On Keeping a Holy Spirit Journal of the Soul



Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 22:22–24

The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”

As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.


As I have read through Acts these last months a new and yet obvious insight has come to me. While Paul was traveling and preaching and getting beaten to within an inch of his life and making tents and all the other stuff that was his apostolic life—he was also writing letters. While it’s difficult to know exactly what he wrote to whom and precisely when and where he might have been along the journey at the time of the writing, it’s interesting to think back through his letters juxtaposed against his day-to-day life.

In some ways, Paul’s letters to various churches and Christians provide us with a sense of his “journal.”

For instance, as we’ve been working our way through this riot in Jerusalem and Paul’s ensuing address to the angry mob of Jewish men who would formerly have been his compatriots I have not been able to get out of my mind this bit from his letter to the Philippians.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:4–11)

This is the Holy Spirit–inspired journal of Paul’s soul. In my way of seeing it—with the work of sacred writing—the Holy Spirit etches words on the soul long before they make it to the page. Something tells me these words crystallized in Paul’s deepest soul long before he wrote them down. My hunch is the substance of Philippians 3 happened on this day as he heard the people shouting their murderous threats: “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”  It’s the same thing they shouted at Jesus, isn’t it? Paul was sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings wasn’t he—becoming like him in his death—and in writing it down he is inviting us to share in that fellowship too. 

Philippians 3:4–11 (along with many other passages) is a snapshot of Paul’s developing soul. I wonder what a snapshot of my developing soul might look like. How about yours? Let me be clear, I am not somehow reducing Holy Spirit–inspired Scripture to Paul’s spiritual journal. And certainly, none of us are going to write Scripture as the book is closed now. However, all of us can engage in the practices of sacred writing, perhaps better described as Word-and-Spirit journaling. It looks like sketching snapshots of our soul with words; like taking a screenshot of the Spirit’s handiwork in our inmost being.

I (perhaps like many of you) have faltered and floundered at journaling for many years, but in recent years I have found a way that works. It’s not so much a rigid method I would prescribe or impose on someone else as it is a working craft I would help others find their own way in. I’m thinking about offering a live online workshop if there is sufficient interest. You can register your interest here in this three-question survey

The Word of God and the Spirit of God are actively and powerfully working in you, Christian. I want to encourage and help you to increase your level of responsive participation in this work. That’s what we are doing here day by day on the Wake-Up Call. 


Lord Jesus, I am your witness. I long to be like you. 

I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.

Come, Holy Spirit, transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.


Do you keep a journal? Have you in the past? How has that worked or not? What do you think about this kind of practice? What is the point of it in your thinking and experience? I would love to hear. You can reply to this email and tell me the struggle/success story.  


Today we will sing “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee,” hymn 596 from our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Get your copy here. 

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

P.S. If you are in the St. Simons Island area . . . 

On July 11–13, our Seedbed Resources Team will be on-site at Epworth by the Sea (for the South Georgia Conference of the Global Methodist Church) with a truckload of Seeds (aka books, studies, hymnals, and good hospitality) if anyone wants to stop in and say hello. I will not personally be present but other members of the Farm Team will be there. 

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. The Holy Spirit Faith Fountain

    Learn to activate
    God’s faith fountain,
    The Spirit’s inner flow,
    That etches
    Living words
    On the soul
    And causes God’s fruit
    To grow and flourish
    In hungry hearts.
    The Spirit’s streaming
    Leaves faces beaming
    With the light of Christ.

    Is about more than
    The Bible info
    That you know.
    It is about
    Going with God’s flow
    And being led
    By His Spirit
    Throughout each day.

    If you want to grow
    Strong in the Lord
    You need to know
    How to let
    His Spirit flow
    From deep within you.
    (John 7:38.)

    Don’t let life
    Get you down.
    Let “Christ in you,”
    Lift you to
    Higher ground.

  2. Today’s Walk-Up Call is for me a vivid reminder that there truly is a cost of discipleship, and that we’ll be tempted to conclude that Jesus might not be worth all the suffering that is sure to come as we journey along the Way. Paul documented how he was able to endure: “For I am being pounded out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. l have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8) Paul’s journal is our example.

  3. JD, yes, pls encourage journaling, a legacy of Holy Spirit interventions, God incidences, and answered prayer. Not a dairy of life events, history. But His Story thru you. This will bless, your loved ones, presently and after you in the future. Imagine Jesus holding the pen, ask Father God in your journal what He would say to you today, step aside and let the Holy Spirit flow. Ready set go, Holy Spirit flow (great little prayer, easy to remember.). Biggest issue is time to do it. We’re missing out if we don’t.

  4. JD, recommend reading “7 Keys to hearing God’s Voice” by Mark and Patti Verkler/ Virkler (spelling?). For left- brain-logical Christians who have such a difficult time hearing the Holy Spirit. Journaling is helpful key.

    1. Yes! Excellent book. Dallas Willard also wrote an excellent book on this subject.

      Personally, I long to journal in this manner – as a response to the work of the Holy Spirit. I start…then life gets in the way (a myriad of excuses…not reasons) and my journaling suffers. I don’t want it to be just another discipline to be checked off each day…I want, I long for it to become a natural part if my day.

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