By: Greg St. Cyr

During commissioning week, Mary Kaye and I rented our home and headed south to Redington Beach, Florida for vacation in the sun. I love the Gulf beach - the pounding of the waves, the blowing of the wind, the beauty of the sunset. Give me a beach chair, umbrella and several books, and I feel like I’m brushing up against the glory of heaven. As a beach-walker, I walk in the early morning, as the sun sets, and throughout the day. And as I stroll, I talk with the Lord and try to listen. He gives me thoughts, impressions, burdens and desires.

One of the things that burdens me and has been the topic of my prayers has to do with how important relationships are to our spiritual growth. We need to cultivate an intimate relationship with the Lord, meaningful spiritual friendships with other believers, and loving relationships with those who don’t know Jesus. At Bay Area, we talk about these three relationships using the language UP, IN and OUT.

As we enter summer and routines change with kids at home and vacation travel, it’s easy to disengage from relationships that we desperately need. That is what I’m praying you do not do.

There is never a reason to take a break spiritually. There is never a time we don’t need the encouragement and accountability of other believers. And there is seldom a day when you do not encounter people who do not know Jesus.

So as summer 2022 unfolds before us, here are three simple encouragements:

First, spend daily time with the Lord in His Word and prayer.

If you don’t have a meaningful Bible reading plan, join us in reading Chapter A Day. You can pick one up at church. Daily reflecting on God’s Word will change your life.

Second, stay connected.

One of our values is Better Together. As Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, “let us not neglect meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” Stay connected in your small group, with spiritual friends, and at our Sunday gatherings.

Third, love your neighbors.

Jesus has enlisted us in His search and rescue mission. Like the Good Samaritan, we are to love those around us in need. Like the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to pursue the one, we are to lovingly “go after the one which is lost” (Luke 15:4).

Here is something to ponder: What next step is the Lord asking you to make so that your summer is all God desires it to be?

If you stay relationally connected to God, His people, and the lost, come September you’ll look back on the summer and feel the Lord’s pleasure. Why? Because you will have grown more into the likeness of Jesus. might even feel like you’ve been vacationing on the beaches of Florida!