You spend 13 weeks walking with and getting to know a group a people in a class. The last day arrives and you feel the bittersweetness in your heart. It was the end of another cycle of GriefShare and there was food and surprise gifts.
The group signed a book and gave it to Daisy and John, the leaders of the group. To my surprise, they gave me a worship CD.
It hit me in the feels.
John and Daisy gave me a small journal with Philippians 4:8 on it. I looked at it, thankful, and thinking about how to put it to use. Have you heard of Bible journaling?
It’s different from keeping a log or thoughts about a day. In a Bible journal, you reflect and focus on a passage in a conversation with God. Bible Gateway has a resource for it here.
I like methods, I’m too analytical to go off in any direction that isn’t driven by curiosity. To Google, I went on the search for how to journal and found the SOAP method.
I use it as a supplement to my normal study, which right now is a chronological walk through the Gospels. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Here’s how it works and I’ll follow with my first entry as an example.
- Scripture: Read a passage and copy what sticks out to you.
- Observation: Write down anything you observe, initial thoughts, questions, what did it mean to the original audience and to you today. What timeless principles are in the passage?
- Application: Ask yourself, “How does it apply to me?”
- Prayer: Write a prayer about it.
The Practical Disciple has some good resources for beginners.
My First Entry 4/10/2017
Scripture: “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it’s gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:8-10
“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valuable among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15
Observation: ‘Using worldly wealth to gain friends’ seems like a way to get shallow friends, but from looking at the cross-references it’s more about worldly wealth with an eternal perspective for good rather than self. Verse 10 ties into the parable of the talents and ‘well done good and faithful servant, because you did a lot with what you had, I’ll give you more.‘
For the last verse I wonder what is highly valued by men and is detestable to the Lord. It seems that what it means is appearances don’t matter to God, only the heart. He values what’s inside so much all else is detestable in comparison, a bit like our good deeds are like filthy rags in comparison to His righteousness.
Application: I’m already generous with money and time, use my talents now. What I do need is to learn to judge what is inside, rather than how people look, or act.
Prayer: Father, help me to see people as you see them, enable me to look past appearances to their hearts, to see what is inside and if their motives are pure or not. Help me value what you value. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The Prayer Answered
Have you heard of the Halo Effect? It’s a cognitive bias where we assume pretty people are better and more trustworthy. The kicker is that it’s subconscious so we don’t even realize we’re underestimating people.
Like one person who deals with chronic pain, with an unassuming appearance, who also happens to be brilliant. They’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree now and you’d never know it until you took the time to talk to them.
Already the new discipline is making an impact in my life, enabling me to see people better. Daisy and John, thanks for the journal. You guys are the best and all my readers know it.