Three Reasons to Memorize Scripture

Over the last year or so, I have given much effort to Bible memorization. In this post, I want to give you three reasons that you should also memorize scripture.

“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Psalm 119:11

A major benefit of memorizing scripture is to create resources and safeguards in the battle against sin. The psalmist writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Memorizing scripture is helpful to this end because it both informs and reminds. While many of us have a fairly clear understanding of what is sin and what is not sin (at least we think we do), that is likely the result of being raised in a culture that has been based on a Christian or biblical ethic. The reality is that those days are quickly fading as secularism strengthens culturally.

Having God’s word stored up in our hearts provides guidance in real time. How helpful would it be to have instant access to the list that Paul calls the “works of the flesh”? In other words, an immediate and fresh list of actions/activities in which the Christian should not engage. For example, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatian 5:19-21, ESV). Likewise, how valuable do you think it would be to have a list of the fruit of the Spirit as a reminder in any situation how godly people respond? Here’s that list: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Another reason to memorize scripture is to know God better. God has revealed himself through the Bible, thus it makes sense that if we want to know God better we should know his word better. Memorization is a great way to get to know God’s character and heart better. Following are some good options for memorization:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,

 and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

 who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

 who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good

 so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:2-5 ESV

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Nahum 1:7 ESV

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27 ESV

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

Finally, Paul mentions renewing the mind as one of the critical steps of sanctification for the Christian (Ephesians 4:23). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul provides some details of the things upon which we should give our thoughts: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).

Memorizing scripture is a wonderful way to be “renewed in the spirit of our minds,” to know God better, and to guard our hearts against sin.

In a separate post, I will recommend a helpful tool for memorization.

The Secret Shopper

Can you really get paid to eat at restaurants or is that an urban legend? “Yes, you can get paid to eat at restaurants. And, yes, it is an urban legend. What?”

Let me clarify. Being a secret shopper is much more than deciding on a Friday night to roll up to your favorite dining establishment and eat whatever you want for free in exchange for a thumbs up or down on your experience. That’s the urban legend part. The reality is much different. So, you are wondering, “Can I eat for free or not?” If you are hired as a secret shopper you can, but not necessarily at your favorite restaurant.

But, before telling you how the Secret Shopper system works, I should tell you what it is. Businesses of all types hire reviewers to present themselves as customers at the business to evaluate their employees and/or the product being offered by that business. In other words, the business wants a targeted customer review.

Generally businesses do not hire secret shoppers directly. Shoppers are hired through an agency that recruits, vets, and assigns people to covertly visit the desired establishment. Sometimes, the shopper is directed to purchase a specific item. Alternatively, the shopper may simply be required to purchase anything. In either case, the purchase is made with the intention of returning the item at a later date.

While agencies may distribute assignments slightly differently, the general process is as follows: Once a person is agency-approved to be a secret shopper, he/she is given access to shopping opportunities. I’ve been offered opportunities at restaurants, different types of retailers (e.g., electronics stores, clothing stores, and grocery stores), and especially car dealerships. The shopper selects opportunities of interest, then requests the assignment.

The shopping assignment may be for a specific day or time of day, and must be completed within a specific time frame. So again, being a secret shopper often requires more than a spur of the moment, “Hey, let’s go shopping!” It takes planning … and stealth.

It seemed to me, that most of the restaurant opportunities were specifically targeting alcohol service, so that excluded me. The auto dealerships offered opportunities to “shop” for a vehicle or to use the service center. The latter seemed to be the most lucrative offer since the shopper would get a shopping fee and receive a free oil change and service. However, getting those opportunities required having a specific make and model of car, which I never had. Shopping for a car was challenging because I had to keep my cover story together. Since the business requires the shopper to be completely secret, nothing can be said that would give any indication that this is a hired shopping experience. Also, I felt bad taking up the sales agent’s time, giving him the impression that I was really interested in a car all the while knowing that I was not going to purchase anything. I was simply going to write a report about his presentation, knowledge, and demeanor.

In order to get paid, the shopper must not only complete the shopping assignment, but also must complete the report correctly and on time. Reporting is where I lost interest because not only are the reports very detailed, they are time consuming due to the number and type of questions (think final exam with essay questions!). Additionally, the formatting was critical. So much so that I almost lost a fee because I stapled the business’ card on the right side of the report rather than the left.

In the end, I realized that completing the shopping and reporting meant I was earning at or just below minimum wage. So, while I enjoyed the experience, I quickly realized that secret shopping was not what I thought it would be, nor was it worthwhile for me.

Why can’t it be easier to get a free meal?

Pictorial Library: 1-2 Corinthians

BiblePlaces.com has just released their latest Photo Companion to the Bible, 1-2 Corinthians, and it is a winner!

What is a Photo Companion to the Bible?

Simply put, it is one of the most valuable teaching resources that Bible teachers (or students) can acquire because it helps the user better understand the cultural and geographical references of a particular book of the Bible. Bible teachers are wise to provide visual support for their teaching; and the Pictorial Companion is perfect for this purpose.

“This photo collection is remarkable! It provides a wonderful tour of the city and also includes pictures and interpretations of objects related to both the background and the subject of the text. Viewing the slides, I felt as if I I had found a pearl of great price that both informs and enriches one’s understanding of this letter.”

David E. Garland, Professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University; author of 1 Corinthians in the BECNT series

Here is BiblePlaces.com’s description of this collection:

The Photo Companion to the Bible is a unique collection of digital photographs that illustrate the biblical text verse by verse.

  • PowerPoint-based resource
  • Library of images provides broad selection
  • Created by a team of professors and scholars
  • Organized by chapter and verse
  • Each chapter is illustrated by 45–200 photographs

What’s included in the 1-2 Corinthians Photo Companion?

This resource includes 2,500 photos. However, these aren’t 2,500 random photos that are somewhat related to First or Second Corinthians. These photos are organized by chapter and verse with helpful explanatory notes provided in PowerPoint format. While they are ready for use upon arrival, you may want to move the photos into your own presentation format.

While the photos are what catch the eye, the notes are a critical element of this resource. These notes are not a collection of random quotes gathered from the Internet for Uncle Joe’s Blog. They are produced by genuine scholars who have expertise related to the topics.

“When I discovered the resources offered through BiblePlaces.com I was thrilled. The photos have been a tremendous help to me! They are high quality, wisely organized, and reasonably priced. As one who loves geography, history, culture, and archaeology, these images have been a tremendous blessing and have greatly enriched my ministry.”

Pastor Joel DeSelm, South Bend, Indiana

What makes this collection better than what I can get in a study Bible or a biblical backgrounds textbook?

Admittedly, there are some good illustrated study Bibles and biblical background commentaries/textbooks available. However, the very nature of those publications limits their true effectiveness in visually illustrating the biblical text. The most obvious advantage of the Photo Companion to the Bible is the sheer volume of photos it provides for each chapter of the Bible. For example, at most, a printed text, whether a study Bible or a textbook, is limited to a few illustrations for a whole book of the Bible. Let’s be generous and say there is one illustration per page of that text. However many illustrations that would be for a particular published text, it pales in comparison to the 50, 70, 100, or more photos per Bible chapter that are provided in this library!

What are some highlights from this collection?

  • The city of Corinth and its archaeological remains
  • Images illustrating the worldly wisdom of Greco-Roman society
  • Photos of athletic competitions, racetracks, and prizes
  • Photos of Greco-Roman temples and meat markets
  • Coins illustrating orators and the Emperor Nero
  • Biblical scrolls showing Paul’s use of the Hebrew Bible
  • Papyrus letters, scribal tools, and artwork of scrolls
  • Ancient manuscripts related to stewardship, lawsuits, and divorce
  • Busts and portraits illustrating ancient head coverings
  • Traditional tents and portrayals of tent-making
  • Statues of famous individuals known to the Corinthians
  • Weaponry, armor, and strongholds from the biblical world
  • Imagery of planting, building, temptation, judgment, household gatherings, communal meals, grief, joy, decay, conflict, sowing, and reaping
  • Frescoes illustrating marriage, worship, sacrifice, prayer, freedom, conscience, judgment, field work, sailing, worship, and pagan wisdom

Can you give me an example of how this works?

The following elements are provided in a slide related to 1 Corinthians 13:2.
1. The biblical text or phrase.
2. The photo or illustration.
3. Identification or explanation of the photo or illustration.
4. Commentary relating the photo to the text.

Using the 4 point guide above, all the elements below are included in a PowerPoint slide:

  1. “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…”
  2. [note the photos in the Companion do not have the © statement]

3. Library of Celsus at Ephesus

4. Paul was in Ephesus when he wrote 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 16:8). The Library of Celsus, built in AD 110, once housed some 12,000 scrolls. It is noteworthy that during Paul’s stay at Ephesus (from which he wrote this letter to Corinth), a number of new followers of Jesus who had previously practiced magic brought together their books and burned them publicly (Acts 19:19).

FREE SAMPLES!

Download the free PowerPoint of 1 Corinthians 13 here.
Download the free PowerPoint sample of 2 Corinthians 4 here.

How much does it cost?

The regular list price for the Photo Companion to the Bible: 1-2 Corinthians is $109, which is a bargain. However, this resource is currently on sale for $69, and you can order here!

Disclaimer

I have some photos in this collection. However, I am recommending it here because I believe in the product. I personally use the Bible Companion: Acts in my Life of Paul course at Baptist Bible College, and have received many comments from students about how helpful the images are in illustrating the text.

To My Students: A Gentle Reminder

The typical hubris of a college student may not be more evident than when completing course evaluations. An example of this is a criticism that says something like, “I don’t like [a specific assignment] and it is a waste of time that could be better spent doing [a type of assignment I prefer].” Because course evaluations are anonymous, professors have no way of interacting with the student to better understand their issue(s), or to help the student better understand the teacher’s process in the classroom.

A few questions, might help my students understand my process.

A. Do you have any idea of the purpose of that assignment you think is a waste of time? Likely, you don’t because you never asked for an appointment to discuss the pros/cons of such an assignment. Understanding the purpose of an unpleasant task may give it a measure of meaning, and thus make it more tolerable. For my part, perhaps I can help by explaining better the purpose of each of the assignments in future classes.

B. Have you considered that a variety of assignment types are offered to connect with a variety of learning styles/preferences? I often note things that I don’t particularly enjoy without giving consideration of how that thing affects others. Are you like me?

C. Have you considered that the professor may know just a bit more about the process, and that practicing patience may reveal a positive value from the assignment? I’ve noticed in both my kids and my students an immediate negative reaction to assignments/tasks they don’t like for whatever reason. I’ve also noticed that very often the immediate negative reaction prevents them 1) from recognizing that I know more about the process, and 2) from realizing the value of the process.

All of this reminds me of Peter’s interaction with Jesus at the last supper and the subsequent walk to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 13-17). I can see Peter evaluating this event as follows: “It was a waste of time for Jesus to wash our feet. Quite frankly, that time could have been better spent in fellowship.”

Jesus had an outcome in mind. To whit: that the disciples would learn demonstrate love for one another through humble service. To move them toward this outcome, Jesus chose to demonstrate humility and be an example that they should follow, which he explained in John 13:15. Peter didn’t know Jesus’ intention, but thought he knew better. In fact, even after Jesus explained to Peter that he would understand later (vs 7), Peter categorically told Jesus, “You shall never wash my feet” (vs 8). Peter had already made up his mind on this one.

Here’s a closing question to my students: Are you too much like Peter when you walk into the classroom? In other words, do you quickly evaluate the value of an assignment (whether that be related to the content or the type of assignment) without understanding the big picture? If the answer is yes, then you are not getting the most value you can get from your investment in an education.

Based on seeing this type of scenario many times, my suggestion is to slow down. Before becoming critical about this or that type of assignment, go through the process. The outcome or results will likely be better than you anticipated.

It’s Thursday, but Sunday’s Coming

The title of this post is a spin-off of S. M. Lockridge’s sermon “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” In that sermon, Pastor Lockridge is encouraging those who are discouraged by the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion to look forward to Sunday. Because on Sunday, everything is different. In this post, I also want to challenge you to look toward Sunday, but for a different reason. But, before looking forward, let’s look backward.

How was church yesterday? is a common Monday morning question among Christian friends who attend different churches. Typically, what is meant by this question relates to how much that particular individual enjoyed his or her morning at church. It may solicit an evaluation of the sermon, the music, the crowd size, the fellowship, or even the temperature in the building.

I want to look at the question from a different angle. How was church yesterday (or last Sunday) for the visitor who didn’t know anybody there? The new person in town who was invited by the highway billboard that promised “A welcoming and friendly atmosphere.” The lonely person who responded to the 30-second television advertisement with b-roll clips of people happily engaged with others as the soothing voice described the warm fellowship that happens at your church. The one who found your church on a Google search. A Google search done not so much out of interest, but desperation because his/her life is caving in?

Regarding the experience of visitors many church consultants think in terms of convenience. Here’s a list of focus points provided by Jayson D. Bradley (sponsored by Pushpay):

  1. Signage
  2. Presentation software
  3. Giving software
  4. Service planning software
  5. A plan for capturing visitor’s contact information.

All of those certainly have value. However, that list has a glaring deficiency. What is missing? The personal touch from real people. And here, I don’t mean the happy people dressed in logo shirts standing next to the entrance. I mean regular members … the people who show up week after week, but aren’t on the Impressions Team. The regular people.

Let’s go back to that visitor’s experience at your church. Did that person feel the warmth that others describe as the normal experience at church? Did anyone express a genuine interest in that person? Or, did you pass them in the hallway as you raced to see your friends? This scene is all too common in churches today. Friends huddled together, fellowshipping with each other as visitors try to find their way in this new environment. Sometimes those visitors are committed Christians who are seeking a new church and basically know the lay of the land. In other cases, the new person may be uninitiated in all things church and are simply looking for God. If that person wanders into your church, what will they experience? Will they walk away saying, “No one was interested in me.”

It’s Thursday, but Sunday’s coming. Looking toward Sunday: How can you help visitors experience what the advertisements say they will find at church? People – even “uninteresting” people – are interesting … if you slow down and talk with them. Everybody has a story. Who – that you didn’t already know – did you initiate a meaningful conversation with in the last month?

This Sunday, will you commit to finding someone you don’t know and start a conversation with them? I don’t mean the “Hi! My name is Craig, it’s nice to have you today” then spin on my heels and walk-away conversation. I mean the conversation that attempts to know them in some meaningful way. The conversation that recognizes them as people, not as a cog in the evangelical church wheel.

You can’t have a conversation about Jesus unless … you have a conversation. #TalkToSomeoneThisSunday

%d bloggers like this: