There was a time in my life when reading the Bible was a real struggle. I was reading the Bible and spending time in prayer but five minutes with God often seemed more like thirty minutes and I was confused about the reasons for this.
I began keeping a spiritual journal. My first spiritual journals were simply steno pads I purchased at the local drug store for less than $1.00 each. I approached the journal with a simple concept in mind.
Starting A Spiritual Journal
My first goal was to write in my journal as if I was writing a letter to God. I often began my entry with “Dear Father” and continued from there. I also have at times kept a prayer list in the back of my spiritual journal. Now that I have kept spiritual journals for over two decades I can say it has been one of the most meaningful practices of my Christian life. Now, when I buy a new journal I purchase a nice leather or bonded leather blank journal from a local bookstore.
What To Include In Your Spiritual Journal
Approach your spiritual journal with openness. I found this to be an adjustment. In the Christian life it is sometimes hard to be completely open with other Christians. There is a fear of “what will they think of me?” But remember this is a journal written to God. So be transparent.
Include your thoughts from your Bible reading.
You might even write out a few verses word for word or a summary of them.
Talk to God on paper. Write your thoughts to God as if it were a letter to Him.
Write a summary or even details of the circumstances of your life today.
Write down the key event, worry or concern in your life right now.
Write down the great things that are happening as well.
There is no right or wrong approach to keeping a personal spiritual journal. Keep in mind that this is your personal journey with God. It is very personal and private.
Protecting Your Journal
I feel it is important to keep your journal as private as you choose. I am careful about these journals. There are things I have experienced with God that I have never shared with others. There are also moments I have had with God that I have found impossible to keep to myself… I must tell those close to me of the great things God is doing.
The Result of Spiritual Journaling
In the past I may have spent five minutes with God and found it seemed like 30 minutes. After beginning the practice of keeping a spiritual journal, I find I can spend 30-45 minutes with God and it seems like five minutes. The journals have also become a great source of encouragement to me as I look back and read of the ways God has led in my life!
So, may I challenge you to consider the practice of keeping a spiritual journal. Don’t stress over whether you write in your journal every day, a few times each week or just an occasional entry. Anything that improves the quality of time you spend with God will be a move in the right direction.
If you are interested, I created a journal for teens several years ago. Over 15,000 teens have used it. It’s called the High Impact Teen Spiritual Journal and you can learn more about it here. Just realize that when people start keeping a spiritual, they average reading the Bible at least four days per week or more. And time spent growing in your relationship with God is time well spent.
After nearly three decades in youth ministry I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard people say, “By the time they are seniors… you might as well give up on them.” And it’s the one statement I couldn’t disagree with more!
Here’s the truth. I’ve seen high school seniors make that “11th hour decision” that changed the course of their life. And I’ve seen it happen often.
In April of my senior year of high school, I completely changed course. I filled out an application to go to college, received an acceptance letter within ten days and started making plans to go five hundred miles away to study youth ministry. That was in 1981… and I’m still on that path. Thank God people didn’t give up on me.
Realize this. High school seniors are in a position where all the key decisions they are wrestling to make are what I call “directional decisions.” The decisions they are making will change the direction of their life. If adults who care about them will continue to believe in them, invest in them, nurture and guide them, you will be amazed to see what God can do. So never give up on a teenager… especially a high school senior.
Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
5 Things To Know and Understand About Your High School Senior
They Are Happy about Where They Are in Life – There is a “spike” in their level of happiness because they are looking forward to seeing the future unfold. Don’t throw cold water on their joy. Take the opportunity to inspire them and teach them. Seize the unique opportunity you have now to talk then through true spiritual lessons of where true joy comes from. You might even set up some “one on one” talks between your teen and some trusted adults who have great lessons to share about their own experience with God and times of great joy.
They Are Apprehensive – As exciting as it may be to see the “finish line” of high school, they are also apprehensive about all that lies ahead. They want and need your input but seek to give it in a spirit of a coach and mentor from the sidelines, helping them transition to confident adulthood. This is not the time to pull away even though it may feel like that is what they want. It is the time to modify your approach to “coach from the sideline” while still always being available. Before you know it they are going to be asking you, “What do you think I should do?” And you will be in a great position to answer.
They Are Moving Away From Peer Pressure and Toward Adult Influencers – An 18 year old is less dominated by peer pressure. They are feeling more independent and are looking away from hundreds of classmates and looking forward to finding a few close friendships with adults. They are starting to form closer bonds with a few trusted friends. Their values and beliefs will be affected by those few close relationships. Be one of those close adult friends and pray fervently for God to bring the right “influencers” into their life.
They Want You To Be Proud of Them, Not Sad About Them Growing Up – Your 18 year old is ready to roll with a high level of enthusiasm and they will make some mistakes while learning to adapt. You are proud of your accomplishments too! You raised your child to be an independent adult! But you will deal with your own sadness of letting go. Don’t let your sadness dominate and don’t burden your teen with it either. They are excited and want to see that you are excited for them.
They Are About To Become More Fun Than Ever – It’s true! You will begin to see a shift in your teen’s thinking. They are going to start seeing their parents as much more valuable. They will notice and process what mom and dad have accomplished in life at home, at work and as a family unit. They start seeing parents through adult eyes and will desire more and more to be connected on an adult level to you as a parent. It’s important that you have kept a strong foundation in your relationship with your teen so you can enjoy this next stage without having to struggle through emotional baggage and unresolved hurt from the past.
Remember, of all the billions of families on earth, God placed that child in your home! He has clearly created a great plan for you and your teen. Now is the time to engage with your son or daughter and enjoy it more than ever!
A few years ago I received a call from Missionary Fred Kearney. He explained how he had walked in to his office and found a book on his desk in his office in Ghana, West Africa. To this day he has no idea how it got there. It was a High Impact Teen Spiritual Journal for youth. My phone number was printed on the book so he called me. He said, “We really need something like this.
Our youth have very few resources to help them understand the Word and grow.” He told me about a youth conference he was holding and we put together a plan to get 75 HIT Journals to their youth. Many of my ministry friends donated to help raise funds to get the books to these youth from surrounding villages. Fred told me weeks later how God had used the HIT Journal to revive the hearts of many of their youth. They really grew through the structure and discipline of keeping a spiritual journal.
NOW THEY NEED MORE
Fred Kearney has been in Africa for many years and is now in need of 200 HIT Journals for his upcoming youth conference called “Because of the Hour.” The youth will learn to have a consistent devotional life, keep a spiritual journal, keep an organized prayer journal, keep sermon notes and develop in seven areas of discipleship.
For every $12 given a HIT Journal will be provided to the youth in Ghana, West Africa. We need sponsors and donors. Could you give today to help with this special project? I have submitted the files to the printer and am trusting the Lord to provide so we can make this investment in the youth of Ghana, West Africa.
We need a total of $2400 to fund HIT Journals for 200 youth in Africa. The youth conference begins July
30 so we need to raise the funds in the next few days. I hope you will prayerfully consider a gift.
*Note: Any funds raised over the amount needed will provide HIT Journals to fatherless youth we are reaching in the outreach to juvenile detention centers.
Our son Brett graduated from high school on Friday evening, May 16 and we had a few friends and family over following graduation. We made it to bed around 1:30 am and got up at 4:30 am to make the drive to Atlanta where we would catch a plane to fly to Lima, Peru for a mission trip. We made it to Lima around 10:00 pm local time and joined our group of about a dozen men. We hit the ground running Sunday morning with the group splitting up into teams and covering 8 church services by days end. I had the chance to speak in the Sunday morning service and teach the youth in Sunday school and preach again on Sunday night in another church. Brett was able to share a testimony several times in services throughout our trip. We felt an immediate connection with the Christians in Peru.
After the Sunday morning service several ladies made lunch for us. I’m not exactly sure about all thefood on our plate but it was tasty and no one got sick! A 14-year old girl was in the Sunday school class I taught and shared with me how she recently was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. She has undergone all her treatments and currently is in great health according to her doctors. The people of Peru, much like many parts of the world, take seriously God’s power to heal. I have to be honest and admit I haven’t thought much about that for a long time. I’ve had challenges in my life but my health has always been good. Maybe that’s why I haven’t thought much about so many people in the world that don’t have access to doctors and the only hope they have is to call upon God to heal them in times of illness, injury or disease. She certainly was thankful for her doctors but the greatest part of her gratitude was to the Lord for healing her body. That was sobering to me. How often do we forget to thank God or acknowledge Him for taking care of us physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
While eating lunch a couple ladies told us about several visitors who had been with their church family for a month and just returned back home a few days before we arrived. These special guests were from a primitive tribe in the jungles of Peru. They had come to the city of Lima and stayed at this church for the purpose of learning Spanish so they could read the Spanish Bible and translate it into their native tongue in their village back home. They talked about how determined these men were to learn all they could in 30 days and get back to their village with a system in place to communicate the word of God to their own people. Most of the people in their village don’t read so they would have to teach them to read first, so they can accomplish the ultimate goal of getting the Word of God into their lives. They described the pages and pages of papers these men wrote and before they left to return home they piled all their papers on a the very table we were eating lunch on that day and dressed in their native apparel and had a ceremony to give thanks to God for what he had allowed them to accomplish toward translating the Word. The color for Peru is red so they painted their faces red for the ceremony and before they left they hugged everyone. The ladies talked about all the children who had smudges of red on their cheeks from hugging these men. Then one lady made this profound statement, “When we saw the red paint that was smeared on the cheeks of our children, we realized these men had left a part of themselves with us… they left their mark.” A lot of the children were wiping the cheeks of other children trying to get more red paint to put on their faces and arms. What would it look like for us, here in America, to have such an impact for Christ on our youth that they wanted to smear our testimony all over themselves. What a powerful picture.
One morning our mission team met with a group of local pastors as they shared with us about their current ministries. They shared how they had been led to start the specific ministry they are in right now and how they were going about reaching people. One pastor was in a community infiltrated by terrorists. He told about the terrorist storming in to his church and running to him while he was in the pulpit and threatening with guns to kill him. He stood courageously and told them he had nothing to fear because he was a child of God and if he died he would be with God in heaven. He went on to tell them they were seeking to control the city by inflicting fear on others but in reality they should be the ones who were afraid because without God they were on a path of destruction with no hope. The terrorist are now born again Christians and come to stand guard outside his church to protect them while they worship the Lord. This pastor’s faith was incredible and to hear of his unwavering commitment to take the gospel to dangerous places was a huge inspiration to me.
The day we visited the school of orphan children in the mountains of Peru was a highlight of our trip. I grabbed some boxes of supplies and headed up some stairs to an upper floor of the building. I lost track of a couple guys I was following so when I hit the landing I was caught off guard to see a swarm of kids around 5 years old running like a mob to ambush me. They were laughing, screaming and hugging me around the knees until I just about fell to the ground. They knew some “Americans” were coming to visit and they were people that cared for them so they were ready to show how much they were excited to see us. It was an incredible experience I will never forget. We split into teams at the orphan school and three of us were asked to be in a prayer/counseling room. Children were told that they could come talk to us for prayer and counseling. I sat and listened to stories of small children whose parents have died, who’ve been abandoned and abused. We prayed over children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse and even a boy whose cat died. Several children prayed to receive Christ and by the time we left it was as if we had stood on holy ground.
All the men on our mission team invested deeply in ministry to the Peruvians through sharing testimonies, preaching, teaching and giving of themselves through friendship that comes from a realization that Christ lives in us and we are used of Him by investing in others.
Pray For The Following Youth Outreach Ministry Projects:
Mountain View Youth Development Center, Knoxville, TN – We are now in this facility regularly with a ministry to 100+ youth.
Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, Indianapolis, IN – We are in the process of launching a new outreach team in this facility with up to 100 youth.
Spring Brook, Traveler’s Rest, SC – We have been invited to place a ministry team in this facility to do regular youth worship services.
Gainesville Youth Development Center, Atlanta, GA – We have meetings with the staff of this facility on Friday, June 6 to launch a youth outreach program.
Midtown Educational Center, Harriman, TN – We are in this facility regularly doing a mentoring program with as many as 24 students per visit. Pray for these students on summer break.
Teen Haven Youth Center, York, PA – We have been invited to take the Teen Haven Youth Center in as a part of our ministry and serve as the parent organization for them. Pray for wisdom as we explore this opportunity. Pray for Alex Mikusow who has led this ministry for 20 years faithfully and would be a member of our ministry team as he continues to serve these youth for years to come.
The Franklin Table, Franklin, TN – Pray for this vital ministry to the poor in the community of Franklin, TN led by Scott Roley. The Franklin Table operates under our “ministry umbrella” and is doing a great work.
Last week I had the opportunity to take a trip to French Camp, Mississippi to speak to the students at French Camp Academy. This was my second trip in about six months to be with these amazing people. I first learned of French Camp Academy by plopping down at a breakfast table while attending a ministry conference last winter and meeting Todd Marion. We were all focused on our stomachs and talking around the table about who we are, where we are from and what we do. Todd asked me what I do in Tennessee and I told him I work with high-risk and fatherless youth. We talked briefly about teens and Todd said, “You would love our place and you should come visit.” I asked him what kind of place he was talking about and he went on to tell me about French Camp Academy, a Christian boarding school tucked away in this little town of French Camp, Mississippi. The boarding school ministry has been there since 1885! Following that conversation was an invitation to come speak in chapel at the school last spring and another invitation to come back last week to speak in the Wednesday evening service and Thursday morning chapel. I was able to bring a good friend with me on this trip to share the ministry with him. Hoss Johnson lives up to his name because he’s a “Hoss” of a guy who played football at Alabama from ’82-’86 and had a short NFL career. Just five weeks ago Hoss left his job to go in to full-time sports ministry. Hoss shared his heart with these students and how God has worked in his life through the unfortunate death of his wife ten years ago and how God has been so faithful as he raised his son and daughter as a single dad.
My time at French Camp was amazing and refreshing. If you can imagine immersing yourself in a ministry surrounded by hundreds of students who are coming from extremely difficult family situations. Some of them can’t go home… it’s just not possible because home has become French Camp. Not all students that attend French Camp Academy come from broken homes but the heart and purpose of their existence is to glorify God and impact young people while providing a safe, stable, Christ centered place to heal and grow.
Here are some things I observed while being immersed in the ministry of 200-300 students and staff at the French Camp Academy Boarding School.
God is good. I can only imagine the turmoil that could overtake a child’s emotions when the family falls apart but yet there is incredible hope in that God is good and He provided a new place and new people to provide love and care. One student told me with a huge smile that God is really good and he feels so incredibly blessed that God provided this family for him. Have you noticed that God often replaces things you’ve lost in life with something new? Have you thanked Him lately for that?
There is a tremendous joy in serving. The staff that serve the youth at French Camp have a joyful spirit… there is a sense of value in what they are investing in with their life and it shows. Have you noticed that when you invest in others, there is a renewed spirit of joy?
The harder things bring the greater rewards. I noticed the staff working long hours, the house parents that have chosen to live with 10-15 teenagers and be “mom and dad” and I imagined by interacting with the high-quality people that lead this ministry that they have made financial sacrifices to be there but they didn’t ever mention anything about sacrifice. There was much more of a spirit of reward. It struck me that there are great rewards that come in doing the hard things. Have you considered the rewards that are coming from something hard you are doing right now? Is there something you feel God leading you to do but you are holding back because it looks really hard?
I’d love to get hear from you. Take a minute and answer one of these questions. Your comments could have a big impact on our readers.
What have you lost but seen God replace in your life? Where have you served and found great joy in doing it? What hard thing do you feel you need to start and what is holding you back?
High Impact Teens and the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana have partnered together once again for the annual Man Up Conference. Our ministry team of volunteers will spend the entire day on Saturday, February 23, 2013, teaching principles of manhood to incarcerated youth. 85-90% of detained teenagers are “fatherless” and lack the daily support of a loving and engaged dad.
The Man Up Conference was provided by donations from friends who chose to sponsor the event.
If you would like to join our ministry support team and invest in the high-risk youth we serve, we would love to hear from you.
Consider becoming a part of the High Impact Team and support the ministry monthly or by making a quarterly or annual gift.
2 WAYS TO GIVE:
Mail your gift to: Ken Turner Ministries, Inc., PO Box 1325, Dayton, TN 37321
After twenty-one years in church youth ministry I established an outreach ministry in 2008 with a key focus on reaching troubled youth in the community of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our ministry moved to Tennessee in July 2010 and I continue to minister to high-risk and fatherless youth.