Note: Below is a transcription of this Walking Our Talk podcast. Please excuse any grammatical or punctuation flaws, as the transcription is a written version of our fluid conversation.
Alan [00:00:00] Hi, this is Alan Heller, and I am walking my talk with you today alone. I like having Pauly here, but she couldn’t make it today. And today we’re gonna talk about what was inspired by a chapter in a book called Ordering Your Private World. And it’s called A Memo to the Disorganized. If my private world is in order, it will be because I absorbed the words of Christ in my attitudes and actions. So I absorb the words of Christ in my attitudes and actions.
Alan [00:00:41] So it’s not just being in the word. It’s is the word in you. And I’d like to do a podcast after this one called, are you in the word or is the word in you? And this one, we’re going to be talking about journaling and devotional reading. And how do we get into the word?
Alan [00:01:09] So one of the things that is talked about in this ordering your private world is David Toxin’s, Psalms 63:1 about being in a dry and thirsty land. Anybody? Or my body longs for you? In my dry and weary land where there is no water. So these words were recorded by David in the wilderness in Judea. And they record for us. The earnest longings of a man’s heart. They reveal to us David’s search for God, his love for God, his devotion to God. And they are but one page from his life long journal, many of the great saints down through the centuries were key keepers of journals. Thank the Lord that their struggles and insights and their victories and defeats have been recorded for our blessing. But we should realize that their journals were not written for our benefit. They were written as a part of their honest search for God. And this is interesting.
Alan [00:02:36] So that’s what this is what Gordon Gordon McDonald is saying, that the people that we hold up inside the high esteem, Oswald Chambers, Billy Graham. Jim Elliott and Graham Lotz, who is Billy Graham’s daughter. Many times they wrote journals, but and A.W. Towser, they weren’t for us. And yet we get the benefit now that they were written. We should realize those journals weren’t for our benefit. They were written as part of a man’s honest search for God.
Alan [00:03:11] One of the reasons these journals are filled with such wisdom and insight and inspiration is that God draws near to those who seek him and he reveals himself to those who hunger after him. And of course, his word says, Blessed are you who hunger and thirst after righteousness. So sometimes in this day and age, journaling is like a thing of the past. Writing in a journal or, you know, I have finally turned over to typing in a journal for years, for about 30 years from my Christian life I journaled. When our son died, I stopped journaling for about two years. It took me another two years to try and get consistent. And now I’m back in it. And I finally decided I would just put my journals in my computer. It just became easier.
Alan [00:04:01] And it doesn’t matter how you do it, it just matters that you get your thoughts, your feelings, your things that you’re hearing from God. Put them down on paper or on the computer. So journaling is simply another avenue through which the invisible God can speak to us and guide us and make himself known to us, every point of access we give to God increases the flow of his life into ours. In the process of regularly journaling, God will begin to make himself known through the writer’s mind and the writer’s heart.
Alan [00:04:40] Most of the insights recorded in this book that he wrote called This One is called Relational Christianity. I thought it was ordering your private world, but it’s Relational Christianity. Most of those insights are recorded directly from the pages of my journal. Journaling should be a part of a regular pattern of our lives if we desire to have God reveal himself to us through this activity. We don’t have to write every day, but we must write regularly. I like that you don’t do it necessarily every day, but you’re willing to do it consistently because then you see patterns.
Alan [00:05:26] And that’s what I say to the people that I counsel. So many are saying, oh, last night we had a fight. And I’m thinking, you know, almost every time somebody comes in for counseling the day of or the day before, they have gotten into a fight. And that’s what they focus on when really to me, I want to look at the patterns of their life, not just what they fought about last night. Do they do? Is it the same thing they’re fighting about? Have you been doing this over the past three weeks? Not just three hours.
Alan [00:05:57] And so if we will write regularly in a journal, we’ll see patterns in our lives and patterns in the way God speaks to us. And it will help. If you truly want to meet with God through journaling, then we must also write honestly and deeply. It will do us no good simply to record the events of the day and the projects that we’re doing tomorrow. So it’s not just a to-do list. A journal that is a calendar of events and activities will not draw us near to the presence of God. Our journal must flow from our hearts, not our heads. We should record our longings, our fears, our hurts, our joys. The most important things to write about are our thoughts and feelings about life and about ourselves and about our relationship with God. Reading the Psalms as an example of a man’s journal will help us to understand how to journal effectively.
Alan [00:06:58] So there are common hindrances here, a couple of hindrances. The first thing is that we must overcome is the fear of being, “found out”. So maybe you need to write your journal in code. If we do not deal with the fear, this fear, someone discovering our journal and reading it, then we will not write honestly nor deeply. And that could be a problem. For this reason, I don’t believe that it’s a good idea to give our spouse permission to read our journal anytime they want. We may want to share with them from our journal from time to time. But we must ask them. You must ask them and respect our privacy and the other things we write.
Alan [00:07:42] Another hindrance is trying to write for the purpose of others reading it as you recorded. So you’re not trying to be an example. A journal that draws you into God’s presence cannot be written for the consumption of others. It must be written for the communion with God. Our journaling should be approached as a time with God, not a time to write for other people. It can serve as a time of reflection upon our lives or it can be written expression or written expression of our prayers. So sometimes you can write out your prayers and that will be more helpful for you. Do not worry about what form your journal takes proper grammar and style as you write. Just be yourself before God.
Alan [00:08:30] So for me, that would be very helpful, because if Pauly ever reads my journal, she will have to edit it unbelievably because my punctuation and grammar and stuff will not suit her excellent editing skills.
Alan [00:08:50] Then there’s devotional reading, this is a way to get close to God. Open your eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Oh, how I love your law. I meditate on it day and night. Your statutes are wonderful. Therefore, I obey them. The unfolding of the words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple Psalms 119: 18, 97, 129, and 130. So much of our reading today in the Scriptures or modern books focus on information rather than transformation. We read in order to find out how to do something better. But little reading is done in order to be something better. So I always say we are to be to the praise of his glory, not to do to the praise of his glory. And so it’s important to read and listen and read the way God is leading us.
Alan [00:09:59] Reading devotionally is a discipline that opens the heart and soul and mind and the emotions to the transformative power and presence of God when light shines in the darkroom. Many things are revealed. And so it is in the inner rooms of our hearts. When we learn to read devotional, we devotional reading begins by asking God to speak to us, to reveal himself to us, and to shine his light on what we read. It’s not merely our minds seeking to gain information in a book. It’s our hearts seeking to grow in the grace of our God. Our attention is not focused purely on pages. It’s also focused on what’s God saying to me. When we read devotionals, we enter into a dialog. And so we’re talking to our inner self. The thing that makes us human is we can think about what we’re thinking about. We can plan for the future. Animals don’t have this ability. They just react. And so devotional reading allows us to introspect. To expect God to interact with us and have a conversation with him.
Alan [00:11:14] Cultivating a relationship with Jesus can be aided through devotional reading, reading the scripture, the classics like Utmost for His Highest or Hind’s Feet on High Places or The Normal Christian Life by Watchmen Knee and other books by the great ones. A.W. Towser and many of the Luther and Calvin, those sorts of things. Cultivating relationships with Jesus can be aided through those books. This is no less true with the authors of writings that are mentioned above. God’s presence and his love are often made known to us through the people around us and sometimes through the surroundings around us.
Alan [00:12:03] We’re missing a wonderful opportunity to obey the greatest commandment when we don’t take time to express our love to God in every worship service. The presence of God will become real to us when we learn to focus our attention on him and express our love in Him. True worship flows not just from the truth of our doctrines, but from our very spirit, heart, and soul, which were created by God and for God. Great words there. You know, sometimes going into corporate worship setting can help us get close to God. Sometimes we need to just dance, sing, lift our hands, and worship God in our own room where nobody can see us or hear us. And so we don’t feel embarrassed. To enter into the presence of God without a spontaneous release of genuine emotion would be blasphemy.
Alan [00:12:58] Study the worship passages in the Book of Revelation and see how God’s creation responds to the experience of his presence. John falls at Jesus’ feet like a dead man. Revelation 117. The angels are constantly crying out. Holy, holy, holy Revelations 4:8. The 24 elders are constantly falling down, casting their crowns at his feet, saying you are worthy. Oh, Lord and God to receive glory, receive honor and power. Revelation for 4:9-11, 5:9, 12, 14. All over the place, we find multitudes singing and shouting to Him in Revelations 5:13 and 7:9-10 and 15:2-4. God does not seem to be uncomfortable in the presence of genuine emotion. In fact, he seems to like it. Perhaps we should ask ourselves why we are so uncomfortable with something which God seems to desire.
Alan [00:14:04] We have been robbed and deceived by our culture and the enemy. I mean, I just think in a football stadium, nobody’s sitting down when there’s a touchdown. Everybody’s cheering for their team. In order to recover genuine more genuine worship, we should start by offering ourselves up to God and ask that we make he make us into worthy instruments for his praise and glory. If we will pray to be worshipers. We will become worshipers. We are the human instruments which the father has created for his glory and praise. It is the breath of his spirit that will blow through us and play the music of Heaven’s love. Singing our love to the father will draw him near to us in his presence. We will experience and embrace his love.
Alan [00:14:59] So, taking time to worship in our individual time as well as corporately can draw us closer to God. So we’ve been talking with walking our talk here and I’m Alan Heller and we’ve been talking about journaling and how to do a devotional reading and how to get close to God through worship. And some of the greatest times of worship are just listening to a song that echoes his word and speaks of his greatness. And if you are having a hard time taking time with God, my encouragement is read the scriptures, read the prayers of Paul in Philippians in Ephesians, read the end of Jude, and his last comments telling how important it is to know that he controls everything.
Alan [00:16:04] So how do you journal? Do you journal? What are some of the things that you got from this time together? I think it’s always important to reflect and whether you journal in a book, whether you journal on your computer, some people even just dictate now that we have phones that have Memo devices. Some people just dictate into their phones what it is they’re gleaning from the word of God.
Alan [00:16:35] So as we end this podcast, let me just read from Jude, and Jude is only one chapter. But here’s what he says in closing.
“But dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you in the last times, there will be scoffers who will follow their ungodly desires. These are the people who will divide you, who will follow mere natural instincts, do not have that spirit. But, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love. And as you wait for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life, be merciful to those who doubt, save others by snatching them from their fire to others show mercy mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the complete calm by the corrupted flesh.”
“Be merciful to those who doubt, save others by snatching them from the fire. To others show mercy mixed with fear, hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault, without with great joy to the only God, our Savior. Be Glory, Majesty. Power and authority through Jesus Christ, our Lord before all ages now and forevermore, Amen.”.
Alan [00:18:20] And I would say, Amen. If you want to get close to God, get into his word – journal, worship, and read things like that doxology from Jude. This is Alan Heller. We’ve been walking our talk, connecting people with God and each other, and finding out to do it and how to do it in a practical way. See you next time.