(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?