5 Reasons You Should Keep A Journal

moleskineFor more than twenty years, I have kept a journal…on and off. Yeah, probably more off than on, but I have journaled and think you should, too. As a matter of fact, I have just recently purchased a new journal (my favorite is a Moleskine sketchbook, but use whatever works for you) and have enjoyed getting started on it more than at any other time in my life that I have engaged in the practice. I’ll tell you why in a minute. First I want to give you some reasons why you should do it:

    • Rarely do we stop long enough to think. If you doubt that, think of how many time people (including yourself!) have done things without thinking. That’s just in the small stuff. If we’re not careful, we can do our whole lives without thinking! Journaling gives you the opportunity and the means through which to stop and reflect on what is going on around you. Jot a thought. Write down an idea or a truth discovered. Any and all of these things prompt THINKING and that is a good thing.
    • Along with failing to take the time to think, in general, we too often fail to think about ourselves…I mean in a reflective sort of way that doesn’t involve the bathroom mirror. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” There is a lot of truth to that. Through the practice of journaling, I can examine my thoughts and actions and, over time, I can look back through my journals and find patterns of thought, attitudes and practices that I’m unhappy with (and even more than that, things in my life that don’t line up with the Scripture I claim to live according to!) Once I’ve identified those things and prayed through them, I can journal as I work through the change. It’s an incredibly cool process.
    • Journaling helps me live on purpose. I am more aware of my surroundings. I think about what I’m doing and why, especially since I will want something to write about later. When I’m actively journaling, I notice little things more. I listen more intently to conversations I’m apart of and I examine what I’m doing more carefully. In some ways, journaling is personal accountability. If I’m doing something or thinking something I wouldn’t want to see down on paper, I’m more likely to refrain.
    • I journal in order to see what God is doing in my life. Whenever I counsel someone, journaling is usually a part of the process. If someone asks for wisdom about direction for their lives, along with any hints I may provide, I encourage them to begin a journal, working out their thoughts on paper, writing out fears or hopes or dreams. If it’s marriage counseling, I will often encourage both spouse’s to journal in order to help identify the underlying issues. After a season of journaling, it often takes very little detective work to see areas of conviction, short-comings and attitudes. In my own life, I do this in order to see the results of God’s work in me as I change over time, often as a result of identifying those areas of conviction and molding.
    • Journaling is great for meditating. It’s a great time to grab a cup of coffee (though any time is a great time to grab a cup of coffee) sit for a while and be still. For the follower of Christ, it’s a great time to open the Word, read expectantly, being still and knowing He is God (Psalm 46:10) and then writing down what you hear. Jot down your prayers, your confessions (if you’re so bold), your heartache and needs. Sometimes, the journaling process helps you clarify what really is a need. There are times I look back at my requests and ask, “Would I answer that?” The answer is often a humbling “NO.”

There are probably many other reasons to journal including the simple act of chronicling a life (hopefully, well lived!). If you have some that I’ve left out, tell me. I’d love to hear them. The most important thing is to do it. It’s an incredible discipline and practice that, with a little bit of consistency, you can turn it into a lifestyle.

journalOK, I promised to tell you why I’m having so much fun with my most recent journal.  I love to travel.  Always have.  While traveling, I love to journal.  Travel journals are the most fun because you collect stuff along the way, tell about what you saw and reflect on what it meant to you.  There are pictures and ticket stubs and sketches and all sorts of little memories.  So I thought, you know, there is no greater journey than life itself.  Why not, then, take the same approach in my everyday journal that I do when I hit the road?  Now, that may not seem so radical of an approach, but it made the difference to me.

Now, every day is an adventure!

I look at it the same way I do when I’m traveling so that I have the same kind of fun which is the key.  Make it fun!  My journaling in the past has often been tedious and boring.  It doesn’t have to be.  It shouldn’t be. Make it what you want it to be, but give it a shot.  I think you’ll find yourself growing in ways you never thought imaginable.

If you decide to dive in, let me know.  I’d love to hear of your progress.

Boroughing Through the Blahs

Tick, tock, tick, tock.  We’re down to the last several hours of 2008.  Another year flown by…memories of what has been accomplished flood my mind.  For me, it’s been a good year, but I’m finishing more on a whimper.  This holiday season has been absolutely exhausting for me.  Between travel and trying to squeeze in all of the work that has to go on regardless of “days off,” I just feel beat.  Funny how I can’t wait to get back to a regular schedule so I can rest!  Sounds strange, but a regular schedule allows for enough time throughout the week to pace yourself.

One of the most frustrating things for me this season is that before the holidays we were experiencing a good deal of momentum at The Gathering.  Attendance was increasing, excitement was building and giving was up.  Altogether, those are some pretty good signs that people are getting the idea of discipleship.  We’re starting to get excited about The Mission.  With the holidays comes a scattering of the people and the danger of losing something of that focus.  I know I’ve struggled with it a bit.

My prayer is that God will counter that with an anticipation of what He can and will do in 2009.  I want to see so many lives touched and changed this next year through the ministry of The Gathering that we can barely keep up!  I want to see God use me this year like never before.  Maybe, just maybe, God is allowing me to go through the “frustrations” of the holiday blahs to gear me up for the New Year blast-off.

I pray it’s so.

Catalyst

I leave for Catalyst later today in Atlanta.  If there is time, I plan on posting at least a couple of thoughts and reflections from the conference throughout (maybe at least some short ones with the Blackberry).  

Really looking forward to the spiritual retreat and feeding this should provide.  There’s a great line-up of young leaders on tap who are actively engaged in helping move the Church into the 21st Century without cheapening the Faith or watering down the unchangeable Gospel of Christ.

AWOL…but back again.

For some time I’ve taken a bit of an unannounced sabbitical from writing here.  Don’t know why exactly.  I think I just needed to make it through some of the challenges of summer (like six funerals, two weddings, two trips, one training, the design of a new worship experience…and a partridge in a pear tree).

Well, I am hoping to get back to the discipline of writing here pretty regularly, the desire being to encourage those who read this in their faith and journey with Christ as well as to provide some insights and information for those who are members and attenders of The Gathering.

I have noticed that I often get pulled aside at church and asked questions about life, love, faith, etc.  Usually, they are many of the same questions over and over (which I love because it means these things are being wrestled with).  Nevertheless, I thought maybe it would be beneficial to answer some of those questions here (to the best of my ability with fear and trembling before God), hopefully encouraging more people and opening up the chance for dialogue and discussion so that our collective God-given wisdom might lead us all to a deeper walk with Christ.

I will also post some of my PSIs (Personal Spiritual Insights) that result from my time with Christ that may spark a thought or encourage more in-depth study and exploration so that you may receive benefit from my much-needed tutelage under Christ.

Finally, I may also focus more on church-related issues, providing announcements and more in-depth explanation/justification for some of the stuff we’re doing at The Gathering.

So, please ask questions, give feedback, offer insights, or simply opine.  Whatever your reason for being here at this moment, I hope you find it, using your freedom to comment towards that end.  Thanks for reading.

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