Journal Jottings and Fruit of Revival

I had this big box from buying a Philips all in one cooker. I decided to use it to store all my journals because the current box was too small. Since I was transferring it I decided to specify the years on the spines of the journals. The earliest existing journal was 1982. I had journals from an earlier period but I had somehow discarded them. The earlier ones were mainly devotional notes of my Bible meditations. On a whim, I picked up the oldest and began to read it. Surprisingly I could not put it down as it was so fun to read. I put some up on my Instagram story, and sent some to relevant individuals to affirm them, and stir pleasant memories. 

I noticed that 1982 was a year that displayed some spiritual fruit ten years after the revival of 1972 caused my home church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship, to be formed. The significant fruit was the number of people who heard and responded to God’s invitation to them to serve Him in different ways. My journal recorded them.

Examples of revival fruit

There was Simeon and Jacob, two brothers who joined the Discipleship Training School of YWAM. The former went on to serve in a YWAM in Taiwan, and as a leader in two big Asian regions. It has been about 40 years, with more years to come. My journal jotting on 28 July 1982: “We prayed for Simeon Siau. The Committee sat down together to pray and seek the Lord’s will. I felt that the harvest is great but workers are few and the Lord wants to thrust him forth as a gift to the nations.”

The latter, Jacob, joined YWAM Calcutta on staff (see my actual journal entry below), and then YWAM Nepal where he got arrested with a YWAM team and spent a few days in prison for “preaching the gospel”. Later on, he returned to our home church to serve in a church plant, and later to return to the workplace. This is revival fruit.

My journal jot for Thomas Tan on 27 June 1982 was a mere 11 words: “We sent Thomas Tan with the blessings of God upon him”, but he has been serving the Lord the last 40 years. He joined Operation Mobilization Pakistan land team for two years. This was followed by WEC Missionary Training College, and then seven years with Frontiers, reaching the unreached Pushtun people group in Peshawar. After that, he returned home and has since been serving in the local church as a pastor. This is revival fruit. 

My sister Joyce was not sent by the church but she felt a call to enter into the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary to live in community and service. She has taken her vows and her new name is Beryl. She served in the Australian branch and returned back to the mother house in Darmstadt, Germany. I jotted in my journal on 20 May 1982: “Went to Crest book room to buy a Bible for Joyce before she leaves for W Germany next week. There was none suitable so I decided to give her the money $200 as a gift from us.” She has been serving with the sisterhood about 40 years now. This is revival fruit.

I was called into pastoral work in 1979, and that very year attended Tung Ling Bible School. However, it was in my third year of theological education (1982), that I was officially installed as assistant pastor to Pastor P.J. Johney. Later, on the 9th March 1986, I was ordained. I served my home church for 40 years. This is revival fruit.

There are many others in my home church who went on to serve the Lord before and after 1982. Revival fruit.

Evidence of true revival

When the Spirit is poured out in mighty streams of living water, the lives of many are transformed. The desire to serve God is pervasive and is very strong and lasting in some individuals. It is like fire in the bones and it propels them into His service in the local church. Over the years of faithfulness, their spiritual gifts and strengths are identified and developed, and the passion is narrowed down and more specific. The flame does not die out, it keeps energizing them and carrying them over obstacles. When they fail it drives them closer to God and deepen their life. They respond to God with enduring faith. This is a significant fruit of true revival. Lasting fruit is one of the marks of a genuine revival. Going viral on YouTube does not qualify as revival fruit.

Journaling journey

My journaling journey seemed to have begun as Bible meditation notes. It was Rev Brian Bailey of World MAP, who encouraged this practice of writing down the insights one gathered from Bible meditation. Then it went into simple diary-like reports of what I did and what happened around me, without much reflection of where God had been present or what he may be saying to me. This was what my 1982 journal was like. I wonder how my journaling evolved. I do not know if I will go on to read a few more journals, maybe in 5 year intervals to get an overview of my journaling journey. This sounds like an interesting project, but I do not have time for this right now. God willing, I would like to do it. 

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The Blessings of Journaling

Ladies and gentlemen, start or restart journaling in 2022.

How I Began and Your Perfect Beginning

I began journaling in earnest after attending a Spiritual Renewal Seminar in the late 1970’s when Brian Bailey, a prophet and teacher of the Word, talked about the need to keep a record of what you learned as you meditate on scriptures. He also mentioned how speaking in tongues before you read and meditate on Scriptures would give you more revelation. 

I began in earnest to take notes of spiritual lessons and insights I received as I systematically read, studied and meditated on God’s word. My journaling journey had begun. I did not know that as the years passed it would get deeper and wider to include far more than records of scripture lessons. To him who has much more would be given. As I started acting on what I know and have, God added to it, deepened it, broadened it, enriched it. 

The perfect beginning is not to read about everything about journaling before beginning. God’s idea of a perfect beginning is to start where you are and trust him to bring you where he wants you to be. I know it is already the first week of January of 2022. You may wish you started on 1 January with the perfect journal book – paper or digital – and know exactly how and what you are going to write and how to annotate or store it. Just do it with what you know now and have at hand now. This is the perfect start.

You do not have to write every day, even though this would be good. It could be weekly. It could even be as and when there is something that is memorable or moving or meaningful. At times you could draw or sketch or keep an audio recording if that is what you are more comfortable with rather than writing.

Why Bother About Journaling

Remembering is an important part of our Christian spirituality. The patriarchs erected special altars at places where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob covenanted with them, or encountered and delivered them in significant ways. Ancient Israel was told to commemorate various rituals at a few annual feasts. The major one is the Passover, so that they remember that it was God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and that the event marked their identity as a people of God dedicated to bring his praise to the nations of the earth. We who live after the death of Christ and walk the Calvary road are commanded to remember Christ every time we eat and drink at the Lord’s Table. It marks us as the new covenant people of God, saved by his redeeming blood. This is something God would want us to do today too. Just as we keep images and videos of beautiful memories of things and events and people we love, we should keep visual and audio cues to jog the memory of the greatness, tenderness and workings of God in our life. 

One Journal, Many Blessings

Here is a personal list of the many ways journaling has blessed me. I am sure there are many more that readers have personally experienced and I urge you to share some of your experiences with us by using the comment box. A blessing shared is a blessing doubled!

First on my list is that journaling gave me a record of answers to prayers. I wrote some of the things I prayed for, especially when I was fasting and prayer. I have seen so many of these prayers answered. If I had not recorded them, they would have been forgotten, and I would not have been impacted by the link between my specific prayers and God’s answers. Some prayers were answered quickly, many after months, even years, others not at all. This mixed record built my faith in God and to believe that simple faithful prayers does set into motion the invisible power of God. 

Making Sense and Finding God

When I reviewed parts of my journal or the entries of a whole year, I could see themes and repeated patterns that indicated to me what God seemed to have said to me and done in my life. I would not have been able to receive certain insights into God’s activity if I had no such records in my journal. It was like putting together pieces of jigsaw to make sense and find God in the midst of my life.

I found that journal entries during retreats were particularly detailed and significant. I suppose in a silent retreat, I was free from normal preoccupations, responsibilities and distractions, and was able to spend more time in prayer and reflection. Therefore, I was able to pick up more things that was going on deep within my soul and scriptures came alive in a more impactful way. I could hear more clearly from God and his work in my soul seemed more intense and deeper. Usually, I would make a silent retreat when I was at some crossroad or tension point and this me seek God more intensely and those who seek him will find him.

Light in the Dark

Reflection and the very act of writing helped to crystalize and clarify my thoughts, feelings and desires. I might begin confused and unclear but as I wrote things seemed less muddy and murky and by the time I have written several pages it seemed that some light had begun to shine through my dark and cloudy heart. This is heightened when I wrote the journal entry in the first person to God, as in a letter to God telling him what was going in and around me.

Sometimes I would also speak in tongues for a while, ask God for interpretation, and then wrote out what came to mind by faith without censorship. Only after the inspiration ceased would I go back and read what words God had for me and make a judgment then. It was surprising how often that encouragement and comfort came from these spontaneous prompts from the Spirit-influenced heart. They often reflected God’s heart.

Ideas, Insights, Emotions

During prayer, ideas and insights about church ministry, decisions, sermons and blogposts would come and having a journal at hand made it convenient to jot these down and later after further judgment and prayer, act on them and develop and deliver them. Some of these ideas came from a creative centre, and I knew I had to give God credit when I was complimented or affirmed for them. The journal at hand and the habit of casting your net in prayer and retrieving and jotting your catch, is a habit that blessed me and my ministry so much.

Writing a journal slowed me down long enough to sit and identify, label and express my deeper emotions, affections and desires. I was poor at this. It took me a long time to learn and even now I feel I am wearing an L plate. What I found was that if I could do it in my journal, it made it somewhat easier for me to express it to my friends and loved ones. It helped me to be vulnerable and authentic in Christ, and to deepen my friendship with God, friends and loved ones. 

Journaling was therapeutic as it gave me an outlet to express my deepest truths, secrets, hopes and frustrations. It was health for my soul and clarification for my mind as I muddle my way through hurts and regrets in the past, perplexities of the present, and anxieties about the future. The best thing is the journal does not talk back or criticize or judge me. It had a gentle and patient touch that healed.

Journaling gave me writing practice. I write well by writing much. Practice does make perfect. The search for the right words. The clarification of ideas, arranging or organizing them the right way to express them meaningfully and clearly. Simply writing regularly in my journal improved my writing.

Comment & Share

Well, this was what I have listed and noted off the cuff. Definitely not exhaustive, or sufficiently deep. If you can help enrich the ideas mentioned and enrich our discussion here, do not hesitate to add your two cents worth to the comment box, and share this content with others if it helped you.

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Reflection and journaling alternatives

Journaling is not everyone’s cup to tea. However some kind of record of God’s work in our life and what we are experiencing should be kept if we want to grow in discernment and in awareness of ourselves.

The ancients were instructed to put up stones of memorials to remember the mighty deeds of God. Joshua picked twelve stones from the river bed of Jordan and set them up so that God’s people remember what God has done and therefore what God is like. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set up stone markers to remember the encounters they had with God and the words God had revealed to them.

Journaling is one pragmatic and simple way of doing this. Recording what God has done for us, in us and through us. Recording our encounters with Him and what he taught us. Recording our insights, emotions, memories, desires, dreams, and feelings. Reviewed regularly, whether monthly, quarterly and yearly to reflect on what God has been doing for you, in you and through you and what he is saying to you is a healthy way to discern God’s work and will in your life.

My new journal. Yes, paper and pen!

With the annual review I could give a name to my year. One was a year of stress. One was a year of desolation. One was a year of clarity. Last year was a year of release of burdens. I could see what God was doing with my life and how I was progressing spiritually and in ministry.

If you want to see spiritual growth in your life the organic way, you will want to record what you are experiencing, reflect on what God is doing and saying to you, and grow in discernment. No short cuts. The path of patience.

However not everyone likes recording their experiences with words, whether on paper or digitally. Here are a few other ways to remember God and our encounters and experiences:

  1. Use a voice recorder and talk through what happened and what you felt.
  2. Draw pictures and images to symbolise or express your emotions and desires.
  3. Make something: origami, clay work or plasticine, or embroidery to represent what happened.
  4. The smartphone is always with us and you could download an app that allows you to take short notes for each month. If you have a Samsung Note like I do, you have wonderful access to S Pen and S Note folders.
  5. Take a large cardboard and draw twelve large stones, each blank stone to represent each month, and write significant key words of events or emotions.
  6. Use Facebook to write private notes of what happened and emoticons to express emotions. Change the privacy setting to keep some of these for your eyes only.
  7. Use Instagram and use pictures and words to record your encounters, feelings and events.
  8. Start a free blog on blogspot or wordpress and keep whatever you record private.
  9. Do a selfie video of yourself talking.
  10. Use that neglected camera in the drawer and set it up on a stand and record yourself talking about what God has been doing in your life periodically.

I am sure there are several other creative ways besides deepening on our unreliable memory.  Do share with us in the comments below how you do it personally?

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