Monday, March 16, 2015

Becoming Like God...In His Story (1 of 3)

Most of us look in the mirror each day before leaving the house. At some point, what you saw looked good enough to you to feel comfortable in leaving. But what if the mirror could reveal your insides? No not the bones and organs, but your emotions and character! What do those insides look like right now? Are they well-ordered and prepared for the world? Are they a little messy, but not too bad? Or are they so badly beaten and bruised that you don't know if you will ever recover? Perhaps it’s fortunate that we don't have a mirror that shows our insides. And it's certainly a blessing that others can't see them all the time. But God does. And here is a fundamental truth – He knows just how beaten and bruised they might be, or how messy things look, or if everything is nice and orderly, and regardless of what state they are in, He wants you to get through this time with them looking better than they do right now. But often for that healing or growth to take place, we have to take the time to reflect ourselves so that we can partner with God in getting things straight.

This week's discipline is the Discipline of Journaling. It must first be noted that the idea of journaling is never given in Scripture as a command or expectation of God like we have seen of so many other disciplines, such as praying, worship, fasting, etc. But we have entire books of the Bible that are essentially a collection of journal entries (the Psalms) and at least one long one, if not a collection (Lamentations). In addition, Proverbs, and many of the historical narratives in Scripture (Numbers, Deuteronomy, the book of Revelation, and others could very well be journal entries.

Apart from the Bible, consider some of the biographies you might have read. How do we know such things about people if they had not recorded their thoughts, etc.? You may say, well, sure, but nobody cares about me. I haven't done anything worthy? My first question is in whose eyes? Your eyes, the eyes of others, or God's eyes? My second question is, what would you like your family to know about you? That can be a part of journaling! As we will see in the next two post this week, journaling can help us to better understand God and ourselves as we go through life.

First, let's define journaling. Donald Whitney defines journaling (which is synonymous with a diary) as "a place (tangible or digital) in which a person records information important to him or her personally for preservation or consideration. As a Christian it is a place to document the works and ways of God in your life."

Again, journaling does not have a Scriptural mandate. Many great Christians have journaled. Many haven't. A few biblical characters who obviously did were David, Jeremiah, Solomon, John, and others. Yes, their words were inspired by God. However, the written record is the prayers, meditations, questions, insights, praise, etc., of many different men. Although many others could be listed here, the journals of some Christians (e.g. Augustine and John Edwards) have been compiled into well-known works.

Take a moment to read Psalm 88.1-7. We all have days when we feel like this – do you remember one from a few years ago? How did God get you through it? That is what journaling can do! It can remind you of your past JOURNEY, and encourage your future steps.

In John 21.24-25, the author postulates how many books could have been written about Jesus – at that time. At the time that was written, some might consider that statement a bit absurd. But consider how many have been written since. A few years ago, the number was 6000 new Christian books each year. Now, I wouldn't suggest that all the books are good, or even "Christian" (it would depend on how the researcher defined "Christian"), but certainly thousands are written and with what people post to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. on a daily basis, it is mind-numbing to consider how much is written about some aspect of God – just from a positive perspective each day. Indeed, John 21 was right.

But what about journaling? In the next post, I will list 8 values (as originally shared by Whitney) with some small comment on each. I will say just a small something about each in hopes that you might be encouraged to begin, or resume, journaling yourself.

* This series of posts has been adapted from Donald Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

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