I’ll be honest; at first glance it looks like there is a lot to this thing. There is, at least at first. Remember that we are trying to adopt a new mindset and develop new habits. We want to grow in our ability to walk with God at His pace. Anything new seems overwhelming at first. This is the very reason that understanding the “why” behind all the bits and pieces of The Rhythm Journal is so important.
You won’t use everything everyday, especially if you are just getting started. Don’t even try. There are core pieces you will use weekly and daily, and the rest will be put to use at the right time. The more you use it and try different things with it, the more growth you will see from it.
Rhythms in Life
Our lives have rhythms. We have big “coming of age” types of rhythms like getting your drivers license, getting married, having kids, sending those kids to college, becoming a grandparent, etc.
We have more predictable rhythms that make up our weeks and our days. We tend to miss these even as we go through them because they are so predictable. We pick up the kids from school at the same time every day. We eat lunch in the same seat in the work commissary every day. Every Sunday we go to the same service at church and sit with the same people.
Since these rhythms of life can become so automatic, so routine, it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that these are the very times and places where God wants to build us up so that we can be building God’s Kingdom. God might be setting up divine appointments for you to share a verse or a word of encouragement with someone who needs it right then. God might be setting you up for something you may or may not want to go through, but He has setup so as to shape you more into His image. Instead seeing it this way, we congratulate ourselves on our success or gripe at God for our situation. One of our goals is to have a “be ready to be a part of what God might do” approach. A proactive approach.
The Rhythm Journal is an attempt to help followers of Jesus to reorient our lives around some specific rhythms, patterns, and instructions from The Bible.
It is intended to be used as a tool that can help us to grow and shape our lives in relationship with God.
In other words, The Rhythm Journal was created to help you and I to walk with God at His PACE (Purpose, Action, Choice, Evolve).
Rhythms of Character
I’m going to use the word “rhythm” to refer to a couple different things in this resource. One of them is referring to rhythms of character.
A Rhythm is a Godly characteristic that you can partner with the Holy Spirit to cultivate in your life.
This is our working definition of a Rhythm within the Renew, Review, Preview, Rise and Rest parts of The Rhythm Journal.
This is the concept that is at the heart of The Rhythm Journal. We can find these kinds of Rhythms throughout the Bible.
- The “fruits of the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:22-23 are Rhythms.
- Elements of the “whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6.
- Characteristics from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
- Brotherly Love
- Teaching or being teachable
- Many, many more
Any trait, characteristic, quality, or attribute you find lived out or commended in scripture can be a Rhythm. It is a specific pattern that we want to live out and demonstrate for others. When we are talking about this kind of Rhythm, the text is formatted in this way. Otherwise we are using “rhythm” to describe the other parts of the journal; the weekly and daily rhythms of Renew, Review, Preview, Rise and Rest.
With that distinction in mind, here are the origins and “whys” for the rhythms of The Rhythm Journal.
The Beginning and The End
Every account in the Bible has a beginning and an end. It’s so common that we often miss this rhythm. Things are one way at the beginning and they are different by the end.
- Genesis records the beginning of this word. Revelation records the end o it along with a new heaven and a new earth.
- The “first and the last” acts of kings are recorded in Chronicles.
- God is the First and the Last in Isaiah 44. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega in Revelation, the A and Z of the alphabet.
The Rhythm Journal includes a The Beginning section and a The End section for you to reflect and record how you are doing walking with God at His PACE. When it comes to Purpose, Action, Choice, and Evolution (change over time), note where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be at the beginning and the end of this three-month journal. It’s a way to step back and see the larger patterns of your own growth in the Lord.
The Index – Your Landmarks
I love this idea of landmarks. We need reminders of our encounters with God that we can come back to from time to time. These encounters usually coincide with significant events in life; like a new job, graduation, a baby, an illness, accident, marriage, or death. These are b •ig things through which God wants to grow us and speak to us.
In the Old Testament, when God worked in a significant way, people would often build some kind of a landmark. It served as a reminder of what God had done, not only to themselves, but also to future generations. The landmark might be a single stone, a pile of stones, an alter, or some other marker. For example;
- Abraham built an alter in Genesis 12
- Jacob setup a stone as a pillar in Genesis 28
- Landmarks were used as property boundaries in Deuteronomy 19
- A collection of stones commemorated Israel crossing the Jordan River in Joshua 4
As we use the prompts found in the Renew, Rise, and Rest rhythms, God will speak to us in significant ways through these significant moments. That’s what the Index section at the back of the journal is for, along with the little Indexed check boxes at the bottom of the pages. When God speaks to you personally, when something stands out that you want to be able to reference later, check the box at the bottom of the page and go to the Index to write the page number and a summary of why you marked it.
Why is it important to record your “landmarks”?
- It teaches us now what to recognize as important later. Sometimes it’s obvious when God wants us to recognize something right this minute. At other times, God says or does something which isn’t clear now, but is made clear later. When that happens, it’s very encouraging to see the beginning and end of that rhythm.
- It creates a record of God’s involvement in your life to refer back to during the seasons when you feel distant from God. It happens. Even King David asked, “God, where are you?” at times. Having a list of landmark moments in an Index to turn to will be a powerful resource to help you remember God working in your life.
What other things can you Index?
- God speaking to you about a decision you need to make.
- How you were corrected in some way.
- Someone you’ve been praying got saved.
- God showed you something you’ve never seen before.
- Something happened for which you are thankful.
Personally, I wish I had been keeping an Index my whole life. The best time to start is always now.
There are instructions in God’s word that are not meant to be followed only one-time; they are ongoing. “Do this and keep on doing this.” They are a rhythm. The Renew rhythm is based on such an instruction that is found in Romans 12:1-2.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present [and keep on presenting] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV emphasis added)
The “keep on doing” command in these verse one is “to present.” Present, and keep on presenting yourselves. The rest of the verses describe how to do that and what the “presenting” process looks like.
To help me remember how it works I created the acronym “Renew.” It’s designed to be an activity you can do weekly to help make “presenting yourself” an intentional rhythm.
The following table maps out the “beats” in the Renew rhythm to Paul’s instructions in these verses.
|Release - Let go of things that hold you back as you identify them.||“Keep on presenting you body”|
|Evaluate - Check to see what looks like the world and needs to go.||“Do not be conformed”|
|Notice - Transformation is noticeable. Keep a record of it for the future.||“But be transformed”|
|Exchange - Trade the old thoughts and ways of thinking for new ones.||“By the renewing of your mind”|
|Walk - The fruit of the above in motion taking you from here to there.||“That you may prove and do the will of God”|
Renew is a part of the weekly rhythm on Sundays. Each of the beats involves one or two prompting questions for you to process through. You will find that the more honest you are and the more consistently you practice this rhythm, the more you will see transformation and a renewed mind in your life.
Review and Preview
Review and Preview make up the rest of the weekly rhythm on Sundays. In this section you begin to partner with the Holy Spirit to observe and build the character Rhythms in your life. Review and Preview together are an expression of Ephesians 5:15-16.
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (NKJV)
“Circumspectly” means “accurately” or “carefully.” In other words, intentionally. Wise people don’t waste opportunities (time), but instead buy them back (redeem). To do otherwise would be wasteful with what God has given you (“evil” in context).
As we Review and Preview, we are learning how to walk circumspectly and demonstrating how to be wise.
Rise and Rest
This portion of the journal is where the whole process started for me. Rise was the first page I created for myself. I wanted something I could do daily that would connect my time with the Lord to what I was actually doing that day. I wanted my Holy Spirit “radar” in tune and ready, being mindful of the Lord and His presence in my day.
Some people notice and cultivate things naturally. Other people, like me, like prompts to help us connect, process, and cultivate. One way is not better or more spiritual than the other. We’re all just wired differently.
So here’s the point – when we take the time daily to connect with God, we will notice Him working in us. He will partner with us when we take in His word, take in His Spirit, and let Him fill up our prayers and direct our day. This is one reason why the Holy Spirit is called “the Helper.” (See John 14:26.)
Rise and Rest together make up the daily rhythm. What are some examples of Rise, Rest, and daily rhythms in the Bible?
- Genesis 1. The days of creation. Evening, morning, the next day.
- Exodus 29:38-43. Daily offering in the tabernacle.
- Joshua 1:8. Meditating on God’s Word day and night.
- Matthew 6:11. Our daily bread. Actual bread. Jesus is the bread of Life. God’s word is referred to as bread.
- Luke 9:23. Taking up our cross daily. See also 1 Corinthians 15:31.
- 2 Timothy 1:3. Paul praying for Timothy night and day.
- Hebrews 4. Because Jesus rose we can have rest.
Rise – Reading, Inspiration, Supplication, Expression.
When we get up and get ready for the day, when we rise, we dress appropriate for the day. We eat and drink to fuel our body according to today’s tasks. We may even watch or read some type of news or social media so that we have some measure of awareness of what’s happening in the world.
Should it be any different when it comes to walking with Jesus? Many Christians do what are typically called “devotions” or “quiet times” in the morning. These times usually consist of some kind of Bible reading or study, and prayer.
Similarly, Rise is designed to prepare you for the day that God has in store for you. Putting on the “new man” (Ephesians 4:24), eating the bread of the Word, drinking the water of the Spirit, and setting your awareness on God’s involvement for that day.
Rise up and walk. It’s another new day in your new life in Jesus.
Rest – Review, Engage, Surrender, Thanksgiving.
Chances are you have an end-of-the-day ritual, you just don’t notice it. Over dinner with the family, or after yoga with friends, you review the day’s happenings. You share the day’s “wins and losses,” and those things for which you are thankful.
While many Christians have a time at the start of the day with Jesus, it is less common to find those who also have one at the end of the day. Since a day has a morning and an evening, why not end the day with Jesus as well?
The daily rhythm of Rest helps you to process your day. It’s a way to evaluate the “wins and losses,” the things for which you are thankful, and to see how you did with Today’s Rhythm.
Rest in the Lord. “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)
Be Being Filled
Something common to both Rise and Rest is another “keep on doing” command. This one is from Ephesians 5:18 where Paul says to “be filled” with the Spirit. It more accurately means “keep on being filled”. We can be freshly filled with the Spirit as often as we ask for it. Be filled in the morning through Rise, and in the evening through Rest. As we obey this command we will literally be inspired (breadth into) with ways to serve The Lord daily.
It’s As If God Has A Plan (wink wink)
Oh yeah, one more thing. I’m not saying this will happen every day, but every once in a while something amazing will happen. There will be an unplanned (by you) alignment of all of the beats through Rise and Rest.
- Today’s Rhythm will be a part of the Reading,
- which will connect to your Inspiration,
- which will be the thing about which you are lead to pray in Supplication,
- and just “happens” to be reflected in The Lord’s Prayer,
- all of which feeds into a very particular event happening that day.
Whew! It’s like God planned it all! Hmmm. Like I said, it might not happen every day, but when it does, it’s a pretty cool to notice.
What’s Next – The Process
I am a big believer in understanding the “why.” Hopefully, knowing where all of this comes from and the why behind it will help to inspire you to take hold of it and make it your own.
If you’re like me you want to skip all of this and jump right in. Please do take your time. Connect the dots between the whys and the hows in the next section. It will most definitely help the new habits you want to create in your life to take root.