A few weeks back I received an email from Chris Browler looking at Bible journaling. In the email, he briefly went into the advantages of keeping a Bible journal in general for our spiritual growth. However, the part that really got me was when he started looking at the pros of using a digital Bible journal, especially with the similarities with apps like Timehop.
For the record, I’m a big proponent of using pen and paper. Like Ana recently noted, pen and paper offer some great advantages in that they are simple, they are adaptable and they help you focus. I started putting my Bible on top of my computer and phone so that I have to move my Bible to get to them. This little prompt is a great reminder to help me turn to God’s word first and not the latest outrage on twitter or marketing spew in a newsletter.
The Advantages of Keeping a Digital Bible Journal
However, the feature that stood out to me in this email from Chris Bowler was how his journaling application of choice (DayOne, an app we’ve also reviewed before) now has a feature where it shows you your entries from previous years. I had seen this feature when using the application, but I hadn’t noted the connection with a Bible journal. The ability to see what you had looked at a year (or two) before and the notes you made then is a really amazing tool.
I get this from my productivity journal where I see what I was working on, and what I was committed to doing next. It’s really interesting to see things which have now lead to some amazing opportunities..and also things which fell flat! It’s also encouraged me to do try things I had given up on or forgotten about and check on old projects.
As such, I believe that it could be a good idea to store our Bible notes digitally, so that we are reminded of them a year later. Here are a few ideas (moving from simple to complex).
Photograph Your Paper Notes
The simplest way to combine both paper and digital is to take a picture of your notes. If you use a tool like Evernote premium, then your data will be OCR scanned so you can search for those specific parts later. You can use tags to help you search for notes later and have a Bible journal. Unfortunately, Evernote has no “timehop” style feature…yet.
An alternative would be to use Google photo (which does show you images from a year before) or Timehop with your photo library (on google or Apple photo library.) This way you use your normal photos system and will get other photo reminders too.
Finally, you can use a journaling app and add images to those apps. We’ve already mentioned DayOne which will resurface old content, but it is only for Apple hardware (iOS and Mac). There is Journey for Android (and windows, chrome, mac). The premium version of Journey also has an “on this day” feature.
Enter Your Paper Notes Into a Digital Journal (or Just Use a Digital One)
Of course, an alternative is to keep a purely digital journal or to re-enter the notes you made earlier in digital form. The second option is a classic case of taking more effort, but also leads to you interacting with the material more and thinking about things more. When you are learning something, revising and repeating something will help you remember it better so while it may have more initial pain, it might be worth it in the long run.
You could just type out all your notes, but here are a few ideas to help you speed things up more and save a bit more time.
Copy Verses from a Bible App
Keeping a copy of the verses you read helps to be reminded of what lead you to draw those conclusions. It puts your notes in context. You could copy the whole section, or have the main focus. I particularly favor quoting the standout parts and having a reference (with a link) to the main parts. If you use the share option from YouVersion Bible, you’ll get an link to the verse you checked out plus the text. You can then bold the parts that stood out to you.
A Bible Journal Workflow
I love the automation app workflow and using a regular series of repeat questions. I use repeat questions when it comes to my productivity journaling and for my Bible journaling too. These help get my thinking going and I can go beyond them if I want (the best of both worlds).
I’m using the three questions that Chris suggested in his newsletter.
- What does this passage tell me about God Himself?
- What does this passage tell me about myself?
- How is this passage going to impact how I live today?
They are simple starter questions but they are useful in general. You of course can change the questions if you like.
After that, it creates a journal entry, with the Bible verse that I copied earlier (this let’s me use NeuBible, my preferred Bible app which doesn’t have a built in share option) In my Bible Journal, and it asks me what tags I’d like to use for it.
You could adapt it for Evernote or a different note taking app but you wouldn’t get the “on this day feature.”
Do You Keep a Bible Journal?
These are just a few ideas I’ve had for keeping a Bible journal but I’d love to know how you keep a journal and if you use a digital or paper system.
[Images via YouVersion]