Musings and Ramblings about Preaching, Pastoral Ministry, Sports and Life in General

Month: January 2022

DIY Scripture Memory

Materials:

  • A Bible
  • Index Cards
  • Pen or Pencil
  • A Plan
  • 3×5 Recipe Box or Binder Rings
  • 7 Tab dividers

The Process

Gather the materials you need. First, select a good Bible translation. My personal preference is the Christian Standard Bible. I have found it to be a great blend of readability and accuracy. Whatever version you choose, make sure it is a version that is easy for you to read and comprehend. Next, you will need a plan for choosing your memory verses. These can come from a plethora of places. You will find them in most Sunday School materials, a devotional, a list like the one our church is currently using, or from your personal Bible reading. Once you have your plan in place, you will need a strategy to retain the verses you are memorizing. Here the 3×5 recipe box and tabs or binder rings will serve you well. 

On the day you begin, write the verse or verses you have selected on your index card. Be careful to copy it word for word, paying particular attention to punctuation. Recite the verse several times out loud. On day two, review the passage again, this time striving to repeat as much as you can from memory before consulting the index cards. For the following week, review the verse daily. I try to say it out loud, which appeals to both my sense of hearing and sight when I check myself. I encourage you to enlist a partner to help you. This partner might try to memorize the verse as well, or they might be someone who will hold your index card and check the accuracy of your memory. You may also practice writing out on another sheet of paper from memory. However you review, try to make it fun.

Once you have memorized the verse for the week, you need a strategy for retaining it. A helpful procedure involves making a chart with seven columns, one for each day of the week. Once you memorize a verse, assign it to a particular day. For example, if I have memorized Psalm 119:11, once that week is complete, I assign it to Monday. On Monday, I will select a new verse, let’s say John 3:16-17. I will work on memorizing the new verse while reviewing Monday’s review list that contains Psalm 119:11. After week two, assign John 3:16-17 to Tuesday and select a new verse of the week, let’s say Romans 3:10. On Monday, review the verses for that day and the new verse. On Tuesday, one will review Tuesday’s verse along with the verse of the week. Continue this until you have memorized seven verses and start the process over. The logic for this review process is that your verses stored up in your heart can be retained without having to review all of them on the same day. This is not difficult at first but will be more difficult as more verses accumulate. This is where the index card box or the binder clips can be helpful. For the rings, attach the Monday verses to the Monday ring and follow suit with the subsequent days. The index card box with seven tab dividers, one for each day of the week, is an excellent tool as well. 

That’s it. It’s just that simple. Let me conclude by encouraging you not to allow self-doubt or discouragement to prevent you from being able to treasure God’s Word in your heart. And remember, with God, “all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

DIY Quiet Time

Materials Needed

1. A Bible
2. A Pen/Pencil
3. A Notebook
4. A Time
5. A Place
6. A Plan
7. A Prescribed amount of time


Most Christians who attend a Bible preaching church have heard the pastor say that it is vital for an individual to have a quiet time. This mandate can be intimidating. A member might think, “I don’t know where to begin” This DIY guide hopes to demystify the process. The goal is to give you a basic starting point. Much as with woodworking, an experienced carpenter can take the simplest of plans and expand them using their skill. So too, with this quiet time guide. It outlines a process that can be modified to one’s experience and liking.
The ultimate goal of a quiet time is to grow in Christlikeness via intake of the Word of God. Thus there are certain things needed for this process. First of all, you will need a Bible. I recommend selecting a translation that is easy to read. I use the Christian Standard Bible. I find it to be the perfect blend of readability and accuracy. Use a notebook to write down the insights gleaned from the text. Once you have those items, select a place and a time. Consistency is the key. Some suggest that you must have a quiet time in the morning. Indeed, this is a helpful way to start the morning, but I also understand that mornings are not easy for everyone. My advice is to pay attention to your natural rhythms. If you are more focused and can concentrate better on what God is saying to you in the afternoons or late at night, by all means, use that time for your quiet time. The key is consistency. Make it an appointment, and do not allow anything to keep you from it. Trust me–the devil will try to interrupt it. Block off a certain amount of time. Start simple. For some, 15 minutes might be all you can spare. Others might want to carve out half an hour or a full hour. Make it manageable.

Components of a Quiet Time
The method of having a quiet time that I am advocating here consists of three components: Prayer, Scripture Reading, and Scripture Memory. Now I know that some of you slammed on the brakes whenever I said scripture memory. I know many of you wrongly believe that you cannot memorize scripture. We will have an article later in this series on that. File your objections away until then. For the purpose of this article, we will only be dealing with the actual scripture reading portion of the Quiet Time. By the way, this method is not original to me. I heard a prominent pastor talking about this as his go-to method of his devotional life when I was rethinking how to best reboot my devotional life, and this method has worked wonders for me.

The Process
Once you have selected a place and time and gathered your materials, you are ready to begin. The starting line for any quiet time is prayer. I typically start my quiet time with a prayer that quotes a scripture verse like Psalm 119:18. In the CSB, this verse reads, “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction.” This prayer acknowledges that you know God’s Word holds something of value for you today and asks God to help you see it.
Here is where a good plan comes in. You may have a Bible reading plan that your church has encouraged you to participate in. This past year our church read the New Testament together. This year I have encouraged them to select the plan that works best for them. My reading of scripture this year will be guided by the McCheyne Bible Reading Plan. You may also choose to study a particular book or section of scripture, such as the 23rd Psalm or the book of Philippians. No matter which plan you prefer, I recommend having one because it adds two benefits to having a daily quiet time. First, it provides accountability. Whether a paper copy or a YouVersion checklist, the list helps you stay on track. Second, it takes away the potential time wasted of asking yourself the question, “I wonder what I should read today?”
The next step is to start reading. Read until you come to a place where a verse or section stands out. At that point, write that verse or verses down in the notebook. I would encourage you to write them verbatim. Next, ask yourself what the passage means. You are after the Biblical truth. Prayer and study notes can help you discern this. Pay attention to the context. Once you have figured out the meaning of the passage, you must ask how I need to respond to this truth. Write your response next to the heading application. Finally, write out a prayer asking God to help you apply that truth to your life.
That’s all there is to the scripture reading portion of your Quiet Time.

DIY Spiritual Life

I have served as a pastor for fifteen years in three churches.  My exploits in home improvement, gardening, auto maintenance, and other Do-It-Yourself projects have become legendary.  No, I’m not the next Tim “The Toolman” Taylor or Handy Manny.  Most of the time, when I try to fix something, it ends up in a worse condition than it was, to begin with.  In each ministerial stop, God has been gracious to my family in providing church members who were exceedingly benevolent and helpful with tasks.  I am in awe of their skills and indebted to them for using them on my behalf.  The ones I remember most fondly were the ones who took the time to demonstrate that I could do some of the small things and showed me how to do it.  While thanking God for those men and women this week, the thought occurred to me that the role that those individuals played in my life is precisely the role that, as a pastor, I am supposed to play in the lives of others.  Consider the apostle Paul’s statement of the role of a pastor in Ephesians 4:11-12:

And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.

One of the most important aspects of my job is to “equip the saints” for “the works of ministry.”  This mandate entails teaching them how to pursue a deeper spiritual life.  The next few posts will be a series of DIY Spiritual Life posts with that task in mind.  Here’s a list of what is to come:

  1. DIY Quiet Time: How to Have a Quiet Time
  2. DIY  Scripture Memory: How to Memorize and Retain Scripture
  3. DIY Prayer Journal
  4. DIY Testimony:  How to Prepare and Share Your Testimony.

Stay Tuned:

Hide God’s Word Where You Can Find it in 2022

One of my favorite authors is Don Whitney. He has written extensively on personal and interpersonal spiritual disciplines. Recently, he penned ten questions to focus your spiritual preparation for a new year. This was his second such article. (They can be found here and here.) One of the questions struck me: What spiritual discipline would you most like to grow in this year? This answer was an easy one. Last year, my optometrist discovered some potential issues with my eyes. The condition is treatable, but it could lead to eventual blindness if left untreated. The diagnosis left me with a haunting refrain in my head: If I were no longer able to see, or if someone suddenly took access to God’s Word away from me, would my knowledge of the scripture sustain me? My discomfort and inability to answer that question with an unequivocal “yes” lead me to an easy answer to Whitney’s query. The one spiritual discipline where I want to see the most growth in 2022 is Scripture memory.

Since a road trip is more fun with friends, I want to invite you all to join me on this journey. Now, I know that you may have objections or protests about your ability, or lack thereof, to memorize verses, so I hope to share some articles to encourage you along the way over the next few days. Nevertheless, here is my proposal for us to memorize scripture together. Step one, pray about the commitment you are making. Second, enlist a friend to check your work and hold you accountable. It works better if they are participating too, but it isn’t necessary as long as they work with you to help make sure you have the verse memorized. The third step is to select a plan. To complete a verse, simply arrange a time with your partner and repeat it to them from memory in your translation of choice. I have attached to this article three lists for varying levels of challenge. Club 12 is a plan to memorize one Bible verse a month throughout the year. This path will allow you to take your time working on a verse without the pressure of another coming the following week. Group two is Club 26. This list enables a participant to memorize one verse every two weeks. Finally, Club 52 maps out a new memory verse every week.   

 I know this can be a scary goal, but I want to encourage you to give it a try. Every verse you hide in your heart this year, be it 1 or 52, will be one that no one can ever take away from you. Will you join me this year? I have attached a PDF of each plan, complete with a place for your signature once you complete it and one for your accountability partner.

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