Mark It Up, Study, and Highlight
Ah, the Bible. It sounds so intimidating. It's stigmatized to be boring, historical, and unrelatable. And to that I say "LOL!" First of all, let's clear up that the Bible is not boring. I mean, Jonah got swallowed by a flippin' whale. I'm sorry, but that is beyond exciting.
But the whole, "unrelatable" thing can be sticky. How can we, in our fast-paced-social-media-crazed-get-a-good-job-work-til-you're-dead culture possibly get to know the Jesus of the Bible?
I get a lot of emails about studying scripture personally and the methods I use to better understand and apply the Word. We don't have to spend 18 hours a day in the Word, but we do have to be intentional.
I want to share a bit on my study/highlighting method with y'all by answering some of the most common questions I've received below:
How can I study Scripture more Intentionally?
I teach on this in a lot more detail when I conduct workshops (feel free to contact me if you're interested in hosting a workshop!), but I do suggest starting with a reading plan and dissecting it piece by piece. You can get my Gal's Gospel Guide plan here.
When reading, I've realized how much color coding and drawing connectors helps. Grab an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible from Crossway Books and mark up your text. Seriously, mark it up.
Here's the method I use:
Green: Main Idea
Purple - repeated theme/idea/imagery (points to how the Spirit is calling me to respond)
Pink - transitions (example: "therefore" - ask "what is this there for?")
Yellow: Verbs + Action
Blue: Descriptors of God + Powerful Adjectives
Orange: Descriptors of Me/People
Draw connectors between powerful words that relate to God, a strong concept, or a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Find how the small story you're studying relates to the BIG story of Jesus.
Should I really write and highlight on my pages?
I get so many questions about this. God gave us creativity, passions, vision, and emotions so that we may EXPRESS them and INTERACT with Him in a way that's enjoyable and fun! We should have the most fun during our time with God, but so often we think it has to be the most boring. NO! We should look forward to our time in the Word.
Get as creative as you want, so long as you're studying intentionally when doing so.
Intentionality + creativity HAVE to go together.
Don't just throw a bunch of meaningless paint all over your Bibles. We have to navigate Scripture intentionally, and we have to STUDY it. But that doesn't mean that we can't ENJOY it.
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord & He will give you the desires of your heart."
Delight in His Word, people.
Discover the answer your heart is craving - knowing Jesus Himself.
This often means marking up the text and highlighting key phrases and words. God's Word is not untouchable. It's meant to be very touchable. God Himself came down from heaven and was touchable, personal, and reachable. Similarly, His Word is given to us to understand Him more - we can touch it, interact with it, study it, and absorb it.
Think about it. If you want to understand Physics, you're not just going to read the textbook. You're going to take notes, highlight key lessons and concepts, and APPLY the teachings by working on problems. Similarly, if you want to understand God, you've got to study His text like this, too! But, maybe involve your heart a little more than your brain ;)
How Can This Help Me Understand God Better?
For a long time, I felt very distracted and unintentional in the moments I would set aside for Jesus. I often wasn't sure how to connect with the Word personally and intentionally, reading each passage the same way I would an article in a newspaper. Interesting, sure, but in no way did I allow it to change my identity.
I was reading the greatest book ever written as a book about myself. In reality, it's a book about God. And God Himself IS the answer to everything. So, in order to understand my identity as a daughter of God and really connect with His Word, I have to read the Bible as a tool to better understand God.
Bottom Line: I have to ask "Who is Jesus? What's the purpose here?" BEFORE I can ask "Who I am I? What's my purpose here?"