2021 Worship Experiences

Experience 40: Spiritual Retreat

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday030521_WE.pdf


7:00 am

Breakfast with my spouse and children. Tell them what you’re intending to do today and that you will be praying for them.

8:00 am

Thoughtful Preparation - pack up with reading materials. Include my favorite Bible, journal, a book I’m excited about reading. Pack a comfortable chair, sun screen, a few bottles of water, and a blanket.

8:30 am

Depart- as you drive listen to some praise and worship music.

9:00 am

Arrive at a place where you want to pray– quiet your heart and mind and begin focused, strategic prayer. Use the A-C-T-S (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) model. Read a small number of Psalms.

10:00 am

Practice meditation - find a comfortable spot, select a Scripture passage and engage in Scripture meditation, which can be simply reading the same passage 4 times each very slowly and deliberately. Read a few related Scripture passages, respond with a journal entry.

11:00 am

Intercessory Prayer - sit quietly and ask God to guide my thoughts. Pray for whomever the Spirit leads (my family, Life-Group, Rooted friends, a friend in crisis, the ministry of CCoF- specifically where you volunteer, and most importantly – a lost friend).

11:30 am

Travel to a nearby park or place to relax outdoors.

12:15 pm

Spiritual Reading - take out a favorite or new book and begin a prayerful, thoughtful reading of each page. Keep my journal handy and make notes as the Spirit leads me through the reading (avoid the temptation to get through the book). The point is – get the book through me! You might want a camping chair and some sunny spots in the woods nearby your part of town!

1:30 pm

Relax – Just kick back and enjoy the nature around me - this is my opportunity for physical refreshment.

2:30 pm

Reflection - take a few minutes to think about my life, the systems I have in place for maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Consider: Am I healthy? Is my family healthy? What things am I addicted to? Where am I out of balance? What are three changes I could implement that would have dramatic results? Am I operating from my core competencies or is my life consumed with “busyness”?

4:00 pm

More Reading and Reflection - for the last hour, read a couple of articles from a favorite blog or journal; review notes that I’ve taken during the past 3 months; or look back through my journal remembering how God has worked in my life. Look at my calendar for the last month - did I do life God’s way, giving my time to things that will have maximum impact with eternal results? What can I do different in the coming month? You’ll need to print these up ahead of time!

4:45 pm

Wrap up / Accountability - end my SRD with a prayer of thanksgiving. Write a one page summary and send it to my spouse, and life group.

5:30 pm

Arrive at home - gather my family and eat a favorite meal. Give dedicated time to each of my children before they go to bed. Leave the TV off and just talk with my spouse the rest of the evening.


7:30 am

Send kids off to school.

8:00 am

Walk around my neighborhood praying & listening to worship music or audio Bible.

9:00 am

Read Scripture focusing on 1 or 2 verses you sense God is leading you to spend. Spend 15 minutes meditating on these passages.

10:00 am

Intercessory Prayer – pray for the needs of others: neighbors, family, CCV, and co-workers.

11:00 am

Read a book you’ve been putting off.

12:00 pm

Eat a light lunch (a heavy lunch will make you tired afterwards).

12:30 pm

Travel to a park or other comfortable location.

1:00 pm

Practice (key word) Solitude and Silence.

2:30 pm

Worship (singing, prayers of thanksgiving, writing, etc.)

3:00 pm

Journal about your experiences so far, record what God is giving you.

3:30 pm

Spend time in prayer.

4:00 pm

Wrap up – send your T-group an e-mail summary of what happened, phone a friend, celebrate your time with God.

Experience 39: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday030421_WE.pdf

I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain joined to me, and I to you, you will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me. If you don’t remain joined to me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and dries up. Branches like those are picked up. They are thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you, ask for anything you wish. And it will be done for you. When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to my Father. It shows that you are my disciples.

John 15:5-8

What if you planned a Spiritual Retreat Day? An entire day to just spend with God, away from all distractions? You could leave your phone or tablet behind for a whole day. Think of it as a fast from the Normal routine of a day.

Set aside the obstacles, and imagine for a minute, what if you could get someone to take care of your kids? What if you used a Saturday and your spouse could do so a month or a week later?

What if you made a plan and you were intentional about spending a day to deepen your connection to Jesus? What might come out of such intentional time? Maybe there’s an area of your life where you feel stuck – maybe there could be a new insight or breakthrough in this area as you set aside the time to bring it to God. Maybe you’re anxious, or worried, or scared. What kind of peace or freedom could you find as you bring these feelings to God during your Spiritual Retreat Day?

I was forced into this many years ago- and it has become something I know I need in my life. I didn’t do my first Spiritual Retreat Day because I was spiritual, but because I was in a Master’s Degree program that required it for graduation- forced Spirituality! What if you forced yourself? It’s way cheaper than an M.A. degree, trust me.

Go to our ccof.church/2021 and get some samples of how you could spend a day in intentional Spiritual Retreat. Look at the devo – don’t say no – say what if?

Actions to Take

  • Go to CCoF.church/2021 and look at some samples of an SRD plan.
  • Spend some time talking to God about the reasons you can’t or won’t do this- then give him a minute or two of your listening ear.
  • If you decide to take the challenge and try a Spiritual Retreat Day, email me at pastorchris@ccof.church and let me know how it goes!

Experience 38: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday030321_WE.pdf

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Our lives are turbulent and ever changing; this is simply the nature of life. Change and uncertainty regardless of the situation can produce anxiety and worry, which can easily steal our joy, our energy and our peace. But prayer paves a path towards restoration of what’s been lost! Philippians 4:6-7 gives us a prescription for anxiety. Notice that the verse doesn’t promise that God will take all of our problems away, or get rid of the things that we are worried about. Rather, it promises that when we bring our problems and worries to God, He will give us peace to guard our hearts and minds.

I recently heard someone say, “God may not always calm the storms in our lives, but He is always willing to calm His child in the storm.” This struck me because more often than not, my prayer is that a difficult or painful situation will be turned around and resolved, and I won’t have to go through it anymore. But it’s precisely these situations that can bring me even closer to God! Lately, I’ve been asking God to make me more aware of His presence in my negative circumstance and to help me find relief from my worry. He longs to soothe anxiety and replace it with hope for the future. Let me be honest, it’s not always easy to let go of the worry and let God calm me down, but every time I do, it brings so much peace.

When we come to God and transparently tell Him what’s on our minds we have access to peace that goes beyond comprehension! Challenge yourself to develop an authentic and individual prayer life, having conversations with God that are personal. He wants to hear it all, not just the things you need, and not just the things you’re grateful for. He wants to know the real you!

I read Philippians 4:6-7 as a promise. The Bible tells story after story of God following through with His word, so we can trust that He’ll guard our hearts and minds with unfathomable peace if we take the risk of bringing our real fears, worries, and thoughts to Him.

Actions to take:

  • Set aside time to be completely alone with God, away from family members, pets, your phone, anything that might distract you.
  • Get comfy, drink some tea or water, put on your favorite slippers, we’re about to dive into something deep!
  • Write down a list of three concerns that have been on your mind lately. Nothing is too big or small. What’s weighing you down?
  • Talk with Him about these three things, present each concern individually. Listen and be still. Wait on the Father to speak into your life and restore peace.
  • Write Philippians 4:6-7 on a post-it, small card, a mirror, or any place you’ll see it this week and be reminded of this tremendous promise.

Experience 37: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday030221_WE.pdf

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

We’ve talked about scripture memorization several times over the course of these 40 days of Powerful Worship. When I think about scripture memorization, I tend to think of John 3:16 or another verse like that – strong Biblical truth that’s important for me to know and have handy at a moment’s notice. Or I think of a verse like the one above, which gives me good advice on how to live my life. It’s important to have these scriptures memorized and ready to pull out when I need them, which is often. But when we look at this challenge that Paul is giving to the Philippian church – “if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” – what if we put that in the context of the life of Christ? What’s more praiseworthy, after all, than the way He lived and interacted with people?

Memorizing stories is actually much easier than memorizing psalms or long passages of an epistle. A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and if we get to the beginning, our minds are ready to fill in the middle and the end automatically once we’ve heard or read the story a few times.

Want to be encouraged by God’s power in people’s lives? Memorize the story of Jesus calming the storm. Then when you’re faced with a situation where you feel overwhelmed, you’ll have that story ready in your memory to pull up and encourage you. Feeling defeated by your sin? Try the story of the Prodigal Son. Worried about how you’ll pay your bills this month? Turn to the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Or the moment when Jesus told Peter where to cast his nets to catch so many fish that the nets almost burst. For every situation we face, there is a story from Jesus’ life that can be the encouragement we need to turn our attention to whatever is “noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.”

There are so many moments from Jesus’ life, so many parables that He told, that can provide an immediate shift in perspective when we apply them to something that we’re going through. When we remind ourselves of who Jesus is and what He did, we can Focus on the truth of the situation – that God has it all under control, that we can trust Him, that He’s present in our challenging situation – rather than focusing on our fears or worries.

Action Steps:

  • Look through the gospel of Mark (it’s very action-packed!) and choose one story from Jesus’ life that you like (or that speaks to you). Write the story (with the reference) in your journal. If you’d like, write down why you chose that story. What’s encouraging to you in it?
  • Each day this week, read the story over.
  • Choose one person to tell the story to every day. This facilitates your memorization and has the side benefit of encouraging the person you’re telling the story to. Even if you’re just telling the story to your dog, you’re reinforcing the story in your memory when you say it out loud.
  • By the end of the week, that story should be firmly planted in your memory, ready to be retrieved whenever you need something excellent or praiseworthy to think about.

Experience 36: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday030121_WE.pdf

Lord, you will give perfect peace to those who commit themselves to be faithful to you. That’s because they trust in you. “Trust in the Lord forever. The Lord himself is the Rock. The Lord will keep us safe forever.

Isaiah 26:3-4

Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher who happened to suffer from depression and anxiety, said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

Kiss the Wave…Did we read that correctly?

Mark Batterson in his recently released book Win the Day says we have to learn to kiss the wave if we are to become the sort of people we want to be and God desires us to be.

Kiss the Waves…Did we read that correctly?

In a world that lets us flounder in our waves, sometimes even letting us bounce around in them like a buoy, we often find ourselves feeling stuck as victims of the waves.

I find it so helpful to realize that the waves that throw me into the Rocks- those waves are a result of our broken world, they are a result of our enemy, or they are a result of my own sin. Sometimes all three work together against me. I don’t see these as God’s plan; rather, I see God’s plan coming to fruition in spite of these forces that oppose His purpose in my life.

When the waves come, can we place our trust in a good and holy God? We do just that when we Praise and Worship Him, no matter the current state of our circumstances. I’m not suggesting we worship the wave- but that even in the waves we can choose to worship God, the Giver of Peace.

As we talk about Praise and Worship for the last time in this series- can you praise in midst of pain?

Can we kiss the wave?

Actions to take:

  • In your journal write down some of the waves that happened in your life. Maybe these are recent or farther in the past.
  • After each one, spend some time asking God for the good that came out of that wave/experience. Remember that to see the good coming out of it is not the same as saying God caused the wave, but rather recognizing that He used it.
  • Listen to the Song Kiss the Wave by Awaken Worship, YouTube Link
  • Spend some time in reflection and prayer thanking God for his Peace and Providence during the storms of life that have come and those yet to come.

Experience 35: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday022621_WE.pdf

God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20

How many conversations do we have each week talking about other people? It seems like other than baseball, one of America’s favorite pastimes is talking endlessly about others when they aren’t around. Have you ever noticed that other people’s issues are so easy to solve? Have you noticed that you and your spouse seem to be the expert on helping other people get their life together? Telling people who they are and what they should do seems to be one of our unofficial careers. If only THOSE people could just hear what we have to say. But of course we never tell them. We often don’t share any of our opinions with the people we speak the most about; we simply keep that to ourselves and the 13 other people we talked about it with.

The good news for each of us is that God is NOT like that. God loves to tell us directly who we are. God spends most of His time in Scripture reminding people of who they are and what they could do, and never gives up on reminding them of this directly. God loves us not just for who we are but also for who God sees us becoming throughout our entire life.

You may not feel like it, but God sees you as one of his Ambassadors, or as the Message Bible says it here, “we are Christ’s representatives.” We tend to think only pastors, priests, popes, and religious leaders could be called that BUT God says you and I are too. We have the incredible honor of “telling other people what God is doing.” We get to do that. God knows we are that person.

There are really just two issues for us when faced with who God says we are: 1. We simply don’t agree with God; or 2. We’d rather talk about God with people who already know God. We each need to deal with the inner ways we do not agree with God on lots of things, especially what he says about us, but today, I hope you might take a moment to recognize how we rarely talk to the people we need to. God tells us directly what we are thinking and patiently works with us on that. Why aren’t we like that? Why must we gossip, tell people someone else’s bad news, or avoid crucial conversations that could truly serve someone?

Maybe it’s time for some of us to make a commitment to limit the negativity we allow to just drop out of our mouth towards others. Maybe it’s time for some of us to release all the ways we are trying to control and manipulate other people’s decisions. Maybe the thing we don’t want to do the most is exactly what we need to do: go and have an honest, gentle, vulnerable conversation. This is what God does for us and we have to take our cues from how God does it. God is convinced you are one of Christ’s representatives and God likes it that way. We absolutely can share with others what God thinks of them too. We don’t have to wait for the perfect opportunity; it’s the other person who is waiting on us! What if we lived like we were exactly who God said we were? And let’s be thankful that people do not have to be who we often say they are. Make sure you go to ccof.church/2021 for some practical suggestions on ways to follow through with today’s ideas and sharing with others about who God says they are.

Actions to Take:

  • Who are the top 2 people you think could use a good word today about who they are and who God says they are? Could you spend the next week praying for them at least once a day?
  • If you like to write, could you spend a moment this week writing down your inner thoughts about why you would struggle with being one of “Christ’s representatives?” Why do you struggle with God saying something good about you?
  • Could you have a conversation with the people you live with about how often your time is spent talking bad about others? What if you made a new “house rule” about how often you are allowed to do that or consequences for when they do it too often?
  • Schedule time this week or next with someone you want to share a conversation with God about (maybe even our Discovery Bible Study). Or could this be the time you have a crucial conversation with someone that you feel the relationship needs a check-in or tune up?

Experience 34: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday022521_WE.pdf

When you go without eating, do not look gloomy like those who only pretend to be holy. They make their faces look very sad. They want to show people they are fasting. What I’m about to tell you is true. They have received their complete reward. But when you go without eating, put olive oil on your head. Wash your face. Then others will not know that you are fasting. Only your Father, who can’t be seen, will know it. Your Father will reward you, because he sees what you do secretly.

Matthew 6:16-18

What has been your experience with Fasting during these 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences? Has it been challenging? Has it been something to think about for later? Did you skip a meal and spend some time praying and wonder what “really happened”? I have- I’ve seen times in my life where I got super serious about spiritual practices like Fasting, and frankly all of the practices in this series, only to feel like “nothing happened”. You?

Fasting can be like working on physical health. If I don’t post online about my trip to the gym, did it really happen? If I don’t do it perfectly does it really count? Aren’t we saved by grace, why do I need to do any works to prove myself?

I think the most important lesson in regard to Fasting, and all of these practices, is to understand the WHY.

If I’m doing these things to get attention then I have, in the words of Jesus, my reward, in the attention of others. But what if I’m trying to get God’s attention?

Father Frank Miles, S.J. says that in the life of Prayer, and I would add Fasting, Focus, Worship, and Sharing to the list, the greatest obstacle is expectations. “Lord, I have fasted, denied myself, lost three pounds, and gone through the hammers of hell. Now I expect you to come in sweetness and joy, and abundantly compensate for all that arduous fasting.”

WHY Fast? Why Pray? Why Share? Why Worship? Why Focus?

Because God wants your Heart.

And these actions, practices, these spiritual disciplines change our hearts. They don’t buy us favor, blessings, or prosperity. They simply point our dark and confused hearts toward our Loving Father.

I know that if I do the most wonderful things for the wrong reasons- I have my reward. I also know that when I do the most difficult things for the rights reasons- I have a heart pointed to God through Jesus. In those moments the Holy Spirit is palpable.

Actions to take:

  • Spend some time with your journal- and your thoughts on this devo.
  • Either write a prayer or take a walk and talk to God about your motives…tell Him your Why- and if you sense your Why has been to receive something from Him or others, spend some time asking for help in shifting your Why.
  • Take 5 minutes and try to simply listen to your Loving Father’s affirmations. Turn off the music, walk around the block, and put away the phone and seek a quiet moment with God for no other reason than to be aware of His presence.

Experience 33: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday022421_WE.pdf

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

James 5:13

When do you pray? Or more precisely, when do you take the time out of your day to pray and commune with God? Looking at this verse we see “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.” The troubles one person has will not be the same for another, but the verse assumes that someone you know needs prayer. Notice that it’s not a stranger James is asking you to pray for here, but someone among your group of people. The people around us need prayer and as James goes on to explain later in the passage, prayer is communal- we should be doing it in community.

When I went through Rooted, we did a prayer experience together one night. For an hour, we prayed with our group. It was confidential, and we spent time asking each other and God questions. We shared our troubles with each other openly and prayed together. It was a powerful hour of my life, and through it I learned that prayer was more effective when I experienced it with others.

Through the troubles we are facing we need to pray with and for each other. But what about when we aren’t experiencing troubles? “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” This is not to say that if you are happy you don’t need to pray, but rather in the good times it’s imperative that we turn to God in praise and thanksgiving. This is also more powerful when we do it in community.

Actions to Take:

  • Do you have someone who knows you well enough to know when you’re in trouble? If not, take a few minutes to ask God what might be keeping you from transparency.
  • In your journal, write 3 things from your life that you can ask someone else to pray for & 3 things to pray for someone else. If you don’t find yourself in need of prayer, write 3 things that you can praise God for.
  • This week, find time to meet with a trustworthy person (virtually or in-person). Share your list of 3 things and ask them to pray for/with you. You can also ask them what they would like you to pray for.
  • Make sure to take time out of your day throughout the next week to bring your friend’s concerns to God.

Experience 32: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday022321_WE.pdf

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Have you ever found yourself believing something that later you realized wasn’t actually true? It could be some factoid, like who played the Hulk in that horrible 2003 Marvel Movie. It’s not a big deal if you thought it was someone other than Eric Bana. Sometimes though the false things we find ourselves believing are much more serious.

Often in the history of the Church, the Body of Christ, the very things Paul mentions to the church in Corinth have made their way back into our individual or collective thinking. We have to be honest and realize that sometimes what we think about ourselves and what we think about God doesn’t line up with the Truth.

Have you ever had a prayer feel unanswered? Has that started to feel like God doesn’t hear you? It is hard to pray to a God that we don’t believe hears us. Or have you questioned if God could really love you? It would be a waste of time to worship a God that we don’t believe is truly loving. Or grow up with a view that God was looking to catch you doing wrong, that He was against you? We certainly wouldn’t want to share with others about a God whose only goal is to smite us. And I highly doubt that Focusing and meditating on the words of One we feel unvalued by would be a high priority.

There is Hope! We don’t have to figure this all out on our own. We have access to the Truth! God gives us the truths of His word, to destroy the power of any argument, and the power of the Holy Spirit to break strongholds, thus allowing those truths to sink deep within our hearts and minds. God is good, and his Word has the power to transform our thoughts, our beliefs, and our feelings!

The 2 key actions here are “Destroy” and “Take Captive”… Destroy the lies, take captive the wild thoughts that consume our minds. To do so though we must Focus- we must spend time in God’s Word. We cannot destroy a stronghold of lies about God that creep into our hearts and minds if we do not know the truth; we must know the Word of God! Once our minds are grounded in the Word, we need the divine power of God’s Spirit to make that head knowledge part of our heart’s experience. Only then can we take the lies that come at us captive, because their power has already been destroyed.

Actions to Take:

  • Go for a walk or find a comfy spot to converse with the Lord.
  • As you read the devotional this morning did any false thoughts or beliefs about yourself or God come to mind?
  • Name this lie out loud and ask God to bring to your mind a verse, passage, or psalm from His word that tells the truth about you to oppose this lie. If no verses come to mind, try one of these verses about our identity in Christ: Biblestudytools.com Link
  • Respond back to the Lord with how easy that truth is to accept or not accept, and notice how He responds to you.
  • Renounce the lie and speak the truth from Scripture out loud.
  • Write this verse down, memorize it, and ask the Lord to recall it to mind when that lie pops up in your thoughts again.

Experience 31: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday022221_WE.pdf

From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

Colossians 3:18-20

What is in the middle of your living room? I am not 100% sure what you have but I know that for most of us a TV and a couch are in the middle of our living rooms. No matter how spacious our accommodations are that’s usually how a living room works. This is because whatever we want most of our attention on we place it at the center of our view. Isn’t it the worst when dad or grandpa always pick the best spot for TV viewing before you get to?! Each of us by nature tries to place whatever we are focusing on at the center.

The very first followers of Jesus made an incredible discovery. They realized through years of contemplation that the way the universe works is that Christ is at the center. This is what Paul means when he writes the afore mentioned verses. Everything seen and unseen in all creation is designed to work best with Christ at the center of it. Just like how a sink in the middle of the living room wouldn’t feel quite right, anything else at the center of our existence would throw things off. Which is exactly where we find ourselves. To become a follower of Jesus is to rightly follow the pattern of all things in creation and place Christ at the center of who you are and who you are becoming.   

This is the truest meaning of what we call worship, when Christ is acknowledged in all we are.

Of course, not all of us have Christ at the center, even if we say we do. If security or financial perfection is at the center, we end up off balance, even if that center seems really reasonable. If pleasure or freely sleeping around with whomever we want is our center, then we won’t feel at home anywhere, even when we are at home. If more power and visibility to others is at our center, we may find ourselves oddly out of place even if our title says we have the best spot. Christ is who belongs at our center and usually all our other wishes or issues begin to slowly find their proper place around Jesus. So, as absurd as it may sound, choosing to have habits or practices of worship could be exactly what your finances, your blood pressure, your marriage, your career, your best friends, and your grandkids need the most.

What we are NOT saying is that you should go sing some songs instead of seeing a doctor, addressing your spending, or dealing with your relationships. What we are saying is that if your weekly flow of life is marked with habits of worship like singing, reading, fasting, conversations, and prayer, it will be the wind to your sails and the rearranging of your life’s momentum you need to do the other things. This is about putting first things first and getting things “properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies” as Paul would call it. The best way to know if this is true is to try it, that’s why we endeavored to these 40 days of Powerful Worship Experiences together.

So what helps you keep Christ at the center? Is it music, is it silence and solitude, is it prayer or reading the Bible, or is it weekly intentional conversations with someone about faith? How can you better renew that practice this week and make it highlighted as a part of your calendar and weekly flow. Share with us what you do and how you have been working on this by sending us an email to pastorchris@ccof.church.

Actions to take

  • Listen to “Across the Universe” by Mosaic MSC. Listen for the words and phrases that help you feel connection between all things and Christ.
  • After listening, say a prayer. What does that song make you want to say to Jesus?
  • Identify the best practices from this 40 day series that help you be centered on Jesus the most (Praise/Worship, Focus, Prayer, Fasting, Sharing.)
  • What is one habit from one of these topics that you can intentionally calendar as a weekly re-occurring time? Take the step and set the calendar with a reminder.
  • Ask one person to check up on you and remind you of this commitment and have a talk once in a while about how it’s going.

Experience 30: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday021921_WE.pdf

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:35

Sharing about Jesus, have you ever wondered why it is so hard to do? Think of the word Share. When you have no context you initially think this might be a negative word. When you were just a little one and your parents told you to share, it meant you had to give up something, maybe a toy you were playing with, maybe the last cookie. It is even true as adults - yes, I have hidden in the pantry to eat my treat away from the eyes of my children.

For my birthday this year we got Karma Sushi, and 2 of my HS boys love it…. so I had to share.

What if we reframe the word Share, flip it around and look from the other side? When someone shares with you- you can’t help but feel loved. You feel seen, known.

Jesus said Christians should be known for their love. But how do we do that? How do we love those around us enough to share? What if we stopped to know them first, I mean really know them, as individuals? Create a foundation of friendship, one with no strings attached.

Reggie Joiner’s book It’s Personal has 5 questions we should ask if we want to have an impact on those around us. So today let’s look at 2 of those.

Question #1: Do you know my name?

Do you know the names of the people you work with, those who live on your street? The barista that makes your coffee, or the girl who checks you into the gym. When you know my name you model honor, so that I have hope that I am someone worth remembering.

There is nothing like being called by your name, especially if it is someone you don’t expect it from. I know sometimes names are hard to remember, and there are all kinds of trick and tips to help. Find one that works for you, because this is so simple and so important.

Question 2: Do you know what matters to me?

When you know what I like, you show me you care about me. This makes me have hope that I am worth liking. Ask questions, be a learner, and appreciate my story and history. In this you will find common ground. See we are called in Matthew 5:16 to let our light shine so others can see it, then they will see the good things that you do and they will bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.

What do I do? How do I show people love and build this foundation of friendship?

Find a way to create a safe opportunity that you can share and experience something together. For instance, on Christmas Eve this year, my family went to each of our neighbors’ houses and left a gift of candles and a note that asked them to join us, standing on the ends of our driveways with our candles lit to celebrate being neighbors. Not sure if anyone would do it, my family and I went out and stood at the end of our driveway with our candles lit, and so did 27 of our neighbors. We spent 10 mins chatting, wishing each other a merry Christmas, and listening to music that one neighbor brought out, everything from Wham’s Last Christmas to Grandma Got Run Over, to yep, Silent Night.

We didn’t have an agenda as a family. We just wanted to connect, and so did our neighbors.

That was a special night, but amazingly, it created space for us to know each other better, so during the heavy snows that fell a few weeks ago one of those neighbors put out a call to a few of us. They told us that we had a new neighbor who moved in right before Christmas. They didn’t have any shovels and were buried in with 2 babes in arms. Several of us showed up and cleared their driveway.

As neighbors we showed up and showed love, we shared our time and in doing so we shared Jesus. Our new family knows there is something different about us. Yes, not everyone will show up and remove 3 feet of snow without knowing you. So when they ask what makes us different we can answer that we are Jesus followers.

Actions to take:

  • Today in your journal write down 2 people whose names you will learn and make a connection with them, for no other reason than to learn their story and find out what matters to them.
  • Pray for God to give you an opportunity to connect with them in a simple way, so that you will have the right to share with them.
  • Stay open to His prompts. Remember when you think of sharing as a negative, flip it around and look at it from the other side; even if it feels a little uncertain, God’s got it.

Experience 29: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday021821_WE.pdf

They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.” Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

Luke 5:33-39 (NIV)

Not surprisingly, at the time of Jesus there were different views of fasting. One of them is likely being hinted at when these Pharisees came to him. It was the religious tradition at the time for people to fast two days a week. But these two days of fasting were not what was required by the law of Moses, it was extra, and the Pharisees were very proud of their extra work!

Jesus’ answer is what is most interesting here. He, seemingly out of nowhere, uses this imagery about the friends of the bridegroom not fasting when they are with him, and then fasting when he is taken away. Jesus is borrowing language from the Old Testament that they would have understood. One instance is in the book of Hosea. I really encourage you to read Hosea 2:14-23, and the whole book for that matter.

But these verses sum up a prophecy of the days when God would restore his relationship with Israel and the Gentiles:

I will betroth you to me forever;

I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,

in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness,

and you will acknowledge the LORD.

-Hosea 2:19-20

Before Jesus, when people fasted, they were often longing for the day when God would send his favor once again to Israel, specifically in the form of the Messiah. The day that the Pharisees challenged him they were unaware that he was who they were waiting for, even as he declared it!

Why is this important for my fasting now?

Jesus isn’t doing away with fasting. He assumes that his people will fast, but that they will do so not because they are waiting for the favor of God, but because they already have it! Fasting now puts us in a place to connect more deeply with the one that knows and supplies all of our needs!

Have you ever said, “When I don’t eat on time I get hangry so let’s hurry and eat,” as if being hungry justifies the fact that we are rude to someone or impatient with the waitress? Sometimes we even use fasting as a way to try to get God to do what we want, maybe like the Pharisees did. Like, “Hey God, look at me, I’m working hard to please you, you have to answer my prayer!” If you’ve ever tried that, you know it doesn’t work that way. Dallas Willard said that fasting helps us grow in kindness and patience when we don’t get what we want.

Actions to take:

  • I want to challenge you this week to fast from food for a 24-hour period. Before you do, prepare yourself by thinking and journaling about these things.
  • Make a list with four columns: In the first column, make a list of things you’d like to fast about. Provision, a new job, a family problem, something else? In column 2 write why you’re fasting about each thing. Be honest with yourself. In the third column jot some notes: What will it be like, how will I feel, and what will I do if I don’t get what I’m fasting for.
  • Choose 1-3 things from your list and while you fast, set aside specific time to pray and put them in God’s hands. When you’re hungry turn your heart towards him. Intentionally tell him you trust him in those areas.
  • When you’re done with your fast go back through your list and in column 4 journal about how your perspective towards those things has or hasn’t changed.

Experience 28: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday021721_WE.pdf

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

The ashes of this holiday symbolize two main things: death and repentance. “Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash.”

“When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy”

With this focus on our own mortality and sinfulness, Christians can enter into the Lent season solemnly, while also looking forward in greater anticipation and joy of the message of Easter and Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death.

Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.

Actions to Take:

  • Read the following Ash Wednesday prayer: Lord, Holy One, have mercy on us. We confess our sins to you. We have fallen short of your glory and without your mercy and grace, we would be dust. We repent now. Lord, as we enter into this Lenten season, be near to us. Help us, by your Holy Spirit, to feel right conviction and repentance for our sin. Help us, by your Spirit, to have the strength to overcome the enemy. Thank you, Lord, that Easter is coming! Death has no sting, no victory, because of Jesus! Glory and honor and praise to His name! Thank you for rescuing us. Help us keep both the weight and the joy of this season in our hearts and we move through the next several weeks. Help us bear the good fruit of your Spirit. Thank you that the ashes on our forehead do not symbolize our ultimate reality. From dust we might have been formed, but our bodies, our spirits, ourselves, await beautiful redemption and the restoration of all things. Help us long and look forward to that day, and let it come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
  • Spend a few minutes reflecting on if there is something you need to confess or if you have let something interfere with your relationship with God.
  • Write any items that came to mind in your journal.
  • Pray the above prayer with those things in mind as you hand them over to God, and praise Him that death is conquered and you are His for eternity!

Experience 27: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday021621_WE.pdf

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Devo: Grace and Peace can be such overused words in religious settings that we forget what we most love about them. Grace is the Bible word used for all the ways God acts on our behalf and gives us what we need (even if we don’t know what we need!). The same Greek word for Grace also means Gift. The people, the circumstances, the situations, and the directions we keep experiencing in life are all gifts (grace) to us from God. As Richard Rohr says, “God comes to us disguised as our life.”

2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

God’s favorite project is who we are becoming, and God is committed to making us like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29; Philippians 1:6.) God uses grace to do that. Similarly we get to ask for grace as we work with God in the project of our soul, which is where Peace comes in.

Peace is not a feeling, and it’s not simply the lack conflict. Peace is the word for what we experience when we trust. Letting go, relying on someone, handing something important off cannot be done without trust. That’s why people who can do those things seem peaceful. Trusting that God oversees us is the sure path to peace. The reason I have this verse in 2 Peter memorized is for one reason: I need reminding every day that grace and peace are mine in excess when I stay in contact with God. It tells us that grace and peace are ours in abundance through the knowledge of God. To the measure that I am consciously aware of God in any moment, I can get some more peace. By living in an on-going, conscious conversation with God, I can fully receive grace or peace to my liking. Memorization is the practice I use to bring my awareness into constant union with God. Through this, I end up being shaped into a person of peace, someone who lives on grace like a jet burns fuel on takeoff!

Actions to Take:

  • Thoughtfully answer these questions in your favorite place to scribble: What keeps me from having more awareness of God throughout my week or day? Where in my life do I feel like I am not experiencing peace? What do I have a hard time trusting God with? Is there an area of my life I have not asked God for help (grace) and why? Why is talking to God challenging for me? When and where do I most feel connected to God or at peace? Who can I go talk to about these ideas? (If you really can’t think of someone, here’s a good place to try: pastorchris@ccof.church.)
  • Commit 2 Peter 1:2 to memory. Try to plan two unique times a day you will recite it out loud, write it down repeatedly in a journal, or paste it all around so you keep seeing it.
  • Ask someone to join you in memorizing it so you can share, laugh, and use it on each other in moments of need.

Experience 26: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday021521_WE.pdf

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18

Don’t you sometimes wish that God would just hurry up and show up in your life? That he would fix all of your problems with a snap of his fingers? I think that would be awesome. I already have a great list of things I wish God would solve; maybe you have a list of your own. Something I think we often forget is that while God wants to hear our needs and our emotion, it is often in the process of going through our struggles that God makes us who we are. We need to understand that God uses everything in our lives for good.

A great example of this is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They were about to suffer death because of their unwillingness to bow to anyone besides God. The most impactful part of the story for me is that there was no hesitation or doubt when this decree was made. They knew that whatever the consequences, their faith in God was the most important thing they could hold on to.

What is the thing that you are holding on to? How many times when pushed up against a wall do you choose to hold onto God? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s faith in God delivered them from king Nebuchadnezzar. And because of their trust in God, they were able to impact the entire kingdom of Babylon for God’s glory. That was just three guys thousands of years ago. Imagine if we as followers of Jesus chose to put our hope fully in God during hard times. We could transform our entire community!

Actions to take:

  • Read all of Daniel chapter 3 and write down in your journal the verses that stick out to you.
  • Spend a few minutes in prayer and ask God what it would look like for you to deepen your trust in God based on what you see from Daniel 3.
  • Listen to “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong. What sticks out to you in this song? If you’re comfortable I encourage you to sing along! You can find the song here: YouTube Link
  • Read Isaiah 43:2-3. What do these verses tell you about the nature of God? Write a prayer in your journal responding to these verses. How can you give your current situation to God, trusting Him for the outcome?

Experience 25: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday021221_WE.pdf

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

Acts 4:8-10

This story in our reading today is one of my favorite and least favorite stories in the Bible at the same time! I know I should be more decisive and call it one or the other- but I can’t. Here is the tension in my heart about Acts 4: I get this sense of grandness and risk in imagining Peter and John standing up to the very people who killed Jesus. I see it in my mind like a scene from an epic movie like Braveheart or Gladiator! It feels a little bit like something even a trembling and scared Frodo would have done.

That is the part of the story, that sense of epic-ness, that makes my heart beat faster each and every time I read it. I love that part!

But then quickly I start realizing my life doesn’t have a similar scene on the movie reel. I haven’t been nearly as bold and courageous as these two. The epic nature of Acts 4 starts to work against me. I bet you can relate.

Today our topic is Sharing. In today’s context it is the hardest of the Powerful Worship Experiences to actually do. We all want to. We all wish we could, but it just isn’t going to happen. We can’t go to City Hall and stand before our local officials like Peter and John…heck my cousin won’t even like my Bible Verse quotes on Facebook- how could I have the courage and boldness of the heroes and heroines of our faith?

Ok, let’s shift it a bit- what if we could take a look back at Acts 4 from a different angle- not the “be like Peter and John” or “be epic like the heroes of old”, but what if we look at this verse that comes just after Peter’s epic speech?

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” -v13.

The noteworthy thing in the life of Peter and John was their time with Jesus.

You’ve been spending time with Jesus. This is day 25. Hey, I’ve been spending time with Jesus too! The times of listening to Deep Dive podcast, the times reading these devo’s, the time you’ve spent doing even one of the “Actions to Take”, the things you’ve written in your journal, the prayers you’ve shared with Jesus, the verses you’ve read- even just the ones at the top of each day--- ALL TIME WITH JESUS.

You my friend have “been with Jesus”.

Actions to Take:

  • Take a couple of minutes and jot down some thoughts about this devo and what is going on in your heart and mind right now.
  • Read Acts 4 through completely 2 times- read it slowly- pay attention to the words that jump out at you.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths and as you do, thank God for this season and the times He has provided for you to connect with Him- to Be with Jesus.
  • Make a list of the things God has shown you during these 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences so far.
  • Share something from this list with 1 friend. It could be as simple as a text that says: “I’ve noticed lately that the more consistent I am in prayer, the less anxious I am at work. Isn’t that weird! LOL”

Keep it simple. Share 1 thing that you’ve noticed from this experience with 1 friend!

Guess what? You just did something EPIC! I’m so proud of you!

Experience 24: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday021121_WE.pdf

Come near to God and he will come near to you…

James 4:8a (NIV)

Our verse today says that if we come near to God, He will come near to us. What does it mean to come near to God? It means effort and movement. Not earning- our ability to connect with and know God was provided by Jesus on the cross- but his death doesn’t make my nearness to God automatic. Like any relationship, our relationship with God requires that I put time and effort into it. So often today’s message of grace alone gives us the impression that the whole of Christianity is imputed upon us at the saying of the Sinner’s Prayer- friends, that simply isn’t accurate. Grace is free! But relationship with the Father, connection to God, takes time and effort.

Lent in 2021 starts on Wednesday February 17th. Lent is a 40-day period of chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose that prepares a follower of Jesus for the celebration of Easter.

It is an effort to draw near to God.

40-day periods are seen often in the Bible: in Genesis 7 the rain of Noah’s flood lasted 40 days. Both Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days (Exodus 34:28, I Kings 19:8). Jesus fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). 40 in the Bible represents a time of preparation for God’s people to engage with Him fully.

Have you ever read in your Bible about people like Moses and Elijah and wondered why you don’t experience God in a similar fashion?

Maybe we have things in our lives, in our schedules, our priorities, our culture that keep us from experiencing God in this fashion.

As we approach Easter together this year- what is keeping you from fully following Jesus?

The practice of Fasting and the rhythm of our Christian calendar, including seasons like Lent, give each of us the opportunity to reflect and prepare for whatever it is that God has next for us. To honestly see and remove the things keeping us from Him.

Many of our lessons about Fasting during the 40 Days of Powerful Worship have revolved around food, but today let’s think about the other things in our life that are a distraction, or we have let come between us and our Loving Father!

Actions to Take:

  • Grab your journal, spend some time with God today thinking through and writing your feelings and thoughts on these questions:
  • What is getting between you and God lately? Where do you need a season of Chosen Abstinence? What if you were to not drink alcohol during Lent? Or not be on social media? Or stop watching sexually explicit media? Or skip the news until Easter? Forgo desserts or sweets for 40 days?
  • What action will you take, what will you choose to abstain from that could help you draw near to your Loving Father?
  • Work on that plan and spend one last minute breathing slowly, being mindful of how much God loves you and wants to come near to you!

Experience 23: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday021021_WE.pdf

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT)

A few weeks ago, I was brushing my daughter’s hair and asked her, “Who is that pretty girl in the mirror?” She looked at me with a sly smile and said, “Par Per” (which is toddler for Parker). As excited as I was that I got to hear her say her name for the first time, I was overjoyed that she connected a truth about her to her name.

Do you know what God thinks about you?

In Romans chapter 8, Paul encourages us to remember that if we have chosen to follow Jesus and accept the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives, we have been adopted; we are God’s children. This reality becomes especially important to understand when we begin to practice prayer. Prayer is not a time to just ask God for things you need; doing so takes a life-giving practice and turns it into a pseudo-spiritual transaction. Primarily, prayer is communication between you and God. Just like with any communication, it should include both output and input.

By all means, bring your worries, cares, concerns, emotions, wishes and requests, but also make room for what God might say. Taking time to listen to what God has to say about you is important because how you internalize truth about yourself has a major effect on the way you treat those around you.

Actions to Take:

  • Read Romans 8:14-16. Spend a few minutes writing in your journal about your relationship with God. How does it differ from a parent-child relationship? How is it similar?
  • Ask God what He feels or thinks about you and spend 10 minutes listening for his response. If you don’t know how to hear from God in this way, look through the New Testament in the Bible to find verses about the way God sees people. All of these things will be true about you. Or do this Google search: bible verses about identity in christ
  • Write down 5 things that you believe God would say about you, either from what you heard in prayer or what you saw in the Bible, thanking God for these true things.
  • Take your list of 5 things to a trusted friend and ask them to give you feedback. At the end of your conversation, ask for them to pray for you to internalize that truth.

Experience 22: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday020921_WE.pdf

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:35 (NIV)

I am aware that using Jesus as an example sometimes allows us to take ourselves off the hook, because let’s be honest, none of us are Jesus. So let’s move past that truth- you aren’t Jesus- but we would be wise to emulate Him as much as possible!

In the historical biographies of his life, Jesus is often shown to intentionally withdraw into times of prayer and locations of retreat. Choosing to Focus and put God’s word deep into our hearts and minds requires us to also be intentional.

When is your normal time of reading and Focusing on God’s Word? I think that almost everyone should set aside time at the beginning of their day to do this. Even if you aren’t a morning person, the benefits far outweigh the cost and effort. The only folks I would give a pass to are parents of young children! But the rest of us- for reals- is your time in Focus with the Lord and His word consistent? What if you gave 20 minutes to practice these Powerful Experiences each day- to Focus, Pray, Praise…what do you imagine would be different in your life?

Now think about where this time is going to take place- not only is a consistent time important I have seen over and over again in my life that location is equally important. For me, I need a space that is separate from my workspace. Often, it’s the table on our backyard deck. Or if I can’t go out there, I will sit at our kitchen table instead of at my desk. A comfortable chair, your journal and Bible already in place—take a look at your physical space—how could you designate a small portion to become a place where you Focus on God?

Today we are going to walk back through SOAP, which is an important method of Focus that takes some practice.

Actions to Take:

  • Put your regular time to Focus on God and His Word on your calendar.
  • Evaluate the physical space where this time of Focus will happen, make any changes you think appropriate.

Ok let’s get some S.O.A.P. going today!

  • Find your journal and Bible. Read Psalm 126
  • In your journal write the passage you’ve read at the top of the page with a big S next to it.
  • Write an O- and start to record your Observations. What does this passage tell me about God/Jesus? What does it tell me about people? What do you notice?
  • Write an A- If this is really God’s word, what changes would I have to make in my life? In just these few short verses you may sense God is directing you toward a change in your life- it could be very simple or quite grand. Don’t worry about how you’ll make this Application happen- just jot down what you sense it is.
  • Now write a P in your journal. Write a Prayer asking God to help you in putting this Application firmly into your life today. Ask Him to give you opportunity and courage! Tell Him what is filling you with Joy, like the Psalmist today!
  • Tell yourself- Good Job! Send me an Email at PastorChris@ccof.church and let me know how this went for you today!

Experience 21: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday020821_WE.pdf

Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

In looking at the very first verse of Romans chapter 12, Paul writes to fellow Christians living in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. Now bear with me- I’m a sceptic at heart and when I read scripture, I sometimes have to slow down and ask the question- Why did Paul say this phrase this way? If I were to have written this, I would have said it differently, like “to offer you lives as a living sacrifice…” The word “lives” seems just so much more encompassing of a word. To me, “Lives” means all aspects of who you are (thoughts, actions, intentions).

But instead, Paul uses the word body. He states, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”. What Paul is saying to us is this: God wants something physical from us. He doesn’t just want us to think about Him occasionally or have good intentions toward others- “I had a really good thought about God today!” or “I intended to walk across the street and introduce myself to the new neighbors who moved in last week, but…” Intentions and thoughts are good, but Paul is telling us there is more.

Read the whole verse again. “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.” God wants us to get out there and do something! There is a physicality in our worship!

Serving God is physical. Love 928 is a demonstration of putting this thought into action! I love the fact that here at CCoF we are willing to suspend weekend services and go out into our communities to serve people and agencies. That is worshipping God! We’ve been doing these Love 928 Pop-Ups monthly and it has been so good to get out of isolation and serve someone. This is your true and proper worship by offering your body- your time, your presence, and body!

Actions to Take:

  • Write down 2 or 3 physical things you can do today that would bring you closer to God.
  • Think about a time you’ve worshiped God through a service project. How did it make you feel? How did it make the people you were serving feel? How does serving God with our physical bodies help us to share God’s love with others?
  • Sign up for a Love 928 Pop-Up event this Spring! Our next one will be on Saturday, February 20th. We have one every month, so if you can’t join us on Feb 20, look for events in March and later!
  • Pray to God for the future opportunities to serve others in ways that point them to Jesus!

Experience 20: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday020521_WE.pdf

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

What does it mean to you to, as Peter said, “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”? I know for many of us, the idea of sharing our faith with someone is intimidating. That’s why I love what Peter tells the church here – instead of this intimidating idea of “Sharing Your Faith,” he tells them to simply be ready with an answer when people ask why they have hope. That is a far more manageable ask. 

In my mind, the best answer for anyone who has a question about faith is the Sunday School answer – Jesus! So I like to be ready with an answer that points directly to Jesus. When I read the gospels, I scour them for good news for myself that I can pass on to others. A mentor of mine once challenged me to read the gospels while asking the question, “What intrigues me about You?” So whenever I read a story about Jesus, I look for something intriguing about who Jesus is or what He did, or how He talked to people. Then I turn it into a prayer – “Jesus, the way you talked to the bleeding woman was so tender. You called her daughter and honored her in front of everyone in the crowd (Mark 5:25-34). Thank you for your tenderness toward me as well. Thank you that you honor me even when I deserve dishonor.” 

Then I look for chances to tell the intriguing thing to other people in my life who might be encouraged by it. For instance, when someone feels ashamed or lonely or scared, I can say, “You know, there was a woman in the Bible who felt the same way as you. But I was reading this morning about how Jesus honored her in front of everyone who had been shaming her. I love that He treats us that way!” Or, you know, whatever feels natural to you. I love this approach because the answer we have for our hope comes directly from something we ourselves are learning or experiencing.

If that still feels pretty intimidating to you, that same mentor challenged me to make “salty statements” throughout my day, alluding to the passage when Jesus called His followers the salt of the earth. A salty statement is simply a statement that identifies you as a person of faith to those around you. Then if they find themselves with a question about faith and spirituality, they remember you as a resource. It’s easy and just requires us to be authentic in our everyday lives. If we’re people of faith, those we see regularly should know that about us, right? 

Salty statements can be as simple as, “I was at church last Sunday and…” or as profound as “I’ve been thinking about the nature of redemption lately.” Or it can be responding to someone with, “Wow, that sounds hard. I’ll be praying for that situation to get better for you.” Just say whatever is true for you and establishes you as a person of faith, then wait for the Holy Spirit to bring people to you who are searching for a reason for the hope that you have.

Actions to Take 

  • Grab your journal. Read Mark 5:1-20 (the man with the legion of demons) carefully and ask yourself what you find intriguing about Jesus in the story. Something He said or did? The way people reacted to Him? Write it in your journal, then turn it into a prayer.
  • Think of the people you’re regularly connecting with in your life. Is there anyone who would be encouraged to know this intriguing thing about Jesus? If so, make a plan for when and how you will share it with them. After you share, let us know how it went! Email Pastor Chris at pastorchris@ccof.church. 
  • Make it a goal this week to drop one “salty statement” every day for the next five days. Then as you go about your days look for a chance to establish yourself as a person of faith through a phrase or sentence that you “salt” into your conversation. If you’d like, journal your results!

Experience 19: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday020421_WE.pdf

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

Luke 2:36-39

This is definitely one of those small stories buried in the Jesus narrative. Often we read right over it without paying it much mind. While Luke includes this story to reinforce the Jewish legitimacy of Jesus, we have much to learn from Anna, a minor character in the Jesus story. According to the text, Anna spent much of her time at the temple. It’s worth noting that Luke connects three different aspects of faith in her story: worship, prayer and fasting.

When I talk to people who are new to fasting, they have a variety of pre-conceived notions on the practice. Some find it to be foreign, others an archaic practice, still others a hyper-spiritual privilege for pastors and religious elite. Nearly all of the people I talk to are confused about the purpose of fasting; after all, how can a practice in my physical body affect my spiritual life?

The purpose of fasting is multi-faceted; there is no one reason for it. (Check out 10 different reasons in this awesome article: 10 Biblical Purposes for Fasting) That being said, nearly every practice of fasting has a similar effect on us as humans – the integration of body and spirit. In theological terms, you aren’t so much a spirit in possession of a physical body as an integrated and collaborative entity. The difference when it comes to fasting are great. We do not fast to punish our body, or to prove our worthiness to God, or even to lose weight. We fast so that we can understand that ultimately, only God can sustain us. He is the source of all life and energy and goodness. When one fasts, one aligns their body with their spirit, putting God in his proper place in our lives.

Much like Anna, we fast to cultivate a connection to and relationship with God. It is often easy to be consumed by physical realities; it is much harder to tend to our connection with the unseen but very real God who sustains our very lives.

Actions to Take:

  • Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself the question: “What am I hungry for?” Pay attention to more than your physical appetite; where do you sense need? (Financially, Emotionally, Relationally, Spiritually, etc.). Write those areas down in your journal.
  • Spend 2 or 3 minutes asking God to show you why you have the appetites that you do. For example: an appetite to scroll through social media might point to a difficult situation that you’re trying to ignore.
  • Look at your schedule for the next few days. Find a mealtime that you could skip eating and put Fasting in your calendar. I recommend a breakfast or lunch. If you’ve been fasting with us every week and would like to try something a bit more challenging, maybe pick a longer timeframe, like 24 hours.
  • Create a mantra to remind yourself that what you really need is connection to God during your fast. Mine is: “What I’m really hungry for is proximity to you, Jesus”.
  • After your fast, write in your journal about your experience of fasting. Did reminding yourself of your need for God when you were feeling hunger pangs draw you nearer to him? If so, how? Think about those things you were hungering for before your fast. How has integrating your body and spirit through fasting brought a different perspective on them?

Experience 18: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday020321_WE.pdf

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalm 100:4

I don’t know as I often think about the fact that when I come to God in prayer, I am entering into his dwelling place. And though he accepts me for how I am (often un-showered and a mess of emotions), he also loves when we walk in the door with thanksgiving and hearts of praise. As I think on this, I am reminded of how folks came into God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament (the temple).

The temple had four main sections: the outer courts, the inner court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. In the outer courts there was much hoopla and excitement, people were thankful for what God had done in their lives and excited to approach him in the temple. The inner court was a place of sacrifice and a sacred spot to experience a deeper thanksgiving for the sacrifice that God had done to cover their sins and make them acceptable to Him. The Holy Place was a place of incense and praise, the sweet aromas that delighted God’s heart. Then, the Holy of Holies was the place of God’s presence, the place of adoration and worship for who God is.

Sometimes I don’t know how to pray or even where to start; and then I think about the temple and the structure that’s already been given, a proven structure that delights God’s heart and draws me into his dwelling place.

Actions to take

Physical movement as a part of prayer is found throughout both the Old and New testament. When we move our bodies as we interact with the Lord it helps us to put aside our normal distractions and engage more of our awareness upon him.

Today, section off your house/room/yard into sections of the temple and physically move through them as you engage in prayer.

  • Outer Courts: Pick your favorite praise song to dance to and dance away before the Lord as you enter His gates with thanksgiving.
  • Inner Courts: Find something in your house that will act as an altar (table, stool, chair...) Make 5 or 6 slips of paper and on each write down something you want to give over to God. These could be bad habits, sins, worries, burdens, relationships- really anything. Now put each slip of paper on your altar and audibly say what is you are giving to the Lord.
  • Holy Place: Light a candle and praise God for how he is the light of the world and for the glory of his Kingdom. Breathe in the smell of the candle as you think of a time when you felt God was near to you, and praise God for how he has been with you. Eat bread as you praise God for his provision and the new life he has given you.
  • Holy of Holies: Move into a dark, quiet room in silence. Posture yourself as if you were in God’s throne room (hands raised, kneeling, prone...). Silently ask the Lord to make you aware of his presence in his throne room. Take notice of how the Lord may speak as you wait upon him in this place.
  • Exit: Sing a song or speak words of thanksgiving and praise as you walk out of the temple.

Experience 17: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday020221_WE.pdf

I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, GOD; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

Psalm 119:9-16 (MSG)

When was the last time you had tunnel vision? You know that moment when you were so focused on something that you had to be jolted back to reality? Like when you’re driving to work but you’re having an imaginary conversation in your head with someone that upset you, then halfway to work you can’t remember if you closed the garage! It’s that feeling we get when we have been scrolling our socials or playing a video game and cannot believe that two hours went by since we last looked at the clock. Our focus is like magic! Our focus makes time stand still or pass by at light speed. Our focus can make driving across country enjoyable or miserable. Our focus shapes not just where we go but how we feel as we go.

An important realization in life is that we can learn to harness the power of our focus. It is for this reason that both the Israelites and the first followers of Jesus had a deep commitment to memorizing scriptures. They explored this power consistently. What if like them, you found a verse in the Bible that made you feel good, one that was uplifting to you, and you committed it to memory? What if the next time you were bored, irritated, or stressed, it triggered a reminder for you to say or re-read your verse in a slow, thoughtful way? Practices just like that have been a source of growth and encouragement to anyone who has ever taken memorization seriously, and it can be for you too.

Actions to Take

  • Grab that Journal and list the top 5 moments in your week where you feel like time really flies. Pay attention to how those activities, habits, places, and circumstances make you feel. Write down and name where your focus is when you are there.
  • Take time to explore some of the most inspiring verses you’ve seen in the Bible. Try to remember where you were when you were introduced to them, what words jumped out to you, and how it made you feel. Choose one verse that was especially meaningful to you to memorize.
  • Write your Bible verse on a note card or make it your phone background. Put it somewhere that you will have to face it often throughout your day.
  • Decide ahead of time your “trigger” of when you will look again at your verse. I like to pick moments like when I am stuck behind a really slow driver. As I begin to feel that anxious feeling, I recite or glance at my verse.
  • Send us an email (pastorchris@ccof.church) letting us know what verse you picked and why you chose it. We’d love to hear what you’re committing to memory!

Experience 16: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday020121_WE.pdf

A message came to Elijah from the Lord. He said, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” He replied, “Lord God who rules over all, I’ve been very committed to you. The Israelites have turned their backs on your covenant. They have torn down your altars. They’ve put your prophets to death with their swords. I’m the only one left. And they are trying to kill me.” The Lord said, “Go out. Stand on the mountain in front of me. I am going to pass by.” As the Lord approached, a very powerful wind tore the mountains apart. It broke up the rocks. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire came. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. And after the fire there was only a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:10-13 (NIRV)

God consistently comes to us as something we don’t expect, doesn’t He? Whenever we “expect” God to speak, He often remains silent. And when we least expect to hear Him, He speaks truth and grace into our lives.

Often times I can bring far too many expectations into my experience and relationship with God, what He will and won’t do, and the paths that I think are right, when He clearly has a better plan. Becoming a parent has recently only proven that point more, that I am ultimately not in control of anything but my own reaction to my situation.

Do expectations and a need for control lead you to unwanted places? Do the unknowns of life keep you up at night, or cause you worry during your day?

These responses are completely normal and are often brought on by our need to know what is coming up, but sometimes they obscure what God is actually saying to us. As we see in this story of Elijah, he often expected God to speak in predetermined ways. Ways that communicated power, prominence, and might. Instead, God took Elijah’s expectations and spoke to him in a gentle whisper, completely turning his idea of what God would do upside down.

In that moment I can imagine that Elijah realized that he could not rely upon his ideas or strengths to take him through life, that instead he had to be open and ready for God to speak in His own particular way. Sometimes we need to look for God in the whisper, rather than in the powerful and loud ways that we may expect from Him. We need to become better listeners and begin to rest in the peace that God offers us.

We simply cannot be in a hurry when it comes to the Holy Spirit and God’s presence. It always comes to us in the perfect moment, in a gentle and truthful whisper.

Actions to take

  • Grab your journal and answer the question: Is there something that you are rushing into, without waiting for God’s whisper?
  • Read 1 Kings 19:10-13
  • Wherever you listen to music find the song, “Not in a hurry” by Will Reagan and United Pursuit, or find it here: YouTube Video
  • As you listen to this song- think about how you can slow down and wait patiently for God’s gentle whisper. Where can you see through His eyes more? Where can you notice Him speaking?
  • Spend some time and write about these reflections in your journal.

Experience 15: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday012921_WE.pdf

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

I don’t know about you, but for me Jesus’ words above have always seemed like a lot of pressure - how am I supposed to be the light of the world? I’m just a person with a lot of faults, insecurities, and doubts. When I think of being the light of the world, I tend to picture the person who’s willing to talk to their seatmate on an airplane, sharing the gospel with them at 35,000 feet. Friends, I hate talking to people on planes. I’ve been on a lot of planes in my life, and my favorite thing to do when I get on is to immediately put in my ear buds and read a book while listening to music until I reach my destination. I’ve done this on countless airplanes all around the world – up to 16 hours at a time (thanks, Delhi to Chicago flight!). I have remained strangers with so many people who I have slept next to (or on), eaten silent meals next to, awkwardly tapped on the shoulder so they’d get up and I could use the bathroom, all without knowing their name or any personal information about them at all. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that, but not guilty enough to strike up a conversation.

But there’s such good news in this picture that Jesus painted. In His picture, we don’t have to generate our own light, and we don’t have to shove our light into places that don’t want to be lit. We’re just lamps, shining the light of God through us wherever we are! All we have to do in this scenario is not cover up our light so others can see it. Rather than putting it under a basket, we simply have to live our lives in such a way that it “gives light to all in the house.” That seems a lot more manageable to me than striking up conversations with airplane strangers. It just begs the question- who else is in the house?

What does it look like to shine our light so that others around us will “give glory to your father who is in heaven”? As we practiced the past few Fridays, the very beginning of sharing is to figure out what we’re excited about personally in our connection to Jesus – where is there currently light shining in my life, that I can simply not cover up? What is the good news that I’ve found in Jesus recently? What makes me glad to be following Him right now?

Once you’ve established for yourself what it is about following Jesus that’s so good for you right now, the next step is to Connect – notice who it is in your life that you can “shine” on. That doesn’t mean you have to bombard friends and acquaintances with verses or prayers to pray. You don’t have to lead them down the Romans Road or convince them of the 3 Spiritual Laws; you simply get to be yourself, your awkward, unsure, authentic self, and let the things you’re finding hope in be evident so others can find hope in them as well – let yourself be on a stand and light the room around you. Who has God put in your life that needs to have some light illuminate their dark spots?

Actions to Take:

  • Read our passage for today again. What kind of light are you currently shining right one? Is it one of anxiety and despair? Or are you able to shine hope and peace in the midst of uncertainty? Write down your thoughts about this in your journal.
  • Now it’s time to Connect! Write in your journal a list of 100 people who you have some sort of relational connection with. It could be family, coworkers, friends, that guy you always see at the coffee shop. As you write the list, next to each name write one of these labels: N – Not a Follower of Jesus, F – Follower of Jesus, or U – Unknown
  • Look at your list. How many people in your life are Followers of Jesus already? If you’re like me, you had a lot of Fs next to names on your list. Thank God for bringing these people into your life.
  • How many on your list have a U? Pray for each person on the list, then pick one and ask God to give you a chance (and the courage!) to ask them something about their spiritual life next time you see them.
  • How many in your list have an N next to their name? When I wrote my list, I realized I didn’t have nearly as many Ns as I thought I would. I had slowly started to surround myself with other Christians, until my main circle was all Followers of Jesus. If that’s the case for you, ask God to help you broaden your circle so that the light He shines through you doesn’t only shine on Christians. If you’re unlike me and had a lot of Ns on your list, praise God! Ask God for a chance to let His light shine through you in one of those relationships this week – not that you would be able to drum up all the right words and all the right answers, but rather that as you rely on Jesus, this person would see that and know Who it is that shines through you.

Experience 14: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday012821_WE.pdf

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25, 33-34 (NIV)

During this 40 Days of PWE, we have said that “fasting is chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose.” I believe one of the most important spiritual purposes of fasting is that it trains us to live in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings about worry.

If eating can bring joy, can fasting? Think about how you feel when that bowl of sweet potato fries comes out to your table or you unwrap that fresh taco, or when you take the first sip of your favorite hot drink. We live in an instant gratification culture, when we can get what we want pretty much all the time, and when we get what we want we are happy! Food especially brings us joy, and Jesus knows that, he created us that way! But sometimes we depend on food more than we depend on Jesus for our joy.

Fasting is about joy because when you fast you are humbly choosing to connect to the one who provides your needs.

In the scripture we’re focusing on today, Jesus talks about our needs, and how God will provide them. Sometimes I become aware of how my wants and desires trick me into thinking they are a need because they are what bring me happiness. Fasting helps us learn to fight against our desires and our instant gratification culture and become aware of our actual needs! Is it possible that the satisfaction we get from the presence and the Word of God can be just as good as the satisfaction we get from food?

Actions to take:

  • Schedule a time to fast from food during the next week or so. If you’re new to fasting, choose a meal to fast. If you’ve got some experience, fast for a longer period. Choose the amount of time you’ll be fasting before you start.
  • Spend some time in your journal recording your thoughts on these questions before your fast: What do I depend on for happiness or comfort? Is it food, relationships, sports, entertainment, anything else? What things do I consistently worry about? What food especially brings me comfort?
  • When you are ready to break your fast, get your comfort food and enjoy it with Jesus.
  • Tell him how you feel and how it brings you joy. Express how He is even greater than this joy you feel. Journal about your gratefulness for his provision of joy and comfort in the midst of your worries and needs.

Experience 13: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday012721_WE.pdf

“’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

Matthew 1:23

Ever ponder what it means that God is with us? Right here, right now, God is with you. I think prayer often gets a bad rap because it’s a word we don’t quite understand. But what if prayer simply means relationship? Relationship with the God who is with us. What would you do, what would you say to God if you could see him in the room with you right now? Would you tell him about your day with all its highs and lows? Would you ask him questions such as why he chose to paint the sky blue? Would you celebrate with him and enjoy time together? Would you ask him for help with something you are having trouble with? Would you snuggle up with him on the couch as you enjoy the silence in his presence?

Prayer is our relationship with Immanuel, God who is with us. How awesome is that! That God would give us the ability to talk with him and be with him in this thing called prayer. And how crazy is it that God responds to us! He didn’t set us up for a dysfunctional one-sided relationship. He enjoys being with us and talking with us. In fact, he enjoys it so much that heaven is all about God being with us!

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God."

Actions to Take:

  • Grab your journal and find a comfy place
  • Ask God to bring a joyful memory to your mind and then write out your appreciation to him for it.
  • Then, write down how you sense God might respond to your thanks. · Now, take some time to write down what you sense God would be saying to you around these 5 areas of your life currently: “I see you” (your physical state) / “I hear you” (your current thoughts/ponderings) / “I understand how big this is for you” (your feelings) / “I am near you” (His presence with you) / “I will do this for you” (His promise to you)

Experience 12: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday012621_WE.pdf

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law, day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

I want you to imagine with me a tall thick tree planted firmly on the bank of a gently flowing stream. Go ahead and get that picture in your mind.

The tree is beautiful and mighty. Its root dig deep into the earth and it will not be shaken. When storms come, the wind blows and the stream swells, but the tree stands firm.

What we just read in Psalm 1 says a person who meditates on God’s Word is like that tree. In the New Testament Jesus, the living Word of God, would go on to say that anyone who listened to His words and lived how He said would be like a wise person who had built their house on a strong foundation. When the storms of life come, that person will not be shaken.

How can we build our lives on Jesus’ teaching if we never know what he actually taught? How can we meditate on God’s word if we don’t know what God has actually said? Reading the writings found in the Bible is a central piece in the life of a follower of Jesus, but I want us today to take it a step further.

Memorizing God’s word allows it to seep deep into our hearts and our minds, transforming us from the inside out. It takes intentional effort, but when we Focus and commit to the practice of memorization it can be done, and for our great benefit.

Think about it this way, when you take the time to commit a portion of scripture to memory those words are with you wherever you go. When you’re faced with conflict, stress, anxiety, sadness, or any other negative situation your mind is already primed to recall God’s truth. When we choose to memorize God’s word, we give ourselves tools that equip us to deal with whatever life throws our way, and more importantly those tools enable us to partner with God and what he is already doing in our lives and the world.

Memorization may feel like a daunting task at first. But what if you just memorize 1 verse at a time? What if you could commit 1 verse a month to memory- in a year that’s 12 verses. To start with 12 may seem too difficult- but 1! You can memorize 1- let’s get started.

Actions to Take:

  • Work on memorizing Psalm 119:10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
  • Write this verse on a 3 X 5 card or post it note.
  • Spend the next 3 or 4 minutes saying these words out loud. Include the Psalm 119:10 reference as you speak these words. Change the pace- keep it nice and slow.
  • Try to repeat the verse without looking at the card several times- don’t worry if you need to peek at your card.
  • Later in the day and again tomorrow, take out your card and repeat the verse 2 or 3 times. See if you can do it without looking at the card, sometimes the act of just holding the card will bring the verse back to mind.
  • Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Good job- you’ve memorized a verse from the Bible.

Experience 11: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday012521_WE.pdf

I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can separate us. Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can separate us. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love. That’s because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.

Romans 8:38-39

God makes a great fair-weather friend, doesn’t He? It’s a nice idea to think that Jesus loves me when life is good. These are the times I know God is with me (#sarcasm).

But what about when life gets me down? What happens when, say, a global pandemic rocks my world? Maybe my financial position is in the pits, or maybe my health or the health of a loved one is grim—who is God to me at these times? Who is God to you at such times?

Do difficult circumstances pull you away from God? Or maybe difficulties send you running to God. Maybe when things get hard you cry out to God. But then, what do you say? Is your response simply asking God to remove your burdens?

These responses to God are not wrong, but they can’t be our whole relationship with our Father. Yes, God wants us to sing His praises and thank Him for the many blessings He bestows upon us. And yes, God wants us to come to Him with our burdens and when we are facing adversity. But there is another less natural response to God in these times.

God expects us to worship Him—like we would in the good times—when things are not so good.

This may seem contrived or forced at times, but that’s okay. Do athletes exercise because they are fit? Or are they fit because they exercise? Or, in our context, do we worship God because we are close to Him, or do we become close to God because we worship Him? Sometimes we have to engage in the activity first and let the rest of our being catch up.

Ultimately nothing can come between us and God, and He will never abandon us. So even when things feel hopeless, remember to stop and worship God for who He is and what He does. Even if you don’t feel like it, worship Him anyway and let the act of worship begin to change you.

Actions to take

  • Contemplate your current season. Is it a good one or a hard one? When was the last time it was the opposite from where it is now?
  • Read Romans 8
  • Wherever you listen to music find the song, “Yes I Will” by Vertical Worship, or find it here: YouTube Video
  • As you listen to this song- let your heart and mind dwell on the lyrics and what it means for you to worship God in the midst of your current season.

If you need to, listen again.

  • Write down in your journal if it’s easy for you to worship God right now or if it is hard for you. What would it look like for you to engage in the act of worship and let this action impact your spirit?

Experience 10: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday012221_WE.pdf

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Philippians 2:1-4 (MSG)

Sharing. It’s so easy, as we talked about last week, to Share things we are excited about. It is my intention that as we get to Fridays each week, that the previous 4 Powerful Worship Experiences are impacting each of us in positive ways. Maybe, dare I say, “exciting” things are happening in your heart and mind. If you’ve been stagnant in your Following of Jesus, now at the end of our second week together, you are starting to experience growth and movement. You haven’t arrived, but you’re on the right path!

Isn’t that exciting? It is for me!

Would this change be easy to talk about? To Share with someone else?

Do you know anyone involved in a multi- marketing or direct sales company? You know what I’m talking about- you have friends who sell skin care products, or essential oils, or stretchy pants, or some supplements that fix all sorts of health issues. Now don’t check out- and also know I’m not going to bash those folks, so this is a safe place for all my Rodan and Fields friends!

I have noticed that the most effective people, when it comes to Sharing about these products, are those who have experienced the benefits the product boasts about. No one effectively sells the weight loss patch who hasn’t lost weight using it.

Maybe you and I are hesitant to Share about Jesus because we haven’t experienced much if any benefit from Following Him. Or even more likely, we haven’t spent much time evaluating the benefit and learned how to authentically Share it with others. Both issues are likely to improve if you keep with these 40 Days of PWE!

Actions to Take:

  • Read our passage for today again.
  • In your journal, write about all the ways that “his love has made any difference in your life”. Spend 2-3 minutes reflecting on these differences that the Love of Jesus has made in your life.
  • If you are having a hard time thinking of any differences, then shift toward thinking about why that might be. Shoot me a message and let’s connect: PastorChris@ccof.church.
  • When you look at your list of differences, which one would be the easiest to Share with a friend or family member? Take a minute or two and write a short letter about this difference. Think of it as a testimonial or online review of the Love of Jesus.
  • Could you send your “review of the Love of Jesus” to someone today? Even if it’s your best friend or sibling or spouse, take the leap and Share this little piece of good news with someone else.

Experience 09: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday012121_WE.pdf

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16–18 (NIV)

We learned last week that Fasting is a chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose. How did that go last week? Was it easy or challenging? I hope you will lean into Fasting each week. I have set aside each Thursday for a day of Fasting during this 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences. If you are also Fasting on Thursdays, maybe its helpful to know you’re not alone.

Let’s talk about the purpose of Fasting. “For a spiritual purpose” is what our definition says. I think the words of Jesus as recorded by Matthew in Chapter 6 really point to this purpose so brilliantly. And actually, you can find in this single chapter the purpose of all our Worship Experiences, not just Fasting. Matthew records in one place Jesus’ teachings on giving to the needy, prayer, how we treat money, and trust (lack of worry). Could they all be connected?

Why do we pray, re-allocate our finances, skip meals, and work on worry?

It is for the purpose of connecting with our Father.

If you Fast from Facebook simply to be able to post that you’re Fasting from Facebook then as Jesus says, you have your reward. But if you Fast or “choose abstinence” for the purpose of connecting with our Father- well that has amazing potential. Worship Experiences, including Fasting, are simply creating space in our busy hearts, minds, and schedules to explore deeper relationship with God. These are simply the practices any good relationship needs.

When my wife is in the mood for watching a movie that is a little more heartwarming than the Die Hard franchise, I get to decide, do I chose what I want or what will make her happy? Could I choose to abstain from watching a Suns game and spend that time talking to her about her day or playing a game with our daughter? (let’s be honest, our daughter is 15- she doesn’t like playing games with us, but it sounds good—Ha!)

You see, any healthy relationship involves times where I put aside something that I want so that I can connect with another person.

Our Father asks the same of us. What if you could see Fasting through the lens of connection with God?

Actions to Take:

  • Read Matthew 6. In your Bible highlight or underline every time the word Father appears. (in the NIV it is 11 times by my count).
  • In your journal, describe your current relationship with God your Father.
  • Spend 2 or 3 minutes asking God to help you grow in this practice of “chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose.”
  • Look at your schedule for the next few days. What will you choose to abstain from this week and when? Put it in your calendar.
  • What will you do instead during those times? Try using that time to read your Bible, pray for friends and family who are going through hard times, or practice Centering Prayer to take your focus off of yourself and put it onto God.

Experience 08: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday012021_WE.pdf

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13

One of the most important, and sometimes confusing, parts in the life of any follower of Jesus is prayer. Right in the middle of Jesus’ most famous teaching, called the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, we’re given a template of what prayer is all about. Jesus is by no means trying to communicate that the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is the only way we should pray.

The Lord’s Prayer is a picture of what prayer looks like. The prayer starts by remembering God’s holy name and then asking God for His kingdom to come. The Kingdom of God is any place where what God wants is being done. The follower of Jesus asks for God’s kingdom to come more and more so that they may live and work in it.

Prayer is chiefly communicating with God for the purpose of aligning ourselves with His kingdom.

When we talk to God it can be about any number of things because the life of the follower of Jesus is lived in God’s kingdom. When we’re thankful we give thanks. When we are in awe, we express our wonder. When we are overwhelmed, we ask for strength. When we need a miracle, we pray for one. All these things are prayed within the context of asking God to provide what is best for the flourishing of His kingdom.

It is with this in mind that the follower of Jesus approaches God with prayer; understanding that if God says no, or responds differently than we had anticipated, that it must be for the betterment of His kingdom.

Actions to Take:

  • In your journal write down your own definition of Prayer.
  • Read the Lord’s Prayer again, this time read it aloud- if you’re in a public setting, try whispering under your breath!
  • In your journal spend some time writing a prayer to God, as you communicate with Him ask him to align your life, your heart, and your mind with His Kingdom.
  • Ask Him to show you the things that are making alignment with His Kingdom challenging in this season of life. List these in your journal.

Experience 07: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday011921_WE.pdf

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Matthew 7:24-27 (MSG)

“Words to build a life on”. Man, we need some of those today, don’t we. There used to be words and voices that could be trusted in our society. Used to be.

Jesus presents a pretty clear message: 1. Hear his Words (teachings) 2. Put them into practice 3. Survive the storms of life.


S.O.A.P. is an acronym that has been used by Followers of Jesus for quite some time as a simple system to do exactly what Jesus challenged us to do in today’s reading. Here is what each letter stands for and how S.O.A.P. works:

Scripture- This is pretty straight over the plate- to begin you need to read or listen to a portion of the Bible. If you need a suggestion, start with the Gospel of Mark, it is one of the biographies of Jesus. Most scholars think Mark was a teenager during the life of Jesus and later in his life was very connected to Peter who was one of Mark’s main sources for his writing about Jesus. If you’re more comfortable starting in other places of the story of God and Jesus- go right ahead!

Observation- Write down in your journal what you “see” or notice in what you’ve read. You could consider questions like: What does this passage tell me about God? What does it tell me about people? Don’t worry about getting these right- they are simply your observations. Things I’ve written about lately is how I notice a certain word repeated often in a chapter or section of the Bible. Or maybe you’ll notice in the biographies of Jesus, He often answers questions with short stories or parables.

Application- If this is really God’s word, what changes would I have to make in my life? This portion of S.O.A.P. is the most significant in my opinion. It’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak. It’s the step I often try to step- but I’m reminded of Jesus’ very clear words in our reading from today- “Put My Words Into Practice”. Friends if you aren’t striving to Apply God’s Word into your life, then that decision says, you actually don’t believe them to be God’s Word. Or at the very least, that you know how to make your life work better than He does.

Sorry, if those last two lines stepped on any toes- I was writing myself a reminder of what happens in my own heart!

Prayer- Ok this last step is way easier than the previous one! Whew! Simply ask God to be involved in the things that became obvious during your Observations and Applications. I often write things in my journal like, “God it’s obvious you want me to forgive ______ can you help me remember that when I see them today, or when they email me later?” Maybe it’s even a prayer asking God to give you opportunity to practice your application…be careful with this prayer- he might just answer it.

Actions to Take:

Ok let’s get some S.O.A.P. going today!

  • Find your journal and bible. Read Mark 1:14-20
  • In your journal write the passage you’ve read at the top of the page with a big S next to it.
  • Write an O- and start to record your Observations. What does this passage tell me about God/Jesus? What does it tell me about people? What do you notice?
  • Write an A- If this is really God’s word, what changes would I have to make in my life? In just these few short verses you may sense God is directing you toward a change in your life- it could be very simple or quite grand. Don’t worry about how you’ll make this Application happen- just jot down what you sense it is.
  • Now write a P in your journal, write a Prayer asking God to help you in putting this Application firmly into your life today. Ask Him to give you opportunity and courage!
  • Tell yourself- Good Job! Send me an Email at PastorChris@ccof.church and let me know how this went for you today!

Experience 06: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday011821_WE.pdf

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

Psalm 139:7-8

When someone says, “God is always with you,” is that thought comforting or frightening? I remember hearing from adults as I was a child- don’t forget God is always watching and if you make a mistake, He will see it. Anyone else? It was as if God was this cosmic police officer and was out writing tickets for any sin 

I committed. When you view God this way, 

His Presence is frightening. Psalm 139:1-3 says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” His Presence isn’t optional- He is everywhere all the time. I have come to find His Presence quite comforting. Our verse today reminds me that when life is going well, God is there. When life is really hard, God is there. He is for me. God is also for you! When you find that hard to believe, and I still find it hard to believe some days, remember Jesus. Jesus is the truest picture of God we have- not the one the adults in my early life gave me. Not the one that preacher on YouTube gives you, not even the one I give as your pastor in this season. Jesus is the truest picture of God- a picture we can all understand and grasp. Jesus’ Presence was always comforting. Jesus is God’s Presence in the flesh. When life is going well- Praise God and thank Him for His Presence. When life is really challenging- Praise God and thank Him for 

His Presence. He’s not waiting for you to mess up so He can jump out around the corner and say, “Gotcha.” However, if you fall, He will catch you, and quite honestly still say “Gotcha,” but it’s quite different than the “Gotcha” I used to wait to hear. Instead of judgment, it’s a “Gotcha” full 

of love. It’s the Presence of God that sustains us in both our Highs and Lows.

Actions to take

  • Take some time to ponder the high or lows in your life currently. Take a couple of deep breaths and just think about the Presence of God. 
  • Read Psalm 139.
  • Wherever you listen to music find the song, “Highs and Lows” by Hillsong Young and Free, or find it here: YouTube
  • As you listen to this song- let your heart and mind dwell on the lyrics and how you’ve experienced God’s Presence in your life.

If you need to, listen again.

  • Write down in your journal 5 specific ways that you have felt God’s Presence in your life. Make note of which of these times were Highs and which times were Lows.

Spend the rest of your time thanking God for his comforting Presence and how He has shown that to you.

Experience 05: Sharing

View written study below or download here: 2021_Friday011521_WE.pdf

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. 

John 1:40-42a (NIV)

And he brought him to Jesus. Some of my favorite words found in the Bible! On Fridays during this 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences we are going to dig into Sharing. How can you and I Share Jesus and what Jesus has done with others? 

Before we get to that, is there a something you’ve purchased or experienced lately that was awesome? Or maybe a meal you prepared from a new recipe that just turned out amazing? Did you use your new smoker and just nailed it? Think about something exciting that you couldn’t wait to tell someone else about…maybe you’re a fan of a sports team that won the World Series in 2020…maybe your stock accounts are through the roof…or your kid scored really high on that Facebook IQ test you gave them…what is it for you? 

What is it for you that you can’t wait to Share with other people? I’m not going to say “Bazinga” or “Gotcha” and switch this all around to Sharing Jesus like we do our elk hunt pictures. Well at least not today I’m not! 

It’s an amazing gift that God has given us in life when we find things that are exciting. To have areas of our life that are Sharable is a gift- don’t feel bad about them! Celebrate them. In fact, go grab your journal. 

Actions to Take:  

  • Write down 2 or 3 things that are really awesome in your life right now. The things that you love Sharing with other people. 
  • Spend a couple of minutes praying, thanking God for the incredible joy and good that these things bring into your life! 
  • Ask God to use this 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences to help you grow in your willingness and effectiveness in Sharing Him with others. Write this prayer in your journal and then put a timer on your phone for 2 minutes to sit quietly listening for what God has to say to you about this (or anything else he wants, I mean He is God!). 

Experience 04: Fasting

View written study below or download here: 2021_Thursday011421_WE.pdf

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 

Matthew 4:1-4 (NIV)

Did you catch that? The verse we just read said, after not eating for 40 days or nights, that Jesus was hungry. You think? 

Fasting- what comes to your mind when you hear that word? Go ahead and write that down in your journal- I’ll wait. 

Fasting can often be a mysterious or intimidating practice. A friend of mine, Alan Heller, says this about Fasting: “The practice of fasting was used by many people throughout biblical history as a way to petition God. Today, we must be intentional about seeking the Lord and making a bit more space for him in our busy lives. Fasting is one way to do that.”

Alan is an amazing counselor and has lots of resources you could check through his ministry Walk and Talk walkandtalk.org

More from Alan: Fasting is a chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose. While some people fast for health reasons, we are talking about a fast for spiritual reasons. Some people will fast from food. Some choose to fast from all food for a period of time (one day, many days, one meal a day, etc.). Some fast from certain foods (meats, sugars, gluten, etc.). Fasting is used as way of sacrificing something important to you in order to achieve a larger purpose.

Are you willing to experience Fasting over these 40 days? It’s ok if the answer today is no way Jose. But what if you could try it? What would be different in your life if you could be more intentional about seeking God and make more space for Him in your mind and heart? 

Actions to Take:  

  • In your journal spend a couple of minutes writing about either your experiences or current thoughts about Fasting.
  • Spend 2 or 3 minutes asking God to help you grow in this practice of “chosen abstinence for a spiritual purpose.”
  • Look at your schedule for the next few days. Find a mealtime that you could skip eating and put Fasting in your calendar. I recommend a breakfast or lunch.
  • When that time comes instead of eating find a place where you can connect with God. Maybe listen to some praise and worship music. Read a couple of chapters of Psalms. Try to slow down your mind and heart- write in your journal any thoughts or questions this time brought to mind. 

Experience 03: Prayer

View written study below or download here: 2021_Wednesday011321_WE.pdf

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:35

At Christ’s Church of Flagstaff, as well as many other churches, we have used an experience called Rooted to Help One Another Follow Jesus. If you haven’t experienced Rooted yet, you should investigate it. In one of the readings the authors of Rooted wrote this regarding the purpose of Prayer: “When you pray in earnest, you come face-to-face with the God of the universe, the God who shows you grace, the God who adopts you, the God who guides and strengthens you. When you pray, you step into God’s Kingdom, His world- the place where God rules without push back.” 

Prayer has the potential to be so much more in our lives than simply talking to God or asking Him to do things. Neither talking to God or presenting our requests are bad things, but they often become the limit to our experience with Prayer. 

We can experience so much more. Each week of this 40-day journey I want to push the envelope of your experiences in regard to prayer. You may be praying in new ways, ways that seem different than your previous experiences- lean in and see what God has for you. Have you always wondered why it seems that some followers of Jesus seem to hear from Him directly and some don’t? Here’s another quote from Rooted, “When God speaks to us, it is usually when we have slowed down enough to empty our minds of our agendas and things that distract us.” I believe that God speaks to all of us- and some of us hear Him and some of us don’t. Want to hear Him more? Me too. 

Actions to Take:  

  • Take a few deep breaths. For reals yo, slow down, breathe in deeply and let that breath out slowly. Repeat a few times. 
  • In your heart ask God to help you grow in Prayer over these next few weeks. 
  • In your journal spend 3 or 4 minutes writing a prayer to God about something that is on your mind (a problem, concern, need). Now spend 3 or 4 minutes (set a timer on your phone if that helps) asking God if there is anything He wants to say to you.
  • Write down whatever you hear God say. 

Experience 02: Focus

View written study below or download here: 2021_Tuesday011221_WE.pdf

There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (MSG)

Focus. If you look up the word Focus in a dictionary, online of course, you find that the word can be both a noun and a verb. If we are using the noun, Focus, we refer to the center of activity, attraction, or attention. However, if we are using the verb, we are talking about adjusting the Focus of an eye or maybe a camera lens. Read the verse for today again. What part of your life do you need to bring into focus? What area of your thoughts, your actions or your emotions do you wish were different? What God has to say can radically change our lives. 

Over the next 40 Days you will have the opportunity to experience activities that help each of us Focus. We will spend time together learning about reading the Bible. We will also investigate practices like meditation and memorization, which can help us shift the lens we’re looking through toward a more Godly perspective. 

Wow- slow your roll man. Memorization is hard! Meditation- that sounds weird- are we going to Sedona and sitting on a vortex? 

Meditation, for our purposes, is simply taking something God says and focusing on it for a few minutes. A verse, a story about Jesus, a phrase, or maybe even one word. It’s not weird or new age. Even though many other religions use the practice, meditation is quite useful in slowing down the hamster wheel in our minds and adjusting our hearts. 

Memorization is daunting for me. I’ve always said, “I’m not good at memorizing things,” then a Bon Jovi song from 25 years ago comes on the radio and I’m belting out the lyrics and my kids say, “How do you know the words to so many OLD songs?” You too? Yeah, I hate to admit, I remember the things I care to remember. What if over the next few weeks, you and I could memorize just 2 or 3 verses together? That would be cool, right? Well let’s go for it! 

Actions to Take: 

  • In your journal list 3 or 4 areas of your life that you want to Re-Focus. The more specific you can be the better. 
  • Read Psalms 119:9-16. Now Read it again slowly. In your journal the phrases in these verses that resonate with you. 
  • Ask God to use this season of Worship Experiences to help you bring His Words and way of life more into Focus within your life. Write a prayer to this effect in your journal. 

Experience 01: Praise and Worship

View written study below or download here: 2021_Monday011121_WE.pdf

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. 

Psalms 107:8-9 (NKJV)

As we read this Psalm let us be reminded of the Goodness of God. Let’s choose to stop, slow down, and recognize that God is good to each and every one of us. It can be so easy to rush through our day, and consequently our lives, without ever a thought for the mercy and grace of God. It is so easy in days of hardship, bad news, stress, and trouble to forget that God is Good! Not only is he Good but He shares this Goodness with each of us- His Children. Music is a powerful tool that we can use to point our hearts and minds in the right direction. Remember that there are many ways to Worship- many Powerful Experiences we are going to embark on together over these next 40 days together- but we need to start with this foundation: God is Good and He is sharing His Goodness with you! Where do you see His Goodness in your life lately? In our Church? In our Community? Grab your journal or open a note on your phone, get ready to list some specific ways you’ve Experienced God’s Goodness!

Actions to Take: 

• Take some time to ponder God’s grace and mercy. Take a couple of deep breaths and think about the Goodness of God. 

• Wherever you listen to music find the song, “The Goodness of God” by Bethel Music, or find it here.

• As you listen to this song- let your heart and mind dwell on the lyrics and how you’ve experienced God’s Goodness in your life. 

If you need to, listen again. 

• Write down in your journal 5 specific ways that God has shown his Goodness to you. 

Spend the rest of your time thanking God for his Goodness and how He has shown that Goodness to you. 


View written study below or download here: 2021_Intro_WE.pdf

What would your life look like if you participated in 40 Days of Powerful Worship Experiences? 

Imagine with me how your life could change if you chose to spend 15 minutes for 40 consecutive days experiencing God through powerful worship. 2020 brought what felt like an avalanche of change and challenge. One of our greatest challenges, as followers of Jesus, was an inability to meet corporately and worship. Unfortunately for many people, Sunday service was their only way of interacting with God and growing spiritually. It became easier and easier to feel stagnant in our walk with Jesus as quarantine continued and our Sunday gatherings were postponed. But what if the Powerful Worship Experiences we’ve come to associate with Sunday church gatherings could be a part of our daily lives? What if? For this to be true we need to understand that worship is not just standing in rows in a church building while we sing songs. To be sure, worship can include those things, but it is not limited to them. Worship was always meant to be any time or action where we consistently and intentionally remind ourselves of the goodness and glory of God. In Revelation 4:2, we find this, “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” A Powerful Worship Experience is any time or any activity that puts God back on that throne in my heart. Often in my life I find myself sitting on that throne instead of God. When I pray, when I listen to a piece of music, when I take captive a thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), when I forego a meal and spend that time connected to Jesus, when I talk to a friend about Jesus, when I spend a few minutes reading a Psalm, all of these, and so much more, simply put God back on the throne in my heart. 

During the next 40 days you will be challenged to worship daily through specific practices like journaling, prayer, meditation, fasting, and connecting with others. Some of these practices may not be familiar or easy for you. Do them as you can and don’t strive for perfection but progress. The key will be intentionality and consistency. You might find it helpful to set a specific time each day to engage with the devotions. It is so easy for the day to rush by when we aren’t intentional about slowing down and experiencing God’s presence. Creating a consistent schedule helps place powerful worship experiences at the top of your priority list. So let’s start with that!

Actions to take:

Spend a few moments to choose a time where you can consistently engage in these devotional practices for the next 40 days. (If you’re a morning person waking up 15 minutes earlier might be the perfect plan for you. If you’re more of a night owl then you might commit to never going to sleep without first slowing down and interacting with God.)

  • Put this time in your calendar Monday-Friday from now until Feb 19th. 
  • Ask God to guide you in this season and that any places you find yourself spiritually stagnant will become unstuck! 
  • Find a journal or start a note on your phone where you can record things during these 40 days.