Thursday, January 1, 2015

We Read the Story That Started It All

This morning I am up before the rest of my family, praying for them as we begin the new year. During 2015, in addition to the fun and challenge of "putting off" something together, we're taking up the mantle of family solidarity in a much more significant way, as well. This year, we are "putting on" the daily habit of time in God's Word and journaling.

Although spending time reading God's Word each day has been a goal for each of us every year, this year we are shamelessly bribing our children to remain consistent by offering them money—and family pressure—to get it done. We figure there is no greater investment we could make in our children's lives than to help them establish a no-matter-what, it's-just-what-I-do-every-day habit of reading the Scriptures and writing about it.

To that end, we put forth this offer—printed and laminated into a book mark—and placed it in their stockings during the Christmas festivities:

The front of the card:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”    - 2 Timothy 3:14-17


“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees…I will not neglect your word.”

- Psalm 119:9-12, 16b


The Offer: Read your Bible and write in your journal daily for all of 2015, and we will give you $200 to spend as you like. Miss one day and you forfeit all of it.

The Challenge: Every day. No matter what.

The Benefit: “I’ve never met a strong Christian who does not meditate every day on the words of God. I’ve never met a weak Christian who does.”      – Ben Stuart

“Practice Round”: Starting tomorrow, on Christmas Eve, you may begin. On New Year’s Day, when you officially start this challenge, if you’ve succeeded, you will receive $20 toward a nice dinner out together as a family.

The back of the card:

“I’ve never met a strong Christian who does not meditate every day on the words of God.  I’ve never met a weak Christian who does.”    – Ben Stuart

Journal-Writing Tips

·         Write the date at the top of your entry. I also like to include the time that I am writing, in case I write more than once per day.

·         Write the reference for the Bible passage you read that day.

·         Write something meaningful to you that’s on your heart—either at this season of life, on this particular day, or in response to this particular Bible passage.

·         You might choose to begin with something like one of the following:

“Thank You, Lord, for…”
- “Lord, please help me with…”
- "This verse makes me realize…”
- "I really need to…”
- "I’m struggling with…”
- "I’m struck by…”

Note: Most people find it easiest to stay consistent with a devotional time if it is done first thing in the morning, upon awakening.

The “Proof”: You will show that you met the conditions by your word, and by having a daily entry in your journal, dated and showing which Bible verses you read that day. These entries are between you and the Lord alone. We won’t read them.

The “Rules”: Your entries may be as long or as short as you like, but the goal is daily time in the Word and prayer. You must write an entry each day, and you may not create an entry for a day you missed on a different day.

The cheap Ollie's calendars on which we'll keep track of our daily progress.
One is for the four of us here, one is for PT back at college, and one is for EV (and Ron!) when she gets married in February.
This is a bit of a bittersweet pursuit for us, learning the habit of daily journaling. We've all been given a front-row peek into the personal journals of our dear friend Mark Rodriguez as his mother, Leigh Ellen, has been publishing excerpts of them online in the form of near-daily encouraging devotional thoughts. (See God Is Super Good.) Mark, one of our son PT's best buds, was tragically killed in a random shooting as he drove home from his school's graduation ceremony last May. While this experience has rocked our faith community, where Mark's father is pastor, it has also served to strengthen so many of us in our walks with the Lord. As this was what Mark was all about in life, we know that he is rejoicing, even now, that it is still being accomplished here on earth while he resides in heaven.

Won't you consider joining us this year in our daily pursuit of time reading the Bible—God's very words to us—and in capturing our thoughts through journaling? We are so looking forward to growing in our faith and faithfulness this year! 

After all, consider this, from Ben Stuart: "I've never met a strong Christian who does not meditate every day on the words of God. I've never met a weak Christian who does." May we all be stronger Christians this time next year because of the time we've spent with Him every day in 2015!
*Entry 8, The 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge
The title is a line from the Christmas song "Daddy, Won't You Read It Again" by This Hope.


Pamela said...

"Laurie, this is SO GREAT! And as for the grace part, that was all Thomas's idea, not mine. I LOVE what you have done and will incorporate it into leading our kids!!! Fantastic!!!"

Kimberley said...

I want to see if my family will take this challenge. I love this idea.

Pamela said...

Laurie, I've shared your post on my AHEM: Awake with Him Every Morning FB group. You're going to bless many with this idea!!

Carol said...

Officially in! (Minus the giving myself $200... However, I'll try to think of a worthy bribe 😉)