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Don't Waste Your Summer

Students, you’ve seen the end in sight ever since you returned form Spring Break. Even though the calendar said March, your mind was already set on June. Finally, you know it’s the end of the spring semester when you’ve turned in that last final exam. There’s little else that brings you as much joy as knowing school is out for at least a few months. No more exams, no more homework, no more late night studying, and no more early morning tutorials. You’re sick of school, ready to go on vacation and more than ready for warm weather—it’s time for summer break! 

But August will be here before you know it—you’ll be tan, have a few dollars in your pocket from the summer job, getting ready for two-a-days, and, believe it or not, eager to get back to school to see the friends you’ve missed all summer. Let me caution you with this: don’t wait until then to realize all the things you should have done to grow in Christ while home for the summer. You do not want to look back at this summer and say, “I’ve wasted it.” Summer break is an incredibly valuable and precious time. Prepare now to spend these months away from tests and bad cafeteria food enjoying your growth in your faith in God. Here are 7 ways to help you grow in your faith while on summer break.

1. Make a plan to read and memorize Scripture. The old saying really does hold true: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Just like you’ve spent time lining up work and planning out vacations and trips with friends, take some time to plan out your spiritual priorities for the summer. Schedule a time when you'll be able to be consistent each day in reading the Word and prayer. Look for a daily devotional and use it to guide the Scripture you read each day. Pick a Psalm or another well-known passage like Romans 8 or Philippians 2. Whatever you choose, take a couple of minutes each day to review the verses you've learned.

2. Rehearse your need for the gospel daily. As Tim Keller has said, “The gospel is not just the ABCs of Christianity, but the A to Z. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we all make progress in the kingdom.” We never move past our need for the simple, yet profound, truth of the gospel: Christ died and rose for our sins. Each morning when we wake up we'll be tempted to think we failed God the day before, or need to live up to a standard today in order for him to accept and love us. Preaching the gospel to ourselves each day is rehearsing the truth that God accepts and loves us on the basis of what Christ has done for us, which we accept by faith.   

3. Anticipate temptation. You'll be stepping back into situations that likely remind you how much you've failed in the past. Know your temptations and seek accountability. Sin always wants to convince us that we are strong enough to resist it. Don’t call your old boyfriend just to hang out thinking it won’t end up where it always has in the past. Ask yourself, “What will likely tempt me to have my attention and heart drawn away from Christ this summer?” Think about why this particular sin is alluring and apply Romans 13:14: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.” Find the things that rob your affections for Christ and run from them. Run from temptation and pursue Christ.

4. Recognize you need your brothers and sisters in Christ. Relationships between Christians are likened to a body to show us we need other believers in our lives (1 Cor. 12:12–26). The Christian life is not a solo mission. A hand needs an arm. An ear needs an eye. Go to a Bible preaching church. Find your Christian friends and intentionally meet with them. Part of fellowship is recognizing you have a responsibility to your brothers and sisters in Christ to help them grow, and they have a responsibility to you. God is calling us to be involved in each other’s lives. One way we can do so is by picking up the Bible when you're together or on the phone and reading verses that have been encouraging during the past week.

5. Look for ways to serve your family. Look for ways to serve when you're home. “How can I help?” and “I’d be glad to” go a long way in demonstrating how much you desire to serve others and how God has been at work in your life. We are never more like Christ than when we serve others. Look for opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations. Seek to make the most of the time now in both your attitude and also actions toward your family. You won’t regret it.

6. Turn off your phone and unplug. This is not a joke. Actually turn it off for an hour so you don’t check Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter for the 75th time today. Better yet, take these apps off your phone completely for at least a few days. This will help keep you from turning to it out of boredom and release you to notice others. For two weeks your Snapstreaks will come to an end, and you must be prepared for this to happen. However, you will be freed from being a slave to other people’s expectations and their immediate responses. If people depend on you online, let them know you’re stepping away for a few days or weeks. You can step away. You will survive, I promise.

7. Seek to be as bold with the gospel as you have been during the school year. You’re going to be around family or old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. It’s going to be obvious to them you've changed. Instead of mumbling some excuse about how you don’t feel like going out to party like you used to, tell them the real reason. Be bold. Tell them about how your desires have changed and take the time to explain the plain but powerful truth of the gospel and how they can follow Jesus as well. By God’s grace he has put you in their lives, so point them to Jesus just as others have done for you.