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.