Please write in your Bible

“This shall be written for the generation to come; and the people who shall be created shall praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).

Please go to the front of your Bible and write in it.

Start by putting your own name.

Often, when I pick up the Bibles of friends to see what they have written in them, I’m chagrined to see they don’t even have their names.

Write in your Bible, friend. Please.

At Christmas 1973, my aunt Eren gave to her mother, my wonderful grandmother Bessie Lowery McKeever, a Bible.  Grandma died in 1982, but not before marking up that Bible.

I now own it.  It is a treasure beyond price.

This morning, I read something I had never seen before, that made the tears flow.  (I was looking up the text above, and Grandma’s Bible was handy.)

In the margin beside Psalm 103:17, Grandma had written “One of Papa’s favorite verses.”

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.

I never knew Grandpa Lowery, her father.  I have been told he was a preacher of the Word, and a Baptist at that. And, that as a little girl, Grandma would accompany him as he went out to preach. Other than that, I know nothing of him.  Thanks to Grandma’s notes in the front of tis Bible, I have his name:  George Marion Lowery. And his wife, my great-grandmother, was Sarah Jane Blocker, whose birthdate is listed as January 1, 1852.  (Grandma Bessie was born in 1895, was married in 1910, and became a mother the first time in 1912 when my dad Carl arrived, and for the twelfth time with the birth of Georgelle in 1936, six months after being widowed.)

In his life, my dad gave me two Bibles. The first came in 1948 when he asked me to “come go with me,” and we walked the railroad tracks up to Sophia, West Virginia. Inside the variety store he asked a clerk to “Show us your Bibles.” He let me pick out one, a black zippered beauty that I read every night.  Then, sometime in the last few years of his life, he gave me Grandma’s Bible alongwith some interesting instructions.

“Don’t tell people you’ve got it.”

“Some” in the family–presumably a sibling or two–would want the Bible if they knew it existed.  So, I was to keep it but say nothing about it.  I assume it’s safe to do so now.  It’s a treasure.

I’m in favor of people writing in their Bibles.

I started to preach the funeral of optometrist Dr. J. E. Gooch, a deacon in our church who had fought under General George Patton in the Second World War.  The Third Army had liberated Hitler’s death camps and Dr. Gooch had scores of photographs to document it.

Just before the service began, Dr. Gooch’s son approached me. “Pastor, I thought you’d like to see this.” He handed me his dad’s Bible.

In the front, on one of those white pages found in most Bibles, this faithful servant of the Lord had written:  “I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on Friday, September 3, 1948, in Shady Oaks Baptist Church, Route 3, Brookhaven, Mississippi.  I was baptized the next Sunday afternoon in Shady Pond, and I have been serving the Lord all the years since.”  (This is not what it said, but close enough for our purposes here.)

I read that in the service. It was more comforting than anything I had to say.

Ever since that moment, I’ve been urging people to “Write your testimony in your Bible.”  It will outlive you.  It will be there to bless your descendants who will one day treasure your Bible.

After my father-in-law died and we were going through his house, making decisions on what to keep, what to pass on to family, and what to toss, I found a Bible I had more-or-less given him in 1964.  (I’m smiling at the memory.)

Pop had become enamored of the notes in my Scofield Bible, which I had purchased at a discount at the local Baptist Book Store because of a defect.  (Some Scripture portion had been printed twice.)   One day when Margaret and I were newly married, Pop said, “Joe, would you give me this Bible?”  So, I did.

And now, forty years later, in a bookcase, here was that Bible. It had been repaired with duct tape.  And inside was a page of notes in Pop’s handwriting.  But not what I might have wished or expected.

He had listed every gun he owned with its serial numbers and history.

I suppose they were his treasures and what better place to store them than in the Holy Book.

Grandma also kept clippings in her Bible, some of which I am just now discovering.  Like the 1980 article in the Jasper, Alabama “Daily Mountain Eagle” where the columnist had interviewed her about her early life. There’s a lovely photo of Grandma surrounded by her five sons and seven daughters. They’re all there, and decked out in their finest. It’s a wonderful keepsake. (And for those who read our Facebook postings, right in the middle sits my Uncle Ed. The famous and notorious Edwyn McKeever, he of the malaprop, married to Opal, truly one of a kind.)

I write in my Bibles.  Each of my eight grandchildren has received a Bible from me, and possibly will be given more (since I still have six or eight Bibles in my study at the house).  More than once, I have read the Bible through in a year and marked it up as I went, then presented it to a grandchild. Once, I bought identical Bibles and marked up two in one year, then presented them to twins Abby and Erin.

So, please. Write in your Bible.

Start with a) your name in the front of your Bible, and then b) your testimony on one of the white pages.  Then, read it with a highlighter or a fine-point pen handy. Make notes in the margin.

Make this a keepsake.

You may end up blessing descendants whom you will not see until they arrive in Heaven.  And wouldn’t it be great to know your testimony helped them make it there.




4 thoughts on “Please write in your Bible

  1. Joe, thank you for your blog. I both enjoy and am inspired by your work. Here is one thought/idea on writing in the blank back pages of my Bibleas a person who feels led to evangelism, especially on planes and in public places when appropriate, I have made mini notes of those encounters. Something like, “nancy with a yellow jacket who was raised Jewish but is a universalist. She asked me why I was reading and was able to share with her while flying Oakland to San Diego”. My hope is to pray for folks like Nancy(a real story) when I reflect on it by reading the mini bio in the future. God bless and thank you again.

  2. hello sir,
    nice article, very very nice.
    whenever I personally go through the markings I made on my first bibles am so blessed and encouraged. but since we all use more of the electronic bibles now, how can we.preserve this great.practice of writing on our bibles for our Children and their children etc…
    Any technological counsel in this direction? Any digital Bible that stores, backups and saves my notes/bible markings?

  3. I am 67 years old and I would like to use all my family genealogical research from over ther years into one book that I would call it the “Family Bible”. The problem is that the information I have collected and not handed down from my ancestors.
    Can I still call this a Family Bible and do you have any ideas.
    Do I start the Bible with me going back in time or with my furthest ancestors at the beginning leading onto me?

    • To my knowledge, John, there are no rules. You do it the way that works best for you. If you have more information than you can put inside one Bible–they only put so many pages in there for this purpose–you might have to write it somewhere else, maybe in booklet form, and give everyone a copy. My grandmother wrote the basics in hers–her parents’ names, birthplaces, dates, etc., and then the birthdates and full names for each of her 12 children. Without this, we would wonder about some of this. — Hope it goes well.

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