My husband and I fondly refer to our first date as The Inquisition. Neither of us were casual daters, he had only one prior girlfriend before me and I had zero before him. We were friends for almost a year before he asked me out – so we had a good idea about each other but we still didn’t know each other in that are we compatible for marriage way.
Since we were friends, I remember telling my mom that if I was home by 9ish, it probably didn’t go so well. I didn’t get home until well after mid-night. From the get-go we started asking the hard questions.
As we ate chicken marsala:
Tell me your testimony.
What do you think of “this spiritual matter?”
As we licked Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream cones:
How many kids do you want?
What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
Our first date was essentially an interview for marriage. We talked the entire date, for hours getting to know each other with those deep could I spend the rest of my life with this person thoughts. We pulled no punches. We were honestly raw and transparent. Neither of us wanted to waste each other’s time with the song and dance and first date flattery and pretense.
As he drove slower and slower home to delay the date ending, I remember thinking – this is the one. He’s the one I’ve waited for all these years.
And as much as we talked that night, and the almost seven years we’ve been together, I still have a life time of learning to do. That’s the beauty of marriage – becoming an expert in your spouse.
To know someone requires spending quality time with them. It’s asking questions. It requires dedication and it requires sacrifice. Our journey with God is the same. To know his heart we have to study him. We have to spend quality time with him. We have to ask the hard questions.
Most people come to faith in God on very little information…Like a new bride, we reach the end of the honeymoon phase and begin to wonder how we are to sustain and nurture this relationship. The answer lies in knowing God…never has the phrase “to know him is to love him” been more true. If we want to feel a deeper love for God, we must learn to see him more clearly for who he is. If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God.Jen Wilkin
My Favorite Journaling & Bible Study Tools
As you begin or continue in the quest of discovering and savoring the Savior’s heart – here are some of my favorite journaling and Bible study tools that you also may find helpful.
Journaling Bible & ESV Study Bible
I have an embarrassing large Bible collection. The large stack of Bibles in my closet speaks to my spiritual lack of maturity in my teenage years. Whenever Bible study became stale, I’d go out and purchase a new Bible. I did this quite often, since the new Bible would spark passion in me once again, only to fade again. When I stuck through the spiritual desert and kept pressing into Bible study in my early twenties, I kept my original pink journaling Bible for so long it actually started falling apart.
I recently received a new journaling Bible for my birthday. It is incredibly special since it’s personalized and one-of-a-kind. A good friend handpainted it for me, using my favorite Bible verse on the back. Its pages are quickly filling up and I love seeing what the Lord is teaching me as I make my way through in-depth Bible study.
I also use an ESV study Bible I bought right after we got married. I typically read the passage in the AMPC version on the Bible App on my phone and then re-read the same passage in this Bible. Utilizing the heavy cross reference notes and the commentary helps spark further study and thought.
ESV Study Bible – ChristianBook – I couldn’t find the exact same cover online, but this one is pretty close
Notebooks & Journal
If you don’t know by now, I am an avid journal and proponent of the spiritual discipline of journaling. My closet is stacked with dozens and dozens of completed journals and they are so dear to me. You’ll find me frequently pulling them out and re-reading, learning more about God’s personal faithfulness to me.
Midori Traveler’s Notebook
My current journal obsession is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. It has a leather cover made in Thailand and is made to have multiple refillable journal inserts. I found these pretty journal inserts from Hobby Lobby. You can categorize the journals so you have one book for your Bible study notes, sermon notes, prayer requests, or favorite book quotes. I typically just use mine as journals, but there is no right or wrong way to use it.
I use a spiral notebook to take all my original thoughts and notes in when I’m studying. I mark up the pages and draw arrow using connections between cross references. This is the notebook that I use to write out a specific verse and color code the original Hebrew and Greek as I use The Blue Letter Bible app to dig even deeper into the meaning of a passage.
I use the Give Me Jesus Journal to help formulate my thoughts into application. The Ask and Apply section helps me focus on what I’m learn about God from the passage as well as how what I learned changes the way I live. The application is the process where the word sinks into me.
When I want to linger on a thought or need to write to understand what I’m feeling, then I use my Midori journal to write out long prayers or what the Holy Spirit is specifically showing me or speaking to me.
I spend most of my study time in my dining room, but use a tray to help organize all my study tools, which allows me to easily move it room to room depending on the needs for any particular day.
Spiral Notebook – Target
Tray – Marshalls
Bible Tabs, Stickers, Highlighters & Pens
I absolutely adore these Bible tabs which I have on my journaling Bible. They add such a beautiful touch and help me quickly turn back and forth through books when I’m in deep study chasing down the cross references I’ve found in my ESV Study Bible. The front of the tab has the book of the Bible handlettered and on the back of the tabs is a word or phrase describing a theme of the book.
In addition to the Bible tabs, I also fell in love with these stickers. It’s a digital download and you print them off on clear sticker paper at home. Since I’m not incredibly artsy when it comes to drawing, I love putting these in my journaling Bible when something stands out to me.
My absolute favorite Bible highlighters are these scented ones by The Daily Grace Co. They are gel highlighters and do not bleed! I use the blue to mark the names of God, the purple to mark the movement of the Holy Spirit, the orange to show instances of Christ in the Old Testament, the pink to highlight repeated words, the green to mark obedience, and then the yellow to highlight anything else that stands out to me.
My favorite pens are the Micron colored pens. They do shadow through the journaling Bible pages, but do not bleed all the way through. My favorite no-bleed ball point pens are actually these pink and blue ones from Hobby Lobby.
I found this case at Target which is perfect for holding my highlighters, stickers, and pens. It fits easily in my purse allowing me to take it to church and anywhere else I study my Bible on the go.
The Main Point
The main point of this post is not for you to go out and spend a ton of money on Bible study tools. There are plenty of other things that you can use to accomplish the same goal – these are just some of my favorites and I’m not an expert by any means.
Truth is, you don’t need any of these items to study the Bible. You just need the Bible. If these items help you do that, great, but the main point is study the Bible.
When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected…Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.Jen Wilkin
Oh Lord, may we not abandon your loveliness for lesser pursuits. Help us do hard and holy things. May we as women, develop a deep and abiding love for your Word, because through your Word we get to know you more. Give us a passion to dig into your depths and may we never be the same again.