The Art of Journaling

Psalm 19:6

For years I’ve tried to keep up with a habit of writing in a journal. I’ve been successful with a journal in a hit-or-miss sort of way. I have a few journals stacked neatly on my desk and I have yet to finish one. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as each journal has a specific purpose. But possibly that is the problem. I have too many journals.

For example, one journal is to write thoughts from the day, or comment about a Bible passage, and sometimes I write prayers such as, “A prayer for more grace,” which I posted on this blog.  There is also the creative journal for the times when I am inspired to create … to sketch and paint. I jot a few notes about the sketch or watercolor painting just to keep the memory fresh. I want to remember what inspired me to draw or paint at that moment.  I also use Evernote to save a collection of quotes from authors and favorite bloggers.

In January of this year, I began a quest to read a Psalm or a portion of Psalm every day. To keep me on track and consistent with this daily reading plan, I turned to The Songs of Jesus ~ A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Tim and Kathy Keller.

Reading through the Psalms for 26 days has informed consistency of keeping a journal.  Actually, reading the Psalms has transformed the way I journal. The Psalms are not just a matchless primer of teaching but a medicine chest for the heart. [1] Psalms is a prayerbook that has every emotion known to man and gives us the freedom to pray those same words, with those same emotions, back to God.

Reading Psalms is teaching me how to pray. What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. [2] This is pure grace, that God tells us how we can speak to him and have fellowship with him. [3]

The Psalms fire our imaginations into new realms yet guide them to the God who actually exists. The Psalms have encouraged and inspired the way I make art. There is a reason and purpose to make something beautiful.

I may have discovered the art of journaling by reading through the Psalms. This journal is beginning to resemble a story … my story. I see my story, my life, woven into the words of the Psalmist. I find that amazing and truthfully, frightening. It is a journal of joy, sorrow, worship, repentance, hope, frustration … peace and assurance that God will keep me as the apple of [his] eye and hide me in the shadow of [his] wings. (Psalm 17:8)

What about you? Have you read through the Psalms or do you enjoy keeping a journal?

sunflower

[1] The Songs of Jesus by Tim and Kathy Keller; Introduction, {viii} | [2] | Ibid. page {ix} | [3]  Psalms:The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“I Would Take a Bullet For Her”

Brotherly love.jpg

Trenton’s wisdom is deep for such a young boy.  In describing his love for Lindsay, his sister, Trenton shared, “I would take a bullet for her.”  As he regained his composure after getting choked up, he added “She’s my best friend.  I would do anything for her.  My life would be nothing without her.”  These are not trite statements they emanate from his heart.

Lindsay has spinal muscular atrophy yet from her motorized chair she beams when she describes her older brother.  His example of love if followed would change the world!  Watch their story at https://youtu.be/9PM6uX4yGp4 and make sure to have Kleenex handy!

Brotherly love 1

MEDITATION ON 1 THESSALONIANS 4:9

1 Thessalonians 4:9—About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

Jesus took a bullet for us in large spikes and wooden beams.  This ultimate sacrifice was God’s greatest lesson on love.  Before dying, Jesus’ daily sacrifice painted what brotherly love looks like.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  If we are not periodically moved by His monumental devotion we are surely bewitched by the wrong things.

I would take a bullet for you.  My life was purchased by the blood of my Savior.  His love is what founds, fuels, and fires my ability to care.  Therefore it would be an honor to lay down my life as a brother for you.  It is an honor to serve you.  I identify with Paul, “I have become its servant [the church], according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known” (Colossians 1:25).

Brotherly and sisterly love is the stuff of champions.   When you model love, you leave a stamp on lives that no soap can wash away.  Never tire of doing the simple acts of service to help others.  “I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints” (Philemon 4,5).  Thanks for making a difference and for your willingness to take the bullet.  [1]

INSPIRATION FROM DOUG POLLOCK

Love is a commitment you make to act in someone else’s best interest.  True love can only be known by the actions that it prompts.—Doug Pollock in God Space

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[1] ©2015 Daniel York  ARR.  Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause.  If you would like to receive these devotionals go to http://www.firstcause.org and click on the “GET THE LATEST REVERATION FROM DANIEL YORK” box.  Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

Worthy is the Lamb: A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb |A Prayer for Maundy Thursday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 38

Today’s Reading:  Revelation 1 – 7

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

Dear Gracious God,

This is my prayer today. To stand in awe of ultimate excellence—to admire Jesus Christ the Son of God—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Time is drawing near. Create in me a clean heart. Help me to believe. You were once dead but now you live forever. I would fall down dead to stand before you and gaze into your holiness, in all of your glory and brightness. Yet you welcome me to your throne and tell me, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17). I repeat those four words, do not be afraid and I am overcome with worship and praise because you hold me firmly in your tender grasp until the final moments of my life. You have robbed the grave of victory and taken away the sting of death. Please free me from fears to live more fully for the praise of your glory.  

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

In your holy and powerful name, I praise and pray.

Worthy is the Lamb 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

 

Kept in God’s Love: A Prayer for Wednesday of Easter Week

 

Kept in God's Love 1Kept in God’s Love |A Prayer for Wednesday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 37

Today’s Reading:  1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1

Dear Heavenly Father,

How thankful I am that you are my heavenly father. How thankful I am to be named a child of God. You are so gracious and so very generous with lavishing your love upon your children. You love us unconditionally, inviting us to sit with you around your banquet table. We come filthy and wearing dirty clothes; and you wash the dirt from our feet and dress us in clean and pure garments of righteousness. You serve us bread that is broken by you and we eat of it until we are full and we drink of the living water you pour into our cup until it overflows.

We are adopted by you into your forever grace and our lives are forever changed because you rescued us once and for all through your son, Jesus…yet you continue to rescue us again and again by making a way for us to escape and to break free from strongholds that want to devour and destroy the peace and joy that comes with being a child of the King.

I pray for my children and grandchildren to comprehend the love that you have for them. For the gospel of grace to be deeper and deeper into their hearts, transforming them into the likeness of Jesus; and freeing them for a life of caring, serving, and worshiping you.

I pray for my friends and family who have yet to discover your safe haven of grace. I pray that you would create situations to help them discover their need of Jesus, the magnificent beauty of being kept by you.

I am reminded that our children are comforted by the unconditional love we give them. They are kept. We will never let go of them. How much more awesome it is to thank you, gracious God for never letting your children go…we are kept.

With a joyful and humble heart I pray.

Kept in God's Love

 

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
 

 

Blessed Be God : A Prayer for Tuesday of Easter Week

To set my hope on Christ

Blessed Be God |A Prayer for Tuesday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 36

Today’s Reading:  1 Peter and 2 Peter

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,   1 Peter 1: 3-4

…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…through the living and abiding word of God 1 Peter 1:18, 23 

Dear Lord Jesus,

I begin this prayer by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” I am moved by your great mercy in saving me. Blessed be God! How thankful I am that you are the living hope in my life of trusting you as savior. “Blessed be God!” is my response to you today and should be everyday, moment by moment. What a gift you have given! An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. Blessed be God! … You are keeping this inheritance secure…for me.

When I comprehend this amazing truth, my heart kicks in with gratitude, praise, brokenness, gladness, joy, repentance, wonder. Blessed be God! My soul explodes with worship when truth about God settles deep into my mind.

I place my hope in too much of the wrong things. Wrong things that will perish, fade away and will never satisfy. You are my living hope…never dead, because you are alive. I have done nothing to deserve your favor of mercy and grace. I have done nothing to receive a living hope of eternal life, it is all because of you, God.  Blessed be God!

Because I am made alive through Christ, I have a living hope and a living faith. I set my gaze and hope upon your glorious grace. Blessed be God!

In your holy and loving name, I praise and pray.

To set my hope on Christ 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

To Be Nearer: A Prayer for Monday of Easter Week

Near to GodTo Be Nearer |A Prayer for Monday of Easter Week | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 35

Today’s Reading:  James 1 – end

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8

Dear Lord Jesus,

Just yesterday I was waving a palm branch high over my head…melodies we raised. I felt overwhelmed with the reality of your love and my soul was flooded with the bitter sweetness of you giving yourself…an extreme sacrifice for me.

I pray now that I would not forget the yesterdays of holding a branch of praise and singing hosanna’s to the King. Please help me to want more of you. Show me what it means to “draw near to you.” Help me to love you for no other reason but for your own sake. Please give me the faith to constantly believe that you are drawing nearer to me, you fill the void, you fill up the emptiness to overflowing.

Please do not hide your face from me when I forget the yesterdays of waving that branch, worshipping you with abandon. My life easily becomes an “all-about-me” existence. Help me to draw near to you and to make this day, all-about-you. Please God, constantly reveal the chasm of our separation from my unrepentant heart. Please fill me with hunger pangs to feast on your word. I pray to want nothing more than to draw near to you.

In your holy and loving name, I pray.

Near to God 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

 

I Dabbled in Paint and Found Rest

Blue Bird Rest copy

 I Dabbled in Paint and Found Rest | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 33

Today’s Reading:  Titus and Philemon and Hebrews 1 – 7

The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. Hebrews 4:9-10 

Our life is a day by day, hour by hour trusting in the promises of God to help guide us and rescue us and bring us to a place of rest. There is a gift held for us today. God is still holding out an offer of salvation rest.

I think it takes work to settle into God’s rest. I’ve asked myself what manic or compulsive hours will I give up in trade for the equivalent time to be still. Sometimes, you don’t get to decide what to give up in order to slow down, to discover rest. Sometimes life happens and you are forced to stop and search for rest.

I used to paint quite often, until it became too painful to hold a brush and to bend over a canvas. The pain was so great that it was hard for me to experience God’s rest. I struggled to count it all joy, and I fought against unbelief.

I’ve come to believe that God’s promise of rest happens everyday, hour by hour no matter how difficult or how gloriously happy life happens to be. It is true that God cannot lie and he will not break his promise and so I made the choice to take him at his word…to believe.  And there was rest through the pain.

And now with days and hours between then and now, I realize that rest may look differently to me from day-to-day, but that doesn’t nullify the fact that God’s rest never changes. That concept of God’s rest being constant, regardless of how I feel or how the day is going totally awakened and rejuvenated my thinking. I can enter into God’s rest everyday. He extends it to me and I need to receive it.

I experienced rest through pain and I experience it now as I begin to paint again. To relax and settle into a conversation with God, with brush strokes of praise, thanking him for the promise of rest this day and at this hour and forever more.

Be Still Rest

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent