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  • The Measure of True Success

    “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12
    Article by Dakota Dakota Lynch

    What is the measure of a life well lived? If you browse your local library for books on professional success, financial success, marital success, or academic success, you’ll find no shortage of resources and advice. But the Apostle John, writing some 50 years after witnessing the death and resurrection of Christ, summarizes true success in only a few words: “He who has the Son has life.” By contrast, our earthly achievements notwithstanding, “He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

    The pathway to life is clearly marked in Scripture. Only through God’s Word do we understand that “… we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ … ” (1 John 5:20). But all too often, this life-changing truth is forgotten as distractions of every sort beg our time and consume our energy. When unexpected busyness floods our schedule, Scripture memory and other spiritual disciplines are often the first to be sidelined. The result? We forget who we are in Christ because we’re too busy remembering who we are to everyone else!

    As we consider what it means to follow Christ, John’s closing appeal to keep ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21) is particularly relevant. In response, let us deal swiftly and ruthlessly with any idols that keep us from fully knowing and abiding in Christ. Indeed, “… This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

  • The Difference Between Memorizing Scripture & Raising Chickens

    "I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts." (Psalm 119:94)

    Years ago, a hobbyist chicken farmer in Missouri was asked, "If I start raising chickens, when can I expect to start making some money?” The chicken farmer simply smiled and said, "You don't raise chickens to make money. You raise chickens for the joy that they bring."

    Having owned chickens myself some years ago, I’m personally familiar with just how true this is. My family had a modest flock of just six chickens, two of which were roosters that apparently missed the memo about crowing at dawn. Oftentimes, the peaceful silence of nighttime was pierced with the voices of our insomniac roosters. Continue reading

  • Lessons from a Water Bottle

    Article by Jim Woychuk

    “Eternal.” “Pure.” “Good life.” “Redemption.” “Pure Life.” “A future full of possibilities.”

    These theological-sounding phrases came to my attention, not from the Bible or a devotional book, but from water bottles in our office! Nestlé “Pure Life” water invites us to drink it with the pledge, “Pure life begins now,” and the suggestion that their water grants a “nutritional compass.” Yet another brand, “Eternal Water” carries the slogan “eternally pure.” Nestlé promises that, by drinking their water, “Pure life begins now.”

    Mere advertising hyperbole? Maybe. But beyond ordinary marketing, worldview statements underlie these slogans, including implicit claims about what really matters. According to this view, it actually is what goes into a man that purifies (or defiles) him (Matt. 15:11). And this goes along with the belief that our physical being is all there is to us. If you drink pure water, presto! You’re pure! If you’re drink “Eternal Water,” voilà, you’re eternally pure! Continue reading

  • Should I memorize individual verses or whole chapters?

    “Should I memorize individual verses or whole chapters?” This is a question we frequently encounter at SMF, and our short answer is simply “yes.” Whether you’re memorizing a collection of verses on the topic of prayer or all 111 verses of the Sermon on the Mount, you’ll reap the vast benefits of having God’s word stored in your heart.

    As someone who has enjoyed both topical and passage-based memorization, neither approach seems clearly superior to me. As a new Christian learning to share my faith with others, I greatly benefited from memorizing select verses on salvation from across the New Testament. Years later, God used my memorization of Jonah to reveal just how much grace my sinful, Jonah-like heart needs each day. Continue reading

  • "I'm Stuck. Now What?"

    If you memorize Scripture, then you've probably experienced getting stuck. It's that cycle where you practice a verse, can't recite it correctly, practice more, and still can’t get it right. The discouragement may freeze your overall progress for weeks or forever.

    So, take a word of advice. Move on! Skip it for now. If you’ve spent a week or more on this verse or passage without success, I suggest a new plan:

    1) Acknowledge that this verse is tough for you. There's no use hiding it. Other verses were easy or medium difficulty. This one is hard. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

    2) Commit to extra review. You need it, so plan on it. Whenever you review, add a few minutes for this verse. You might take this opportunity to experiment with other ways to memorize. (See scripturememory.com/how for ideas.)

    3) Start memorizing the next verse or any verse that looks like it will be easier. You’ll be encouraged by progress! If you are memorizing on a schedule, this ultimately means staying on schedule and coming back to that tough verse with smart review (i.e. extra time, effort, and creativity).

    We're talking about individual verses here, but keep in mind this may apply to a whole passage also. You may never be able to recite Jonah as fluently as passages known from childhood, and that’s okay. The important thing is that your heart continues to absorb God’s Word with every passing year.

  • A Charlie Brown Memory Lesson

    In the classic Christmas movie, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus is assigned a prominent role in the group's upcoming drama production. Charlie Brown contributes much-needed leadership to their efforts, but Linus is daunted by the thought of memorizing his lines.

    After reviewing his part, Linus concludes emphatically, "I can't memorize something like this so quickly! Why should I be put through such agony? Give me one good reason why I should memorize this!"

    As laughable as his reaction may seem, anyone who's been memorizing Scripture for long has probably asked the same questions. When a verse or chapter proves especially difficult to memorize, we may wonder with Linus, "Why should I be put through such agony?" Thankfully, we have much more than "one good reason" to memorize. (Click here to see a few of them). The benefits are countless!

    Memorizing is tough, but it's something you'll never regret doing. So, in all the busyness of the holiday season, be sure and take time to immerse yourself in God's Word and hide some new portion of it in your heart. It's worth it!

  • Dodging Landmines

    Article by Laura Laura Lynch

    If you’re like me, landmines dot the field of memory verse review. Here are a few of the struggles I encounter as a memorizer--with suggestions for combat!

    The Aimless Must-Do

    “I need to review sometime somehow...and I will…sometime somehow….”

    Combat: Make a specific review plan, and get right to it. Any plan is better than no plan. First, make a list of the verses to review, then decide which days of the week you will review each verse, and finally determine a realistic time. Don’t get bogged down making the perfect system. Test-run your plan for a few weeks, then tweak as needed.

    I’m-So-Behind Despair

    “There are last summer’s memory verses and last month’s and the ones from Bible study and the Sunday school set and… I’m so far behind I won’t even try!”

    Combat: Pick a manageable number to start with; once you have a good routine, gradually add the rest in. You may find it helpful to make an initial time investment in organization. Would a notebook, verse cards, or app be most helpful to you? Again, don’t let the setup overrule the objective. Limit yourself to fifteen minutes in your initial setup time, then start reviewing. The remaining verses can be added little-by-little as you gain confidence and have the time. Reviewing some verses on day one is better than reviewing none.

    This-Is-Boring

    “That verse again? I’m so tired of saying it. Enough already!”

    Combat: Pray for fresh appreciation of God’s Word. “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psa. 119:18). “The word of God is living and powerful…” (Heb. 4:12). Read a commentary and/or discuss with Christian friends for fresh insights. Regular review, though it may seem unnecessary, will dramatically improve your recitations in the long run.

    The old Latin saying is true, Repetitio est mater studiorum--"Repetition is the mother of learning."

  • Why Homeschool Moms Should Care About Scripture Memorization

    Article by Dakota Dakota Lynch

    Over the last two years, I’ve traveled to homeschool conventions and book fairs across the country. As I chat with dozens of homeschool moms at each of these events, I frequently turn to their young children and ask if they can quote any Bible verses. Of course, John 3:16 or “Jesus wept” is recited quickly by most, but when asked if they know any others, the response is often disheartening: blank stares, sheepish grins, and a somewhat embarrassed parent.

    Granted, most of these kids are being raised by well-meaning parents who want more than anything for them to know Christ and embrace a biblical worldview. But tragically, many parents mistakenly think they can do this without teaching the actual words of Scripture.

    This might seem like a minor omission at first, but it couldn’t be any more serious. Continue reading

  • The Need for Accountability

    Article by Laura Laura Lynch

    Why do we shrink from accountability? Reciting to a specific person at a set time each week will help us stay on track and press forward. It will also help us recite accurately. After all, errors made while whispering to ourselves will not disturb like errors made in front of a friend. Take up accountability not only as a help but also as a time to encourage someone else with the Scripture you've learned.

    To answer some objections:

    "Why bother with a specific time? I'll recite when I'm ready." If you have the self-control to do so consistently, great. But knowing you quote tomorrow at 7pm will help you tonight to turn off the computer and study that tough verse a little more.

    Continue reading

  • It's Time to Make Time

    Article by Laura Laura Lynch

    Is accurate word-for-word memorization worth the time? We can semi-learn, recite-and-run, and skip review altogether. But, "every word of God is pure…" (Prov. 30:5). Since God has preserved His Word without error, won’t we care to know it deeply and exactly? The keys to accuracy are thorough memory work in the beginning, correction of errors, and regular review. We’ll touch on these topics in future posts.

    But for today, there’s a ground-level matter to settle: TIME! Continue reading

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