Some days it feels as though seminary was ages ago. Some mornings I wake up and it feels as though it has been decades since I was waking up to spend time in a seminary library or classroom, rather than creeping into the living room in the dark. It feels as though it was a lifetime ago that I poured over theological textbooks at my rented desk in the library, instead of sitting on a worn leather couch adjacent to a baby nursery. It seems as though it was a different "me" that sat in seminary professors' offices, and berated them with theological questions, rather than jotting down questions on my phone so that I don't forget to ask the pediatrician at the next appointment.
But what makes this dichotomy feel so extreme is that I wake to a much different life than I had during my seminary days. I wake early, currently at 5 AM, with my husband. We both head to two separate rooms to spend time in Scripture before our two baby girls wake up. We are currently in church ministry, church planters four years into our church planting journey in our city. During each day, I will manage our household, our children, my small business, and our ministry schedules. I feel that my seminary self would barely recognize the life I now have.
But can I tell you what makes those days feel as if they were yesterday? The daily habit that I have in place that brings those days rushing back to mind? One of the only things that bridges the gap between then and now?
It’s my Bible study tools. Every day I wake up to spend time within the pages of God’s Word, and I am constantly pulling out the same resources that I gained in seminary. They are notes and note cards, an abbreviated form of the courses I sat in for hours. They are the highlighted parts of my very-full notebooks, all boiled down into very practical, useful, applicable short-form notes.
I started taking notice over the last several months of the tools that I regularly utilize – the ones that make a daily appearance in my Bible study. They are my most used lessons learned during my seminary days. While I learned a great deal during seminary, there are a few tools that I reach for on a daily basis to help me study God‘s Word in a deep and meaningful way. These tools now feel like a gift, a treasure, something entrusted to me by my professors. And they make studying God’s Word in a deep way every early morning so much more accessible.
What are those tools? What do I reach for in the early hours of the morning? Here are the three resources I use every single day!
Old Testament Study Notes
Namely, timelines, lists of kings (noting which were faithful to Yahweh, and which were not), lists of the prophets and who they prophesied against. These timelines and lists are irreplaceable for me. They help me open my Bible to any book of the Old Testament and get my bearings before I set out to study!
New Testament Study Notes
Similar to the OT, these notes enable me to remember the different teachings of Jesus all in one place: what did he say the Kingdom of God was like? Where did Jesus travel during his earthly ministry? And what did he do in each region? Where did Paul travel – and when? And who did he write to while he was there? These big questions help me understand each Gospel and letter in context.
Greek and Hebrew key words
This might seem extra nerdy, but it is not! These little key words help me remember the meaning behind some easy-to-misunderstand English words like grace, gospel, and mercy. These notes remind me of the words’ definitions, and also other places in Scripture the same word in used. Again, sounds nerdy, but it is really super practical!
These are just a few of the skills that serve me oh-so-well, and I’m currently working on a passion project to help share them with you! What tools do you love to use during your personal Bible study? What do you wish existed?