Apparently summer is now here, although just a week ago you wouldn’t have been far off saying the weather was much more like late September already!
The weather may not always be quite as reliable here as it is in Greece or Spain, but this time of year is a great chance for many of us to take a break and get some time with family rain or shine!
Church life usually gets a bit quieter at this time of year, although all three of our sites will still be meeting every Sunday (except for August 28th when most of us are away at Westpoint). Many of our ministries and events will take a well earned rest until September. There are no planned dates for Life Groups over the summer, although many groups get together anyway to eat and have fun.
Of course this quieter season doesn’t mean that God has gone on holiday … as someone will usually tell me at some point along the way! (I know! I really do! Honestly!)
This season is a chance to take things a little easier for many people, and whilst I appreciate that some will be working flat out all summer long, here is my suggestion for those who can take some sort of break: don’t just take a holiday, make it a Sabbath.
God took a Sabbath rest after the work of creation was finished. He designed our lives to have holidays and regular breaks – we function best that way.
So don’t just lie by the pool … lie by the pool and pray. Talk to God about your life, your family, your walk with him, your disappointments and your plans and hopes for the year ahead.
Don’t just sit in the garden … sit in the garden and meditate on God’s word and his creation. Take time to pause and give thanks.
Don’t just go for a walk … go for a walk with your kids or your friends and ask them how their own walk with God is. Ask what’s going in their hearts and how you can pray for them and encourage them and support them in the next year.
Read this summer…
And don’t just read trashy novels and magazines … read something that will speak to your soul and build you up in your faith. So with that in mind I have four book recommendations for the summer with a brief description of what the book is like and why I found it useful to read.
Whatever you’re doing this summer – enjoy!
4 book suggestions for summer
(All available on Amazon)
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero
This book looks at the importance of handling our emotions well. As the author says, “You can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
It’s helpful stuff, especially if you ever find yourself avoiding conflict in the name of Christianity, or if you are sometimes affected by unexplained sadness, anger or fear.
I hope it does you as much good as it did me.
What Good is God? – Philip Yancey
This book is built around ten challenging situations where the author was required to speak or preach as a Christian minister, bringing truth and encouragement, after times of great trauma, challenge or tragedy.
In each situation he talks around the issues that were stirred up by the scenario or situation he was facing, and then tells us what his message was:
- What can you say to students after one of their number has shot dead his fellow students and them himself in a senseless campus massacre?
- What can you say to sex workers and those who minister to people trapped in this lifestyle?
- What can you say to Middle Eastern Christian pastors experiencing intense persecution?
- What can you say to a room full of recovering alcoholics?
These and several other challenging situations were faced by Philip Yancey, and he does a great job of communicating how God is good news to all people. I loved this book.
Gaining Heaven’s Perspective – Julian Adams
Julian Adams has a well respected prophetic gift and was a huge blessing to our church in the early days, bringing some influential prophetic input to us.
This is by far the shortest of my four book suggestions, but not necessarily the simplest.
Julian encourages us in this book in how to enjoy God’s presence in our daily life and hear from God daily. The impact will last beyond reading the book!
The Road to Character – David Brooks
My final recommendation was not written by a Christian at all (as far as I know!) According to Wikipedia the author is Jewish, although I don’t know if he practices this faith.
This challenging book looks at how various different people have developed character through the trials and pressures of life. It also brings a very helpful perspective on how our society has strayed down some very unhelpful dead ends in terms of our life goals and the things we praise and desire.
I guess I should warn you that it contains one occurrence of bad language (I’m sure most of you will cope!) – but it also contains a lot of helpful truth.
Chapter 8, about St Augustine, is especially helpful, and clearly this author has a sharp understanding of what the Christian gospel is about, though I have no clue if he has accepted it for himself.
This helped me personally more than any other I read this year, although it is the one on my list that would take the most commitment and brain power to read.