Monday, June 25, 2012

the end of a term

Hi, friends.

You probably won't hear much from me during the next three or so weeks: term 2 is drawing to an end and it's nearly time for school holidays and my mid-year break from blogging. That doesn't mean I won't drop in, but it does mean I won't do much "online meandering" for a while.

It's been a difficult and discouraging term. My ministry responsibilities have been heavy, my son struggled with near-constant illness, there have been articles and seminars to write, and the few spare days quickly fill with doctor's and dentist's visits. Nothing more, and much less, than many others face; and there have been great encouragements and opportunities. But I am thankful for a time of rest.

I wish I could tell you how much God has meant to me this term. How he has been a hand to cling to and arms to hide in and strength to serve. How he shapes me with a sculptor's chisel and forgives me with a Father's grace and speaks to me with a lover's voice. How he breaks my self-sufficiency (how quickly it reforms, like ice on a pond!) and drives me into deeper dependence on his grace. How instead of turning from him, I hold more strongly to him, for without him I would be lost.

God is good, even and especially now.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

a smorgasbord of Bible memorization methods (and one way to learn whole books)

This is the second post in my series on memorizing Bible passages. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. Next time I'll conclude with the "why" of Bible memorization, and the impact it's had on me; but today I want to talk about the "how".

They say that memory is dead. Socrates sounded its death knell back in the days when books began to replace oral culture - for who needs to remember what's been written down? Now we've gone one better with the outsourcing of memory to electronic devices.1 It's said that human beings have forgotten how to remember.

I'm sure there's some truth in that, but I won't accept it. The human brain is infinitely adaptable, and we can re-learn skills we've long forgotten. As we exercise our brains, we lay down new neural pathways, and what was once difficult becomes easy and even enjoyable.2 We might be a little rusty at first, but memorization will come easier with time.

Every Bible memorization method has one or more of the three Rs at its heart: Repeat, Recall, Review. Repeat a passage over and over until you're familiar with it; practise recalling it until it's worn a path in your memory; then review it so you don't lose it. But there are different ways to do these three things,3 and not all of them will suit you.

So what I want to do today is give you a smorgasbord of ways to memorize the Bible: twenty suggestions that cover everything from preparing a passage for memorization to reviewing the passages you've learned. You might like to sample a few of these ideas, separately and in combination, until you develop a method that suits you.

    Survey it. Before you start memorizing a passage, it's helpful to familiarise yourself with it: read through it a few times and notice the structure and key themes; draw a diagram or mind-map of the passage; or write it out and circle repeated words and ideas.

    Visualise it. As you read the passage, pay attention to how it looks on the page. Notice paragraph breaks, patterns and repeated words. Fix an image of how it looks in your mind so you can "read" it mentally.

    See it. Stick the passage over the kitchen sink, on your shower screen or mirror, or on your screen saver. The more often you see it, the better you'll remember it. In fact, if you see it often enough, you'll never need to consciously learn it.

    Carry it. Print out the passage, write it on index cards, or put it on an electronic device, stick it in your bag or pocket, and take it wherever you go. That way you can revise it when you're in the doctor's waiting room, on the train, or have a few spare minutes during your lunch break.

    Read it. This is the simplest method of memorization: read the passage over and over, perhaps once a day, until it's in your head. It's a great method to use with those you live with: read the passage out loud together daily; as you get to know it, recite it together from memory; and conclude by testing each others' knowledge and celebrating what you've learned.4

    Say it. Out loud or under your breath. Whenever you get the chance. When you're waiting in traffic, going for a walk, or in the shower. Hearing yourself say it will help you remember it.

    Write it. Copy a passage from the Bible over and over, perhaps daily, until you're familiar with it; then write it from memory and check it against the Bible. When kids learn spelling, they call it "Look. Cover. Write. Check." It works well for Bible memorization too.

    Hear it. Listen to the passage in an audio version of the Bible, or record your own voice reading it and play it back to yourself using whatever technology you prefer. Listen to it over and over, while going about your normal life, until it sinks in.5

    Walk it. Repeat it out loud as you walk or run - or even dance. It's said that this engages both hemispheres of the brain. You may find it useful to walk a repeated sequence, either physically or in your head, as you learn each part of the passage.

    Sing it. Many mums, Sunday school teachers and kids have learned their Bible verses from Colin Buchanen.6 Listening to Sons of Korah or other sung versions of the psalms is a great way to learn them.7 Lots of Bible passages have been set to music; ask a musician from church, or source them online.

      Read. Recall. Check. Read the first phrase, sentence or verse of your passage out loud a few times, then cover it and repeat it, saying or writing it from memory. Check it. If you got it wrong, repeat it again, then check it again. Once you get it right, repeat it three times without looking. Learn the next verse in the same way. Join the two verses together, repeat from memory, and check. Practise any phrases you got wrong three times, then say it all together again. Continue, adding a verse at a time until you can say a whole paragraph correctly. Come back to it the next day and repeat the process, adding a few more verses.

      Reflect and pray. Once you've lodged a passage in your brain, meditate on it. Say it, out loud or in your mind, one phrase or verse at a time. Pause and think about the meaning of each phrase, and turn it into prayer or praise. Suck every drop of goodness from God's word.

      Use it. Lying awake at night? Repeat a Bible passage (don't worry about getting it word-perfect, just let it run through your mind and check it in the morning). Chatting with a friend? Share an insight from a passage you're learning. Discouraged? Pray through a passage, driving it deep into your emotions. The more you recall it, the better you'll know it.

      Trace word patterns. If you're stuck on a verse, you'll recall it more easily if you make a mental note of the word patterns: for example, it might include three words starting with "s". Lists are tricky to learn, but easier once you see the patterns: when I say "T(hrones), P(owers), R(ulers), A(uthorities)", it traces a curve down and up and down the alphabet in my mind (see  Colossians 1:16).

      Know the "why". It's easier to be motivated if you know why you're learning. When I memorize a book of the Bible, I know I'll remember the passages I have a reason for learning, so I assign a meaning to each paragraph as I come to it. Will I pray it for my children? Will it help me not to worry? Will it teach me a new truth about God?

      Learn it with others. Agree to memorize Bible passages at the same time as your friends, family or small group, then get together and test each other. Many of us are more motivated when learning with others. And you'll be encouraging them too!

      Study it. The more time you spend in a passage, the better you'll remember it. Ask questions of each verse. Note down the main themes and observe the flow of the argument. Read a commentary or listen to a sermon on the passage. Do whatever you can to make it yours.

      Teach it. It's often said that we recall 90% of what we teach. It worked for me with the gospel outline Two Ways to Live, and that includes a series of solitary verses, which I find harder to learn than passages. Once I taught the course a few times, the outline was fixed in my mind forever.

      Forget it. John Piper says he forgets 90% of the verses he learns. I'd say this is pretty accurate for me too! Far from finding this discouraging, I'm glad God's word has become familiar and worked in me as I've memorized on it. But there are some passages I've made my own. It's worth selecting a few passages to remember forever, and making the effort to review them.8

      Review it. You will gradually lose passages you don't review, and the ones you remember will develop blank spots and mistakes. So take time to review what you learn. Perhaps every time you memorize something new, you could stop to review a few passages learned previously. Or use a pattern like this: once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, once a year for a lifetime, and it's yours forever.

    What if you want to learn whole books of the Bible? This is surprisingly achievable. It's a fantastic exercise, because it helps you put verses in context, absorb every part of a book, and see how it fits together. Start with a single chapter like Isaiah 53, or learn a book of 4 to 8 chapters like Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians or Romans 1-8. Here's the method I use:9

      I print out the chapters I want to learn in two columns on A4 paper, which I fold lengthwise and then a couple more times until it's pocket-sized. (An electronic version would do just as well for the technologically endowed.)
      I put it in my pocket and go for a walk. I find that the rhythm of walking perfectly accompanies the rhythm of memorization.
      I pull the printed passage out of my pocket, and memorize the first few verses using the "Read. Recall. Check." method, glancing at the words and saying them under my breath.
      On the next day's walk, I revise the verses I've already learned and add a few more. To revise a section, I cover it with another folded piece of paper, and move it gradually down the page to check each line after I've said it.
      Once I've memorized a whole chapter, I put it to one side and learn the next; at the end of each chapter, I go back and revise earlier chapters.
      I memorize as much as I can during the first ten minutes of my walk, then stop for the day. This segues beautifully into prayer during the rest of my walk, as I reflect on and pray through what I've learned.

    You may love or hate the sound of this method, and that's fine! Learning Bible passages is a bit like exercising: until you find a method you enjoy, you probably won't stick at it.

    Your preferred method will depend on your circumstances (what times and places are available?), your personality (for example, do you like to learn alone or with others?) and your learning style (aural learners may need to hear and say; kinaesthetic learners may need to walk and learn with others; visual learners may need to see and write). The more ways you interact with a Bible passage, the better it will stick in your memory.

    If your memory is sluggish, don't be dismayed: you can train your brain, and it will get stronger with use. And even a single verse imperfectly learned will be used by God's Spirit to transform you and others (Isa 55:11; Eph 6:17; Col 3:16; Heb 4:12). Just make a start, and you'll soon have a whole treasury of passages tucked away in your head and heart.

    What other memorization methods can you recommend? What methods do you find work well for you, or would you like to try? Any resources that you can suggest to others?

    1. See Tony Reinke, Lit!, Page 140
    2. See Norman Doidge's The Brain that Changes Itself.
    3. Just google a bunch of words like "Bible" and "memorization" and "system", and you'll see what I mean.
    4. We've used this method with our children; see my post Bible and breakfast.
    5. There are apps that will help you do this like Memorize Anything HT Ian Carmichael.
    6. Especially from Baa baa doo baa baa, a collection of memory verses set to music.
    7. The advantage of Sons of Korah is that they stick very closely to the words of the Bible; another good collection is Sovereign Grace's Psalms.
    8. See Nothing will help you more than Scripture memory.
    9. Another useful method, far more thorough than mine, is Andrew Davis’ An approach to extended memorization of Scripture

    This post first appeared at The Briefing.

    image is by chefranden at flickr

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    online meanderings: take 12

    I don't know if it's been a slow week, or if I'm getting more choosy, but there are just 12 top posts this week, plus 1 quote. Happy browsing!

    "Plan your life, budgeting for seventy years (Ps. 90:10), and understanding that if your time proves shorter that will not be unfair deprivation but rapid promotion...Say to yourself often that every day is one day nearer...Get on with know to be God's task for you here and now." and see 2 Peter 5:5-9 - JI Packer quoted by Meredith

    10 diagnostic questions on being missional - Some really helpful questions to ask of yourself and your church. Trevin Wax HT Vitamin Z.

    Why we care instead of counsel one another - Not "counselling", but "caring for one another with the gospel". I like this. Robert Cheong.

    Content to be needy - Emotionally needy? What to do when our needs aren't being met. Nancy Ann.

    What the psalms do - A psalm for every emotion. Fuel for reflection and prayer next time you're feeling...something. Tony Reinke.

    An open letter to Sam Harris - Letter to an atheist. Great stuff. Dave Macca.

    Just as long as it's healthy - Disabled children are the beautiful work of God. John Knight.

    The nowness of obedience - You can only obey God in the present moment. Rebekah Merkle.

    Doing everyday church when your community is spread- "A particular instance of the consumer mentality, but a very common one is this. If church doesn’t have a big children’s programme then we find another church." Tim Chester.

    The dirty little secret of endorsements - "First, as a general rule, do not attach undue importance to endorsements...Second, get to know which authors write endorsements that are credible." Challies.

    The day I accused my wife of infidelity - The destructive side of seeking God's guidance through prophecy and dreams.

    You are not special - Children, praise, self-esteem and a little realism. It's lot better than the speech we got as first year medical students at Melbourne University: "You are the cream of society." Hmmm.

    The coolest Lego project you'll see today - You know you want to see it. HT Vitamin Z.

    If you want more links, or want to see my links as I read them, check out

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    to dye or not to dye?

    To dye or not to dye? This question came up on Jenny's blog, and I just couldn't resist jumping in with a typically over-long comment! Here's an edited version of what I wrote, for women considering the pressing question of whether to dye their greying hair or not. If you want some more practical and no doubt godlier reflections, check out her blog post and the comments.

    Like all things the Bible doesn't legislate on, whether or not to dye your hair comes down to the freedom to serve one another in love (Gal 5:13). It's the doctrine of demons to declare a created thing "bad": it's good if received with thanksgiving (1 Tim 4:1-5). We're not to submit to rules like "do not handle! do not taste! do not touch!" (Col 2:16-23).

    So yes, hair dye, waxing, and, dare I say, even botox and surgery to improve appearance are not evil in themselves: they are good gifts of God to be received with thanksgiving (you only have to think of times they are "necessary" - as in reconstructive surgery after injury - to see that this is true).

    Yet physical beauty is fleeting, and we're to adorn ourselves with trust in God, gentleness and good deeds rather than with elaborate hairstyles, clothes and makeup (Prov 31:30; 1 Tim 2:9-10, 1 Pet 3:3-4). We're free to use these things with godliness and thankfulness, but not to over-value or get our value from them. Do we spend more time studying our reflection in the bathroom mirror or the mirror of God's word? (James 1:22-25) Are we living in luxury and self-indulgence? (James 5:5)

    So how do I decide whether to dye my greying hair or not? Well, partly this is a matter of personal freedom: I may decide to wear lipstick, or colour my hair, because I like and enjoy it, and that's okay as long as I'm not enslaved to it as an idol (obsessed, spending too much money, and so on). I may need a godly friend to help me sort this one out!

    It's also a matter of context: what is loving for those around me? Am I bringing honour to Christ? These are the main principles at stake.

    Some principles that occur: the "weaker brother" principle (Rom 14). Do others in my Christian community see what I am doing as evil? Will I lead them into sin - to act against their own conscience? I may abstain from hair dye for this reason. (I hope this isn't an issue for many of us!)

    The "all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some" principle (1 Cor 9:20-23). I imagine if I was ministering in a posh suburb or to film stars (thank heavens I'm not!) botox etc. might be part of the deal. In my case, I choose a hair style that is appropriate for our local community. Although there's also the other side of this: it's good to stand out and make choices that set us apart as different (Titus 2). So I have to evaluate the impact of what I do on those around me.

    For example, I work among uni students and I don't age gracefully, so I try to look a little younger in how I dress and what I do with my hair and makeup. Maybe this is just vanity, I don't know. Younger women don't need me to be "young": they need my age and the wisdom that comes with age (Titus 2:3-5) and grey hair can be a symbol of this (Prov 16:31). As they get to know me, it's character they'll notice, not appearance. But it's good not to put obvious stumbling blocks in their way.

    Who am I kidding? For me this is really a matter of personal preference. I think I might do the "funky grey" thing if my husband liked short hair. But since one of the ways I love him is by keeping my hair long (not my first choice), and since he likes my hair this way, I dye it (his preferences are the ones I honour after God's). I was planning not to, but there you go. I have thick, wiry hair and I think I'd look a little odd with long grey hair! (Think Macbeth.) And yes, maybe I spend more than I should: my (perhaps pathetic) excuse is that I don't have that convenient-coloured hair that you can easily dye yourself. Plus I've built up a close relationship with my (relatively cheap) hairdresser, including some conversations about Jesus, and, like all good hairdressers, she owns my hair, and it would feel strange to back out of those long hair-dying sessions now...

    In other words, in different circumstances I might make a different decision. I'm not holding myself up as an example, just letting you know how this decision worked out for me. I'm sure that the choices my friends and those around me were making had a huge impact on me; every decision we make impacts others, which is a sobering thought and perhaps should give us pause as we reach for the hair dye.

    Whether we dye our hair or not, the principles remain the same:

    • don't legislate on issues where God has allowed freedom
    • receive what God has made with thanksgiving
    • use our freedom to serve others in love (e.g. husband, church community, or non-Christian friends
    • honour those who make different decisions to ourselves (unless they are making them for ungodly reasons, in which case it may be loving to bring the issue to their attention).
    If we do this then we are honouring Christ by our decisions, whatever they may be.

    Can you think of Bible references or principles that I've missed?

    This post first appeared at The Briefing today (posting it there made me feel very brave and more than a little foolish).

    image is by foxtongue from flickr

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    online meanderings: 10 tips for evangelism, the apologetics of grief, the sex talk, and more

    Quote of the week
    "All suffering is for the sake of others." Take your vitamin Z

    Five top posts
    Tim Keller's top 10 evangelism tips - Probably the most helpful thing I've read about evangelism. Really. (Except for the 20% bit.)

    Grief: A forgotten apologetic - "Between us, let me be the first to say it: life hurts. Life hurts so much sometimes that it has led this grown man to tears. It hurt before I was a Christian and it hurts now." I'm a little late, but this was one of the best posts of last month. Nathan Bingham.

    On motherhood joy and the gospel - "Jesus saves sinful, opinionated moms, desperate moms sure they have ruined their kids perhaps forever. He gives...hope and rest on those days you've reached the end of yourself and you are sure you cannot do this one more day.'" Lisa.

    Three things we want our kids to know about sex and The sex talk we gave to our kids - Straight talk about the sex talk. We take a similar approach with our kids, and it works well. Ben and Emma Pfahlert.

    An open letter to Sam Harris - Letter to an athiest. Dave Macca.

    And ten more great posts.
    Good news vs. good advice - The difference between Christianity and religion. Tim Keller.

    Letter to a 13 year old asking how to go deeper in Bible study - A letter to a teenager packed with good advice for the rest of us. John Piper.

    How a child with Down's syndrome can teach you about life - "Less than a minute had passed and she had already forgiven and put it in the past." Beautiful. HT Vitamin Z.

    Four reasons to sing this weekend - Four reasons to sing in church. But I'm disappointed he missed this one: to encourage each other (Eph 5:19). Michael Kelley.

    What we miss - "Give me one beautiful moment fully lived and fully enjoyed and I will trade it for a hundred moments where my phone stood between me and the source of that beauty." Challies.

    CS Lewis on the coronation of Queen Elizabeth - What a wonderful quote! Ali.

    An anatomy of sin - The high cost of sexual freedom for children. Lionel Windsor. 

    The gospel for those who've grown up in church - "We easily get bored with simple truths...And so we’re constantly looking for titillating new revelations...Or we sit in church with blank stares and mouths open with a perpetual yawn." Daniel Darling.

    Degree in hand, more desperate than ever - "Give me more of this kind of weakness. I think this is what seminary is supposed to do to you." Jonathon Parnell

    Does Scripture clearly command this? - Whatever our preferences when it comes to dating and courtship, "we have to be careful to distinguish between principle and practice". Mark Altrogge HT Vitamin Z

    Guilt gone wild - False guilt and pastoral ministry: please everyone; read everything; remember more names; keep up with expectations. John Ortberg HT Alistair Bain.

    Why rooting joy in ministry success is disastrous - "Pastoring is not the most important fact about the pastor. Missions is not the most important fact about the missionary. The spiritual gift is not the most important fact about the Christian." Tony Reinke.

    Teaching preaching - How to train people at your church to preach. A fantastic and very usable post by David Martin from The Briefing.

    How pastoral counselling is different from secular counselling - "In every detail of every...person’s story, you learn to hear the music of these unmentioned realities...No one else is singing what you believe." Justin Taylor on David Powlison.

    5 reasons I love church-based counselling - The joys and benefits of church-based counselling. Inspiring! Patt Quinn.

    Celebrating forty years - "If you want to have a friendship with your children, you must first be mum or dad to your children; friendship will follow." Challies.

    A black book or a black phone - How kids work out what really matters. David Murray.

    For husbands
    What every husband should know about stay at home mums - "Gospel, garlic bread, then more gospel." Gloria Furman.

    Planning with kids - How to organise your life when you have kids. A review of a helpful sounding book by my wise friend Sus.

    If you want more links, or want to see my links as I read them, check out

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    a three-course banquet of Bible memorization

    This is the second post in my series on memorizing Bible passages. You can read part 1 here.

    A couple of weeks ago, I invited you to commit Bible passages to memory. The fact that you're still reading encourages me a lot, because I know that memorizing the Bible - especially whole passages! - isn't popular:
    Once, I thought that memorising anything longer than two verses was for old people or super holy people. - Anna

    In my late twenties was challenged by some Navigator friends to memorize Scripture...I thought they were saying that because Navigators sell Scripture Memory courses. - Duncan1
    When I encourage people to memorize the Bible, I sometimes feel about as popular as a peddler of bad-tasting, expensive medicine. And yes, this is medicine for our sickly souls. But memorizing Bible passages isn’t just medicine: it’s sweet-tasting food that will feed and nourish us and others for years to come (Psalm 119:97-104). God's word is a feast, not a box of pills.

    Today I want to tantalize your spiritual tastebuds with a three-course banquet of Bible memorization. In other words, I'll talk about the "what" of memorization: what kinds of passages should we memorize? Here's our menu (you'll notice that the third course isn't actually Scripture, but it's worth devouring all the same):

    • Psalms
    • Bible passages
    • hymns and songs.

    Here are some of my favourites in each category to get you started. This is not in any way an exhaustive list! I've chosen these because, of all the passages I've learned, they've stayed with me through the years.

    Entree: Psalms
    When your emotions are out of order, memorize a psalm.2  When you need to express wonder, fear or grief to God, memorize a psalm. When you want to recall God's mighty acts of creation and salvation, memorize a psalm.

    Like most poetry, psalms are relatively easy to remember. When he was young, my husband performed the remarkable feat of committing all 150 psalms to memory, including Psalm 119. I've never made it that far, but I find it helpful to memorize a range of psalms so I have one on hand for different situations and moods.

    Here are three ways the psalms have helped me. If you want to learn some psalms, you might like to start with some of the ones I mention.
    • The psalms reshape my emotions. There have been black times in my life when a psalm was my lifeline (Ps 103, 130)3 and anxious times when only a psalm could soothe my fears (Ps 23).
    • The psalms give me words to speak to God. They help me express longing (Ps 24, 84), confession (Ps 51) and praise (Ps 148).
    • The psalms grow my faith. They give faith sold food to chew on (Ps 1, 139) or help me to rest quietly in God (Ps 121, 131).

    Flicking through the psalms, it's clear I've only begun to absorb the riches they have to offer. Maybe my husband's idea of memorizing them all isn't so crazy after all; but I doubt my brain's capacity is that big. Still, I'll keep packing more in!

    Which psalms have you found particularly helpful over the years?

    Main course: Bible passages
    You could memorize any Bible passage and it would yield unexpected delights and satisfying goodness every time you call it to mind (Matt 4:4; 2 Tim 3:16-17). But unless you have the memory of the proverbial elephant, I doubt you'll memorize the entire Bible any time soon. So how do you choose which passages to learn?

    I usually memorize passages of about five to fifteen verses: not too many to be intimidating, but enough to give me something satisfying to chew on. (I also learn whole books, but that's another story, and I hope the next post in this series will equip you to do even that.4) Here are six kinds of passages I've found particularly helpful. You might like to use these categories to choose what to memorize:

    There's not a lot of Old Testament on my list, except for the psalms. I'm eager to learn Isaiah 53. I'd also love to learn more of the New Testament, from Matthew 5:3-12 to the last chapters of Revelation. All in good time!

    What passages would you add to my list?

    Dessert: Hymns and spiritual songs
    While most hymns and songs aren't directly from the Bible (unless you count Scripture in song) they're well worth memorizing, along with Christian poems, prayers and other kinds of writing. Often when I pray, I start by singing or reciting a hymn; this is helpful when I struggle, as many of us do, to put my adoration and thankfulness into words. (Col 3:16)

    When I select a song to memorize, I don't usually pick a modern chorus: I choose one of the grand old hymns, bursting with great truths about God and the gospel. How rich we are if we fill our minds with great words about God from the past, words that speak through time as well as space! Here's a selection of timeless hymns I've learned that have encouraged me.

    Before the throne
    Crown him with many crowns
    My song is love unknown
    Before the throne
    None other lamb
    When I survey the wondrous cross
    I cannot tell
    Be thou my vision
    Be still my soul
    My hope is built on nothing less

    The only reason And can it be isn't on my list is that I don't find it very singable, which is an important quality when choosing hymns to memorize. And even as I write this list, I think of others that should be included, like Amazing Grace, Rock of ages and It is well with my soul. Clearly, it's time to learn some more.

    What hymns and songs have I forgotten?

    So there you have it, a three-course banquet of Bible memorization. Don't be overwhelmed by the number of passages I've suggested: this is the fruit of twenty years of memorizing the Bible. Just start by learning a single passage. Every bit of God's word is packed with sweetness and sustenance, and those few words will continue to feed you abundantly twenty years from now.

    I'm going to talk about the "why" of Bible memorization soon. But the best argument for learning Bible passages is to commit one to memory and seeing what comes of it. I'll make you a promise: once you've done that, you won't be able to resist learning more. Tell me how it goes!

    1. From the comments on my post Why you shouldn't memorize Bible verses
    2. See Christ Brauns' post In the wrong place emotionally? Memorize a Psalm in order to be moved.
    3. See my posts Psalm for the discouraged part 1 and part 2.When I encourage people to memorize the Bible, I sometimes feel about as popular as a peddler of bad-tasting, expensive medicine. And yes, this is medicine for our sickly souls. But memorizing Bible passages isn't just medicine: it's sweet-tasting food that will feed and nourish us and others for years to come.
    4. You'll find one useful method in Andrew Davis' An approach to extended memorization of Scripture.

    This post first appeared at The Briefing.

    image is by chefranden at flickr

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Five - or possibly six - more tips for going to church with your family

    Did you see yesterday's link to Christine Jensen’s Growing faith: Ten tips for going to church with your family? It’s such an excellent little post, it sparked a few reflections of my own. (I’d also like to second her point about letting kids see you enjoying church.)

    Here they are, five six more tips for going to church with your family.

    1. Choose a church where people love and pray for your kids.
    This is more important than big Sunday Schools and fancy youth groups! Go to a place where people welcome your children into the church family; where adults make time to talk with children; where your kids will have big brothers and sisters in the faith. (But don’t just choose a church because it serves you and your family: choose a place your family can serve.)

    2. Ask trusted older Christians to mentor your kids.
    Ask a young woman to meet with your daughter, or a young man to mentor your son. Involve young adults in teaching Sunday School: it’s great training for them, and kids love it. Encourage children to grow strong relationships with the elderly. Make a single friend part of your family, and invite them to be a special person in your kids’ lives.

    3. Get your kids involved in serving others.
    We’re at church to serve. Our kids are too.1  Involve them in welcoming people at the door and teaching younger kids in Sunday School. Cook meals together for someone who’s sick. Take your kids with you when you visit those in need. Teach teenagers how to follow up a new Christian and lead a Bible study.

    4. Encourage kids to invite friends to church
    We’re also at church – and in this world! – to share our faith. This is no different for kids. Encourage children to ask their friends to church: not just to kids’ club, holiday programs or youth group, but also to Sunday meetings. This is a great way to make church fun for kids too.

    5. Invite church people into your home
    Ask people over for a meal. Host a Bible study. Involve kids in setting up and serving, and don’t make them sit at a separate table. Let them stay up and hang out with the grown-ups for a while. Invite children and teens into your conversations. This helps kids get to know people from church and feel comfortable with them.

    6. Oh, and let your kids doodle through the sermon if it helps them concentrate.
    Seriously. You might be surprised one day when the doodles turn into sermon notes.

    Do you have any other suggestions for going to church with your family?

    1.John Nielson suggests that equipping kids and teens for ministry is key to helping them stay in church when they’re older: : Why youth stay in church when they grow up. ↩

    This post first appeared today at The Briefing.

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    online meanderings: the music behind all music, radical faithfulness, how not to raise kids, and more

    Sorry, but I had no time to do this last week! (I was working on an article that you might see on here sometime...) Here are my favourite posts from last week.

    Quote of the week.
    The music behind all music - "In the triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty and the joy behind all joy." Tony Reinke on Michael Reeves.

    Top five posts.
    Faithful is the new radical - "Sometimes the most radical thing you can do with your life is to simply be faithful...Start your radical mission by being faithful where you are, to the people in your sphere of influence." Michael Hyatt HT Vitamin Z 

    Raising gospel centred children - A humble and helpful post about how not to raise kids. "Our children had become judgmental little scoffers. Why? Because we were so busy comparing...our...choices with those of other parents that we had marginalized the gospel." Luma Simms.

    JI Packer's 11th birthday present: The tale of the bicycle and the typewriter - "It was not what Packer had asked for; nevertheless, it proved to be what he needed." Justin Taylor.

    In the wrong place emotionally? Memorize a Psalm in order to be moved - This has been my practice for many years. I can't recommend it highly enough! Chris Brauns HT Vitamin Z.

    10 tips for going to church with your family - Some really helpful tips. Christine Jensen.

    Eight more great posts.
    Kids, we eat food, not crayons, not boogers - The ugliness and emptiness of sin. Gloria Furman.

    7 evils of a grumbling spirit - How I needed to hear this! Wisdom from the Puritans. BJ Stockman HT Vitamin Z. 

    Words and works: Why you can't preach the gospel with deeds - This important article is doing the rounds, deversedly so. Duane Litfin.

    The quantity and the quality of God's provision - Do I complain because God has given me carrots not cake? Do I trust him to provide, but not to provide what is best for me? Michael Kelley.

    The 20 most common things pastors hear in counselling. - Do you know how to answer them, and what Bible passages you would use to do so? It's worth being prepared. Timothy Raymond

    My thoughts on unmarried Christian couples holidaying alone together - This is excellent. Pete HT my friend Steve. 

    Why are so many guys addicted to internet porn and video games? - Justin Taylor on Russell Moore.

    Sniffing glue. A childhood in Christian pop. - "The church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity." Meghan O’Gieblyn HT Vitamin Z

    10 things nobody tells you about being a dad - A wonderful post. Daniel Darling HT Vitamin Z. 

    12 guidelines for Facebook - Tim Chester wraps up a helpful series with a great little post.

    Confessions of a neurotic blogger - If you want to know the thought processes of a blogger (me), read this. "No sooner than I teach or write on an important and essential spiritual truth I then find myself in desperate need of that very truth"...and then of the gospel. Lisa.

    Do your word counts measure up? - "There are six stages in the creative process and in only one of those six stages do you have your fingers on the keyboard or pen on the page." Rosanne Page.

    Summer road trips: Dramatized audio books for the family - Having listened to Focus on the Family's dramatized version of Narnia up and down the east coast of Australia last year, I can thoroughly recommend this. Justin Taylor.

    If you want more links, or want to see my links as I read them, check out