Lent begins next Wednesday, March 1 but I’ve been in planning mode for several months. While most who observe Lent associate it with sin, darkness, ashes, and sacrifice, I’m taking a different approach by diving into BELOVED: 40 Days in the Gospel of John by Margaret Feinberg. John is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it is full of light and love, opposite of the doom and gloom normally associated with Lent. This Gospel also paints a very colorful portrait of God’s own heart through His Son, Jesus Christ. It really is a book like no other and I’m excited to study it inductively for Lent.
What is inductive study?
I’ve written about inductive study before but Beloved is different than most studies or devotionals. Margaret has beautifully created a space for readers to become intimately familiar with Jesus through reading, coloring, and meditating on Scripture. Yes, for this study you are encouraged to color, highlight, underline, and write in the margins! When reading Scripture, I prefer to read with purpose and identify God’s promises, key names and places, and highlight facts and numbers. This allows me to consider the details of the text’s historical and contextual significance. Through prayer, discernment, and intentional study, we are more apt to understand and apply Scripture.
How to use the Beloved workbook
On pages 4 and 5 in the Beloved workbook, you will find a personal letter from Margaret explaining how to use this devotional and the significance of John and its portrayal of God and Jesus.
Within the person of Jesus, the invisible attributes of God are made visible, on display like a framed masterpiece – to be enjoyed, celebrated, and reflected upon. [This workbook} invites you to read through John over the course of six weeks. Some days you may just want to read straight through. Other days you may want to slow down and dig deeper. Grab a handful of colored pencils, markers, and crayons. Take time to circle verbs, underline names, note numbers, and consider the details of the text as you doodle and reflect. Each day’s reading includes a black and white image to color.
Margaret did a phenomenal job designing Beloved and providing a place for readers to study, meditate, reflect, and doodle. If you have never used color to study Scriptures, there is a suggested palette. For those who are uncomfortable writing and marking in their Bible, Beloved contains daily readings with wide margins for personal notes. Beloved is the perfect introduction to inductive study or Bible journaling because it guides you through deeper reading and, in turn, will improve your understanding and application of Scripture.
The Big Question
Whether I’m reading her blog or published book, Margaret has a personal, informal writing style that I appreciate and admire. She also asks a big question that grabs my attention and pushes me to seek God’s quiet voice. Margaret challenges me to address areas where I need Jesus the most. In Beloved, Margaret asks:
What do I most need to read but least want to hear?
That’s a tough but important question to answer, my friend. Beginning next Wednesday, I invite you to join me in a small group session or participate online. We will dig deeper into Scripture by reading The Gospel of John in 40 days. Together, we will hold ourselves accountable and, hopefully, respond accordingly. Whatever your response looks like – maybe it’s prayer or repentance, giving or reaching out to someone – do it willingly and with a cheerful heart.
My Hope for Beloved
Whether you read Beloved or do something else this Lenten season, my hope is that you will experience the relentless power and overwhelming grace of Jesus in such a way that you have to respond and draw nearer to Him. Humans were created to be in relationship with Jesus and with others – we are a communal people! If you already have a church you call home, invite someone to join you. If you are searching, I encourage you to step out in faith and visit a church in your community. If you’re near to me, the doors at First United Methodist Church in Joshua, Texas are always open and we have a team of greeters ready to welcome you!
I always get excited for new studies, especially ones written by Margaret. She has definitely piqued my interest with Beloved by combining my love of Scripture and passion for study. Besides, an invitation to color and doodle over God’s Word with friends is a good time!
If you are looking for a Lenten study, I highly recommend Beloved by Margaret Feinberg. It’s going to be different than anything you’ve done before, but it’s worth it. If you’re in the Joshua area, I’ve got extra workbooks waiting for you. They’re also available online here.
Disclaimer: Margaret did not twist my arm or compensate me for this promotion. I’m simply sharing a good thing when I find it and you need this workbook!