How Buying a New Bible Made Me a Better Father

Journaling Bible

I’ve long been a fan of those”Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year” plans. This year, however, I decided to try something slightly different.

It all started when I discovered the Journaling Bible, complete with oversized, lined margins perfect for heavy note-takers.

I, however, have never been a note-taker.

I felt led to buy this Bible though, not to take notes for myself, but for my daughter.

So, on January 1st this year, I began reading the entire Bible, highlighting verses and writing notes in the margins for her to read someday.

Now that I’m coming down to the home stretch, I can tell you it’s been one of my favorite things I’ve done to father her toward the Kingdom, and I haven’t even given the Bible to her yet. In fact, she probably won’t get it until she’s 13, which is still years away.

That doesn’t mean she hasn’t benefited from this practice though. She’s already well aware that this is “Her Bible,” and loves to catch me writing in it so she can ask me to read her what I just wrote down. Not only that, it’s helped me to read the Bible as if I’m reading it again for the first time. Instead of getting hung up in the deeper aspects of theology, I’m re-examining the foundational truths with fresh eyes.

For example, just this morning, I was reading in 1 Peter and came across a verse I’ve been well aware of for many years:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

It struck me that I had been reading that verse through the lens of a legalistic faith for most of my life. But now that God has been opening my eyes to the reality of what it means to be In Christ,” the meaning was completely different to me.

Here’s what I wrote in my daughter’s Bible:

For years I read this verse as a call to try harder and make myself perfect because that’s what God calls us to do, right? That’s not true though. That thinking leads to self-righteousness and shame. Notice verse 16 here—it’s not a command to be holy, it’s Peter telling you that you already are holy because Jesus is holy (and He is living in you). You don’t need to try to be holy, you just need to trust that Jesus has already given you His holiness. See how that changes everything?!

Now, will she read this and interpret it as me telling her she can go do whatever she wants? Perhaps. But I have confidence that once she starts to trust the permanence of her union to Christ and the unconditional love and acceptance that comes with it, that will be what motivates her to live out of the holiness Jesus has given her rather than the passions of her former ignorance.

As for the journaling Bible, I’d say its been a huge win. So much so, that I just ordered a second one this morning for daughter #2 (even though she’s not scheduled to be here for a few more weeks). My plan is to switch back and forth each year, adding more notes and highlights until the time comes to hand each Bible off.

If you want to get your own copy of the Journaling Bible, you can do that here. I’d also recommend you get some fine-tipped pens as well. After all, you’ll be using them a lot next year, right?

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