Thursday, January 04, 2007

Question of the Year


Every year I face the same question: what direction do I go in my Bible reading? Used to be, I'd start again in Genesis like a good Christian girl should. After a while, I knew what would happen - I'd peter out by March. Each new start required a new journal, which of course, would end up mostly blank and sometimes in the trash.

Several years ago, I discovered a method that I have been able to maintain for several years now. I blogged about this method in detail several months ago, but thought that at the beginning of a new year, others might benefit from this again. The secret, in my opinion, is the use of a table of contents in the front of my journal. The notebook I just finished spanned a couple of years, but looking back over it helps me to recall what God was teaching me at certain periods of my life. (You can't read them but the column headings are: Date, Scripture, Title and Page. Each journal entry begins with the date, Scripture passage and a title as well. If you do this, be sure to leave at least 3-4 pages front and back in the front of your journal for the TOC. If you run out of room as I did before your journal is filled, you can always continue the TOC in the very back)

Others have blogged about similar methods recently. Chris at Come to the Table explains a similar journaling method in a recent post and even links to a resource for journals. Plain old notebooks work fine for me, but I concur with her thinking: this is not something to do for a year but for a life! It really puts your walk with God in proper perspective, instead of viewing it as a series of starts and stops.

While I still ponder the question of "what to read" at the beginning of each new year, it's with anticipation and expectation. Sometimes I do topical studies; other times I get involved in book studies or follow my church's Spiritual Life journal reading plan which coincides with the sermon series. Some days I haven't even done any reading but just journaled a prayer instead. Sometimes I read the same chapter or short epistle several days in a row. I try to be sensitive to God's leading as far as what to read, but the framework of the journal helps keep me motivated. If I miss a few days, it helps to look at it prayerfully and recall what was going on in my life at that time.

If you're looking for a new beginning in your Bible reading, I'd encourage you to consider giving this method a try. I've done it for 4 years now and it has been one of the greatest spiritual blessings in my life.

8 comments:

Chris said...

Thanks for leaving a comment and for the link. I have so enjoyed this tool. My whole approach is almost identical to yours. And I agree with you any notebook or blank journal will do. I find using the acrostic S.O.A.P. and writing in a journal is what keeps this approach always fresh.

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Keeping in mind the fact that when I took piano lessons, the teacher had to open the lid and show me what the strings did when I played a chord,, would you consider bringing your journal the next time you come to the store, next Saturday. I need to S.E.E. what youre talking about. I promise not to peek at anything too juicy, but if I could see what youre talking about that would be a great help. I've journaled for over 20 years,, but like you I start and stop, switch books, then theyre halffilled but you cant toss out a half-filled one....so you can see I could use some help. xoox

And what the heck is S.O.A.P......

Susanne said...

I've never have been a big journaler, (is that a word?) but I read Chris' idea yesterday and thought I'd try it but now you have also totally motivated me. I want to read the New Testament through by Easter and I'm going to try to do what Billy Graham has done all his life and that's to read one proverb and one psalm every single day.

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Okay Dianne - let's try this again. I looked up the link, went to the church website, looked up the journals, ordered a couple for the store, and one for me :0 I also clicked on your photo in your post and think I better understand it. So if you want to give me a closer look great, but I think I can get started with what I have too. Thanks for the great tip - I've been frustrated for years, starting new journals over and over and never filling them, not being able to find entries, etc. so this should work. Sorry for hogging all the comment space too.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Dianne. This was indeed helpful. I have been debating about what to do in regards to journaling this year, so you may have inspired me.

gail said...

Wow, good thing to do Dianne. I have not been good about journaling in the past. But it can be so helpful to do.
Oh and I tagged you for a book tag on my blog! If you needed anything else to do!

Leslie said...

Creating a table of contents for my journal is a great idea, and one I have never thought of. I'm definitely going to create one for my journal this year.

aggiejenn said...

This is a super idea, Dianne. I've been having trouble getting organized with my Bible reading/journaling. Thanks for the tip! I just sent them an email about the workshop.