have you ever done something, seen something, heard something, gone somewhere, met someone, etcetera and felt "man, why didn't someone tell me about this before?! i should have done this years ago."
no, this post isn't going to expound on the feelings of switching between a PC and a Mac. although, that is the case most people feel when they finally do make the switch.
instead this is to describe a spiritual discipline that i recently had explained to me in the last couple months; it's called the lifejournal.
i'm sure there's people that have done this sort of thing for years, but i was introduced to the concept by reading a book that talked about Pastor Wayne Cordeiro at New Hope church in Hawaii. at that church they have a concept that's engrained into their culture that says, "Hungry? Feed Yourself!" the idea is that a weekend church service shouldn't be the only spiritual meal you receive all week. and the pastor's aren't necessarily going to be able to meet with you and give you a personal sermon everyday either. so at some point in our spiritual walk we need to learn how to feed our own spirit with God's Word and Voice.
thus the lifejournal is simply a tool used to facilitate that. it's basically an empty notebook where you write down what you've read from God's Word, what you noticed, how that applies to your life today, and a prayer. so yes, it involves writing, and yes, there is a daily Bible reading plan. but the key aspect of it for me is that it's a plan.
this sounds so simple once you know how to do it, but for some reason no one had ever sat me down and explained this simple process to me. perhaps they didn't feel like dictating their method of devotions as the right way of doing them. or maybe they assumed that it was something i was already doing. and the fact is that i had tried journalling before, but didn't have a focus as to what to write. and as such became random, i wasn't sure if i was doing it "right", and eventually thought that maybe journalling wasn't for me.
now, i won't say that i've got this new method down perfect. there's still been days that i've missed, skipped, or only done the reading but not the writing. but i will be step out and say as Paul did, "follow me, as i follow Christ."
if you don't currently have a consistent, systematic method of spending time with God; then i challenge you to try this method.
there's just something about the act of processing your thoughts in to words on a paper that solidifies what God is speaking to your heart. there's something about having a physical means of looking back over what God has been saying to you that reaffirms that you can actually hear God speaking to you in prayer or through His Word. and there's something about putting the date on every page you write, and then being able to look back and see how many days you've skipped that beckons you to come back and be consistent again.
i summed up the method in the paragraph, but i'll explain a little further now. the lifejournals that New Hope sells describe it like this.
first of all they provide a one year Bible reading plan, but you can use which ever you'd like. just make sure you are using some kind of plan, don't just read willie-nillie by reading where ever the Bible happens to fall open to.
then every day you write the date, page #, and a title for that day's entry. then you use the SOAP method.
Scripture: here you write a verse, passage, or just Scripture reference of what you read that day.
Observation: now you write what you noticed about that day's reading. why did that passage stick out to you? why is it important?
Application: this is probably the most important step. "how will i be different because of what i just read?" sometimes i realize something that i need to do, or i question the beliefs/thoughts i currently hold in light of God's Word, or sometimes it's just the confirmation of something i'd already been thinking/feeling.
Prayer: finally, you simply write a prayer to God. sometimes this prayer is directly related to what i read, sometimes it has nothing to do with it but is instead related to something going on in my life at the time.
and that's it. usually i write just one page. sometimes a little less. but every time i've done this i gain new insights into God's Word, into God's thoughts, into my own life. and like i said before, probably the biggest benefit for me is the fact that it is a plan.
and it's fun/amazing to me to realize just what will stick out to me for a particular passage on a particular day. stuff i've read in the Bible many times over, but suddenly the smallest phrase will jump out at me. like today it was Acts 20: 13 from The Message, "Paul wanted to walk there."
do you have a method that works for you? have you been taught how to do your devotions? or did you just make up your own method along the way? are you satisfied with how your devotional time with God is spent?
(fyi: you don't have to buy one of their journals you could use any spiral notebook from walmart for 99¢, or a moleskin)
btw: for you dedicated readers that have read all the way to this point. in answer to my own question in yesterday's post - i cleaned the living room while listening to a FamilyLife Today podcast about how a man should romance his wife. perhaps, i'll write more about that decision later.