I attended a BACE (Baptist Association of Christian Educators) conference online. The sessions and breakouts were very practical. This conference has normally been delivered in a place in person. COVID-19 forced BACE to move online, with great results. One of the breakouts I attended was WRITE IT DOWN: Learning How to Use Journaling as a Key Discipleship Tool led by Robert Mullins. The conference shared his practical experience and introduced me to a book he has written: Write it down: Unlocking Your Ability to Hear from God. I look forward to getting the book to develop my journaling even more.
In the conference, three words were shared that resonated with me related to Bible study and journaling. They were rest, reflect, and respond. Not having read the book and with only a brief exposure to Mullins’ journaling experiences during the BACE conference, I want to put my journaling thoughts on the three words.
This is an intentional step to stop to listen. This is when we focus on God and what He is saying. We open His Word to meet him and listen. The key is to listen for relationship rather than for what I can do with the Bible study. Listen to understand God and what He is saying. Stop and rest in Him. This is much different than what most do when they do Bible study. Too often we rush past this Rest to Reflect. Rest may precede efforts to journal because for many of us journaling pushes us toward effort (fighting, see below) rather than relationship. The verse that comes to mind is this one:
Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.Psalm 46:10, CSB
Here is where we begin to work. Begin by meditating. Reflect on what God is saying and what He has been doing in our lives. Seek to understand the meaning, intent, and application of Bible study. Understanding the context of the passage helps to get at the truth. This is where we may use some Bible study tools to understand the background, places, objects, customs, words, and phrases. At the same time, it is essential look for meaning in the journey that you are walking with God. What has He been doing? Where is He at work? What is the point of your circumstances? Reflect is where we journal our questions, discoveries, and thoughts.
When God speaks, He expects a response. How will you respond to what God said in Bible study? Will you agree with Him? Will you commit to be obedient? Response begins in prayer. Prayer can be silent, written, or spoken. Prayer and commitment, however, should lead to obedience. Too often prayer and commitment are the end of response. Journaling helps you to check on whether you kept your commitment. In a few days, check back. This can also be the place where you share your commitment with another person who will encourage you to keep your commitment.
This is a discipleship issue for you as a disciple and a disciple-making issue for you as you disciple others. Practice it and pass it on. Lead your disciples to rest, reflect, and respond. Be a disciple. Make disciples.