a summer that counts

I came across this article written by Philip Nation and thought it would be great timing since school is almost out.

Seasons all have their official dates that are set by… well, I don’t know who sets them. But they all start on a specific day on my Blackberry. But then there is the other 99.9% of us whose lives are controlled by other factors.

For many, it is the school calendar. Right now, the spring semester is ending and it’s the start of summer vacation. It is the glorious time of the year when children are home all day, vacations are taken, pools are visited, and then we look for something to do on the second week.

Each spring, I hear people making plans for the perfect summer. They vow that this is the year they go camping with the kids, visit the grandparents more, and have more fun than anyone thought possible. Then the new school year rolls around and everyone wonders what just happened to the two months of perfection they had planned. Time seemed to slip away so quickly.

I want to challenge your thinking about summer this year. You can still go on a trip, play in the pool, and camp with the kids. But what if you decided to make it a missional summer? Instead of counting the days until it was over, I want you to make your summer count! It all begins with the “why.” Why should I spend my whole summer or any of my summer on mission? That sounds boring. Even worse, it sounds like work. But if you want to have a memorable summer—then you have to get your mindset right.

When Paul was helping the Corinthian church understand their role in the world, he explained it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, “(18) Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (19) that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. (20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God.’”

Our lives as believers are not about self; which is a tough concept when we are facing the summer months. It seems that summer is designed as a built-in “take a break” time of the year. Take a break from school, work, and even church stuff. But your summer can be the moment that you engage in the mission rather than disengage from the world. Let me give you 8 tips for making your summer count. And I promise that each one of them is possible!

1) Look at people with eternity in mind. Everyone has an eternity in front of them. We need to see them as God does and care for them like it counts.

2) Show some hospitality. Believers should be the people that everyone else wants to be around. So be the person who invites everyone over for a cookout or a game night. Remember, you’re the ambassador for Christ so get into the lives of people living outside the kingdom.

3) Watch for a chance to serve. People give away all of their energy on family, work, and menial chores. Look for ways that you can care for your neighbors—even if it is just cooking a simple dinner for them.

4) Visit someone new. Look around your community and find someone who needs a friend. Maybe it is visiting in a nursing home or rocking babies in the NICU. Make your days count with people who feel they don’t.

5) Go somewhere unexpected. It is not too late to get your family’s name on the list for a mission trip. Leave your inhibitions behind and get going to a place that needs to hear about Jesus whether it’s downtown or to the other side of the globe.

6) Take somebody with you. Whatever you do, don’t do it alone! Take your family, get your Sunday school class involved, or invite the whole church to go out on mission. And make sure to take the kids. They’re ready to change the world, so let them.

7) Be truthful. Missional believers contend for the faith while speaking in a way understandable to the hearer. No matter what—be ready to tell the story of Jesus.

8) Love like Jesus. He lived a robust life of caring for the lost. He did it by meeting their needs and telling them the truth. And I can think of no better way to make your summer count than doing both of those.

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