Growing Deeper with Jesus

I don’t know if you love or hate hot weather, but I had my eyes opened a couple of days ago to something that’s putting purpose and spice into summer for a lot of people! 

I discovered that since the end of school and the beginning of summer, a number of families in our church have taken on our GraceKids-sponsored “Summer Family Challenge.” They’ve embarked on some wonderful and “funtastic” projects designed to grow family connection, build joy, and help kids go deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

I had heard about the challenge, but honestly I really had no interest in it until this past Monday night.

Monday nights are four-generation family dinner nights at our house. Those around the table include Bobbie’s 92-year-old dad—“Lito”—who, with his walker and dog in tow, makes his way carefully across the street from his driveway to ours. Completing the circle are our son and daughter-in-law, Andy and Julie, who with their three kids usually pile out of their minivan around our six o’clock dinner time. 

This past Monday, however, Julie and kids (Kesler, Audra and Naomi) chose to make the nearly 5 mile trip to dinner at Gramps and Mammaw’s on their bicycles!

The ride was part of a “Summer Family Challenge” activity which rewards 400 miles of walking, running, or biking with a whopping 350 points! Spurring motivation is a grand prize awarded at the end of the summer to the family with the highest number of points (and also to one fortunate and randomly drawn participating family).

Intrigued by my family’s enthusiasm and impressed by my grandkids’ willingness to tackle biking on a hot afternoon, I picked up a “Summer Family Challenge” guide at the Connection Desk to get a better picture of the creative ways families are being encouraged to bond, serve, and grow!

I loved what I discovered.

A family water gun fight is worth 10 points. So is going through one’s closet and giving unused things to charity. There’s another 10 points for calling one’s grandparents and asking them if they have any prayer requests! (I like that one!) Also, lying on a blanket and counting shooting stars adds 10 points to the family total.

As I browsed the brochure I noticed some higher point challenges, worth 25 points apiece and containing some spiritually stretching activities: making a home video based on one of the parables of Jesus, reading through the Gospel of John, or memorizing Psalm 23 together.

“What great ideas for families to have fun while growing their relational and spiritual connections!” I thought to myself. Hats off to challenge provider Deeper KidMin, whose creator is a former children’s pastor who wanted to equip parents and ministry leaders to grow kids deeper in their relationships with Christ through creative, engaging, and affordable online resources!

(If you are interested in joining the Summer Family Challenge, it’s not too late! Pick up a booklet with instructions and the list of challenges at the Connection Desk this Sunday morning.)

“Growing deeper with Jesus” resonates with me as a wonderful summer goal for anyone regardless of whether or not it’s part of the “Summer Family Challenge.”

In my Bible reading the other day I came across a beautiful jewel of a description in Ezekiel 31:7 of a towering and majestic tree whose “roots went down to abundant waters.” Something in that expression called to my heart as I said to the Lord, “That’s what I want my life to look like!”

Down where no one notices, below the ground level of busy schedules and pressure-filled days, I love the thought of drawing my life and vitality from the unfathomable spiritual riches abundantly offered by Jesus to anyone who takes the time to quiet with Him and soak in His Word.

How about joining me in going deeper with Jesus this summer?

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT)

Let’s be praying for Pastor Jack and family on vacation, for Casey Teater on her first Sunday as our new Children’s Ministry Director, and for Pastor Kyle who will be leading worship AND preaching!

Warmly in Jesus!
Pastor Steve