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Motivation

  • Seasons of Scripture Memory

    Spring: Fresh zeal and much planting marks springtime. For the memorizing Christian, this may be a renewed conviction that you need Scripture in your heart. Perhaps you have a new set of verses, a new goal, or a new friend to recite with. Energy is high and you plant verse seeds regularly and expectantly.

    Summer: Here you settle in. You tend and till the verses to accurate, confident recitations. These are good times hiding the Word as rhythm and system settle in. Zeal is not gone, but it’s overshadowed by routine. Memorizing is “what I do.” A few storms of busyness and distraction shake the verse blooms, but unless a complete drought of inconsistency sets in, most verses will survive.

    Fall: Now you know your verses well. They come to mind in conversation. They are at-the-ready for trials. You attain your goal and finish your verse set. The verse harvest is sweet. The mental effort to plant, tend, and harvest has tired you. You tell yourself a break is needed and well-deserved.

    Winter: A break is not all bad. This is a time to meditate deeply within and share God’s Word with others. Let this verse storehouse overflow in your heart and life. But a break should start have a definitive beginning and end lest your “break” become barrenness with just a fond recollection of yesteryear. To launch into spring will mean seeking the Light of World (“What Scripture should I memorize?”) and believing the effort of planting will once again yield a worthwhile harvest.

    Which season are you in? Is it time to move to the next season?

  • On your mark, get set, snooze?

    After a long week at work, few things sound better than sleeping in and enjoying a lazy Saturday. But imagine instead being awakened by the rude sound of your alarm clock. As you roll over and see the time -- 7:00 a.m. -- you groggily remember you were planning to exercise this morning.

    Your first instinct is to roll over and go back to sleep. But there's just one problem: you're supposed to meet your friend at the track by 8:00. Your lack of internal motivation to get up and exercise is suddenly overcome by external motivation and accountability. In simper terms, your desire to keep your word is stronger than your desire for more sleep. Continue reading

  • Too busy to memorize?

    Does the busyness of daily life feel overwhelming? If so, this might come as a surprise: research shows that Americans have more free time now than they did 50 years ago. Modern inventions and household appliances have simplified housework, and we work less overall than our parents and grandparents did.1

    So what gives? If we're technically less busy, why does everyday life feel so chaotic? According to one study, it's partially because being busy makes us feel important.After all, to tell a coworker that you have no weekend plans is rather embarrassing. So we fill our schedules with Facebook-worthy moments and then bemoan our lack of free time.

    "The ironic consequence of the ‘busy feeling’ is that we handle our to-do lists less well than if we weren’t so rushed."2 Can you relate? Continue reading

  • Trash or Treasure?

    "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Heb. 12:2)

    We live in the Information Age. For most of us, this means facing a near-constant bombardment of news, phone calls, emails, text messages, and advertisements. Can you relate?

    Surviving this inundation of media requires saying "no" to the vast majority of requests for attention. That means deleting most emails without reading them, letting unknown callers go to voicemail, and throwing away 44% of paper mail without even opening it. Silently but certainly, we decide a thousand times each day what's important and what's garbage.

    As we process this constant stream of information, the danger is not that we'll accidentally throw away a piece of junk mail; it's that we'll mistakenly discard something valuable. All too often, this happens spiritually as we treat God's priceless Word like yet another disposable part of our daily routine.

    For some, God's Word is like junk mail: unimportant and easily ignored. For others, it's just one more bill to pay: a daily obligation that's not quite junk and yet anything but enjoyable. Finally, there are those who eagerly open God's Word each day like an unexpected package on their doorstep. God's Word is to them "the joy and rejoicing" of their hearts -- and they can't wait to see what's inside (Jer. 15:16).

    Which group best describes you?

  • Memorizing is the Easy Part

    Memorizing Scripture does not by itself make a person Christ-like or spiritual. In fact, memory work is the easy part. Many actors, singers, and scholars can quote God’s Word precisely and even forcefully. But that is not the same thing as knowing God.

    Allow me to repeat: memorizing is the easier part of internalizing God’s Word. And here’s why: memorizing Scripture, properly executed, is never mere data storage. We may never equate rote knowledge of Scripture with spirituality. On the contrary, God’s Word aims at nothing less than transformation of the heart, mind, and soul into Christ-like character, the image of God restored to its original purpose.

    God’s Word makes it plain that He is deeply committed to this process, so committed that He causes “all things” to “work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” What is that purpose? That those whom He foreknew, He “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:28-29).

    So how does memorizing Scripture fit into that process? The content of God’s Word absorbed into our minds becomes the equivalent of computer code, written instructions for how the heart and soul should work. Internalizing God’s Word makes that code part of our psyche, where the Holy Spirit can use it.

    There will be effort here. Let us be clear—effort does not merit salvation or grace. Grace is still grace. But godly, disciplined effort is a response to grace. “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29). “… Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

    The Apostle James captures this difference between mere mental storage and life change: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:22). Bob Bennett sings about the all-too-real possibility of fooling ourselves:

    Mistake the nodding of the head
    And all the words that can be said
    Mistake the sympathy we bring
    For the doing of the thing

    Memorizing Scripture is a means to the ends of meditation, fellowship, obedience, and wisdom. It is instrumental. And it is challenging. But almost always what we live out in our lives we have thought about. Let’s fill our thoughts with God’s truth, so that our lives on the outside will reveal something good inside.

  • Soul Coffee: Why You Cannot Afford to Miss Another Quiet Time

    "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You..." (Psalm 63:1)

    We’re all creatures of habit. Whether you’re making breakfast, hanging laundry, or driving to work, certain parts of your day are so routine they require little thought or attention. That’s why you sometimes can’t remember whether you locked the door or turned off the lights on your way out; it’s so habitual, it’s almost mindless.

    Some habits, like brewing coffee, are easy to maintain. Nobody reminds me to stumble towards the Keurig each morning and push that flashing button. The taste of coffee isn’t quite my favorite, but as I face 16 hours of busyness, I know I need the energy contained in that little cup.
    Continue reading

  • Talent vs. Commitment

    "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things..." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

    In 2008, the world watched in amazement as Michael Phelps made Olympic history. One of the most talented swimmers of all time, Phelps won 8 medals just like he'd done 4 years earlier. But this time, they were all gold.

    Michael Phelps wasn't just talented; he was unbelievably committed to his sport. His weekly routine consisted of 6 hours of training, 6 days a week -- swimming a grand total of nearly 50 miles during that time. He also followed a specialized 12,000 calorie diet, slept 8 hours each day, and took a 2-3 hour afternoon nap. All those gold medals weren't the inevitable result of natural talent; they were the fruit of unwavering discipline and relentless effort.

    Continue reading

  • The Chimney

    Every person you meet fights a hard battle. The smiling friend with whom you just had lunch faces fiery trials that would break your heart if you knew them all.

    But God’s Word enables us to come through the fire. A heart nourished on words of truth acquires an asbestos-like quality, which fire may purify but not destroy.

    Not too far from Big Cove, Alabama stands a solitary reminder that some things outlast fire and storm. The house is gone without a trace, but its hearth and chimney stand tall, straight as the day they were made. They show us that building materials may be combustible or non-combustible, flammable or fireproof, perishable or imperishable. When fire comes, all is consumed but the permanent things, the things made of lasting stuff. This durable chimney reminds us to build our lives of materials which remain certain and solid despite the flames.

    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:11-15)

    Jesus says the wise man hears His words and does them. Such a person builds his house on the rock (Matt. 7:24), and that house proves to be stormproof! In the same way, we make choices every day that are filling our lives, building our lives out of materials from one category or the other. What are you importing into your heart to prepare for the storms sure to come? The time is now—let God’s Word find its intended home in your heart. It is permanent. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). It is the anvil that wears out the hammers, and its promises will come true when the skeptics and critics and all their vaunted theories lie quiet.

    “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”
    Psalm 119:160
  • 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

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