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“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7b NASB)

“By divine design we are aliens…living in dramatic and serious times” (Pastor Burris, “Why We Don’t Belong Here“).

As believing Christians we live in a country increasingly hostile to the road we choose to travel as we seek after God (John 15:18).

“We have become outsiders just as Jesus was an outsider. We are marginal in our culture because Jesus is marginal. The cross is the ultimate expression of marginalization and to follow him is to take up our cross daily. It is daily to experience marginalization and hostility. Being on the margins is normal Christian experience” (Tim Chester, “Everyday Church”).

The prospect of negative public opinion or living on the fringe of society may frighten us into donning a veneer of secularization in order to fit in. A comfortable complacency may attach itself impeding one’s pursuit of holiness and desire to know God. This is in direct opposition to what we are called to be — obedient and holy (1 Peter 1:15-16); glorifying; a reflection of our Lord and Father to those who do not know Him (Matthew 5:15-16). We cannot become Christlike under our own power rather, God provides the impetus for change and spiritual maturity.

“The Spiritual Disciplines…promote spiritual growth. They are habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times” (Don Whitney, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”).

The spiritual disciplines we choose change us from the inside when we hone our focus and dependent on the Holy Spirit”…place ourselves before God…” (Whitney), allowing Him to do a good work in us. One of the most introspective disciplines is journaling. Pouring out our hearts to the Lord and trusting Him with our feelings (Psalm 62:8) allows us to articulate a contemporaneous account of where we are in our faith walk. Creating a snapshot of a moment in time allows us to see the course God is charting and resulting changes.

“The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part” (Jerry Bridges, “The Pursuit of Holiness”).

Journaling can help us stay rooted in Christ by serving as a visual reminder of our goals and the need for continued spiritual discipline maintenance. The following excerpt offers additional journaling assistance:

Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline, Larissa Arnault

The new year is finally here, which means resolutions might be on your mind. In lieu of a typical goal like losing 10 pounds, how about adding the practice of journaling to your 2014? Here are a few reasons to put pen to paper.

Leave it all on the page. When I have lots of thoughts dancing around my head, whether it’s a to-do list or how upset I am by the conversation I had earlier with so-and-so, putting what’s in my mind on paper unclutters my brain and frees me to think of other things or, even better, sleep. Giving those thoughts to God can help you sort things out in a way that surpasses your own understanding.

Let your thankfulness flow. If daily thought pouring feels like too much of a commitment, try keeping a gratitude journal. My dear friend Anne Marie sent me one last year, and I loved filling in the blanks each day. The daily deed is simple—write a list of five things you are thankful for. Mine ranged from the hot water in my shower to good conversations to God’s provision and everything in between. When you’re mindful of things you’re grateful for each day, your outlook on life changes dramatically.

Lift up your prayers. Journaling is a great way to pray. The act allows you to quiet yourself and hear from God in a more structured setting. It also helps you stay awake if you’re prone to falling asleep while praying (like me). Maybe you’ll have an epiphany as your pen glides over the page. Or perhaps you’ll look back over the past month and see God speaking to you a bit more clearly. Either way, journaling can provide divine perspective.

Look back. Writing down goals increases your chances of achieving them, so set yours on paper and hold yourself accountable. I like to write down a fun list of things to do (big and small) on my birthday—one goal for each year of my life. Last year’s list included paddle boarding, buying balloons, and being a better listener. Use the documented pages to reflect on how far you’ve come, and keep track of what you’d like to do next.

Let it all hang out. You can truly be yourself on the pages of a journal. Say what’s really on your mind. Go ahead and word vomit all over the page. YELL IN ALL CAPS IF YOU NEED TO. Cover the page with tears if they flow. Dot all your I’s with little hearts if you’re so inclined. No matter what the pages end up saying, God can handle it.

Excerpted from: LifeWay Women All Access — Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline.

Additional Resources:

The Hole in Our Holiness – Kevin DeYoung

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness, Kevin DeYoung

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney

You Can Change, Tim Chester

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges

Growing in holiness | Mars Hill Church