Ahhh . . . remember George Gershwin’s song, Summertime? It begins . . .
And the livin’ is eeasyyyy
Fish are jumpinnnn’
And the cotton is hiiiiigh
The melody and chords alone make you want to get out the hammock and kickback. (If you don’t know the song, check-out Ella Fitzgerald at her best here.)
I live in an area of the U.S. that plays really hard in the summer because it’s on the beautiful east coast of Lake Michigan. It’s pristine beaches and blue water (no salt, no sharks!) bring people from all over to enjoy her shores. I mean, just check-out that picture! It’s especially compelling since winter up here lasts a little longer than desired. (At least by southern-raised me. Did we really get snow flurries a week ago?)
But we need to be oh-so-careful to not let the “livin’ is easy” trap takeover our spiritual lives for 3 months!
You know what I’m talking about. As school lets out, a lot of other things – especially church related things – shut down. Why is that? I completely understand needing a break from the norm, but do we need a break from God?
How can we make the summer shift without neglecting our First Love?
How can we continue to nurture our most important relationship – the one with our Savior – during the summer, instead of hitting the pause button? (Would we want Him to hit the pause button on His attention to us? Yikes!)
One thing’s for sure. It has to be intentional. So intentional it needs to be discussed with your family members or Bible study group. It won’t just happen as we get sucked into the fun of the warm days (boasting blossoms, bikes, and boats) and late sunsets (featuring fire pits with family and friends).
So here’s 8 ways to make the summer shift without neglecting your First Love:
1. Ask God how He wants you to spend your time this summer. As in now! Don’t exclude Him from the planning! And pray that those good things of summer point you to God instead of drawing you away from Him.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
2. View the early rising sun (or its late setting) as an invitation to meet with Him. Don’t get so swept up in the season that you neglect to spend that much needed time communing with your Savior – in His word, prayer, and worship.
“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (I Chronicles 16:11).
3. Commit to attending church regularly. Not because we’re legalistic, but because God asks us to not neglect the gathering of His people – which includes summertime. Right? Plus, it’s good for you and the church that you’re there! Out of town? Why not visit a church where you’re going? Or watch a podcast of your or another church while you’re away. (There are a lot of great ones I wish I had time to watch each week!)
“. . . not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
4. Keep the Bible study going. Are you in a small group or Bible study? Encourage them to keep it going throughout the summer! It’s obviously okay if it looks differently! Why not have your small group meet around that fire pit? Or at a park? Brainstorm fun, creative ideas! But stay in the Word together!
“Establish Your word to Your servant, As that which produces reverence for You” (Psalm 119:38).
5. Read a book or listen to a podcast Bible study series. Pick up that book that you’ve been meaning to read and make it part of your summer evenings on the back porch. Or listen to that great podcast series while you’re out walking or biking. Choose something your family or friends can enjoy together while you vacation, too!
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
6. Foster a mindset of seeking God throughout the day. Check-out my blog post, 10 Ways to Infuse Worship into Your Routine, for some ideas to implement throughout the summer – and all year! You can do some of them as a family – and explain to your kids why it’s important.
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified’” (Psalm 70:4).
7. Journal what He’s showing you. Wouldn’t be great to be able to get to the end of August and look back at all God’s done in, through, and around you? Keeping a record makes it more likely that you will remember, build upon, and be encouraged to repeat your intentional God-seeking summer! (My blog post, 7 Reasons I Won’t Stop Journaling (this time), explains why I think this is so important.)
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?” (Psalm 77:11-13).
8. Put it on your calendar or to-do-list. If you’re like me, writing things down makes them more likely to happen. I will spend time alone in God’s word, prayer, and worship everyday. I will be in church these weekends.
“God will repay each person according to what they have done’” (Romans 2:6).
9. Get an accountability partner. Get your spouse or a friend to commit to an intentional God-seeking summer with you so you can keep each other accountable every week.
“. . . that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12).
The Giver of these summer days doesn’t deserve any less of us. He doesn’t deserve less of our time, attention, or affection. And we definitely can’t afford any less of Him! Can we?
So what might He do if I invited Him to be a greater part of my summer?
What will I miss out on if I don’t?
What amazing life-change does God have planned for my life this summer, if I let Him have His way – walk in His purposes?
Ok, here’s a bonus tip:
10. Study Worship and the Word. If you haven’t read my worship study, Worship and the Word, this summer would be a perfect time to do that! (It’s 10 weeks long, so it even gives you a couple of weeks off.)
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 emphases mine).
How amazing would it be to get a group of people excited about pursuing biblical worship together over the summer? Invite God to make the summer of 2016 one of life-change revolving around His very purpose for seeking and saving you!
It’s a journey that changed my life so much, I had to share it. The truths I discovered in His word about worship were just that powerful!
Whatever you do, don’t take the summer off from pursuing your first love or worshiping with His people! Don’t let it become a big, three-month distraction from God being the exclusive recipient of your worship . . . instead of ___(fill-in the blank)___.
Now’s the time to decide to have an intentional God-seeking summer – before you slip into a God-neglecting summer. I know He’ll pour out His blessings in response to your faithful seeking of Him!
What specifically are you going to do make this an intentional God-seeking summer? Let me know!
If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word, how to get the FREE 3 sample lessons, or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that! (You can also find leader tips and other helpful items in the top tool bar under “W&W Tools”.)
Do I have a growing appetite to worship God?
How to Avoid Settling for Less in Your Worship Life!
4 Reasons My Obedience In Worship Matters
5 ways you can influence the worship life of your church – even if you’re not a musician!
When You Need To Talk Yourself Into Worshiping
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