By Robert Frank, Editor, No-Debt Living Newsletter
February 1998 – Many Christian families, even those who are uncomfortable with the current boycott of Disney, are choosing not to go to Disneyland or Disney World this summer. In short, they are opting to give their patronage to an alternate organization that supports a Godly end or, at the very least, to one that doesn’t stand firmly against the precepts of the Church and Bible.
The good news is that decision creates a multitude of spiritual and recreational opportunities.
First, making that decision may help a family to put its focus in the right place. One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking a vacation is that they leave the Lord behind, forgetting the One who should be their primary focus. Psalms 62:1 reminds us: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.”
In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus invites us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In today’s fast-paced world where parents and even children are reported to be stressed out or approaching burn out, isn’t that the kind of rest we really need – rest for our souls.
So, as you plan your vacation, make sure that you schedule time and events to focus on the Lord, to seek His face, to renew your spirit. In fact, you might plan a day or two when you and your family could simply serve the Lord in some manner. You might help build a house with Habitat for Humanity or volunteer as part of a missionary construction project, or work in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or take meals to shut-ins. If you’re not sure what to do or who to contact, talk to your church pastor.
Chances are it will be the most rewarding and memorable part of your vacation, and you’ll want to make it a tradition.
Another alternative to the usual tourist traps is to spend all or part of your vacation at a Christian camp or conference center. If you think it will be boring, you’re wrong. There are more than 900 Christian conference centers and camps across the continental United States. Each one has a unique personality and offers a multitude of activities, so you can pick one that fits your family’s needs.
Many families in our church, for example, have discovered Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center on the Oregon coast. Parents enjoy the camp because it is very affordable, includes two great meals a day and nice accommodations, features nationally known Christian speakers and provides exciting activities for children of all ages (skiing, hiking, horseback riding, biking and more). Each family has plenty of time to spend on the beach, go shopping and just hang out. Plus, each day includes time when people can focus on the Lord and renew their spirits with the help of an inspirational teacher/speaker.
The best recommendation I heard for these types of facilities was when one family broke their tradition and went to Disneyland with their early teenage children. Midway through the week the children confessed that they “wished they would have gone to the Christian conference center instead of Disneyland.”
If you’re interested in finding out what type of conference centers and camps are close to you, it’s easy. Simply contact Christian Camping International/USA, P.O. Box 62189, Colorado Springs, CO 80962-2189, phone: 719-260-9400, website: www.cciworldwide.org. They can supply you with a guide to Christian camps and conferences.
I’m not suggesting that every destination needs to be Christian-based. Obviously, there are thousands of places to enjoy a vacation, renew your spirits, and still be godly stewards of the resources the Lord has loaned you. Other possibilities might include:
➤ Camping at a national or state campground (many offer hot showers and a multitude of activities). Depending on your tastes, you can camp in a tent, trailer, motor home, tent trailer, etc.
➤ Touring in a motor home or trailer.
➤ Spending a week at a dude ranch.
➤ Cruising on a ship.
➤ Participate in an outdoor expedition (hiking, mountain climbing, white-water rafting, etc.) ➤ Swapping houses with friends who live in another area.
➤ Renting a lake or mountain cabin.
➤ Bicycling through a region, staying at campgrounds or motels.
The key to a great vacation is relatively simple: You need to involve the whole family in the planning process and give each person some ownership. Just pull up a bowl of popcorn, begin with prayer and start talking. Assign everyone at least one job gathering information (contact chambers of commerce, park departments, friends, tourism departments, associations, etc.). Once the information has been gathered, make another bowl of popcorn, let everyone know your budget limitations and let your imaginations run wild. Most of all, stay in prayer and ask the Lord for guidance. (James 1:5; Psalm 119:105)
We all know that the time, money and resources we have to take a vacation are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 24: 1), the question is, will we use them as good stewards to His honor and glory? (I Corinthians 10:31,
Robert Frank is editor of No-Debt Living Newsletter, a national monthly publication providing financial, home-management and investment news with a Christian perspective. P.O. Box 282, Veradale, WA 99037-0282.
Subscription: $25.95 per year. Sample issue: $2. Phone: 800- 560-3328.