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This is taken from Daniel's weekly e-devotions as part of the ministry of Strategic Renewal.  For more info on how to receive these, please visit www.strategicrenewal.com and www.pray2959.com.

"A journal sparks powerful motivation to trust the faithfulness of God and live with positive hope.  Tracing the hand of God in your life from previous days motivates new gratitude, love, and surrender in the present moment."

"The Power of a Personal Journal, Part Two"

 

Nineteenth century Irish author Oscar Wilde wrote, “Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Indeed, memories can be a wonderful or painful reality within us.  Last week we saw that God wants us to remember His word, His ways, and His works.  The problem with memory alone is that we can easily forget things and lose our grasp of the details of specific events and lessons over time.

 

We explained that a spiritual journal allows us to keep an insightful and precise record of our life journey.  It’s been said that nothing is dynamic until it is specific.  The spiritual discipline of journaling allows us to be specific in our reflections and lessons in our journey with Christ so that they become dynamic in their application to our spiritual development.

 

Why Keep a Journal?

 

Last week we looked at four reasons to keep a spiritual journal: Application, Expression, Evaluation, and Recollection.  Now, let’s examine three additional benefits of a spiritual journal.  

 

Motivation 

 

A journal sparks powerful motivation to trust the faithfulness of God and live with positive hope.  Tracing the hand of God in your life from previous days motivates new gratitude, love, and surrender in the present moment.  Many times my heart has been moved to spiritual excellence by reviewing the ways of the Lord in my life as I re-read my journal entries.  Psalm 143:5 & 6 notes, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.  I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.” Remembering, meditating, and musing are linked to spiritual motivation.

 

Sanctification 

 

Journaling encourages your growth in godliness as you use this tool to devote your heart to Christ.  To be “sanctified” is the idea of being “set apart” to God in our love and devotion.  The discipline of keeping a spiritual journal sparks a deeper, more thoughtful faith and love, leading us to Christlikeness.  First Timothy 4:7-8 says, “Exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

 

Transmission –

 

When a journal is kept and passed on to one’s children or grandchildren it is a valuable element in preserving a spiritual heritage.  Psalm 78:6-7 speaks of passing on the truth of God’s work, “that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”  Psalm 145:4 states, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

 

The Lord enabled me to keep a journal for each of my three children from the day they each were born to their high school graduation.  Several times a year I would write about key events in their lives, God’s work within our family, and lessons we were all learning along the way.  I pray these journals will provide spiritual encouragement to them for years to come.

 

In addition, I will someday pass on my own personal journal. While much of it is very detailed and raw, I pray that in the years to come it might bless them in their own journey with Christ through the ups and downs of life.

 

How to Journal – Three Key Elements

 

Download – This is my first step in the process of a journal entry.  I “download” by writing openly about a variety of initial issues such as:

  • Chronological or event markers – I note brief details of what is happening in life at the time.
  • Initial praises or items of thanksgiving – I write out the overflow of my heart toward God for the current moment.
  • Raw feelings – I log any strong emotions I might be experiencing about the present circumstances.
  • Concerns or problems – I give basic details about any immediate difficulties or burdens.
  • Relationship issues – I record my thoughts about relationships with family, friends, or acquaintances that are on my heart.

Upload – This is the core of my journaling.  I upload biblical truth or other wisdom from my reading.   This includes:

  • Bible reading/insights – I incorporate verses from my devotional reading in order to respond to these later in prayer and application.
  • Other reading – If key quotes or ideas from other reading have impressed me, I try to record these in my journal as well.
  • Wise counsel or advice – If the Lord has used the input of a wise friend or mentor, I also try to make a record of this.

For me, these are entered via my laptop using a journaling program.* I will cut and paste Bible verses from my Bible program and type in other quotes or wisdom.   

 

Reload – The final element of journaling involves response and preparation.  As I “reload” for the coming day I incorporate the following:

  • Biblical application – I try to type (or write) my personal response to all the insights from the “upload” phase, expressing prayers of praise or personal supplication.
  • Personal commitments/aspirations – I also write out my prayers of fresh commitment, noting the desires that have been sparked in my heart in response to the truth.
  • Personal prayers – I express other prayers about my spiritual journey; the coming events of the day, relationships, challenges, and impending decisions are also included.
  • Prayer requests – Finally, I take time to intercede for family members, friends, ministry issues, and other pressing concerns.  Most often I actually turn to my 29:59 Plan** for these requests after concluding my journaling on the other issues.

A Good Time to Start

 

Even if you have not kept a consistent journal in the past it is never too late to start.  Every journey begins with the first step.  I would encourage you to start today.  Don’t be too rigid but simply journal as you are able.  Find a format that works for you, whether it is in a specially bound journal or a simple notebook.  If you would rather type, you can use any word processing program or order a computer program designed just for journaling. 

 

In any case, I challenge you to begin the journey this week.  You will experience many positive benefits, as noted in these two devotionals.  I pray your life will be blessed as you treasure the Lord’s work in your life for His glory.

 

------------------------------------------

 

* I use LifeJournal2 for Christians, although there are other good options available.

 

** Available at www.pray2959.com.

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.

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Thank you Daniel for the deep insights you have shared regarding this topic. Thank you too for the gift of teaching which has presented the article in an organized manner, and which makes it easy for the reader to flow with your instructions.

Janet Lim Hong Eng

Dr. Daniel Henderson,

Thanks your your encouragement in this blog which encourages us to pass on what we have journaled to our children.

"When a journal is kept and passed on to one’s children or grandchildren it is a valuable element in preserving a spiritual heritage.  Psalm 78:6-7 speaks of passing on the truth of God’s work, “that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”  Psalm 145:4 states, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”"

I personally have started this process, but must make a significant effort to complete it.  I have reviewed my past journals, and am working to pass on many insights and nuggets from God's Word to my children.  Sometimes, we wonder how they will receive them, but your encouragement from God's Word encourages us to pass them on to our children. 

Again, thanks for being faithful to share about passing what we have learned on to our children.

What a great blessing and reminder !  I love your download /upload /reload method of journaling .....I am reviewing /revising / activity for Prayer Ministry managers ....

We now have sixty on our team with almost  300 hours weekly of intentional , regular , focused, accountable , hours of comined prayer ministry in our Hall of Prayer in Prayer Center 17 and unstructured , private prayer in the Prayer Chapel near us .

Due to your encouragement in this posting--I have copied items from my diaries--that relate to my study of God's word.  It took a considerable amount of time to complete this project, but soon I will be sharing it with my children.  It does read a bit like Proverbs--jumping around--but it is one way of sharing items from scripture that are meaningful and have impacted me.

It is a significant undertaking, but I trust the Lord will use it.

Update:

Dr Henderson,

 

Your blog post about sharing a journal with your family has encouraged me to develop one to share with mine.  I have finally completed mine—which shares nuggets of learning, insight, and other areas that I want to share with my children.  In one sense, it is a book that is never finished, as there will always be more to add in the future.

 

I also took the opportunity to share some of my writings, areas of personal scriptural devotion, and a course that my wife and I compiled.

 

I also recently finished the compilation of the year I spent in Thailand with the US Army during the Vietnam period.  My family has been reading that journal, and using it to pray for Thailand. It might even eventually be shared with other family and friends.

 

It takes much work to compile one of these journals, but what I have seen already from sharing one journal, is a better appreciation by my children of what their father has done.

 

It would be great to see others do something similar to a journal for their families.



Lewis Turner said:

Dr. Daniel Henderson,

Thanks your your encouragement in this blog which encourages us to pass on what we have journaled to our children.

"When a journal is kept and passed on to one’s children or grandchildren it is a valuable element in preserving a spiritual heritage.  Psalm 78:6-7 speaks of passing on the truth of God’s work, “that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”  Psalm 145:4 states, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”"

I personally have started this process, but must make a significant effort to complete it.  I have reviewed my past journals, and am working to pass on many insights and nuggets from God's Word to my children.  Sometimes, we wonder how they will receive them, but your encouragement from God's Word encourages us to pass them on to our children. 

Again, thanks for being faithful to share about passing what we have learned on to our children.

In your blog about journals you encouraged us to make a journal to pass on to our children.  When I saw that blog, it encouraged me to do just that—and it was something that had already been on my heart even before I saw your blog.

The journal I assembled consisted of extracting nuggets from my bible devotional studies—truths that
I had learned.  I took the time and went back through my journals which were both personal and contained what I had learned from the Lord in Bible Study.  I removed all the personal items and preserved what I call nuggets of truth.  These I listed in chronological order for the most part, but did move a few items around to group a few subjects.  I will comment that this section reads much like proverbs.  

I also included with the journal, some biblical studies I had done which were significant to me.

I completed My journal just about 2 month’s ago. (I still log in nuggets from God's Word as the Lord gives them to me). I was not sure of when to give this completed journal to my children -- so I sought council, especially as I was also facing a major medical operation.  The council said to wait until after the operation and give it to your children on father’s day.  That I did.

It took a lot of effort and focus and listening to the Lord to compile and put the journal together.  It is my prayer is that it will encourage my children, and their children to grow in the Lord.

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