New Blog & Podcast Ask, “Is There a Theology of Vacation?”

The New “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast is out, and this week, we talk about a theology of vacation.  You can find all the links on all of our platforms at This is Gonna Hurt.

In this episode we discuss:

Is there a theology of vacation?  Well, not specifically, but in all things, we should build a theology around what we choose to do or not do.

Scripturally, there is definitive theology of sabbath – the commanded one day of rest in seven.  I think this is perhaps the hardest commandment given.  We all struggle with God having a say in our life.  The moment He says He is the Lord of our time, our hearts rebel, but that is a topic for another day.

As for vacation, Biblically, most people didn’t have the option in their day because they lived in an agrarian or agricultural society.  Oh, you can take a week off, but animals don’t milk themselves and crops aren’t harvested without you.  Leaving for any extended time might mean the death of your sources of income.

Mark 6:31 shows us Jesus took time away for rest, but no one with integrity could find an American styled vacation in His three years of ministry.

Really vacations are about being a good steward of all that God has given you.  As Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So, how do you approach vacations?  I want to offer a few tips, especially as I approach my vacation very soon.  Full disclosure, many of my thoughts here are focused on vacations with a family with children.  I’ll leave that theology to someone else, but I will offer that some of the thoughts might be helpful to singles and married with no children couples.  For the sake of organization, I’ve divided my thoughts into three categories:

Time Alone

Vacation offers some rare time alone.  How do you redeem it?  I would say three ways:  exercising, reading, and spending time with God.  You may not get those each day, but if your family schedule allows, take it.  If you have small children who require attention, swap out time with your spouse so you can care for yourself.  Don’t let vacation be permission to eat terribly and not move.  If so, vacations just become a time of regret.  Don’t neglect time with God.  You won’t have more time when you get back home.  And read for goodness sake.  Engage those eyeballs in a good book.  Your brain will thank you.

Time with Spouse

This one can be tough when you have kids.  If you can’t get away from them, steal a few moments when they go to bed or get up.  If they are old enough and responsible enough, take a walk without them.  Make that time purposeful.  Have times where you talk about what you need to talk about.  Have times where you talk about interests (what you are reading, etc).  Enjoy each other.  Sit beside each other.  Walk on the beach.  Just don’t let vacation come and go without a few moment to be refreshed with each other.

Time with Children

Making vacation fun for your kids can make vacation not feel like vacation to the parents.  But here is the thing, there will come a day when your kids can’t take vacation with you because their lives are full.   Have fun with your kids.  Play board games.  Play on the beach.  Play, play, play.  Read together.  Whatever.  Just make the time with your kids purposeful.

Hopefully, you and your family can get a vacation this year, even if it is small.  Take it seriously.  Plan ahead so you can relax.  And in the everything, give thanks to God.

If you want to hear more about this thought.  Check out the “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast where I talk about this very topic.

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

This episode of the “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast is sponsored by Gospel Rich Books.  Gospel Rich Books offers a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

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God Works Behind the Scenes

God works behinds the scenes. 

Having chosen teaching as my major late in my college career, I graduated in December.  That created a problem.  The prime season for finding a job in academics is the spring semester, so I was behind the eight ball a bit. 

I had several job interviews in the fall while student teaching, but they were primarily for teachers going on maternity leave.  None of them panned out.  As a result, graduation and the Christmas season were depressing, and moving home was not an option.  I refused to go backwards and become a “failure to launch”.

Fortunately, in that day, East Carolina University had a program where teachers could fill out a generic application to be kept on file.  That way, if schools contacted the education department, they would have plenty of candidates along with their contact information.

After a despairing 48 hours post-graduation, the future principal of Tar River Learning Center contacted me.  He informed me that Rocky Mount, NC was opening a training school for students who had been previously expelled.  The school was the system’s effort to reduce the dropout rate.  He wanted to know if I was interested in an interview.

I immediately said, “Yes.”  My interview was the next day. 

Rocky Mount is about an hour away from both ECU and my parent’s home.  It is a small town with an amazingly high crime rate.  It is known for its drug trade, being exactly half way between New York and Florida on I-95.  It is also traditionally one of the worst school systems in NC.

In my interview, the principal let me know that he was temporary as the school launched.  Also, the school wouldn’t have enough books for every student, and the teachers were required to teach multiple subjects at the same time, even if they didn’t have training in that subject.  The upside was that classes would have no more than 15 or so students. 

I jumped at the opportunity despite multiple friends telling me that I was crazy to even consider it.  Yes, it was the only job offer I had, but that wasn’t it.  Since attending Urbana 90 (a mission minded, college conference held every three years), this was my goal and my target job:  working with at-risk students in an urban environment.

Tar River taught me, perhaps more than seminary, how to communicate and how to get to the basics of any subject.  My classrooms were full of unwilling, and seemingly, unteachable children.  There were bright spots of course, and now, 20 years later through social media, I’ve learned that a few went on to be nurses, graphic artists, and the like. 

Additionally, without taking the job, I would not have met my wife, wouldn’t have been mentored by her father, and I can’t realistically figure out how I would have gone into ministry. 

In graduating late, taking a job that everyone thought was a bad idea, working in a rough environment in difficult conditions, God led me down paths I couldn’t have imagined.  There were many stresses along the way, but I can look back now and see God’s hand in every step.

While we may not always know or trust God is at work, we should assure our hearts that He is. 

Isaiah 45: “Turn to me and be saved,

    all the ends of the earth!

    For I am God, and there is no other.

23 By myself I have sworn;

    from my mouth has gone out in righteousness

    a word that shall not return:

‘To me every knee shall bow,

    every tongue shall swear allegiance

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready. 

If you want to follow more of what’s going on with Gordon, check out the website www.jgordonduncan.com and his recently launched podcast at

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-gonna-hurt-the-podcast-of-j-gordon-duncan/id13563529 

 

 

Gordon Goes To Vegas Part Four – Final Recap

You can read my earlier recaps of Gordon Goes to Vegas at Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.

I woke Day Four in Vegas knowing that it was going to be a long haul ahead.  This day of the 10XGrowthCon was packed, and I was flying all night long back to VA.  But I was no less excited as there were a few of my favorite speakers on the docket.

I began my day with 25 minutes of stretching in the hotel room because I knew I was going to be sitting a ton in the next 36 hours.  Feeling great, I packed up my hotel room and checked out.  Thankfully, one of my three buddies from the day prior invited me to meet for omelets again.  A genuine friendship was established.  We talked about ministry, business, and family struggles and have kept up since the event.  That alone was one of the best takeaways from the trip.

With all that done, I headed into the event. Coach Burt began the day.  Don’t know Coach Burt?  He is a former high school teacher and present social entrepreneur/coach.  I loved him.  He was less, “Let me sell you my product,” and more, “I want to see you grow in each and every area of your life.” His genuineness from a stage to 9,000 people made me examine the way I speak, causing me to wonder if I connect with my 100 folks like he did to thousands.

Tim Storey spoke soon after.  Tim Storey is often called Hollywood’s pastor, preaching each week in the hills and even spending time as Oprah’s life coach.  His message was upbeat, genuinely faith-filled, and inspirational.  I am not much for clichés, but sometimes a crowd just connects with them.  He talked about how, once you achieve goals and move into a new area of growth and faith, you don’t want to go backward.  He said, “Once you’ve touched the flames, you can’t live in the smoke.”  Not how I would say it but, wow, 9,000 people ate it up.  I was fortunate enough to meet Tim later in the day.  He made a point to tell me that he was emphasizing faith in this conference, and he hoped it made an impact.  I believe it did.

Following Tim Storey was Lewis Howes.  Lewis is the host of the “School of Greatness” podcast.  I love this podcast and have listened to nearly episode.  Lewis’ quiet humility and confidence are infectious.  His story of missing out on the NFL because of an Arena Football injury and living on his sister’s couch is inspiring.  His talk was a bit similar to others I have heard, but it was fun and full of energy.  Just by chance, as I was walking around the arena to stretch my legs, I bumped into Lewis.  He and I had a real conversation. Lewis’ father is dying, so I asked how he was doing.  I shared the story of losing my father.  It was a nice moment and probably my favorite of the whole trip.

There were other speakers, but I will admit after 24 plus hours of talks, I was beginning to lose focus.  When the time came, I headed to the airport.  If you paid, there was another day of speakers, but I chose not to pay and stay.  I headed to the airport for the long trip home.  I got through security easily which never happens to me, and I walked around talking to Amy and the girls.  Processing had already started because I didn’t want this to just be another conference without any real change happening.

I settled in for the long wait for my flight.  I was sleepy which made me hopeful for dozing off on the plane.  That wasn’t going to happen.

On my flight, I was stuck way at the back.  After an hour or so in the air, I dozed off.  About 15 minutes later, I woke up with a start.  The stewardesses were literally handing a fellow passenger up over everybody, crowd-surfing style, to the front.  He was unconscious.  Anyone who was still awake (or awoken) was shaken.  I eventually found out that the young man fell into unconsciousness, and they were trying to revive him.  He was reportedly alright.

After what felt like the longest night in the world, we landed.  From landing to home took 2 hours.  With just a tiny bit of sleep, I needed to stay awake for the drive home.  Thankfully, my Uber driver was talkative.  A young Nigerian man, he spoke of faith and opened up about the questions of Catholicism versus Protestantism.  Thankful for the conversation, I still struggled to stay awake.  When he dropped me off at my car (with another 40 minutes of drive time ahead), he kindly asked if I was going to be okay.  I was, but barely.  I got home and slept for 3 hours.

All in all, I’m glad I went to the 10XGrowthCon, and I would like to go next year.  I doubt I will ever find a ticket that cheap again, though rumor has it that the conference will be in Miami which would be nice.  I think the talks and notes will continue to affect me, and I imagine processing them here and on my upcoming podcast, “This is Gonna Hurt”.  Look for it on iTunes.

We’ll see what the long-range benefit of the conference was, but I know I’m changed in many ways from the talks, the sharing of the gospel, the lessons in public speaking, and lots more.

Thanks for reading all of these updates.  Feel free to interact with any thought you might have.

Gordon

You can find all of Gordon’s adventures at www.jgordonduncan.com

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

Gordon Goes to Vegas Part Two

If you would like to read part one of my Vegas story, you can find it here.  Thanks.

Day One of the conference set a tone.  In light of the recent shooting in Las Vegas, security was high.  9,000 people entered an auditorium and NO BAGS WERE ALLOWED.  The conference gave everyone a drawstring, but that was about all that was allowed.  Some ladies with large purses were turned away.

Attendees entered through an airport type scanner with the command to have everything in your pockets in your hand and held above your head.  Following that, you were then scanned with a handheld metal detector. Then, you went through another area where you had to scan your attendance bracelet.  If successful, it pulled up your name on a screen, and you were finally able to enter the convention.  If you left to get food or drink, you had to go through the entire process again.  While annoying, I didn’t mind the extra level (or 3) of protection in light of the past Vegas (and recent) school violence.

Despite the long lines, no one seemed to mind.  Even after the security check, the same high energy continued.  Questions like, “Where are you from?  What do you do?  What’s your why?”  were prevalent.

The ushers led me up an elevator and to my section of the arena.  I had the best seat in the house.  It wasn’t on the floor.  It wasn’t close to the stage.  In fact, it was as far from the stage as possible.  I was in an upper balcony that provided lots of room to walk around to stretch, and the bathroom was close by and never crowded.  I settled in and quickly met the guy beside me, a young Medicaid auditor named Jesse.  With my insurance filing background, we hit it off.

After an overly long and self-indulgent introduction, Grant Cardone spoke.  Oddly enough, he didn’t really speak a lot over the four days.  He left most of the talks to the other two dozen or so guest speakers.  Of note, the conference was three days long, and you could pay extra for the fourth, but I declined. 

Cardone began with such statements as,

“Meet a new you.”

“There’s nobody pushing you. You can do more. If you know you can do more, you have to do more. If you don’t, you will have this big hole inside.”

The following speaker, billionaire Jordan Zimmerman, continued the theme.  He said,

“Never say I wish I would have. Never say I wish I could have.  Excuses are lies we tell ourselves to feel better.”

I began to think that perhaps the whole conference was going to be a humanistic disaster.  But a few speakers later, Ed Mylett spoke.  Ed Mylett is a performance coach and CEO of World Financial Group.  Ed was different.  He talked about what it meant to be an evangelist and compared the drive and calling of an evangelist to one’s workplace. His faith was clear as a motivator and as an accountability factor for how he did business and how much business he did.  It was refreshing. 

Several other speakers presented throughout the day:  Brad Lea, Forbes Riley, Andy Frisella, etc.  Some were inspirational, some combative.  Whether the people in the crowd resonated with the speakers or not, each challenged the audience to quit accepting mediocrity.  They challenged everyone to seek the best for themselves and their families.  Each appeared to genuinely want everyone in the crowd grow.

I left that afternoon exhausted.  There was so much data to take in, and I had a lot to process through the grid of scripture and prayer.  I met a few people earlier in the day, but having dinner together wasn’t an option.  Two doctors and I scheduled a run for Day Two. 

But what that all meant was I had an evening in Vegas to myself. 

I couldn’t decide where to eat.  There were so many options.  I took a tram over to the Luxor, looked at their options, and still couldn’t decide.  So, I struck out down the strip.  I tried to Facetime Amy and the girls to show them the sights, but I couldn’t get a good connection.  Instead, I called and sent a few pics. 

To be honest, I was lonely, but I did make up my mind where to eat:  Gordon Ramsey Burger.  My household loves the MasterChef shows, and if Gordon Ramsey was going to make a burger, I wanted to eat it.

Located in Planet Hollywood, I stood in line for about thirty minutes and realized that my body thought it was around 11pm, not 8pm.  Lonely, hungry, and tired.  I needed to eat and get home as those three are dangerous combinations in Vegas. 

I was seated at the kitchen bar which basically is a row of seats for people dining alone that looks out over the kitchen (which was a picture of efficiency).  It was good entertainment for this weary traveler.  The menu looked amazing, and something exotic was to my liking.  I decided on the Forest Burger.  The Forest Burger featured tremor cheese, seasonal forest mushrooms, arugula, and duck bacon.  I also went with the Truffle Parmesan Fries which they suggested should be eaten as an appetizer.  The waiter was shocked I didn’t order a drink.  Honestly, I was so tired, I couldn’t imagine anything worse for me at that point.

The fries came out, and please hear me.  If you know me, you know I am given to hyperbole, but this next statement is the honest truth.  Those were the single best fries I’ve ever had in my life.  Don’t get me the wrong, the burger was ridiculous, but those fries?  Forget about it. 

Not quite stuffed, I ordered a Brown Butter Caramel Pecan Shake to go.  “To Go?”  Yes, everyone in Vegas walks around with a drink in the hand.  Mine was probably the only one that was a milkshake. 

On the twenty-minute walk home, I tried to process everything.  Does the church do a good enough job of encouraging people to grow?  We always talk about spiritual growth in terms of prayer, study, evangelism, etc.  Those are good things, but does the church encourage people to grow in their careers and goals to the greatest of their ability?  Have we given these areas of growth to the world for them to deliver the message in their wrapping?

I crawled into bed with a mind that was more awake than my body.  I was excited about running with new folks in the morning, and there were some speakers the next day that were potentially exciting. 

Who knew that the next day would be the day with the most tellable story?

Gordon

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Monthly Gospel Rich Journal

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.