Thursday, November 13, 2008


There are times occasionally when I feel like I’m getting the life squeezed out of me by so many tasks to complete, thoughts to pursue, questions to consider. These things are, in themselves, usually good. It’s just that it’s tough to do and think and ask all of them at the same time. Even fun things and small details can sometimes be stressful at a time like that.

And we are like sponges. When squeezed, whatever we’ve immersed ourselves in comes out. I want to drip something good. That is why I choose to memorize Bible passages.

But how? This powerful discipline can be intimidating. If you would like to immerse yourself in good stuff, here are a few tips that have helped me:

First, read! What captures your heart? What challenges you? Choose a verse (or more) which expresses the core of that message, and focus on memorizing that smaller portion throughout the day. (I recommend following a reading plan. Many study Bibles have at least one plan somewhere in the helps pages. If you’d like to see a couple of options I’ve used, drop me a note. I’d be happy to share!)

Read around the passage you’d like to memorize. Context is very important! Be sure you know what the passage is about, not just what it says.

Write it down, including the reference so you can find it later. A pack of 3x5 cards is a great tool for this. They are cheap, uniform, and very portable. Carry a few of them with you throughout the day. Most of us have little snippets of waiting-time scattered throughout our days – at stoplights, in grocery store lines, while the veggies cook, etc – which provide all the time needed to memorize scripture. It’s amazing how those snippets add up.

Look for patterns and flow, particularly when memorizing longer segments. What thoughts are repeated? What contrasts are presented? How does one verse lead logically to another? These are great questions to consider not just for memorizing, but also to develop deeper understanding.

Use something erasable, and erase selectively. I love using a whiteboard for this, though chalk, pencil, and computer are also very workable options. Write the whole thing and review it a couple of times, then start erasing all but the first letter of some words and reviewing the verse again:

I will r____ the d____ of the L____;

Yes, I will r____ your m____ of l____ a____.

Keep erasing and reviewing until all that’s left is the first letter of each word, then start erasing those, too.

When memorizing an entire chapter, listen to the passage repeatedly. Computers, iPods, and CD players are particularly well-suited for this. If you have the technology, you can record your own voice. Audio is also available online.

Move around. Make up hand and body motions that fit the phrases as you memorize. If you’ve ever done the Memory Max thing in Kidmo, you’ve probably seen the effectiveness – and fun – of this method.

This is just a quick list, a few methods. If you have others to add, that would be great. But whatever you do, immerse yourself in good stuff, knowing that’s what will seep out when you’re squeezed.

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