Travelling the World for the Glory of God (Part 2)

Here we continue our discussion of five ways we can glorify God when on holidays. You can find the first post, including the first three points here.
To recap, We have looked at how be intentional in glorifying God on holidays through:
1. Time spent enjoying God’s creation
2. Time spent reflecting, and
3. Time spent resting.

We coninue with:

4. Time spent in communion with the Lord

Whether your dream escape is a week on the beach with nothing to do, an adrenaline-packed outdoor adventure, or exploring big cities finding the best coffee and museums – holidays have down time. This could involve the hours spent on planes or buses (or waiting at the airport…), sitting down after setting up camp after a day spent hiking, or those endless afternoons by the pool. The nature of holidays is that they are different from your day-to-day life, in which family, work or study consume large portions of your time; on holidays, your time is yours to commit to whatever you choose. For this reason, one of the things I get most excited about when going on holiday is the time I have to spend with God. I can read the Bible, pray and have the time to read books that aid my walk with God that I wouldn’t have as much time to when at home.

Now of course this isn’t always  easy. We once went on a cruise where we had heaps of luggage allowance, and spent our days on the ship sitting in the lounge with unlimited free drinks, Bible and commentaries in hand. There were few logistical barriers for us spending time with God in that circumstance. But that is quite different to a 12 weeks backpacking holiday where you want to carry as limited luggage as possible, and every flight is overnight at the end of a long day, and the last thing you feel like doing it reading.

For our upcoming trip, on our budget flights out of Australia, luggage was expensive, so we have only 15kg each. And many of our flights are long and overnight, and we experience 6 different time zone changes throughout our trip, so we will be tired a lot. Therefore, we have had to be creative in the way we prepare for our opportunities to read and grow and spend time with God when we are away.
What we have found useful so far is:

1. Set aside intentional rest periods – No plans, just time to spend reading and discussing, so we don’t feel the pressure to fit this around our full itinerary. You could even plan in an hour at a nice cafe or the local park to spend reading and praying at.
2. Invest in some Christian audiobooks – This is my new favourite thing! We signed up to audible, and have bought some great books to listen to, and which will be perfect for tired plane trips when your brain isn’t up to reading, or for car/bus/train trips together.
3. Photograph your paper devotional or get a devotional app – Books are heavy, if you have a daily devotional you are using, reading one page a day on your phone isn’t too bad. Otherwise you can use an app (such as this one).
4. Take a book you read alongside the Bible and use a Bible app – I am still trying to find a way to fit my Bible in my luggage, but unfortunately my Bible is quite heavy. But I know that I struggle to read my Bible app like I do my real Bible; it’s convenience can become an excuse in not reading it because ‘I could read it whenever I want’. My favourite books are these God’s Word for You  books – they guide your reading with great exegesis, explanation and application. One of these alongside your Bible app is a great way to go (and is lighter than a Bible)! And as a bonus, you can also get some of these on audible.
5. Take your Bible anyway – If you are struggling to read your Bible, maybe taking it with you is the motivation you need. Knowing you have taken up that space and weight might make you more motivated to make sure you use it – with the prayer that you do so joyfully and can delight in God’s word.

5. Time Spent Serving

Now this point seems to stick out like a sore thumb. “I thought I was going on holiday to have a break from working” I hear you proclaim. Well the truth is, when on holiday, we don’t have a break from being a Christian. We are not called to stop loving others as part of our resting. And so when we are on holidays, we are still called to serve others and to serve God, just as we are in our day-to-day lives – and this can actually be such a joyful part of travelling.
Of course when on holiday, you may need to be more creative than normal in the ways you serve. You are not at your usual home church, often not surrounded by people you know, and it is hard to have people over for dinner or babysit or cook meals for people. But you if you are travelling with others or visiting friends whilst you travel, it is a great opportunity to love and serve these people, whether by planning parts of the itinerary, cooking for people or shouting drinks or dinner; there are still many ways you can be intentional in serving others.

You will also most likely come into contact with people you don’t know in your travels, and have the opportunity to serve them in one way or another as well. We have recently been thinking about the culture of tipping in the USA, and coming from a country that pays their staff properly, we think the concept is completely ridiculous (and rather frustrating). But we have been challenged that maybe this is an opportunity to faithfully serve others, to be joyful in the opportunity to be generous to people we don’t know, for the sake of God’s glory.
More often than not, being unable to see a way to serve those around us is not because there is no way to serve them, but because we aren’t looking.

I hope and pray that these few ideas might be of encouragement or challenge to you, for whenever your next holiday may be.

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Travelling the World for the Glory of God (Part 1)

This week, my husband and I have started packing for our eagerly awaited holiday to the USA. I have been finalising our itinerary, buying last minute supplies, and attempting to work out what on earth to pack. As each day has passed, excitement has built with the realisation that this holiday is almost upon us. This anticipation has been far more enthusiastically expressed by myself than my husband (who says he is ‘looking forward to it’ but won’t really be excited until we are going), so in an attempt to share my joy, I frequently ask the question ‘what are the top 5 things you are looking forward to in the trip?’. In asking this, and hearing my husband’s responses, it has made me conscious of the reasons why I am so excited for this time away, and has consequently caused me to reflect on some ways we should be intentional in seeking to use our time on holidays to serve and glorify God.

Over two posts, we will look at five ways we can be intentional in glorifying God as we travel or go on holiday:
1. Time spent enjoying God’s creation
2. Time spent reflecting
3. Time spent resting
4. Time spent in communion with the Lord
5. Time spent serving

1. Time spent enjoying God’s creation

One of my very favourite reasons to choose to travel overseas when I can is the opportunity to see different parts of God’s creation. He has  designed such incredible beauty and diversity, from large natural wonders, to the plants and wildlife, to flavours of food. And God wants us to enjoy his creation, to appreciate it knowing that he has created it for us to delight in, see his character in, and praise him for.

What’s more, when we are travelling we too have the opportunity to use God’s gift of creativity ourselves. In trying to take the perfect instagram shot, we can do so to display God’s character, rather than for achieving maximum number of likes. Or in taking a travel diary, we can try to capture some of the beauty we see around us, remembering that all this reflects the beauty of the Creator. When travelling, be intentional to thank God for his gifts, be in awe of the God who created the awe-inspiring features of the world and find joy in God’s creation.

2. Time spent reflecting

One of my frequent responses to what I have most been looking forward to about our holiday has been along the lines of ‘I am just looking forward to getting away’. Now there is nothing wrong with my home life; I love my church, have some great friends, and enjoy having the opportunity to love and serve those around me. But there is something about leaving everything at home behind – no appointments or events, no tasks to achieve, no distractions – that clears your mind. It is a mental (and in some cases emotional) rest, which provides the space to reflect on the previous weeks and months, and to begin to plan for life when you get back home.

Three key areas I think are useful to reflect on are:
– Where God has been at work in your life
– How you have been going in your Christian walk
– What or where is God calling you to
(being conscious of the Holy Spirit’s prompting and convicting)

Reflecting on these things can require some intentional time put aside, or prompts or notes to remind yourself, but are well worth utilising the opportunity to do so – and aid the feeling of returning home feeling refreshed and ready to enter into the next season.

3. Time Spent Resting

God has made it quite clear that we need rest. He sets the example for us in Genesis, resting after creating the world, (Gen 2:2-3) commands the Israelites to take one day a week for rest as a sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10) and then Jesus emphasises that our rest is found in him (Matt 11:28-29). And what’s more, we spend a third of our lives asleep in order to function when we are awake – our bodies need rest. And what a good opportunity to do so when on holidays! Of course all of the previous points  we have discussed so far contribute to that rest we find in Jesus when we are on holiday, but we can also find additional physical and mental rest in the holiday itself.

Naturally, people will plan holidays that they find restful. Whilst we tried going on a cruise, and loved aspects of it, it cemented in us that we are ‘doers’ when on holidays. We love to sight-see and explore cities; more than a day or two sitting by the beach and we will get bored, hence our upcoming trip is full of activities and sights to see so that we find the most rest in it. And rest might look different for different people; whilst I love to cook, for my husband, resting is not having to cook or clean, so when away, we will prioritize eating out at some nice restaurants so that he doesn’t need to cook or wash up.

Whilst all this may sound selfish, it is important for us to take time to rest due to it being a part of the way God has designed us. And we should celebrate, we should thank and praise God that we can find that rest in such an enjoyable way. In addition, by resting, we prepare ourselves to be able to serve others when we return home. We can rest selflessly, by viewing it a means to enable us to continue the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).

The Reading Rut: Reasons Part 2 – (#3 of 6)

Why Read the Bible Regularly?

In my previous post, I explored a few reasons why we should be reading God’s Word; that it is God’s chosen way of communicating with us, that it aids our growth by teaching us, correcting us and equipping us to live a godly life, and like a roadmap, it tells us where we are, where we are going and how we get there, giving us an eternal perspective.
These are all very good and important reasons, but if you are someone like me who has grown up as a Christian or has read a lot of your Bible in the past, there is the potential to justify not reading your Bible because you already know the stories and the general gist of it. You know the roadmap already, you know what is regarded as sinful and what glorifies God, so what more knowledge are you going to gain? Aside from the fact that I feel like we are actually never going to stop learning and growing in understanding of God’s Word because it’s so deep and huge, there are many more reasons why we should become disciplined in reading the Bible regularly.

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