A blog by Josh Humbert
That Hedberg joke you just read is one of his all-time best, in my opinion. It’s everything that made him shine as a comedian: supreme wit, humor in the trivial, and an undercurrent of a certain “chill-out, man” self-deprecating type of vibe. It is quintessential Hedberg. And it is a slice of life we are all familiar with on some level.
The comedian’s pen and notebook just out of reach. The football guy’s TV remote on the other side of the living room. The one thing that would really help and it’s…slightly inconvenient at the moment. It’s not lost or too far…it will just require some effort.
Hopefully, if you’ve made it this far, you are ready to get up and go get that “pen and write it down.” You are ready to start (or re-start) the discipline of keeping a spiritual journal.
Zip Code Steps
So now that you’re ready, let me give you some of what I would call Zip Code Steps. Simply put, these are Zip Code Steps, not Address Steps. What’s the difference?
A zip code gives you a general direction and area. An address gives you an exact location. For baking a cake, you will want Address Steps (exactly how many eggs, how much baking soda, whatever else goes in cakes). However for something like a spiritual journal, Zip Code is more appropriate.
You can (and will) find what works best for you and what is most beneficial in your setting. But I would like to give some general directions that can help get you started.
1) Get Scripture
This is a journal, not a diary. So ground it in a JOURNEY through some Scripture. Perhaps this would be the perfect opportunity to journal your way through a book of the Bible (Gospel of John? Philippians? good starting points). Maybe start a Bible-reading plan (tons available just a google-search away). Whatever your decision, start your journal everyday with a portion of Scripture. Think through it, write it down, record it, make observations about it, ask questions (and don’t feel the need to have an answer). Let your journal be based on Scripture.
2) Learn About Jesus
You have Scriptures to start with, right? Good! Now how do they point you to Jesus? The Bible is PRIMARILY about HIM, not you. Jesus is the Main Character in God’s story so it is a wise approach to view through Scripture through that lens.
3) Simple Is Good
Don’t feel you have to write some lengthy discourse every single day. It’s a daily journal, not a daily senior-thesis. If you’ve never done this before, keep it simple: Read Scripture, record a portion that made you think deeper, make an observation or two, record your prayer requests and prayer. You can always grow your journal to include more elements as time goes on.
4) OCD Is NOT Allowed
Are you thinking about journaling but you can’t start one yet because “today is a Thursday” (thus, not the beginning of a week)? Or not today because it’s “the middle of the month,”? STOP. That is not allowed. Just START journaling and go with it. If you miss a day, DO NOT try to go back and write it in. Just keep going. Do not let imperfections or holes stop you.
5) Don’t Edit
Pretend like no one will read it. Have that type of honesty in your journal. Be authentic about your struggles as you write. Be genuine about your doubts, anger, fear, and pain as you record your prayers. Don’t try to gloss everything over and only record your “good times” with God. Embrace complete sincerity in this journal. Trust me, as time goes on, you will see more of why this is the best approach.
6) Don’t Quit
Never done this before? Try it and really give effort to it for six months. Put this baked potato in the oven and give it some time! See what happens when you truly devote some time to this.
So…now comes the part where my wife would be rolling her eyes. She knows what’s coming next…my sales-pitch to you.
Here’s the beauty of it though…I’m not selling any product. I’m not asking you to buy ANYTHING. It’s not like I’m trying to get you to buy some kind’ve “Josh Humbert Journals.” That ain’t it. And DON’T call now because operators aren’t standing by and I WILL not “double your order!”
What I propose is downloading a FREE app called Evernote. Yes, free app. It works on all devices and platforms. And it doesn’t cost you anything. Have I mentioned that?
Evernote is simply an organizational and productivity app that you can use to suit your own needs. There are literally hundreds of ways people use this tool and you can design it to make it fit your purposes.
So why use it for a spiritual journal? Let me hit you with my Top Ten List.
Josh’s Top Ten For Evernote
1) Access from anywhere and any device
Have internet connection somewhere in your life? Evernote will work for you. Have a phone with Evernote on it? Tablet? Home computer? You can have it on all devices and use it on any of them. The accessibility of having your journal with you literally at all times means you can record MORE stuff.
Going to take a walk and think through some Scriptures? Take a picture of the trail before you start and journal your thoughts. Spending your time in the Word early in the morning with coffee and the sunrise? Snap a pic and keep it in your journal.
Have a sermon podcast that really challenged you and brought some new insights? Put the video or the link in your journal. Want to be praying for a friend who is far away? Have them Skype or send a video of their prayer requests and put this in your journal. Get creative!
4) Tags (TAGS!!!!!)
You can tag any single note in Evernote. This is where you see the beauty of keeping your journal in Evernote and not in regular notebooks (as I did for years). Praying about a specific prayer request? Tag it every time you write about it. When you get an answer to it (one way or the other), go back and reread all those prayers about it. What has changed? What has God done through this process? I tag my notes for many things, including when I pray about my wife or my family. One day many years from now they can pull up those tags and read my heart and desires for them. Tags open up SO MUCH in journaling. Seriously people….TAGS!
5) Export Notes
Praying for someone else as they go through a difficult season? You can export that note and send it to them to let them know you are praying. Maybe God puts someone on your heart out of the blue and wants you to encourage them…write that note and prayer and export it to them. Husbands…do this for your wives! Vice versa. With your kids, with your fiancee. With your pastor. Whoever!
Evernote isn’t the Facebook Messenger app. Calm down and relax. They aren’t trying to hack your phone’s camera and steal your first-born son. Evernote doesn’t care about what you store with them. It’s secure.
7) Everything All In One Place
You can keep a separate journal each year and keep them all in Evernote. And you can access ALL your stuff anytime all in one place.
So much easier to search Evernote files than to go home and wade through piles of notebooks. With Evernote, you can even search Images (!!!). Want to search for all your notes on 1 Peter 2? Search it and it’s all there.
9) No Size Restriction*
Ok, so there is some size-restriction (unless you go Premium), but you can still store quite a bit without upgrading. If you store mainly typed notes and pics, you will be fine. This may encourage you to do more than one entry per day! Take a pic and prayer at sunrise….and at sunset. Oh snap!!
Want to share a full notebook with someone? You can. Let’s say you and your spouse want to do a 30-day journal challenge where you pray for each other for next 30 days. At the end, you share the notebook with them and they share with you. Pretty cool stuff! Or maybe a friend is going through a season of loss and grieving. You can make a notebook for them (again, incorporate images, videos, articles from the Web, WHATEVER you want!) and share that notebook with them as a means of grace and friendship in their tough season. It’s only limited by your imagination.
Just Do It
Look, the point of this is: just start journaling. That is my hope and desire for anyone who reads this. If you don’t like Evernote or computers and you want to keep it old-school with a pen and a pad…DO IT. If you want to take some of my ideas and run with them…DO IT. If you have your own thing you want to try…DO IT.
Just don’t wait another day. Just don’t let any more time go by. Just do it.
The whole reason for me writing this series is to encourage you in your faith and help you in some small way in your walk with Christ.
Recover the Word. Capture the Word. Grow in the Word. Learn about Jesus. Deepen your love for Him. Set your mind on things above. See progress in sanctification. Gain from seasons of drought or doubt. Receive good truths for the road ahead. Encourage others.
Pray for others. Pray for the Church. Pray for leaders. Pray for your friends. Pray for your enemies. Pray for your families. Pray for your cities.
As basic as it sounds, it is true: a journal is for a journey. Don’t just let your days slip by. Be mindful and sober. Embrace journaling as a spiritual discipline and as a means for God to pour out more grace on you. He can and will shape you into who you are meant to be.
Write it down. Your pen isn’t too far away.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and ideas are always welcome. Did you like the mini-series format? Want more? Do you keep a journal? If so, whats your process? Sound off.