Use Your Brain
Journaling is thinking.

It wasn’t long ago when most people had their home phone number memorized, along with the home phone numbers of each of their close friends or relatives. In our modern world, we no longer have to memorize details or basic information such as phone numbers or e-mails. That information can pass right through our minds and into our smartphones, which remember it for us. Thanks to technology, the “need to know” has been replaced by the “ability to find out.” We don’t have to really learn, understand and remember things anymore.

It wasn’t long ago when most students had to go to their public or school library to research for a term paper or study for a big test. Now, thanks to technology, almost every fact is just a click away on Google. Research and study are far less time-consuming—but they should not be less mind-consuming.

Sadly, that is most often the case today. Our society lets technology do the thinking for them. Do you? How much do you depend on technology?

In The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr writes: “The British biologist J. Z. Young, in a series of lectures broadcast by the bbc in 1950, argued that the structure of the brain might in fact be in a constant state of flux, adapting to whatever task it’s called on to perform. ‘There is evidence that the cells of our brains literally develop and grow bigger with use, and atrophy or waste away with disuse,’ he said. …

“We want friendly, helpful software. Why wouldn’t we? Yet as we cede to software more of the toil of thinking, we are likely diminishing our own brain power in subtle but meaningful ways. When a ditchdigger trades his shovel for a backhoe, his arm muscles weaken even as his efficiency increases. A similar trade-off may well take place as we automate the work of the mind.”

Evidence shows that technology is actually dumbing down our thinking and making us more shallow. Your brain is a muscle. The less you use it, the less of a capacity you will have to use it.

But when every fact is just a click away, some might say, what’s the point of memorizing them? Well, the same argument can be made against memorizing scriptures in the Bible. All of the scriptures are right there—you can look them up any time—so what’s the point in memorizing them? But God wants us to know the Bible. He wants us to internalize it! He wants us to make it a part of us, and there are scriptures that prove it.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 say, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

In these verses, Paul tells us that we have to keep the Bible scriptures in our memories! Originally, he was instructing the Corinthians, and back then, there weren’t many Bibles available. The Corinthians had to keep the Scriptures memorized since they didn’t have access to them.

We do have access to them. There are billions of Bibles around the world today—and yet it seems like the Corinthians still knew the Scriptures better than we do. Why? Because they memorized them. We take for granted that they are readily available and don’t spend time with them like we should.

If we keep the Bible “in memory” (verse 2)—or if we hold fast to it—we will be saved. To hold fast means that we are certain that we know and believe these truths—and that nothing will be able to take us away from them. It’s not just about memorizing a scripture for a quiz and then forgetting it as soon as the quiz is over. It’s about internalizing these scriptures and making certain we know, believe and obey them.

What if everything online or on a piece of technology were wiped out? What if we lived in Paul’s day, and they read the Bible at services, but then we didn’t have access to it the rest of the week? What Paul is saying in verse 2 is that the truth had the power to save them, but they had to remember it! That is what we must do to be saved too: We must remember and live by God’s truth!

The admonition to frequently study and commit to memory passages from the Bible is written throughout its pages. Deuteronomy 6:6 says the words in the Bible should be in our hearts. Deuteronomy 11:18 says we should “lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul.” Deuteronomy 17:14 and 18 show us that every king of Israel had to write out the passages of the Bible, and he had to read them too. It is clearly God’s will that we study and memorize the Bible!

The reason for the decline in intelligence in our society is that we do not use our brains enough. And the biggest area of disuse in our brains is the memory—thanks, in large part, to the technology we have access to. Determine that you are going to detach yourself from technology. Use your memory to strengthen your brain muscle and grow your capacity to learn new things. It will help you in your spiritual life, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, and it will also help you as you continue your education in high school and college.

How to Strengthen Your Brain

There is one simple way for you to build your brain muscles—to commit more to memory and to develop more as a thinker: Keep a journal!

Journaling is thinking. Write down what you did during the day. It will reinforce lessons you learned that day. Write out thoughts you have. It will help you think more deeply—and exercise your brain muscles more. Write about what you learn in lectures at school or in sermons on the Sabbath. It will help you grasp and bottom out the concepts you hear, read, see and study.

When Herbert W. Armstrong first started to learn God’s truth, he wrote down his thoughts in article form. He thought of it as a way to learn more from his studying. In His Autobiography, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “So I continued the study of the Bible. I began to write, in article form, the things I was learning. I did not then suppose these articles would ever be published. I wrote them for my own satisfaction. It was one way to learn more by the study” (emphasis added).

Mr. Armstrong wrote down what he was learning so he could get more out of his study! Writing down the concepts and his thoughts about them strengthened his brain. He committed those truths to memory, and eventually, God used him to teach those truths to hundreds of thousands of people. The articles he wrote ended up helping millions of people! That’s how powerful writing down your thoughts can be. You never know when you’ll be able to use those thoughts to help others.

2 Timothy 4:13 says, “The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” The “parchments” were the letters, or epistles, that Paul wrote to the congregations he served. Those letters—those journal entries, you could call them—were put together and canonized as a part of the Bible! The Bible is basically a collection of journals!

The Benefits of Journaling

Journaling is an excellent way to organize your thoughts.

Journaling helps you process the events of the day.

Journaling teaches you to be more observant of what’s going on around you.

Journaling enables you to hold fast to significant lessons in life.

Journaling sharpens your attention span and improves your memory.

Journaling serves as a stress relief and can physically improve your health.

Malachi 3:16 says, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”

This scripture proves that God Himself writes things down in a book of remembrance. He is journaling too! God loves to record history, and so do His servants. Mr. Armstrong wrote down his life, and his autobiography is a wonderful tool for us today. To strengthen your brain and be a better servant for God, make journaling a part of your education and your life.