3 Ways to Get Out of the Christian Rut

As I sat in the pew a few months ago, singing the song that projected itself up on the screen, a thought crossed my mind, “Why am I even doing this?”

What happened to me? How did I get here? I used to love church and the fellowship with believers. The time of worship was always my favorite. I wanted to share the joy of the Lord with those around me and I noticed even the small blessings that God sent me. God was good and I knew it.

Breaking Free from the Christian Rut

But here I was, without joy. However, as I struggled through, God reminds me that I’m not the only one who struggles.

King David, after his affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, was confronted by the prophet Nathan. (2 Samuel 11 – 12: 25). King David recognized the wrong and we can read his repentance in Psalm 51.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Psalm 51: 12

My sin was not a sin like David’s but it was still a wrongdoing. I had the sin of apathy. I had allowed apathy to rob me of my joy. Time and the struggles of this world had stolen what was rightfully mine as a child of God. I was just walking through the motions of begin a Christian and this is a dangerous place to be. I, like David, needed my joy to be restored. Maybe you’re like me — in need of restore joy.

But how? How do you get out of the rut and let the joy be restored?

1. Remind yourself of your first love.

Breaking Free from the Christian Rut

Revelation 2: 1-7 is written to the church in Ephesus. They seemed to be doing everything right. They have not tolerated wicked men, they tested teachers, and they have endured hardship.

Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love. Revelation 2: 4

Although it doesn’t say it in these words, they had lost the joy of salvation. They were going through the motions of their Christianity. In fact, verse 5 says, “Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Do you remember what it was like to first be saved? Can you remember it like it was yesterday? Do you recall the feelings from that moment? What was life like for you when you accepted salvation? There are times when remembering that moment is crucial. It can serve as a reminder of why.

Write it down! All the feelings, situations, and reasons why you chose to follow Christ. In that moment, also jot down the first time you felt God close to you and the first time you were witness to His power.

It’s not as if we need to go back and be spiritually immature again but we do need to burn with the passion we once did. The words of praise need to be ready on our lips like they once were. Which is actually the second thing we should do.

2. Be still and praise

Breaking Free from the Christian Rut

While this may not be the easiest thing to do when God isn’t feeling so close, it is imperative. True praise can only begin when we are still.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46: 10

Being still before God can be so difficult in this busy, busy world. However, God will be exalted with or without us. I would just prefer if it is was with me. Being still allows for time to think. I can think about the goodness of God. I can think about His love and sacrifice for me. I can think about the ways He has worked in the past.

One of my favorite passages when I need to be reminded of God’s awesomeness is Job 38-41. God speaks to Job and reminds Job of all the ways he is lacking.

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? Job 38: 4-5

God is HUGE and AMAZING. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of it so we know why we add our voices to the heavenly choir.

3. Check your sacrifices.

Breaking Free from the Christian Rut

It’s easy to think that we are making some big sacrifice for God when we get up and drag ourselves to church. We are paying our dues to Him when we muddle through our Bible reading and hurriedly say a quick prayer.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51: 17

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess His name. Hebrews 13: 15

God doesn’t want us just to drag ourselves through the motions thinking we are doing something good. He wants us to be broken before Him. He wants us to want to praise Him. These are our sacrifices. We need to see ourselves and not our actions as the sacrifice. When we check what we are bringing as a sacrifice then we can throw out what isn’t please to God and correct our own thinking. We can then bring a pleasing sacrifice — one of ourselves and our praise.

When our focus is on God, it’s not as easy to forget why we do offer those praises and why we have chosen to follow Him.

Are there other ways you get out of your rut? I would love to hear your thoughts!!Breaking Free from the Christian Rut


14 thoughts on “3 Ways to Get Out of the Christian Rut

  1. Good words of encouragement. Coming to you from Arabah Joy’s bootcamp. You’ve learned the secret – the secret of the Secret Place. God’s Word is a Know Him book and not a know how book (There are no ten steps to the miracle – just one step to the Miracle Maker.) Blessings ~Chris

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  2. Stephanie, I have been there and sometimes I need to be reminded that if I don’t put effort into my relationship with God and knowing him then I too will fall into Apathy. I love the steps you gave! When I fell into apathy thinking all that I did for Christ was the sacrifice he wanted then the first verse he pointed out to me was from Revelations 2. Keep sharing the lessons God is giving you.

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  3. I was going to say, “you are not alone. I’ve been there!” But then I read through the comments and saw that others had said it before me. And that’s comforting because so many times in church I have looked around at the congregation and thought, why can’t I be more like them? Why am I feeling so distant? And then I read a list of comments saying “been there, done that.” The next time I feel like I’m in the valley, in a ravine in that valley, and then fallen into a hole in that ravine in the valley, chances are, if I call out in the darkness, another will answer and say, “I thought I was all alone down here.”

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    1. It’s crazy how the enemy lies to us and tells us we’re alone in those dark places — and we believe him! It’s always a relief to know that we’re not alone and that others go through the same thing. 🙂

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  4. In the beginning of your post, you ask: why am I even doing this? I can definitely relate to that!

    In my opinion, a large (too large) chunk of why people feel this way is that the Church sabotages itself. In several ways. Like:

    1. Not standing for anything. No real Doctrine. No “Anchor”. These days, there are nearly countless churches that are sooooo strung-out on “love” and “grace” that you can’t tell any difference between a Chrsitian and a “wordly” or carnal person. It’s as if Jesus is everyone’s college frat-buddy. Note: in saying this, I am *not* saying it should all be “Fire & Brimstone”, but clearly, obviously, and yes, embarrassingly, there is a Huuuuuge amount of Laxness in many churches. But there’s more.

    2. The Music. Two problems here. (there may be others, too). A) Too “contemporary” and TOO LOUD!!! Far too loud! By alot. but here’s another thing that may not get talked about much: Ask Yourself—do you really, honestly think that people—AFTER and away—from Church services are singing these same songs to themselves while washing dishes? Mowing the lawn? while driving on the freeway in their car? I’m guessing it’s a solid and resounding NO! I might be wrong, but I’ll bet “you-can-count-’em’-on-one-hand. So…why do we sing it in Church them? Why isn’t the music “happier”? Important note: but happier doesn’t mean crank-it-up-and-ROCK OUT-for-God. Which leads to another point—

    3. Lack of Reverence or any sense of AWE. For God. The Creator of the Universe! Nope, not these days. Too many act like: “it’s all good”. God loves me. Maybe we’ll go out for a Beer and catch a flick (sarcasm). And the Lack of Awe may very well be caused, or at least aggravated by the teaching of:

    4. “once saved, always saved.” Bah! So much for “if you continue in my word”. Ask yourself:
    A) If it’s all guaranteed and I can just “coast into Heaven on Auto-Pilot” where’s the incentive to Repent at all?
    B) What about “Backsliders”? It is possible to “fall away”.
    C) What about Apostasy? This is also possible.
    This whole idea of Once saved, always saved I believe directly contributes to all this blue jeans, tattoos, rockin’-for-God, can’t tell the Christians from the World (whatever happened to the Salt-of-the-Earth?) that we see all over the place today. But if you dare to speak up, you’ll be IMMEDIATELY slammed with:
    1. “Legalism” and
    2. endless reminders about: By Grace you are saved not of works lest any man should boast (the apostle paul in the book of Romans. And yet—The book of James says faith WITHOUT works is dead. And also that: The devils believe, and tremble.

    I haven’t been to church in years. Just a couple visits or so in the last couple years. But that’s my issue. If you are a Christian, Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25 does have a point.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for sharing and bringing up so many good points. I completely agree that in far too many ways the church is sabotaging itself and doing a disservice to many people. The lack of strong doctrinal teaching in many churches is a very frustrating issue for me. There’s a balance between that “fire & brimstone” teaching and the love that accepts everything. This balance is something people have struggle with for centuries — and will probably continue to struggle with. However, it connects fully to your 3rd point, we are either terrified of God and hell that we forget His great love for us or we forget that His very breath gives life and we fail to walk in reverence of He that is holy and deserving of praise, honor, and glory. God is not limited to one camp. He is to be feared but He is also the God of Comfort and Peace. As for music, my church still sings a lot of hymns and those I don’t generally sing when doing dishes 🙂 However, I do enjoy playing praise music and singing along with that. That said — YES! I agree much of our “Christian” music can get far to depressing. God brings joy and while I think that we should be reminded that we are sinful people — let’s not stay there all the time! We should use music to celebrate the great freedom that Christ’s sacrifice gave. With regards to your 4th point, I couldn’t agree more. We have to add to our faith, virtue and to virtue, knowledge, and so on as 2 Peter urges us to do. We don’t just get saved and stay that way. I like to say it like this — we can’t lose our salvation but we can give it up. We can choose to give back the gift of salvation. All this said, I’m thankful that God is slow to anger and abounding in love. Nothing we do surprises Him and yet He chose us to be the Bride of Christ. I’m thankful that while we continue to stumble through things, God is full of Grace and always willing to teach us a little more. Again, thanks so much for sharing. Also, thanks for being courteous with your comments. The internet can be a nasty place so I always appreciate when people can share their thoughts without being rude. 🙂

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  5. Thank you for your well -written and forthcoming reply. It is always refreshing (but rare) to see people who are willing to examine or critique their own “camp” or what they believe, whatever it is.

    I was happy to see you mention the passage about: Add to your Faith—virtue, and to virtue— knowledge, etc. Now *There* is a Sermon that tons of Christians need to hear! Take any church congregation of, say, 200 or more people. How many have completely read the New Testament even once? And how long have they already been a Christian? How many people did i embaress just now? And aside from that, how will any high school or college student (or adult) deal with and respond to (not avoid) questions from skeptics? This gets into “Apologetics” and how many Christians have even read one book on “Answering Skeptics” or Defending the Faith? Here, to stick with the Bible, i like 1st Peter, Chapter 3, verses 15 & 16.

    I’ ll sorta police myself now and say, while some knowledge of Apologtics is good, the problem in my opinion is this:

    In the 70s (?), Josh MacDowall writes Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Christians love it! A wildly popular and high-selling book. But then…… along comes Jeffrey Jay Lowder (and others?) who critique and try to “undo” MacDowalls books. Were they right? Maybe. And maybe not. But—

    Today, somehow people just don’t talk about Josh MacDowall near as much as years ago. Why not, if he is accurate? And then—- closer to our time, not do many years ago, we had Lee Strobel (a generation or more after MacDowall) and he wtites The Case for Fauth and also The Case for Christ and again sales are up and Christians love it. But then—-

    Robert N. Price write The Case Against the Case for Christ. This dies NOT automatically mean that Price is right and Strobel is wrong, but i would ask: WHERE is the Christian writer who will counter and disprove Price? Or Bart Ehrman? (Ehrman is beginning to be challenged). And so this whole pro & con or for and against “cycle” continues into new generations and age groups. Now what?

    But who today even bothers to investigate? I am reminded of Paul, Praising the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if these things be so. We could use more “Bereans” these days. But nooooo! People are too busy getting pumped-up-on-Positivity from phonies like Joel Osteen! Furthermore— time was, when christian might have had some knowledge about CULTS or Heresies, Jehovahs Witnesses, Christian-Scientists, Mormons, etc. and would have heard about people like Walter Martin (deceased). But since there are sooo many more “Non-Denominational” churches these days, its harder to criticize. Then again, actually, maybe not. While not 100%, we could probably generalize that at least “many” non-denominational churches today are 1. Hyper- grace or 2. All about “love & positivity” and we wouldn’t be very far-off at all. More reasons why I don’t go to church. Too many false teachers already within the gates! Show me the Preacher today that will openly preach from the pulpit, or on the Radio or TV or ina Podcast that Homosexuality is wrong? Where are they? Before anyone goes saying: welllll, that was all back in the OLD testament days of Leviticus, etc and things are different today. Oh yeah? Then read todays NEW Testament in Romans, Chapter One, i think around verses 25- thru 28, right in there, and you will see a strong and decisive condemnation of it! But churches are so busy “including” everybody that its “bad for business” i.e. the Collection plate, to say this. But it IS Biblical. Get over it! Calling it “Hate” diesn’t chsnge the Bible! Or does it? Maybe they just re-write a new translation. How convenient.

    Yeah, what would, Matthew, Peter, James, John, etc. think– if they “plain-clothes visited” alot of “churches” today? Would somr buildings get burned down?

    And who today, would dare to say that things they see and hear on TBN or the DAYSTAR network are Wrong? Sigh. “In the last days, perilous times shall come, for men shall be”……
    Sigh. More reasons I don’t go to chutch. But don’ t let what i do, or dont do, stop YOU from doing Gods will. We each must decide for ourselves.

    And another thing! (Just when i thought i was done). “Everybody” talks about how Christianity “isnt a religion. Its a relationship”. First of all, SHOW ME!—exactly—where that is in the Bible! Go ahead. Embarass me!
    My point is: who today, even bothers to ask where did this come from? WHO was the first famous preacher or Theologian, in say, the last 150 yrs. To start this? Billy Graham? Or before him, Billy Sunday? Who? People hear it so constantly that they just accept it on auto-pilot. Back to the Bereans, again.

    On a completely different note—-
    Noahs flood. The waters go back down. Noah, those wuth him, and the animals come out. Where? Lets say, just to make the point, somewhere on the Top half of the earth, north of the equator and Inland, maybe somewhere around what is today The Black Sea. My question is: From there, HOW did ANY animals ever first from there, to Australia? Did they swim hundreds of miles? How did they get from say “douthern Russia” to Ireland? To South America? One person told me they came over with people on Boats. Really?? Think about that. WHO on earth is possibly going to take Sbakes, Alligators, or a fierce Tiger with them on a boat? So, the question persists. Anyway…thanks to everyone who reads this. Who knows? Maybe Christianity, Christians and Churches will improve themselves, become more truthful and less hype or glitzy and “market-driven”. But don’t let me stop you.
    Take some time to READ the New Testament. I’ve read it three times in 3 different translations, even though it was years ago. Will i go back to Church later? Right now, I doubt it. But who knows? This is something we each decide. Ok, this has been long but i hope it was interesting. My own blog on wordpress is: http://www.wordpressowl.wordpress.com I post about Beliefs, Psychology, Music and more. Comments welcome.

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    1. While I agree with much of what you’re saying, especially with regards to Christians needing to address what is often time a lack of knowledge, I am reminded that Peter encouraged us to grow in both grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3: 18) And before that is read wrongly or as an accusation of any kind, I want to explain… I spent many years with this same pattern of thinking. I was frustrated and disappointed in the American church particularly. Your thoughts are not new to me because I spent years with them. My frustrations kept me from church for a time. However, in that time, I would spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Granted, none of that time was spent for me to learn and grow in Christ but it was the time when I would explain to God all that was wrong with His Bride, point out the places where they weren’t following Scripture, and to vent all my frustrations to Him. It didn’t happen over night, in fact, at first it was more of a forced thing but I began attending church again. It still wasn’t something I wanted to do but I had decided that I was either going to believe the Bible — the whole thing and every word God wrote or I was going to toss it all out and never look back. I don’t think I actually made a final decision when I started going back to church. I think at first it was mostly with the intent of proving my own point but also an ultimatum for God to prove Himself. Time still hasn’t erased the scars and I still grow frustrated — a lot. But time has taught me two valuable lessons. 1. I have to give grace to myself. God isn’t afraid or ashamed of my doubts, frustrations, or even my internal eye rolls. Sometimes church is attended simply out of sheer obedience. But I had decided to take God at His word — all of it and church attendance was one of those things that I simply had to do. I give myself grace to have bad days, weeks, or months. After all, I’m in the company of people like Moses, Gideon and Elijah — people who had doubt, frustrations, and those same internal eye rolls — and yet God still used them powerfully 2. I have to give grace to everyone else. Philippians 2: 12 tells Christians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Now I never want to become who scares people into more Biblical thinking. There salvation is between them and God. Again, sometimes this grace is forced, but I’ve learned to show grace as they are in a different place in their salvation than me and each person is gifted differently in thinking and experience. They never lived my experience and I haven’t lived theirs. I am only accountable for me at Heaven’s Gate. The leaders I find great flaws with, I keep my mouth shut about at David did with Saul but I sure as heck keep away. I’m also not shy if someone asks my opinion about them but I don’t go out of my way to address the issue. Each of us has to do as we feel called to do and right now that a lot of intercessory prayer for me — for leaders of the church and for the people who call themselves Christians. As with last time, thanks for sharing. 🙂 I appreciate having different angle to consider and examine. Oh, and my the way, Christianity is so a religion. 🙂 My connection to God is a relationship but it’s pretty clear that the guidelines He sets up for me also puts me in the parameters of religion. I think people just say that to try and simplify things. But such is the way of humanity.

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