I have had a few requests concerning journaling as a spiritual habit in 2014. This blog will hopefully address the why and how of adding journaling with your bible reading in 2014.
Many of you already have a bible reading plan for 2014. If you’ve follow the TLC family in Terre Haute, you’re probably doing the Life Journal reading plan created by Wayne Cordeiro. Regardless, congratulations on choosing to commit to reading through the Bible in 2014. This type of commitment will not reap benefits that a physical, mental, or any other exercise can never touch – an heavenly reward.
Now, moving on to why you should choose to journal. After all, isn’t reading my Bible enough? Why should I do something in addition to reading my bible? This is a legitimate question that begs to be answered. After all, we aren’t really interested in more “busy work,” are we? Think of a couple scenarios with me:
- Let’s say that you just struck it rich. That’s a pleasant thought. You have either inherited some money or won the lottery, you choose. Regardless, you have a significant increase in financial resources. However, if you don’t know how to appropriate that money wisely it will not make your life better. In fact, it is unfortunate that many people who win the lottery lose it all and become worse off than they were before. Why? They never had an understanding of how toapply what they were given. Now you can understand why Solomon (David’s son) asked for wisdom when God granted him the desire of his heart. Wisdom is knowing how to apply to your life what is the “best” for your life.
- In scenario number 2 you have made a commitment to exercise and get back into shape. You have decided to purchase the hottest exercise program on the market. It includes 16 DVD’s, a meal plan, a hotline number for questions, and a money-back guarantee for the next 90 days. Think of how excited you are as you wait for the delivery of the program. Once it arrives, you read through the material from cover to cover. You have watched the DVD that is labeled “guide” or quickstart so that you can get started with complete confidence. However, through the unseen circumstances of life it derails your plan. It sits on your bookshelf along with all the promises and guarantees to change your life. It has the potential to change your life, but it doesn’t have a chance because you will not apply it.
Maybe you can’t relate to either scenario on a personal level, but hopefully the light bulb is coming on. Both scenarios describe why journaling is so critical. Let’s crack open both stories as they relate to journaling:
- If I journal down my thoughts I am untangling what I have read. I’m not sure who said it, but I love this thought: “thoughts disentangle themselves when passing over the lips and through pencil tips.” Wisdom was missing from the individual who gained a lot of money, unexpectedly. It’s not that money is evil, but it can destroy a life who isn’t prepared to apply it. The same could be said for your bible reading. The bible is full of gold. Real spiritual gold of wisdom for life. You can quickly forget what the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart and mind if you don’t meditate on it. So when something jumps into my lap as I read, I want to disentangle that thought by writing (or typing) it out for me to see. It clarifies my “next steps” in applying that truth to my life.
- In our second scenario, excuses (no matter how legitimate) got the best of this individual. The intentions of the individual were pure. The desire was present. However, until the person determines to put in the DVD daily and follow the diet – no change. Likewise, until you have a plan to put in place what you are reading – no change. Once again, writing down your reading and thoughts will clarify a lot of stuff. There are a lot of competing voices for your time and attention. A Bible journal will put the power back into your court.
You might be convinced that journaling down your thoughts is a good idea. However, you might be lost on how to start. For example, I really like the mind exercising game Sudoku. However, I’m lost on how to start. I “freeze up” when I start the game. I’m afraid that I’m going to put a number in the wrong slot and mess up the entire game. In fact, if I don’t have a pencil with an eraser at my disposal – shudder.
You might feel this way about journaling. You might be afraid that you’re doing it wrong. Hopefully, this advice will help you: you can’t do it wrong. God has a way of partnering with our mess and making it a beautiful thing. Even the slightest attempt at growing closer to him motivates Him to draw near to you. If you try it, you will see growth. Here is my disclaimer: you must stick with it. As with exercise, it takes commitment. You wouldn’t expect to reach your goal with a week of working out would you? Commit to the long haul. Commit to 2014 being a year of journaling.
Here are some helpful “processes” to journaling that I have used to get the Bible from the page to my life.
- Step 1 – look for the key verse or verses. While you read, be sensitive to those things that jump out at you. For example, if you are reading about the birth of Christ you might be intrigued about the visitation Mary had with the angel. Use a highlighter over that verse(s) and keep reading. Continue to do this until you are finished reading for the day. Now, go back and look at your highlighted markings. Record your thoughts on what the Bible says and how it applies to your life.
- Step 2 – Recording (journaling). The most important part of this step is that you write down how the truth can be applied to your life. This is where the Bible “comes alive” and we grow in our relationship with Christ. Here are some tips for starters. You can use either tip or do your own thing, whatever works for you…
- Wayne Cordeiro’s S.O.A.P. process. Wayne describes the benefits of using natural soap to get your outward body clean. Likewise you can use this SOAP to cleanse your inside. Here is a link that will help explain the SOAP journaling.
- PB&J. Everyone loves a good ol fashion “Peanut Butter and Jelly” sandwich! You’ll love this acronym as well to bible journaling:
P – PRAYER – Be sure to pray before and after you read and journal.
B – BIBLE – Stick to your reading plan. Nothing has power to change you like God’s word.
J – JOURNAL – Write down what the Bible says and how you should respond to it.
I hope and pray that 2014 is a great year of growth for you!