Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!


Matthew 2:1-11

I remember growing up Christmas had a distinctive smell to me.  It is the smell of freshly painted rooms (because that was a tradition for us at Christmas, cleaning and painting the inside of the house), it is the smell of ham, cakes and bread baking in the oven over a period of the two days before Christmas.  I am transported back immediately to my childhood when I smell these smells.  The Christmas story is filled with smells as well.

There is the smell of a stable, hmmn.

There is the smell of frankincense and myrrh. Those smells are significant to me.  The stable smell is a reminder that the God of the universe chose to be born in a lowly place.  He was brought immediately into the stench of the world.

He was given frankincense and myrrh.  Now we’re talking, gifts fit for a King but an interesting choice…myrrh.  Myrrh was used for treating wounds and pain and was an important ingredient in embalming bodies.  Funny that Jesus birth is replete with the smell of sin and death.  But we need to be reminded that this was exactly why He was born – to die so that we could have life.  His death was the sacrifice needed to make us clean – so that we could stand before God the Father without the stench of sin and death upon us anymore.



As you enjoy the smells of cookies baking and all the other delicious smells of Christmas let it remind you to give thanks for now stench of sin and death is no longer upon us. 


Luke 2:8-20

Some years ago I was at a pastor’s prayer time in December.  As we were closing the prayer time one of the pastors started singing Silent Night. 
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
Round young virgins,
Mother and child…

Did I hear correctly?  Round young virgins?  I wonder how many time we have sung a song and never stopped to listen to the words (and in this case to correct it!)  We have sung it so long we don’t even realize that we have changed the words. 

This Christmas let us not sing the carols and forget the meaning, or change the words without even realizing it.  We need to go back to the source of the words and let them resonate once again with us.  The shepherds heard the word of the angels, saw the reality of those words and went away rejoicing because it was just as they had been told.  Let’s take time to remember the words of Jesus to us in this season. 



What word has God spoken to you in your life that you need to remember and rejoice over?
Stop and read through a couple of the Christmas carols that we sing and allow the words to truly resonate with you. 
As you hear Christmas carols throughout your day stop and thank God for His gift of life born to us through a round young virgin.


Matthew 14:13-21

  • Matthew 14:19 (NIV) 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.


Ever feel like you have so much to do with so little resources?  There are more tasks than time in the day.  There are more needs than the money can stretch.  The list goes on.  In the story, Jesus has five loaves and two fishes to feed at least 5000 people.  What he does not do is complain, instead he takes what He has and offers it up to the Father and THANKS him.


One of the best ways to savor the season is to have a thankful attitude.  Maybe that is why we start the holiday season with Thanksgiving.  Keeping an attitude of thankfulness takes the focus off our circumstances and places it back on the God who gave us His son. In light of the coming of Christ to save us for our sins, long check-out lines, annoying family members, even the bigger things like finances and health disappear into the shadows.



Write down one thing you are thankful for everyday.
Go a step further and share it with a friend. 


  • Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV) 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.


Rest: Jesus invites us to find rest in Him.  In a culture that stresses doing, Jesus invites us to come and rest.  In a world that wants you to constantly give them more Jesus invites us to take from Him and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 

Beyond resting in the relationship of Jesus we can choose to rest this season as well – even if that means some things are left imperfect or undone.


What areas can you take a rest from this season?
How can you rest and enjoy God’s presence today?


  • John 13:1-17
The holidays are stressful. Shopping. Parties. Family. Finances. Hot weather…so we need to intentionally make room for savoring.  Here is one way we can do it…
Friends and Family (sounds like an ad for a phone plan)

Engage with your friends and family. People travel, everyone seems busy, but reaching out to your friends and family during the holidays isn’t just good for you, it’s good for them. Even a simple text message to say hi and ask how someone is doing can be the only light someone sees on a really cloudy day.

In our reading today Jesus is heading into the most stressful time of His life and what does He do?  He intentionally spends time with those closest to him.  He encourages them but I am sure that they were a comfort and help to him as well.



Make a list of people you will intentionally engage with and plan how you will connect with them.

Make a commitment to start every day connecting with God.


We all have seen the Christmas commercials of what Christmas is supposed to look like…

The children with perfect hair wake up and run down a perfectly polished wooden staircase wrapped in garland and lights and ribbons to open up perfectly wrapped presents under the perfect tree as mom and dad sit on their perfect sofas and take perfect photos wearing their perfectly matched pajamas. Everyone gets what they want yet act perfectly surprised.

The perfect father in the perfect J. Crew sweater brings the perfect turkey to the perfectly set Christmas table as the perfect family with all their silverware in all the right places and crystal goblets full of water and wine eagerly await the perfect Christmas Eve dinner.

In real life, we head into the bathroom and take a break from our drunk uncles or our fighting parents or the annoying grandchildren and we check our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Whatever we are given glimpses into the worlds of those we know who, for the most part, share their own images of Christmas perfection. We rest against the bathroom wall and wonder why. Christmas is love. Christmas is light. But for many of us, Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year.
Maybe there has been loss. Grief.
Painful reminders of our brokenness or the brokenness of others.
We pause and we wonder. Why? Why me? Why this? Why us?

If that is you this Christmas season – if you are one who is hurting more than healing – you are not alone. The depths of the meaning of Christmas are for you. It’s not the smiling family or the perfect turkey or the iPad mini. It isn’t even the promise of feeling good during Christmas.

Christmas is a reminder that the One who is perfect – who brought His holy, pure love and grace to earth – became God and Spirit wrapped in flesh and was born into the most imperfect conditions because of one simple fact: He loves you. He loves you.

  • Luke 4:16-21 (NIV) 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21  and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Ask God to give you eyes to see His perfect love for you as you go about your days.

Overwhelmed by Wonder

  • Mark 9:15 (NIV) 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

Kind of a strange verse to be looking at as we start this Christmas devotional.  Over the next few weeks we will take a break from our regular SOUL journaling and focus on the idea of savoring Christmas. 

I am struck by the words, “overwhelmed with wonder.”  I remember driving down the street when Ethan was a baby just trying to get home and we came across a street lit up by Christmas lights.  Honestly I didn’t even notice the lights I was intent on getting home from church.  When suddenly from the back seat I heard “Ohhhh, pretty!”  My son had seen the lights and was overwhelmed with wonder.  His reaction caused me to see the lights in a whole new way as well.  Suddenly my foot was off the gas and I was driving slowly down the street as he oohed and aahed all the way.  This is my prayer for you as you travel through this season, may we slow down long enough to see Jesus, and when we do, may we be overwhelmed with wonder.  I am praying that you too will run to greet Him and welcome Him into our celebration of the season that is all about Him. 



Think back to what Christmas was like as a child.  What are some of your favorite memories?

When was the last time you were overwhelmed with wonder?  Did you outgrow that sense of awe?

Imagine seeing Jesus.  What type of wonder would you feel in His presence?  Pray and ask Jesus to let you see Him more this Christmas season (to see His touch and presence as you go about your days.) 

What would it look like for you to be overwhelmed with wonder by Him today?



Revelation 21:1,3-4

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”


We’ve read through the signs and death and destruction that are envisioned to come. And now comes “a new heaven and a new earth.”


The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints.

This new Jerusalem is the church of God in its new and perfect state, the church triumphant. Its blessedness came wholly from God, and depends on him.

The presence of God with his people in heaven, will not be interrupt as it is on earth, he will dwell with them continually.

All effects of former trouble shall be done away. They have often been in tears, by reason of sin, of affliction, of the calamities of the church; but no signs, no remembrance of former sorrows shall remain.

Christ makes all things new.

If we are willing and desirous that the gracious Redeemer should make all things new in order hearts and nature, he will make all things new in respect of our situation, till he has brought us to enjoy complete happiness.
, emphasis mine]

Life Application

I love God’s presence. To imagine a time and place where He is continually with us without interruption, without the distractions fills my heart.

And just like He will make all things new, establishing a new heaven and new earth, He has the power to make all things new in our heart at any moment. We just need to choose to live it out.

God, continually renew my heart. Make all things new in my perspective in every situation, in the way I see people…every morning and every hour, renew my heart with a passion to seek you and desire to see people, places and things (situations) like you do.  I know there’s still a spiritual battle being waged over my life and over those I love; help me to “fight” strong, with boldness and strength and faith…God, that I all know (and even those I don’t) may come to know you.  I believe everything we do has a ripple effect.  May the ripple I create be in partnership with you and what you desire to do in the hearts of those you love.

– Rei

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Revelation 20:12

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 


At the opening of this chapter, John talks about how Satan will be judged and devoured by fire and brimstone.  He tries about the lake of fire and the second death.  He also talks about the ones who were part of the first resurrection.  The chapter is wrapped up with this image of a great multitude of people standing in front of God waiting to be judged.     


Check your attitude at the door.

When I was a kid my dream career was always evolving.  I went from wanting to be a cowboy, to a carpenter, to a professional surfer, to a professional runner, to a business owner, and a bunch of things in between. 

As it turned out, my first job out of high school was working as a carpenter for a framing company.  But then I started to want a little bit more.  I wanted to be in a place where I could be used by God.  I started getting involved in a number of different ministries, which lead me to believe I wanted to be in ministry full time.  So I went to bible college, for six months.  And for a number of reasons, I quit.  I then returned to working as a carpenter, but still with that desire to be used by God.

I then began giving God a laundry list of things that I “needed” Him to figure out for me, all so that I could get back to “serving” in a full time capacity.  Funny thing is, those things never fell into place.  Never did I really trust God to put me in the place he wanted me to be.  But, I was always asking, “Why aren’t you doing things my way?” 

By what I would call divine intervention, I found a career in law enforcement.  And along the way learned an important lesson: it’s not about what you do, but who you do it for.  God has given me an opportunity to be ministering full time to a special group of people who need to hear God’s story of redemption, and I am getting to take part in the great commission (Matthew 28:19).  And by allowing God to work through me, I am also ensuring my name will be written in the book of life.       

Life application

Help me to see the people you bring into my life with your eyes, and have compassion on them.

Jesus, help me to be effective where you place me.  Also help me to overcome my sin, so that my behavior will not get in the way of what you are doing in others. 
– Tyler Galloway
To check out the discussion or to join in click here.


Revelation‬ ‭19:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.””
ObservationWhat does it say?
Babylon is no more. As a result, a symphony of praise erupts. This chapter is broken up into a symphony of praise, the wedding supper of the lamb, the Return of the King with the words king of kings and Lord of Lords written on his thigh, and an invitation to a different feast. (Source: Higher Learning Revelation notes)
John was so overwhelmed with praise that he wanted to worship the angel that was delivering the message to him from God, but the angel told John that he was just a servant like him and to worship God instead.
UnderstandingWhat does it mean?
Worship the Creator, not the created.
As the Apostle Paul says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Even though angels are strong heavenly beings and John wanted to worship the particular angel who was giving him the prophecies, the angel knew the Source of all the prophecy and praise wasn’t him, but rather Someone greater than him.
In Higher Learning, we discussed how John may have been in such awe and because the angel was the closest form to God that he could actually look at (because no one could look upon the face of a Holy God and live as Ex. 33:20 states, until we are in our perfect transfigured bodies), he ended up worshipping him (the angel). John did it out of a pure heart, knowing God as the true source of all power, yet praising the physical, heavenly being in front of him because of how much praise he had in his heart. He didn’t know what else to do.
Life Application
We are all servants, created in the image of the One we serve.
I admit that it’s easy to give credit and praise to those who do good deeds for the Lord because they are who we can physically see; however, we must remember where it all originates from. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Dear Lord, I pray that our good deeds would cause others to glorify You as the Source of all things good. I pray that we would stay connected to Your light and let go of anything that is not of You. Thank you for your holiness and that no darkness can penetrate Your glory. May our hearts continue to erupt with worship and praise to the only One who is worthy of it. Amen.
To check out the discussion or join in, click here.