I hope all are well. I know my title may or may not be inspiring to some as it may sound much like a New Year's resolution. It could certainly be taken that way. I would be in denial if I did not acknowledge that in one sense, it is. There is no getting around it. It is at the very least a new New Year's idea or inspiration. My hope, of course, is that it will be so much more. There is a new tool out there that I want to introduce which is family friendly and could be very useful in growing in this skill set. But first, a few thoughts.
I have posted a couple of times before regarding scripture memory. Suffice it to say that I have developed a burden for it. I have come to the serious conviction that it is an invaluable tool. So many of the leaders that I respect are memorizing and quoting scripture almost every time I listen to them; leaders such as David Platt, John Piper, John MacAurthur and the many teachers at Ligonier ministries.
If that were not enough, then I can look to the even more important and pertinent biblical examples such as Jesus, Peter, and Paul. Christ defeated Satan during his time of temptation in the wilderness by quoting from Deuteronomy. Peter quoted from the Prophet Joel while preaching his first sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2. Paul quoted and combined scripture all through his epistles. These men knew the scriptures.
Not An Easy Task!
In my last post entitled, "Successes and Failures in Scripture Memory", I discussed some significant thoughts regarding the why's and benefits of scripture memory. I also, admitted some struggles. These struggles have not ceased. I do not want to imply or suggest that the process of scripture memory is always a cakewalk. It can be discouraging, intimidating, and sometimes uninspiring. "How can that be?" you might ask. It is the word of God after all. I thought you found it so exciting Josh? That is true however, the discipline of scripture memory is a discipline taken on by sinful, flawed human beings who's lives are full of distractions and who may fail to see the value in a particular scripture at a particular time.
It is for this very reason that we must be so intentional about not only memorization, but meditation. While I argue that it is much easier to meditate "on demand" if you already have it inside through memorization, I also readily acknowledge that the inspiration to memorize also sometimes comes through memorizing passages that already inspire us. For instance, if John 3:16 is inspiring to you apart from the idea of memoriztion, then you might memorize it from the sheer joy the verse brings you rather than out of some sense of duty.
By the same token, if I told you I was giving away $1,000 for every verse you memorized in the next week, I'll bet you would figure out how to get some verses commited to memory. So in many ways, it is a question of....
What inspires you? What will make it worth your while to start moving in the right direction in this discipline? It could be money, but let's face it, there are not too many people who are gonna pay you to memorize scripture.
For me it has been the desire to be a godly father and husband as the spriritual leader of my home. I have learned not only in theory, but in practice that the more I focus on matters of Christian growth, the better I become as a father and a husband. Mind you, I have a long way to go, but that is why I think this is so important. I also want to teach my children to do it, so I need to lead by example.
So that is the appeal I am going to make to you. This will not be easy and the growth and skill development can be slow, but every success is a step in the right direction. As they say, "practice makes perfect" and your spouse or children, or both are worth every effort. That I can promise you.
So How Do We Do This? What Is This New Tool
As many of you know, my favorite tool is Fighter Verses. While I have had the app for a couple of years, this past year has been my first real attempt at actually following the plan. Out of 52 weeks, I would say I officially memorized about a third and some of those are not as readily accessible as I would like them to be. There are many reasons for this, but none of them are very good excuses. At the same time, there are other passages or verses that I memorized that were not officially part of their 52.
There are a couple of reasons that I am excited for this year and that I want to inspire others to be as well.
1.) The Fighter Verses are designed to be a five year set. What is quite exciting about this to me is that this five year concept resets this year! That means we can start from the beginning and aim for five years of success.
Another aspect that invigorates me about this is that, when you get through five years, you have potentially memorized 520 passages usually containing at least but generally no more than two verses. That's over 1,000 verses in five years!
What's more, is that half of the 520 passages are part of an extended memory collection that involves memorizing large chunks of scripture. For instance, if we faithfully follow the extended collection during 2016, we will have the whole of the book of Philippians memorized. 2017 is Romans Ch. 5-8, which is at the heart of a trememdous, theologically rich understanding of the gospel. How awesome is that?
Remember, we are only talking about a couple of verses per week. Four if you aim to do both the extended and regular memory verse aspects. When you think about all of the other lyrics, stats and pieces of information that we commit to memory, useful or useless, 2-4 verses a week really isn't so outrageous. Even if you don't do the extended collection, you still have 260 awesome passages of scripture commited to memory, many of which you will not fully appreciate until that moment when you really need them and are so glad to have them readily available.
While the ministry that created this tool, Children Desiring God , has these scriptures available in a small three-ring flip style binder that you can sit on the counter as a reminder, they also have a terrific app for Apple or Android. In this marvelous digital age in which we live, this app makes all the basics of the program available at your fingertips. This includes a favorite feature of mine which is called My Verses. In this part of the app, you can save verses outside of the program that you would like to work on memorizing. You can organize them according to the order of priority by which you would like to work on them.
2.) The second reason is that Children Desiring God has come up with a whole new tool which brings a devotional style to the Fighter Verses concept. These tools are pictured above.
As you can see, there are numerous tools available in the Fighter Verse study. From discussion guide to Study guide, to a journal and or coloring book, everything you need to help keep you and your family focused on the current Fighter Verse passage is here. It also develops the whole idea from plain jane memorization, to having a tool that helps you better understand the passage and meditate on it properly.
I hope to get some of these resources to use with my family.
Now there will be those detractors who will argue that scripture memory can lead to a bunch of verses being memorized out of context and thus being applied out of context. However, as many distractions as this world provides I will take any tools that I deem useful in keeping my family focused on the word. Besides, a tool like this is designed to give you context; and help us as the parents to do what we should be doing anyway which is making God's word the center of all that we say and do. I'm not saying I do that perfectly, just that it should be done that way.
As I have said before, there are also those who may argue that there is too much danger of this becoming a guilt-creating, legalistic idea and that it is enough to know concepts without committing much to memory.
I address this in the Succeses and Failures post that I linked to above. If we are honest with ourselves about what scripture teaches and illustrates on the matter, we will realize that this is simply not a valid argument.
I'll just provide two references here for your consideration, Colossians 3:16-17 and Psalm 119:11. I would also point out that each instruction to internalize God's word is followed by a benefit to that action.
Please do not let any thoughts like this hinder the possibilities of excellence in scripture memory that can be yours. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
So Now What?
My goal is to continue sharing verses on FB as I have been and to continue challenging others to come along on this adventure. But I can't do it for anyone else. It takes great effort to accomplish it myself. That effort applies as much to maintaining focus, if not more than it applies to the actual memorization of scripture.
Make no mistake. The enemy does NOT want this to happen because he understands that memorized scripture is a mighty weapon in the perverbial hand of the child of God which can strike him a devastating blow. He does not want us to succeed. That is why I would love to get more people involved in this concept. I believe the accountability and togetherness will help to strengthen our efforts.
The main goal of this post however, is to present tools and thought processes to facilitate the spiritual discipline of scripture memory. I also want to encourage you, YOU CAN do this. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are a child of the Most High God. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that,
"His divine power has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us according to His own glory and excellence."
This means that, He has already given us all that we need to pursue righteous living in Christ Jesus. It also means that as we grow in knowledge of Him through study, memorization, and meditation on his word, we will continue to grow into the fullness of all that He has given us.
So let's do it!!!
I am posting this roughly one month before the New Year and will be shamelessly sharing it alot in hopes of impacting many with this idea as we approach the New Year. Then I hope to start the New Year off right by engaging us further in this exciting discipline.
I pray you will feel inclined to join me on this EPIC adventure!!!!
See ya soon,