5 Strategies for a Spiritually Strong Summer

We all know that our Summer schedules are a bit crazy and not our normal life-style of living. From trips to the beach, family visits, yard projects, and everything else that we try to to squeeze into these few Summer months, often times our Spiritual Life takes a back seat. However, this does not have to be you.

So with all the chaos, family commitments, and schedules to manage, what are some practical ways to stay spiritually strong during the Summer months, and not nudge God out of our Summer plans.

  1. INVEST RELATIONALLY:  Relational investements are more than just hanging out, the are purpose times with key relationships that will strength either your spiritual walk, or someone else’s spiritual walk.  For instance, invite a group of people over at least 1x per month over the Summer, and look for ways to encourage them, or even pray with them if the opportunities present.
  2. ONLINE CHURCH:  While it is optimal if you are with your spiritual family as much as possible during the Summer months, but the times when you can’t, many churches now have their services streaming online (we use Facebook live), or you can binge-watch a sermon series your pastor is preaching.  You can check ours out HERE.
  3. CONNECT AS A FAMILY:  As our older 2 are peaking the teenage years, this has been more challenging.  However, be sure to make memories both with your kids (i.e., mini-golf, frisbee, croquet in the backyard, water-baloons, etc…).  Also, if you are married, don’t be afraid to make some memories with just your spouse.  After all, someday those cute kids will leave you, and you’ll be stuck with each other.  Make sure you invest in my marriage as well.
  4. KEEP GIVING:  If you are a part of a church, be sure you continue to remain faithful to your giving at the church.  You can often times do so with online-giving options, or even set-up recurring gifts to your church.  Remember, they don’t shut down during the Summer.
  5. SLOW DOWN:  Hopefully your schedule is more flexible where you can simply slow down.  Spend some time reading or listening to your Bible, praying, and of course… DRINKING COFFEE (or lemonade).  Be sure you are refreshed as the Fall season will be upon us quickly.  Don’t miss your opportunity to read a book, sit on your porch during your devotions, or listen to some worship music before the kids get up.  You’ll start wondering why you don’t do it more often.

My prayer for you this Summer is that you will find yourself more spiritually strong and refreshed as the Summer comes to an end.  Enjoy your Summer by giving to what matters most!

The #1 Threat to your Relationships

It doesn’t take a professional psychologist, counselor, pastor, or leader to tell us that relationships are challenging at best, or deteriorating at worst.  The problems that are threatening our important relationships (i.e., marriages, children, parents, friends, co-workers, etc…) are numerous. At times it seems as if we are inventing new problems all the time as if we didn’t already have enough.

I’ve read many articles and books that define the problems we are facing.  The list of threats could go on for pages, but certainly include Finances/Debt, Communication, Pornography, Divorce, Abuse, Alcohol, Television/Movies, Lack of Sexual Intimacy, Shame, Anger, Drugs, Busy Schedules, and much more…  However, what is the #1 Threat to your Relationships?

Let me share a powerful story, I read some time ago in a book entitled, Connecting, by Christian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb.  He writes,

A friend of mine spent a weekend with a Christian ministry for troubled young people.  During a morning session of the residents and their parents, a young woman rose to address the group.

With trembling lips and tears of shame streaming down her face, she said, “I’ve been a prostitute for the last three years.  I am so sorry.”

As she stood there, paralyzed by her vulnerability, her father left his seat, walked to the front of the room, embraced the shaking girl, and said, “When I look at you, I see no prostitute in you.  You’ve been washed.  I see my beautiful daughter. (xviii)

I can only imagine the sorry and sadness this father experienced in his daughter’s confession.  He may have been embarrassed, felt like a failure himself, or even disgusted by his daughter’s behavior.  Instead, he offered grace and acceptance. You see… the #1 Threat to your Relationships is REJECTION.

Now please understand me, offering grace and acceptance is not condoning one’s behavior, but REJECTION is the death-sentence to any relationship.  REJECTION devalues the inherent worth of an individual, no matter how bad their behavior has been.  It strips away the hope and healing that can only be found when grace and acceptance are offered freely, and unmerited.

Let me clarify something.  When major pain is inflicted upon a relationship because of issues of repetitive physical/sexual abuse, or on-going unfaithfulness in a marriage it is necessary for some relationships to change.  So when a wife experiences an issue like the two listed above, she may need to respond to her husband’s rejection of their marriage covenant through separation or divorce.  These are the extreme situations.

On the norm, we should lead with Grace and Acceptance in our relationships.  Without Grace and Acceptance, we send the message, “I love and receive you as mine, only when you’re perfect or meet my expectations.”  Of course, this is an impossible standard causing most to either hide in the relationship or to run to a new relationship that makes them feel valuable or worthy of love.

Long-term, healthy and growing relationships Reject-REJECTION!   The father in the above story was not accepting his daughter’s behavior, but he did accept her as a daughter.  How might we respond in the same way to our relationships?

 

Shift #1: Live Empty

Let’s be real… We like things FULL.  We like a FULL coffee mug, a full wallet (with $), a full calendar, life full of friends, full of energy, full of ideas, full of opportunity, a full stomach, a full closet, a full refrigerator, and anything else we can get full.

Of course there are some things we also like empty.  We like an empty kitchen sink, empty laundry baskets, an empty email inbox, an empty honey-do-list (so I’ve heard), and any way we can empty stress and anxiety.

So what does it mean to Live EMPTY? I probably depends what you are measuring, and what you are measuring with.

To live EMPTY is the opposite of living FULL of self.  To live EMPTY is to live GIVING. Giving is the quickest way to receive/to be FULL.  When we live EMPTY, we can be filled with God himself.  He never fills a FULL vessel.

It live EMPTY is to recognize our need with out being needy. Living EMPTY is a life of giving.  The Bible gives these examples:

A man who has friends must himself be friendly.[1]

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.[2]

Give, and it will be given to you… running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.[3]

SO……………….. What measure are you using? Perhaps it is time to question your metrics of what it means to be full, and start to learn to Live EMPTY!

[1] Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) [2] Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) [3] Luke 6:38 (NIV)