Summer Gifts from the Good Shepherd

“The LORD is my shepherd…. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul…” Psalm 23

A music teacher said something to me in May of my eighth grade year (a long, long time ago!) that made a huge impact on my life. I had announced to him that I wouldn’t be taking trumpet lessons during the summer. He looked at me kindly and asked, “Why?”
“It’s the summer.” I replied. “I guess I figured I’d take a break.”
He asked, “Why?”
He was a great teacher and always very patient. I can still picture his calm disposition as I took a step back in my mind to reconsider my reasons.
As I thought it over he added, “When school lets out, life gets a little simpler. It’s definitely a chance to rest, maybe travel a little, but it’s also a great time to do some things you don’t have time to do during the school year.”
“Yeah,” I thought to myself, “we both know how little time I have to really practice during the school year.”
At first it struck me as wrong to think of summer as a time to actually do more of something that might be considered work or learning. It made sense to me that a person with his skill probably hadn’t taken breaks from that part of his life in the summer months. I decided to try out his suggestion, and the following week I made my base-line plan: In addition to my weekly lesson, I would dedicate myself to four, fifteen-minute (no more, no less) personal (locked away in my room) trumpet practice sessions each day, five days a week. Not every day/week worked out according to my plan, but nevertheless, that summer and the ones that followed propelled me into amazing musical experiences that I cherish to this day.
Do you have a little extra time on your hands this summer? Have upcoming trips caused you to cut back on some groups and commitments that usually demand attention? Maybe the summer just marks a slight change in your routine. Nevertheless, the Good Shepherd wants to “lead you beside still waters… to restore your soul…” Consider the potential of a special summer plan for your daily walk with God. In addition to the Sunday immersion in God’s gifts we experience in worship services, consider these fifteen-minute “Summer Gifts” to you from God:
Read 15 Minutes – Open up the Bible and read. In June, read the book of Matthew one chapter a day. In July, read the book of Acts one chapter a day. In August, read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians one chapter a day.
Pray 15 Minutes – Talk to God. The Acronym A.C.T.S. reminds us that we can speak words of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. As you pray throughout the summer you might consider reading Martin Luther’s “A Simple Way to Pray” (available on Kindle and from CPH) and try out his personal prayer routine, “I.T.C.P.”
Meditate 15 Minutes – Quietly ponder the scripture you have read and the prayers you have spoken. Try to commit a verse or two to memory. Reading from a devotional book such as “Portals of Prayer” (CPH) or the Lutheran Hour’s daily devotions is also a good way to mediate on God’s word and consider God’s hand in your life. We have some copies available for you at Zion and it is also available digitally on Kindle.
Serve 15 Minutes – Just do something good for another person or cause. What this looks like will vary based on what talents and resources God has given you and who around you might need some help. I’ve seen a simple “Thinking of You” or “Praying for You” card make a tremendous difference in a person’s day.
The fifteen-minute sessions don’t have to be completed back-to-back. Spread them throughout the day if that works best for you. Also remember it is summer. Simply relax into God’s gifts and let the Good Shepherd “lead you beside still waters.”
God cares for us as a shepherd cares for His flock, giving His Word and Sacrament for our daily good. Christ has broken down the barrier between us and God, and gives His Word and Sacrament to hold us in union with Him throughout the good, bad, and ugly of our days. Receiving His gifts, I pray we would all continually grow in our trust in Christ and find deep joy in His grace… even in the summer.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Stephen

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