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On My Mind: A Car, A Meeting, and A Conversation

Here is what’s on my mind this evening. I hope it adds some value to your day, but even if it doesn’t I’m happy to get this off my chest.

A Car: Ode to a Prius

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

Taking delivery of my 2015 Toyota Prius V, Texas Toyota of Grapevine. 6.19.2015

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would trade my nice, luxurious 2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer SUV for a Toyota Prius I would have told you that you don’t know me very well. I purchased my Expedition in December, 2013 and was instantly taken by it’s massive size, comfortable ride, and luxurious appointments. Even the meager average 15.4 miles per gallon fuel consumption did not mitigate my affection for that vehicle. It also didn’t hurt that the Expedition won me instant credibility among the Fort Worth elite as I parked it in the Justin lot at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo alongside the vehicles of other rodeo volunteers.

As I write this today, I am the proud owner of a 2015 Toyota Prius V and, yes, Texas Toyota of Grapevine gladly accepted my Expedition in trade. I drive a lot in my job, and in just over a week’s time I put almost 700 miles on my new Prius, averaging just over 40 miles per gallon. My Prius is stylish – and that’s not just my opinion. Every colleague and prospect I have driven thus far has offered that feedback. The car is smooth, quiet, and equipped with cool gadgetry that I am still learning to operate. Based on my simple math, I have saved 29 gallons of gas – about $75. The gas savings alone will cover over half of my monthly payment and I am pumping significantly fewer toxins into the air. I’d say that’s a win all around.

A Meeting: The Value of Face-to-Face

"These dogs are barkin'!" ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

“These dogs are barkin’!” ~ Del Griffith in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. June, 2014

I have been blessed to enjoy a wonderful career in corporate risk management. Topics that many would find dull, such as safety protocols, claims management, and insurance terms & conditions are quite interesting to me. In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Neal Page said something along these lines in his rant against Del Griffith’s boring stories, “I could sit in an insurance seminar for days and listen to them drone on and on with a big smile on my face. People would ask me, ‘how do you do it?’ and I’d tell them, ‘because I’ve been with Del Griffith.’” On that point I disagree with Neal Page; I thoroughly enjoy those seminars!

I enjoyed some great meetings today; meetings in which we discussed strategies for safety and claims management and how sound practices in those areas can enhance the work experience of employees and the customer experience of guests. During a break this afternoon I was struck by the fact that we humans were created to be relational; to interact with one another, to shake hands, smile, agree and even disagree. Technology has led us to a fast-paced business tempo in which we often communicate via email, online chat, or conference call. Even our social relationships are moving more online as we interact with friends and family via the plethora of social media outlets available at the click of a mouse. Those things have their place, but after a day like today, I’m reminded of just how important it is that we engage our world without the barriers of pretense or technology. Nothing replaces sitting down and talking.

A Conversation: Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?

Speaking of sitting down and talking, I was once a Facebook Ninja. At least, that’s the best term I can come up with to describe a person who pages through his news feed and pounces on others’ comments on topics upon which I disagree. Often, those posts would launch a rather ugly exchange that served no purpose but to tick one another off. I’ve made a conscious effort to change my ways over the past year or so, and while I am still tempted to drop a vitriolic comment every now and then, I’m happy with my progress to this point.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn's.

8.9.2014 Enjoying a delicious home-cooked Brazilian feast with dear friends, courtesy of the Dunn’s.

We are living in very historic times, and we are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another about things of extremely great importance. The media no longer reports news; it spins statements and circumstances in an effort to drive ratings. In my opinion, the so-called news channels and the national and local network news outlets offer very little of substance or value to the American people. We the People are no better, for we readily consume the kool-aid offered up by our favorite TV spin doctors, regurgitate bits and pieces of it on social media, and commence to attacking one another for being stupid and uninformed. As all of this plays out, I fear we are squandering the greatest nation that ever existed.

I have good friends from all political persuasions. We sometimes trade barbs on social media, but I haven’t talked personally with many of them for years. I’ve often toyed with the idea of hosting a “Friend Summit”. It would be a weekend to gather friends from various walks of life and political ideals and discuss the issues of the day – everything from taxation to immigration to gay marriage – not necessarily to try and change each other’s minds but to arrive at least at an understanding of where our perspectives are coming from. But most importantly, my aim would be to reinforce for each of us that we are all children of our Creator, we all want to live a good life, and we all need each other. I’m still kicking this idea around in my head; I wonder if anybody would come.

Truth Exchanged for Lies ~ Jeremiah 3:6-5:31

“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” ~ Jeremiah 5:30-31

Throughout this passage God is pronouncing his judgment against Israel and Judah for abandoning Him. They have embraced the gods of foreign lands. They are living the proverbial “good life” as they turned their collective backs on God. Not only have they rejected God’s way of living, they have rejected His sovereignty. God is clearly angered by their sin. As a consequence for their sins, God promises to raise up an army from a foreign land to overtake Judah and Israel; they will destroy them, but not completely.

As I read Jeremiah, I continue to see many parallels between Israel at the time of Jeremiah and the United States today. We are a blessed nation that has turned from God. Our society rejects Christ as it embraces various false understandings of God. Those who follow such false religions are often lauded as full of wisdom in our society. Open-mindedness is a religion unto itself as it celebrates so-called progressive thought and false teachings. Indeed, we are a nation that embraces such modern-day “foreign gods” as we reject the True God and look down on those who stand firmly upon God’s Holy Word.

Even the American Christian church-at-large is guilty of seeking after false gods. The Episcopalian church, for example, has developed a rite of union for gay couples (see http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/12/03/liturgy-for-blessing-same-gender-relationships-begins-provisional-use/). Many believers have embraced the notion of “universal salvation” rather than stand firmly on the teachings of Scripture that Jesus is the only means of salvation (see John 14:6). Many churches today refuse to read and study the Old Testament, claiming it has no relevance in a “New Testament world”. When the church cherry-picks the Scriptures it will preach and teach while rejecting the rest, the church is acting under its own authority rather than God’s, just as God said it would in the passage above. And when it sets out down that deceitful path, it’s no wonder that many believers are led astray by the very people God has entrusted with the Truth. Yes, even in the church, we reject God’s ways of living for philosophies and lifestyles based on prevailing thought or human wisdom. May God have mercy upon us.

God says in chapter five “If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (5:1b). The fact is, that person does not exist – not then and not today. There is, however, one Person who fits this description. He is Truth Himself: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As I shudder at the depravity of modern-day living I rejoice at the reality of God’s mercy shown through His Son. God is angered by sin, and the consequences of sin are clear. But even in His anger He offers reconciliation and redemption through Jesus. Let us confess our sins to Him and seek the forgiveness God so freely offers through His Son. And upon doing so, let us reject society’s false gods and stand firmly upon God’s Holy Word – all of it.

Ponder this: Are there teachings in God’s Word that I have set aside in exchange for human wisdom?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, the enemy is active among us as he seeks to distract and deceive us. Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have rejected Your Truth and instead placed my confidence in human wisdom. Help me to seek You, and only You, as I live out my time on Earth. And as I do so, help me, Lord, to always speak Your truth in Christian love. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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