#SOTM2013 and Whatever is True…

I am about as good at memorizing as the Kardashians are at staying out of the news.

Basically, terrible.

I didn’t grow up with Awana, but I hear rumors about gold stars or badges and “sword drills” and I imagine competition is involved which I usually love, but in this case it scares me and makes me think if I had Awana-ed I might have more issues to deal with than I already do.

However, God is incredibly gracious and a miracle-worker to boot.

So when I was 23 years old on a mountain path in the Swiss Alps at dusk one evening, all sobbed out and at the end of my faith rope, it was Scripture I knew that God brought to mind to speak to me.

“God is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

As clearly and as lovingly as if He was holding me and speaking, those were the words I heard.

Miracle-worker indeed.

Could I have given you chapter and verse?  No.  But that wasn’t the part God wanted to use.

Over and over again in the years since that crisis of faith, God has brought to mind just the right words from Scripture at just the right time to convict, encourage, guide, reassure.

It’s so easy to decide if we can’t do something perfectly, we can’t do it at all.  I mess up chapter and verse, I get words out of order, but somehow God makes it right.  Like songs you listen to over and over on the radio…you may not remember the artist or all of the words exactly, but the chorus?  Or a key line?  They keep coming back.  Maybe they shape us.

I figure it’s hard for God to bring to mind what we haven’t put there in the first place.  So no badges or stars, but when our kids were growing up we tried to memorize Scripture as a family.  At dinner we’d go around the table, each person saying one word of the verse we were trying to memorize.  It would usually go something like this:

Katy: Whatever

Maggie: is

Laura: true

John: ….??  nice!?? helpful!?? interesting!?? Rats!

Katy and Maggie would crack up as their pastor father was most often the first family member to mess up and need a hint.

This week, my friend Lynne, admitted that her New Year’s resolution was to memorize Matthew 5,6, and 7 – the Sermon on the Mount – in 2013.  But as of the end of March, she hadn’t gotten started and needed some accountability.

A few tweets later (@lynnehybels) and there’s a whole movement of folks committed to memorizing this chunk of Scripture with the hashtag #SOTM2013!  

No, I’m not a great memorizer, but if some small essence of God’s Word becomes more a part of me through this discipline, who knows what He might do with this…what “kingdom come” transformation He might want to do in and through us?  Like Lynne writes,

Maybe we can become givers of mercy and pure-hearted peacemakers. Maybe we can become lights in the darkness. Maybe we can embrace a vision of righteousness that looks more like Jesus than the Pharisees…

I’m in.

And in spite of the fact that both Lynne and I threw John under the bus for his comment about just committing to the Beatitudes, I think I’ve got him hooked too.

Oh, and the verse our family was trying to memorize above?

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent, or praiseworthy.  Think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

John got so frustrated, he came up with this pneumonic device: Two neurotic Roman priests lost and eccentric pope.

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for three whole chapters in SOTM13.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with Scripture memory.  And join us in memorizing the Sermon on the Mount!

Want to try something new?

Have you ever had the experience where God brings His words to mind at just the right time?  Like He’s talking to YOU?

At one of the lowest moments of my life, on a mountain in Europe, all alone, I was overwhelmed by “hearing”: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”…”I will never leave or forsake you”.

However, I think I’ve mentioned before that although I love Scripture and I really try to memorize it, I’m TERRIBLE at it (especially at getting the reference right).  From what I hear, I don’t think I’m the only one in this proverbial “slow” boat.  Can I hear an “Amen!”?

Anyway, I refuse to give up.  I’ll try anything and recently I found Scripture Writer.  It’s a unique site that takes you through three steps over and over again til you master a verse.

First you type it while looking at the verse.  Then you type it while looking at it with some words removed.  Then you type it completely from memory.  Every step along the way, if you type a wrong letter or word the type shows up red instead of green.  And it even gives you feedback, like “Wow!  That was your best yet!  You almost have this memorized!”  (Who doesn’t love an encouraging computer?)

You can input your own verses, or use ones they have already inputed.  I’m trying to memorize the whole first chapter of James.  I think I’ve been working on 1:1-3 for two weeks (I told you I’m in the slow group!) Anyone want to join me?

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.  (It’s that first part I always have trouble with!)   Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Is There an App for That?

I’ve told you before that our family likes to make a game out of anything.  Especially if there are points involved.  Maggie is famous for making up these games and somehow she always ends up being the boss of the game in charge of giving and (more importantly) taking away points.

Anyway, when the girls were growing up we would work on memorizing scripture.  Now don’t get the idea this was any systematized, consistent, we’ve-now-memorized-the-whole-book-of-Leviticus kind of thing, but we would do a game from time to time at dinner where we would go around the table and each person would have to say one word of the verse we were memorizing in order.  Like this (Hebrews 12:11):

Laura: No

Maggie: discipline

Katy: seems

John: ?

Well the girls thought it was hysterical because the person who was the WORST at this game was John, the professional holy man.  He would have them cracking up as he tried to guess the most likely words like “LOVE!, JESUS!, GRACE!….RATS!”

Now, I’m NOT a good memorizer either, but I’ve been hugely impacted by the way God has used my meager attempts at putting His word in my heart, and it is uncanny how He’ll bring a verse to mind (or even part of a verse 🙂 at just the moment I need it encouraging (or convicting!) me.

Since Maggie’s birthday and since John finally gave up his $15 phone, we now all have Iphones.  I’ve discovered a verse memory app that I really like.  Just type in “Bible Memory Verses” in the search box of the App Store.  It’s free and it’s the first one that pops up (Woody Hays).  It has a lot of core verses already in-putted, but you can also add your own and can designate some as target verses you’re working on.  The coolest thing is that you can pull up a verse and touch “blanks” and it will create the verse with mostly blanks you need to fill in.  If you forget a word you can just tap the blank and it supplies the word your missing.

My big idea is to have our family all work on the same verse again.  The girls were all for it, (I think mostly cause they’re looking forward to us going around the table at Thanksgiving and watching John sweat.)  In order to get buy-in I told Katy she could pick the first one (although maybe I should ask John so he’d have a head start).   She chose Isaiah 58:11 for our first group effort.  You’re welcome to join us or pick your own verse and ask someone to join you.

For Spirit Stretch Friday I thought I’d pass this along in case you’d like to add the app.  Obviously you don’t need a special phone to find effective ways to memorize scripture!  Is there other technology that you’ve found helpful in following Jesus?