Color Your Bible

No, I don't mean doodle during church. (Unless it helps you stay focused on the message. Sometimes I'm tempted to draw on the sermon notes, but Thane will invariably give me a strong elbow and/or the evil eye to get me focused again. Thanks honey.)

Anyway, back to the point of this post, which I've yet to spell out; bible study. More specifically, motivation to continue/start bible study. Surely I'm not the only one out that there recognizes the vast importance of the Word of God, yet struggles to stay in a disciplined daily routine of reading it and striving to live by it. And might I add, enjoying it? It's such a blessing. It's literally (no pun intended) God's love letter to us, full of truth and wisdom and comfort. There's nothing more encouraging than reading about His love for us, wretched as we are, and to be able to identify and emphasize with the experiences of the saints, both joyful and sorrowful. Spending thirty minutes or so a day with God and His Word is like an energizing breath of fresh air. It keeps us close, and there's nothing better than intimacy with Him.


So then, why is it so hard to make the time to sit down and read each day? Probably my tendency to make idols out of everything but the true God, in accordance with the usual pattern of sinful human behavior since the beginning of time. There's always something to distract me, whether it's the TV, or the internet, or the dirty dishes in the sink, or the laundry, or this blog, ha! But, that just goes to show you that if I'm willing to make time for all of that stuff, surely I have time for God. It boils down to priorities, and I'll be the first to admit that it's a real struggle for me to keep my priorities in the right place.

So, I wanted to share with you my best attempt at keeping an engaging, fulfilling, continual practice of spending time with God in His Word. Hopefully this encourages some of you guys to keep going in your bible reading, or to start if you haven't been in the habit of doing it. I sure could use the encouragement sometimes!

So here we go... I'm not sure where I first got this idea, but I guess I've been developing it for a number of years and I've done it throughout a couple of Bibles so far. All you'll need to follow along is an assortment of colored pencils and your bible (one that you don't mind marking up).

First thing's first; if we're going to be spending time reading God's Word, we want to get the most out of it that we can, right? There's no point in reading it just for the sake of "checking off the box" or in attempt to please God merely by the "work" of doing it. After all, these things don't impress Him- He wants a true, intimate relationship with us. And using the Word that's He's so graciously provided, we want to be continually growing in knowledge and understanding. So, we need an effective study method!

And this is mine- underlining key points of Scripture according to a color system so that I'm actively searching out the various themes and elements of the Word as I read. Take a look at this first example;

It's hard to tell from this photo, but there are two colors being used, as well as the circled "4". "Thus says the Lord..." is underlined with gold, to designate that it's God speaking. And "Seek Me and live" is underlined with green, because that's a command. (More on the circled "4" later.) Why these colors? No reason, they're just what I happened to pick. The point is that now I can open to this page of my bible and very quickly and easily know what themes are on this page- God is speaking, and He's calling us to do something. And since I found it worth underlining, I know it's something important that I don't want to forget.

Here's my personal color scheme. The fun thing is you can pick whatever colors you want, and whatever categories you want. And of course you can continue to add colors and categories as you go.
You're probably not interested in the nitty-gritty details of my extremely complex notation system, but I'll point out a few things just in case.

More green and gold (Jesus is talking here and I don't have a red-letter bible). Note the circled "I am". Anytime I circle something, it denotes an action, or verb, or something really powerful. And you'll see that the "4" is circled in gold- that means that it's Jesus speaking and giving a commandment- two categories at once. So, since I can only underline with one color at time, I chose green to indicate the commandment, but circled the verse in gold to remember that's it's Jesus' words. I know, super nerdy.

Here you'll notice a little pencil circle around the "8". This means that I've written a note about verse 8 in the margin. You'll also notice what looks like parenthesis around some of the words or phrases. I do that to anything that stands out but isn't necessarily an action or verb (which would get circled).

There's some purple! Plus a circled action word, some parenthesis, and a smidgen of a note in the margin.

I use Prismacolor colored pencils. They're expensive, (a little over a dollar a pop if memory serves me right) but they're wax based so they're very vibrant yet gentle on the delicate paper that's in most Bibles. You can buy them individually at any craft store like Michaels or A.C. Moore, which means you can customize a color scheme without having to buy a whole set.

So there you have it, my method for effective, engaging bible study that helps me to learn the Word and commit it to memory a little better than I'd otherwise be able to. Sometimes I like to just flip through the pages of my Bible and see all of the colors and notes (and, I'll admit, smell the paper even though it's not new anymore, haha! Thane catches me doing this every now and then). Anyway, marking up my Bible really gives me a sense of ownership over it, and helps me to get the most out of my study and time with God. And that's really satisfying!

Anybody have any different methods? Do tell! I'm a Bible geek at heart, and I'd love to hear about them!


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