Don’t Pass by the Good News

One of the spiritual disciplines that I’ve always wanted to practice but never been very faithful in doing is journaling. If you are not familiar with the phrase “spiritual disciplines,” it is often used in reference to 1 Timothy 4:7 “Discipline yourselves for the purpose of godliness.”

As Paul indicated in his correspondence with Timothy, godliness, by which he means godly character, doesn’t happen apart from discipline and effort. It’s obvious to all of us that a person doesn’t get physically stronger without working out. The same is true for the spiritual area of our lives. The spiritual disciplines are the Christian’s workout and over time God uses them to bring about greater godliness.

Now the most recognized spiritual disciplines involve the Bible, prayer, worship, and serving. Journaling doesn’t make every person’s list of spiritual disciplines. Some of you might be wondering whether journaling is even biblical since it is never commanded in the Scripture.

When some people speak about journaling, they mean that they write down their prayer requests and then record his answers. For others journaling is similar to writing in a diary in that this is the place that they are very honest with God. The part of journaling that I personally like the best is writing down what I’m learning. I find that when I have a pen in my hand, I expect God to teach me through his word. And just through the process of writing I find that I learn a lot more than when I don’t. Writing slows me down and makes me think about what I’m reading.

With this idea of journaling in mind, it is easy to see that the Psalms can be considered to be something like journal entries. David and others bare their soul to God, write out their prayers, and remind themselves of God’s past faithfulness. So while the Bible never commands us to journal, the practice is modeled.

Now before I give any false impressions of myself, I need to let you know that I only journal once or twice a week. The other days I read my Bible but don’t spend time writing down what I’m learning. But when I do take the time to do it, there is always a huge dividend.

In order to be as practical and helpful as possible, here’s my journal entry from yesterday:

Luke 15:1-2 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Soul this is good news: Jesus welcomes sinners like me. He doesn’t tolerate or put up with or endure or bear with or attack or pass by or ignore sinners. He welcomes them. He calls them to come to him and then he’s glad when they do.

The term sinners is so vague and general that some of the shock of Jesus welcoming them is diminished. When Jesus welcomes sinners that means that he welcomes proud jerks who are self-consumed. He welcomes angry liars, sexual perverts, jealous gossips whose words hurt people. He welcomes superficial worriers.

This is first and foremost good news for me. Jesus welcomes me even though my sin is pretty nasty. Second, I don’t want to be like the Pharisees who tried to separate themselves from sinners and condemned those that they came into contact with. I want to welcome sinners and all their problems like Jesus did. Third, Jesus is amazing. He doesn’t need sinners. But he does love them. He sees them as broken and lost and he has compassion on them. May his name be forever praised.

I then went on to pray a form of these thoughts for my family and The Crossing. May we rejoice in the Savior who welcome sinners. May we be a family and church that hangs out a sign that says “Sinners Welcome Here.”

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