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REVIEW: NEAR JOURNAL

Jacob Vandenbark wanted a way to draw nearer to God, to be consistent in his daily devotions and to be organized spiritually. He looked for something that would help him do this and could not find exactly what he wanted. So he decided to create a system or notebook that would help him accomplish his goals. The result was The Near Journal.

The Near Journal was developed around 5 sections that form five parts for each day’s devotion. The Near Journal can be used to guide the reader’s personal Bible reading and devotional time, or it may be used with a guided Bible Study. The five sections are 1. Room to Write; 2. Personal Growth and Accountability; 3. Cultivating Thankfulness; 4. Power of Prayer; 5. Memorization of Scripture.

Vandenbark writes about personal growth and encourages the reader to select one thing on which they want to improve over the next 90 days, why do they want to improve in that area and commit to focus on that area. The reader is also encouraged to memorize scripture and there is even a method given to help make memorization easier.

For each day, there is a space for the reader to reflect and write about their thoughts and feelings, a place to write what they feel they must do in the coming week to move closer to the goal they set; a place to list thanks, blessings and gratitude, a section to list prayer requests for themselves and for others, and finally a section to reflect on the memory verse for that week and how it might help the reader to move closer to their goal.

This description of the journal sounds as if the journal is very complicated to use, but actually, it is quite easy. I found in going through the journal these last few weeks, that it does help me to focus during my devotion time and it is very helpful in guiding me towards reaching my goal.

I would recommend this journal to anyone who wants to improve their devotional time, who wants to “kick it up a notch” or who perhaps has never done any journaling. I believe you will find that your spiritual life will be greatly enriched.

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Be Still Because It is in the Stillness That He will Meet Us

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am GOD.” (Ps. 46:10 Amplified Bible)

As I write this blog, I’m listening to Elevation Worship’s new song “Here Again.”

“I’m not enough,

unless You come,

will You meet me

here again?

Cause all I want is

all You are,

will you meet me

here again?”

“Just what does that have to do with being still?” you ask.

Everything.

Because it is in the stillness that we understand we are not enough. Unless He comes and meets us in the stillness.

***

Merriam-Webster defines “still” as

uttering no sound: quiet;

subdued, muted, calm, tranquil

free from noise or turbulence

Don’t you love those words? There is such peace in the word tranquil. It gives me a visual picture of a lake—no ripples, no movement—just a calm, placid lake. Serene. Quiet. Still.

In the midst of our crazy-busy day, may we find pockets of time where we can sit at the feet of Jesus. Where we can be tranquil, calm, free from noise or turbulence. Where we can be still and know that He is GOD.

autumn autumn leaves bright color
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A Contemplative Life: Be Still and Know

A few weeks ago, I wrote and posted a blog titled “She Led a Contemplative Life.” If you missed it, click on the title in the column on the right side of this page (then come back to this page). In that post, I wrote about receiving a word from the Lord that he was going to bring a time of refreshing, rest, renewal to me. So that I could recognize this time of refreshing, I knew that I would have to make some changes.

Over the next week or so, I began to think about what those changes should be. I asked the Lord what I needed to do to prepare myself for this time of refreshing and he gave me Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Me? Be still? Surely he is joking. I am never still. Even when I try to be still, a foot is tapping, a finger is itching and my mind is flying in one hundred different directions at the same time.

So this morning, I went on a treasure hunt to see how other versions of the Bible interprets this verse. Here are a few of those translations:

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.” (Amplified Bible)

“Stand silent! Know that I am God!” (Living Bible)

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.” (The Message)

“Cease striving and know that I am God!” (New American Standard Bible)

“Surrender your anxiety!
Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God.” (The Passion Translation)

“Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.” (The Voice)

“Stand silent!” “Step out of the traffic.” “Cease striving” “Surrender your anxiety.” “Be still, be calm, see and understand that I am the True God.” WOW!

Over the next several days, I’m going to take each of those statements and break them down to the bare bones. What do they mean – for you, for me? How can we implement these verses in our lives?

Stay with me. I truly believe God is about to bring a time of refreshing into all our lives.

time lapse photography of waterfalls during sunset