We’re right in the middle of a muggy Atlanta summer that has seen rain nearly every day the first half of this season. While the precipitation cools it down, it also invites many mosquitoes and more than a usual need for yardwork. Summers like this remind me of past seasons of “summer slump”, they used to be called. Being a pastor for years, I would see certain times of year where church was more often attended than others. The summer is usually one of those times, with church people going on vacation, family get togethers and kids going to camp. It can be a time of inconsistent attendance.
While our ministry now is more focused on inspiring people to live a dedicated Christian lifestyle versus an event centered life, committing to come to church regularly says a lot to our children, friends and those around us. When these occasional seasons come around, I always think of the admonition Jesus gives to all of us about the end times, where he warns us about “dissipation”. And while I want everyone to enjoy their vacation, family and activities there is wisdom here we ought to pay attention to, especially since it is such a strong admonition.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you like a trap.” – Luke 21:34
So what exactly IS dissipation?
The AMPLIFIED says: “But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self- indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries, distractions and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose.” ‘
Dissipate: a wasting by misuse: mental distraction; amusement; diversion, to scatter in various directions; to spend or use wastefully or extravagantly; squander; deplete:
These definitions really make sense for the believer in America today. Our entire life, especially in this wired-up digital age, has so many distractions, diversions and the consumer economy exists to pull from our time, money, energy and gifts. That’s why there are so many people in massive amounts of debt. Many simply don’t know how to say “no”. Jesus spoke to this self-indulgence in our generation and many to come. Paul also tells us that we should strive to life lives that profit for the Kingdom .
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13
1) ASSESS – We need to take an inventory of our life and lifestyle and honestly assess how much of what we are indulging in with our time and if it is helpful, constructive and profitable. Does it fit into the call of God on our life, or on our children? Spending 4 days a week shuttling kids around to soccer practice and games is a colossal expense in time and money unless it really somehow fits into the prophetic vision God has given for our child.
2) IS IT WASTED? Building family traditions is important. Even times of recreation and rest can be profitable and constructive. But if you are a parent, don’t be a permissive indulgent one! Little Suzy or Johnny will survive if he/she doesn’t get the latest toy, see the latest film or spend all summer doing some expensive hobby. Learn to say ”no”.
3) CULTURE CLASH – Are you allowing a permissive, lawless, debt-driven consumer culture to direct your summer plans? Spending on things we don’t need thinking “the kids need it” may be unwise. If all of your free time and cash is already spent and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life is on the back burner, it’s time to re-boot your priorities!