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Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Php 2:12-13).
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25).
So summer is here. No more pencils, no more books. No more teachers’ dirty looks.
And, for most of you, there are no more weekly Chi Alpha meetings. No more living with your Chi Alpha friends and family. Even if you didn’t go home, a lot of people did. Summer Chi Alpha is different.
You’ve grown a lot in the past year. With the help of your Chi Alpha family building you up, you’re a different person. More mature. More firm in your faith. You’re doing so well.
How can you keep that up?
Are you going to?
The Christian life is one of constant growth. If we aren’t growing, we’re dying. That’s just the way it is.
You need to keep growing. But how can you without the Chi Alpha family around you?
For this, I’m drawing heavily from some teaching I was given by Chuck Haavik and Jay Sykes. All of us have used it throughout our careers to teach this very subject, and I’m greatly indebted to their teaching.
First and foremost, you need to make a conscious decision to grow this summer. Some of you are going back into environments—not just places but the people and relationships—that held you back from growing. It’s easy to revert back into your old way of living when you’re in that environment.
But we can’t go back. So how are you going to grow despite that environment?
You need to determine—make a conscious decision—to grow.
And then you need to act on it.
First off, you’re without your community. You’ve been shaped by God in and through the Chi Alpha community. You need to find a community.
Even more. You’re a leader. You need to make community.
Find a church or a young adult group, somewhere that you can belong for the summer. And dive in. Get involved. If they don’t have a place for you, make a place for yourself and for others. Build that community and encourage one another to grow. And you’ll be encouraged to grow.
Serve your local church. Find what they need done and do it. They’ll make a place for you. And if they see that you’re creating a discipleship community, they’ll welcome you with open arms.
If they don’t? If they keep shutting you out? Wrong church. Find another. That place is unhealthy.
But give the church a chance to warm up to you. Don’t just ditch after one or two tries, unless things are obviously bad. You should be able to tell.
Figure out where you’re going to find that community. For many of you, it’s going to be the church you grew up in. But some of you didn’t grow up in church. And some of you, the church you grew up in is dead, dying or unhealthy. Maybe the church you grew up in is the unhealthy environment that held you back before. Maybe you need to find another one. Scout out a few churches and then give one a try.
And also plan to read Scripture. No one lives by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. And a tremendous amount of that is written in the Bible. Remember to eat your soul’s food daily just as you eat your body’s food daily.
Some of you have starving souls. How can you feed people and teach people to feed themselves if you yourself are starving?
“But what can I read? There’s a whole Bible to choose from!”
Well, if you only read a chapter a day, you can go through all four Gospels in the summer. If you read three chapters a day, you can read the whole New Testament over the summer. Two chapters a day would cover all four Gospels and all of Paul’s writings.
Or if you want to read the Old Testament, you can read all of Genesis and Exodus on one chapter a day. If you’re really ambitious, the whole OT in the summer takes nine chapters per day. But honestly, I don’t recommend that—you’re mostly just going to be skimming, not remembering a lot of what you read, unless you have a lot of time and discipline. Or you can speed read (which is a skill you can learn, by the way).
Anyway, plan what you’re going to read. Figure out how many chapters that is, and then figure out how many chapters per day that is. There’s your plan. It’s pretty simple.
So feed yourself, spiritually and socially. Keep growing! Seek out some iron to sharpen and be sharpened with, or you’ll get dull and rusty!
Just remember to commit yourself to it. Don’t wish for it to happen; make it happen. Let your love for God drive you to pursue God daily!