Reminders, Memorials, and Journals

How soon we forget.

Our limited capacity for remembering things is astonishing. You walk into a room two seconds after getting up and suddenly have no idea why you entered that room. Someone asks you about a thing that occurred weeks, months, or even years ago and you respond, “I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning.”

When it comes to important things, we set reminders. For the really impactful things (good or bad), we have memorials, monuments, and days of remembrance. Even this past weekend, we stopped to remember those who gave their lives for our country.

In Joshua, chapter four, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground—a fitting end to their wandering, reflective of their journey’s beginning at the Red Sea. They made an alter of twelve stones from that river (one for each tribe) to serve as a reminder for generations to come of what God did.

I’ve found the journals I use for Bible Study to be a similar kind of alter; a touchstone to look back and remember all that God has shown me or accomplished in my life. Without writing any of it down, I would forget—no question!

I encourage you to pick-up a Flectio Journal and begin crafting your own “alter of witness” (see Josh. 22:26–27), to serve as a reminder for “future you” and those who come after of God’s faithfulness, steadfast love, and inexplicable power.

Missing the forest for the trees.

In growing older, one of the phrases I’ve given more credence says, “You’re missing the forest for the trees.” In other words, you’ve become so focused on the details that you fail to see the big picture—and you end up missing the point.

Flectio puts great emphasis on regularly spending time in God’s Word, but simply reading the Bible is not the end game. It’s not about having a lot of Biblical knowledge, or being able to quote important passages. And it’s certainly not about a legalistic need to check-off a task from your “be a good person” checklist.

The reason you spend time in God’s Word is so you can know God more.

Not know more about God; there is a huge difference here. When we make the decision to follow Christ, the “big picture” purpose is to be drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus; that through us God would be glorified and others would commit to knowing Him as well. So, we prayerfully spend time in God’s Word to know Him, just as you spend time with your friends or your kids to grow closer. And as you grow closer to Jesus, you become more like Him.

I wrote earlier, “In it. Know it. Live it.” Reading your Bible regularly is the “In it.” Becoming familiar with what it says is the “Know it.” These are the trees. But the forest is to “Live it.” And we emphasize spending time in God’s Word to help you live it.

It’s not just another blank notebook. It’s a revolutionary system.

I was discussing the Flectio Journal with a friend the other day. He’s heard me talk a lot about it, but something finally clicked for him in our conversation. As a result, I realized I’ve been so close to the project and discuss it so much that sometimes I fail to explain why it’s unique.

This journal isn’t just another blank notebook. It’s a system—a framework for helping you grow closer to God through His Word. And that framework? Here it is:

Spend 40 days in God’s Word, and write about it. Then, when you’re done? Do it again.

That’s it. Simple, right?

It’s not an overly ambitious task, but it can be a challenge. And that’s where the beauty lies in this system: It’s forgiving.

If you miss a day or two—or even 17—pick-up right where you left off and keep going. While a consecutive 40 days in God’s Word is certainly something to shoot for, the goal isn’t to become legalistic, it’s to grow closer to God. Don’t beat yourself up. When you haven’t seen a friend for a while, you set a date and get together. Same thing here.

Have a plan for what to read, but don’t box yourself into something that fits perfectly into 40 days. If you come up short, find the next thing and keep going. If it goes longer, grab another journal and—you guessed it: Keep going! Spend another 40 days in God’s Word and write about it.

You don’t even need a Flectio Journal for this to work. Grab any notebook, put a number on each day (either as you go, or number them ahead of time if you want) and make it a goal to spend 40 days with God. Then, do it again. The Flectio Journal is great because each time you finish, you’ve filled an entire booklet. It feels like a true milestone; not quite as overwhelming as holding a notebook full of empty pages to fill.

And the pages are flexible. You don’t have to write a novel, just jot down the main takeaway or questions you have after your time with God. There’s room for prayer requests, additional comments, art journaling (if you’re into that), scripture passages, steps you want to take—it’s completely up to you. And you’re free to change it up as you go (just because you used the block at the bottom for a powerful scripture yesterday doesn’t mean that’s what has to go there today).

40 days in God’s Word. Start there, no matter how long it actually takes. Then, do it again. And watch how quickly God works in you.

In it. Know it. Live it.

If you’re not in the Bible regularly, you won’t know its truth.

If you don’t know what it says, you won’t be able to live out the audacious life it calls you to live.

Read it. Become so familiar with it that the truth you’re looking for in a given situation is readily available. Then apply what you learn to your everyday experience and let what you have internalized drive your thoughts, words, and actions.

In it. Know it. Live it.

Increasing your spiritual strength

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
–Prov. 24:10

How do you increase strength?

Exercise. Repeat the same motion again and again—even when it isn’t easy. Then you simply increase resistance incrementally over time. In other words, you practice the actions you need to use when that day of adversity comes.

Isaiah says,

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
–Isaiah 40:28–31

How do you keep from fainting in the day of adversity? You wait on the Lord. You spend time at his feet with your Bible open, listening and praying—seeking to know him as you would a close friend or loved one.

If you feel your strength is small, it’s time to regularly exercise your spiritual eyes to see & ears to hear, so when the day of adversity strikes, you can echo the words of Habakkuk when he says, “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Hab. 3:19).

And that strength will be larger than you ever imagined because it emerges from your steadfast relationship with Jesus.