from the Shins. The songs are quite beautiful as they speak of a longing for home and trying to call a new place "home."

2. Mutations - Beck
Mostly acoustic album by Beck. Great driving cd.

3. Hvarf/Heim - Sigur Ros (pronounced see-er rose)
This really might be my favorite band on the planet. They're Icelandic and they sing in Icelandic. There is not another band out there with the ability to make my breathing slow down (in a good way). This is a two-cd set of live stuff, the second album of which is acoustic.

4. The Shepherd's Dog - Iron and Wine
Iron and Wine's newest album. Absolutely great.

5. The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
I'm new to this band. I will own more of their stuff. You would swear upon first listen that they just walked off the streets of Dublin. However, they're from Portland.

6. Violence In the Snowy Fields - Dolorean
Just a nice, mellow album.

7. The Swell Season - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Both from Dublin. Both awesome. If there is one album on this list that you absolutely should buy, it's this one.

8. American Recordings V: A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash
Who would've thought that an album who's songs all deal with death could be so beautiful. This was recorded shortly after his wife's death and shortly before his own. His shaky voice will make you want to cry.

9. Live At Massey Hall 1971 - Neil Young
Just Neil with his guitar and piano. In my opinion, Neil at his best.

10. Icky Thump - The White Stripes
They go back to their roots, but with more maturity. And yes, Meg is terrible drummer, but they wouldn't be this good if she was amazing. Jack's vocals and guitar are the main focus, so back off of poor Meg. I'm constantly amazed at the amount of sound they put out with just two people.

12. Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
These guys are also in the running for my favorite band. This album has less "experimental" qualities to it, it's more straightforward that some of their other stuff. It's just a great album to put in while driving to relax.

Honorable mention:
( ) - Sigur Ros
Takk - Sigur Ros
Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Ros (are you starting to see how much I like this band?)
Kicking Television: Live in Chicago - Wilco
Chutes Too Narrow - The Shins
In the Reins - Iron and Wine with Calexico

9:51 AM

Adventures in advertising...part...ummmm...whatever

Posted by Brad Polley |

If you've read my blog at all, you know how I feel about advertising. Basically advertising sets out to lie or, at the very least, bend the truth in order to convince you that a turd is actually a diamond, thus causing you to spend money they you may or may not have in order to purchase said turd. I saw a credit card commercial the other day for a new American Express card that promised to put a fraction of the money you spend with the card into a savings account.

On the surface, this card looks like a great idea. Wow, I get to save money when I spend money. Keep in mind that credit card companies are the ultimate in evil (pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies running a close second) and their whole goal is to make a buck. So on the surface, it looks like American Express is losing money by offering this deal. They come out looking like great saviors because they are willing to sacrifice profit in order to help the good customer save money. Newsflash: It's a gigantic steaming pile of lies packaged in a tight coil and handed to you through your tv screen.

The idea behind it is that you use the card more than you normally would because hey, you're putting money in a savings account when you use, thue increasing their profits more and more. Every time you use a credit card, they collect a fee from the store where you use it. When you use the card more, their profits increase. The thing about it is that you continue to spend money that you probably don't have, with the illusion that you're actually saving money. The problem is that, in the long run, you're losing tons of money because you're spending more than you are saving. The small fraction of money that they deposit into an account will never offset the thousands of dollars that you spend to accrue that savings. The result? You sink deeper and deeper into debt, and you continue to line the collective pockets of American Express investors. Rest assured, someone is getting rich when you use one of these cards, but it sure isn't you.

10:56 AM

Holiday pictures of the boy

Posted by Brad Polley |

I thought that I would increase your feelings of mirth and good will in this lovely holiday season by giving you a few more installments in what I like to call the, "Cutest kid in the universe" series. We put our Christmas tree up the other night and this is a picture of him "helping" (and by "helping," I mean shoving ornaments into the tree and trying to pull the lights off)

And here's just some pictures of him being adorable. I know I say this all the time, but seriously, how can you deny his cuteness?

9:46 AM

"Now I'll be famous."

Posted by Brad Polley |

Having worked a 15 hour day yesterday, I pretty much just came home at 10:00 pm and went to sleep. I hadn't watched any news or anything and hadn't heard anything. This morning, I got to my office and started reading about a 19 year old kid who decided it would be a good idea to go into a mall and kill 9 people, and then himself. This is one of those stories that will continue to unfold, and people who knew him will start coming out of the woodwork to talk about different aspects of his life.

To this point, the only details they have are that he was just fired from his job at McDonald's, just lost his girlfriend, and had a criminal history of misdemeanors including drug use and alcohol possession. It is also known that he was kicked out of his parent's house and that he was living with a family that decided to take him in; a kind of foster situation.

He left a note which had these words printed, "Now I'll be famous." This seems to be a pattern I've seen in almost every "teen shooter" situation; a need to be recognized and acknowledged.

So where does this desire come from? I believe we all have an inate desire to belong to something larger than ourselves, and to be recognized as human. I think it's wired into us. I can almost guarantee that details will start coming out about his high school experience. He will probably be described by former classmates as "introverted," "weird," "quiet," and as being on the fringes. He was probably bullied, or at the very least marginalized.

In his mind (and maybe just in general) he was denied his basic human right, to be seen as human and worthy of love. His girlfriend broke up with him, he lost his job, his family kicked him out. I'm not saying that he had nothing to do with those things that happened, but look at that series of rejection. Every rejection leaves a wound.

Here's my question and a challenge to anyone reading this who claims to be part of the Church. Where was the Church in all of this? We sang an old song at my church this past Sunday called, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love." One of the lines in that song states this, "We will guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride." In other words, we'll assure that every person is treated as a human being (and yes, I realize that the Church, by and large, sucks at this). Maybe all he needed was for someone to guard his dignity and save his pride. Who knows, maybe someone tried and he rejected it, I don't know. My guess, however, is that no one tried. It seems to me that no who feels connected and fully human is capable of doing something like this.

I'm filled with nothing but sadness for this kid. I feel sadness because I understand his need to be accepted and loved. I understand his need to be recognized as a person. I've been blessed enough to be surrounded by people who fulfill that need in me, he obviously wasn't. It's time we in the Church start finding these kids, and adults too, and surrounding them with love and acceptance, even in the midst of their messy lives.

9:39 AM

May the glorious democracy reign supreme

Posted by Brad Polley |

One thing I've heard from Christians since the beginning of the Iraq war is how wonderful it is that Christians in Iraq are now free to worship. Of course, they ignore the fact that the Iraqi Constitution names Islam as the official religion of the country (so much for freedom of religion). Anyway, what most people don't realize is that Iraq has had a thriving Christian community for almost 2,000 years, and that the community even flourished underground during Saddam's reign. In a 60 minutes interview this week, a church bishop who has been in Iraq for 9 years and he commented on the current situation for Christians in Iraq. Here's a bit of the interview:

White is among the last Christian ministers here, a savior with crosses to bear. Larger than life, stricken with MS, and by his own reckoning, driven a little bit mad.He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution.

"You were here during Saddam’s reign. And now after. Which was better? Which was worse?" Pelley asked.

"The situation now is clearly worse” than under Saddam, White replied."There’s no comparison between Iraq now and then," he told Pelley. "Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They’ve never known it like now."

"Wait a minute, Christians have been here for 2,000 years," Pelley remarked.

"Yes," White said."

And it’s now the worst it has ever been," Pelley replied.

Christians can't ignore this. They can't continue to support a war that is leading to more and more death and persecution for our brothers and sisters. If you feel like you have to support the war, fine, but don't pretend like these kinds of problems don't exist. We have a President who is supposedly a devout Christian, and he has said nothing about this. It's time to pray that God will protect our Iraqi brothers and sisters, and it's time to pray for an end to this never-ending quagmire.

1:03 PM

It's a...well you can probably guess by the picture

Posted by Brad Polley |

We went to the doctor yesterday to find out what sort of species my wife is gestating, and this picture is the first thing we see (literally within 2 seconds of the scanner thing hitting my wife's abdomen).
When we showed this picture to one of the nurses, her words were, "Oh my." Yes indeed. It is a proud moment in the life of a father when your fetal son can evoke a statement like that from a nurse, simply from the size of his genitalia. It is my hope that my tripod son will excel in some kind of sport, but I guess if he doesn't, he always has a nice future in porn to fall back on. I also like the fact that he's totally mooning the camera. He is his father's son. Display your Bobbydangler for the world to see son, you've earned the right...oh, and don't flaunt it in front of your brother, he can't help the hand he was dealt. Incidentally, he's already been asked out to four proms. Here's another picture:

It's like he knows something. Why is he smiling? One can only speculate. Given the above picture, I think I have my guess. Also, he's weighing in already as bigger than usual. I also have my theories as to why that is...and you can probably guess my theory. People have asked us if we've thought of any names yet. Yes we have and here's what we've landed on:

World, we re pleased to announce to you Leviathan Hefner Polley.

2:37 PM

The Bible as story

Posted by Brad Polley |

Hear me out on this before you make any rash judgments about me. I'm not necessarily endorsing anything here, I'm just spit-balling on something I've been thinking about. The Bible, at its best, is enigmatic and difficult to read. I also find large parts of it to be boring. Sorry, I know pastors aren't supposed to admit this, but I'm just being honest. Every pastor feels this way, they just won't admit it (ever read the book of Numbers with an "edge of your seat" type of excitement? I didn't think so.).

I've been trying to figure out why I love to read novels, but find it, at times, difficult to read the Bible. It hit me today...when I read the Bible, I'm wondering the whole time whether or not what I'm reading is factually true. While doing this, I first have to unpackage history, then try to decide through evidence if what I'm reading actually happened, then I try to find its meaning. It's completely exhausting, and by the time I get to the second step, my mind is mush anyway. When I read novels, I'm not worried about whether the events in the book coincide with history, I'm just sucked into the story.

I read Les Miserables recently. When I read it, I wasn't spending time worrying about whether Jean Valjean (the main character, for those who haven't read it) was real, I was just captivated by the beauty of his story. I found great truth in that book, and I wasn't even looking for it.

Let me give you an example from the Bible, Noah's ark. There's constant debate about whether or not a global flood really happened, and frankly, there's evidence to support both arguments. When I read that story, the whole time I'm thinking, "I wonder if this really happened? What if it did? What if it didn't?" In doing this, I miss the whole point of the story. God was fed up with the wickedness and lack of love of humanity (quite disturbing actually), and he decided to wipe out all of humanity. He looked down and saw a good old man named Noah, and he decided that Noah, along with his family, would save mankind by building a huge boat in the middle of dry land. Humanity needed a savior, God gave them Noah. All of this is easy to miss if we're constantly having to spend time proving the historical truth of everything.

A note to all conservatives everywhere: the Bible doesn't have to be 100% historically accurate to be true. I believe that no truer document has ever been penned in the history of the world. It's assessment of humans is right on. It's look at the human condition is true. Our need of some sort of salvation is true. The way it speaks of Jesus' life is true and right. The Bible is true even if Goliath wasn't really 10 feet tall. The story of it is what matters. The truth is found in the meaning of the stories, not the historical accuracy of the stories.

Is the Bible historically accurate? A lot of it has been proven to be so. But we also have to admit that some of it has not been proven as accurate, and we have to be okay with that, because there's deeper meaning to be found in the narrative. It's still true. It's still beautiful. And it's still the greatest story ever told.

11:08 AM

Just like Tommy Lee...

Posted by Brad Polley |

...but without all of the STDs.

2:14 PM

Commies and Jesus

Posted by Brad Polley |
12:14 PM

Pillars of salt

Posted by Brad Polley |

"But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

For those who don't know, those preceding words come from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God tells what appears to be the only good family in either town to get out of town on the double, because he's going to destroy it. His messenger tells them not to look back. Lot and his family leave, and then it happens, Lot's wife looks back and becomes a salt lick.

Seems a bit excessive doesn't it? Seems a little harsh for a woman to become like stone simply for looking back as the life she knew was destroyed in a hellish explosion. Is it possible that there's something else going on here? A bigger truth? A bit of metaphor?

I sat in my office last week as a high school girl fought back tears as she described a good friendship that had dissolved. She's been pouring a ton of time into trying to salvage the friendship, and the other person just doesn't seem all that interested. She said, "I just wish it was like it used to be." Ah, the cry of every human being. We've all felt that way. We've all longed for "the good ole' days." We've all spent time trying to re-create the past. This girl had become a pillar of salt. Her life is at a stand still because she was doing nothing but looking back. She's incapable of living now, because she's trying to live then.

You don't really think that the 50 year old guy who buys the Porsche on a whim is really just buying a Porsche because he wants one, do you? We call it a mid-life crisis, but really what it boils down to is he feels like his life is over, so he tricks himself into believing that he can regain "the glory days" by purchasing a shiny sports car. Instead of living now, he's living then. Pillar of salt.

What about the 50 year old woman who dresses like a teenager? You don't really think she dresses that way because she likes the way the clothes look, do you? She's convinced that her best days re in the past, and that she can't look 50 and be beautiful. So what happens? She injects her face with botulism, shops at Abercrombie, gets a boob-job, and wears insane amounts of make-up, simply so she can live in the past. She's immobilized by her age. She's trying to stop time, so that she can re-live her glory days as a cheerleader. She lives then, so that she can avoid the sagging and wrinkles of now. Pillar of salt.

I'm kind of tired of nostalgia. I think it immobilizes us. I call it the "Uncle Rico syndrome." In Napolean Dynamite, Uncle Rico is constantly living in his past. He even says at one point, "Don't you just wish you could go back; do it all over again?" We can't live in two places at once. We either live life now, or we live it then, we can't do both.

Your old life is over. What happened in the past (good and bad) is gone. Shake the crust of salt off of yourself, turn around, and start moving ahead. There's too much life to be had now to focus on the life you had then.

12:17 PM

The most irrelevant man in America

Posted by Brad Polley |

This award goes to The Rev. Pat "Mr. Potato Head" Robertson. Calling this guy "reverend" is like calling Britney Spears a musician. I watched a video of an interview he did on Fox News. It was all I could do to get through the six minute segment, all the while choking back my freshly eaten Tendercrisp sandwich from Burger King.

This guy's a total lunatic. He was being questioned about his endorsement of Rudi Giuliani, who is at least as much of a flip-flopper as John Kerry was and is. Rudi has been married like 57 times, which religious conservatives like Robertson can't stand. His kids hate him and refuse to endorse his campaign (so much for the biblical principle of a leader having control of his household). His track-record as mayor of New York was absolutely pro-choice (I don't think I need to tell you where the religious right stands on that one). He's also, in the past, been in favor of gay marriage (see above parenthetical statement). All of a sudden, Giuliani is pro-life and against gay marriage, vowing to appoint Supreme Court justices who think that way as well.

So the interviewer asked Robertson how he can endorse someone with a track record like Giuliani's, when you supposedly espouse things like pro-life viewpoints. Robertson, instead of answering the question said this, "It really doesn't matter what your belief is if the courts nullify what you do." In other words, his entire "faith" is based on what laws the Supreme Court passes. The answer isn't to teach people to live like Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do it's work in people's lives, it's to legislate their behavior. What a hopeless load of crap. He's basically saying that Christians can't do anything to slow down the abortion rate until the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thank you for once again proving to me Mr. Robertson that you don't read the Bible.

My other favorite part was where the interviewer read Rudy's track record on these hot-button issues, then asked Robertson why he thought Rudy was telling the truth when he said he would appoint conservative judges. Robertson said, "I'm just taking him at his word." Here's what I find interesting; Robertson didn't take Bill Clinton at his word when he said he was sorry for his indiscretions, but he'll take Rudy at his word when he says he'll appoint conservative judges. Mind-blowing.

I'm so tired of Christians endorsing people simply because they're Republicans, while cursing Democrats as unholy and anti-American. It's just sickening. If you're going to accuse Hillary and Obama of flip-flopping on issues, then you can't possibly give Giuliani the Republican nomination for President.

Pat Robertson is a joke. At no time in the interview did Robertson mention anything Christian. The whole thing was political and about judges. Thank you, Pat, for showing us what weak faith looks like and showing us just how irrelevant you are when it comes to anything political.

10:02 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

I've been thinking a lot lately about adverstising. I'm putting together a teaching for my students for the future concerning this topic, so I've been noticing more and more ways that advertisements control us. After a good deal of study and observation, I've come to the conclusion that most advertising boils down to this goal:

To show you a turd and convince you that it's a diamond.

I'll give you an example. There's a sign at the local McDonald's here in my town that is marketing the McRib sandwich. If you've ever seen, or, God forbid, tasted this crap, you know what a culinary abortion it is. So the sign says, "A true Southern taste, Sweet Tea and a McRib." Apparently the south tastes like a mixture of high-fructose corn syrup, pressed horse meat in the shape of ribs, and cheap barbecue sauce. If I was from the South and saw that sign, I would burn the restaurant down and not have any regrets.

Do you see what they're doing? They're marketing an idea. When seeing that sign, you're supposed to have an idea in your mind of sitting on the front porch of your plantation house, watching your slaves pick cotton, while you sip from a tall, cool glass of home-brewed sweet tea, awaiting your barbecue feast. You may think that's far-fetched, but it's exactly what they're trying to accomplish. The hope is that you'll succomb to this idyllic setting and, in turn, spend your hard-earned $5.50 on this garbage.

Marketing a turd, all the while convincing you that it's a diamond.

Here's the works. How often have you bought something because of the commercial, only to get it home and find out that the "diamond" you bought is really only a giant pile of intestinal love fluff? We've all done it.

I think it's time that we stop succombing to the marketing campaigns. I think it's time that open our eyes and expose this stuff for what it is. We need to stop letting them convince us that we need this crap when we really don't. I declare war on the advertising industry, who will join me?

10:58 AM

Interesting passage

Posted by Brad Polley |

In Colossians, Paul says that, "Christ is all, and is in all." What are the ramifications of this?

2:27 PM

"Let justice roll on like a river..."

Posted by Brad Polley |

I don't know if you've heard or not, but a Republican Senator by the name of Chuck Grassley is investigating the use of funds by a number of television evangelists. I'm all for this, in fact I hope they bust every one of them in the name of Jesus (that wasn't sarcasm by the way). This morning, Creflo Dollar, one of the pastors being investigated, was on the Early Show defending himself. Firstly, the fact that his last name is Dollar is just too much irony for a mind to handle. He said that he wasn't sure why Senators are investigating these things when the IRS does it all of the time. He also said that none of the money given to his ministry (note the word "his" before ministry) has been misused. Let it be noted that Mr. Dollar drives a Rolls Royce. Maybe the money hasn't been misused, but he sure has missed the point. I seem to remember Jesus saying something about not storing up treasures on earth, because they won't last and they will inevitably become rust and dust. So Creflo, you may not ever have to answer to the US Senate, but you sure will have to answer to Jesus as to why you own a Rolls Royce while millions of people die every year because they can't even afford a bowl of rice. Have fun.

11:10 AM

Dear Colleagues...

Posted by Brad Polley |

God doesn't care how many people are in your church. He doesn't care how big your budgets are. The size of your steeple doesn't matter to him. He's not impressed by your music. He thinks your leadership meetings look more like a meeting of investors in a corporation than a church meeting. He thinks you've sold out to American consumerism and called it "evangelism." Political power is not what he intended his church to have. He wants you to know that democrats can be Christians to.

So what does he want? He wants justice. He wants love and compassion for everyone, even the people who are the most hostile to you and your cause. He wants a better world. He wants you to stop preaching doctrine and to start preaching things that are going to actually transform people. He wants your heart. It may mean a smaller church, but it will also mean a stronger church. He wants you to take the words of his son Jesus seriously. He thinks that if you do this, you will find peace and find the real reason that the Church exists.


2:31 PM

The older I get...

Posted by Brad Polley |

Am I old enough to use a phrase like that? I think that phrase is a bit misleading. Ususally when people use this phrase, they are about to expound some great piece of wisdom. I'm not so sure age has anything to do with wisdom. I know some pretty clueless 70 year olds, who I would classify as anything but wise; and on the other side of the coin, I know very wise people who are in the their 20s and 30s. I think wisdom has to do with seeing. It might be that the older we get, the more we stop to look around at things a bit more, thus leading to wisdom, but I don't think age is the necessary component to wisdom.

I spend my life studying. It's a huge part of what I do. Preaching is an artform, and art, at times, takes a great deal of preparation and thought. However, I started thinking the other day about how much I know and how much I wish I didn't know anything. I watch Ezra play at home. He sits on the floor and I'll see his eyes light up at something he's playing with, and he'll look at me and say, "Ooooohhh" while holding said object up to me. Everything's new. Everything's wonderful. Everything blows him away. There's nothing better than being with him when he sees something he's never seen before. He'll point as if to say, "Hey mom and dad, did you see that!?" I must admit that in my mind, most of the time I have to answer no. I didn't see it. Why? Because I'm too busy, too jaded. I've seen it a thousand times. A tree is a tree is a tree. A dog is a dog is a dog. I realized something today. God is teaching me through my 1 year old son that by "knowing" too much, I really don't know crap.

Here's what I mean. Jesus tells us in the gospels that unless we become like little children, we'll never see the Kingdom of God. In other words, we'll never see where he is and where he's working. The more we learn, the less we see. The less we see, the less wise we really become. I'm not advocating that we all become a bunch of unlearned morons, all I'm suggesting is that we realize just how futile our learning can be. Maybe we're not learning in the right way. Here's a quote from Gordon Atkinson along these lines:

"The fruit of the tree of knowledge nourishes the soul, but it has a price. Once you have tasted it, you can never see with the eyes of a child again."

Take stars for instance. When you're a kid, stars are amazing. They twinkle and dance, they are mysterious and far away. As an adult what do you see? A big far away ball of flammable gas. Admit it. Where's the wonder?

This has to be what Jesus meant when he said we must become like little children. God's fingerprints are everywhere, we're just too "wise" to see them. Maybe instead of prefacing our wise statements with "the older I get," we should instead say, "The more I see..." Spend some time around a child, especially a toddler, and you'll realize very quickly who the wisest person in the room really is.

3:30 PM

Morbid thought of the day

Posted by Brad Polley |

We're all going to die. Really. You, me, that guy, all of us. I've been thinking about this alot lately because we've had a couple of people in my congregation get some very bleak news from the doctors regarding cancer. A woman in our church heard the words, "There's nothing we can do" this week from the doctor. How true.

I think the reason we struggle with death is because we secretly think we're immortal. We're not. Doctors and medicine don't help either. You watch the average medical commercial and you get the feeling that you'll be around forever. This is why it tears us apart when we lose someone close to us, because it violently slams us back into reality. "If he died, then I guess I will too." Think about it. Have you ever gone to a funeral of someone you loved, looked into the casket and thought, "That'll be me someday." I bet you have, but maybe at a deeper level.

Medicine is an illusion. All doctors know that all they exist to do is to delay the inevitable, and maybe lessen the pain as your life slips away. Maybe we would have a better grasp of reality if doctors, upon bringing you out of the womb, said to your parents, "There's nothing we can do." They can't. Don't get me wrong, I think doctors have their place. They can, at times, give us a few more years with our loved ones. I'm just wondering if all of our medical advances interrupt some part of the natural order. By the way, I'm not having a bad day, I've just been thinking about this lately.

12:52 PM

Halloween adventures

Posted by Brad Polley |

Ok, so there was nothing adventurous about Halloween, but the title sounded nice, so I used it. You know how sometimes you start out with an idea, and that idea at the time sounds good? You know how sometimes when you start to think about those ideas, they start sounding maybe not so good, but you're too far into the idea to start over? Case in point, my son's Halloween costume. My wife and I were trying to find a costume for Ezra when we stumbled across a totally adorable Asian silk outfit. "What a great idea," said my mind. "We'll dress him up as martial arts type guy or something."

The closer Halloween got, people started asking us what we were going to dress Ezra as. I found it harder and harder to explain. We found him a pair of toy Sais (small weapons used by Raphael of Ninja Turtles fame) to carry around as well to round out the outfit. Here's the end result, minus the Sais (the mall where we took him trick or treating had a "no toy weaponry" rule that we decided to follow.
Behold, we dressed our son as an Asian stereotype. A painfully adorable Asian stereotype, but an Asian stereotype nonetheless. I did feel better when I saw an equally Caucasian girl dressed as a Geisha, complete with eyeliner to make her eyes look...well...more Asian. I didn't feel quite so racist.

My wife decided to dress up our other child, who happens to still be in the fetal stages of development. Here's the result of that one.

I'm not going to lie, when she showed this to me, I laughed for like five minutes. And finally, I leave you with a picture of Ezra after he decided to waltz into Victoria's Secret by himself.

Mandy says that he only went in to pet the fake pink doggy, but I know better. I'd like to think he was driven by a deeper, and more primitive force. You know, the force that he can't seem to take his hands off of when we change his diapers. I rue the day when I will have to explain to him the ins and outs of the secret that Victoria is hiding.

9:40 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

This is the most amazing football play in the history of the sport. Even if you don't like football, you can appreciate this.


8:21 AM

A good waste of a couple of minutes

Posted by Brad Polley |

Here's a site where you can find out what the number one song in America was on the day you were born.

The #1 song on the day I was born? "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" - Rupert Holmes. You may not recognize the title, but the lyrics, "If you like Pina Coladas, and gettin' caught in the rain..." Wow, and to think that I turned out straight, given the fact that I was born on a day when the #1 song in America was one of the gayest songs ever written.

3:05 PM

I don't roll on Shabbas

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm reading The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. I'm starting to realize that I haven't had a true Sabbath in months. The purpose of the Sabbath isn't just rest, it's to center ourselves on the Creator. In Heschel's words, "The Sabbath teaches all beings whom to praise." In my words, it's not just a day off, it's a day up. We're always defined by what we do. If you don't believe me, listen in on a conversation between two people who have never met, and see how long it takes for someone to ask, "So what do you do?" The Sabbath is a reminder that we aren't defined by what we do, but by who we belong to. We cheapen the Sabbath when we make it a purely physical experience. It's about soul care, and, frankly, my soul could be better. Here's what Heschel says about it.

"Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath, we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week, we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self."

I can't leave my job behind. I have a day off most weeks. But even on my day off, I can't disengage from what I do. I'm constantly thinking and worrying about the people I minister to. For the Sabbath to truly be holy (set apart) as God intends it to be, we have to leave the world behind and focus on who we are. We have to set apart a time for God to be the center, and for him to be the center, everything else has to fade away. I believe the health of our souls depends on our ability to disconnect from our world and connect to the One who created it all. That's what the Sabbath is...a disconnection for the sake of connection. We will never find the wholeness we desire without Sabbath.

11:41 AM

So a Hindu gets it...

Posted by Brad Polley |

...but, for some reason, Christians don't. I saw this quote from Gandhi today.

If you want to smell the aroma of Christianity, you must copy the rose. The rose irresistibly draws people to itself, and the scent remains with them. Even so, the aroma of Christianity is subtler even than that of the rose and should, therefore, be imparted in an even quieter and more imperceptible manner, if possible.

The Christians that I know who are doing the most for God's Kingdom are also the quietest. You won't find them on Larry King defending their faith, you won't find them writing scathing editorials to newspapers who they deem "liberal." You find them spending time with people, loving them in the best way they know how, and smelling an awful lot like Jesus in the process.

1:26 PM

Things I've read...are reading...will be reading

Posted by Brad Polley |

Sorry for the silence recently. I just haven't had much to say. Anyway, here's a list of things I've been reading...just read the title, you get the point.

Everything Belongs - Richard Rohr
This book is amazing. I read it quickly. It deals with how everything in life is there for a purpose, including all of the crap we deal with. He spends a great deal of time dealing with suffering and pain, and how these events in our lives are necessary for maturity and growth. We seek all the time to bury and remove any bad thing from our lives, but without the bad, the good is essentially meaningless. Not exactly a light read, but incredible.

Adam's Return - Richard Rohr
This book deals with male initiation rites in cultures throughout history. He spent years studying these initiation rites and their purposes. Rohr basically lays out why men today have so many issues; they've never been initiated by an older man or community of men. For every reason why Wild at Heart by John Eldridge sucked, this book was good. Eldridge's book was all about making surface changes, this book gets at the internal issues that cause men to stop being men. Good read...if you're a dude.

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
This is a novel about a family who goes to the Congo in the 1950s to be missionaries. The father is one of these preachers who were so prevalant in that time period. He was domineering to his family and anyone else, including the people he was trying to "save." He was completely ineffective as a missionary because he didn't listen to the people he was there to help. He had his way, and no one else's mattered. I'm only about halfway through this one, but it's great. It does lose a point with me because it has that annoying "Oprah's Book Club" sticker on it. Geez, I can't stand her.

His Name is One - Jeff Benner
For anyone who likes language, and is especially interested in the Hebrew language, this book is a must read. Every chapter has at least one "Aha!" moment. He basically deals with all of the names in the Hebrew language for God. He talks about how we have mistranslated many of these names into the English, which has led to a lot of misunderstanding of God's character. One particular instance blew me away, and it would freak out any biblical conservatives. The name "El Shaddai" in Hebrew is translated into english as "God Almighty." However, the literal translation of the name is "mighty teat." Yes, I said "teat," as in a female animal's ummm...milk bags. So the ancient Hebrew people saw God as a loving mother who nourished her children with milk. So much for the male dominated culture who refuses to believe that God has female qualities. There are many other moments of brilliance in this book.

9:01 AM

Further adventures in church sign reading

Posted by Brad Polley |

I saw a dandy yesterday.

"The wages of sin is death. Repent b4 payday."

Oh, how the people will flock to that church this Sunday, flogging themselves with reeds in penitence the whole way...

9:55 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

The book, not the year. Anyway, I'm reading 1984 right now. I read a few years ago, but I didn't really grasp the significance of it. I thought the book was "good," but I didn't really find it unsettling or revolutionary. I'm finding it increasingly hard to read it this time, however.

If you know nothing of this book, I'll give you an incredibly brief synopsis. It's essentially a dystopian fantasy written in 1949. It tells of a world in which no one is free and everyone is under the control of the Party. There is no history, no free thought, no freedom, only the Party. If the Party says that something exists, it exists and always has. If the Party says that something doesn't exist, it doesn't exist and never has. If the Party says that two and two equals five, then it equals five and nothing else. The book follows a man named Winston who is questioning all of this, but is eventually arrested for his wrong thoughts. The Party then tortures him into submission. Read it for the all of the other details, it's a fascinating book.

I've found myself being very uncomfortable in my reading, which isn't like me. I've been trying to figure out why this book is affecting me like it is. The I figured out the reason: it's inhuman. The whole idea of this society is to reduce people to an animalistic existence. They seek to destroy a person's humanity so that they will obey. So why is this unsettling? Because free thinking and the right to make our own choices is what makes us human, and to think about a society where this is impossible is sickening at best.

In Genesis, at the very beginning of human existence, God gives people the choice to do what they want. He tells Adam and Eve, "You can eat anything you want, just don't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." He tells them not to eat of it, but it's not like he puts a shield around it or anything. They still have the choice to eat of it, God is basically telling them that if they make the choice to eat from it, then everything will be screwed up. As humans tend to do, they make the wrong choice, eat from the tree, and everything goes south. God endowed every human with the capacity for free thought and choices. Not every thought or choice leads to life, but nonetheless, he gives us the right to choose. The fact is that God had to put that tree there because he knew that without choice and free thinking, people could not be human. Without choice, there is no way to love something or someone.

What is really eating at me is how many churches seek to control the behavior and thoughts and choices of their people. I could name a few of these churches within 10 minutes of where I sit typing this. They have good intentions (I think), but what they are really doing is turning their people into something less than humans. If we are told what to think about God and we blindly lock-step to what we're told, then it is impossible to really love him in a deep way. When free thought is taken away, as it is in a lot of churches, then we're robots, and robots have no capacity to feel and love. If anything, a churches main goal should be to find ways for people to be fully alive and fully human. by restricting what someone can think or believe, we're telling them that there is no other choice but to think like we do. Thus, we render them as something less than human. Any thoughts?

9:52 AM

Horrifyingly funny

Posted by Brad Polley |

Watch this video from the National Geographic channel. The thing I find funny is the narrator's voice. It's like a Saturday morning cartoon narrator, but he's describing baby seal pups getting slaughtered by whales. I find it comical, maybe I'm just sick.

12:03 PM

Unanswered invitations

Posted by Brad Polley |

For the last few years I've been questioning everything that the Church does. Personally, I feel like I should be doing this as a minister. I think that one of the reasons the Church is in such a mess is that there haven't been enough people asking the big "why?" question. But I digress. Actually, I didn't digress because I haven't made a point about anything yet (editor's note: This section should have been removed before hitting the publish button. Sorry for the inconvenience.), but whatever.

So what I've been thinking about recently is, why do churches offer an "invitation" time (some churches call this an altar call). If you've never been to church before, let me explain. This is the time, usually after the teaching, where the speaker invites people to come forward and "accept Jesus." There is then 3 or so minutes of music in which people can respond. Here's the thing, I've grown up in church my whole life, and I can honestly only remember 3 times where someone has come forward spontaneously. In every other instance, it was scripted. The people had already met with the pastor and scheduled the time they would come forward. Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else? Out of thousands of church services I have attended, I've only seen 3 spontaneous responses. That's crazy.

So why do we do it? This is a question where I can honestly say I don't have an answer. The only thing I can figure is that the modern "altar call" as we know it, must have evolved out of tent revivals. At some point along the way, someone must have said, "Let's do that this Sunday" and the rest is history. I firmly believe that we offer invitation times simply because we always have. It's another instance of doing things just because that's the way it's always been done. It's time for the Church to stop and think about these kinds of things.

Unanswered invitations make the Church and the pastor look bad. When no one comes forward, which is definitely a majority of the time, what that says to anyone visiting who isn't a follower of Jesus is this, "Our message is so revolutionary and earth-shattering, that no one responded to it." That's not to say that people don't make changes in their lives, and it's not to say that people don't sit in their seats and make a decision to do something, but that's exactly my point. Why do you have to come forward in order to decide to follow Jesus? The answer: you don't. If there are any other pastors out there reading this, take a good look at the issue and ask some of the tougher questions of "why?". You may find that there isn't a good answer.

1:03 PM

Good article

Posted by Brad Polley |

Here's a good article from the ooze. A little grumpy at times, but then again, you're probably used to that from reading my crap.

8:37 AM

When did Christian become an adjective?

Posted by Brad Polley |

I was thinking about something the other day. The word "Christian" only appears in the Bible three times. In all of those three instances, the word Christian is a noun. It's a person, not a description of an activity. Think about how often we use "Christian" as an adjective. Christian music, Christian book store, Christian radio station, "that wasn't a very Christian thing to do," etc.

We use Christian as an adjective to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the "world." Maybe I'm overestimating the importance of this, but what if I'm not? What if we're doing ourselves a huge disservice by using "Christian" as an adjective as much as we do? What if we're not supposed to section ourselves off from society by re-creating everything in our society as "Christian." We even have "Christian" satellite service. Does anyone else see a problem with this?

9:00 AM

My new hero

Posted by Brad Polley |

So if there were more coaches like this, sports, as an entity, wouldn't be the ridiculous soul-sucking debacle that it has become. I love this guy. Basically, the coach is ticked off that a local newspaper went after one of his players who is struggling on the field and "kicked him while he's down."

Here's the video. Enjoy.

1:21 PM

Salvation - part 3

Posted by Brad Polley |

So if salvation is about nothing more than heaven and hell (which most Christians in this country would propose), then how do you get it? Who gets it? Is it us? Only us? Who is "us?" Are there certain hoops you have to jump through to get it? What are those hoops? In what way is the "hoop" system considered grace?

Most evangelical Christians, when asked how someone goes about getting to heaven, will say any combination of these things: be baptized, say the "sinner's prayer," repent, confess Jesus as Lord, ask Jesus into your heart. There will be some variables depending on which denomination the person subscribes to, but those are generally the responses you will get. So here's another question; if different denominations of the same religion can't agree on how to get to heaven, then who's right? Who's really in? We're pretty certain on how to get to heaven, but no one can agree on the criteria. And not to mention that the words "sinner's prayer" and "ask Jesus into your heart" never appear in the Bible.

Some would say to look to the Bible to see how attain salvation. Okey-dokey. The Bible is all over the map as far as how to attain salvation. Jesus seems to throw salvation out to people in the strangest of ways. We already looked at Zaccheus and the fact that all Zac had to do was tell Jesus he was going to do something. Jesus resonded with salvation. So how do you get it? Just say you're going to do something?

Find a concordance, look up "salvation," "save," and "saved." I want you to especially look at the instances of those words in the gospels. I want you to notice how Jesus gives "salvation" to people and under what circumstances. He's all over the map. In one instance, he says that unless we believe in him and are baptized, we will be condemned. In another instance, a guy is saved when Jesus sees the faith of his friends. So in order to be saved, we have to have the right friends.

The fact is that the salvation Jesus speaks of is holistic. It is designed to permeate our lives, our whole lives. It isn't just about dying. It's about living and living life to the full. Jesus saves me every day and I thank him for that. I think it's time for the Church to stop wasting time talking about who's in and who's out. I have an idea. Why don't we let God decide that? It's not our job to say who's in and who's out, because we, as Christians, can't even agree on the criteria. I believe that when we start talking about which people are going to heaven and which are going to hell, we start treading on very dangerous ground. I'm not willing to tread on that ground.

1:35 PM

The competition is over

Posted by Brad Polley |

I have spawned the cutest kid on the face of the earth. Here are some pictures taken of Ezra at the RCA Dome where the Colts play.
He looks pretty good in endzone huh? I wouldn't mind that being his future career choice. How soon is too soon to have him start lifting weights?

9:19 AM

So what does Jesus look like?

Posted by Brad Polley |

Like this. For anyone that thinks following Jesus is all about being lame and judgmental, I hope you see that when people really follow Jesus, it looks quite opposite to that.

8:47 AM

Salvation - part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

So where was I? I'm actually not sure, so I'll just start in. One thing to know in this whole conversation is that our word "salvation" comes from the Latin word "salus" which means healing. Take a minute and think about that from a spiritual perspective. We live in an incredibly fractured world. The fact that we live in this broken place makes us broken. There's something deep down in us that isn't right, and if you take a few minutes (hours?) and sit down to think about it, you'll know what I mean. We all have a nagging sense in the pit of us that we're not right, that there's something more. When something is broken and fractured, it needs to be fixed.

So in walks salvation to the party to bring healing. Think of the word salvation and see if there's another english word that fits in with it. How about salve? A salve is an agent of healing. It's something that you put on a wound to heal it. I hope you see that salvation has to have an earthly component to it. It can't just be about a future other-worldly problem-solver. I mean, if that's the best God can do, then we have to stop talking about how powerful he is. If all God can do is maintain the status-quo of crap we live with, then he doesn't sound all that powerful to me. Personally, I need salve, and I need it now. I'm a mess most of the time. I need some healing, I need fixing, and I'm not willing to sit around and wait to die for that to happen.

It's not that I'm against a future hope. Paul himself says, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others." I'm just advocating that the Church start putting more emphasis on this life than the afterlife. I believe that God isn't done with this earth yet. I believe that he's calling his people toward a better way of living and to bring about change on this earth. If my focus is on heaven, then I'm not all that concerned with changing anything about this place. I'm not all that concerned with seeing anyone transformed, I'm just concerned with trying to procure a heavenly home for them, while ignoring the fact that they may be living in hell right now.

I honestly believe that the impotence of the American Church and a great many of its members is due, largely, with the fact that we're taught that heaven and only heaven is where it's at. It's much easier to ignore the problems of this world if you have this mindset, because as long as you're "saved" who cares? It really leads to a selfish mindset. Following Jesus becomes about me and my salvation, and trying to make sure I do enough to stay on the "heaven" side of the ledger.

Part three will be next week.

10:27 AM

My dream come true

Posted by Brad Polley |

This is what I would look like if I was on the Simpsons.
It needs a bit more paunch around the midsection, but all in all, not too bad.

10:02 AM

This should be illegal

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm going to be a father again. I personally blame my wife's left ovary, since that's where the fated egg originated. We had our first ultrasound this morning and everything's looking fine. Here's the picture:It looks like a Teddy Graham. Well, a Teddy Graham with a gigantic cranium. Do you want to know the best words on the planet? "There's only one." God help us all.

2:32 PM

Salvation - part 1

Posted by Brad Polley |

Did you whince when you read the title for this post? Me too. This may sound heretical and sacriligious, but I can't stand that word. Maybe that's not 100% true. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I can't stand what the Church has done to that word. We've neutered it, narrowed it down to just a select few that we can't agree on, and, in turn, lost nearly all of the original meaning of the word itself.

When you think of the the word salvation, what comes to mind? For some of us, the thoughts that come to us might be positive. Mine would be positive, but also incredibly muddy and odd. But for a great many people, the word salvation conjours up nothing but horrible memories. I have a kid in my youth group who's dad will have nothing to do with the Church because, as a child, he was at a church camp where they blocked him onto a boat dock and wouldn't let him off until he "accepted Jesus and was saved." That makes me want to puke, but many people have similar thoughts about salvation. So what else comes to mind? Heaven? Hell? A helmet-haired televangelist admonishing you to secure your place in heaven by sending that check? These are some of the thoughts that come to my mind as well.

I'm pretty tired of hearing about salvation in the Church. I'm tired of salvation being reduced to a future thing, while ignoring this life. I'm tired of Christians talking about who they "saved" this week, as if people are part of some giant checklist.

It sounds scandalous to a great many Christians, but the salvation that Jesus spoke of had very little to do with the afterlife. It had everything to do with this life. There's a great story in the book of Luke where Jesus talks to a man named Zacchaeus (evidentally a wee little man). Zacchaeus was a tax collector, which meant that he was basically a rip-off artist who preyed on the poor and oppressed in order to line his own pockets (did tunics have pockets?). Jesus comes into town and calls to Zac (I'm tired of typing his whole name) and invites himself over to dinner at Zac's house. The religious people start grumbling about the fact that Jesus is associating with a "sinner," but Jesus continues on to Zac's house anyway. Zac's first words to Jesus are this:

"Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Interesting words from Zac, because he's essentially agreeing to bankrupt himself. Keep in mind that the text never says whether or not Zac followed through on his promise. All it says is that he makes this promise to Jesus. Jesus' response is, "Today, salvation has come to this house..." An interesting note here is Jesus' play on words. The Hebrew word for salvation is "Yeshua," which, incidentally, is Jesus' real name in Hebrew.

So this passage leads to a lot of questions. What does Jesus mean by salvation? If he means what most American Christians believe he means, then we have to conclude that all it takes to get to heaven is to say you're going to do something. Forget all of our doctrine on baptism being the means to salvation (it doesn't say anything about Zac being baptized, and interestingly enough, the Bible never mentions any of Jesus' disciples being baptized either). Forget all of our doctrine on "accepting Jesus into your heart" or "professing Jesus as oyur Lord and Savior. All we get from the text is that Zac said he would give half of everything he had to the poor, and Jesus in return "saves" Zac. If you're going to stick to the fundamentalist view that salvation is all about heaven, then you're quickly painting yourself into a corner that you can't get out of. We'll talk more about that in the next post.

I contend that Jesus is speaking of a much deeper salvation; a salvation that takes place in the here and now. I believe that Zac was saved from a life of materialism. I believe that he was saved from a life of ripping people off. I believe he was saved from a life of selfishness and greed. That's real, down-to-earth, present-day salvation, not some "pie in the sky when you die" garbage. Jesus realized that Zac needed to be saved from his ways. He needed to be saved from a horrible life of not caring about anyone but himself.

In the next post, we'll explore the root of the word salvation and, according to the Bible, how you attain it.

2:08 PM

Mystery and understanding

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've been thinking about mystery. No, not the cheesy Jamiroquai throwback, soul-patch wearing, creep on VH1's "The Pick-up Artist," I mean actual mystery. I was thinking about mystery as it pertains to God. Mystery is something that we westerners hate. We want everything in a nice and neat package that we can neatly unpack at our convenience. The problem is that God doesn't operate like that. He's hidden and enigmatic at times. The definition of mystery is: a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding. This leads me to some questions. Is it possible that this is one of the bigger reasons why people don't follow God? Is it because they feel like they have to know everything about him before they can give their life to him? Why does the Church talk about the mystery of God, and then try and give easy, lame answers to everything that happens in life? If a mystery is something that is hidden or secret, doesn't this mean that there are just some things we aren't ever going to know about God?

I've struggled with God's mystery at times in my life. There are times, even now, when I'm bothered by a particular aspect of God. There are times when I wish God would just come down, give me a three-hour lecture (with a flashy powerpoint presentation) about who he is and who he is not, so that my eyes would be opened. Here's the thing though. When I buy a new video game, I don't sit down with the instructions and memorize them before I play the game. I just start playing, and I figure it out as I go.

When I bought a new digital camera, I didn't make sure that I had everything figured out before I turned it on, I just turned it on and started taking pictures.

Do you like art? Do you have to understand an artist and his motivations, before you can appreciate and love his art? Isn't it possible to just appreciate the art without understanding the artist?

What about music? Do you have to understand all of the lyrics, all of their meanings before you can listen to and enjoy their music? I listen to and enjoy Sigur Ros. All of their lyrics are in Icelandic. I don't have the first clue what they're saying, or even the subject matter of what they are singing; all I know is their music moves me. All I know is that it's beautiful and I can just close my eyes and let the sound wash over me.

It's like that with God. I don't understand everything about him. In fact, there are times when I'm not sure I know anything about him. All I can say is that he moves me. There are times when all I can do is sit back and let him wash over me. Sometimes that's all the understanding I have. It may be the only understanding I'm going to get. Maybe that's ok.

9:10 AM

Dude, what's eating you?

Posted by Brad Polley |

So I just engaged in my favorite wallet-raping excursion of putting gas in my car, and I realized something, we are an incredibly impatient people. Let me just say, straight away that I struggle from time to time with patience, usually behind the wheel, but it's something I've worked on and continue to work on.

I was about three people deep in line after filling up and the guy at the counter was buying cigarettes and a lighter and about everything else he could find. There was this older guy in front of me and I could tell he was getting antsy. Not slighty antsy, more like totally ticked off kind of antsy. He was doing that sigh thing, where he was hoping the guy in front of him would hear him and realize that he was ruining his whole day by buying a pack of cigs. So the guy at the front of the line was done paying and he was putting his change back in his wallet and the cashier said "Next." The guy in front of me steps forward to the counter and growls, "Pump 5" and just sort of tosses his $20 bill on the counter and walks out.

I paid my money and left and the guy was still angrily mumbling to himself. All I could do was shake my head. I probably stood in line for a total of two minutes. This guy wasn't there much longer. I had a bunch of thoughts going through my head as I watched this guy. Why are you in so big of a hurry? Does this really matter? Is it really something to get angry about? Then I realized something. He isn't impatient/angry/upset at the guy in front of him at all. His misguided emotions had nothing to do with the guy in front of him. It had everything to do with a deeper unrest inside of him. That kind of ridiculous anger and impatience comes from somewhere else, somewhere deeper, somewhere unseen. It's the opposite of what God intends. He wants his people to have a deep sense of shalom, a wholeness and peace that endures even through life's difficulties. I mean, what would this guy's reaction be to something that mattered? What would his reaction be to something really difficult. Judging by his reaction to a meaningless loss of two minutes, I'm guessing his head would pop off. No shalom, no peace, no wholeness.

If you're someone who struggles with anger and impatience (as I have and still do fromt time to time), I hope you realize that your anger runs deeper than your circumstances. Take a deep breath and ask yourself the question, is this really a big deal?

1:26 PM


Posted by Brad Polley |

That's latin for ridiculous. Ok, probably not, but whatever. So I saw a statistic yesterday that proved to me that our country is completely doomed and our downfall will probably happen in my lifetime.

1 in 4 Americans didn't read one book last year.

Let that wash over you for a second. 25% of this country didn't read a book last year. That's insane. We are officially the dumbest modernized country on the planet. How can a country survive when so few of its people seek out knowledge and wisdom? Answer: It can't. Somewhere in this country right now, a group of authors sit together and weep bitterly.

11:03 AM

Irrelevant question of the day

Posted by Brad Polley |

As you may know, I hate church signs. Well, maybe that isn't true, I hate that the people who put them up are serious about them, I, frankly, find most of them hilarious in a very sad way. I saw another "good" one the other day in the town where I live. It simply said, "How would Jesus drive?"

Let that sink in for a minute. Let the raging torrent of idiocy wash over you. Never mind the fact that this church spent probably somewhere in excess of 10-15 thousand dollars on this sign. Never mind the fact that a good number of people in my town can't afford to pay their electric bill, while said church spends said amount of dollars on said sign. Ignoring those facts, it still begs the question, who cares how Jesus would drive? What does that have to do with anything? My wife's response was priceless: "Um, he probably wouldn't."

I think there's something bigger going on here though. How vacuous and ridiculous has American Christianity become that we even have to ask, and/or answer a question like that? I understand what they are implying by asking the question, but if someone who claims to follow Jesus can't drive without being enraged and flipping everyone off, then, to be honest, their faith isn't worth much anyway. I don't mean that as a judgment call on anyone, but when I look at the Bible, I don't see the writers spending too much time on stuff as petty as being courteous to others while riding your donkey/chariot. When you read the Bible, especially the New Testament, it seems to be a given that a Christ-follower would be courteous to those around them. Being courteous and loving isn't part of the package of following Jesus, it is the package. Why can't churches who have signs ask questions that matter? Why do they have to have signs at all?

10:04 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Seriously. Check this out. I think that dog just ate my soul, I'm not sure.

1:30 PM

Because you're just begging for it

Posted by Brad Polley |

I haven't put any pictures of the beast on here for awhile, so I thought I would do that now. Here's a picture a friend of ours took at a youth group pool party this week.


Here's another from the party. Notice the lovely physique. He has his father's attractive shape.

Really, I think he needs more food. There's nothing more sad than an under-nourished child. The picture would be perfect if you insert a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a Dale Earnhardt hat on him. He has what I like to call "frat-guy stomach." He looks like he's a few cases of beer over the line in the gut department.

11:19 AM

Holy immunizations, Batman!

Posted by Brad Polley |

It's been a few months, but we finally had to take the boy to get his one-year shots. All of the other immunization experiences have been sort of ok. This one, however, was cut from a different cloth. We get into the room and the nurse is showing us a chart of everything that they'll be giving him. I'm sitting there counting on my fingers how many shots he's going to get and I started to run out of fingers. So how many shots did my boy have to endure? Five. I would be crying if someone gave me five shots and I'm 27.

I had to hold him on my lap and pin his arms down while the nurse rammed needle after needle into his legs and then his arm. The thing that sucks is that he's getting to the age where he remembers things like that. My guess is that the next time we take him to the doctor, we'll have a fight on our hands. He had stopped crying after his immunizations and he saw the nurse again and started balling again. I had to laugh, though I felt kind of sorry for the nurse. What a crappy job, to have to stick a bunch of little kids with needles. She is hated by more kids than I can imagine. Anyway, he's covered in bandages and he's recovering well.

9:58 AM

Creativity at its finest

Posted by Brad Polley |

Looking for a new and creative way to stick it to the man? Read about how this man went about it. Brilliant.

9:40 AM

You know America has an eating problem when...

Posted by Brad Polley |

Read this article. Good stuff.

6:50 AM

Dude, this sucks

Posted by Brad Polley |

So I got "tagged" by one of my college students. If you don't know what that means, well...then your life still has purpose and meaning. It basically means that I have to list 10 random and interesting facts about myself, then, in turn, annoy 5 more people by tagging them. I'll brutally murder her for this later, but I suppose I'll play along. So here goes:

1. I just bought and am currently listening to a Bill Withers CD. Yes, it's 1970s era R&B, but back off, "Ain't No Sunshine" is one of the best songs ever written and his voice is like...a waterfall of silky butter...or something.

2. I'm a sucker for Classical music. What can I say? The Four Seasons by Vivaldi is amazing, and anyone that disagrees is an uncultured moron.

3. I think music sounds infinitely better on vinyl than on a CD or an Mp3 player. You can't beat the crackling and popping that comes along with vinyl, it just adds something to the music.

4. I'm a human being. Doesn't sound interesting, but there are still people that, maybe subconsciously, believe that ministers are somehow inhuman.

5. I hate Christian music. It is, by-and-large (there are a few exceptions), uncreative, copycat garbage.

6. I secretely wish I was British...or Irish...or Scottish. I'm magnetically drawn to the UK. If I could find a way to make a living for my family in Britain, I would move there tomorrow.

7. I hate when people touch my little toe. I don't know why, but it makes me want to vomit.

8. Speaking of vomit, I threw up Red Gold salsa in 8th grade one time, and I still haven't eaten that brand since then. It's like I can still taste it.

9. My dream vacation would be to take three months and tour all over Europe. This is one of those things that will never happen as long as I live, but I guess that's why it's called a "dream" vacation.

10. I'm plagued by a constant sense of failure in my ministry. I'm pretty convinced that I'm the worst youth pastor on the planet. OK, maybe not as bad as the ones that sleep with their kids, but you get the point.

Alright, here's who I'm tagging.

Matt Polley - Oh, this will be a beautiful thing.
Kim Golden - As will this
Michael Baysinger
Harvey the Rabbit
Johnny Chimpo

8:29 AM

Ignorance in all its glory

Posted by Brad Polley |

If this guy gets elected, I'm moving to Canada. Read this. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will strike first to win victory." What a dunce.

12:51 PM

The Beautiful You

Posted by Brad Polley |

I've been studying a lot today (a novel concept for a minister) and I've been focused on a particular passage in Ephesians. It says this, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works..." On the surface, maybe not much there, until you dig into the Greek a little bit.

The Greek word for "handiwork" is "poiema." It's a word, that in the Greek language was used to describe a work of art. Or, said in a better way, an artist's relation to his work. It was used to describe any work of art, a song, a poem, a statue, a painting, etc. This understanding blew my mind. To think that we're all, in some mystical way, God's artwork that he's creating to change the world. That's amazing. I think one of the greatest problems in the church today is that a great many Christians see themselves as a "sinner, saved by grace." The fact is that, in God's eyes, we're not seen as sinners, but as a beautiful work of art that he is fashioning and shaping into a world-changing masterpiece.

Something else that's interesting is that the voice used in the Greek lends itself ot a continuous action. In other words, God isn't done with us yet. In fact, according to Galatians, until we die, or Christ returns, the work of redeeming us, and the rest of Creation continues unabated. If we could somehow grasp this, concept, that God isn't finished with us or the world, how different would this world be? Maybe we could spend more money on health care for the poor than we do on bombs. Maybe a few more people could be cured of their curable diseases. Maybe, just maybe, if we could see ourselves as a beautiful work of art, as God, in fact, sees us, the world would be a better place.

9:41 AM

Part 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

You have to figure it out for yourself. All I know is that our current solutions to filling the emptiness (sex, alcohol, shopping, friends, etc.) aren't working, so maybe it's time to try something else.

I believe that God gave us all certain passions and desires. I'm not sure that killing off our passions and desires is what God intends. This is where a lot of ascetics go wrong. Wearing itchy clothing and castrating yourself may seem like a good idea (does it?) to kill the desires that derail us from time to time, but it isn't really necessary. I don't think that God is asking us to rid ourselves of the desires he's placed in us, all he wants us to do is to control them and use them in a constructive way.

Somehow these dicussions always lead to sex, maybe because sexual problems are so much a part of our culture. God gave us a sex drive (can I get an "Amen" from the congregation?). We're the only creatures in all of creation that have sex for any other purpose than reproduction. In other words, we're built to enjoy sex for recreation, not just procreation. To illustate my point, I have cats that live around my house, one night I heard a horrible commotion under our front porch. guess what was happening? I don't think I need to answer that, but needless to say, it didn't sound like a whole lot of enjoyment was being had by either party, especially the female. The sound actually made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Anyway, what I'm saying is sex is something to be celebrated, not destroyed. However, I don't believe that God has given us license to go and (for lack of a better phrase) mount everything that gets into arm's length of us. One of the writers of the Bible makes it very clear that "all other sins people commit are outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies." In other words, sex does something to us. It's impossible to have sex with someone and not give a part of yourself away. When we have sex with someone on a drunken bender, it does something to us. It causes us to lose something. Sex isn't meant to be given away to just anyone.

I always hear people talk about teenage sex in terms like, "Well, they're going to do it anyway, we should at least make sure they're protected." This is such a copout to me. It may prevent a few more teenage pregnancies and STDs (and, incidentally, I'm all for that), but it doesn't get at the heart of the issue. I've heard numerous teenage girls talk about their first sexual experience and say things like, "It wasn't what I expected." Behind those words lay a reservoir of pain and regret. Those words rang with, "Mr. Right apparently wasn't Mr. Right after all," and "I kinda wish I would have waited." Don't tell me that we can't control our urges and desires. Yes we can. A Tomcat can't control his sexual impulse because it's merely that, an impulse, an instinct. With humans, we were created differently and the sexual urge is a desire, not an instinct. It's something that can be controlled. When we lose control of this desire (or any desire for that matter), we make the emptiness inside of ourselves that much bigger.

So the key, I think, is to channel our desires into more ocnstructive efforts. I'm not going to sit and list ways that we can better our world around us, you're all big boys and girls and ca find things on your own. This is all easier said than done, but Jesus described following him as a "straight and narrow way that few find." Doesn't sound all that easy to me, but I've known a few who have found it, and I want to join them.

9:56 AM

Why we do the things we do, part 1.

Posted by Brad Polley |

Have you ever wondered where the motivation comes from, that drives us to do the things we do? Maybe you have and maybe you haven't. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've been looking at my life and I've realized that my life is marked by a deep-down disquiet. There's a rumbling inside of me, at the deepest part, that I'm not happy and peaceful. I think if we all take the time to look deep enough, most of us will find the same inner feeling. That's not to say that there's nothing in my life that brings me joy or happiness, I'm just saying that deep down, I'm not right. I have this nagging sense that I'm not as I should be. In the Bible, we're told that God longs for his people to be free. Maybe the sense I'm getting is that, deep down, I don't feel the freedom that God has promised me.

I'm certainly not blaming God for any of this. He's provided the way to life and peace, I'm just, frankly, not following that way to the best of my ability.

So what motivates us? I guess the best way to say it is...emptiness. Deep down, a great many of us are empty. This feeling that something isn't right within us can basically be defined as emptiness. What this emptiness leads to is lust. We always associate lust with purely sexual motivations (and rightly so a great amount of the time), but lust takes on many different forms. The Greek word for "lust" translates literally as "in the mind." So lust is anything that grips our minds and won't let go. For some of us, sex is what grips our minds, for some it's shopping, for some it's drugs, for some it's alcohol, etc. When we lust after something, we are convinced that we can't live or be content without that something. Do you see what this leads to? Affairs happen because a man/woman is convinced that they will never be happy until they have that other man/woman. Alcoholism happens because the alcoholic has a sense of disquiet, and is convinced that alcohol will make him/her content. Some of us have a deep down sense of emptiness that leads to us having to buy the next trendy item. "If I just had that iPhone..."

The problem with all of this, is that lust can't deliver on the promises it makes. It can't make you content, it can't fill the emptiness. All it can do is make you lust for more. Think about how this progression plays out in real life. Rapists and sex offenders didn't just wake up one day and decide to do what they do. It was a long process that began with a lust for sex that continued to grow and grow, and eventually morphed from a "harmless" addiction to porn, to a monstrous addiction that led to violence. Porn stars didn't just wake up one day and decide to be porn stars. It started at a young age when that girl decided that the "guy of her dreams" could fill the void inside of her. What started as an "innocent" and casual fling morphed into an addiction that she can't get out of.

The question that all of this leads to is, "How do you fill the emptiness?" More to come next week.

10:18 AM

The reality of hypocrisy

Posted by Brad Polley |

You know, if I hear one more person talk about how Christians are hypocrites, I'm going to puke. Sure I'm a hypocrite, but so are you. Outside of Jesus, no one has ever lived out their convictions perfectly 100% of the time. Here's Webster's definition of "hypocrite":

1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Looking at that definition, that puts pretty much the entire human race into the hypocrisy game. I've heard so many people tell me that they don't follow Jesus because Christians are hypocrites. Sure, we're hypocrites, but not because we're Christians, we're hypocrites because we're human. But the thing I find interesting is they'll join an environmental group that protests big oil, and they'll drive to the protest in their car that uses said oil. They'll join a group that rails against the logging industry, but they have no problem using paper. I know these are broad-sweeping statements about these kinds of groups, but let's call it what it is, it's hypocrisy.

I'm all for environmental causes, and really any cause that improves the earth and the human race, but the point I'm trying to make is that no one is immune to the hypocrisy bug. I understand how Christians display a lack of love from time to time (some more often than others), I do this as well depending on my mood, but don't use an excuse like that to defend your unbelief. Let's all work together, everyone, Christians, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. to better this world. Hypocrites unite!

12:11 PM

Some thoughts running through the ole' duder's head

Posted by Brad Polley |

Since Haiti, I've had an increasingly uneasy feeling about my life. I can't really explain it, suffice it to say that I feel like I'm resisting what God is calling me to do because I'm a pansy. I'm becoming more and more disenchanted with the American Church because of their lack of a spine. They say they stand for things like justice, peace, and love, but really it's all lies. What the American Church really stands for is prosperity (personal and corporate), doing just enough to get to heaven but not really change, and saving souls (read: pad heaven's stats but ignoring the here and now needs of the people that Jesus told us to help).

I know all of this comes across as grumpy, anti-American, and unevangelistic, but who cares. Sorry I guess, stop reading if you're uncomfortable. I feel like God is calling me to be an advocate for people who have no voice, which actually might be the purpose of being a minister. I'm not actually sure what form this is going to take, but frankly, I'm not excited about the task. Why am I not excited? Because it will probably cost me a lot. My job, my house, my comfort. People in America don't like when Christians, especially ministers, decide to start speaking up about injustice. It's obtrusive, caustic, and uncomfortable. If Jesus taught me anything it's that when you take up the cause of the oppressed, the religious establishment will hate you for it, and they'll crucify you to shut you up.

I saw a lot of injustice in Haiti, but I also see a lot of injustice in America and in my own communtiy. These people need a voice, I feel like I'm called to be a voice. The question is whether or not I'll accept the challenge or go on being comfortable.

10:59 AM

Fun with iTunes

Posted by Brad Polley |

Go to iTunes and hit "party shuffle" and see what comes up from your list of songs. Let me know the first ten on your playlist. Here are mine:

1. Behind Blue Eyes - The Who
2. Hold On - Tom Waits
3. Untitled 5 - Sigur Ros
4. No Earthly Good - Johnny Cash
5. Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
6. We Win! - David Crowder Band
7. Thank You - Led Zeppelin
8. Dear Lord - Joseph Arthur
9. O Holy Night - Sufjan Stevens
10. Palm Sunday - Jerry Garcia Band

What are you listening to?

9:44 AM

Haiti - Day 6

Posted by Brad Polley |

We had a much-needed day of relaxation. We took two walks to two different beaches. On the second trip, we walked about 3 miles and when we got to the ocan, we all just jumped into the water in our clothes. The Caribbean is beautiful. I've never seen water so blue. We walked the three miles back to the mission and I got chaffed in areas I didn't even know I had (Note: Never use Gold Bond with menthol on chaffed areas, I'm still screaming).

This country is so contrasted and strange. As I stood on the beach, I looked to the left and saw the ocean with a mountain behind it. I looked to the right and I saw a beautiful palm-lined coast. I looked ahead and saw blue water as far as the eye could see. Then I looked behind me and saw trash and indescribable poverty. It was a strange feeling. I've never seen a place that has so much going for it, and yet nothing going for it at the same time. That doesn't make much sense, but it just seems that since they have so much beauty in their country, that they could easily be a tourist destination, but the whole situation seems so hopeless. It was just an odd feeling to look in one direction and have a sense that everything was right in the world, and then look another direction and have the feeling that nothing was right and just in the world.

3:44 PM

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted by Brad Polley |

Except my jet plane, in this instance, is a 2002 Honda Civic. I'm off on family vacation all next week, so I'll continue my Haiti journal posts when I return. May God's blessings go with you throughout the next week.

8:48 AM

Haiti - Day 5

Posted by Brad Polley |

The highlight of the trip, so far, occured at 4 a.m. this morning. We attended a prayer meeting in the village in someone's home. This Sunday, the group will celebrate 20 years of meeting 5 mornings a week. Five mornings a week for 20 years! That's crazy. Anyway, it was beautiful beyond words. As they prayed aloud, I didn't know what they were saying, and yet in some way I knew exactly what they were saying. They would pray and then they would break out in song, whose only musical accompaniment was a rooster across the street who was begging us to know that the sunrise was close at hand. We had a translator who would translate the parts of the serice that pertained to us. The Haitians took time to thank us for leaving our families to come and help their country. Then they prayed for God to bless us and for a safe journey back to the States. As they sang again, I found tears running down my face. How can they pray for us? The poor Haitians praying tat God would bless the spoiled Americans. I couldn't help but cry at how gracious they are to us, when we honestly don't deserve their grace. But, after all, I guess that's the nature of grace, you can't earn it. If you could, it wouldn't be grace, it would be a salary. One of the Haitian men named Gaston (great name by the way) stood and said, "We thank God for his grace and love. To wake up each day is a grace." I wish I could say that I see each day as a grace, but I would be a liar. God, help me to have a more Haitian way of viewing you and your gifts. Throughout the whole service all I could think was that we may be far wealthier than they are, but they're far richer.

I will never, as long as I live, forget this morning. I saw God's Kingdom appear like a pearl in the mud. I saw hope growing in the midst of a hopeless land. I saw what it meant to follow Christ and to be a part of his Church.

Later in the day we worked in the clothing pantry. It was total chaos. Each kid that came in was supposed to leave with two shirts, two pairs of pants, and a new pair of shoes. The problem was that there weren't enough pairs pants to go around. The reason for this is that Americans don't think before they donate anything, they just want it out of their house. What does this lead to? A room full of pants with a 40 or 42 inch waist that literally no one in the country of Haiti could possibly wear. This is so typical of Americans. We have too much stuff, we just want to get rid of it, so we dump it on someone else, not even thinking about whether it can actually be used or not. I actually saw fur-lined boots, sweaters, and winter coats. We're in the freaking Caribbean. It was a rough day, and I'm not sure there was anyone on my team that wasn't in tears at some point, including me.

I've come to the conclusion that we really don't have a grasp on what reality really is. I think of the problems I deal with at home, and suddenly they don't seem like that big of a deal. Reality is holding a three year old who has had malaria for three weeks. Reality is not knowing whether she will live or die as she puts her head on your shoulder and then looks at you through bloodshot eyes, silently begging for your help. As I clasped her to my chest, all I could think was that this doesn't have to happen. It doesn't have to be this way, this is a preventable disease.

God, show me where I can help. Give me the courage and the ability to change the world, one person at a time.

9:16 AM

Haiti - Day 4

Posted by Brad Polley |

Today was much less strenuous, but we got a lot accomplished anyway. My group put bookshelves together and set up a library for the school here. It felt great knowing that the kids will now have a place to sit and read.

In the afternoon we spent time helping a guy from Georgia who came on the trip with us. He has come up with a new formula of ingredients to add to peanut butter as a supplement for children's nutrition. This formula is healthier and more cost-effective than current similar formulas. By adding vegetable oil, powdered sugar, powdered vitamins, and whey protein, he can give kids here the nutrition they need. He's here to conduct a research project on it for eight weeks to see if it improves the health of some of the kids in the village. If it does work, he will find a way to mass produce it, and ship it to develpoing countries to combat starvation. We helped him mix the ingredients in and he let us taste some of it. It's incredibly tasty, but not exactly a good idea unless you want giant love handles. Helping him today made me realize that my generation really can end world hunger in our lifetime. I heard a guy from an organization called "Kids Against Hunger" say today, "Jesus said, The poor you will always have with you,' but he never said, 'The starving you will always have with you.'" I had never thought of it that way before. World hunger is so simple to stop, if Americans would just stop using 80% of the world's resources to get fatter and richer. All God asks for is equal distribution of what he has created. When I get home, I will be doing what I can to do my part to distribute everything more equally.

10:48 AM

Haiti - Day 3

Posted by Brad Polley |

I'm beyond exhausted. My crew was responsible for working on building the house today. We worked alongside Haitian masons. Not "masons" like the bloodthirsty American cult (for any Masons reading this, just kidding...sort of), but more of the brick-laying variety. They did the lion's share of the block-laying, but we were able to do some. We mostly hauled mortar (read: really thick and heavy concrete), and cinder blocks (read: heavier than mortar buckets). I estimated that I carried 400 or more cinder blocks in a five hour span. I also was able to hand-sift a mountain of coral sand which is a component of the mortar, which the Haitians hand-mix. The Haitian workers are machines. If I had a construction business, I would hire these guys in a second. Long story short, we got all four walls put up in one day, not a bad day's work.

The thing I noticed about Haitian buildings is that they choose function and practicality over beauty. This house will withstand a hurricane when it is finished. My house is beautiful, but a hurricane (or tornado, seeing as how I live in Indiana) would reduce my house to something less than rubble. There's the difference. In America, we build for beauty, in Haiti they build for function and strength. I'm beginning to see that it might just make more sense toi build the Haitian way.

I'm starting to adjust to the insane climate. Sweating has become normal, so it doesn't bug me like it did when we arrived. Same can be said for the heat.

I was challenged by the American guy who runs the Mission to try a Haitan pepper. They just call it "pepper" and it's about the size of half an Ibuprofen tablet. I like hot stuff, but anyone who does will tell you that the smaller the pepper is, the hotter it will be. I thought about saving myself the trouble and just going ahead and eating it while sitting on the toilet, but I decided to take a chance. Holy crap, this thing was hot. Ten minutes of pain and increased sweating. I nicknamed it "Satan's Tylenol."

Anyway, I'm calling it a night, I'm wiped out.

9:43 AM

Haiti - Day 2

Posted by Brad Polley |

Haitian children are beautiful. We were working today at building a house for a family who lost theirs in the last hurricane and we drew a crowd, as a group of "blancs" tend to do. I felt a bit like a fish in an aquarium ("Don't tap the glass, whitey gets scared.") The crowd consisted mostly of children and teenagers. The kids crave attention. They will come up and just touch your skin, as if the lack of pigment somehow feels different. They'll hold your hand, and if you put your arm around them, they snuggle up to you. It feels so good to give them the physical contact that they are starving for.

We then took a tour of Grand Goave, the village where the mission resides. It's more of a town than a village. It's ver poor, like the rest of Haiti. The people are so friendly and so polite. Every once in awhile, you would a child's voice shriek, "Blanc, blanc ("white" in Creole if you haven't figured that out yet), photo." We took a lot of pictures and then showed them the digital picture. The loved it. They just giggled and giggled.

Tonight I had the privilege of preaching at a Haitian church in the small village of Jeaty. Their worship was amazing. It was a very surreal experience to be preaching in a dark hut, lit by one kerosene lantern. As I preached, I could hear the people saying, "Oui (yes)." I think it's the Haitian way of saying, "Preach it brotha!" They were very gracious and kind. Worshipping in a strange place and with people you don't know really gives you a sense of how universal God's Kingdom really is. I feel blessed to be a part of it.