As part of Bethel Church‘s @Home initiative we’re highlighting ways that we can pursue fruitful disciplemaking opportunities on the homefront throughout the summer. Keeping in mind the admonition of Deuteronomy 6:7, which says, “You shall teach [God’s commands] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” we want to remind everyone who is interested that unfolding God’s values simply as we live life is every bit as effective if not more so than sitting in some structured teaching context such as might be at a church or in a classroom. With this in mind, consider the following acronym, LIFE, as an helpful acronym for summer fun:
L is for “laugh”. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Laughter is a powerful balm for a weary body and soul. Throughout the summer, finding and creating moments in which to laugh will be a significant gift to everyone around you, and, to you. Playing games together, making up stupid songs (this, of course, never happens at my home), watching some funny movie together, telling stories, and so forth, create no end of light-hearted and humorous moments. Everyone of us reading this who is a dad must figure this out, for when dad’s bring humor it elevates the spirit of the whole family. There is something about a man bringing laughter that is especially powerful. Christa always tells the girls that I went to “Silly Dad School.” Never, never solicit laughter at someone’s expense, but self-deprecation, capturing a humorous moment (“Dad, I stubbed my toe on the door!” says the child. “You didn’t hurt the door, did you?” says the dad.), or playfully poking at one another can lighten the mood and the load. I often pray that our family will just laugh a lot, have a real joy, and generally experience gladness of heart and mind. Give that a try too!
I is for “instill values”. Proverbs 6:6 finds the wise sage instructing the reader to “Go to the ant, you sluggard” and “consider her ways, and be wise.” I love how the writer of Proverbs used such a simple and common thing to draw out an important illustration. Ants are as industrious as anything ever created. If one is lazy and needs an example of hard work, ants are a good place to start. Throughout the summer look for those teaching moments that can allow you to reinforce some timeless value. Recently my family and I were in the mountains of southern Poland. For a couple of days we could not see the snow-capped peaks because of the thick cloud cover. But pointing out that the mountains were there even when we could not see them set up an excellent opportunity to talk about God’s steadfast presence even when the dark clouds of life appear so ominous and heavy. We may not see God, but he is there nonetheless. Look for moments and illustrations like these. Pray for such to come your way. Share them with simplicity and authenticity.
F is for “fan into flame purpose and giftedness”. Proverbs 20:5 declares, “The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Proverbs 25:2 declares, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Summertime provides ample opportunity for family sages to fan into flame the passions, gifts and purposes of those they love. If little Johnny is into firetrucks and dreams of being a fireman, then take him to the fire station for a tour. Maybe take his friends with you too. If Mary is into ballet and dance, then buy tickets to the summer dance theater and go with her and absorb it together. Notice that I did not simply suggest you ship her off to dance camp, though there is nothing particularly wrong with that. The idea, however, is that you be together. If your spouse wants to be a writer then maybe take a weekend with him and go to a writer’s conference. The goal is to help those you love understand the things they may be interested in pursuing and join them on the journey of discovery. One of my daughters really loves the outdoors and has expressed interest in being a park ranger. When we were at Yellowstone National Park awhile back she and I took some time and visited with the park rangers that we saw, asking them questions about their jobs and the many unique things rangers do. Pray for opportunities such as these, and engage them together!
E is for “engage a cause or an opportunity”. Proverbs 11:11 finds the ancient sages telling us that it is “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted.” Take those you love and determine some meaningful way to bless the community in which you live. Perhaps you and those at home with you could spend a morning a week throughout the summer serving at your local homeless shelter. Maybe you and your family could volunteer with the Convoy of Hope moving through the Fargo/Moorhead region later this summer, or with a similar opportunity in your community. Perhaps instead of going to the lake this summer you and those close to you could work at an English-language camp in eastern Europe. The point is to take the time and make the effort to engage some important transcendent cause together, around which you can build stories that you will share with one another for years to come, and in which you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around you. Pray for such moments, and embrace them!
You will note, of course, that the biblical passages referenced above are all from the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is an ancient discipleship manual, and a terrific resource for summertime reading and reflection together. Reading the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month (today is April 22 so I’ll read Proverbs 22) could be a great way for families to learn together about living life with joy, passion, integrity and so forth.
Give it try, and see just what great things God has in store for your summer!
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“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The preceding material is from Pastor Matthew’s message entitled, “Summer @Home”, part of the “@Home” initiative, presented on the weekend of April 22, 2012, at Bethel Church.