What is your church doing to redeem the time this summer?
Here is something we started last night called “The Summer Biblical Triathlon.” Here is the invitation and explanation I gave to our church, Calvary Baptist Church (Seymour, Indiana)
Don’t Waste Your Summer: How Will You Build Up Your Most Holy Faith?
In the short but powerful epistle of Jude, Jesus’ half-brother commands: “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” In his context and ours, this instruction is vital for Christians who are on their heavenly journey. Only those who continue in faith, hope, and love will enter the gates of heaven (Matt 24:13; Col 1:23). Those who start well, but leave their first love are in jeopardy of proving themselves wolves in sheep’s clothing, flowers planted in rocky soil.
To spur us on, Jude commands “those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” to “keep themselves” in the love of God. And he gives three ways that Christians are to do this: (1) by waiting for the mercy of God to come in Christ (v. 21b), (2) by praying in the Holy Spirit (v. 20b), and (3) by building yourselves up in your most holy faith (v. 21a). It is this last that we consider today.
One of the primary ways that your love for God will continue is to walk in faith, faith that is not self-generated, but faith that comes from the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23) as a gift from God (Eph 2:8-9; Phil 1:29). But this faith does not come like a digital download from the Internet. It is an exercise of your Spirit-enlivened soul, such that Jude can tell us that we need to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. So, how do we do that?
The theological answer is that we need to hear the word of God in Christ, for our faith comes by hearing his Word (Rom 10:17), but the practical answer is that every week we are summoned to come and hear the word of God—read, sung, prayed, taught, and preached. In fact, faith is built not by weekly activity, but daily meditation (Col 3:16). Still, it is from the weekly instruction that most of us have learned how to read and rightly interpret the Bible. With that in mind, I am calling our church to go deeper in the Word of God.
The Spiritual Discipline of Learning
For the last ten weeks, as we have read Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, we have been considering how to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. We began by considering the central place of “Bible Intake.” In the weeks that followed, we considered prayer, fasting, evangelism, and worship—to name a few. And finally, our last lesson has called us to a lifestyle of learning.
The danger of learning the spiritual disciplines is knowing about them and not practicing them. Christian self-deceit always lurks with learning (James 1:22). The solution is not to stop learning, but to put learning to practice, and this summer I am calling our church to do just that.
With the Olympic spirit that will wash over us by August, I am challenging you to participate in a ‘Summer Biblical Triathlon.’ As with an athletic triathlon, the goal is to train and push yourself in three endurance activities. In our case, we will fight the temptation towards lethargy this summer, and strive to build up our most holy faith.
Together, I am calling us to grow in our understanding and adoration of God’s plan of salvation. Here are the three components.
- Beginning (or continuing) a Bible Reading Plan. For those just beginning (or starting over), our reading plan will be the The Essential One Hundred Reading Plan. This reading plan selects 100 Scriptures to move you from Genesis to Revelation in 100 days or 20 weeks (5 days per week).
- Attending one of two Wednesday Night classes. These five-week classes offered in May/June and July/August will explain how the parts of the Bible fit with the whole. It will give you a guide for seeing God’s drama in biblical history and current events. If you have ever gotten lost in the Old Testament or wondered what God’s plan for the future is, then this class is for you.
- Reading a book (or three) about the Bible. In the foyer are a selection of seven triathlon books, call them “Pastor’s Picks,” to help you better read the Bible. For example, Tim Chester’s From Creation to New Creation is a helpful overview of God’s plan of salvation, while Michael Williams’s How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens gives 4-5 pages on every book of the Bible and how they relate to Jesus.
At the end of the summer, we will have a ceremony for those who complete the triathlon and those who read three books will receive a gift book.
As summer dawns, instead of just focusing on the vacation, the yard work, or the summer job, let’s build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Before we know it, summer breezes will be replaced by falling leaves. The seasons prove true Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fade,” so let us resolve to live in the light of the rest of that verse: “but the word of God will remain forever.”
You will never regret spending more time in God’s word. The investment is eternal. And this summer we can protect ourselves from wasting our summers by running together and beholding the beauty of God in the pages of his Scripture. I hope you join us!
For His Glory and your joy, Pastor David