Saintly Sundays: Memorize the Bible in 25 Years

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to memorize the book of Matthew. The idea came from a few different sources. The first was this post on Changing Your Mind, which in turn introduced me to the book How To Master the English Bible (only available on Kindle that I’ve found; linked through my Amazon Affiliates account.) The basic concept is to read each book of the Bible over and over again until you’ve mastered it– deeply absorbed it, grasped the themes and messages, made it your own.

I started with the book of Matthew, and in the course of my reading, read a lot about the way Jewish children were raised in Jesus’ time. I’m so impressed with the way Jewish children memorize the Torah from ages 5-12. Having read that often devoted students would go on to memorize the remainder of the Tanakh, I was struck by the idea that Christ might’ve had the whole Scripture (of his time) memorized!

So why not me? Although starting at five books would’ve given me a more leisurely schedule, I discovered that I could do the entire Old & New Testament over the next 25 years, at the rate of 1300 verses a year, or about 25 a week.

Now, I know that sounds like a lot, and that’s where the next piece of the puzzle slots in: Scripture Typer. Seriously, buy it– it’s well worth the $10 price. With Scripture Typer’s automatic system of review, I don’t have to get my 25 verses word-perfect in one week. I just have to be able to type it at 92% accuracy. Then, over the next few weeks as it pops up for review, I get more and more accurate with it. The upshot is that with about 20-30 minutes a day (which I do first thing in the morning while the boys have a snack and read in bed), I’ve memorized Matthew 1-7 since January 1st.

Eventually, I’d like to do a modified version for my kids to use. Perhaps starting with the first five books of the New Testament from ages 5-12, and then if they’d like to continue, handing them over to Scripture Typer with a plan adjusted for the books they’ve already memorized? I’ll have to think on it.

If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, here’s a PDF of my 25-year plan. And I’d love to hear of any resources for memorization or tricks you guys use!

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Georgia Book Reviews: The Jesus We Missed


The Book: The Jesus We Missed, Father Patrick Reardon

Summary: A loving treatise on the way we should understand Jesus’ humanity as presented in the four Gospels.

Recommended By: This review on the Gospel Coalition blog.

My Thoughts: Although at times I felt Reardon was descending into mere speculation– offering lovely explanations for various actions of Jesus that may or may not have any actual basis in reality– for the most part, I dearly loved reading this. Reardon’s love for Christ shines through the pages, his translations of the original texts and his historical understanding both of the Gospels themselves, and the church history and tradition that built on them, were invaluable and insightful, and I came away from reading feeling my own love for my Saviour expanded and my desire to learn more about him deepened.

I especially loved the beginning chapters on Jesus’ pre-ministry life. Since New Year’s I’ve been memorizing Matthew, and am just now starting on the Sermon on the Mount, so for the last month, I’ve been saturated daily in those four simple chapters on Jesus’ birth, flight to Egypt, baptism, and temptation in the wilderness. The richness of historical detail and insights from Reardon helped me feel even more intimate and helped by these four chapters.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who would like to better understand Jesus in his historical humanity, and I will definitely be seeking out Reardon’s other works.

Saintly Sundays: I Was The Lion

“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
― Aslan, from The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis

I want to pay better attention to the voice of my God saying “I was the lion…” in my life. Sovereign and difficult and good.

Changing Your Mind

“The beginning of a New Year is an an excellent time to try something new. As you make your list of resolutions and goals I want to recommend adding a simple four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.”

So begins a little post by Joe Carter on the Gospel Coalition blog which I recommend reading in it’s entirety, not least for this quote by James M. Gray: “I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger—peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about.” Like, spiritual poise? I love old-fashioned Christians.*
However, if you’re pressed for time, here is the method for changing your mind:
“1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.”

I have been working my slow, sporadic way through the Bible for the last four years or so, and am currently in Luke. I struggle with slowing down to meditate or muse on the text– as a reader I read to kill: fast and ruthless with zero patience for reading extraneous details, often taking in whole pages at a glance or two. This is a great method for breezing through fiction but it isn’t a great method for mining the depths and riches of Scripture. I have been so appreciating already my second read-through of Luke; there are so many insights I missed, questions I didn’t even think to ask, and details that slipped through my speed-reading fingers the first time around. It’s a little early to say whether my mind has been changed, but I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.

*This is from his 1904 book How To Master The English Bible , available in a $0.99 Kindle edition. Linked through my Amazon Affiliates account.

Testimony

I shared this testimony at my church this past Good Friday, but I wanted to share it here too. God shows His goodness and help in my life by not leaving me in my sinful ways. Here is what I shared with my church family:

The first months after Feral Kid’s birth were some of the most draining and stressful of my life as various illnesses, lack of sleep for me, the adjustment to a brother for Scout Kid, and the Partner In Crime’s near-constant work schedule compounded to make times very difficult for us. But even at the best of times, it’s easy to get sympathy as a mother of little children. Everybody knows you’re probably not sleeping and get very little time to yourself. In the world’s eyes, I’m justified in demanding more recognition, resenting additional drains on my time, and feeling sorry for myself.

Not so in God’s eyes. In these past weeks, He has been gently convicting me of a complaining spirit that does not reflect the servantlike spirit of Christ, who, though God, chose to humbly bear the burdens of the undeserving.

He has shown me to my shame how quick I am to see problems in my life and ignore the blessings that overshadow them. So I might complain in my heart of all the unexpected costs of our new home, without pausing to remember that I am blessed to have the resources to own a home in a world where so many suffer want. I might wonder why on top of all the craziness life has thrown at us, God has let us get a violent stomach flu, not caring that I have done nothing to deserve the good health I generally enjoy when so many live with the daily sufferings of disease.

On an even deeper level, though, all of the small trials of weariness, sickness, financial stress, or the like pale in comparison to the deep spiritual rest, healing, and riches that I have because of Christ in me.
As my forgiving Saviour works repentance in my heart and as with His daily help I strive to turn away from ungratefulness to joyful, thankful service, I am reminded that this all ties directly back to the Gospel: God was pleased from the beginning of time to choose to send His perfect, beautiful, glorious Son to die a shameful, brutal death and be blasted by the His wrath in my place– and he planned this knowing full well that I would ignore how I was spared from God’s terrible justice and resent him for allowing small trials in my life. Thankfully, the same grace by which he chose to save me despite my deep depravity is at play in my life now as he patiently prunes away the sin that so easily flourishes in my heart. This is all of God, and none of me, and what better reason for daily, unceasing gratitude could I have?

Song for the End (Resurrection Sunday)

From the bed of murder and treason
I wake to the smell of jasmine.
Standing in the doorway staggered,
I wonder like a child at this new world.
What blinding gold light in the orchard!
Saturn swung close and heavy on the horizon,
daring and sweet, the milk of galaxies,
the pulp of Jupiter tumble at my feet,
the honey of mercy: for the debt of my
crimes is swallowed in his riches!
He has taken my Master away and I
am left speechless, a freedwoman.
He has taken the sting from the
spider Death, this King of the Jews, this
Lamb of God. It is finished,
and I’ll forevermore read this page:
The End. The End. The End–

Lady Macbeth in a clean white shirt
laughing and crying where the almond trees bloom.

Heritage

“[Hypocrisy] is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance. My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance. What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scripture. And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books. That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.”
-D.A. Carson