Memorial Day is here, school is nearly done, and the days are growing longer and hotter. The firstfruits of summer have arrived.
As the summer season approached in 1995, Pastor John reminded his church of the spiritual benefits of summer, along with the annual temptations to spiritual laziness in his article, “Setting Our Minds on Things Above in Summer” (May 31, 1995).
Every season is God’s season, but summer has a special power.
Jesus Christ is refreshing, but flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word, but then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.
Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fianceé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come — “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.
Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations, picnics, softball, long walks, and cookouts. He invites us in the summer: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This is serious summer refreshment.
Do we want it? That is the question.
Christ gives himself to us in proportion to how much we want his refreshment. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, RSV). One of the reasons to give the Lord special attention in the summer is to say to him, “We want all your refreshment. We really want it.”
Resources on the spiritual value, and temptations, of summer
-by Tony Reinke, for the Desiring God blog. For more articles like this, go to www.desiringgod.org
SO MANY WORDS COME TO MIND WHEN I THINK OF THAT WORD. FUN. MESSY. LIFE-GIVING. TRYING. INTIMATE. LASTING. COMMITMENT. REFINING. GIVING. TAKING. LAUGHTER. UNDERSTANDING. SUPPORT.
The older I get, the more I value my girlfriends. The more I see the need for them. The more I love them! And as I listen to those around me, I see that so many women and men DON’T have deep relationships in their lives. We NEED friends. Not mere acquaintances. Deep, lasting, committed friends. I’m talking the kind of friend that you can rely on. The kind of friend that will walk with you through ANYTHING.
My friends have seen the deepest, darkest, silliest, most annoying, parts of me. They have also experienced some of my best moments with me.
I have 3 friends that I would refer to as “LIFE-LONG” friends. By life-long, I don’t mean that I’ve known them all of my life. I mean that they will be in my life for the REST of my life. Of the three, I’ve actually had verbal conversations with two of them where we’ve committed to be friends for life. No matter what, forever, weather the storms kind of relationships. No relationship on this earth will rival that of the marriage covenant, but the commitment I have to these friends would at least shadow the covenant I have with my husband. Two of my life-long friends lived next door to me at LSU. The third, I got to know after joining staff with Cru.
THE FOLLOWING THINGS ARE TRUE OF ALL OR AT LEAST ONE OF MY LIFE-LONG FRIENDS. THEY HAVE:
▪ been with me in loneliness
▪ known the intricacies of my relationship with Christ
▪ prayed with me and for me (on their knees at times)
▪ stood in my wedding
▪ traveled overseas with me
▪ asked me hard questions to hold me accountable
▪ laughed so hard with me that we’ve peed our pants
▪ known that I accidentally peed in the bathtub while bathing (give me some grace, I was 9 months pregnant and just forgot what I was doing)
▪ slammed the door on me
▪ studied God’s word with me
▪ asked for forgiveness
▪ granted forgiveness
▪ given me a good reason to end the friendship
▪ has been given a good reason (by something I’ve done) to end the friendship
▪ cried to me over a miscarriage
▪ had me cry to them over a miscarriage
▪ called me out
▪ been angry at me (let’s be honest…ALL of them have had reason for this one)
▪ confided in me that their hearts are full of hate toward someone
▪ rejoiced with me in my marriage (even when they are lonely)
▪ rejoiced with me over a pregnancy (even when they long for children)
▪ made fun of my question-asking, never satisfied with the answer personality
▪ confessed to me that they are so jealous of someone that they can’t see straight
▪ encouraged me to remain faithful to the Lord
▪ stood up for me
▪ stood by me
I can truly say that I have three friends that know me and have been known by me. Our friendships have ebbed and flowed. I’m closer to each of them during different seasons. They each bring something very different to the table in our relationships.
I’ve learned that we grow with one another. We have to, because if we don’t allow room for one another to grow and change, we will grow apart. We honor one another by honoring what God is doing in one another’s lives.
As I’ve thought about my friends (and the fact that so many people I meet don’t seem to have deep friendships), I’ve come up with some tips, some things that seem valuable.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A POTENTIAL LIFE-LONG FRIEND, AS WELL AS THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR FRIENDS TO CONTINUE TO DEEPEN THE RELATIONSHIP:
▪ look for someone who can accept your weaknesses and idiosyncrasies yet is still willing to help you grow
▪ look for someone who you can laugh with
▪ look for someone who shares your same values
▪ look for someone who will keep their word
▪ look for someone who has capacity to listen and not just talk
▪ allow one another to change; the friend you start with should not look the same as the friend you end with years down the road
▪ encourage each other to have other friends
▪ pray together and for one another
▪ be intentional to spend time together
That’s my 2 cents, but I don’t know that much. But, I know of someone who knew much about true friendship. The beloved Jonathan, son of King Saul of Israel. Jonathan and David had a beautiful friendship. And I believe much of what made it so special was Jonathan’s ability to look beyond himself and his circumstances and embrace God’s plan. Ever thought about the fact that Jonathan SHOULD have been the next in line for the throne? And yet God himself chooses his best bud to have that high seat. Ouch. Ouch times a bunch.
Isn’t that reality? Friendship can put us in some sticky spots. When you’re BFF gets asked out by the guy you’ve been crushing on….when your friend gets engaged first even thought you’ve been dating your boyfriend for WAY longer….when you are really struggling financially and your friend gets a killer job making a bizillion dollars….when you struggle with your weight and your bestie is as stunning as a supermodel…..
I’m well aware that these are all female issues! But I’m not a man, so insert something equally as gut-wrenching and manly and you guys can get the picture. There will ALWAYS be things we long for that our friends get and we don’t. But rather than allowing jealousy and entitlement ruin the friendship, Jonathan remains faithful to the covenant he made to David. He stands by him. He serves him. He allows room for David to become who he needs to be. And even at the end of their story, David shows his honor for his friend Jonathan by extending great kindness to dear friend’s family.
My encouragement would be to overcome the fear of rejection and go there. Invest well in your friends.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
-Written by Jessica Vaughn for the CruPress Green blog. To read more from CruPress Green, go to http://crupress.campuscrusadeforchrist.com/green/index.php/blog/
This week's bit of encouragement comes from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. For more resources from Mars Hill, go to www.theresurgence.com.
“Save me in your steadfast love!” Psalm 31:16
The Bible is a story of God’s undeserved, gracious, and generous love. God is under no obligation to rescue us, but he chooses to do so and takes the initiative to bring it about. As the story of salvation develops throughout the Bible, this rescuing love of God is referred to in various terms, but the main one is the Hebrew word hesed. The entire history of God’s relationship with Israel and Jesus’ message can be summarized in terms of hesed.
Hesed is God’s steadfast love-the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, one-way love of God. It turns up regularly in the Old Testament, particularly in the Psalms, but it is not just an Old Testament concept. Rather, it points to the fullness of God’s love shown in giving up his Son Jesus Christ.
Through Jesus, God has and is actively reaching into our chaos, our sin, our pain, and our confusion and taking hold of us. God is active and initiates the relationship with us. And when we are grasped through his steadfast love (hesed), we are secure, not driven away or lost. Rather, we are being lifted out and brought to new life. We have been given life now, and we will be given eternal new life by Jesus at the end. As Jesus told us, “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).
-Justin Holcomb is the director of the Resurgence, and at the end of this month, will be the lead pastor of Mars Hill U-District.
Let’s face it. Summers can pose a major challenge to our faith and obedience to Christ. It can be a very spiritually isolating time because you are away from the environment and friends that have helped you grow spiritually this past school year. It can be a dangerous time to your faith and your future.
But it also can be a great opportunity to see your faith tested and increase and an opportunity to make some key steps on your own. You can make some decisions now that will put you in a position of advantage and strength as you go into the summer. As a Christian, we can embrace challenges because we recognize the opportunity to trust God in new ways and see our faith grow in ways that we would have never seen otherwise.
Now is the time to act. How can you prepare to meet the spiritual challenges that the summer will bring? Three key essential elements will help you be “more than a summer survivor”. Click here to view the More than a Summer Survivor Guide and let us know how God is working in your life this summer!
Until next week-
Your friends at Cru
A community where Jesus Christ captures hearts, transforms lives, and launches men and women into a life long adventure with Him.