Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
On Monday I begin a three-week vacation. Part of that will include not blogging, tweeting, or posting on Facebook and Instagram. Why? To Honor Sabbatical Rest. I prefer to frame vacations as sabbaticals from the Lord, a gift to let the soil of one’s soul get replenished by stopping our work, resting, delighting, and contemplating Him. A good part of my work now includes social media engagement. So I will stop and let it rest. To Respect My Vulnerabilities. I like Sherry Turkle’s point that “laptops and smartphones are not things to remove. They are facts of life and part of our creative lives. The goal is to use them with greater intention. We are faced with technologies to which we are extremely vulnerable and we don’t always respect that fact.” Is it possible to be addicted to social media? I think so. (Not all researchers agree.) Disconnecting will be good for my soul.. Read more.
Vacations offer a unique opportunity to integrate and apply our theology. But like all areas of discipleship (e.g. relationships, sexuality, work, singleness, marriage, retirement, money), this requires intentionality. Otherwise, we fall into the pattern of doing vacations like our family of origin or the wider culture. Each of us comes into vacations differently. Some of us, for example, have small children, aging parents, a special needs child, or severe financial constraints. Moreover, each of us has a specific temperament, personality, and set of passions. Last year, I wrote a blog entitled Turning Your Vacations into Sabbaticals, applying the principles of weekly Sabbaths to our vacations. Here I want to offer you five words, or principles, that have helped Geri and I structure our “vacations” each year: Prayer. This is so obvious that we easily miss it! Take time to be still before the Lord and listen (Ps 37:7). You may be surprised. Thoughtfulness. Wise. Read more.
Each of us takes a vacation every year, for one, two, three, or more weeks. The problem, however, is that we take on the culture’s view of “vacations,” treating them simply as days off away from work. Let me suggest a larger biblical perspective, one that sees them as Sabbatical gifts from the Lord our God. Once Geri and I began to do so 12 years ago, it completely transformed the way we prepared and planned. We began to receive our vacations as annual gifts from God that resembled the ancient Jew’s participation in the festivals of their day (the three national feasts of Pentecost, Booths, and Passover). We simply applied the four characteristics that defined our weekly twenty-four-hour Sabbaths – stopping work, enjoying rest, practicing delight, and contemplating God – to our vacations. Remember, the purpose of all earthly life and matter is to lead us to communion with God. The entire cosmos. Read more.
Our two-week vacation in Italy confirmed what I had heard for the last 30 years: Italy is one of the least evangelized countries in the world. It is a country filled with beautiful, historic churches and, perhaps, the best Christian art in the world. While open to spirituality, the population is alarmingly disconnected to Christ and His church. As much as I attempted to shake off my grief (and enjoy vacation), I had a deep sense God might be saying something. Allow me to offer you a few gleanings that emerged out of my wrestling and listening: We need to recognize that the old wineskins and ways of doing church are over. We need new wineskins today for the wine of God that flows from His throne. The way we presently do church cannot contain what God wants to do, not only in Europe, but in North America, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe,. Read more.
Geri is my guest blogger today as we just returned from our 2 weeks in Italy. The following are her reflections from her blog: I loved our vacation in Italy. It was my third time and hopefully will not be my last. It’s a kind of magical place with so much beauty, culture and incredible food at your fingertips. It’s a place I want to return to to introduce others to its magic – pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, hikes over mountains through vineyards and olive groves high above the sea, stops at ancient villages to rest and sip cappuccino, rolling Tuscan hills dotted with terra cotta villas and cypress trees, a place where wine costs as much as water, where thousands of years of history can be experienced, where our villa apartment has been family-owned for nine hundred years, where fantastic bread and cheese is always a few steps away, and the gelato is indescribable. But. Read more.