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Though this episode was originally published in mid-October, you may be listening to it at any time of year because people can take vacations and recreate all throughout the year.
So regardless of whether you’re preparing for Spring Break, Summer Vacation, or Christmas Break, or you’re simply enjoying a Saturday off of work or on your lunch break, I pray today’s episode will help you recreate to the glory of God.
But before we dive into the material today, I’d like to invite you to hang out with The Celebration of God on Facebook and Instagram. We post multiple times a day so that any time you scroll through social media, you can encounter a celebration prompt.
And each of our prompts is designed to challenge and inspire and lead you in purposeful worship.
So, I hope you’ll check us out.
And I also hope you’ll check out CelebrationOfGod.com for tons of holiday resources as well as daily content to help you celebrate God during the high days and low moments of your year.
For example, on our blog you’ll find our free episode notes and transcript for today’s show. As always, the link for those will be in the description.
Now, have you ever wondered what the Bible has to say about vacations? I imagine it may be difficult for you to think of a single biblical character who took a vacation the way we take vacations. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t timeless truths that we must apply to all of our downtime.
God deserves our worship all of the time. There will never come a second of our lives that God says, “Okay, that moment is 100% for you. Use it as you see fit. Consume it upon your pleasures and glorify yourself with it.”
Nope. He deserves the preeminence in every moment, and that includes the time we spend watching TV, playing games (whether board games, card games, tile games, or video games), attending sporting events, getting a spa treatment, going on vacation, reading a book, baking a cake, riding a bike, coloring, or any other way we may choose to use our downtime.
Now, this is normally the point in the show where I would define our major terms, but I want to get into our first point before I do that.
1. The Necessity of Recreation
In Exodus 23:12 we read, “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”
We’ll talk more about a Day of Rest later in the show, but — for now — we need to recognize that God rested from His work of creation, and — based off that example — He commanded His people to rest.
And we see Jesus following this pattern. Not only did He observe the Sabbath commands of the Old Testament, He also willingly rested at other times.
Mark 6:31-32 tells us, “And He *said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.”
My friend, you are human. You are finite. You cannot push and work and run and grind without end or you will die. And even if you don’t push yourself to death, you will hurt yourself physically, spiritually, and relationally.
This is why God, in His wisdom and love, commands His people to recreate.
And this is where I want to define our term.
According to Merriam-Webster, “recreate” means “to give new life or freshness to.”
That means that, yes, we may pronounce the words recreation and recreate with a soft “e” at the beginning of the word. But the word can also be pronounced “re-create.” That’s literally what it means.
When we think “recreate,” we picture ourselves having fun. It may even be the intense fun of playing basketball. But the word means to re-create something. The idea is that our bodies or our spirits or both have to be fixed, and our re-creation is doing what’s necessary to address the issue.
This is why we sleep. This is why we eat. This is why we convalesce. It’s an absolute necessity for all human beings.
The problem is — like everything else in our lives — we either don’t do it enough, or we do it too much, and/or we do it for the wrong reasons.
But God designed our recreation to not only be necessary, He designed it to be joyful.
2. The Joy of Recreation
In Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 Solomon writes, “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.”
To be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor is one of the beautiful gifts of work.
Later in Ecclesiastes 8:15 we read, “So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.”
Now, we don’t have time to properly exegete the entire book of Ecclesiastes in order to understand that this is not some hedonistic philosophy or godless worldview.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 gives us “The conclusion [of the matter], when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
The fear of the Lord is key in our recreation. But we’re going to talk about this more in a few minutes.
So consider the beautiful promise from James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
Recreation is a gift. It’s a good and perfect gift that God intends for us to use the right way. And this gift is designed to bless and benefit us.
But only when we use it to please the Lord.
Now we need to talk about . . .
3. The Danger of Recreation
As I already mentioned, humans are fantastic at taking the beneficial gifts of God and absolutely trashing them.
I Timothy 5:13 tells us, “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.”
Though they may appear identical on the outside, idleness and recreation are two very different things.
Re-creation is the joyful and necessary gift from God, but idleness is the perversion of God’s gift.
Idleness results in pursuing our own pleasure. But Proverbs 21:17 warns us, “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.”
The satisfaction that God gives when we fulfill His will is pleasure beyond comprehension. But the paltry pleasures of our sinful lusts leave us feeling empty and — eventually — they destroy us.
When we love that kind of pleasure, it will leave us spiritually — and often physically and financially — bankrupt.
And I think perverting this gift of God is easier than others because recreation is generally so much fun. In fact, when it comes time to figure out what we’re going to do on vacation or how we’re going to use our downtime, we naturally think about doing things we want to do.
And that’s not necessarily bad. God designed rest to be a joyful thing, and when you “Delight . . . in the Lord . . . He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
A Godward mind delights in that which pleases the Lord, so resting the way you like is perfectly fine when God’s will is your highest priority.
As Augustine said, “Love God and do whatever you want.”
The problem comes when God’s will is not our highest priority. When we engage in Failed Worship, our recreation will displease God and be dangerous to us. This is where idolatry, sensuality, laziness, and idleness will creep into our lives.
So, we’re going to finish this discussion by looking at a Biblical Approach to Recreation and considering some of the Elements of Recreation we see in the Scriptures.
During that last point we’ll look closely at how those forms of recreation can be used to please the Lord or how they can be used to sin against Him.
But first . . .
4. The Approach to Recreation
In Psalm 127:1-2 we learn, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”
One of the biggest lies of workaholism is that “I have to get this done.” Are there legitimate things we have to get done in order to please the Lord? Yes. But workaholism believes two lies. The first is that we believe we have to complete more than we actually do, and the second is that we believe that we are the only ones who can do it — the burden falls squarely on our shoulders.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that discerning between necessary work and over-work is an easy task. But I will say that many of us are tempted to believe that if we personally do not do all of this work before us, something bad is going to happen.
But Psalm 127 reminds us that God is the one Who’s doing the work. Unless He is at work in the situation, our work is vain and failed.
This means that we must not only be comfortable resting — knowing that our work will only succeed as the Lord blesses it, and that He provides for us even when we’re resting — but we also need to approach our recreation from the standpoint that if God isn’t in it, it’s vain.
We won’t be re-created unless we do so to the glory of God.
This is why Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
And I Corinthians 10:31— one of my favorite verses — tells us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I think this one is very specific to our rest and recreation because — generally speaking — eating and drinking is not considered a laborious chore. Yes, it’s necessary, but even the most necessary eating is still re-creational.
That means that Spring Break must be done to the glory of God. That means that the Lord must be pleased with how we use our lunch breaks. God should be preeminent in our leisure time.
And how do we do this?
I recommend you check out our “What is Worship” series. In the first episode we define worship and describe the difference between using the elements of our lives for self or for God.
But now I want to get more specific.
At the beginning of the show we talked about how strange it would be to picture Paul talking about vacationing and recreation. But though the Scriptures may not use those exact words, it does talk about various activities that were created by God to be re-creational.
So . . .
5. Elements of Recreation
The first item I want to discuss can be recreational, but it’s also sometimes laborious. Obviously, we want to consider the enjoyable aspects of . . .
In Hebrews 13:2 we read, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” And Romans 12:13 actually commands us to practice hospitality.
Having people over to our houses and entertaining guests is definitely a form of recreation for many.
So, let’s discuss how we can be hospitable to the glory of God and how we can sin against God in our hospitality.
Since the Lord commands us to be hospitable, we can obviously please Him in so doing, and I believe the Scriptures are replete with examples of how to do this. The Greek word translated “hospitable” refers to loving people. The English word also speaks to creating a healing environment. Do you hear the word “hospital” in “hospitality”?
The Bible has a ton to say about how to love people. In fact, every single one of the one-anothers is part of loving people.
So, when we show hospitality in the way God commands to the people He commands in order to deepen our redemptive relationships with them in the power of the Holy Spirit . . . God is glorified.
But when we invite people to our homes who should not be there or engage in activities that are sinful, or we even invite the right people and do the right things, but we do it for our sole honor and glory, then God isn’t pleased.
We don’t have time to look at it now, but there are people with whom God says we should not eat or fellowship. And even the best actions and words divorced from faith in God are sin.
And this is going to be format that the rest of these recreational elements follow. When we do them the way God has prescribed as an act of worship to Him, they will be re-creational for us. But when we do what we want, how we want, for the reasons we want, in our own finite power, we’re being idolatrous. Instead of re-creating us, we’ll be torn down and wounded in our bodies, spirits, and relationships.
So, let’s look at another.
B. General Celebration
In John 2 Jesus and His disciples go to a wedding. Weddings and birthdays and graduations and anniversaries are legitimate times of celebration.
I plan to talk a lot more in the future about celebrating God on days like these. It’s easy to be so focused on celebrating the people that we lose sight of giving God the preeminence He deserves.
But — for now — I want us to consider celebrations like these from a recreational perspective.
Sometimes we take time off to commemorate a birthday or anniversary. And these experiences are a time for singing and feasting and merrymaking.
But we must be diligent to keep God as the focus and observe the celebration in ways that please Him.
For example, drunkenness is not appropriate. It also wouldn’t be Christ-honoring to celebrate a wedding that displeases the Lord.
But when we gather with God’s people to praise Him for what He’s done in our lives, there’s great re-creation to be experienced.
And these same principles extend to . . .
C. Holiday Celebration
I won’t belabor this point because it’s so similar to the last and the fact that much of The Celebration of God is all about how to celebrate God during the holidays.
But I simply want to point out that the Bible has a lot to say about festivals, feast days, and holidays. And each of them was to be enjoyed by God’s people for God’s glory.
And now I want to briefly discuss . . .
I recognize that not everyone who’s listening to my voice today is married. Therefore, I won’t spend too much time on this one, nor will I go into any specific detail.
However, we have to recognize that the world views sex primarily as a form of recreation. But the vast majority of it isn’t. It’s destructive and hurtful and displeasing to God.
But the New Testament has a good bit to say about Christ-honoring sexuality, as does the Song of Solomon.
Sexuality is a re-creative experience when it’s between a husband and wife to the glory of God.
As a biblical counselor who specializes in working with people who have sexual issues or questions, this topic is gigantic both in the scope of people it affects as well as the depth of the effect it has on each person.
Sexuality was created for a pure and glorious reason, and it can definitely be used to please God and be re-creative.
Therefore, it’s our responsibility to engage only in the sexuality that pleases the Lord and flee fornication.
Before I move on, if you are struggling in this particular category, please reach out to us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894. We would love to help you enjoy the Christ-honoring, re-creative purposes of biblical sexuality.
And — speaking of things done in a bedroom . . .
Now this one may sound very strange to you.
In regard to the other forms of recreation, I’ve been very clear that our motivation needs to be Christ-honoring, but sleep seems like anything other than a conscious activity. In fact, that’s the point. We don’t want to be conscious.
But sleep is incredibly restorative and an absolutely vital part of our daily rhythms. This is also why the Bible has so much to say about it.
In I Kings 19:5-6 we read that Elijah “lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, ‘Arise, eat.’ 6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.”
This was an integral part of the how God helped Elijah throw off his depression and despondency and return to useful service for God.
And in Jeremiah 31:26 we’re told, “At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.”
Jeremiah 31 is about Israel’s mourning being turned to joy. Part of that process involved God making a new covenant with His people — referencing the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.
But verses 25 and 26 read, “For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.” 26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.”
Jeremiah’s sleep was sweet in part because it was a physical sign of the future blessing God promised for Israel.
But is that what will make our sleep sweet today? Must we have a vision from God? No, it’s actually much simpler than that.
Though other forms of recreation require that we do it to God’s honor and glory, sleep that truly re-creates us must be approached in a way that pleases God.
We will never truly reap the deepest blessings of our sleep until we approach it in light of our trust in God.
Proverbs 3:24 promises that if you heed God’s wisdom, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
David is a marvelous example of this. In Psalm 4:8 he writes, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”
And in Psalm 3:5, David recounts how that while fleeing from Absalom, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” Even though he was being hunted by his son who was trying to steal the kingdom, David slept in peace because he trusted God to keep him safe.
Jesus as well is a beautiful example of this. Jesus knew He could trust the Father, and He knew that He was invincible until the Father chose otherwise. This is why in Matthew 8:24 we read, “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.”
How could He sleep while the seasoned mariners on board where petrified that they were going to die?
Jesus answers this question after He calms the sea. He turned to His disciples and asked, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”
It wasn’t merely His divine omnipotence that gave Him sweet sleep, it was His human faith in the Father that caused Him to be at peace when others were losing their minds.
Solomon explains it this way in Ecclesiastes 5:12, “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.”
One may ask, well doesn’t a rich man work just as hard or harder than the “working man” who may not even have enough to eat? Solomon’s point here is not tied to their occupations or paychecks. He’s pointing to the motivation of each.
The rich man loves his money and is continually planning and working and worrying about his money. The implication here is that this “working man” has other priorities. Whether he goes to bed with a full or empty stomach, his sleep is pleasant precisely because he has his priorities in order . . . the only thing he fears is the Lord.
And speaking of rest . . .
Now, there’s so much to say on this subject that I’m actually going to say very little. I want to dedicate a future series to this concept of Sabbath/Day of Rest.
I believe modern Christians aren’t celebrating God the way they should because they don’t understand and take seriously God’s commands to rest.
But within a discussion about recreation, this is a massively important point.
Sleep isn’t the only kind of rest for weary bones. Rest need not always be unconscious.
But I did promise earlier that I would talk a little about the concept of a Day of Rest, so let me start with Exodus 20:8-11. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
In Genesis 2:2-3, we see God resting from His work. He didn’t rest because He needed to be re-created, but He knew we would, and so He modeled it for us. We should work for six days and rest one.
But this weekly rest is not merely a practical necessary for human life. It’s also a glorious picture of God’s redemptive plan.
Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
As we work and relate with each other and recreate and eat and drink, we should be diligent to avoid disobedience and give God the preeminence He deserves. This is how a true disciple of God lives, and this lifestyle will be a testimony to the future rest we will enjoy for all eternity with Him.
And this is the key. Just like the rest of our recreation, Sabbath Rest isn’t about us and our pleasures.
Consider Isaiah 58:13, “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, 14 Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I believe this is the perfect passage to sum up our entire discussion today. Our recreation should not be a time for seeking our own godless pleasure and speaking our own godless words. We need to delight in God on our vacations in the same way we’re commanded to delight in Him during our work.
As always, we come to the end with so much more to say, but I hope that this discussion has opened your eyes to the reality that we really do need to glorify God all of the time. Summer break isn’t for us to do whatever we want. Holidays and sick days aren’t for us to pursue our own purposes.
Even though we may not yet understand all of the intricacies of this topic, I pray you have a desire to continue to study it and actively apply what you learn to your life.
And I pray that all of your down time between now and our next episode is offered as a living sacrifice to God as your reasonable service of worship.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets and join us next time as we look at some specific ways we can worship God in November.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.