Linear Notes in my Old Bible

We send three of our kids to AWANA at the local mega-church on Wednesday nights. We do it because I think getting the Bible into kids is important and are kids like it. Sometimes I wonder if they are just learning to parrot verses instead of learning the scriptures and my anxious oldest occasionally feels stressed by the process. My kids get points each week for church attendance (they are pastor’s kids, so they’re killing it) and bringing a Bible. Of course they don’t actually use their Bible there, it is just another burden to bear. But anyway, my daughter needed a Bible last night and my wife  pulled out one of my old ones and handed it to her. 

I hadn’t used this Bible regularly in about ten years, but I had read through it several times. I take lots of notes as I read, underline things. I think it was in the Divine Conspiracy that Dallas Willard talked about a green-letter Bible with the things Jesus did were in green. So in a different Bible I read through the gospels, underlining the Jesus verbs with a green pen. The practice taught me that reading with a pen in hand helped me pay attention to the words on the page. In this Bible, I wrote YHWH in the margins anytime I saw the all-caps LORD in the Old Testament.  Whenever ‘Christ’ appeared in the New Testament, I wrote “King” and when I saw direct references to the Holy Spirit (in either Testament) I drew a dove in the margins. These, and other occasional notes embellish the text. 


The Front and back of my Bible is even more interesting. There are doodles and drawings: an arm nailed to a cross, a table with bread and wine, a Bird of Paradise blossom, faces and a sword. My daughter delighted in showing her Awana leaders my random drawings all night last night. And then there were notes. These were things I saw fit to write down. Some of them from sermons and messages I heard. Some personal observations. Some incomprehensible. There are some pearls of wisdom here that speak to me now, and other things that are frankly perplexing. Whatever they were, these are the things I thought were important enough to write in Bible a decade hence:

I. Serve II. I’m all about the Work  III. Make the most of every opportunity and Party

“You got to get to the point whee you know you can’t do anything, then you are ready”[attributed to my wife]

“We are responsible not for saving people but by being the human touch God wants to use”

“Leadership not about setting vision but holding the vision.” [attributed to some one named Dave].

Genesis–how God sees is different

Exodus–how God is different from other Gods

Leviticus–how we are to be is different; how God is to be worshipped

Deutoronomy–The Divine covenental If then. . .

GOOD NEWS FOR THE POOR, Luke 4–>personalized education, free-captives, healthcare

D16D58591cf91cf94e3f6f96b67588 [don’t know what this is. a product code? Evidently important enough to write in my Bible]

Under the heading Romans 12:1-14

1-2 Don’t conform

3 Think w/ sober judgment of ourselves

5 members of one another

6-8 conflriluging (?) gifts

9,10 Love one another with brotherly affection (don’t fake it) How am I with my brother and sister? Out do one another in honor

11,12 Serve Lord, Rejoice in hope, be patient with one another

13 contribute and show hospitality–outsiders and ourselves

What is the root issue involved in irritation?

Boundaries–Availability vs. taking advantage

Steve Sample: “Think Gray”

Take it in then respond

Sometimes you need someone to pray for you


  1. Don’t conform
  2. sober judgment
  3. body
  4. brotherly love
  5. hope, patience
  6. Constant love and prayer

Under the Heading “Relational Evangelism”

  • Initiate intentional self disclosure
  • Ask existential q’s
  • talk about books you’re reading
  • learn to talk about yourself as a follower of Jesus
  • use your imagination in showing compassion
  • talk about your prayer life
  • talk about your failures (otherwise they think xianity is for ‘perfect’ people)
  • talk about your ideas
  • tell people why they are like Jesus not just why they need JEsus
  • tell them why they are close to Jesus
  • tell people what Christianity (written with a chi rho and a capital “T”) cost you. If you talk about the cost it reveals the treasure
  • “Is life better with Jesus than it is without Jesus?”

What’s interesting about your old Bible? 

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6 thoughts on “Linear Notes in my Old Bible”

  1. James, I love it! Good points all. Concise look at the first books of the Old Testament. I’m glad you wrote and doodled in your bible.
    I’m a doodler but never could in my bible. This is a keeper for me James.

  2. Wow, you’re quite the note-taker! I like ‘conflriluging.’ I’ve somehow always felt a strong reluctance to write in bibles – I think It’s because I want to leave myself open to reading it a different way the next time I come to that passage

    1. Makes sense. . .I think I do it because it forces me to engage the text. I also have done manuscript studies where you link repeated words, phrases, ideas so my Bibles are sometimes a mess so being open to reading a passage a different ways, sometimes means a new Bible (or the passage printed out).

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