The Art of Vacation 2 (Sequel to “The Art of Vacation” posted 3/25/2014)

“Aaahhhhh!” That utterance, offered by yours truly this morning, is the essence of having achieved a clean and refreshing break from routine through the Art of Vacation. And what a vacation it was!

A Celebration of True Love

Our family vacation commenced with a two-day drive to beautiful Ouray, Colorado where we would join with family from all over the country in celebrating the nuptials of my niece, Jenny.

Panoramic taken from outside our room at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs

Panoramic taken from outside our room at the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs

A Celebration of True Friendship

Upon returning from Colorado June 30, we prepared for the arrival of our friends from Roanoke, Virginia the next day. When they arrived at DFW Airport we hit the ground running, spending lots of time catching up on each other’s families while we played tourist in my home town.

Dealey Plaza, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, was our first tourist stop. Offering an audio tour through the events of that fateful day, the museum on the sixth floor of the old Texas Book Depository is extremely well done. If you live in the Metroplex or find yourself visiting here you must put this on your bucket list.

We lightened the mood on July 3 by visiting downtown Grapevine, Texas. This historical area features several Texas wineries along with cool shops offering everything from fine chocolates to antiques to Texas apparel & souvenirs. Grapevine also offers several fine restaurants to suit any taste. We were apparently so caught up in the excitement that none of us took any pictures!

Independence Day, July 4, found us in the historical Fort Worth Stockyards, one of my favorite places to visit. We took in the sights and sounds of this beautiful historical district and celebrated our freedom at the Stockyards Rodeo – you can’t get much more Americana than that!

Our friends departed for home Saturday afternoon, and we spent the remainder of the day relaxing at home as we recharged the proverbial batteries.

The Art of Vacation

As I prepared to leave the office for vacation I put the wheels in motion by letting my coworkers know that they will hear from me when I return to the office on Monday, July 7. I updated my voice mail greeting to state clearly that I am not checking it, and my email auto-reply clearly states the same. And I kept my word. Today I returned to work reenergized, refreshed, and ready.

Have you lost the Art of Vacation? If so, find it. Reclaim it. Live it. I promise you won’t regret it.

“Everybody’s Got an Angle”

Ah, the wisdom of the great entertainer Bob Wallace, portrayed by Bing Crosby in White Christmas. “Everybody’s got an angle.” Bob speaks this line in the context of discussing people’s motivation for the things they do. And, as I consider his statement, I’ve concluded that he is correct. Everybody, indeed, has an angle.

The immediate connotation of an angle tends to be negative. It implies that people use each other or misrepresent circumstances for their own gain. It implies that people’s motivations aren’t necessarily for good. In Bob Wallace’s case, he was talking about a letter written by Betty Haynes that lured Wallace & Davis to Vermont under a false pretense. Haynes was seeking an audition with Wallace & Davis, and believing they would not likely grant her request, she wrote a letter about her brother, an old army buddy of Wallace & Davis, that opened the door. Wallace understood that Betty Haynes had worked a false pretense (her “angle”) but was OK with it in the context of his world view because the end result was good for all four of them, as well as for General Waverly.

What do you seek, and what are you willing to do to achieve your goals? What is your angle? What motivates you?

Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” ~ 1 Kings 3:6-9

Before his passing, King David made his son, Solomon, his successor to the throne with God’s blessing. Solomon could have asked God for anything, yet what was his request? His request was that God would give him an understanding heart and wisdom to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. He didn’t ask for fame; he didn’t ask for wealth; he didn’t ask for a long life or even for world peace. His request was simply that God would make him wise so that Solomon could effectively govern the people. What was God’s response to Solomon’s prayer?

God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.” ~ 1 Kings 3:11-14

This was Solomon’s angle: that he be given wisdom from God so that he could be effective and God pleasing in his role as king. There is nothing negative here. This is a man who knew his place (king over Israel, but subject to the sovereign God) and simply wanted to serve honorably. Solomon prayed from his heart and God knew that; God therefore honored Solomon’s prayer, and then some.

Like most reading this post, I work for a living. I work for and with people whose motives are very honorable, but there are also those whose motives tend towards the selfish and dishonorable. Many in the work place are outstanding mentors to those whom they oversee, but others view colleagues and coworkers as rungs on the ladder of success, to be climbed over for one’s own personal gain. Some will misrepresent facts, as did Betty Haynes, to further their cause. We all know people who fit into both categories. Both types of people have an angle.

Business these days can be very competitive. How does one succeed in a competitive environment in which, for many, the accumulation of money and power is often the “be all, end all” of motivation? I thank God for the example He offers through King Solomon. I pray that God would give me a heart that seeks Him as purely and genuinely as Solomon did. I pray that God would grant me the wisdom to serve Him honorably in all that I do. I pray that He would show me my faults and help me correct them. I pray that God will put honorable people in my path from whom I can learn, while also giving me the opportunity to serve Him by serving others whether as husband, father, boss, or colleague.

Obstacles and circumstances will come, and each presents an opportunity to work an angle. No matter what obstacles or opportunities come my way, I pray that serving God will always be at the forefront of everything I do.

Everybody’s got an angle. What’s yours?

#roadwarriorprobs

I credit my good friend John Adams with coining the hashtag #roadwarriorprobs. He uses it frequently, and I’ve adopted it as one of my favorites. We use it to describe the good, the bad, and even the ugly that we who travel frequently face from time to time. I like it so much, that I’m bound and determined to grow its use in the vast, wonderful realm of social media.

#roadwarriorprobs – the business trip that takes an unexpected turn as the flight home on Thursday is replaced at the last minute by a drive to the next destination to address an urgent situation that has just come up. When this happens, is your glass half full or is it half empty?

 

Relaxing in the Executive Lounge at the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, IL. 5.22.2014

Relaxing in the Executive Lounge at the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, IL. 5.22.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – that moment when you’re sitting up in bed at the local Hampton Inn watching the Duck Dynasty clan, knowing that many of your friends and family envision you enjoying a lavish dinner or a night out on the town.

 

My view at the Hampton Inn. Living large! 3.21.2014

My view at the Hampton Inn. Living large! 5.21.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – speaking of that lavish dinner, there are perks to business travel. One of my favorites comes in the form of relationships, and enjoying a fine meal in the company of people who I’ve come to genuinely like over the years to the point of considering them true friends.

 

The Cowboy Ribeye at St Elmo Steakhouse, Indianapolis, IN. 5.21.2014

The Cowboy Ribeye at St Elmo Steakhouse, Indianapolis, IN. 5.21.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – the snowstorm that wreaks havoc on your travel schedule as it transforms a major US city into a beautiful winter wonderland. Do you stay inside and fret or do you get out and enjoy the beauty?

 

Original image taken on Broad Street, just north of the Doubletree, looking at City Hall just a few blocks up. 1.1.2014

Original image taken on Broad Street, just north of the Doubletree, looking at City Hall just a few blocks up.  Philadelphia, PA 1.1.2014

#roadwarriorprobs – that sigh of relief that comes when the wheels go up, you’re in the air, and you are finally able to unwind as you look forward to seeing your family upon arriving home.

 

Blogging at 30,000 feet

Blogging at 30,000 feet

And last but not least…

#roadwarriorprobs – sharing the fun with the one you love.

My wife and me enjoying the beautiful pool at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort, Naples, FL. 2.15.2014

My wife and me enjoying the beautiful pool at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort, Naples, FL. 2.15.2014

None of these are problems per se. They are the little curve balls life throws us, sometimes when we are least expecting it. Life is what you make it, and I’ve learned over the years to appreciate these times. And when God blesses me with an unexpected moment while I’m away from home you’re likely to see me share it on social media with my favorite hashtag. Fellow road warriors, feel free to join me!

The Treasure of God’s Word

Are you a Christian who believes that the Old Testament has nothing to offer we Christians in these modern times?

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:27

Soon after His resurrection, Jesus joined two of His followers as they walked along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were kept from recognizing Him. Jesus asked them what they were discussing along the way, and they described the recent events concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and reported resurrection. They expressed their disappointment that Jesus of Nazareth apparently was not the Messiah as they had come to expect.

Jesus then opened the Scriptures to them, explaining the prophesies of the Old Testament that point straight to the Messiah. Later, as they dined together, Jesus broke bread and their eyes were opened; they recognized their risen Lord and Savior!

God reveals Himself to us in many ways. We look at the wonder of creation and see His handiwork all around us. We see Him in the faith and sacrifice of those Christians who have gone before us. God reveals Himself to us in His Holy Word – the Bible.

I’m always amazed when somebody claims that the Bible is nothing more than an elaborate hoax on humanity. Some claim that it is all made up, and that we believers are fools for believing it. They claim that it is out of step with modern-day humanity; that it was useful before, but no longer useful in this so-called evolved and intelligent society. They accuse those of us who believe God’s word of wallowing in fantasy. Such thought, my friends, is the work of the devil himself.

Many modern day believers set themselves up to fall into this trap by ignoring God’s Word, or by only studying portions of it. When we Christians limit our study of Scripture, we do not partake of God’s full revelation of Himself and we open ourselves up to buying into the hoax. As I read God’s Word, the majesty of who He is springs forth from the pages. As I read Old Testament prophesy and New Testament revelation, I see a more complete picture of God and I realize that those proffering the hoax theory are the fools.

In this passage, Jesus intentionally keeps His companions from recognizing Him so that He would have the opportunity to relate Scriptures to Himself – to alleviate their doubts, from God’s Word, that Jesus is the Messiah. Later, when He opened their eyes over dinner, the full picture of Jesus became crystal clear to them and they were ready to share the good news.

Christian, if you are not studying God’s Word in its entirety, you are missing out on God’s gift of revelation to His people. It’s not too late. On January 1, I began a one-year Bible reading plan. Each morning I read passages from the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as Psalms and Proverbs. The reading plan is sequential – I am in the Old Testament book of Judges and the New Testament book of Luke as I write this. And, already, my understanding and awe of my Lord and my God is rapidly growing. As He reveals Himself to me in this Treasure of His Word, my faith is growing stronger as well. Bible reading plans don’t have to start on January 1 – won’t you join me?

For the complete account of Jesus’ encounter with His followers along the road to Emmaus, read Luke 24:13-35.

It All Starts Here

It hit me like a ton of bricks as I read my Bible this morning. This passage beautifully states the foundation of all that I know to be true:

Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. ~ Psalms 90:2

This reality puts my life into proper context, even as my heart breaks for this lost world. You see, man seeks to understand the foundation and purpose of our existence, and in doing so has concocted many theories and false gods to try and explain the basics of who we are and why we’re here. Since man’s reasoning is not perfect, man cannot discern the truth on his own, so we adopt beliefs with no true foundation, even going so far as to say that what is true for you is true and what is true for me is true, even if those so-called truths conflict. What a sad state of affairs!

We cannot come to an understanding of our purpose for existence until we understand who God is. God is the sovereign creator of all things – including man. He is not made; He was not born; He was not created. God is not constrained by time; He is eternal. He is holy. He is just. God is God. How do I know this is true? God says so, in His Word. Yes, it’s that simple.

What freedom this knowledge gives! I serve the Creator of all things, the sovereign God Almighty! Praise His Holy name! Standing upon this foundational truth, I go back into His Word and learn about His amazing love for each and every one of us. God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, points to one Person: Jesus Christ.

Has it been awhile since you’ve read your Bible? Open it today. God is waiting patiently to reveal Himself to you.

My Facebook Hiatus: Revelations and Resolutions

During my self-imposed Lenten hiatus from Facebook, I missed some things and I didn’t miss others. Here they are, with a few resolutions and some of my favorite pics thrown in for good measure.

Things I Missed

Simple. I missed my friends. I heard from a couple over the course of my hiatus that they missed me, too. Facebook is a blessing in my life. Through it I have reconnected with many friends from my past, and I enjoy seeing what is going on in their lives today. We share joys and sorrows. We share songs and jokes. We share our families. We share life’s highlights and its lowlights. We say “Happy Birthday”! We’ve planned high school and college reunions. We laugh, weep, and pray together. Isn’t that what friends are for? I’ve missed those interactions, and I’m glad to be back. I have a renewed appreciation for all of the wonderful people God has placed in my life.

Things I Didn’t Miss

Political Misinformation. You know what I’m talking about – the supposedly clever one-liners and memes intended to belittle or put political opponents in their place. Such misinformation contributes nothing to our national discourse; in fact, it only serves to contribute to the ongoing weakening of this great country we share. Facebook is full of political misinformation from all sides of the political spectrum – conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and independents are equally to blame. I’ve been guilty of slinging this crap myself from time to time. I didn’t miss this one bit. Resolved: I will continue to post on political topics. Any political posting from me will be fact-checked in support of a candidate or position; I will not sling crap or otherwise insult those with whom I disagree. If we all shared this resolution, Facebook and the good ‘ole USA will be a much nicer place to hang out.

Game Invitations. I don’t want to play Candy Crush. I don’t want to build a farm on Farmville. I don’t care how rad or cool you think the latest game is – I’m not interested. I get tired of game invitations littering my news feed. It’s a pain to go to “Settings” to block them. Play your games and enjoy them. Just please, please, please stop sending me invitations!

Lost Dogs. I’m a dog guy; we have two of them. It breaks my heart when people abuse animals. But I’m not in adoption mode. I don’t need to know how many hours Spot has in the shelter before they put him down or what dog is lost from which neighborhood. Those are depressing and I can do nothing about either. If your kids are lost, I’m interested. If your own personal pet is lost, I’m interested. I’ll help you look for them and pray for their safe return if you ask me to. But please don’t share every animal that needs a home; I can’t give them one. (I do like hearing about successful adoptions, though; that’s cool).

My Facebook Going Forward

With all that said, each of us with a wall on Facebook has a personal space in which to post whatever we like. Perusing a person’s Wall gives a bit of a window into what makes them tick, and that’s really neat. So take what I’ve offered here with a grain of salt and post away! As for me, I’m going to focus on the things that matter most to me: My faith, my family, and my country. I will strive to do so with the utmost respect for those who may wander in and take a look. I’m available to each of my friends (why do we refer to them as “Facebook friends”? I’m going to stop doing that, too. They’re my friends, plain and simple). I’m available to laugh with you, weep with you, celebrate with you, support you, and pray with you. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?

Photo Credit: flipflopspearlsandwine.com

Photo Credit: flipflopspearlsandwine.com

He Is Risen!

This fundamental Truth will set you free: that our sovereign God created all things. He created man in His image to be in relationship with Him. Sin entered the world through the man Adam, and all generations to follow are under its curse. God didn’t abandon us to sin, however. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to walk the earth – fully man and fully God. Jesus is the only man to have ever lived a life free of sin, and thus, He was the perfect sacrifice. Out of perfect love for us, Jesus went willingly to the cross and died to take our punishment. But it didn’t end there:

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. ~ Matthew 28:1-11

We cannot “earn” our way into heaven. The only way to eternal life is through faith in Jesus Christ. He took my punishment, and he took yours. Today, Easter Sunday, all of Christendom celebrates this Truth.

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

Happy Easter!

hir

Photo credit: flipflopspearlsandwine.com

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