Caution: Feelings & Bible Journaling

Over 4500 people! This is how many registered for the virtual Bible journaling conference I spoke at last week. I am still a bit humbled by that number. Over the course of 3 days, thousands of people read God’s Word together, learned together, prayed together, and created together.

And that is what I love about the Bible journaling community. We do it together.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV

Bible journaling originated with believers desiring to mesh their creativity, study, and worship into one experience. Goodness, do I love every bit of that!

But today, I want to point out a caution within this study method. Before I do, hear me: I love Bible journaling. I love the community. I love the people in the community.

The words I am about to share are not judgment. They are words of caution. I need this warning. I need accountability.

As I interacted with Bible journalers last week, I noticed most of us love the arts. We love creating. Do you know what else we have in common?

We feel deeply. Feeling deeply allows us to connect with one another easily…even through a virtual conference.

Feeling deeply can also impact our understanding of the Truth.

I read Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, recently. It talked about how people make decisions, especially when they have strong emotions around their decisions. The stronger their emotions, the greater their confidence in their position…even if they are wrong.

Shew! I felt a bit seen in that chapter. Maybe you can relate. You get a bit of road rage when you think someone pulled out in front of you, only to discover you missed that stop sign. It can be hard to be humble when we are swimming in deep, extreme emotions.

Culture keeps feeding us the line: “Follow your heart.” We deep feelers want to do that so badly. We feel. We want to believe our hearts wouldn’t lead us astray.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9, ESV

So what does this have to do with my caution around Bible journaling?

Dear sister, your feelings are not Truth. What you feel scripture says to you is not Truth. How a passage makes you feel doesn’t always indicate Truth?

I get it. These are not easy words.

But, imagine if we allowed our feelings to interpret scripture. There are some tough scriptures. I am going to be honest. I don’t like what some of them say. I don’t want to love my enemies (see Matthew 5:43-45). If I let my feelings guide my understanding and interpretation of Truth, I miss the God of the Bible.

The more I read the Bible, the more I learn about His sovereignty, His goodness, His grace, His holiness…

Shew! I do not want to misinterpret this God. The consequences could be disastrous!

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV

Now, our feelings are part of who God created us to be. They are good at alerting us to a variety of things. The caution is to be aware, so our feelings do not become the loudest voice in our heads. Should they be a voice? Of course, my feelings of love for the Lord, my husband, and my family should echo in my head. My feelings of fear when I am in danger are essential. However, I desire the voice of the Holy Spirit to be louder.

As I enjoy Bible journaling, I commit not just to feeling deeply but studying deeply. In my journaling, I may love using hand lettering techniques to create, but I will also use discernment to interpret the words. Here are a few quick tips to make sure we are using discernment:

  1. Read contextually. When creating, don’t focus so much on one verse that you miss the full context of the message.
  2. Compare scripture with scripture. If the section of scripture you are using in your art or journaling seems contrary to what you have studied in other places in the Bible, stop and study some more. The Bible does not contradict itself. When it appears to, we need to stop and study a bit more. We are most likely misinterpreting what we are reading.
  3. Stay consistent. Reading the Bible and committing to regular study reduces the likelihood of misinterpreting scripture.
  4. Pray for discernment. The Holy Spirit will reveal a deeper understanding if we are willing to pursue Truth wholeheartedly.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13, ESV

Within the Bible journaling community, I love the creations, the encouragement, and the fellowship. Let’s also hold one another accountable to seek Truth, regardless of how we may feel. Let’s use this community and this method of study to discover the God of the Bible, the God who has pursued and redeemed you for His good purposes.


For more information on the topic of feelings and Biblical Truth, here are a couple of resources. I have personally read the first one, and the second one is available for pre-order. It’ll probably find its way into my library at some point.

True Feelings by Carolyn Mahaney

Untangle Your Emotions by Jennie Allen

Also, here is a link to Chip and Dan Heath’s book:

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath



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Comments

2 responses to “Caution: Feelings & Bible Journaling”

  1. Beth LaChance Avatar
    Beth LaChance

    Well said!

  2. Karen Avatar
    Karen

    This is another great book from aBiblical perspective on the emotions and their proper place in our lives.
    The Wisdom of Your Heart: Discovering the God-Given Purpose and Power of Your Emotions
    Book by Marc Alan Schelske

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