Beware of Bible Journaling

It’s such a great idea! Why didn’t we think of it a long time ago? Simply gather your scrapbook materials and put your doodling skills to good use, and the next thing you know, you’ll have a Bible that’s filled with color and fun!

If that’s what it’s all about, my friends, I kindly issue a warning.

Surely you know by now that I love to pair Scripture study with creativity. I feel rather handicapped without my Bible notebook and colored pencils! It’s amazing how many extraordinary, innovative, even unusual ways we can find to saturate ourselves with God’s Word.

But beware.

The Bible is not a coloring book. It’s a sacred text, for in it are the very words of God. We must take care, that in our fun and games, we don’t trivialize what God declares great and holy.

The Bible is more than print and paper. Those pages you’re coloring go much deeper. Beyond the ink, you find the mind of God. As you circle and shade, glue and stamp, allow yourself to think deeply. To wonder, and imagine, and take it all in. There’s no end to the vast ocean before you.

My caution is simple. If Bible journaling deepens your knowledge of God, keep it up! But if it’s nothing but a scrapbooking session, may I suggest your Bible time may be better spent with the frills aside? For when we sit at the feet of Jesus, we must sit in rapt attention.

There were many who saw him, heard him, touched him, even followed him. But never knew him.

 [image credit: Google Images]


56 thoughts on “Beware of Bible Journaling

  1. Yes! I agree so much this point. I started recently really studying the Bible and I’m a creative person. People at Hobby Lobby know me by name *BUT* I treat my Bible with reverence. I don’t mind taking notes or drawing, but I have a separate notebook with paper that I use. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thanks for your comment. To clarify, my concern is not so much the physical Bible we hold in our hands {though, in a way, it should be treasured, too – there are many who would give everything to have it}. Mostly, I’m concerned that we can turn our Bibles into a craft project, setting aside the Word’s holiness and power by simply missing its message…because we’re too busy coloring!

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  2. Lydia, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I’m not afraid to mark and highlight my Bible and don’t have any problem with anything that will help us remember and meditate on His Word more deeply, but the words are what are important. Thanks for making us think deeply about why we would do something. I’m visiting today from TGI Fridays. Have a great week-end.

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  3. I also agree, Lydia. I write notes about certain scriptures (in pencil), and at times God gives me a verse for someone(s) and I write their name and date. To me, coloring pictures in the Bible detracts from God’s Word.

    I also have a Bilingual Spanish/English Bible and I will use colored highlighter to highlight the English/Spanish words that I’m trying to learn.

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  4. Powerful! I still can’t get myself to underline or highlight the words! I’m a long, long way off from journaling 🙂

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  5. I write notes all over my Bible– notes from sermons or private study, but they all have the purpose of helping me to remember (because I’m so forgetful) the things the Holy Spirit is making clear to me.

    I think that notes and doodles are fine at times, but when the purpose goes from finding the heart of God to looking for something that’s “draw-able,” that’s when we run into trouble.

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  6. I agree with you, too, Lydia. God’s Word should not be trivialized in any way. We are to cherish it in our hearts. I may underline or write in a few words but the “craft project” approach seems to be taking it a bit too far. Blessings, Janet

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  7. I agree with you. If people are marking up their Bibles just to have it look pretty, they are missing out on the most important parts. Thanks for sharing this with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

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  8. I have been concerned about this trend for the same reasons. Thank you for putting it in words. I am going to tweet this.

    That said, I am interested in finding a journaling Bible in NKJV with large print. Why? I love to write notes in my Bible. It makes it more valuable to me as the years pass. The one I currently have is falling apart, but I love it.
    Be blessed!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  9. I agree. I love the new journaling bibles designed just for this. I am a terrible artist though. I love looking at the pages and I know women love creating. I agree that you need to make sure it does not take you away from the study of the Word. Thanks for sharing your post with us on the #LMMLinkup this week.

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  10. “If Bible journaling deepens your knowledge of God, keep it up! But if it’s nothing but a scrapbooking session, may I suggest your Bible time may be better spent with the frills aside?”

    Well spoken!

    And there are many other areas of life to which the same principle applies.

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  11. “There were many who saw him, heard him, touched him, even followed him. But never knew him.” That’s the real tragedy, yes. Thanks for the warning, one that we can apply across many spiritual disciplines that we do. May we always remember our goal is to know the true Word Himself!

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  12. This is a great reminder. I got a Journaling Bible for Christmas and I have been using it to write notes in the margins and draw simple drawings that correspond to the text that I studied that week. I try to stay away from frills and mindless doodling, but rather, use the artwork to help me put certain verses to memory or give me a visual to remember the theme behind the text. But I have caught myself looking at other Bible Journalers who are very talented and have absolutely beautiful pages and want to compare or even imitate their drawings rather than doing it for my own Bible study time. Thats a red flag for me whenever it happens that I need to step away and question the motive and whether I am more concerned with a pretty page or a heart that is surrendered and gripped by God’s Word.

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  13. You have a valid point…there are Bibles that leave plenty of room for notes, tho, so I feel like it is okay in that case! I definitely agree about going overboard with the scrapbooking supplies though. 🙂 Thanks for sharing at the Family Joy Linky Party!

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  14. I’m a little conflicted on this one, so your title caught my eye. I think balance is the whole thing, as you say. WHY are we dooodling and drawing? Is it to make it sink in and dwell, or just another craft project? I prefer to journal in my Bible (mine has scripture on one page and a blank page next to it) so that I can do a study Bible for me–with everything right there. The monks spent a lot of time illuminating the copies of the scripture back in the day–I was always curious as to whether it was from devotion or to display their artistic talent or both.

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  15. I have been eyeballing this journaling stuff for awhile. But for some reason I hesitated buying one, or even making a decision – and I think this is why. I don’t want to turn my focus from the Word. I don’t want to be thinking about what design I’m going to make, or what lettering style I should use. I want to just breathe in the Living Word. Thank you for this. It really helped me gather my feelings about it and realize what exactly it was that was holding me back.

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  16. I agree that the Bible is not a place for art work. Yes, to underline and use colored pencils for favorite verses is one thing and for me that is okay. If you want to do art, use a canvas not the Bible. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Thanks, Hazel. As I mentioned in a previous comment, my concern is not so much the physical Bible we hold in our hands {though, in a way, it should be treasured, too – there are many who would give everything to have it}. Mostly, I’m concerned that we can turn our Bibles into a craft project, setting aside the Word’s holiness and power by simply missing its message…because we’re too busy coloring!

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  17. I love Bible journaling with the SOAP method in a separate journal. (S-scripture, O-observation, A-application, P-prayer. I agree about making sure we are digging deeper in the word to be doers of it! Great post. Glad I found you thru #LMMLinkup this week.

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  18. Yes if we aren’t committing the words to memory, if they aren’t becoming part of us then it is a mindless exercise. I like to picture the words in my Bible – when I paint them, I remember them. And I show them to others who might remember them better as well. But with everything there should be cautions.
    Blessings on a thoughtful post. I am following you at Titus 2 Tuesdays.
    Janis

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  19. Yours is not the first admonition of this subject that I have seen. As “Word Person”, a title I was given one day in the midst of a deep discussion, and consequently disagreement over a facet of His grace, I have always always been hesitant to doodle in my Bible like this. I was so moved by Nehemiah’s reminder to stand when it was read ( 9:3) that I long always be conscious that I don’t mishandle His word, let alone disrespect it. You have such grace in this post, to really consider what the purpose is and to also keep in mind how much we need to revere this living Word which is sharper than any two edged sword and pierces between soul and spirit. (Heb 4:12)

    Blessings!
    Dawn

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  20. You summed up a lot of my feelings on the subject. I dislike Bible journaling when it makes the text unreadable. If it helps you connect and you can still read the text, then I think it could be cool but when it’s just a coloring book, that’s not okay…

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    1. Great questions!
      We can know God in many different ways, but one of the greatest ways is through the Bible! In the Bible, God teaches us about him and teaches us how to know him. So, I definitely encourage you to read the Bible. Start with the book of John or other book of the New Testament if it seems a bit confusing.

      As for your second question…how does one get His forgiveness?

      The Bible says all we have to do is confess our sins to him and ask him for forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      All people have sinned. The payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. We deserve to die and be separated from God forever because of our sin. But Jesus, who is the perfect Son of God, took our punishment, so that we who are imperfect could have his righteousness. Jesus then rose from the dead showing that he has victory over sin, death, and hell. If we repent and turn away from sin, confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we are forgiven of our sins, saved from the punishment of hell, and given the gift of eternal life with Jesus in heaven.

      I hope this answers some of your questions! If you have anymore, please let me know!

      Oh…here’s a great video clip that explains more if you’d like to check it out: http://www.juststopandthink.com/francis-chan-video-just-stop-think-the-movie/.

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  21. Thank you for this post. I briefly tried Bible journaling but found it unsatisfying. I prefer to keep a written Bible journal in a notebook because that’s more meaningful to me. But as you said, if the art journaling draws one nearer to the Lord and brings deeper understanding of His Word, then have at it!
    Blessings, Leigh

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  22. Love this –> “There were many who saw him, heard him, touched him, even followed him. But never knew him.” So true whether it’s with doodles or other areas of life. Visiting today via both #intentionalTuesday and #raralinkup.

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  23. It’s so funny that as I see the new wave of ‘adult’ coloring books all I see are the expectations that it look good. I so prefer the children’s books as those are so much fun because of their lack of intricate geometric shapes. To each their own, I suppose. But yes, the word of God is sacred, whether or not it warrants coloring.

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  24. that is so true – it’s easy to justify having spent time in the word of God when it’s all been all about what shade of pencil to use on a flower, rather than on what God is trying to say to you through the passage itself.

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  25. Great post Lydia. Thanks for the reminder to keep Gods word sacred. I think like many others mentioned here it’s about balance, motives, and how we are wired. For me, I feel more at peace when I am doing something creative. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend time talking to the Lord.

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  26. Good points. I can see how it could devolve into just a scrapbook session. I’m not particularly artistic, but I have enjoyed Bible journaling as a way to refresh my quiet time. It’s easy for me to click into mode during my quiet time and start thinking about how I can use my insights instead of applying them to me. Taking a more meditative approach and using calligraphy or sketching an image that connects with my thoughts about the passage helps me slow down and connect with the passage. It’s a tool that can be used well or misused.

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  27. Great post! I’m not the artistic type that can draw well, so drawing pictures does not help me to meditate on his word (Though I do love the adult coloring books with the scriptures on them, though those are not my normal Bible study time obviously). However my poor Bible has been through so much (The leather cover was half eaten by one of my dogs :(. And my daughter dropped it down the stairs one day breaking the binding.) I’ve thought of getting a new one, but can not bare the thought of loosing all my notes. The layers that are in God’s word is just AMAZING!!! Each time I read it I enjoy seeing my notes from the past and seeing what new insights God has for me. Thank you so much for this post 😉

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  28. I believe this would only distract me the next time I found myself reading from the Scripture I had colored over. I prefer to highlight meaningful words and write small notes as reference for the next time I’m studying the Scripture.

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  29. A friend of mine recently started working on an art portfolio (separate from her Bible) with works of art inspired by/modeled after/working in specific verses. I think I like that idea much better – I think having it in my Bible would look pretty, but be too distracting. Thanks for joining us at #FridayFrivolity!

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  30. You make a good point here regarding the Bible journaling.

    However…

    This was the thing that stood out to me:
    “There were many who saw him, heard him, touched him, even followed him. But never knew him.”

    That is a great statement. I think I might write a poem based on that thought!

    Oh, and I do think that some of those journaling Bibles would be really handy for making extensive notes. I’m reading through without marking or noting right now as a different type of exercise (and quite enjoying it), but I might get one of those sometime as a study Bible – if I can find one I like in the KJV. 😉

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      1. I’ll try to remember. 🙂

        You know I’ve thought more than once about that lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple whom John and Peter healed shortly after Jesus went back to Heaven. It says in Acts 3 that the man was “lame from his mother’s womb” and that he was “laid daily at the gate of the temple”. Jesus must have walked by him many times. He must have heard of the many other healings. He quite possibly had heard Jesus teach. He might have even been there the day that Jesus cleansed the temple. And, yet….there he was still lame after Jesus’ earthly ministry had finished. Was it just not his time yet, was he destined to be healed at this later time? Or wasn’t he paying attention? It’s a fascinating thing to think about.

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  31. Yes, I agree. I started out bible journaling last year and a few weeks into it I put up the coloring pencils and only was left with a highlighter and I devoured the entire thing! I finished reading the whole bible on Oct. 31, of all dates and I think your right it isn’t about the coloring. I do think it is possibly the only way some people will open it though. And in saying that, maybe they will start reading it too, like I did. I am shocked by how many people don’t even know what’s in it. It is pretty obvious when you look around after reading it that it isn’t common knowledge anymore. That is not good. So I am starting to blog scripture and turning my passion for the bible and my photography into something that maybe people will read for 2017. Lovely blog! Have a great 2017!

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  32. I absolutely LOVE this post you shared. So very true. Often times when I journal I have a little voice in my head that is reminding me to always focus on the word and not just the pretty colors I’m applying to the pages. It’s all good so long as we keep God first and respect His holy word. Thank you! 🙂

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