Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Illusion of Me

An acquaintance of mine (also named Scott) would say on his talk radio show here in Dallas: "why ruin the illusion of who I am, with the reality of me?" I always have to think about that one for a minute..... Now, if the reality of me is better than the illusion of who I am, then I wouldn't be ruining anything - right? I think so. So then, we should strive to be even better than people think we are.

Simply put, we should be real, so there's no complex illusion floating out there about us. Don't fake who you are - be you - all the time, and no one will get confused - especially you.

This is harder than I thought - to be real.  Your first inclination is that 'you are who you are - so why change who I am?'.  Well, I know when I go to work, for instance, I'm not exactly the same person I am when I'm at home, or when I go to church, or when I'm with the family, or certain family members, or when I'm out eating in a restaurant with friends.  I even seem to change from day to day in each of those scenarios. I change with the weather - sun vs. rain. When I hit my thumb with a hammer, I'm a different person than I am sitting in Sunday School looking up scripture.  Don't get me wrong, we all have personalities that make us unique.

So it becomes a 3 or 4 dimensional matrix of 'who I am'. Down right CREEPY when you think about it.  Schizophrenic even.  We talk about these people as if we could never be that way, and usually the ones talking the loudest ARE those people.  I can be one of those people sometimes.

But are you any different?  We all have a bit of chameleon inside of us - some with more degrees of color and depth than others (not a good thing really). I do know that I've always admired the ones who don't seem to change much - chameleons who at least remain the same shade of the green family. I know how they will react in weird circumstances, I know I can trust them generally to act in a consistent manner - no matter what.   I don't know too many people like that.  Most of us are pretty unpredictable. (some politicians - most - have 8 or 9 dimensions to them. deception is a job requirement to them).

We're called to be better than that.  And as believers in Christ (if you are one), emulating JC, we're 'encouraged' to be new creations - leaving the old behind - we have become new creatures living in a foreign land. The world needs us. Unbelievers need us to act differently than them - otherwise we are just like them and that's no good to anybody.

I'm convinced too - that we don't just change once, and we're done. We have to make ourselves change, every morning, every day, every hour. Not sure how Biblical it is, but I know it's true. It's a conscious effort that we have to make like brushing our teeth. We have to force ourselves to be real - FORCE IT.  It's a paradox.  If you think you don't have to make yourself be real, you're not (in my must humble opinion). It's hard work. Living is hard work.

2 Corinthians 5:17. "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation". I saw a rather large tatoo on the back of a pretty rough looking guy recently with that scripture. And I liked it. I'm thinking he was smart enough to realize he needed to be reminded everyday of who he was now, and whose he was - and to be reminded how to act - every day.

Be set free - to be you - nothing and nobody else ..... as long as who you are is who Christ wants you to be - your life will be incredible.  It's a work-in-process for all of us - to be more than an ILLUSION.
(pic from NY '09 - subway mosaic)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ultimate Fighting

Flipping through channels the other night I stopped to see interviews with 2 guys:

- Diego Sanchez   and    BJ Penn -

Until then, I had never heard of these guys (out of touch, I know). They're going to meet in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the 155 light-weight class, this Saturday night - 12/12/09. I'm looking for a place I can go to watch it (likely, Dina won't come along).

I've always been intrigued by this Ultimate Fighting stuff. It seems so brutal and barbaric - there don't appear to be any rules. You win by either a knock-out, or a choke-out. That's tough stuff. My intrigue comes from a primal instinct (for guys) to go to battle, and prove that you're the best, the toughest, the meanest, the baddest one out there. My main sport in high school was wrestling -so I know the feeling a little: mono-e-mono. But there was no hitting allowed in wrestling (unless you could get away with it). It was more of an art, and we had weight classes, just like UFC. It was a lot of mental preparedness, as much as physical. (I was 'average' at both - just FYI). My mother always said I was a good wrestler, because I was her 'little hugger :)' - she would sit in the bleachers and tell the sweet story to the opposing team parents - who would then walk over to their boys and point at me and whisper - 'the little hugger'.

I was doomed from the start.

But, these 2 guys are unique. They both sound articulate and smart - I never would have suspected it. I work with all kinds of guys with advanced degrees who are not as well spoken as these guys. "BJ" made a comment - talking about his opponent "Diego": "He's gotten further than he should have - because he's tough mentally". Wow - that's quite a statement.  On the one hand he was complementing Diego - for his mental strength, but he was saying Diego doesn't have the physical skills to compete with him. That's confidence - on a whole different plane. You can have all the psychological or mental strength you want, it might get you a long way, it might even beat most people, but if you don't have the raw strength, skill and technique that I have, I will crush you - because I bring it all to the ring.

This fighting stuff is about discipline - mental, spiritual, and physical discipline. To win, at anything, you have to be disciplined, and you have to make sacrifices. These guys spend their entire lives trying to balance the physical with the spiritual - to win a gold belt - to be champions. What I admire about guys like this is watching what they do when they've been hit hard.  When they go down - they get back up. When they're trapped, they think of a way out. When they take a hit, they hit back. They're strategists - always thinking. They're champions - and they love what they do. (Diego even said he has "always trusted the Lord through his entire career").

You and I go "to the mat" everyday. We need to be ready for battle. When we get knocked-down, we need the discipline to get back up - and fight our way through.  And we don't have to go it alone.

In Oswald Chambers today (12/10) he said: "if we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist ..... and will produce continued turmoil. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally .... disciple yourself now - or you will ruin your entire personal life with God."

Good stuff.  Be an Ultimate Fighter.

(picture taken of a door marker - on the steets of Prague '08)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jack Flak

Did you know - you can link to the ongoing saga of Jack Flak anytime? (on the left side - just click. or go to

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Loved Her First

I've been suffering, deeply, inside today.

There was this wedding over the weekend, and in some respects, I didn't show up. OK, I was there, it was my daughter Jorden's wedding. Now, 48 hrs later, I've got some real regrets. It was absolutely beautiful. It was outside, the weather was perfect, the setting was stunning. The vows were said with perfection. The sun, and then the moon, took your breath away. It was pure Texas.

Jorden wasn't just cute that day, she was gorgeous. I'll tell you a secret: I don't know exactly how girls think about these things, but guys judge on a scale of 1- 12, not 1-10. A '10' is pretty darn good. But when you see spot a '12' you're telling the other guys that the scale is broke, this one is off the register. Most Hollywood types are 'fake-8's', they can never go higher on the scale. They're ok of course, but a fake-8 is a robot with money and an agent. A 'Texas 12' on the other hand is the definition of a pure and natural beauty. Usually, she drives an older model car or truck. Usually, she doesn't come from money. Usually, she uses a minimum amount of make-up. Usually, she likes to work hard in the sun and has a big nasty but friendly dog (or two). Usually, she's a bit of a loner but very social. Usually she wears ragged-out blue jeans. Usually she prefers to eat on the hot patio and not inside with the air conditioning. Usually she's a conservative who loves the USA. Usually she's modest to a fault. Usually, a 12 doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. A 'Texas 12' doesn't compete in beauty contests because they don't have the desire to be loved by everyone - but if they did - the world would be embarrassed by the shameful winners that went before them. A '12' is the complete package.

Jorden's a Texas 12. Her sister Hollen is another Texas 12.

So what is my regret? I loved her first. And I didn't remind her or her husband and everyone there, that it was me - who loved her first. I wanted to pick up the mic and take just 2 minutes to remind her, and him, that I Loved Her First. But I didn't.

But, since I have a blog ...... Jeremy:

"I was enough for her not long ago. I was her #1, she told me so. And she still means the world to me just so you know, so be careful when you hold my girl. Time changes everything, life must go on, and I'm not gonna stand in your way.... but I loved her first. I held her first. And a place in my heart will always be hers. From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me, I knew the love of a father runs deep. And I prayed that she'd find you someday, but its still hard to give her away. I loved her first."

Have fun in Mexico Jorden and Jeremy. And don't forget, I loved her first.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

People really do have different points of view, different perspectives on life. This confuses me sometimes, why doesn't everyone agree with my point of view, my ideas, my opinions.
Particularly around core beliefs - about God, the universe, our existence, and politics. But then I try to put it into perspective. We all come from different places, and times, and experiences. As Hemingway said: "we are products of our life experiences". What he didn't say - is that we can change.

Ever skydive? Dina and I did once. We were sitting at breakfast one morning in Oahu, there was a brochure, there was a free day ahead, there wasn't enough sleep. So I made the call for the 2 of us, and within an hour we were in a van headed toward the North Shore of Hawaii. In the van, they made us sign a stack of papers, lots of legal jibberish about not holding them responsible for any 'incidents', and little stuff like that.

This picture is one I took while free-falling from 14,000 ft. over the crashing North Shore surf. My perspective of Hawaii was different from this angle - image that? My perspective of a lot of things was different, like: how slowly you seem to fall - things sorta stay still for awhile; and when the chute opens, it doesn't really jolt you back like I thought it would; and how much faith jumpers put in a small number of ropes attached to a piece of silk. More importantly, I was surprised at how happy I was, when I landed on both legs, to be alive.
We never thought we would ever skydive, but now we're glad we did (particularly over Hawaii) - we experienced something new and different, and our perspectives changed. It's even prettier from the sky - you can smell the ocean at high altitude, you can see the reefs and the water color is more vivid from up there, and no matter how hot it is on the beach - it's cold outside at 14,000 feet when you're moving fast.
I'm reminded that our perspectives, as believers, should be different from others. We're living in a foreign land, as aliens. Regardless of our upbringing - our life experience - we should try to take a perspective as new creatures. In Colossians we're told to not let anyone 'capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ'. Good advice and a good reminder (that some of us need daily).
Stay away from those empty ideas and the complete non-sense of the world. We need to keep a Christ-like perspective on everything we do, and guard ourselves against the world we live in. Simple thought, I know. Nothing too earth shattering. Yet, do we do it?
Start looking at things differently.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kahlua & Me (2)

Every Saturday morning we go garage sailing. Unlike the old days, now, we rarely buy anything. We focus on 'estate sales', but occasionally will stop at a couple of old fashioned garage sales to see if there's a gem in there somewhere.
I just KNOW someday I'll be the one who finds that original Picasso someone is unknowingly selling for $5.

One of my favorite finds is a good quality stuffed animal that some little kid has grown tired of (or more likely, some mom has grown tired of). If it looks new and nice and fluffy, and cheap ($1 is my limit) - I'll get it. For Kahlua. Gund is best. Gund with something that makes noise inside is even better. I'm not proud either - if it's fancy and new and has a high price tag - I offer a $1 - and I always get what I want. People just can't seem to get rid of those stuffed animals fast enough. If it looks like some little kid dripped some snot on it one night - its not good enough for Kahlua - it needs to be pristine.
See, Kahlua is waiting at home every Saturday morning. Patiently waiting for mom and dad. And now, it's like he knows we just might come home at about 11 am with a new stuffed animal for him. He lives for it. He loves it - and because he loves it and is so reasonable about it - he gets it. After all, he's my boy and demands nothing of me really - it's the very least I can do for someone so loyal.
This past Saturday we found a good one. It's a little duck, and it says a prayer when Kahlua bites into it. They recorded a little girl, with the sweetest voice, praying: 'now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I ........ Amen". It's awesome. Now, normally he would find the 'toy' inside within minutes and detach the pesky noise making device - like a surgeon removing a kidney - he surgically removes the thing inside without really doing too much damage to the rest of the animal. He'd make a good doctor.
But Kahlua likes this little girls voice - and the prayer. It's funny, he seems to find solace and rest in the comforting words and the tone of the little girls voice. It's been a week now, and the 'toy' is still inside. He'll grab the duck and squeeze, it prays, and he looks up at me as if to say - "isn't this nice - doesn't it feel good dad - doesn't it sound peaceful?" I say ya - that's nice - I like it too!
Then he puts it down, does his other stuff, and every now and then he'll just chomp down on the duck to hear it pray - look at me - smile - and move on.
There's something about this dog.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Iditarod and Eagles

A few years ago, me and a couple of my buddies went up to Alaska to watch the Iditarod - The Greatest Race on Earth. There's nothing tougher, no sport anywhere on the planet, than the Iditarod. It's a dog race across the toughest terrain, in the toughest weather, over the longest distance (over a 1,000 miles), involving you - guy or girl - a sled - and a pack of dogs. You don't really 'watch' the Iditarod. Once they leave the starting line behind their dogs pulling the sleds, the mushers disappear for a week - into the wilderness. But watching them leave from downtown Anchorage is an adventure in itself. These athletes are as tough as they come and they have dogs that they love (they're love of dogs is breathtaking in itself). It's a great race in another way too: it combines the will of man with the will of his animals, at the mercy of the worst weather that nature has to offer. It's absolutely remarkable to see and try to understand the dynamics of what is going on, how they got here, the years of preparation and training.

So we sent off the mushers (about 60 of them) on the first Saturday in March. And waited for the results a week later (from Anchorage to Nome, best time wins).

Meanwhile, we went hunting for Eagles. Well, not hunting really, we wanted to catch a glimpse of eagles - somewhere - anywhere - in Alaska (no intentions to kill anything :). And we found them on a place called the 'spit' in Homer, Alaska. I think you only go to Homer if you're running from something - or to something. It's out there, its quiet and its cold. And beautiful.

That's when it got emotional. You know, some things you see are just fabulous, remarkable, stunning. (other things, you wish you had never seen, like a fat chick in a speedo or the plumber bent over to fix your leaking sink - you know what I mean?). All my life I had heard about the Bald Eagle, and how rare it would be to ever see one - and there they were - on parade for me. Flying over me, landing near me, looking for food, and enjoying the cold Alaska wind and snow gliding over their wings. We were all speechless and snapping pictures as fast as we could, thinking it would surly end any second. Like trying to take a picture of a shooting star or a mid-air catch at a football game, we clicked our cameras aimlessly and wrechlessly. And of course I wish I had taken more and had a better quality camera.

So I'm standing there, by a dock, on the 'spit' (not sure why they call it that - you can look it up), and there are 30-40 Bald Eagles flying around me. I could reach out and touch them. It was surreal.

Life is about those moments. Those times you can't explain in normal terms. You can't just say in a conversation, "hey, I went to Homer and saw Bald Eagles - lots of them - it was beautiful - have you ever seen them?" No, I've rarely brought that one up, its not worth it. It's too hard and unjust to even talk about - you can try, but its impossible to convey the feeling. But you want to do it again - just for you - see it again, experience it again, live that feeling again. It's not really important that anyone else 'gets it'.

If you've never had a moment like that - look for them now. It might be a sunset that only you see - only you can see that particularly reddish orange streak - just there on the left side, with the midnight blue sky peaking through. Maybe it's a horse standing in a pasture in the early morning, and the fog of his breath visible, he looks over at you - only you - and you make eye contact. Maybe it's a lonely little boy in a stroller, a tear in his eye, who needs a silent smile from you, at that moment, to give him hope, that someone cares.

Make yourself see it tomorrow. Everyday. See the miracles that God lays out in front of you. Act like the endangered species that you are. We can become like those eagles - when we act like eagles - aware, clear vision, looking and soaring, brave, fearless. Keep looking for those incredible moments.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep Moving

Ever thought of quitting? Like this street sign I found in Budapest: sometimes you're just not sure what to do next. Nothing makes sense or you get confused and tired - but you've got to keep walking - moving. I read another guys thoughts this week about 'quitting', and it's something I've been thinking about alot - quitting. Got me to thinking: I'm ready to quit!. Just throw in the towel - let it all go. I say this to myself, oh, maybe 2-3 times a day (not proud of it - but I think we all do - right?).

Then, I see a squirrel, it distracts me, and I don't quit.

I just need to be distracted, to focus on something else. My phone rings, I get an email - I return the email. Someone texts me. I get hungry and stop for a burger. I was gonna quit today, but I came over here to 'Ringos' pub for a cold tea, now I've decided not to quit - it's Friday - why quit now? - the weekend just started.

I'm not just talking about the job - it could be anything, or everything. Don't do it. Don't quit. Granted, there is a time and place for almost everything. But in general, when you're about to quit - just don't. It may be the hardest thing you've ever done, to keep going. But keep going, keep moving - even if it feels like you're in reverse - stay in motion - keep moving. It's hard for the enemy to hit a moving target.

One of my favorite stories is that of David and Goliath. This really happened. David was young, and had to feel like he had over committed on his last brag, that he would take-on the brute called Goliath. He HAD to feel like quitting at some point in the episode - didn't he? But here's what he does, the verse says: 'as Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.'

Niiiiiiccce. He not only doesn't quit - he runs TO the enemy. Mono e mono. Just me and you. Let's do this thing. Then, he became King. And we're still talking about him some 3,000 years later.

Be someone people will talk about for a long time. Be someone who runs AT the enemy - not from him or it. Solve the problem. Don't let it discourage you. Ask for help if you need it. Get good advice from good people. Be an overcomer, be a conqueror, be a warrior (with grace).

So - Don't Quit! Hang in there. Keep moving. Read the signs if you can, if not, just keep moving to the next sign. No matter what the deal is, our characters are improved and transformed when we don't quit.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dagen ----> India

Dagen's in India - right now. His second trip to the city of Bangalore. Last summer he went to Thailand, the summer before that was India, and the summer before that was the UK and Tanzania.
He's not on a vacation - he's on a mission. His church in Waco, Texas, called the "Antioch Community Church", sends out short-term teams to places all over the world - places I don't want to go. And he loves it. He's bold and crazy - about Jesus - and telling anyone he can hunt down about the savior of the world, is his passion. Particularly: Muslims, Hindi's, and Buddhists.
Me? I worry myself to death. And, sit on my butt doing relatively nothing at all - and still complaining that it's just all too painful and difficult.
So help me! Pray for Dagen, my only son. And, let's all get out there and do something for a change ......

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Phone Call

I'm probably getting too personal here for a 'blog'.

I've been thinking about something I heard this week, the subject of: the unexpected phone call, or a knock on the door, and how our paths can become unbearable, intolerable, grim and hopeless. We're all just one phone call away from disaster, when the sudden heaviness in the air begins to suffocate you, and your path grows dark and blurred. Like my picture here, a beautiful walk in the woods in Plano, Texas, can turn fuzzy and dark and evil - quick.

Life is short, really short. These past 2 weeks were tough for me. Much tougher for others. "I" don't matter in this story, but I have concerns about myself, and where I stand on one particular issue: getting the phone call.

On Thursday a boy died - 8yrs old - of cancer. On Sunday afternoon, a boy died - 25yrs old - a motorcycle accident. Both families known to us. Not close friends of mine - just acquaintances - but the events of both mushroomed through my friends and family. Everyone close to me, knew one or the other and some were very close. Connor and Tripp. These tragic stories keep popping up - everyday. It's the world we live in. It's always been this way. Only to some, these 'tragic' stories are true "victories" - because of attitudes.

Here's my dilemma: I don't have that attitude - the attitude that wins during tragedy. I had just finished reading a book called "The Shack" - before either of these boys died a cruel and unjust death. The book is about life & death - tragic death, but more about God, and our insatiable questions of "WHY ME?"

Amazingly, the parents and the siblings of these two boys, are ok. Better than ok. They are at peace beyond anything you can describe. It's because of their relationship with Christ. They're not 'religious' people - their grounded in truth, in Christ. But I'm grounded in Christ too - and I know I would not survive like they are.

So here's the other tough part: It makes me mad, angry, furious. Because I'm so weak.

I wouldn't fare as well - or at all, if this happened to one of mine. I keep asking, "what if I got that phone call? What if I got that knock on the door?" I don't want others to take it in stride - I wouldn't. (I'm not saying it seems easy for anyone - it's not - I know that.) But there's a part of me that wants to lash out, hard and fast and repeatedly. I would go crazy with hate - hatred of everything - and I would go through days, weeks, months, years, asking the age old question: "Why, God? Just give me one good reason why"? I'm afraid I would literally wreak havoc around me, to everything and everyone. Nothing would be safe because of my torment. I would curse God for what he had 'allowed'. I would question his existence, his love, his purpose. I would not appreciate the kind words of others - I would reject them. I would die inside and I would want everyone to know my grief. I wouldn't want compassion, I would want vengeance. Whatever you do, don't bring me a casserole the night of my tragedy, or the next day, or anytime. Don't give me a sympathetic smile, and above all, don't you dare say the words that go something like: 'don't forget, all things work for good .....' - that would be a very dangerous thing to say to me.

And that, is my nature. And that, is my weakness. I'm not proud of it. It's been the weakness of most people since the beginning of time. It is THE reason people give up on God. It needs more attention than we give it.
The book of Job is said to be the oldest book in the Bible, and this is the very theme of the book. It's 42 chapters long. Chapters 1-37 we're told of all these terrible things that happened to Job (satan went after him, and God let him). Jobs friends are, well, pissed, at Job, for laying down and taking it. Just like me - they're mad - at him!. Then, starting in chapter 38 God talks (finally) - and in verse 2 says "who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words."
Who do you think you are? He says "Brace yourself like a man"! (We got biznis to talk about)
So I'm learning, that it wasn't me who 'laid the foundations of the earth', or tells the sea 'how far it can come to shore', or 'commands the sun to appear in the east', or 'directs the movement of the stars'. Nope, it ain't me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hotel California

One of my favorite tunes of all time: Hotel California, by the Eagles.

As legend has it, the actual 'Hotel California' is in a small village called Todos Santos, in the California Baja, north of Los Cabos, Mexico. So, as legend has it, I went there last week to verify the legend. I really did. And it's true.

You gotta understand, I grew up listening to the Eagles (the Don Henley). This album came out during my senior year of high school in Southern California. An epic record, and epic song, an epic time in our history. The theories are many about the lyrics and the meaning of the song. (i.e. there isn't an actual hotel you see, it's a frame of mind ...... yada, yada, yada ......). Some things take on a life of their own and people get all wrapped-around-the-axle trying to figure out what the writer meant by this, and that, and all of that other stuff. And when asked, the writers themselves don't even know what happened - it just sounded good at the time. And it did. And it still does - which makes it a classic. But is it true?

So my story, and I'm sticking with it, is that the hotel I was at last week is THE Hotel California. It was a 'dark desert highway' that we traveled to get there, and the 'cool wind in my hair' felt pretty good, I have to admit. (ok,ok, it was a white-hot desert highway and it was 105 degrees in the shade, but let's not get lost in the details - it was the Baja in July).

So I was thinking: What can you believe in these days? What is "truth" - really? What's real? What did he mean when he said that? No kiddng you say - I'm not the first to ask those questions ..... ?

Well, I do like the old adage I remember my dad saying in church one day: "real truth was true yesterday, it's true today, and will be true tomorrow - it doesn't change with public opinion". And I'll add my own adage: "What you think, or choose to believe, or want to believe, doesn't really matter a whole lot when it comes to truth. Get over it. It either is, or it isn't". (but I'm a little cold hearted that way, sorry).

Check out I John 4:4-6. Ouch, that one will rattle your cage, talking about the world and truth and how to recognize it. I saw that this morning and thought about the "Hotel California" - weird huh? It's the first time I've seen that, and I've seen it a thousand times (if you know what I mean).

Is your mind 'tiffany twisted'? Mine gets that way sometimes (often), and I have to get straightened out - I've got to get back to what's real and true. How about you?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Indications" and the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge (from somewhere in the bushes below, at 9:15 pm)

This may sound a little dis-jointed and weird - I'm just thinking out loud.
A couple of years ago we went to Italy with some friends. (i know, sorry, saying stuff like that isn't attractive really - it's boring and braggadocios to the reader - so don't ever do it to me :).

But I need to tell you about Italy to explain the term: "Indications". See, we were driving through Tuscany (there, I did it again, sorry) and we needed directions, and this skinny little Italian guy with poor english skills told us that when we got to the end of the road we would see "indications". Hmmmm, we thought.

OK - everyone be on the lookout for "INDICATIONS", and we smiled, and waited for the much anticipated "indications". And there they were: big signs. Signs 'indicating' which way we should go. Classic.

The skinny little Italian guy was right. And so were the indications.

This week I was in San Francisco. After my meeting last night the team was trying to put together dinner plans and I said, "I'm out - I've doing The Bridge tonight". Wondering what I meant, I told them I was going to walk the Golden Gate, both ways, so go ahead without me. I've never done it - so let's knock this one off the list. At 7 pm I asked the concierge at the Marriott how I could get to the bridge for my walk and he gave me explicit directions: Cross the street, catch the #30 bus. Take the #30 to "Beach and Laguna". He reiterated: "Mr. Kanaley - trust me, you'll think you've gone too far, but don't get off until you get to Beach and Laguna". Then he said, when you get off, switch to the #28, you'll need to walk a couple blocks north on Laguna to get to the bus stop to get the 28 - that will take you to "the point" at the base of the bridge - have fun!". I even gave him $5 bucks for the advice, feeling generous and anxious to walk off some excess calories and I wasn't eating dinner.

Cool - I'm ready for some adventure. I get the #30 with just a couple of snags. "Across the street" in the Californian language doesn't necessarily mean immediately across the street, or even on the same block or within a 3 block radius. But I get over that, and I make it on the #30. Then I'm looking, watching intently, and listening for any 'indication' that Beach and Laguna is coming up. I even have a map, so I'm tracking ok - kind of. We're on Chestnut, then we turn north and swing around another block, and finally, the bus stops and I'm the only one on board. The driver says he's taking a break and will head back toward downtown in 10 minutes.

What? I need to get off at Beach and Laguna! He says there is no "Beach and Laguna" - I should have gotten off at Chestnut and Laguna. Beach is a couple blocks up from there. Another $5 down the tubes. But he tells me it's no big deal, walk "that way" then "that way" and then "that way" and I'll catch the #28. I don't have the time or space to bore you with the rest. But let me tell you, that for one thing, although it's like 128 degrees back home in Texas on this June 30th, it's about 45 degrees NEAR the Golden Gate Bridge at night, in the dark, at 9:15 pm. And, contrary to the popular belief that you can walk the bridge "anytime" you want - it closes to pedestrians at 9:00 pm. So, I got near the bridge - and that was it.

2 Cabs, 5 buses, a new sweatshirt that says "I Love San Francisco" later - I was back at the Marriott at 10 pm, and had not walked the bridge. I met some nice people, saw some neat residential neighborhood's in the Bay area, and took a few pictures of the Golden Gate - from a distance.
So what, you ask? It's about good directions and bad directions. A good life is about following good "indications".

Throughout the Bible, OT and NT, we're reminded to watch for the "Signs" of Jesus' return. The 'Indications' will tell us when the time of the second coming of Jesus is near. Now that's advice worth paying for - and based on the accuracy of prior "indications", it's advice you can believe in. And get excited about!

This may be a stretch, but, to me, the real Golden Gate is the one I'll be walking through, arm-in-arm, with JC himself. And I think that day is coming soon.

Don't get the indications wrong. Don't trust just anybody's advice. Map it out yourself - and with God. It's tough enough trying to survive in this jungle - you don't need bad directions. Read the Word, and read it again, and read it again tomorrow, and keep reading. And Listen, and verify. Following bad advice can be painful - or worse. Zachariah 14:1 says: Watch, for the day of the Lord is coming! (which means Jesus is coming back).

Before Jesus comes back, I WILL walk that bridge in San Fran.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do you Twitter, Tweet, Twang ?

Twitter, Tweet or Twang? What do you do? I made up the 'Twang' thing - but it's next, if I have my way.

Me? I've never done it, any of it. I do text the kids now and then - but I only know how to reply to an existing text. I've never actually created a new text.

I'm so low tech. I can email myself into oblivion, but that doesn't matter anymore. Hey, I even have a blog, but to be living in the real world, you have to 'twitter to your blog', and I don't know what that means ..... I'm a realist: it's hard enough to get people to read a blog, why would they care to read a twitter or tweet from me that I'm eating lunch at QT - 2 for $2 hot dogs and a coke zero? I don't think so. I don't even care enough about myself to know that I'm doing that - why would I even suspect that someone else would care?

It's crazy. But it's happening now. "Embrace it" I tell myself. Don't get left behind. Communicate.

I had breakfast yesterday with an old colleague and friend who is pretty high-tech. For instance, he doesn't read print papers, magazines or books anymore, he has a 'Kindle'. Downloads everything onto the coolest gadget I've ever seen - the 'Kindle'. Gotta get me one of those one day. There is some really good stuff out there. But who has the time (or money?).

Back to Twitter and stuff. The point is this, I think: when you hear something profound, or actually know something profound, you should tell it to others - communicate it, to the world. It should be really, and actually, profound (in my opinion). Of course, profound is in the eye of the profounder (not sure of the grammar there - don't snopes me on that).

Do you ever twitter or text God? I think we all do that - you know: "God, I need help here", or "Hey God, I'm in a bind - respond quickly"..... In a way it's bad - we shouldn't treat God as a recipient of a text, yet in a way its good, we should be in constant contact with God. He cares about the smallest of things if we're in His family. From the moment we wake in the morning to the moment we turn in at night, we should be twittering our Father. Constant communication.

He twitters us through His Word (the Bible), through nature, through other believers, through prayer.

His deepest desire is to communicate with you, and you with Him. He wants a twitter from us - every minute or two.

Let me know when you twang.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

57 Years

This past week, my parents celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Wow. I only know it was number 57 because in 2002, we all went to Dublin, Ireland to celebrate their 50th. So 7 years later, is #57. We have big plans for their 60th.

This is a picture of them the day they were engaged (no, i didn't take it). Fulton, NY is a long way from Dallas, Texas. The story goes (as with all Texans): they got here as soon as they could.

I saw them today at lunch, after church. They look the same - they really do. They're just teenagers - 57 years later! It's amazing. Their life is complicated, yet very simple. They stay stressed, yet seemingly always calm. They have everything, yet, they have very little. They're highly educated, yet common. They've travelled the world, yet 'downhome'. They know everyone, but you're the only one in the room.

Do you think you know someone after 57 years? I would think so. But life is never dull for these guys - everyday is a new day and exciting. There's so much family, I guess there's not much time to think about yourselves. Time flies when you're having fun - right? No, time just flies - so you might as well just have fun.

And they are!

The Great American Comedy

So I said to him, "Barak, I know Abe Lincoln, and you ain't Abe Lincoln."
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
-Abraham Lincoln

I love this picture, and the quotes that go with it. So shoot me (if you're a liberal). I beg you please not to 'snope' me on this - it doesn't matter.

Does anyone know what's happening to America right now? If all you listen to is the evening news and all you read is the local paper and listen to NPR and read Newsweek or Time - you don't have an honest clue- you can't - because the media is invested in Obama so heavily - and is officially his advertising agency in America, that the truth is now only heard on conservative talk radio. It's the last bastion of truth - period. All else is a joke - it's like we live in Iran or Venezuela or New York.
Or, maybe you DO know what's going on and like it. There's the most strange thing of all.
What is it that God has up his sleeve? What is going on up there? This is all part of His plan, so what's going to happen next? Does it do any good to complain? Should we be looking for Real change sometime soon? Maybe some of us are blowing this out of proportion - but then again, the west (us) is never mentioned in Revelation ......
From Cairo (the only 'American' to ever speak to Islam - while degrading the USA), to Tehran (a president who admires Obama and denies the holocaust and wants Israel obliterated), to Pyongyang (a country currently testing nukes), to Caracas (a regime who jokes with Obama and calls him even 'left' of himself). And the list goes on, and on, and on. Like the admiration of terrorists and the love of US bashing racist 'preachers'.
Industry is owned by the US government now - all in 2-3 months. The financial markets are owned by government. Housing is owned by government. We're dealing with monopoly money. Taxes are going up - everyday, another new tax is imposed somewhere.
Maybe it'll all blow over in 4 years, and we'll have something else to complain about. If we're still around.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Route 66

I've never been on Route 66. It would be an awesome road trip one day, and I plan to do it soon - real soon.

Recently I saw one of those famous road signs - very recognizable to all of us. And I got to thinking, you know there are 66 books in the Bible. Maybe I can make a connection here.

Thinking that I had an original idea (which is rare) I wanted to correlate the idea of Route 66 with something to do with the Bible. So I quickly googled it, and discovered that, of course, I still haven't had many original ideas. There are lots of Route 66 Bible studies out there, names of Bible study classes and Route 66 youth groups: my original idea is everywhere. Bummer.

What I didn't see was this: A memory verse system, called "Route 66", whereby you memorize 1 verse from each book of the Bible. Something I actually need to do.

It's down right embarrassing for me to have not memorized more versus, this late in my life. It's time that a lot of us just got over our weakness for memory verses and buckled down - bowed our shoulders back - put our hearts and minds into something important - and do it now.

I'm admittedly not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so if I am going to memorize 66 versus, I need a system. So over the course of about a week I poured through each book of the Bible and picked a verse from each. I tried to keep it to a short verse, but a verse that says something
to me about that particular book - that could jar my memory, and help me remember not only the verse but the context of the book. And, I didn't want the usual suspect versus like John 3:16 (good, but not challenging, if you know what I mean).

It could take me months, even years. But I have my 66 versus and I'm going for it. First, I'm just trying to get the verse that ties to the book. Later on (maybe way later) I'll add the actual reference number if I can't remember it now. My goal is to be able to quote, on the spot, one verse from each of the 66 books.

I'm not telling you this to edify or somehow glorify myself and my great future accomplishment (well, maybe a little bit :)). No, maybe you could try it too?

You could pick your own, or try mine. For instance, my Genesis verse is 3:9 - 'Then the Lord called out to the man, "where are you?"'. This verse tells me what the book is all about: God is there, you left Him, He knows where you are, but He wants you to acknowledge Him and find Him again.

Or, take my verse for Acts, 28:1 - 'Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta.' This verse tells me that Paul and others were missionaries; Paul was also a prisoner; a leader; and he was one tough dude.

Or, take my verse for Ruth, 2:1 - 'Now, there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz.' This verse tells me that this city was important in history even before Jesus' birth, and that the book has a lot of corollaries to our kinsman redeemer - Jesus (wealthy and influential).

So, if you want to take a cool road trip - check out my Route 66 sometime. I keep it neatly tucked in my wallet to look at anytime (Starbucks, the gym, etc.) , a 1-page list of 66 versus.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Feeling Drained

My water had 'hardened'. It looked clean and clear - but over the years it had gotten overloaded with chemicals. Week after week, chlorine, algaecide, clarifiers, oils from sun screen - Stuff. It just couldn't take it any more. Water, H2O, would evaporate every day. I'd refill the pool with fresh water, it would rain, but the chemicals lingered. Invisible, but there. Some things, just never go away. I could pour new chlorine in by the bucket fulls with no effect. The chemicals were dead before they even hit the water. The pool was saturated and couldn't take any more. I was wasting money, time and energy. And worst of all - I could no longer feel comfortable swimming in my own pool.

So I drained it dry. Last week I rented a submersible pump from Home Depot and sucked every last drop of water out of my pool. Now this may sound easy and it is, but what makes it tricky is the damage it can do. There was the possibility that the pool walls would cave in without the support and weight of the water. And there was the possibility that the pool would actually 'rise up' - lift out of the ground like a boat without the water inside to keep it down. Everyone I talked to had a different piece of advice - mostly: 'don't do it', and 'you're crazy'. But I had to take the gamble.
It took 4-5 hours to pump it dry. Then I scrubbed the walls (a pebble tech finish). Then I patched some cracking along the top. It took a long time and a lot of energy. I stuck a hose in and starting filling the pool with brand new, fresh, sparkling water. It took 24 hours to refill it. (and now I'm dreading the city water bill!)

But I had to do it. It needed to be refreshed - it needed new life. The source of life in my pool had died a slow death and it was rendered useless to me - unless I did something fast.
We're not much different - over the years we become so intoxicated with bad chemicals (poisons, attitudes, hatred, worldly ideas, contempt, lethargy, complacency) that seep in slowly. We don't even know it's happening - and we wake up one day so 'hardened' that we are a problem - we are the problem. We are no longer receptive to things like peace and happiness and joy. We don't slow down to watch a sunset or listen to the birds in the morning, or appreciate the architecture of a simple flower. We're hard on people. Our attitudes are bad and it shows.
We have to surrender and give it all up.

Maybe you're feeling drained. Maybe it's time to GET DRAINED. Get poured-out. Empty yourself. Surrender. Get clean. Even believers need to be refreshed with living water. The great news is that it doesn't take hours or days to do it. It can happen in a moment. Then - be careful what you put in it, don't dump it all in, be selective with what you allow into your 'pool'. Skim daily.

Jesus said "I will give you water …… and you'll never thirst again". Cool stuff. And in Ephesians Paul says to 'be careful how you live - don't live like fools, but like those who are wise'.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kahlua & Me

The few friends I have only tolerate me to be around Dina. I don't try to be abrasive and opinionated and moody and brash ..... I'm working on it, I just need a little more time.
So Kahlua is good for me. He's 7 ish, so in dog years we're the same age. Like me he has some new 'lumps' popping up here and there - but he doesn't know it or care. He acts tough, barks loud and growls. But when he's close to another person or dog, he's not so much 'all that'. They say you're either a fighter or a lover in this life. He's a lover.
I admire him because he has purpose. His purpose is to serve and protect - me. If there's a squirrel on the fence - he better get off. If there's a mouse in or around the pool equipment - he better beat it. If there's someone at the door - he or she better have good intentions. For some reason - his purpose is all about me and our house, our yard. He only lives to serve and protect. By doing a good job, he eats well, gets lot's of treats and chewy's and toys. And, though against my wishes, his mom prepares him a comfortable bed at night and actually tucks him in, right up to his neck, with a soft cashmere type blanket. I think this might make him weaker than he should be - his work is important - he stands on the 'wall' between safety and disaster - I need him strong and alert!
There are too many lessons to be learned by observing dogs. You've heard them all.
I apologize in advance - I've never read 'Marley and me' - the articles or the book. I saw the movie - cute. But Kahlua is my dog. Trust me, I agree, the last thing the world needs is another article about some guy and his dog, the loyalty, the eagerness to please, the ever-forgiving, never-judging companion, the 'I sure hope dogs go to heaven' routine. I'll spare you all that for now.
But, I sure hope dogs do go to heaven. And lucky me - Jesus said "if you stick with me, and I live in you, ask me whatever you want, and I'll give it to you". So far, everything else He said has come true. Kahlua's comin!
(picture by dagengray)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Secrets of Bikers and Believers

I've always wanted one, but can't afford it, really. Well maybe I could, but, priorities ..... So, as luck would have it, my future son-in-law was shipped off to Iraq, and I'm babysitting his 'bike'. "Just warm it up now and then - keep the oil flowing, don't let the tires get stiff" -he asked. OK, right. (they used to do dowries, but this is better I think.) Thanks Jeremy - I'm trying to keep the miles low!! (this is a picture of 'our' gas cap).

Last weekend I did a 120 mile roundtrip through North Texas, on the brink of a terrible thunderstorm. There is no place like Texas for Harley riders - no place. The roads are well done, the slopes and curves are exciting, the wind blows and the sky never ends. The sunsets are unmatched (and I know what I'm talking about people). From my garage in Plano, I'm in the Texas countryside within 10 minutes. Cows, horses, tractors - and me. It's breathtaking. And I'm alone, on a powerful, growling machine (a work of art on wheels). By the way, I forbid any of my sons or daughters from EVER getting on one of these things (do as I say ....)

Pretty much, all I ever do is jump on the bike and go to a nearby Starbucks for a drip - early in the morning or late in the evening - low traffic times. I like to pull up close, make a lot of noise, casually swing my leg over the seat and disembark. Slowly take off my dark glasses, look right, look left, slide the keys into my black leather vest pocket. I put on a show - people either hate you or admire you - such is life. (I can be such a narcissist sometimes - I know it - sorry).

Wow, I'm off the point. Here it is: do you know there's a bikers 'brotherhood' out there? I didn't know this - absolutely didn't know. Everytime I ride and I pass another biker, without fail, I get the 'salute'. The salute is when a rider, every rider, passes - he sticks out his left arm, slightly downward toward the pavement - making a fist or a V sign. It's a wave, but very deliberately done. So now I do it - I do the salute. I don't make friends easily, so this is good for me. You can be on any model or manufacturer - you don't have to be on a Harley. I'm part of a fraternity, a loose gang of sorts - finally! What we all have in common is that we are experiencing something special, and only we know what it is. It's our secret, and we are proud to have that secret, and hold that secret. And we're proud of each other, we respect each other for taking the bold step of riding with the wind in our hair - carefree - gutsy. If you don't 'get it' - too bad. You have to be one of us to really get it. It's true by the way. And all you have to do to belong, is to ride. But when you're not actually on the bike, and you happen to pass the very same guy, you've got nothing.

Belief in Christ is like that - but still different. You can't possibly know what the big deal is, until you try it. Then, when you pass a fellow believer, you should want to share the secret. Unfortunately, most "Christians" don't do any saluting - well, they think they do, subconsciously, when they go to church on Sunday, in the foyer, in the parking lot, you get the 'hey - ya, I'm likely a Christian too' nod. Or maybe by carrying a Bible, you are signaling the secret sign of membership - a brotherhood / sisterhood - in something.

In the book of Revelation there's a frightening thing. 3:14-16 the Lord says there are a bunch of us Christians who are fakes - we straddle the fence - we play games. He says its better to be cold or hot. When he thinks of those 'lukewarm' types, he wants to vomit. Yikes, serious talk for the creator of the universe. You're either the real thing, or you're not. And apparently He won't be duped like passing 'Christians' in the parking lot. Flashing a secret code thing doesn't cut it. He's serious, dead serious. End times, Second Coming kind of serious. Eternity kind of serious.

I'm working on being hot! - not cold, not lukewarm - staying off the fence, falling to one side or the other is better than pretending in the middle ......... it's hard, no joke.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Q: What about ME ?

A: What about you ?

So, last night was the season finale of "Lost". I like the show and have been watching it since the start. I do find it intriguing - and I keep coming back for more. (one more season to go). I've never read a word from the multitude of books and websites dedicated to solving all the mysteries of the show.

But last night, for the first time, we met the ultimately mysterious 'Jacob'. He's in charge of the Island, the boss. What he does and who he is - nobody really knows. But he IS in charge - make no mistake. Jacob doesn't age. Jacob is everywhere. Jacob isn't bound by time. Ben is going to kill him, and he's been put up to the job by John. But John isn't really John - someone or something has taken over John and given him powers of extreme confidence, persuasion, good looks and pride. John (this fake John) apparently can't kill Jacob himself, he needs someone else to do it - so Ben: somebody who is really mad at Jacob, because over the years Jacob didn't do everything he wanted, even though Ben did everything that Jacob wrote down for him to do (in writing, he never talked audibly to him). He, Jacob, even allowed Ben's daughter to be killed. Ben even got cancer while serving Jacob.
So Ben says, "all these years, I've done everything you've written for me to do!", "I've followed all of your instructions!" he said. (I've kept your law). Ben is mad - at everything - everyone - and particularly mad at Jacob. He can't take it any more.
"What about me?!", he asked Jacob.
Jacob replies softly, "What about you?"
And Ben stabs Jacob. And the island goes white in a nuclear blast.
Not to become too philosophical here (it's just a tv series after all), but "What about you"? It's in the inflection of the word 'about'. What's this all about anyway?
(I took this picture of an old statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague - a depiction of prisoners in purgatory, bound and praying and looking up).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Obama's 'Bay of Pigs'

Pigs are cute.

All weekend it's been bothering me why Eqypt (of all places) has decided to wipe-out its entire pig population - a genocide of pigs. They don't have one case of the 'swine flu', and all of the scientific powers out there determined that the 'swine flu' has nothing to do with pigs. And Egypt knows this.

So it bothers me, why do they have to kill all those pigs? At Starbucks I'm reading the Star Telegram and they happen to say, burried deep in the text, that the pigs owners are Christians.

That's it. The dots have been connected once again. The 90% Muslim country has found a way to cripple the small number of Christians in Egypt. Kill their livelyhood, and blame it on a the 'flu'.

Hey Obama! Heads up. Where are you when a Christian needs you? Step in, make a statement, uncover the thin veil of mystery in Eqypt why don't you. Why doesn't ANYBODY?? I checked an hour ago on google, and sure enough, it's starting to come out, in small dribbles: Muslims don't like pigs, or Christians. But the bottom line is that no one really gives a hoot.

These are real live people, losing it all, to Islam. Christians, the most persecuted people group on the planet - take another hit - and no one cares. I want to go over and just sit with some of the families, and just be with them in their trouble, let them know someone noticed here in America - and appologize that no one in authority from this powerful nation even gave them a glance.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day!

I'm pumped! I love May 1st. And today is even a Friday - double bonus. I start thinking about summer, and taking a vacation, sitting on a rock in the sun. Pretty self-absorbed on that one. There's Mothers Day to think about, some upcoming important birthdays (like my baby boy Dagen turning 21 - yikes), there's a Memorial Day holiday coming. My calendar even says that the 31st is "Pentacost" - hmmm - don't remember that one ...... but worth celebrating!
But today I'm thinking most about my father: 'dad' (known by others as 'papa' or 'Don'). He's a stoic person. He's not 80 yet - but getting there. Perfect health. Clear thinking. Everything works. He's also one of the 3 people who reads my pathetic blog - and cares about what I say - because that's what he does and has always done - cares. He cares about the little things in everyones life. 40 or 50 kids/grandkids/great-grandkids, and he cares about each of them equally (I have no idea how many there are, but there's a bunch).
He's worked hard all his life and doesn't want to stop now. He's a pastors pastor. Not flamboyant or anything, but he's been around the church block a few times and knows how to navigate things that I have never even thought of. He's never met a stranger - ever.
I think I'm pretty 'cool' because I like to attend 2 different churches - for the different styles of worship and teaching and people. But I only do it if 'I' have time and it works for 'me'. Yet, I know for a fact it would not be unusual for dad to attend 4-6 different churches a week. He even teaches at nursing homes - places no one else will go on a Sunday afternoon - to show the elderly that someone cares enough. He does it now, and always has. It's not about him.
I've been 'lucky'. I've had jobs that pay well - and probably wouldn't work if it didn't. I keep working hard at working hard (I'll spare you the rat race routine). He, on the other hand has been 'blessed'. He's always worked hard of course, but not for the money. His boss really is a Jewish carpenter - and the boss has always taken care of him - extraordinarily well. Dad represents probably the best example of a life lived by Faith, that I have ever seen.
He tells me he wishes he had done more for us over the years. More? No dad could have ever done more. As an example of a life lived with humility, grace, honor, dedication, pride and perseverance - he has done it better than any other - and continues to do it week after week.
So. What does May Day 2009 have to do with dad? Nothing really. It's really just another Friday, of another week, of another month, of another year, when dad has always been there for me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The First 100 Days

It's an Obama-nation.

I'm really bummed-out. Dissapointed. Disillusioned. Sad for so many people. And surprised. Mostly surprised, by people I know who are so out of touch with reality - out of touch with life, real life, and the world we live in (as bad as it can be). I see them everywhere, talk to them, listen to them on the news and talk shows, and read them in the papers. They're even in the family, in the blood (so to speak) - which is most bewildering.

I find myself now only feeling sorry for the person speaking or writing on the success and jubilation of the first 100 days. There is true euphoria - everywhere! I'm more cynical than ever. Where others see 'success' and 'victory', I see absolute failure and defeat. How can this be? How do you tell someone they are living in a different paradigm, another un-parallel universe (slightly tilted)? There are two polar opposites working in American politics today - yet it goes far beyond politics alone - its color, faith, economics, race, liberty, motivation, moral conduct, joy, fear and hope - polar opposite views on everything.

The local paper yesterday listed the first 100 day accomplishments of Obama: Guantanamo, Torture, Stimulus, Bank Rescue, Auto Rescue, Embryonic Stem-cell research, Greenhouse gases, Iraq, Afghanistan, Budget, Health Care, Muslim Relations & The Changing Washington Culture.

So for every so called 'success' - I see complete and absolute failure. And its not just me seeing it, I'm not deluding myself. This is how bad it is: everything is upside-down, everything. Those who are to blame, are praised. Those who are to be praised, are blamed. What was right is wrong. What was wrong is now right. What was un-holy is holy.

I had grand plans of detailing line-by-line all of the atrocities of the new administration during the first 3 months of occupation. ("Atrocities" is a word I picked carefully here - make no mistake.) But I can't do it - just read the paper and listen to the media. You'll hear whatever it is that you want to hear.

But OK - take heart! And remember that as a believer, and praying that God's will would be done, Obama won. Then, if you are brave enough - read the Old Testament - and be very afraid. Then, read the New Testament - and have hope. The books of Revelation, Ezekial, Jeremiah & Danial have new meaning and insight. Watch Israel. Watch the Muslim world. Watch the Communist world.

And sit back on the porch at Starbucks, with a grande drip, and watch it all unfold right in front of you. Exciting times.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Be Afraid

Who isn't afraid? We fear everything: sickness, lack of money, losing our jobs, speaking in public, getting fat, getting old, what we just said or didn't say. We fear for the people we care most about - fear that they will be hurt, in an accident, or in a bad relationship. All kinds of fear. Fear can paralyze us. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear keeps us from sleeping soundly. Fear distracts us from our jobs, our school work and our relationships.

Fear is bad. Fear is killing us. Fear takes everything good out of us - robbing us of real life.

That's why the Bible talks about it so much - maybe more than anything else, from cover to cover, we are advised: DO NOT BE AFRAID! Because He knows what it can do, how it hinders us and keeps us back from what we are intended for. The only thing we're told to fear is "the Lord" - but that's a different kind of fear, it's more like respect - like electricity, don't fear it, just respect it, honor it for what it is. If we feared electicity we'd never turn on the lights.

A couple of my favorite motivational sayings are: 1) "what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?", and 2) "do one thing every day that scares you". Easy to say, hard to do. But it's always worth trying, everyday, for the reward it gives us.

In 1 Chronicals David says "do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you". And in Mark Jesus said "Don't be afraid, take courage, I am here". And in 2 Timothy Paul reminds us "for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline".

If nothing else, be reminded everyday that Fear can have a very negative impact on your life - so knowing that - attempt to do away with it. I'm a bad example of someone trying to avoid fear, because for one reason, I love horror movies - the scarrier the better (I always end up going alone). But actually these aren't the things that make me "fearful". We all have different fear buttons.

We could do some pretty sorry things if we had no fear - so some aspect of fear is good. BUT - what could you do, what would you do, if you weren't afraid? How much more productive and influential could you be? What ledge would you walk out on? What risk would you take? Where would you go? What mountain would you climb? Who would you talk to?

How great could you be, if you weren't afraid?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Power Washing

I have this old fence (I've mentioned it before) - maybe 10 years old, I'd guess. I got some pricing on building a new one, but wow, it's way out of line. So first I put in the new posts (with a little hired help). See, the posts were the only things needing to be replaced really. Took out the old posts, did some grinding (alot of grinding) to get all the old nails out of site - smoothed it out nice. But it still looked ugly and old.

Then, this past weekend I rented this high pressure / power wash machine from the hardware store. See, the pickets are what you see mostly, and if you really looked at them, you could tell there was enough substance down under the quarter inch of dirt and crud, that if I could just clean them off, I'd find some real fine and solid cedar down there. Pretty stuff.

I was right. It took a total of 24 hours, doing nothing but spraying high pressure water over each piece of wood, to remove the garbage that had collectted over the past 10 years. The Texas sun, wind, rain, dirt, exhaust fumes, bugs, chemicals, freezing ice, chlorine, oils, sap from trees, rusting nails, squirrel's and bugs running rampant over you for years - had all robbed the beautiful complexion from my cedar wood fence.

It hurt - it still hurts - it took a long time. It took 3 days. I was up and down ladders, in the mud, out of the mud, dirt flying everywhere, dirty water bouncing back and soaking me, the sheer power of the 2,500 psi's and 5.5 hp motor knocked me over (literally), the constant noise. I changed cloths a total of 6 times. I was doing 'circa de sole' (sp?) moves to get every angle, every inch of wood, in some tough unreachable spots. I'm bruised and I wasn't the one getting attacked - the fence was being assaulted by a high pressure gun - every square inch - a relentless, persistent "cleansing" was going on. I could almost here the fence shouting - PLEASE STOP!

OK - I've bored you to death. But here's my point: don't we get that way, over time. And we need to be cleaned up, before it's too late. Get power washed - my fence looks new - I mean NEW. It's what Jesus does for you. It may hurt a little - when you're being stripped of all your dirt, your pride may take a beating. But after it's over, and you're clean, you can breath and you're free, like new. You can stand there tall and firm, and watch the sun rise and set again.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What are your Principles?

Where do you stand? What are your 'Principles', your 'Philosophy'?. If you become engaged in a heated conversation with friends (or enemies) while sipping coffee at Starbucks - what drives you to take a stand, and not be pushed any further? Exactly which straw brakes your best camels back?

Unfortunately most of us don't give it much thought, and therefore don't take a stand. Who needs principles anyway - right? Wrong. It's what's wrong. As believers in Jesus, most of us can define quickly where we stand and how to be saved - there are absolutes, and we know what they are (well, some of us do).

But then there's this pesky problem of living in the real world. Oh, wait, believers live in the real world. So we need a Christian world view (meaning, we need to walk the talk everyday) . We have to deal with politics and 'other' world views. Most of the time, we have to take sides. And it's not a sin. Jesus took sides. Jesus demands we take sides.

So let's figure out where we stand - what our principles are. Write them down. Memorize them. I'm working on it now - for myself. For example, I'm a conservative, I know it in my heart. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can become great if we want to. People relying on government is not healthy. America is great - not bad. Ambition is good, not bad. Don't let others talk you out of your instincts - what you know, in your heart. You have your own life experiences - your gut tells you things, your conscience tells you more.

That's what i I think. What do you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An Apology - Please?

I had an original thought this morning - and those are rare - so here it is.

The current economic environment is being compared to "The Great Depression". At least, they, the media, says it's the second worst economic time since "The Great Depression".

Well then, I demand an apology. From who or whom? From my grandparents, parents, aunts & uncles and such. All those people that told us all those terrible stories about 1929 and the 30's. I mean, let's face it, if this is like it was then, well, come on. It aint that bad. Don't get me wrong, I am close to losing my job. We were given a 5% pay cut last week - ya - cut. So I'm scared - I'm not kidding - my job is next. But yesterday morning I did something I've never done. I had a real tough digging job to do for my new fence, and not being as tough as I use to be, I went to hire 3 guys off the corner Exxon lot to help me out for the day. As I pulled up, at least 30 guys ran to my car shouting 'me, me, me!' To cull the crowd, I rolled down my window and shouted "I need 3 guys for fence posts, $8 per hour!" 3/4 of the guys walked away. Yes, walked away - $8 was not worth their time. So I picked the 3 best guys who wanted to actually work - and I paid them $12/hr for it. Point: Recession? Depression? 1929? Hopeless?

I demand an appology people.

If now is like then, I want answers. What's the deal? Ya, people are hurting everywhere, houses are up for sale. I'm not be-littling that, I may be joining you soon. But come on?! If we're experiencing 1929 all over again - 1929 wasn't that bad - was it?

Or are we being played?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"The Best Job in The World" (5 days left!)

Every morning I go to work and as I place my card up against the reader to open the door, I secretly pray that the green light comes on and it beeps, allowing me to enter the door. These are tough times. And the company I work for has 200,000 employees. They wouldn't miss me. I'm expendable - very, very, expdendable.

I think we're all wondering about our jobs - aren't we?

So this guy pointed me to the "best job in the world" - and told me to submit my application. He did, and he's sure he will get it. (he's a fellow Kilimanjaro trekker). You have to submit a 60 second video and an electronic application. You have to check it out, you can watch the videos of all the applicants - its amazing. There's something else going on here, but I can't figure it out.

What do you do at this job? You live on an island off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Free rent and living expenses. It's for 6 months. You are the island caretaker. You get paid $100,000 US. You feed the fish and write reports back to headquarters to encourage tourism. This job was made for ME. But I think some of my clever nephews and nieces are more likely to win if they apply some of that incredible talent they have into the application. Go for it! At least check out the web-site (caution, its a little slow to load) - you won't believe it - the level of international attention - absolutely amazing. Watch for my application video, it will be out there soon!

If we don't get this job - the best job in the world - there will be others. Keep looking.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Worlds Population - Think About It!

Not too long ago I had read somewhere that approximately 85% of ALL the people who have ever lived, are alive today. It took me back - I mean - I didn't know what to make of it. Dealing in the world of statistics, I was skeptical. Mark Twain once said, "there are 3 kinds of lies: 1) lies, 2) damn lies, and 3) statistics".

So this morning I didn't have any meetings, no calls, no nothin. I went to google and typed in something like "world population", and got, as you can imagine, all kinds of hits. But none that validated this statistic. I took what I found in various places and created a spreadsheet.

Starting at zero (0) AD (the time of Christs birth), I loaded what experts believe was the total global population by year - in 50 year increments. I was able to back into the number of births and deaths to arrive at the net increase or decrease in the total population. And I did that all the way to today, and through 2050. It's a beautiful spreadsheet - a piece of art really.

Guess what? 83% of ALL people who have lived (were born) since the time of Christ, are alive today. Mull that over in your head. Get your arms around it. At 6 billion people on the globe, 83%, since Jesus was born in Bethlehem - are alive - NOW.

Should this change anything we do, how we think, where we go, who we talk to, what we say?