by Amber Bolton, Inspire Bible TOUR
She walked up to the Inspire Bible booth, touched the pages of my Bible, and looked up at me with wide-eyed wonder. “I didn’t know this is what I needed until just now.”
This year, in addition to the workshops hosted through churches and bookstores, the Inspire Bible TOUR has had a booth and a workshop at 12 Stamp and Scrapbook Expos across the US. We still have four more stops to go in Arizona, Colorado, and California. This new aspect of the TOUR has allowed us to share about the Inspire Bible and this beautiful way to respond to God’s Word through art in the margin with people who are already using their creativity for scrapbooking and card-making. Bible journaling is the perfect crossover, as it becomes a conduit of creativity to document faith. Over the past several years on the Inspire Bible TOUR I’ve enjoyed sharing about how Bible journaling is one of the ways we can study and respond to Scripture. It’s worship in the margin, it’s documenting a season of faith, and it becomes a legacy piece for decades to come.
So many curious creatives have stopped by the Inspire booth to ask questions, share their experiences, and begin their journey into creating worship in an Inspire Bible. Over the course of the past three years of leading Inspire Bible TOUR workshops, and especially at the Stamp and Scrapbook Expos, I’ve had so many questions and comments that I’d love to share with you because they might be some of the same things you are wondering. Here are some of the most popular questions:
So, this is a coloring book, right?
The Inspire Bible is a Bible. It’s the inspired Word of God. But . . . it has blank margin space, illustrations, and vellum inserts to help you respond to God’s Word. It’s the Bible first and foremost.
I’ve got so many craft projects to do, I don’t need another thing.
When you sit down and spend time in the Bible, that time is sacred. It’s not a craft project, it’s a study of God’s Word. It’s a chance to come before the Lord and grow in your faith. We can approach Scripture with the expectation that the Holy Spirit will speak to us as we read and reflect on the inspired Word of God.
I’ve never done anything like this before. How do I get started?
When I sit down and open my Inspire Bible, I focus on 4 things (pray, read, ask, respond). I open with prayer. I invite the Holy Spirit to challenge, encourage, and sharpen my faith. I then read a portion of Scripture. This seems obvious, but I admit, there are times I just want to color and not read the words. But because this is more than a coloring book, I keep the Word central. As I’m reading, I’m asking three questions: What stands out? What does this passage tell me about God? What does this passage tell me about how to live? THEN, I respond in the margin. I use the margin to answer one of those three questions. I keep it as simple as possible because I want to be able to read, respond in the margin, close my Bible and live out what I’ve learned! I want to be able to remember what I read and processed. It’s a life manual that invites you to respond with creativity in the margin.
I want to do this! What specific Bible journaling supplies do I need?
Use what you already have and go from there. Most people believe you have to have specific art supplies for Bible journaling, but you don’t! You can use any of the stamp and scrapbook supplies you already have, even your children’s art supplies. You don’t have to break the bank to get started using the Inspire Bible.
I don’t want the ink to bleed through to the other side of the page or shadow. So what should I use on the Bible pages?
There are certain supplies that will bleed through the pages. While the pages of the Inspire Bible are thicker than traditional Bibles, alcohol-based inks will cause bleed-through. You can use gesso to prep your pages, but I personally don’t use it. I’m okay with a little bit of bleed through. I typically will just incorporate it into the illustration on the other side of the page. Many people buy an Inspire Bible but are afraid to start. They are stuck worrying about ruining the pages or not having the “right” supplies. Use the last few pages of the Inspire Bible (the index) to try out your art supplies and then JUST START. Once you get through your first few pages, your bravery will grow. Start to see your trip to the art store as a way to ask “Can I use this in my Bible?” Think outside the box. I’ve used nail polish, maps, napkins, Instax photos, and even a voting sticker in my Bible!
I can’t believe you would write in a Bible. Why would you do that?
My Inspire Bible is my “art response Bible” not my everyday reading Bible. I keep one NLT Bible (it’s duct-taped and falling apart) that I don’t cover the words in. Everyone has what I call the “Spectrum of Coverability” level. On one side of the spectrum are those who would never write in a Bible, and on the other side is full coverage of art. Everyone has a particular level. For example, those who carry their Bible with them to church to use as their primary reading Bible will likely not want to cover the words. Ultimately, Bible journaling has been around since the Word was written. Kings and Queens would invite artists to depict stories in Scripture through art, especially for those who were unable to read. They even used stamps (carved in wood) and real gold to foil in the illustrations. Ultimately, the Inspire Bible was created so that you have margin space to write, journal, and create illustrations that help you visualize what you’ve learned.
Wow, I can’t create such beautiful pages. You must be an artist, right?
I’m a Bible preacher, not an art teacher. We are all creative in our own ways. Bible journaling is worship in the margin. Think of it as drawing a picture and giving it to God, who turns and puts it on his refrigerator. He is praised by our creative mess when we keep the Word central. Ultimately, while my pages might be beautiful, I want my life to be a more beautiful reflection of Christ based on what I’ve learned through Bible journaling. So, don’t be concerned about the art; be more in tune to what the creativity is cultivating in your heart. Are you being sharpened, challenged, and encouraged by the Word? Is God honored by your time and creativity? These are questions I ask myself to make sure my focus is less on “Instagram likes” and more on worshiping the Lord.
We have just a few more stops on the Stamp and Scrapbook Expo schedule. Would you pray for those who walk by our booth or take the workshop? We’ve sold women their very first Bibles (ever), prayed with women who are battling heavy life situations who picked up an Inspire: Psalms, and engaged with moms and daughters about journaling in the Inspire Bible for Girls during their quality time together. We’ve seen people experience the Holy Spirit’s “aha” moments about getting creative for Christ and encouraged others who saw the Bible as intimidating to begin their journey to learn about God. People have even prayed for and encouraged us in the booth! Isn’t it amazing that God would put creativity in our hearts so that we can worship him? Let us live INSPIRED as we read and respond in the margins of our Bibles.