Summer is once again upon us. This intriguing season which seems in our minds to run from Memorial Day through Labor Day, complete with all the elements of hot temperatures, longer days, vacations, baseball games, 4th of July festivities, change of routine, swim parties, evening cookouts, volleyball, no school (for some), and mass quantities of ice cream. Indeed, it is a blessing to share in the change of seasons that God has ordained in the fabric of creation, and we can certainly thank God that we live in the country we do.
At the same time, I believe summer holds unique temptations for sinners like you and me – temptations that we need to be aware of and guard against lest we be ambushed by the enemy and our souls suffer harm.
The very nature of summer in America seems to carry with it an ethos that says, “It’s time to kick back, take a break, chill out, and relax. You’ve worked hard all year; you deserve a little R & R. Forget about responsibility for awhile and just indulge yourself. Come on – it’s summer time!!”
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with reasonable rest and relaxation in the framework of the Christian life. It glorifies God for His children to gratefully receive and enjoy the many rich blessings He grants in this life, even the blessings of summer in America (see 1 Tim. 4:4,5; 6:17.) But appropriate, beneficial, and God-glorifying rest and relaxation is that which renews, refreshes, and invigorates our delight in and passion for our supremely glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Likewise, a God-glorifying “vacation” is that which He uses to rekindle longings to love Him more and sacrificially love others more in His Name.
In light of this, the primary temptation we face during summer in America is to take a vacation from seeking, savoring, and magnifying Jesus Christ. “Come on, you’ve been walking with God all year long, take a break for awhile – it’s summer time!”
Oh dear brothers and sisters, beware of this subtle and deadly temptation! Don’t let Satan deceive and devour you with the lie that it’s okay to take a break from the spiritual battle. The latest summer blockbuster movie will still leave you thirsty. There is never a time, including the summer time, when we are not to be lifting up the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16), drinking deeply, joyfully, and satisfyingly from the fullness of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
To that end, let me encourage you to make purposeful plans for how you are going to glorify God this summer. If you are going to be spending time, energy, and money in planning for any number of summer events and activities, you need to make the same type of conscientious investment in planning for how you are going to walk with God through the summer! Here are some practical suggestions:
- Cultivate and maintain the nourishing of your soul before God! Have a clear, reasonable plan for DAILY Bible reading, study, memorization, prayer, and application – all with a view toward growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have a booklet in our lobby entitled “Bible Reading” to help you get started if you need it.
- Share in corporate worship with other believers every Sunday! If you are traveling out of town, make plans to attend worship with another church body wherever you are.
- Look for specific, practical ways to serve other people wherever you are! Reach out to unbelievers with the Gospel, and purpose to strengthen fellow believers in the Gospel!
- Related to this, practice hospitality! Invite people into your home for fellowship or outreach. Or take someone out for a meal or a treat for the same reason.
- Be faithful and consistent in your financial giving! The needs of the church body don’t take a vacation.
- Take advantage of modern technology and listen to as many audio sermons and messages as you can (through your computer, iPod, CD player, etc.)! Whether you are driving, hiking, biking, or sleeping (okay, maybe not sleeping), there are countless CDs and MP3s from people like John MacArthur, John Piper, CJ Mahaney, R.C. Sproul, Mark Dever, and even myself that can benefit you greatly.
- Read excellent Christian literature! Join with others at RCG who are going to be reading through John Piper’s book, “When I Don’t Desire God” during the summer months. Submerge yourself into a book that will encourage your faith in Christ, like John Owen’s “The Glory of Christ.” Read the biography of a sinful, yet faithful saint from the past, so as to receive encouraging testimony of how God uses frail and weak people. John Piper has a 4-book series called “The Swans Are Not Silent”, which provide brief biographical studies of a number of people from church history. Buy one of these and devour it.
With all of this in mind, have a GREAT summer!!