Toolbox #5: A Few Extras for Your Toolbox

By Jamie Harms

Before the seeds and starts of my garden can actually go into the ground, I curl up inside under a blanket with a cup of tea, my gardening book, and a paper and pencil. I sketch out my garden to create a visual of the space in my mind and then add and rearrange the elements of my garden for the new year. Taking time to sketch out my garden helps me see more of what is currently there and where it could go in the future. The tools we are talking about today are some ways to engage with Scripture that will give us a better layout of the land, helping us to make connections and to understand truths in a new way.

Like my garden sketch, Jackie uses a tool in our homework this week that provides a similar function. On pages 125 and 135, we find two charts. Charts are a type of graphic organizer that can help us arrange information visually to see connections in the text, much the way I can see the relationships between my plants. The first chart on page 125 helps us make connections between verses 1, 2 and 3 and verses 20 and 21 of Jude based on similar wording that we find. The second chart on page 135 helps us compare and contrast the character of the godly and the ungodly whom we have learned about in Jude. These are both examples of one way that graphic organizers can help us make connections for a deeper understanding.

Graphic organizers can help us keep track of cross references or concepts. Jackie gives us a fantastic graphic organizer of the five elements of the gospel on pages 54 through 57. Here she is displaying concepts with the cross references to condense a bunch of information into something simple. There are endless possibilities to make graphic organizers, including venn diagrams, charts, lists, and flow charts. No right or wrong way to do them exists, but the goal is to synthesize the information in the text. This allows us to more deeply understand what the text is saying about God’s truth.  

Years ago I had a woman attend Bible study who, instead of doing a traditional graphic organizer, drew pictures from the text. Jude is full of pictures to remember concepts like contending or waterless clouds, fruitless trees, and dull stars, to name a few. She would take the text, and using her art skills, draw a picture of the concept. I loved her gift and how she would share it with us. She used her art to slow down and think about what the text was saying and figure out how to represent it with a picture. Art, whether pencil sketches, water colors, photography, collages from magazine clippings, or another medium, is just another way to saturate ourselves in the text of Scripture and think about it deeply.

So, tuck the tools of graphic organizers and art into your toolbox for your study time in God’s Word to help you put together your thoughts, and then consider sharing your organizers and art with your group as a way for them to be encouraged.

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