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Journaling Challenge: Is it 40 days yet!

40 days in desert

cupandcross.com/

A friend of mine asked me that yesterday.  I told him that we are more than half way there (today is day 22).   But we also talked about falling into the trap of journaling out of obligation.  We both shared that we have a sense of relief once we have something written down.  I told him that when I persevered and continued in quiet time and journaling, not out of obligation (I had met my obligation) but on my own – God rewarded me with insights I wouldn’t have received otherwise.  He quickly responded, ‘Don’t try to make me feel guilty now!’.   We both smiled.

If you are going through this journey with us – fantastic!   My hope is not that you will become a person that journals daily, necessarily, but that you will realize the value of spending time with God and listening for His word.  I pray that you gain a greater hunger for more of Him.

Why did we choose 40 days anyway!?

The period of 40 days is significant in the Bible and used multiple times.  This included the 40 days and nights that it rained on Noah and the ark, the time Moses spent on the mountain, the numbers of days Goliath came out against the Israelites before David killed him, and especially the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness.  This time is always a period of testing and trial, and it ends with a period of restoration, revival, or renewal.

May these 40 days, through December 21st, end with a period of restoration that makes the true meaning of Christmas that much more pronounced this year.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8a

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Journaling Challenge: Is it 40 days yet! by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://nymensministry.com.

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Christmas Prayer Request

I received this prayer request from one of the men in our ministry and he said that I could share it here.  I would bet that we can all agree with the sentiments of this prayer.  May the true meaning of Christmas shine through this season, for all of us!

Men, Christmas, true meaning of Christmas
My prayer is that coming into this holiday season, we not forget the true meaning of our celebration and that we guard our hearts and minds from distractions, subtle behaviors and not so subtle behaviors that could pull us away from God and grieve the Holy Spirit. 

I know in the past, it has been very easy for me to conform to the world’s point of view and start setting up and worshiping idols. It is in these times that Screwtape gets a hold of me and says it’s okay to participate in certain behaviors and attitudes because it’s the holidays and it won’t offend the Lord. That leads to a very slow and steady decent into self deception and before I know it I am far far away from God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 NIV

Three wise menDo not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence. The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. ”      -Proverbs 4:14-27 NIV

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Christmas Prayer Request by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://nymensministry.com.

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Do You Know Who God Is?! May Our Eyes be Open

40 day challengeToday is day 16 of our 40 day challenge, how have you been doing?  Why not write a comment here or tell us on our Facebook page.  You can find us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/NYMensministry

God had been reminding me about Himself, that is who He is, and that He is trustworthy.  I thought I would share this below, recent journal entry.  I hope it blesses you!

God is in Control – Trust God, Follow Him

“Peter … said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’   Jesus said to him, ‘… what is that to you?  You follow Me'” – John 21:21-22

“My eyes are on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me…” – Psalm 101:6

“Then the angel showed me the river of life rising from the throne of God and the lamb, and flowing crystal-clear.  Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are cure for the nations.  The curse of destruction will be abolished.”   – Revelations 22:1-3

Heaven, River of Life, Trees of Life, Revelations 22, Revelations 22:1-3

manualoflife.com

  • River of life is rising from the throne – Life originates from God
  • The water is crystal-clear, that is absolutely no imperfections
  • Abundant crops – twelve a year!  Signifying God’s abundance!
  • Curse abolished – no destruction, satan has been destroyed
  • Tree of life – instead of being associated with the first sin, it is now the cure for all nations

Hymn – Open My Eyes that I May See – Clara Scott

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of the truth you have for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that will unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready, My God, your will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth you send me clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear,
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready, my God, your will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit Divine!

Open my mouth and let me bear
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with your children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready, my God, your will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit Divine!

(Judgement on Judah)

“And in that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sack cloth.  But instead, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine: ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'” – Isaiah 22:12-13

Lord, I ask that You open my eyes, as you did John’s in his writing of Revelations.  May I not look at others to judge or to prevent your Your will but seek Your will for me!  May I be sad and repent when I grieve You.  May I celebrate when You are happy.  May my life be a tree of life, supplied and nurtured by You, and a blessing to all that see, taste and are touched by it.  May I be silent and humble before You.  May I be ready to hear You and to act in Your name.  May I be a joy to You.  May Your eyes ever be on me.

In Jesus’ very precious name.  Amen
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Do You Know Who God Is?! May Our Eyes be Open by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://nymensministry.com.

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40 Day Journey Begins!

Journaling Bible Discipline

blog.sdrock.com

I’m really excited that many people have told me that they want to commit to journaling for 40 days with us! I know God will bless the time we commit to being with Him.

We’ve decided to allow as much flexibility as possible.  We encourage you to find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed then:

  1. Pray – Ask God to quiet your mind of any worries or tasks that have to be done.  Ask Him to be with you and to speak with you.   “Come into His presence”
  2. Scripture – God often talks through His scripture and He never talks contrary to it!  You may want to follow a Bible plan or read the scripture for the coming Sunday.  We have some recommendations below but this is entirely up to you.
  3. Meditate / Journal – You may find yourself stopping midway through your Bible reading because a phrase or image struck you.  Write it down; why did it resonate with you?  Is there something going on in your life or a desire of your heart that you want to share with God?

Resources:

One final thing to remember, our goal isn’t to finish a book, or read a lot of scripture in these 40 days although we may do some of both.  It is to hear God and to ‘chase after Him’.  To become more in tune with His voice and respond to His prompting.

Another Example:

We hope to have a few people share a little of their journaling over these 40 days.  As, I’ve been doing through Twitter and this blog, I thought I would share another good example.   Pastor Ronnie in this blog shows that it doesn’t have to be complex.  He simply writes a thought, a scripture, and a prayer.  Take a look here: http://blog.sdrock.com/pastors/2012/06/11/listening-to-his-voice-a-journal-63-69/

Chasing After You

Someone shared this video with me recently and I think it is perfect for us, as we embark on ‘chasing after God’.

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Special Note for Community Bible Church members:

In Sunday’s Sermon, we saw from Psalm 55 some healthy ways of dealing with our negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, sadness, depression. If you missed the sermon, you can watch it here: http://cbcnw.sermon.tv/

You can find scripture readings for each day of the week in the bulletin.  Here are some questions for you to consider as you journal this week:

What stood out to you? Have you experienced any negative emotions lately? How did you deal with them? Did you pay attention to them? Can you pay attention to them now? What might God be trying to teach you about yourself or Him through them?

God Bless!

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40 Day Journey Begins by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://nymensministry.com/2012/11/09/40-day-journey-begins/.

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The 40 Day Journaling Challenge

In our men’s Bible study this past Saturday morning we talked about ‘fear and love’ in the Bible.  I wondered out loud to the group,

‘Do we truly experience a daily tangible relationship with God?‘.

I said, I’m sure we have all had times where we felt close to Him (and multiple heads shook in agreement) but do we have an intimate connection with him daily?  If we did, we probably would better understand what it means to ‘fear’ breaking that relationship with Him.

God, closer, intimacy, journal, walk, relationship

priestlybride.blogspot.com/

I suspect that, despite our efforts, there will always be some days when God feels distant.  As He did to David, when he wrote Psalm 22, and to Jesus when he used it while on the cross:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

But these are likely times of trial in which God is teaching us something.  The problem I have, is that I bring upon myself a dryness (as Gordon MacDonald described in our last post) and this is something I want to try to address.

You see, I’ve been going through a period of discouragement and I desire a closer walk with God.  I want to know His presence more and have a more intimate relationship.  I want it to be more tangible as it was with Moses, David and especially Jesus.

I know a closer walk means both more discipline and more actually walking (doing His will).  Therefore today, I resolve to journal for 40 days starting this coming Sunday, November 11th, through to Friday, December 22nd.  I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas!

I have talked to multiple people about this already and some people have agreed to join me, without any prompting.  Therefore I wanted to open this challenge up to all of you.  To our blog readers, our followers on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.  The members of the Westchester Men’s Ministry and the church congregations of Westchester, especially Community Bible Church of Yorktown, NY.

If you would like to join us, make a resolution to do so.  You don’t have to make it public but we recommend you do.  You can leave a comment on this blog post or you can share it on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NYMensministry

Then keep an eye out for more details on resources to help you during your journaling/quiet time.  In order to make it easier, any resource we use will be available free on-line.  You can use a simple notebook but if you would like to buy a slightly nicer journal, this one is less than $10. http://www.dayspring.com/cross_leather_christian_journal/

God Bless!

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The 40 Day Journaling Challenge by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://nymensministry.com/2012/11/06/journaling-challenge/.

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The Discipline of Journaling

Why Mapping your Private World can bring your soul into focus – Genesis 35:6-7

by Gordon MacDonald   – Reprinted with permission of the Leadership Journal (LeadershipJournal.net)

When I started journaling it was because I needed a “friend,” and I wasn’t doing well with the human kind. I had passed through several weeks of high stress, the kind young pastors are never ready to face. I’d ignored the need for spiritual refreshment; I’d neglected the family; I’d allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the problems of people. There I was, one Saturday morning, crying uncontrollably in the arms of my wife.

It was a scary moment and gave me a taste of the ’empty soul’. This must not happen again, I thought. It came to me that writing each day in a journal would press me to deal more forthrightly with my emotions, with my spiritual state (or lack of same), and with the meaning of my life. I was not disappointed.

Journaling Defined

What was my journal’s purpose? A journal—at least in my book—is a dialogue with the soul. It includes a record of events, but it also attempts to expose the significance of the events. What is God saying through this? What am I learning? How do I feel? What are the principles that ooze from these events?

Beyond that, I wanted the journal to be a story of my own journey and the journey (as much as possible) of those closest to me. The high and low points of my marriage are in the journals. Our children and grandchildren will one day be able to go back and recapture the salient events of their lives as seen through a father’s eyes. They will know how much I have loved them and how proud I am of their life choices. Often I have used my journal to pray and worship. Here and there are the indications of spiritual breakthroughs. And the journal has preserved vivid memories of the most remarkable (good and bad) moments of life.

What Journaling Produces

When journaling is done regularly, several things become possible:

  • The invisible and the ephemeral are forced into reality. Once feelings, fears, and dreams are named, they can be dealt with, prayed for, and surrendered to God. They come under control, no longer existing in a way that pollutes the soul and the mind.
  • Learning experiences are preserved. If I record and reflect on the experiences of each day, I add to my base of wisdom. Things usually forgotten or lost in the unconscious now, like books on a library shelf, wait to be tapped when parallel moments arise in the future.
  • Memories of God’s great and gracious acts are preserved. “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it,” God said to Moses after a great victory. As Israel wandered through the wilderness and experienced God’s providential care, he had them build monuments so they could remember. One day, I realized that my journal writing was a memorial to God’s sufficiency.
  • I can chart areas where I need most to grow and mature. As I look at journals of 30 years ago, I realize I have struggled with the same knot of issues throughout the years. The good news: the steps I took in the early days as I wrote of these issues turned into disciplines. And today, while issues remain, my “overcoming” rate is substantially higher. I wouldn’t have spotted many of these issues if I’d not written about them day after day.
  • It brings dreams alive. As ideas have flooded my mind over the years, I have written about them. Putting them into words helped me to discern the foolish ideas and develop the good ones. Many things I’ve done in the last few years had origins I can find in earlier journals.

—Gordon MacDonald; excerpted from our sister publication LEADERSHIP Journal, © 2004 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit LeadershipJournal.net.

Discussion:

  1. Have you ever kept a journal? Was it a positive or negative experience?
  2. What appeals to you most about keeping a regular journal? What appeals to you least?
  3. Which of the products of journaling above seem the most beneficial?

Challenge:

We would like to challenge all of our readers and followers to join us in resolving to journal for 40 days starting this coming Sunday, November 11th, through to December 22nd.  More details to follow in our next blog on Tuesday, November 6th.

Pictures of journals we found on-line that have inspired us:

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How to begin Praying

No need to clean up your thoughts before going to God in prayer. The Holy Spirit will do that during the conversation. Amen!

ALAN FADLING

[Excuse the male-centered language. It is a 50-year-old quotation]

“Let a man begin in prayer where he is, and that means anywhere, with any problem, with any desire. If what he asks for has him in its grip, that means that God can meet him there. If he has a ruling passion to be liked by others, to be selected to an important post, to be able to hold his marriage together, to recover the confidence of a son or daughter, why should this not come squarely into his prayer? We can begin anywhere in petitionary prayer.” (Steere, Douglas V. Dimensions of Prayer. New York: Women’s Division of Christian Service, 1962, p. 67.)

“How do I start praying?,” the question comes. I start praying exactly where I am. But I may have to begin by admitting that I’m not quite sure where I’m at. I may feel I’m standing in…

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Thirsty for God! Faith, Waiting for Truth!

Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand           This is an excerpt from “Tortured for Christ”

           by Richard Wurmbrand

            ‘Russians – A People with such ‘Thirsty Souls’

“For me, to preach the gospel to the Russians is heaven on earth.  I have preached the gospel to men of many nations, but I have never seen a people drink in the gospel like the Russians.   They have such thirsty souls.

An Orthodox priest, a friend of mine, telephoned me and told me that a Russian officer had come to him to confess.  My friend did not know Russian.  However, knowing that I speak Russian, he had given him my address.  The next day this man came to see me.  He longed for God, but he had never seen a Bible.  He had no religious education and never attended religious services (churches in Russia then were very scarce).  He loved God without the slightest knowledge of Him.

I read to him the Sermon on the Mount and the parables of Jesus.  After hearing them, he danced around the room in rapturous joy proclaiming, “What a wonderful beauty!  How could I live without knowing this Christ!”  It was the first time that I saw someone so joyful in Christ.

Then I made a mistake.  I read to him the passion and the crucifixion on Christ, without having prepared him for this.  He had not expected it and, when he heard how Christ was beaten, how He was crucified and that in the end He died, he fell into an armchair and began to weep bitterly.  He had believed in a Savior and now his Savior was dead!

I looked at him and was ashamed.  I had called myself a Christian, a pastor, and a teacher of others, but I had never shared the suffering of Christ as this Russian officer now shared them.  Looking at him, it was like seeing Mary Magdalene weeping at the foot of the cross, faithfully weeping when Jesus was a corpse in the tomb.

Then I read to him the story of the resurrection and watched his expression change.  He had not known that his Savior arose from the tomb.  When he heard this wonderful news, he beat his knees and swore – using very dirty, but very “holy” profanity.  This was his crude manner of speech.  Again he rejoiced,  shouting for joy.  “He is alive!  He is alive!”  He danced around the room once more, overwhelmed with happiness!

I said to him, “Let us pray!”  He did not know how to pray.  He did not know our “holy” phrases.  He fell on his knees together with me and his words of prayer were: “Oh God, what a fine chap you are!  If I were You and You were me, I would never have forgiven You of Your sins.  But You are really a very nice chap!  I love You with all of my heart.”

I think that all the angels in heaven stopped what they were doing to listen to this sublime prayer from a Russian officer.  The man had been won for Christ!”

Amen!  Hallelujah!

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This Year will be Different – SkitGuys

Do you feel sometimes that your life consists of waking up, eating, going to work and doing it all over again tomorrow.  Make next year different.  You can start today!

Source: http://skitguys.com/videos/item/this-year-will-be-different

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New Year’s Resolution

Finally a new blog!   Sorry for the delay.  Actually this is only a mini-blog but I do have 3 blogs in the works so keep a look out for them.

Next week in New Year’s day and many people including Christians see this as an opportunity to start a new habit by making a resolution.  A great resolution to make is to read the Bible in the year.  It takes discipline but it’s doable.  I’ve done it many times.  I find that the daily reading takes up 15 minutes so you can “catch up” by reading for 30 minutes every once in a while.

I’m trying to decide between a few resolutions but reading the Bible and journaling more regularly will probably make the final list for me.  In case it makes it to the top of your list, here are a few books you might find helpful:

Bible in a year books: (I’ve read each of these and can recommend)
                                                   


Complimentary Books:

                                                                                                   

You can click these images to buy on Amazon and help support our ministry.  Thank you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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New Year’s Resolution by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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