When I started my first Bible journal I struggled with what to write in it. I made lists of facts but that was about it. Things really started improving when I changed my approach and went back to a student's mindset and what I had learned about studying in High School and college.
These are the tips that transferred over beautifully to the Bible journal. Of course, all of these are after praying for the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and open your mind.
Ask 5W's and an H--Just like my English teacher told me, good information gathering will always includes Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
Read slow--Sometimes I would blitz through a chapter or book just to mark off my time. There. Done. Check. Next? But I need to slow down and really think through something as deep as God's word to me. " ...because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual tidbits, [but] we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other." -Patrick Kingsley Reading slow sometimes means going back and re-reading if you can't remember what you just read. This is exactly the reason I started ruining my Bible, so I could be sure I was reading slow enough to summarize.
Think--The great minds of church history were thinkers, deep thinkers. But how? Were they smarter? I don't think so. They were more focused and WAY less distracted. The early church fathers would often ponder simple and deep things while waiting or walking or working. They had no news, music, podcasts, or books to keep their mind distracted and entertained. They thought deeply about patterns, interconnections, and how God fits into all. If they came to a building to meet someone and had to wait by the door, they'd ponder the door. How did God use door in His word? Jesus is the door to salvation, etc. How often had I done that? Exactly never.
Stop--In order to start thinking and pondering, however, I needed to quit the craziness of fitting God's word into a distracted head. I need to be practical, yes, I can't spend four hours praying and reading the Word in the morning when I still have to be responsible for my kids, work, homeschool, etc. But I can stop the other things that cut into my time with the Lord... like checking email before opening my Bible, or clicking over to Facebook, or the internet news. I need to stop all the "other" and protect that little piece of time to sit with my Creator. I wrote out a stop-doing list that I still need to see and be reminded of.
Ask Questions--This was a hard one for me. I used to think that God shouldn't be questioned. I mean, He's God. Who am I to shake my fist at him and cry out "Why Me?!" But I realized not all questions are bad, and God is big enough to handle my sincere questions. I started writing out questions directly in my Bible or on sticky notes and adding them right to the page. And slowly, I began getting answers... during sermons, while talking with others, while reading.
Doodle--There has been some research done on the power of drawing or doodling to aid in learning. It's been tested and has shown that if you are listening or reading and add in doodling, not only does it help you focus because you are engaging multiple senses, but it also helps you distill down the words to their most important points and transfer them into simple line doodles that make it fun to do and easy to remember.
These tips are just the start of all the things you can do with a Bible journal. If you'd like to know more or dig deeper into the Word, the Galatians Bible study was just released and is currently available! It's been revamped into a new, self-paced format and includes doodles, questions, video links, and much more. Click on over to the Bible study page here to learn more. Also, be sure to subscribe on the bar at the right for your free copy of Journal and Doodle through Ephesians!
Do you have any great tips you use in your Bible journal? If so, please share in the comments below!