Writings of Brother Dan Kenneth. Phillips
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A journal is a helpful way of keeping up
with our spiritual journey. A spiritual journal is different
from a regular journal. It is a written record
of personal reactions to spiritual matters.
I began keeping a personal spiritual journal
several years ago, and I have found it helpful in discovering God's
active work in my life.
I keep my journal with my Bible to record import new insights,
prayers from the Bible that have been helpful to me, and meaningful
passages from spiritual books I am reading. The
importance of a spiritual journal is that it
gathers strength in helping us with our daily spiritual life,
especially if we write in it often. A journal of spiritual materials
grows more powerful as it is used.
Let me first suggest that you buy a journal
that has a feel of importance about it. I often go to a first
class bookstore and buy a journal that is made of genuine bonded leather.
This type of journal has a feel of permanence it, and it will last.
I have also found it helpful to include entries
by date. This allows quick retrevial of materials that have previously
A helpful way to begin a day entry is to write
a brief sentence to record and briefly describe events which are taking
place in your life that day. Describe anything which comes to
your mind. State the facts recent experiences as briefly as possible
and make them a matter of prayer concern.
SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY JOURNAL?
Bible verses, sermon notes, or phrases that
have a special meaning for you. Explore
your feelings as you study the Bible. Experiences that have been meaningful
to you should be added. New awareness of God's revealing himself to
you should be included.
Quotes from books that are meaningful
Any thoughts that come to your mind. Note any
images that touch your life. (Example: An eagle crossing the
Note especially feelings you have.
Write how you feel about events, persons, ideas, and relationships.
What books are you reading? Keep a
list of books you read. Write phrases from these books in your journal.
Note "anything that rings a bell in your life"
in your journal.
Every month summarize the month. What
were key events that happened?
HOW SHOULD I BEGIN?
fast, write everything, include everything. Write from your feeling,
accept whatever comes to mind, and note it in your journal.
As you begin, ask this question: "What is
the most important thing going on in my life right now?"
Begin with an image. "This period of my life has been like a narrow
Write all "the feelings" you have in one day.
Keep photographs, news clippings, and notes of world events.
WHAT DEVICES SHOULD
Feelings, descriptions, reflections (re-looking
at the past), images, thought, and "whatever comes to mind" are
what should be included in your journal. Keep lists of events, past
happenings, or important events that have happened in your own life.
Dialogue with yourself. Carry on an imaginary conversation with yourself.
This can be helpful.
In summary, your spiritual journal is the key to developing your
spiritual life. Work hard with it and your life will be greatly enriched.
For further information on journal
Journal Entries by Years
to How to Develop A Spiritual Journal
Hills Community Church-Corona,CA
University English Department
Hewitt's Writer's Resource Center
Edward Roman Catholic Church in Dana Point, CA
Mudd College Writing Center
have a new spiritual blog called A
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY which you are welcome to visit. It will be updated
quite frequently. Please let me know if you read it, ok?Note: This is probably no longer on the web. It was my first web journal.
is a minor miracle in which God seeks to remain anonymous.
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes as I open thy book, for their
in I find the words of life.
July 2, 1988 (Sunday)
We were on a trip to Prince Edward Island. It was a
special trip for my 13 year old daughter to see the place where Anne of
Green Gables lived.
On this particular day, I had made a mistake. I had
planned to drive further than we normally did. My plans were to go from
Hagerstown, Md. to Maine. About 4 p.m. we arrived in Bennington, Vermont.
I was very tired. My wife, Janet, was tired too. I asked her if should
could drive for just an hour so I could rest. She reluctantly agree.
A few minutes later, I saw a beautiful church and graveyard
near a curve ahead. For some compelling urgent reason I wanted to stop.
"Janet, lets stop at that church. I believe someone
famous is buried in that graveyard."
It was not a happy moment. Both of us were so tired.
Then Janet blurted out, "I'll stop, but I'll stay in the car. You go find
the famous person and hurry back!"
Reluctantly, I sheepishly left the car. As I rounded
the corner of the church, I found a sign which said, ROBERT FROST GRAVE.
What an important moment that was. I did not know Robert
Frost was buried there. When I rushed back to tell Janet and Melinda,
they both eagerly came with me to the graveside.
In my journal that day I wrote, "When we accidently
found Robert Frost grave, I stood by it, and with tears in my eyes, said
a simple prayer. "Lord, thank you for Robert Frost being on this earth.
For, Lord, his poem, The Road Not Taken, has been significant in my life.
It has helped me to see the importance of taking the road less travelled.
Thank you Lord for this moment!"
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
On the tombstone of Robert Frost was written: "He
had a lover's quarrel with the world." Something that could just
as easily been written as a memorial to Jesus. One who cared for others.
Another person who knew the importance of the road less travelled.
How thankful I am that God gives us hints at detours
sometimes. There is no doubt in my mind that I was led to that gravesite
by God's guidance.
July 27, 1988 (Tuesday)
In his book Courage to Pray, Anthony Bloom states: "Interceding
prayer means " placing ourselves at the heart of a troubled situation."
A passage of scripture from Daniel 2:17-23.
Then Daniel praised the God of heaven;
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom
and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and
deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness and
light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers. You have
given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of
you, you have made known to use the dream of a king."
August 26, 1988
I have come to Penuel Ridge Retreat Center for a "silent"
day of retreat. It is a lovely and beautiful day. I need time alone with
This has been a difficult summer. The struggles at work
have spiritually exhausted me. I feel like I am fighting against a brick
wall. It seems I am at a deadend with my life. I need spiritual guidance.
These scripture verses have been with me this summer:
"It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the
Lord.....Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust - there may yet be hope. Let him offer
his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. (Lamentations 3:26-31)
I talked with Sister Maureen. She said, "all the scripture
you quote reflects mourning!" How right she is. Then she says, "Is there
anything that gives hope?" And then she adds a very important point: "Don't
hold on so tightly. Say to the Lord, if this crumbles that is fine, but
I believe you still have something else for me and I am looking forward
How important it is to have spiritual compatriots. Persons
who hear our inner cry and respond with love and care. They are a true
GIFT from God. "Lord, thank you for Sister Maureen."
"Dan, give me more of your time for prayer, for reading
the word. Give me more room in your life, more of your gifts and possessions."
and seclusion are the birthplace of new divine life and fruitful ministries
for the Lord.
Quote: Only by
going through the desert could Moses encounter God on Mt. Sinai.
Quote: Every morning I
brought my list of tasks to God in prayer. Instead of thinking of all
I planned to accomplish, I kept asking the Holy Spirit to guide me, to
say whether I should continue with a task or prayer longer.
Quote: He delays in sending
His aid so that I may learn to have faith before seeing any results (p.
August 28, 1988
Quote: If we want
to grow in faith we do have to let Him speak to us. (Basil Pennington)
September 28, 1988
Meditation is the deliberate and usually systematic
reflection on some truth or passage of scripture. It has a threefold purpose:
to insturct the mind, to move the will, and to warm the heart for prayer.
(The Cloud of Knowing, p.22)
Contemplation is the awareness of God, known and loved
at the core of one's being. (The Cloud of Knowing, p.46)
To contemplate is to move beyond your own activity and
become activated by the inner power of the Holy Spirit.
A type of prayer used by the saints was called Companion
prayer. It is like showing a friend around. (Or, another way of putting
it, "Introducing God to our world as if He were our best friend.)
"There is great value in immersing ourselves in another's
experiences of God. As we listen to another person's story, we come to
see more clearly the movement of God in our own lives. Whenever the Israelites
became discouraged, or frightened, their leaders would get them together
to tell them the story one more time. (A Guide to Prayer)
September 28, 1988
The following is a prayer by Dag Hammarskjold in his
book "Markings." This is one of my favorite prayers.
Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee.
A humble heart that I may hear Thee,
A heart of love that I may serve Thee,
A heart of faith that I may abide in Thee.
October 18, 1988
"Most often we have little control over the sufferings
that life brings, but we do have something to say about how we will respond
to these opportunities. How we respond can lead us to the fulness of life
or to a life of anger, resentment, cynicism, and despair. (Weavings, November,
November 2, 1988
Silence is the stilling of one voice to hear another.
When you pray, you talk to God; when you read Scripture,
God talks to you. (Augustine)
"To become friends, you must eat a bushel of salt together."
Prayer must be heartfelt or it is not real. Prayer is
a dialogue between lovers.
November 14, 1988
A key turning point in Howard Thurman's life was when
he found a book by the Quaker Rufus Jones. It changed his life. While
attending a church conference on religious education in Ohio, he picked
up a secondhand copy of Finding the Trail of Life by Rufus Jones. He read
it immediately. He felt an immediate kinship. "This is the man I want
to find," he said to himself. Later, as a result of his relationship with
Jones, many people received renewed hope in their lives.
January 15, 1990
"Consecrate yourselves for tommorrow the Lord will do
wonders among you." ( Joshua 4)
Preparation is needed to experience our greatest dreams. They rushed across
the Jordan River because the water was heaped upon them if their faith
failed. In other words they had to have faith just to cross the Jordan
We can miss God's greatet opportunities because of a
lack of vision. Remember only two of the original spies made it to the
promised land - Caleb and Joshua. They were also the only ones of the
original group who thought they could do it. Positive Faith!
Dan Kenneth Phillips
January 16, 1990
"Speak only when it improves the silence." (Trappist
February 19, 1990
"True prayer demands that we be more passive than active;
it requires more silence than words, more adoration than study, more concentration
than rushing about, more faith than reason.." (Carlo Carreto)
"Those who feel God most deeply can say least about
him." (Angela of Foligno)
I found the following at a Holiday Inn, at exit 347,
in Harriman, Tennessee. It was a small wayside shrine.
I see from my house by the side of the
by the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with ardor of hope,
the men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears
both parts of an infinite plan,
let me live in my house by the side of the road
and be a friend to man.
The Wayside Shrine, a symbol of physical shelter and
spiritual comfort for all travelers - wayside shrines were first used
during the middle ages. This age old symbol now reflects the attitude
and philosophy of Holiday Inns.
August 23, 1992
"Don't travel with the idea of reaching a spectacular
destination. Look for details and keep yourself open to experience the
country as a whole." (Traveler, Jan.1989)
"When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous
signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said." (Acts 8:6)
How true! People still look at our lives to see if Jesus
is active in them.
December 26, 1992
The rich young rulers life was too "complex." He had
too many things to take care of, too many people to relate to."
Lord, that my life might become simple enough for me
to be able to say "yes" when Jesus looks at me. (Henri Nouwen)
"Be faithful to adoration."
June 12, 1993
My Dad died 13 years ago today. How time flies and how
old Satan remembers dates. The greatest event of my life was receiving
an award for a sermon I once preached. It was titled "God's Greatest Gift",
and it was published in a book titled "Award Winning Sermons - Volume
2" in 1978. I received the award on June 12, 1978 before 15,000 people.
My father was in the audience. Two years later he died on the same date.
Yes, Satan remembers dates.
"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become
my salvation." (Is.12:2)
"If we would come to the sacred place and open ourselves
to the holy presence which is always there, the Spirit of God will do
the rest." (Evelyn Underhill)
"The glory of His vision and majesty is sensed when
one listens to the chattering of the birds, the echo of the whipplewill,
the early morning cool shade on the patio, words from God's Holy Book,
the joy of a new computer screen, the sense of oneness with life, an airplane
passing, the silent mountains where tiny plants in exquiste beauty flower
for God, the simple expression revealed in silence, the passing of a white
July 11, 1993
"All of us are facing a series of great opportunities
brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems."
Paul Harvey's quotes about guidance: "All
of us pray for guidance, but taking it when you get it, that's sometimes
very difficult. We're inclined to say, wait a minute God, you don't understand
the question. But if you pray for guidance and the doors keep opening
instead of closing, I'd be scared not to march through."
On His tombstone he wants written: "He left the
woodpile a little higher than he found it."
August 10, 1994
A promise from the Lord: "For I know the plans I have
for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future." (Jerimiah 29:11)
August 27, 1994
This was a prayer that Dr. Eric Rust used while I was
at Seminary. When I repeat it, I still hear his British voice:
"God unto whom all hearts are open, unto whom all wills do speak, from
whom no secret thing is hidden, I beseech thee so to cleanse the purpose
of my heart with the unutterable gift of thy grace that I may perfectly
love thee, and worthily praise thee. Amen."
October 1, 1994
A delightful morning. I am staying at the Holiday
Inn, 1548 Montgomery Highway, Birmingham, Alabama. Behind the Holiday
Inn is a small lake with chairs, tables, and ducks. It is perfect for
a spiritual retreat. One man walks from place to place fly fishing. I
read Caretto: "This waiting, this not making plans, this searching the
heavens, this being silent is one of the most important things we have
to learn. The moment will then follow when we are called.
The extraordinary thing is that God uses us, who are so insignificant
and unworthy. Make some desert in your life. Every now and then leaving
men and looking for solitude to restore, in prolonged silence and prayer,
the stuff of your soul. This is the meaning of desert in your spiritual
life. One hour a day, one day a month, eight days a year, for longer if
necessary, you must leave everything and everybody and retire, alone with
God. If you don't look for solitude, if you don't love, you won't achieve
real contemplative prayer. It is HE who is looking for me."
Returning home tonight, I found that my Mother had a
stroke today and is in the hospital.
Dan Kenneth Phillips
The following is a prayer memorized by Harry S. Truman
as a young boy.
Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, creator of Heaven,
Earth, and the Universe.
Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because
it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make
me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought
of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient
with my fellowmen - help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings
- even as Thou understandest mine! Amen. Amen. Amen
went to visit Thomas Mertons'
grave today. I drove to New Haven (Ky), east on highway 52, and north
on highway 247. The only signs indicating the monastery was near were
a few road signs with only the word "Trappist" on them.
The first indication that the monastery was near was
a cross on the knob of a hill. Seeing the cross brought awe, a sense of
excitement, that I was finally at the place I have wanted to visit for
Just a cross on a hillside to point the way. And, in
reality how appropriate: a cross on a hillside. That was how Jesus left
his mark: A CROSS!
I have begun another spiritual journal related to the
works of the monk, Thomas Merton. The Journal, titled More
Thoughts in Solitude, is along the same lines as this journal.
August 12, 1999
This has been helpful to me in my own
study of God's Word.
GUIDELINES FOR DISCOVERING BIBLICAL
FORMULA: SPEED TRAP is the
word used to key specific questions in one's mind to ask of the particular
Biblical passage in question.
S= Are there
any sins in my life that the Scripture
passage brings to mind?
there any promises to claim in the passage?
there errors pointed out in the passage
that I need to avoid in my own life?
there examples in this passage that I
need to emulate in my own life?
Are there duties in this passage that
I need to perform?
T= Are there
truths to learn in this passage. I need
to note them.
there rules for living in this passage?
there ways I can apply this lesson to
there any prayers in this passage to
echo in my own life?
LINKS FOR JOURNAL WRITING
Wow what a site. Catherine deCuir's Mining
Company site is the ultimate in journal keeping. Bookmark it!
If you desire further information about developing
your own spiritual journal, or you have examples from your own spiritual
journal you would like to share with me, please send e-mail to Dan
CONTACT BROTHER DAN
Dan K. Phillips
109 Breckenridge Road
Franklin, TN 37067
Updated July 12,2011