Bible Journaling – What Every Christian Should Consider

In Women's Issues by Jessica Pickowicz12 Comments

(This article is a follow-up article to Adult Coloring and Meditation – What Every Christian Should Know)

Last month I posted an article on meditative coloring, warning of the dangers of the contemplative, ecstatic experience. Today I want to touch on another trend — “Bible journaling”. I’m not talking about jotting notes and thoughts in wide margins, or inductive Bible study. I want to address this fad of turning your wide-margin journaling Bible into an artist’s sketchbook — what people are calling “Bible journaling”. If you’ve never seen it, just Google images for “Bible Journaling” and a whole host of Bible art will dominate your screen.

In congruence with my previous article, I would like to address some of the stumbling blocks, from a biblical perspective, this form of “Bible journaling” can cause. And I want to be clear — these are potential stumbling blocks. This is not a declarative statement saying that everyone who engages in Bible art is going to stumble in these ways. My goal is to simply present some potential issues. Individuals have different temptations and are bent toward some sins over others. For example, I am weak-willed when it comes to chocolate. Sometimes, in my house, my family needs to hide the chocolate from me to keep me from stumbling. For my husband, chocolate could sit in the candy bowl for days, even weeks, untouched. For him, the temptation is book buying (which is why he has a set book budget). Ephesians 4:27 commands, “Do not give the devil a foothold.” The context of this verse is essentially saying, “Don’t give the devil an opportunity to lead you into sin.” Like Proverbs 7:7-27 warns, Do not walk by the prostitute’s house in twilight, for she will lure you in! Take a different path home; do not give your flesh and the devil a foothold for sin! It’s a simple, yet profound warning to live by. Something to consider as you read further.

Five Potential Stumbling Blocks/Footholds of Bible Journaling

1. Distraction from Serious Bible Study, Keeping Women Weak and Gullible

Second Timothy 3:1-6 states, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sin and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth.”

When the top-selling Christian books are coloring books and journaling Bibles, we have to stop and ask ourselves, Are we spending our time and money wisely? Are we allowing these fads, and the perpetuators of these fads, to come in and capture us — to keep us weak, gullible, and ignorant of truth? I know I’m sounding a bit harsh here, but it should dumbfound us and deeply concern us that these are the best-selling books — not books that are going to minister to us, to deliver truth, to sanctify, teach, and exhort us unto godliness.

What on Earth are we doing with our precious time? How are we spending our quiet moments set aside for devotion? Is this time consumed with mindless doodling and instagramming our activity for everyone to see, or is it a set apart (holy) time of devoting ourselves to God and to the study of His Word, to “prayer, and private worship,” as it should be (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/devotion)?

There is so much out there, apart from what we do inside of our devotional time, to distract us away from God. Why would we invite this in? Instead of allowing our brains to run on auto-pilot, I encourage all of us (I’m including myself here) to gird up the loose fabric of our minds and commit ourselves to constructive time in His holy presence.

2. Temptation Toward Competition and Pride

Jump onto Pinterest or Instagram for the many images of Bible artistry. Sadly, what we should be doing in our inner rooms (praying, studying, meditating on God’s Word) we are displaying for all to see (Matthew 6:6). #QuietTime #BibleJournaling #MarginArt #Devos #CoffeeAndColoring.

I don’t want to say too much on this. I believe it is self evident. We need to reevaluate.

3. An Idol of the Heart that Breeds Materialism

Bottom line — hobbies, no matter what they are, can become obsessive. Our flesh and the devil are constantly conspiring to unseat our Lord on the throne of our hearts and replace Him with some broken toy of this world. With all the accessories — markers, colored pens and pencils, templates (yes, even those!), paints, special wide margin journaling Bibles, and Bible totes — all of this can all feed our covetous nature. It can be an idol of the heart. I understand this because my favorite things to shop for are office supplies — highlighters, binder tabs, colored pens, journals, bouquets of sharpened pencils! I get it! But we need to each examine our own hearts. Remember what I said earlier — don’t give the devil a foothold for sin. If your doodling hand causes you to stumble, cut it off (Matthew 5:30).

4. A Contemplative Prayer Experience

This “Bible journaling” is a funny new fad and I could see this swinging to either side of the pendulum. It could be just a mindless time killer, keeping us from true Bible study and keeping us weak and gullible as I stated earlier, or it could be used as a meditative experience, much like meditative coloring (see previous article). I think it’s a fair survey to warn against both. Now, that being said, both “Bible journaling” and adult-coloring can be perfectly innocent activities. We just need to be discerning with how we are spending our time; which, I believe, falls entirely under individual soul liberty and is a matter of Christian conscience. Every individual is going to be convicted differently in this regard.

5. Irreverence of God’s Holy Word.

I must say one more time — there is a potential pitfall toward irreverence. If I am so focused on how my art looks in my Bible, I’m not tuned in to the holy, divine, God-breathed Word. Here’s where some of my strong feelings come in, and I do recognize these as feelings — it grieves me that nothing is sacred in this day in age — not even the Bible to Christians. I recognize this is only my opinion. After all, nothing about Bibles themselves are especially blessed, or anointed, or worthy of worship. They are, after all, just books. However, I would venture to guess if I were a Christian woman in North Korea or China or Iraq who would die to get my hands on a Bible, I might not treat it so brazenly as we “artists” do here in America. I might be a little more reverent as I approach God’s holy Word.

We should be begging God for wisdom, ladies. We should be praying for illumination through the study of His Word. We should be praying for sanctification and for God to grow us in Christlikeness. If we are really striving to be like Christ, is this where it’s at? Is this the best use of our time and resources?

Lastly, in reverent and holy fear of the Lord, we should be pleading with God that we would not be the weak and gullible women who are captured and led astray by our passions in these last days (2 Timothy 3:6). I gotta tell ya, in these last days, I’m determined to be a wise and godly woman who is (like Daniel in Babylon) uncompromising in her faith. I’m determined to be full of the knowledge of God so that I may live a life worthy of Him — to please him, and bear fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:10).

Are you with me?

Writer
Jessica Pickowicz

Jessica Pickowicz

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Jessica is the founder and lead writer of Beautiful Thing. She is wife to pastor/ church-planter Nate Pickowicz, and mama of two.

Comments

  1. For people who are artistic, I think art journaling would be the perfect way (as a hobby or craft, not as actual study time) to recycle an old Bible that’s falling apart. I had to dispose of an unusable Bible a few years ago. I just hated to throw it out. If I were artsy, I would definitely have done something reverently creative with it!

    1. As an artist, I concur! I too have some older bibles that have fallen apart and I could not bring myself to “throw them away.” My son-in-law is a published collagist and the thought of integrating those wonderful pages into an art form hadn’t even crossed my mind. Thank you!!

  2. I have a sketch pad that I occasionally attempt to do some verse art in, I just can’t bring myself to do it in my Bible. If I do make something, it’s usually while watching TV & not as a part of my Bible study time, though. I was, at one time, part of a FB group that showed off their verse art for inspiration. One day in the comments of someone’s question, I was correcting something someone said that was a dangerous, unbiblical teaching. Wow. You wouldn’t believe the venom of the other commenters against me. I ended up leaving the group but explained to them that the Bible calls us to correct error & encourage one another in the truth in order to sharpen one another, if a professing “Christian” group who claimed to hold Scripture in such a high regard refused to follow that command, then I could not be a part of the group. Clearly these ladies cared more for their art than actually growing in Christ.

  3. This was a super article! The part that stuck out to me was the question about this being just another ‘thing’ that seems to be Godly but is actually taking our time away, distracting us, from serious true Bible study. Then the part about becoming covetous/materialistic before you know it with wanting all the pens and colored pencils and Bible totes and a special Bible made just for this journaling and so on, WOW! and that’s giving the devil a foothold. Again wonderful article thanks for sharing!

  4. It’s so funny because I’m SO not artistic but am looking at a journaling Bible for one reason – I run out of room to write in my Bible notes, cross references, definitions and the like. 😀 Those journaling Bibles have space on the sides that I can use!

  5. I completely agree! I consider myself about as “artist” as they come. But it makes me deeply disturbed that Christians are defacing the pages of scripture, blotting out huge passages with paint, pens, and markers making the actual Word of God totally obscured.
    I have to ask, what is the true spirit behind that? How can you be ok with covering the actual Word of God with the work of your own hand?
    I see nothing wrong with the Bible journaling that takes place in a blank side margin as long as the person isn’t using thier study time for artistic expression. But really nearly all of bible journaling I have seen covers the scripture in some measure. I wish it would end.

  6. I just now discovered this post. It’s interesting that when this activity began being talked about and retailers began hawking all the stuff you need to accomplish this, I felt the Holy Spirit ‘s caution. Isn’t this just a new way of drawing us away from the Word and placing it on the artwork or illustration? It would be funny if it weren’t one of the usual tactics of the enemy…that many fall for. It looks harmless…even like a good thing. We’re in the Word, right? But are we really? Reading the Word in order to gain understanding of our marching orders or the renewal of our minds is very different from reading the Word to try to decide how we can artfully illustrate a verse…how we can make it “pop!” I do write in my Bible…notes from our pastor who gives Hebrew or Greek meanings of words or even notes of how I am praying a verse for children/grandchildren. I hope my Bible will be passed on to a grandchild who will hopefully be encouraged to know how she has been prayed for.

  7. I totally agree with your article. I’ve seen too much defacing of God’s Word to be comfortable with this ‘trend’ anymore. There are soooo many Bibles being sold by Tyndale, Zondervon and the like, who should know better and they cater to every whim imaginable! The whole Bible Industry is now worth billions of dollars. Not surprisingly then, many sincere Christians like myself became ‘hooked’ on the idea of Creative Bible Journaling and felt convinced to purchase one of those beautiful looking (temptation to the eyes!) Inspire Bibles. These Bibles in particular have lots of hugely detailed images to colour. I even went so far as to spend a small fortune on a whole bunch of professional Artistist Pens and Pencils. On the first page of this Bible was a large, intricately detailed, double-spread picture of Nature, incorporating a verse of Scripture from St. John’s Gospel. Initially it felt good to meditate upon the verse as I began my colouring in… but it wasn’t long before I found myself so absorbed in making the artwork look eye-catching, that I totally forgot about reading the Scriptures and spent HOURS on trying to achieve the perfect look. Far from being a relaxing pastime, all contemplation was lost in experimenting with various colours, styles, textures etc, so that it felt more and more like a chore, like something I had to personally ‘achieve,’ rather than be helped or inspired by. Any serious Bible study or reading of God’s Word was being pushed aside and often completely neglected, in my attempts to perfect those detailed images. I never did finish that huge double-spread of artwork and I never went back to that Bible again! I just didn’t have the inclination or the time to waste anymore, on something that resembled merely an art class and deprived me of precious devotional time with my Lord. It has now sat in the draw for four months, along with all those expensive coloured pens and I just don’t have the heart to begin again, let alone complete all 550 line drawings!
    This was an important lesson for me to learn. Never again will I allow any distraction, however seemingly benign, to block authentic, nourishing, reading and pondering the precious Words of Life. That true Soaking in the Word, that builds a vital relationship with our Father. Only then can we gain the spiritual strength and wisdom to create the necessary peace and faith, to be effective witnesses for Christ. I now feel that leisurely colouring and reading the Bible, are two very separate activities. Not to be confused with healthy time spent apart in absorbing God’s life giving Word.
    I have much more appreciation and respect for my ‘ordinary’ Bible and I bought a decent translation that is as true to the original Word as possible. I have found simple devotional reading to be much more beneficial. For me, I still can not reconcile colouring-in with reading the Bible and prefer to keep these two activities separate from now on.
    Just to leave you with something I found truly inspiring and beautiful… someone once said that “their grand father had absolutely no interest in books except one and that was the Bible. He read chunks of his Bible every day. Simply because HE LOVED HIS GOD.” He also said his grandfather was the wisest, the most peaceful, the most Christlike person he had ever known.

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