So you are going to start journaling…

This weekend after the worship gathering a bunch of our crowd took home a new journal compliments of Origin.  Of all the good intentions keeping a journal has been one of the most stop-start-stop-start disciplines of my life.

So you are going to start journalling… here’s a few things to consider.

1.  Its not a masterpiece, and you are not writing for someone else.

2.  Just start writing.

3.  Use the journal for lists of what happened in your day.  Maybe you can reflect on the day and capture your “original moment”–when you experienced the love of God or people, or when you loved God, loved people, or shared the Gospel.

4.  Don’t have words? — draw a picture.

5.  Make a list from these questions and choose one for more reflection:
–What am I happy about?
–What am I sad about?
–What am I angry about?
–What am I afraid of?

6.  Read the Scripture, encounter God, write your prayer.
You can use the SOAP method.  Scripture, Observations, Application, Prayer.

For those “journaling pro’s,”  What other ways have you used your journal?  Other suggestions on getting started?  And how did you benefit?

meeting God daily

Meeting God daily keeps us from running on empty.  Meeting God daily keeps us connected and fruitful.  The writer of Psalm 1 creates some urgency to make every day a decision day:  will I meet God or not?  Will I delight in His Words or the word and way of someone else? 

When I was serving in a church in Texas during seminary, I was regularly blessed to hear an older women, Lily White, stand in our services and quote Psalm 1.  As she spoke I felt that every word had weight and pierced through the shallowness of our daily lives.  “Blessed is the man who does not walk int he counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.  Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

To fail to choose God and His Word is presented by the Psalmist as a drift into a unrooted and unfruitful life.  The perishing life is progressive:  to walk in the counsel of the wicked is to be taken in by the words and way of seeing the world that constantly seeks to edit out God; to stand in the way of sinners is to increase one’s association, even flirt with the lifestyle of rebellion against God, so that one may blend into the crowd; to sit in the seat of mockers, is to have developed great comfortability even an unconsciousness of how removed one is from God-His character and His way.

The mocker is one who acts surprised when presented with a view of life that includes God, delights in His Word, and lives with an awareness of the full-bodied character of God which raises such a high view of Creation and people that injustice and lovelessness matters.  The mocker says, “Where’s God?  What can God do?  He can’t touch us?  It doesn’t matter how you live as long as you survive happily.”

Perhaps the mockers biggest problem is that the internal order for of belief and behaviour has been turned on its head.  No longer does conviction of what is true guide their behaviours.  Instead, truth through God’s revelation has been tossed in favour of their truth shaped by the behaviours the mocker has adopted and now must justify.  The mocker will not tolerate the discontinuity of belief in a God who cares when their behaviours and the related crowd and comfort are more important. 

We can all drift into the seat of the mocker–it is the fruit of a long series of choices.  However we are presented with the option of responding to God’s invitation to meet Him and to delight in His Word.  The consequence is dramatically different.  To delight in the Word of God brings us into a life that is rooted into God Himself.  When the season requires fruit our lives can bear it:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  When others are blowing dry in the wind of life, we can keep our leaves–display the evidence of an interior world that is connected to The Source of all life.

Meditation on the Word of God is the choice to meet God daily.  Christian meditation does not require us to empty our minds of the realities that face us: darkness, pain, suffering, awareness of injustice or even the evidence of grace to enjoy–beauty, nature, relationships, good food.  Christian mediation is the taking in and digestion of God’s Words in response to Him.  To delight in His Word is to chew it up and digest it as a message that connects what is most important-God, to life. 

Begin simply.  10-15 minutes a day.  We have been using the SOAP acrostice and a series of questions to help us connect God’s Word to our lives.  It’s His Word, ask Him to help you.

Scripture:  Open your Bible to the reading following your reading plan.  Take time reading and allow God to speak to you.  When you are done, look for a verse that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.

Observation:  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture?  Ask the Holy Spirit to each you and reveal Jesus to you.  Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words, in your journal.  Is there a:  Sin to confess?  Promise to claim?  Attitude to change?  Command to keep?  Example to follow?  Prayer to pray?  Error to avoid?  Truth to believe?  Something to thank God for?

Application:  Personalize what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps is it instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.  Write how this Scripture can apply to you today.  Prayer:  This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a prayer for insight on what He may be revealing to you.  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to What God has to say!  Now, write it out.

Here are some question for personal examination built from Galatians 5:22-23.  (These can be found in Principle 7 of Celebrate Recovery)  I have found them useful at the end of my day, to meet God and review the day with Him.  Since God watches over the way of the righteous, I want to watch over my way as well.

  • How did I show love to others?
  • Did I act in an unloving way toward anyone?
  • Did others see in me the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus?  If not, why not?
  • How was my serenity, my peace?  Did anything happen that caused me to lose it?  What was my part in it?
  • Was I patient?  What caused me to lose my patience?  Do I owe anyone amends?
  • Would anyone say that I was kind/good?  In what ways did I act unkind?
  • How was my faithfulness?
  • Did I keep my word with everyone?
  • How was my gentleness and self-control?  Did I lose my temper, speak a harsh or unkind word to someone?

the sound of many waters

cheakamus lake, 28 July 2008

cheakamus lake, 28 July 2008

After all the Sunday service and gatherings my family with our friends Ryan and Andrea headed north into Beautiful BC.  In spite of our anxiety about traffic and the Pemberton Music Festival it was smooth sailing all the way to the parking lot for the trail into Cheakamus Lake in the Garibaldi Park.  We went in about 4 km before setting up our tents right on the lake in front of spectacular mountain views.  I was in awe!  Now I must confess that our plastic children’s wagon being pulled, dragged and cajoled over this trail was quite the sight!  We have been car-campers up until now, so all of our stuff is BIG, and weighs a lot!  Our guides were very kind!

In the morning as I awakened I was delighted to hear the roar of many waters–a small stream, a waterfall on the other side of the lake, and the Cheakamus River.  I was reminded of the Elder John’s description of Jesus’ voice, “His voice was like the roar of many waters.”  (Revelation 1:15)  When you are right in the midst of such a sound it is all you can hear.  It drowns out any other sound.  However it is not an overwhelming sound; rather it is comforting, soothing, peaceful–but ever-present and even commanding.  This is the voice of the Resurrected Jesus, familiar yet bigger.  John says, “I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me.”  (Revelation 1:12)  John’s experience is not something just happening in his head; rather this is an experience of Jesus’ revelation that occurs outside of him; it is real.

Day in and day out the spiritual discipline of making space to meet with Jesus means that I must clear out, turn down, and even turn off the many other voices that compete for my heart.  The moments of great clarity are not as frequent as I would like.  However, I am confident that Jesus still speaks and that He is guiding His church into fellowship with Him.