The Lost Art of Journaling

journalingWhy Journal?

Sadly, few people write reflectively these days. It seems like work. Besides, who has time, in our frenetic lives, for reflecting and writing?

Not many people think of writing as an important spiritual discipline — yet indeed, it is. It’s an important aid to spiritual orientation and transformation. Here are a few examples.

1. Kings wrote out important parts of the Bible. The passage below encourages kings to write out the Law of Moses. Why? Writing intensifies attention to the text so that the Word of God can have its intended impact. Note the purpose: to keep the king humble before God and his fellow countrymen, and keep him and his country on a healthy trajectory. (Modern leaders, take note!)

When (a king) sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law (of Moses)… And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. Deut 17:18-20.

2. David wrote most of the psalms. David, described as a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22), was an extraordinarily prolific writer. The psalms are a striking monument to God’s faithfulness, recording the works and ways of God, as well as David’s devotion to God. In the psalms, David pours out his passion for God, examines himself in the light of God’s Word, and repents, confesses and prays through what he wrote. David’s example reminds us of the spiritual benefits of writing.

3. The entire Bible was written by the Holy Spirit. Peter reminds us that no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). And, as Paul wrote to Timothy, All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16).

Listed below are some additional benefits to writing, or journaling.

A. For deep spiritual formation. Writing, said Francis Bacon, makes an exact man. Journaling is an excellent way to develop self-awareness in a way that is both deep and accurate. Scripture is like a mirror in which we see more clearly our thoughts, words, actions and motives. We do this with so much more precision and wisdom when we write. As we do so, the Holy Spirit helps us see more clearly the progress or decline of our inner self, helps us see previously undetected patterns in our lives, or makes us more aware of sin and the need for sanctification. Marked growth towards spiritual holiness is deeply intentional. Men and women go deep only as they labor to cultivate the soul. Journaling is an invaluable aid in this process.

B. To amplify other spiritual disciplines and better serve God and others. Journaling amplifies Bible study, prayer, worship, meditation, confession, repentance, solitude and service. Journaling is a great way to pray and seek silence and solitude before God — and also to keep oneself accountable for accomplishing spiritual goals. Some of the great men of God wrote down their spiritual goals so they could later verify that they had indeed achieved them. Insights from prayer and meditation, fixed in the mind through journaling, can be used later in service, such as in counseling, encouraging, discipling, mentoring, teaching and witnessing (See 1 Pet 3.15).

C. As a testimony to future generations. Your journal can be a spiritual time capsule which can be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD (Ps. 102:18). Just as as David’s writing powerfully passed on his faith in God to future generations, so our journaling can be effective in transmitting our faith to our children and grandchildren. What trace of your life will remain 100 years from now? Your photographs, certainly, but the most significant spiritual impact on future generations could well be your journal – a record of your spiritual conversion, dramatic answers to prayer, significant spiritual turning points in your life, and stories of God’s grace. Your family history can be a witness and a testimony that could bring future generations to Christ long after your death. This is an important part of the Great Commission that should not be overlooked.

Legalistic? For some, the word ‘discipline’ sounds like hard work, and others think the word sounds legalistic. However the word discipline comes from the same root word as ‘disciple’. A disciple is a spiritually disciplined follower of Jesus. A disciple cannot be spiritually undisciplined. Think of a great artist. A great artist must have mastered specific disciplines to produce great art. This is not legalism. Motive is everything. We pursue the spiritual disciplines because we love God and desire to have a closer relationship with Him.

Too ‘academic’? Over the millennia, many great Christian leaders were men who kept journals. One thinks of Augustine of Hippo, Puritans like Jonathan Edwards and Cotton Mather, and Anglican cleric George Whitfield, to name just a few. Undoubtedly, journaling was an important part of their spiritual formation. The example of these great men of God reminds us of the purpose of journaling: to draw closer to God and to develop Biblical Christ-likeness. Far from being a meaningless academic exercise, writing or journaling is practical: for spiritual growth, character development and life transformation!

How to get started. At Village Schools of the Bible, we strongly encourage writing or journaling as an important way of deeply internalizing God’s Word. Just make a start. Simply list one verse from your Bible reading that impressed you the most. Meditate on it for a few moments, then record your thoughts and insights. Add recent events in your life and your responses to them, including prayers, joys, successes, failures. Write at least one sentence per day. Journaling is a discipline, so plan for persistence. Over time, you’ll discover the benefits it brings to spiritual growth, and you’ll experience the joy of taking your relationship with God so much deeper!


This post draws extensively from a chapter on Journaling for the purpose of Godliness in the book by Whitney, D.S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. NavPress, 2014. If you’re interested in the spiritual disciplines, this book is an excellent resource.

(This blog post was written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible.)

The Lost Art of Journaling

Faith Story

Danny Jobirra, Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN (Recorded by Warren Coe April 28/29, 2012)

Editor’s Note:  Danny has an amazing story of faith, persecution and God’s Grace.

Addis Ababaethiopia

I grew up in a Christian home, like many of you did, but not in Minnesota.  I was raised by my parents with my younger sister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Great difficulty struck our country in 1983 when the communists took control of our country, and it had a major effect on our family.

Churches were closed, Christianity was declared illegal and in 1984 my father was arrested and sent to prison for his faith.  We were allowed to visit him during the six months he was in prison, but I had a very hard time, as an 8 year old boy, understanding why this was happening.

A Dad’s Perspective on Suffering for Jesus

I will never forget my dad’s perspective, though. I clearly remember the advice my dad would give me when we visited him in prison.  He would say, “Son…what has happened to me is nothing when you compare it to the price that Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross!  Yes, you are my son and I am your dad, but we have one common Dad who is going to take care of you and provide for all of your needs.  Please Son, trust in the Lord and fix your eyes on the cross.  I have nothing to give you as an inheritance except the Truth about Jesus Christ, the source of everything.”

These were my father’s words to me for several months.  After six months, my father was released from prison and was able to live with us again, even though the persecution continued in other ways.

After my Dad got out of prison he explained to me why he had to go to prison.  He had been asked to deny Jesus in public by the communist leader of the country.  Though my father was beaten and tortured because of his faith he was able to kneel down and pray with tears for those who did this to him.  But I hesitated to proclaim my faith in Jesus because I did not want to face beatings and prison myself.

I was not ready to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness into my life until the 9th grade.  A few years later the communist leadership was overthrown and churches were re-opened.

God had protected us in many ways, and we were grateful!

A Journey to Kenya

 After completing high school I began working with an organization called Food for the Hungry.  I had no money for college but a man I met told me about Daystar University in Kenya and said he would sponsor me.  I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya and my luggage was lost.  However, that same day I met the young lady who would one day become my wife.

Raya was from Odessa, Ukraine, where she had been raised in an orphanage.  I studied at Daystar until a crisis occurred.  The man who had promised to sponsor me at school never completed the paperwork and suddenly I was told I had to pay.  I had very little money and could not continue.  However, after much prayer and fasting I became aware of an opportunity to live and work in South Africa.  Raya and I were married in 2004 and then moved to Johannesburg where we lived for seven years.  Our two sons were born during this time, and while at times it was difficult for us both to be so far from our home countries, God was faithful.

Now in America

 Then, in late 2010, everything changed.  We heard about a lottery where people could submit their names for the possibility of winning the chance to move to America.  We fasted and prayed about this idea and decided that it was not just a good idea, it also seemed to be a God idea.

We submitted our names and, against the overwhelming odds, our names were drawn.  We could not believe it.  We sold everything we had, made many arrangements and moved to Minnesota in December, 2010.  I joined Wooddale Church’s custodial staff last year and am grateful for how God has provided.

As a young boy of 8, listening to my father talk about how God gave his Son for us and how he will provide for our every need, I had no idea the journey God would take me on.

God has sown his light in my life through so many dark nights and he has put his songs of praise in my heart each day.  I am now not ashamed to talk about the gospel anywhere I go and I am thankful for Jesus’ unconditional love.

Faith Story

Like A Jigsaw Puzzle

Written by by Warren Coe, Executive Director, Village Schools of the Bible.


Difficulty Understanding the Bible

I came to know Jesus Christ when I was twenty-two years old.  I recognized the importance of the Bible, but found it nearly incomprehensible.  The Bible was like a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in the box and no picture on the lid.  How did Job connect with Romans, or the book Genesis with the book of Revelation?  Does the Bible have a central message, and how does the Bible impact my life?

Each day I religiously read my Bible.  I would derive some benefit from the Bible but felt that something was missing — like understanding the historical context, identification of the writer, how the passage was connected to the rest of the Bible, and the right way to apply Scripture to my life.  Don’t get me wrong — the Bible satisfied my spiritual hunger — but I knew there was more to be gained from my Bible reading.

I would have given anything for a Village Schools of the Bible in San Jose, California.  Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey would have put the Bible pieces together for me.

Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey

Our Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey is a 32-week discipleship journey.  We spend 16 weeks in the Old Testament and 16 weeks in the New Testament.  We read the Scripture from 12,000 feet.  We identify the Mt. Everest peaks of God’s unfolding plan of redemption from Genesis to Revelation.  In 32 weeks, each individual discovers the following truths:

  • The Unity of the Bible.
  • The Centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Yes, even in the Old Testament!)
  • The Messianic Promises — or what we call the Scarlet Thread of Redemption.

Student’s Responses

Our students say the same thing.  “Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey transformed my life.”  A student from Berean Baptist Church wrote, “I was truly blessed to be in class on Sunday night. You were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as you were describing the incredible holiness and love of our heavenly Father shown in Jesus Christ when you were outlining the chapters of Romans. Your passion for the gospel is evident, and it is a blessing to be under your teaching.”

Ron wrote that Village Schools of the Bible is “where I set my roots deep in Christ.”  Deb wrote, “Just want to let you know that these classes are life-changing.  I’m so glad God made it possible to put this program together!”  Another student wrote the following reflections after taking Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey.  “I have always been a believer, but the depth of my understanding was limited.  I have tried multiple times to read the Bible, but as most people know, it is a very difficult task to accomplish on your own.  In the Cover-to-Cover course, I was guided through a journey in scripture which helped me grasp the breadth and depth of God’s love.   It has given me context and guidance for future learning, but most importantly, a deeper understanding of the incredible gift of God’s salvation.”

You are invited

We are launching a new season of discipleship at Village Schools of the Bible.  This January, we are offering Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey classes around the Twin Cities, as well as in Rochester, Minnesota and Des Moines, Iowa.

We also offer Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey online.  You can gain this important discipleship experience anywhere in the world whether you are using a PC or Apple computer, or any mobile device.

Next Steps

Step 1: Learn more about Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey on our web site.

Step 2: Register online here.

Step 3: Eagerly join the journey through God’s Word, whether you are learning in a classroom or online.

God’s Blessing in your reading and application of God’s Word!


Executive Director of Village Schools of the Bible.

Like A Jigsaw Puzzle

The Life-changing Impact of Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey

Written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible

Unless we understand the core theme that unifies God’s Message, it can be hard to understand the Bible. D. A. Carson, one of the most insightful and gifted students of our culture, has said that the most meaningful way to teach the Bible is by tracing the Christological plot-line from Genesis to Revelation[1]. At Village Schools of the Bible, we affirm this. It’s what Jesus did in Luke 24.27 when, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to those on the Emmaus Road in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. This is what we do through Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey. We help people see the central, unifying theme of the Bible: what we call The Scarlet Thread of Redemption — and we help people see their part in God’s mission. It’s life-changing!

Student Feedback

I needed something to enlighten me, lift me up and give me the chance to really delve in and learn. This class was it. This course has been amazing! To get a full view of Scripture and how it ties into Jesus has been so exciting! Answering the questions for the papers helped me think about how it fits into history and applies to my life. I recommend to my friends that they take it online. Kids and College students would also benefit. I look forward to the New Testament class.— Carrie Jorgenson, Online student, Fall 2016.

This was wonderful for me. I was able to get through Scripture without feeling too overwhelmed…It was intense and time-consuming — but SO well worth it. Thank you!!  — Amy Sonquist, Online student, Fall 2016.

The way you are leading us through the Bible is so meaningful to me. It’s been like a drink of cold water after a hard workout. I knew I was thirsty to dig deeper into God’s Word, and I’ve discovered I was thirstier than I knew. — Tom Hagen, Classroom student, Fall 2016.

Why not take a Cover-to-Cover Class this Spring?

For over 30 years, Village Schools of the Bible has been faithfully fulfilling its mission to teach God’s Word from Cover-to-Cover. People need a clear pathway for spiritual formation — we provide that kind of pathway through Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey.

Would you like to study the New Testament all the way through from Matthew to Revelation? The New Testament semester of Cover-to-Cover Bible survey starts soon.

More information about Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey:

For the Online version, click here.

For the classroom version, click here.

To register, click here.

Questions? Call Trish at 952.480.9460 or email

[1] Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Zondervan, 1996.

The Life-changing Impact of Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey