Chuck Terrill: An encouragement to be faithful this summer
It's that time of year again. The weather is warm, children have finished school, and vacations are beginning. For many, this is a season for more time with family, time spent relaxing, and more overall fun. Yet while many people are taking a vacation, the devil is increasing his efforts, trying to pull Christians away from the Lord. During a time when people are more relaxed, the devil is more focused. So how do we remain faithful to Christ this summer? How can we make sure these next few months aren't wasted but are redeemed as we remain faithful?
I'm not sure that I like the days we are now living in. Kids are participating in “traveling” team sports each weekend. Baseball games, soccer games, and golf matches remove Christians from church every Sunday. Horse shows or rodeo events are held every weekend. To many, NASCAR and other sporting events, watched on TV, have become more important than faithful church attendance. Instead of investing in Kingdom work, the investment being made today is in recreational equipment. Boats, jet-skis, motorcycles, and a myriad number of other modern-day idols continue to lead Christians astray.
Numbers 33:50-52 describe the land of Canaan as a land full of idolatry. As the children of Israel made their way into Canaan, they faced the city of Jericho. Jericho was a well-fortified and prosperous city. This was a city that an experienced army would have difficulties defeating, let alone a group of people who had been wandering the desert for years. Nevertheless, God gave the Israelites victory over the city. Even before the city was taken by the power of God, God commands the Israelites to destroy all idols in the city. He didn't want anything left of them.
God realized the Israelites' weaknesses, and the temptation to place other gods before Him. He ordered the Israelites to get rid of anything that might come between them and Him.
The Israelites struggled with idolatry, and so do we. While their gods were engraved images, our gods come in the form of pride, materialism, frivolity, or apathy. Our gods are more “in self” than “on the shelf.”
Many Christians will "take a break from God" this summer. It is difficult to admit, but vacation and leisure pursuits will become their gods. They will travel, enjoying sports and recreation, while neglecting God's house and corporate worship for a time. There is nothing wrong with vacation, but God wants us to remain faithful to Him even during vacation.
The summertime relaxation mentality can ruin our devotional lives. A break from work doesn't mean a break from being a Christian. We can be sure that the devil does not take a break from attacking us, so we must be ever vigilant against his attacks.
Will you place God first in your life this summer, or will you be on "break?” While there are times for break from work, school, and the daily routine, there is never a break from Christianity. Christianity isn't a routine you perform or a job you accomplish; Christianity is a life you live. Even though you will be tempted to neglect your Bible reading or church attendance, determine to keep God first in your life this summer.
Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.