Journaling

[two_thirds] [bra_blockquote align=”]“The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11, NLT).[/bra_blockquote] Amos identified it right off. It would be a famine, but it wouldn’t be recognizable in the grocery stores. The shelves would still be filled with several varieties of bread, and a few aisles over, shoppers would find an equal amount of bottled water from the springs of France to Fiji

It would be a famine of hearing God’s Word. I remember it well. It was a month filled with travel. First I was off to Florida to speak at a large gathering for young leaders. Then to Denver for a leadership forum, back to preach for the weekend, followed by a denominational conference on the West Coast. I realized that on any given week, any halfhearted seeker of knowledge could find one or more conferences somewhere in the country ready to accept their registration. And resources! The Internet runs with a swift current of free materials and helps for just about any aspect of ministry or Christian life. Still churches are failing, families are fractured, and ministries flounder.

One day, I’d like God to turn our eyeballs around. What if we could see not the physical shape of a person, but their spiritual shape? Let me explain it in this way. What if you ate just once a week – one big meal on the weekend and then snacked on tidbits during the week – and kept that up for thirty years? In what shape would you be? We’d be emaciated and gaunt with sunken eyes and sallow cheeks.

This perfect description of an eating disorder accurately describes the inner state of most Christians. Without spiritual strength, we believe firmly one thing but quickly succumb to the enticing invitations of doubt, anger, and moral compromise. It’s time we break the famine. So where do we begin?

Self-Feeders

One of the most critical disciplines that distinguishes fruitful lives from unfruitful lives is our ability to feed ourselves. Conferences, seminars, and weekend services are wonderful, but they were never designed to be a substitute for a self-feeding program, a daily time in the Word of God.

In Luke 10, we stumble upon these poignant words that we must not dismiss. While Martha was entrenched with the busyness of life, “Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet listening to His Word.” And when Martha demanded a ruling from Jesus as to which activity was more important, Jesus replied, “Only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen the good part which will never be taken away from her.”

Only one thing is necessary. We can’t get much clearer than that. With that understanding, I began a lifelong discipline of daily devotions. A systematic reading plan would take me through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice every year. And focusing on one of the most prevalent scriptures that stood out to me, I would journal on it. Using a simple acrostic, SOAP, I recorded the promptings of the Spirit of God to my life. About ten years, ago, I compiled these principles into a Life Journal, which is being used in thousands of churches and has been translated into more than 25 languages. The basic process is to dedicate a daily time to sit at His feet and allow His Word to speak. Then in respectful response, we make a journal entry that follows these guidelines:

Scripture:

Write the verse or verses at the top of the page.

Observation:

Write a paragraph to describe the setting. Then, taking into consideration the context, describe the scene in which the verse is found.

Application:

Give the Word an appropriate claim on your life with an action point. This takes it beyond knowledge and into obedience.

Prayer:

Write a prayer to express your heart, your thankfulness, and your commitment to do what the Holy Spirit just said.

Watermarked on each page I have penned this reminder: “How will I be different today because of what I have just read?”

This one simple self-feeding program has become a life-long adventure for many. It has been the best thing I have done for our congregation at New Hope Christian Fellowship. I guarantee that if you will do the same, it will change the trajectory of your future, your faith, your family, and your ministry
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