Ahhhh, summer in Texas. That glorious time of year when the hills are alive with the sound of radiant barrier commercials and children drift to sleep to the sonorous chirping of fire ants. The only thing worse than June in Texas is July and August in Texas. And perhaps September and October. Granted, I speak as a transplanted Missourian, where the heat comes in mildly blistering waves instead of one long, five-month blast from God’s own hair dryer. I also tend to start getting moist around the edges when the bank clock thermometer cracks 73 degrees and/or 5¼%, so I may be prone to hyperbole. Which, for the deacons out there, is not the plural of “hyperbola.”

Summer, it also seems, is a time for taking a vacation from Bible school. Just look around on any given Sunday and not only are not likely to see Al Pacino doing his Al Davis impersonation, you probably won’t find 40% of the usual congregation, either. Sure, vacations happen. But while I understand there’s still a fair amount of money flowing through the Metroplex, I doubt so many have the wherewithal to spend 10 weeks hunkered down in the New Braunfels.

Yes, our fervent desires for the Lord seem to wane as Mother Nature’s fever waxes on. Trust me, Daniel-san, I understand. When you’re guaranteed to need a shower just from unloading the kiddos from the minivan in the church parking lot, finding a congregation with the foresight to offer direct underground access via pneumatic tubes seems like a stellar idea. But since said churches don’t exist outside the worlds of comic books and hamster enthusiasts, sleeping in becomes the default option. So, what can we do to keep our spirits energized for Christ even as our bodies melt into puddles of gelatinous goo? Glad you asked.

First, stay ill-informed of the weekly preaching schedule. No offense to the Associate Pastor in Charge of Bake Sales and Goat Blessings (or Llama Blessings if you’re Lutheran), but everyone knows attendance ebbs and flows depending on which expositor is on sabbatical. Church is (or should be) about more than who’s preaching, of course. It’s also about worship, fellowship and sneaking a couple Krispy Kremes from the Nifty Fifties’ classroom. Just be careful – people in their fifties aren’t nearly as slow as they were when I was a kid. Or maybe I’m the slow one now. Hmm.

Second, if possible, kick it very old school and honor the Sabbath by attending a Saturday night service. Since, due to a conflict with “NCIS,” IBC doesn’t offer a Saturday night service, I suggest you channel your inner Jew for Jesus and attend Temple. Life lessons and awkward hilarity will ensue.

Third, use every summer experience as a teachable moment. For example, I can use this instant to instruct on how you should never, ever use the phrase “teachable moment” unless you enjoy eye rolling and mutterings of “whatever” from your spouse. For an example less specific to the Fox household, every trip to the water park can be a refreshing refresher course in baptism. Although your offspring may grow weary of hearing you intone “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” every time they emerge from the wave pool. Especially if you only have daughters.

Fourth and finally (I hear you mumbling, “Thank you, Lord.”), nothing fans the flagging flames of personal, semi-alliterative conviction like spending some quality time proselytizing at the one locale guaranteed to have the a/c cranked to Al Gore-angering levels, the mall. Explain to the masses that the secret to true contentment lies within Christ and not Victoria. Teach the youths how Jesus didn’t need a food court, let alone a Wetzel’s Pretzels, to feed the 5,000, 4,000 or even the ever-peckish Simon the Zealot. However, do not attempt to convince mall security that Which Wich is a sandwich-worshipping coven. Everyone knows that’s Potbelly’s bailiwick.

I could go on, but I’ve used up my allotment of Middle English synonyms for the month. In the end, it’s up to each of us to keep the fires burning in our hearts even as we fire up the grill. It really is possible to mix ball games with bible camps, vacations with devotions, and chillaxin with comparative surveys contrasting five-point Calvinism and Wesleyan Arminianism.

Now that’s one hot summer.