Routines for a Heart of Revival

God established rhythms of worship and remembrance for the Hebrews when they left Egypt and first became the nation of Israel. In addition to Sabbath days of rest, there were holy days of remembrance, feasts, times for confession, and days of thanksgiving. Through this intentionality, God’s people were taught to practice cycles of renewal.

Why were these days and times so important to the identity of God’s chosen people?

Jesus said the entire law could be summed up by the purpose of loving God or others. If everything God commanded was meant to help us love him or our neighbors better, then somehow the concept of regimen and rhythm was meant to help us grow closer to God and serve others.

Perhaps establishing or reestablishing a spiritual routine will prepare our hearts for the revival we desire.

Routines Positions Us

Psychologists agree regular routines decrease stress, promote better sleep, and are healthier for children.

During the pandemic, when millions lost their weekly patterns of work and play and home, mental distress increased. Routines decrease the mental load of decision-making and form a culture in our lives and homes.

God knew ordering our time was essential to maximizing our relationship with him. When God established routines for his people, they regularly included prayer, fasting, worship, giving, and remembrance. These activities often compete with work, school, activities, and the stresses associated with a full schedule.

But in our day of fast-paced and maxed-out schedules, the routines leading to revival slow us down, regularly, so we can hear from God and acknowledge him.

Routines Remind Us
Alarms remind us to wake up. We follow patterns when driving to routine locations. Important traditions put us in the mindset for holidays.

Routines help us do important things.

Proverbs 8:17 declares, “Those who seek me diligently find me.”

One of the benefits of a spiritual routine is that it establishes a consistent rhythm exposing us to truth: God exists and is the creator of all things; God loves you and desires you to know him.

Ignoring our spiritual wellbeing, like ignoring our physical wellbeing, can have dire consequences over time.

Daily prayer, regularly reading God’s word, weekly worship, small group encouragement, an annual fast — these are reminders of who God is and the kingdom in which we live.

What other ways might put you in the path of the work God is doing in and around you?

Routines Form Us
Our habits form us.

Twice Jesus was described doing an activity “as was his custom.” Both times the “custom” or routine had to do with worship and prayer (Luke 4:16, 22:39).

Jesus taught regularly in the temples and retreated often to pray.

There are routines which will improve your physical fitness, practices which will help you lose weight, and disciplines which will, over time, strengthen your financial position.

There are specific routines, too, which help position us to know God better. Hearing and reading God’s word (worship) and prayer are examples modeled by Jesus.

“Routine” may sound ordinary, but without organization, our time is reactionary to the events around us and not intentional toward the goals to which we aspire. Small deeds accomplish grand intentions.

A lack of routine results in a life lived according to circumstance. But routines, on the other hand, form us according to a plan.

Getting Started
1. Start Small — Start by modifying your current routine rather than trying to completely upend your schedule. Do you have silent time at lunch each day? Could you adjust how you spend your commute? Would an extra-long hot bath give you time to reflect? How hard would it be to carve ten minutes off of your gaming time? Consider a modification which overcomes the typical objections to personal renewal.
2. Remove Roadblocks — For some, accountability partners are essential pieces of daily or weekly routines. However, other friends may be a distraction. If the routine requires quiet peace, like prayer, remove the possibility of any distractions during the time you set aside. If the routine involves the joy of being with others, like weekly worship, then let everyone in your circle of friends and acquaintances know that you are busy during that time.
3. Get It on Your Calendar — Set a recurring 15-minute “meeting” on your calendar at the same time each day. Use the notification to pause and pray, read a short Scripture, text someone with an encouragement, or give to those in need. Even if you are super busy, you will be glad the reminder is there, and it will give you an opportunity to acknowledge and respond as soon as possible. To be successful, routines do have to be flexible. But first, they have to be a priority.

God’s design for his covenant people included annual, weekly, and daily routines meant to structure our days and intentionally focus us on worshiping him and loving others. Routines help us pause, remind us of the God we serve, and form us over time. If you are not typically a “routine” person, start small, remove obvious roadblocks, and commit to calendaring prayer, worship, and encouragement.

Nourishing these practices will prepare your heart for revival.

Long Road of Obedience

We see it recorded throughout the Bible.

It is in the long-suffering of the people of Israel, the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, and the personal reflections of Paul.

It is the yearning voiced in many Psalms and in the cries of the saints in Revelation.

It is part of the fabric of Scripture, and yet, when we encounter it personally, instead of accepting the spiritual heritage we have in common with the people of God throughout history, we often find ourselves frustrated and discouraged.

“It” is our longing for God to bring to ultimate completion his promises to his people.

“It” includes our personal longing for the practical implications of his promises in our lives and our souls, right now.

This is true not only of our desire for material and circumstantial comforts, but of the yearning we have for our own spiritual maturity – our desire to want to know and obey God.

How many times have you asked yourself, Why do I still have these sinful thoughts? Why do I still want to do what I know I should stop doing? When am I going to change?

How are we to respond when we find ourselves being discouraged when our personal patterns of sin repeat themselves?

You would think that king David would have had his spiritual act together.

He had been chosen by God to rule Israel. God spoke to him, protected him, and prospered him.

God lifted David from the smelly obscurity of shepherding sheep and placed him in a palace.

Of all people you would expect David to be able to model thoroughgoing obedience.

But read the story of his life and you see a man who was at times immature, rash, selfish, and even violent.

The prophet Nathan confronted David about a particularly sinful act of selfishness (2 Samuel 11-12). We can learn from David’s response in Psalm 51:

Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 51:9-11

Here are some questions to consider in light of David’s words in Psalm 51.

When you sin, stumble, fall short – again – do you struggle with guilt? Do you think God is disappointed with you, maybe even angry? Do you fear God is going to punish you?

 David did not feel that way. He didn’t hide from God, and he didn’t allow his sin to estrange him from God. Instead, he turned to the gracious character of God.

“Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.”

David wasn’t hoping God would do those things, he was stating what he knew God had already promised to do.

In other words, in the conviction of his sin he acknowledged his need for God’s grace, and he confessed his trust that God is so gracious.

Who are you depending on to do the work of transforming your thoughts and actions?

When you ask yourself, Why do I still have these sinful thoughts? Or, Why do I still want to do what I know I should stop doing?

Are you focused on changing through your own effort and discipline?

David clearly wasn’t.

David asked God to work in him, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

There is a powerful and encouraging word in verse 10, renew.

It isn’t that David doesn’t know God or hasn’t wanted to obey God, he has been a faithful man and he asks God to work to renew his heart. David knows that God being restored to the throne of his heart is the basis of a faithful, obedient life.

Do you tend to engage your failure from a physical, material perspective?

David lived in the presence of God and with a continuing sense of the Lord’s Spirit within him. He knew that his worldly failures were the result of the sin that also abided in him. He was engaged in a spiritual struggle.

He asked for mercy, for renewal, and for God’s patience because he knew God’s grace is greater than the brokenness he could not completely escape.

We should be challenged and encouraged by David’s response to his sinfulness.

When we are discouraged by the unholy things we do, like David, we should be overwhelmed by the power of God’s abiding grace.

Before we set about redisciplining ourselves and redoubling our efforts to be good, we should, like David, first choose to believe God and to enthusiastically throw ourselves into the sea of his love.

When we suffer again from our inability to completely avoid succumbing to our sin we should, like David, seek to address the spiritual struggle within us.

God has forgiven us in Christ, already.

God has the power to transform the desires of our hearts.

God is present with us and in us.

In these truths are the roots of sustained obedience and ongoing transformation.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

A New Year, A New Rhythm: Lectio Divina

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
James 4:8a

Recently, Bruce Wesley kicked off the new year by challenging Clear Creek Community Church to “Seize an opportunity in the New Year… [to] do something simple in your relationship with God.”

As I think about the simple things I’ve done to grow in my relationship with the Lord over the years, I think back to times someone challenged me to journal as I read Scripture. That was a simple practice I adopted and God drew near to me through it.

Or, I think about our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting, following simple prompts to draw near to God on a daily basis.

But there has been one practice I’ve embraced over the last year where I made an intentional effort to draw near to God. As a result, I can attest that God has drawn near to me.

So, if you’re looking for a simple way to draw near to God, I want to encourage you to seize this opportunity with me in 2023.

The practice is called lectio divina. That’s a Latin phrase that simply translates to “divine reading.” It’s reading or listening to the Bible with an acknowledgment of God’s presence with you. This kind of devotional reading aims at growing intimacy with the Lord, more than gathering information about him.

This isn’t Bible study, it’s divine reading.

If you think about the first 1,500 years of church history, a majority of the known world was considered illiterate, and many who could read didn’t have their own copy of the scriptures to read. So instead, these saints of old would gather for a time of lectio divina. They would listen to the Bible read with the desire to be with God and hear from God. And perhaps, a brief and memorable word would become their daily bread, something that would encourage them throughout the day or week until they could come back to God’s word again.

What would it look like to approach reading the Bible that way in the new year?

Well, lectio divina is traditionally made up of five movements. I try to incorporate these five movements in daily devotional time with the Lord. It usually takes about 30 minutes each morning.

1. Silencio — Quietly prepare your heart

Personally, I try and begin by spending five minutes in silent prayer, simply asking God to meet with me, slowing down, relaxing my breathing, and intentionally acknowledging God’s presence with me. St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests beginning this time of prayer by standing in front of the chair you’re about to sit in and imagining God has already been waiting to meet you there.

2. Lectio — Read the word

Read Scripture slowly, perhaps even out loud, lingering over words as the Holy Spirit leads. As you are encouraged or convicted, or something catches your attention, don’t rush past it. Stop. Consider what God might want to say to you in that moment. My rhythm is choosing a Bible reading plan where I read a chapter a day of either the Old Testament or New Testament plus a daily Psalm. The psalms are the “prayer book of the Bible,” so I begin there allowing the psalm to guide my worship and devotion. It’s no coincidence that often the psalm for that day divinely expresses some emotion or thought I’ve been trying to express to God. Acknowledge God’s forethought in bringing you to whatever text you read that day.

3. Meditatio — Meditate

Consider reading through the selected text a second time, savoring the words. Think about Christian meditation as ruminating and gnawing. Ruminate like a cow chewing its cud, turning it over again and again for the purpose of fully digesting it. Gnaw on the scriptures like a dog gnaws on a bone to get as much meat and flavor as possible. Meditating is another practice that slows me down. Instead of rushing through a time of reading the Bible, I stop, write down certain words or verses that God brings to mind, and then prayerfully meditate on them.

4. Oratio — Respond in prayer

Allow the scriptures you’ve just read to guide your prayers in response. Who did God bring to mind as you read these verses in the Bible? Use that as a prompt to intercede for them in prayer. Where were you personally convicted or challenged? Use that as a catalyst to commit to following Jesus in a different way or to confess sin. Author Basil Pennington suggests choosing a “word of life” (a simple phrase from your daily reading) and allowing that to guide not only your responsive prayer, but a sense of unceasing prayer throughout the day. I recently hung a small keychain on my key ring. Every time I reach for my keys and see it or touch it, I use that as a reminder to pray whatever “word of life” God brought to my mind that day. Consider doing something simple like that to guide your prayer, connected to your devotional reading.

5. Contemplatio — Contemplate, rest, and wait in the presence of God

What if instead of closing our Bible and quickly rushing off to our next agenda item, we instead committed to rest in God’s presence for a few minutes after we read his word? As an efficiency-minded person, this is a practice I must force myself into. I have to resist the urge to speed through my time with the Lord in order to move on to the next task of my day. To be honest, the most important moment of my day is when I am resting in God’s presence. And that shouldn’t be rushed. Resist the urge to pull out your phone. Resist the urge to fill the silence with your words to God. What if you committed to two-to-three minutes of silence with the Lord and allowed him to speak to you as you concluded your time of lectio divina.

This is a simple practice of drawing near to God. I’d challenge you as we begin a new year, to seize the opportunity with me to meet with God in a daily rhythm like this. It may be challenging or awkward at first, but when you draw near to God, he will draw near to you.

5 Books We Recommend for 2023

Reading a great book can be transformative, whether its fictional, theological, devotional, or anything else! Reading a great book can also just be a great way to find quiet away from the hustle and chaos of modern, screen-centered life.

We asked a few members of our church staff, “What was the best book you read in 2022, and why?” Here is what they told us!

So, choose one (or more) of these books to read in 2023. Consider inviting a friend to join you and pray that God would transform your hearts and your minds through reading and contemplating the wisdom you find.

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges

“Sometimes it’s easier to obey God than it is to trust him. Even when we don’t want to obey them, we generally see God’s laws as reasonable and wise … but sometimes our circumstances defy explanation, leaving us confused, frustrated, and struggling with the very honest question ‘can I trust God?’”

Trusting God is a robust study on the topic of Gods sovereignty; you’ll find yourself trusting him more completely — even when life hurts.

Denise Ward (IT Director, Group Guide)

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland

The best book I read this year was Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortland. I just appreciated the emphasis on God’s love for sinful, struggling people. It helps a sinner want to draw near to Jesus instead of hiding or feeling unworthy. I needed it and the guys in my small group needed it, too.

Greg Poore (Associate Pastor)

The Son of David by Nancy Guthrie

Nancy Guthrie is a gifted Bible teacher. In this book, she puts you in the place of the original New Testament reader, showing you specifically how the Old Testament leads to Jesus. She shows you how all the “great characters” of the Old Testament ultimately point to Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated the Old Testament like this. I learned a lot and really enjoyed it along the way.

Rachel Fisher (Small Groups Associate)

Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools by Tyler Staton

This book has changed my prayer life, and I think it will change yours as well. It is both insightful and practical. Not only are there helpful revelations in each chapter, but each concludes with a practice that makes it easy to immediately apply what the Spirit reveals to you. You have to read this invitation to the wonder and mystery of prayer!

Tanner Smith (Director of Prayer Ministry, Worship Leader)

Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

Wright’s book answers questions about the biblical perspective on last things: Where do we go when we die? Where is Heaven? How does the resurrection impact our resurrection? What is the new heavens and earth about? How do these truths impact the church’s mission?

Wright, a world-class New Testament scholar, clears up misunderstandings that pervade today’s church on end times issues with incredible discernment and clarity. There won’t be many better books on the subject than the one N.T. Wright has penned. This book’s teaching on the future will make a difference in your present.

Yancey Arrington (Teaching Pastor)

Why Do We Take The Lord’s Supper?

There’s many different backgrounds and traditions about the Lord’s Supper, but it is one of the most central and sacred things we do together as followers of Christ.

Check out this video to find out why!

163: How Can I Become Generous?

We know we should be generous, we want to be generous, but how can we actually become a generous people?

In this episode, Rachel talks with Patrick Johnson, the founder of Generous Church, and Mark Carden, Clear Creek’s Executive Pastor, about practical ways to cultivate generosity in our hearts, our family, and churches so that we can be on mission as the body of Christ.

162: What Does Generosity Have to Do with My Faith?

We live with a scarcity mindset of comparison and fear, but the Bible calls us to a completely different way of life.

In this episode, Rachel Chester sits down with Patrick Johnson, visionary and founder of Generous Church, a ministry with the hope of spreading generosity as a way of life throughout the entire globe.

Why do we struggle with generosity, how it is central to our faith, and how can we can cultivate generosity in our hearts? Patrick discusses these questions and more.

159: Restoried in Sermon – How We Write Sermons

You hear a sermon in a worship service and you leave encouraged, challenged, convicted, or joyful because of the teaching of the word of God.

But there’s lot involved in the preparation.

On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Yancey Arrington and Aaron Lutz about what goes into writing and preaching a sermon. They also talk about the sermons they’ve heard that greatly impacted their lives.

 

Do I Have to be Baptized?

Do I have to be baptized?

The answer is no and yes, but if that’s frustrating to you, check out this video to learn the loaded answer.

 

158: Restoried in Baptism

A little girl was asked by her parents about her time at church that day. She replied, “It was no fun. Someone got to go swimming and I didn’t!”

Baptism is an ordinance that Christians have practiced for two millennia.

Why do we do it? What does it symbolize? Who is it for?

On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Chris Alston and Aaron Lutz about these questions, and they share some impactful baptism stories.

Interested in getting baptized? Learn more HERE