Tag Archives: Proverbs

Why I Hated Journaling, But Now Love It

One of the spiritual disciplines that Don Whitney wrote about in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is journaling.  I have long heard that journaling was good for the soul and have even encouraged others to do it. But secretly (or not so secretly) I hated doing it.  It seemed a waste of time.  Every time I went to do it, I didn’t know what to write.  What if I wrote something that others would see later and I either misunderstood a situation and expressed my thoughts wrongly, wrote about something embarrassing, or something like that?  I had nothing to say, and so I would start a few times but it never stuck. Sometimes I would use my journaling to write out my prayers, but that never stuck.  Nothing worked.cropped-full-width1.jpgEventually I went to the internet to see what I was doing wrong, but none of the sites I went to really helped.  They all said that there is no wrong way to journal, as long as I did it.  I could draw pictures.  Why would I want to draw pictures? I could write about my day. Looking back at my day or looking forward to my day? Yada, yada, yada.  Nothing really worked for me.

However, a few weeks ago, I started doing something that has actually gotten me into journaling.  I am enjoying it more than ever and there is so much added benefit to it.  It doesn’t take very long, but it takes a bit of effort (enough to keep it challenging, but not too difficult to just give up).  Whereas before I had a difficult time coming up with a sentence, I now am writing about a page a day.  If you have difficulty keeping a journal, perhaps this will work for you as well.

What I decided to do was combine two practices into one.  The first is to write about something interesting (good or bad) that happened the day before and if I know of something coming up during the current day, to write about that as well.  It’s only about two or three sentences usually.  Hardly ever is it more than six sentences.  The second part is that whole “daily Proverb” thing that people are apt to do.  I will cease writing for a few moments while I read my daily Proverb (since today is September 3, I read the third chapter of Proverbs; tomorrow being the fourth day of the month, I will read the fourth chapter, and so forth).  I will read through the entire chapter, highlighting verses that stick out to me.  I will then choose a verse or a group of verses (if the thought runs over, like Proverbs 3:5-6) and I will write out that verse/group in my journal.  From that point, I will meditate on the verse and write my thoughts out.

For instance from August 31:

Still having trouble with my sermon.  I’m not sure why I’m having such a block.  Hoping to resurface the driveway today and tomorrow.  I’m wanting to get action as days go on.

Giver her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Prov. 31:31

Wives often have a thankless job.  They work hard and keep the family going.  Yet it is so often overlooked.  Two times Lemuel speaks of the gates: here & in verse 23, referring to the husband.  Perhaps her husband is being called to publicly praise his wife.

That’s all I wrote, but taking the time to read my Bible, meditate on it, and write out my own thoughts keeps those thoughts from being fleeting thoughts.  It causes me to share those thoughts with myself in journal form (and sometimes text or tell them to others), but to continue to develop those thoughts throughout the day simply because I took time to write them down.

This has made all the difference in the world to me in my journaling.  Maybe everyone is right, there’s no wrong way to journal, at least on the broad spectrum.  However, I have found there are wrong ways for me to journal, and I am glad I seem to have found the way that works for me.

If you’d like, I’d love to read your thoughts on journaling and how you do it.  You don’t have to share any of your entries, but just a description of what you usually do when you write.

Grow in Knowledge to Grow in Awe

It is often asked what the Bible means when it mentions the “fear of the Lord.”  Basically the writers mean that we have an awe of God knowing that He is both wonderful but not someone to trifle with.  I have a hard time looking up at the sky at night.  While it is a beautiful sight, I find myself having a fear come over me.  It is the vastness and the greatness, the very awe that drew me that leads me to say: “this is too great for me; this is to amazing for my eyes.”  The awe brings with it a sense of smallness and powerlessness.  When one feels small and powerless he also feels a certain type of fear.  (Incidentally, I’ve never seen the move “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock because it is one of my worst fears realized.  I couldn’t hardly watch the trailer.  That is what is meant by fear of the Lord.  The stars are majestic and awe-inspiring, but at the same time a dread comes over me.  I would never be one to volunteer to go to space.)

Taking that awesome feeling leading to a certain type of fear, we find these instructions from Solomon:
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor,” (Proverbs 15:33, ESV).

When we have an awe of God, we are struck by his greatness.  We are not repulsed by it.  I’ve never been repulsed by the starry sky; I’ve only been drawn to it.  The same is with God.  There is the acknowledgment of God’s greatness, and at the same time the acknowledgment of our finite smallness.  So to say as Solomon did that “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,” would mean that our learning wisdom is seeing God’s greatness to the point we are in awe.  The more we teach ourselves (or sit under good biblical teachings of another), we are going to have more and more of the sense of God’s immensity.  The more we learn wisdom the more we will fall into a sense of reverent awe-inspiring fear of God.  Without this learning, we will think we are the great ones and He is our puppet.  We are immense and He is small.

That being said, it is not hard to see why Solomon followed up the first part of the verse with the second: “and humility comes before honor.”  Of course it does.  Humble people are willing to learn.  Humble people are willing to see that others are greater than they.  Humble people are willing to admit that they don’t know everything and need to learn more and more.  God is infinite, and we will never learn all there is to learn.  A humble person realizes that, and seeks to learn more and more day by day.  Our family is memorizing Psalm 19 right now which states at its beginning:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” (v. 1, ESV).

That’s the verse we learned last week.  We are on verse two right now.  I asked my middle son if he remember the first verse.  He said he did, but it had nothing to do with the second verse.  I said, “Are you sure?  Think about it.”  He went back into the recesses of his mind and thought.
“Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge,” (v. 2, ESV)

“Ooohh.” Came the response.  They do point to the same thought.  God’s glory is displayed everywhere.  Everywhere, there is an opportunity to learn more and more about God, if we are willing to do so.  Of course, special revelation from God is contained in the Holy Bible and so if we want specifics, we must read and study there.  As we grow in our understanding of God, we will have more and more awe for Him thus treating and speaking of Him without vanity, and so we will be honored.  God said that a person who takes His name in vain will not be held guiltless (Exodus 20:7), but here we see that one who fears the LORD (coming through instruction in wisdom) will be honored.  Only the proud of heart will see, treat, and speak of God as if He is worthless.  The humble learn to see God’s beauty, greatness, and awe.

So, what will you do today, in order to know God better? This isn’t knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but growth in awe of God.