Let me tell you something that you most likely have never thought before: The devil hates that pen stowed away in your desk drawer. He hates that pen because he hates it when you read the Bible with a pen in your hand. He hates that pen because that pen in your desk drawer is like a spiritual shovel, or as Howard Hendricks once said, “a mental crowbar.” It’s a spiritual shovel because with each mark you make your mind begins to dig just a little deeper into the text you’re reading. You begin to think more deeply about what you’re reading. You begin to really understand the truth that the text is teaching. It’s the same reason why so many students’ ‘study’ by rewriting PowerPoint lecture slides or notes, because you somehow have discovered that by doing that you learn the material better. Amazing isn’t it—what we know to be an effective study method for school is the one method our flesh wants us to avoid while reading the Bible. That ought to be reason enough to motivate you. The devil hates that pen. Your flesh hates that pen. Let me give you a God glorifying challenge: Resist the devil, fight against your flesh, and pick up that pen. I know what your flesh just told you—”that pen will cause your quiet time to be longer than you’ve got time for.” Yes, I know it will make you think about those Bible verses in a whole new way and cause you to work harder in your study. But I also know this: that pen will not allow you to merely skim the pages like you do your Twitter feed. So, go ahead. I dare you—pick up the pen.
What should you do with that pen? Many things. Circle all the nouns, the verbs, the conjunctions. Draw arrows between similar ideas or contrasting phrases. Underline all the pronouns and prepositions. Make a list of all the repeated words, locations, and names of people. Draw brackets around any figures of speech. There are so many things that you can do with a pen, that you can’t do mentally without one. This is what I mean when I say: Study the Bible until you learn what the text is communicating. It simply means taking the time, after readingthe context, to see what a verse or a passage is talking about. So: What initial observations should I make? Here is an acronym that I typically begin with L.A.T.E.R.It’s not exhaustive of course, but it is a good place to start.
Linking words—What are the conjunctions (and, but, for, therefore) & what do they connect?
Action words—What are the verbs and what actions do they describe?
They, you, us—List all the pronouns. (Does ‘us’ refer to Paul & friends or the church?)
Expressions—Does the passage have any figures of speech?
Repeated words—These are repeated for one reason: FOR EMPHASIS
Pick up the pen, I dare you. Leave no stone unturned and use that spiritual shovel to dig up that glorious truth right there in the text. The devil knows what you will find. That’s why he hates the pen in your desk drawer and that’s why you ought to go get it and never put it down again. Blessings friends and happy studying.