Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Becoming Like God...In His Story (2 of 3)

The previous post defined journaling and presented a few questions that might help one to consider journaling. In this post, I will list, and briefly comment on eight different reasons why journaling may be of value.*

8 Values of Journaling

1.  Journaling Helps in Self-Understanding and Evaluation (Romans 12.3)

We should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Journaling can help because it allows us to be real with ourselves, even if we aren't really with others. We can truly begin to know ourselves. John Calvin, one of the greatest theological minds ever, said, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.”

2.  Journaling Helps with Meditation (2 Timothy 2.7)

We tend to forget the insights we gain from Scripture unless we write them down. Journaling can be like taking notes on what we read, or even what we think, so that later we can properly apply our understanding to our actions.

3.  Journaling Helps Express Thoughts and Feelings to the Lord (Psalm 62.8)

Have you ever felt so strongly about someone (perhaps a spouse) that you just didn't know how to express  yourself? The Bible says that when we can't get the words out, the Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8.26-27). But sometimes just letting the pen flow on the page, or the fingers on a keyboard, can help us reflect and make some sense of what is happening - whether good or bad!

4.  Journaling Helps in Remembering the Lord's Works (Psalm 77.11-12)

Can you think of some specific prayers God has answered? Keeping your requests in a journal and reviewing them will help. Francis Bacon said, “If a man write little, he had need have a great memory.” We easily forget how much God has helped us unless we write it down.

5.  Journaling helps in Creating and Preserving a Spiritual Heritage (Psalm 102.18; Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

Very few people know the names of their ancestors to more than two generations (grandparents). Yet, for nearly everyone, your great grandparents were alive about 100 years ago. So, will your descendants remember you? What might you want them to know? Are you a Christian? Perhaps write of your conversion experience. Perhaps other major life events, both good and bad. What a blessing your story might be to someone in your own family in the generations to come.

6.  Journaling Helps in Clarifying and Articulating Insights (1 Peter 3.15)

If you are like me, you might have a difficult time sometimes remembering what you read earlier today or yesterday. When we write some thoughts down, it helps to seal the thought in our minds, and may even allow us to move from reading or hearing the Word, to doing what it says (James 1.22).

7.  Journaling Helps in Monitoring Goals and Priorities (Philippians 3.12-16)

Many people have to do lists. But do you have a tracking list of things you are doing which take more time? Consider the Spiritual Disciplines mentioned in this series. We have the 4L's to guide us (see this post, for example). Where are you with Prayer? Worship? Fasting? Do you have a goal with one or more of the disciplines? Maybe you want to try fasting, but have questions. These are GREAT concepts for journals – you can track your progress, your struggles, etc.

8.  Journaling Helps in Maintaining the Other Spiritual Disciplines (Psalm 119.11)

We tend to be lazy in many areas of life, especially in our spiritual development. But we are to exercise (1 Timothy 4.7), and build ourselves up in the faith (Jude 20). Again, similar to the previous "help", journaling can help us track how we are doing in a variety of areas.

Having defined 8 ways that journaling can help us, what are some other considerations about journaling? In the next post, I will provide some thoughts as to some potential next steps.

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

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