Monday, February 22, 2010

Well, my Bible reading has taken me into the book of Numbers, for the first time in years. I have formerly avoided this book like the plague-namely, because it is very appropriately named. This book is full of numbers! And at times, I would be tempted to skip over these sections or regard them as something like reading from the telephone book. But I refuse to fall into this trap. Every word written in the scriptures is Revelation from God. God would not have placed something in the Bible if it was not important. So I read it, in the hopes of learning it's significance.

Some of this is paying off, since I am now rereading some stories that I had long since forgotten.

In one of these, Moses and Aaron are leading the people of Israel in the wilderness, when a rebellion suddenly arises among the people. A man named Korah, leading a large number of men whose words carried weight in the community, challenged Moses. He believed that he, along with his followers (most notably Dathan and Abiram) were more fit to lead Israel than Moses. Moses, as one can easily imagine, was badly upset by this. After all, leading the people of Israel hadn't exactly been easy for him, and he certainly hadn't applied for this job. And now, after he had given all he had for these people, they spat in his face!

Moses proposed a solution, in which everyone would stand before the Lord, and God Himself would reveal who He had chosen to lead Israel. The following day, this was done. Moses, Aaron, and all those who had rebelled stood before the Lord. Then Moses declared that if nothing happened soon, it would be proof that the rebels had been chosen by God to lead the people. But if the earth opened up and swallowed all the rebels, burying them alive, it would prove that God had chosen Moses and Aaron. No sooner had he said this than the ground opened up and swallowed the rebels whole, burying them alive. Korah, Dathan and Abiram were immediately crushed to death, along with their whole families.


You don't hear that story in Sunday school when you're 5 years old.

I think that some people would say that this depiction of God is inconsistent with the New Testament, which focuses heavily on mercy as a theme. But I find this to be oversimplfied. In fact, Jesus addresses the subject of Hell more frequently than any ther subject in His preaching-more frequently than everyone else in the Bible, put together. And in the Old Testament, we find an almost unlimited number of cases where Israel rebels against God, then repents, and God forgives them.

I beleve that this passage is meant to teach us that God is no one to be trifled with. When we sin, he takes it seriously. His wrath against evil in its various forms is terrible to behold. The fact that this wrath is so great is all the more impressive in the New Testament, when all of God's wrath is poured out on Jesus, who willingly submits to it for our sakes. If we do not understand the immensity of God's hatred towards sin, we cannot undersand the immensity of His love in forgiving it.

Here is most recent passage I have memorized: Genesis 3:20-4:5.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us-knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden, to work the ground from which he had been taken. After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden Cherubim and a flaming sword, flashing back and forth, to guard the way to the tree of life. Adam lay with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man!" Later, she gave birth to his broher, Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time, Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering. But on Cain and his offering, He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thanks, Honey. It's good to see you mean so much to someone. You mean the world to me, too.

I have not written on the blog in about five days now. This is mostly because of a trip I took out of town that threww my whole routine out of whack. But I have not stopped reading the Bible or memorizing the scriptures at the usual pace. Here are some things that I've noticed:

IT'S WORKING!!!!!! Last Sunday, I had my first review day which (as per the plan) spanned 35 verses. To my delight, I found myself recalling all 35 verses with only minimal review. Evidently, the system I've adopted with the help of my wife is a good one (and God be praised-because I was kind of taking a shot in the dark with this system. )

Second, I'm beginning to fnd a rhythm. My brain is getting used to doing this every day, so it is not as much of a strain as it was at first. Again, God be praised.

Third, I am noticing that it is much easier to make time for Bible reading when you have a plan or a goal in mind. If I say, "I will read the Bible some every day", then I will open up to a random page and readin for an indeterminate length of time. When I stop, it will be awkward, because I don't have a plan of where I should stop. But when I say to myself, "I will read the Bible for thirty minutes each day, reading from cover to cover", then I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing, how long I should plan into my schedule, and when I have finished satisfactorily. This makes me feel more comfortable in my quiet times, and helps me not to shy away from them, as I have done in the past.

In my Bible reading, I am now about 5 chapters into the Book of Numbers. I have also memorized he following passage since the last post:

So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper as found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called, "woman", for she was taken out of man." For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were boh naked, and they were not ashamed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, "You shall not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat from the trees in the garden, but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and ou must not touch it, or you will die". "You will not surely die", the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will become lke God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was god for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of boh of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves ogether and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God calleed to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I did eat." Then the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your ofspring and hers. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." To the woman He said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing-with great pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat of it", cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you will return.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This is The Scribe's wife...and I am Hijacking his blog!

I know this blog is about his journey to memorize the Word of God, but today we are taking a break from that subject, and writing about how AMAZING he is!!!

Here is a small list of some of the ways he is amazing, and it is certainly not exhaustive or in any particular order (my brain doesn't think too well like that)....

1. He prays with me and for me.
2. He is a leader in our home.
3. Whatever he is doing, he gives 110%. This includes some things he has done with me that other guys might turn their nose up to (i.e. cooking class). He approaches it with enthusiasm and flare.
4. He helps me out in any way that I need. He has read aloud a book to me that I needed to complete for a training, driven me to school on snow days, served chili at my school to 500 people, just to name a few things.
5. He goes to the grocery for me. This is not a task I particularly enjoy. He doesn't mind doing it, and happily does so.
6. He takes out the trash. :)
7. He is becoming quite the handyman.
8. He memorizes crazy long orders of how I like things (i.e. my coffee: a venti breve sugar-free cinnamon dolce latte with whip and one pump of mocha).
9. He is very compassionate. When you are in his company, you have his full attention and engagement. I've also seen this demonstrated as he speaks with the nursing home residents with such love.
10. He is a great dancer, and makes me feel like a princess out on the dance floor.
11. He takes his time to make big decisions, but once he makes them, he is firmly committed to the decision he makes.
12. He makes me laugh all the time.
13. He is very creative.

Ok...I'm done for now, but watch out for future hijackings!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I owe you all apologies for not writing in the past few days; I became distracted, though that is not a good excuse.

The work has been progressing very well. On Thursday, I read the BIble for thirty minutes, reviewed the verses from previous days, and learned Genesis 2:5-9.

On Friday, I reviewed Genesis 1:31-2:9 and learned Genesis 2:10-14. I allowed myself to procrastinate on the Bible reading until it was too late.

Today, I read the Bible for an hour, to make up for Friday. Then I reviewed Genesis 2:5-14 and learned Genesis 2:15-19.

I am beginning to understand, to a degree that I never understood before, the helpfulness of reading the Bible in large chunks. Today, As I was reading the Bible for an hour, I came to the part of Exodus which comes after the ten commandments, but before the making of the golden calf. As you might remember, this is a very long and tedious section which gives detailed instructions for how to build the Tabernacle, how to construct the ark of he covenant, what sacrifices are supposed to look like, how the priests are supposed to dress, and a variety of other topics. Back when I used t read the Bible one chapter at a time, I had a lot of trouble feeling uplifted by this section. Scratch that. I couldn't stand this section. It would take me weeks to get through it, and by the end of that time all I had to show for it was a vague knowledge about how to build and operate the Lord's tabernacle. But by reading it in one day, I got a different feel. I started to sense broad themes in this section. God was trying to build up a people who were set apart for Himself as holy-different from the other nations. They were to worship differently, live differently, do business differently, than all the nations around them. God, in turn, resolved to treat them differently. He was blessing these people by giving them His laws. Just think of it-The Jews were the only people on earth who had heard how they could best please God from the mouth of God Himself!

Here are the verses I learned over the past three days:

And no shrub of the field had yet come up from the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground- but streams came up frm the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden. From there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon: it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good. Aromatic resin and onyx are also there. The name of the second river is the Gihon: it winds through the enire land of Cush. The name of the fourth river is the Tigris: it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. God put the man in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die." And the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them. And whatever the man called each living creature-that was its name.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So today was a fresh start-a chance to actually keep to the schedule I laid out to begin with. I have learned the hard way that it is a lot easier to do things on time tan to play catch-up later on. So today, I did this:

* Read the Bible for thirty minutes. The passage I covered was Exodus 3-10. I am becoming pleasantly surprised by two important facts: (1) At the rate of thirty minutes a day, I'm actually moving through the Bible very quickly, and (2) It is much easier to get a feel for the flow of the story when you take it in large chunks-instead of reading a few verses, or even a chapter at a time. I think that the text was written with an ancient, illiterate Jewish audience in mind. So it was intended to be read aloud, in large portions for large groups of people. So now that I am reading the text in large chunks, it is much easier to keep track of everything that is going on. If I weren't, it would be easy to get lost in the endless details recorded by the Bible.

*I reviewed the ten verses I learned yesterday. They came back surprisingly quickly. I think one more day of review will really help to cement them into my head.

Finally, I learned today's memory verses, Genesis 1:31-2:4. I've finally gotten through the first chapter!!


God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus were the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing, so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. This is the account of the heavens and the earth, when they were created: When the Lord God made the earth and heavens...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Well, my friends, It has been days since my last post, and I have been forced to learn some things about discipline in the meantime.

To begin with, you may have noticed that in my last post I did not do any Bible reading. That is because I let it slide that day, telling myself that I would do it the following day. It was at this point that I wish an opera singer had popped out of my closet and sang,


Because that is exactly what it was.

The following day, I had an entire hour of Bible reading to accomplish. I managed to read it, and to review verses from previous days. But as I was doing this, I had my back on an electric blanket which gradually, seductively, lured me into the most peaceful and blissful night's sleep...


When I woke up this morning, I had ten-count 'em-TEN verses to memorize. And these weren't just ordinary verses, either. Just one of them took about 10-15 seconds to pronounce. I had to work for about two hours to get them down, and even then, My memory was shaky. So I asked for help from my supermodel-turned-schoolteacher wife...


She helped me with my flash cards, and quizzed me until I could say all ten verses, from beginning to end, without a mistake. At long last, I was caught up, except for today's thirty minutes of reading, which I did.

What's the moral here?

When you have a big project, or a series of loan payments, or any oher big thing that you have to do in tiny installments, NEVER PROCRASTINATE. If you do, you'll wind up drowning in work, or drowning in debt, before you can say "pudding". May God grant that I learn this lesson, and keep it close in the days ahead.

Here is a typed copy of today's memory verses, Genesis 1:21-30.

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which he water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number, and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, "Let the land produce living creaturesaccording to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind. And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground, acccording to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, ver all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground". So God created man in His own image. In the image of God He created him. Male and female He created them. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground". Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit wih seed in it. These will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth, all the birds of the air, and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My beautiful yet brilliant wife has the unusual distinction of having turned down a career in swimsuit modeling so she could teach underprivileged children in the public schools. Speaking from the perspective of a professional educator, she recently offered me some advice.

She told me that, in her experience, people do better at learning material when they are not continually learning new material. She discussed a time when she used to take one day out of the normal school week and use it to "relax and review". Students would play games using the skills they had learned during the week. She thought I could benefit from a similar strategy.

I plan on taking her advice, and mixing it with a concept God invented (a little something called "the Sabbath"). So, previously, this was my daily routine:

Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Review two flash cards. Learn one flash card.

Now, that is only my routine for Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, the plan is:

Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Review the previous thirty-five verses.

Of course, this decision did not affect yesterday's work. I reviewed Genesis 1:6-15. Then I read Genesis 26-31. Then I learned Genesis 1:16-20, which goes like this:

God made two great light-the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God placed them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the fourth day. And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth, across the expanse of the sky".

Today, I reviewed Genesis 1:1-20.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Here's a story that I can't shake out of my head:

4 years ago, I took a Hebrew class with a great scholar of the Hebrew language, Dr. Duane Garrett. One day, at the end of class, he said that he had one last lesson to teach before class was dismissed. He then spoke a sentence in French, and translated it:

"To learn, you must first love".

He then elaborated by saying that, if you love a thing, you will find yourself easily, even unconsciously, learning all about it. Your brain assigns top priority to the thing you love because your emotions demand it.

Then he asked, how many of you have read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit"?

About a dozen of us raised our hand.

"Who can name for me the thirteen dwarves who accompanied Bilbo Baggins on his journey to the Lonely Mountain"?

Everyone's hand went down, except for mine.

"Well", he said, "Ben knows. Please name them for us, Ben".

I was a little overeager to show off. "Balin, Dwalin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror, Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain".

He nodded. "Correct."

I was wonderfully pleased with myself.

"As you can see, Ben has developed a love for his subject matter, and the result is a comprehensive knowledge of it."

I was beaming at this point.

"Now", he continued, "can anyone name for me the twelve sons of Jacob, as recorded in the Book of Genesis?"

Dreadful, stunned silence. No one raised their hand-especially me.

What Dr. Garrett said next was graceful. He simply explained the method by which he learned the twelve sons of Jacob when he was in school. But far more cutting was what he didn't say, because he didn't have to say it: "If you really had a love for studying the scriptures, you would have learned basic facts like this, instead of wasting your time learning the names of dwarves". He didn't say this, but I immediately saw that it was true. Needless to say, I learned the names of Jacob's sons soon after this:


This is a lesson I wish never to forget. If I want to learn the scriptures, I must cultivate a love for them. But the only way to do this is to ask God to give me a love for them. There's no other way.

Today, I continued reading the Bible out loud-for thirty minutes, as before. I also reviewed Genesis 1:1-10. Then I learned Genesis 1:11-15, which went like this:

Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation; seed-bearing plants and trees on the land bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds", and it was so. The land produced vegetation;plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearingfruit with seed in it, according to their kinds, and God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky, to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.

Tomorrow's another day!
My apologies, ladies and gentlemen, but I missed blogging yesterday.

What I did not miss was the memorization of scripture.

Yesterday's work proved more difficult than the day before's. The reason for this is not that I had more material to review, but because yesterday's verses were less famous than the day before's. Nevertheless, I did the work according to plan:

I read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. This took me from the end of Genesis 8 to the end of Genesis 18.

I reviewed Genesis 1, verses 1-5.

I learned Genesis 1, verses 6-10, which go like this:

And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters, to separate water from water." So Go made the expanse and separated the water below the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse, "sky". And there was evening, and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear", and it was so. God called the dry ground, "land", and the gathered waters He called "seas". And God saw that it was good.

Going through the Bible in this slow fashion is giving me the time I need to reflect on what is happening in these passages. God creates the universe in Genesis 1:1. But the earth is totally chaotic and empty, as shown in Genesis 1:2. Even in this chaotic state, though, God's Holy Spirit is needed to hold it all together, as Genesis 1:2 also shows. From that time on, God forges an orderly universe out of the chaos by His mighty hand, giving form and content to the earth.

I'll post again later today, to tell you what today's efforts have brought!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Okay, here we are at day one of attempting to memorize the scriptures. I don't want to get over-optimistic, but it seemed easy-even fun! I got out my first flash card, which read like this:

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light", and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light, "day", and the darkness he called, "night". And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.

What an appropriate set of verses for my first day on the job!

So I set to work, and found to my amazement that the work was finished in only a few minutes!


But I should not be overconfident. These verses are fairly famous, and I had a pretty good idea of what they said before I even started. Will I still find things so easy when I get to the book of Leviticus, and God is laying down regulations for the inspection of homes that have been infected with mold spores? That remains to be seen. But for now, I am happy.

But if you will recall, Going over a flash car was not all I had to do today. I also had to read the Bible or a full 30 minutes, out loud. It was right about here that I discovered a new use for our microwave oven. It has a setting on it that says, "Kitchen timer". Just enter a given amount of time, and the microwave sounds an alarm when the time is up. I set the timer on 32 minutes-to give me time to get situated-and set to reading. Thirty minutes later, I had read the first eight chapters of Genesis-more than I have read in a sitting in a long time. Then-oh, what a feeling! I felt moved to prayer.

Do you know that feeling you get when you start to pray, but you feel like you have to force yourself to do it because some invisible force inside yourself simply does not want to do it? Well, that force has been hampering my prayer life lately, but it was not doing so now. Praise and thanksgiving came forth naturally. It felt so good to pray. I have no doubt that it was the reading of God's Word that brought about this change in me. Praise be to the One who spurred me to start doing this! I can feel my life improving already!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today, I spoke with my professor, Russell Fuller, and asked him what technique the Jews used to memorize the Old Testament. His answer shocked me:

"They began when they were children. Every day they would go down to the synagogue and, together with many other children, chant the scriptures continuously for about two hours. They continued doing this every day for years, until they knew it."

"Really?" I said. "Even on the Sabbath?"

"Especially on the Sabbath", he told me. "Probably twice on that day".

So apparently memorizing things is not complicated; just difficult. I have since reflected on this technique, and concluded that it must be effectual. My own life experience bears it out.

When I was in my second semester of seminary, I had few friends and spent a lot of time by myself. To keep from going stir crazy, I would play movies on my computer. Usually, I played "The Lord of the Rings". For months, the characters from "The Lord of the Rings" were my constant companions, and their words were repeated over and over and over in my hearing. Now, watch this:

It began with the forging of the Great rings. Three were given to the elves-immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven, to the dwarf lords-great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine-nine rings were gifted to the race of men, who-above all else-desire power. For within these rings were bound the strength and will to govern each race. But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a master ring to control all others, and into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life. One ring to rule them all. One by one, the free lands of Middle Earth fell to the power of the ring. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of men and elves marched against the armies of Mordor, and on the slopes of Mount Doom, they fought for the freedom of Middle Earth...

Victory was near, but the power of the ring could not be undone...

It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that Isildur, Son of the King, took up his father's sword...

Sauron, the enemy of the free peoples of Middle Earth, was defeated.

The ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever. But the hearts of men are easily corrupted, and the ring of power has a will of its own. It betrayed Isildur, to his death, and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge-until, when chance came, it ensnared a new bearer...

"My precioussssss..."

The ring came to the creature Golem, who took it deep into the tunnels of the Misty Mountains. And there, it consumed him.

"It came to me. My own. My love. My own. My precioussssss....Golem!"

The ring brought to Golem unnatural long life. For 500 years, it poisoned his mind. And in the gloom of Golem's cave, it waited. Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. Rumour grew of a shadow in the East. Whispers of a nameless fear. And the ring of power perceived-it's time had now come. It abandoned Golem. But something happened then that the ring did not intend. It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable.

"What's this?"

A hobbit. Bilbo Baggins of the Shire.

"A Ring."


For the time will soon come when hobbits will shape the fortunes of all.

If I really felt like boring you, I could go on, but you see my point. I didn't have to watch the movie in order to write any of that down. It just flowed out of my mind because it is locked in there by the power of repetition. The same could become true of the Bible, if I will only have the discipline to regularly, consistently, faithfully read through the scriptures.

Two hours a day will do the trick, but I am not sure I have enough discipline to do something like that. For right now, I think I'll just commit to thirty minutes a day and see where it leads.

But just because I am adopting the strategy of reading extended portions of the scripture, that doesn't mean I want to abandon other other strategies. So I have developed some flash cards, each of which has five consecutive verses of scripture on it. The first one starts at Genesis 1:1, and the last one I've made closes out Genesis 10. So here's the plan of attack, as I see it:

Day one: Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Learn flash card #1.

Day two: Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Review flash card #1. Learn Flash Card # 2.

Day three: Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Review flash cards, numbers 1 and 2. Learn Flash Card # 3.

Day four: Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minues. Stop reviewing flash card #1. Review flash cards, numbers 2 and 3. Learn flash card #4.

Day five: Read the Bible, out loud, for thirty minutes. Stop reviewing flash card #2. Review flash cards, numbers 3 and 4. Learn flash card # 5.

And so on, until I reach the end of Revelation. Then I'll probably start all over again, taking the flash cards in larger chunks this time.

The process will take years, and being consistent with it will be very daunting. But when God has spoken, the more familiar I am with what He said, the better.

I'm starting tomorrow. No turning back now.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I had 8 hours in which to chop down a tree, I would spend the first six hours sharpening my axe". So here I am, three days into the project, and I still haven't started memorizing the Bible. But I have not been idle; I have been planning.

The first question to be answered here is , "If I am going to memorize the Bible, which translation should I use?" What would be a terrible shame is if I went to all the trouble to learn a translation, then quoted a verse to someone and they responded,
"What translation is THAT supposed to be? I've never even heard of it before."
"I don't understand a word of what you just said."
"Well of course that verse is bloody rubbish because it was translated by Joseph Smith, and he changed his version in about 600 separate locations so he could convert everybody to Mormonism!"
After giving the matter some thought, I have decided to use the New International Version (NIV). I have three reasons for this:

(1) The NIV is written in modern English. It is thus easily understandable and its words will flow off my tongue without oo much trouble while I am working on it.

(2) The NIV is more widely used for personal devotions than any other translation.

(3) My seminary professors always recognized the NIV as a very good translation.

So if I memorize the NIV, I will have memorized a translation that is both accurate and easily understandable. Also, it will be recognized as legitimate by most any Christian I come in contact with.

Now, how do I actually do the memorizing?

Monday, February 1, 2010

As I said, I am scared. And what I am afraid of can be summed up in one word: failure.

What if I try this task and don't succeed? What if I never reach my goals? And worst of all, what if I quit? The shame that goes with my lack of discipline would haunt me far into the future.

As I consider this, I am reminded of something that a very wise man once said: "Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame." Taking this advice to heart, I will recognize that I am a sinful man, lacking in discipline and wisdom. This is one of the reasons I need to know more scripture, in the first place.

If I go into this project trying to reach a goal or accomplish some great feat, my risk for failure will be very great. After all, anything short of complete memorization of the Bible would be considered failure, under that model. But if I consider the model of success to be obedience to God, then success is within my grasp. For God does not require any great intellectual feat from us before He will consider us successes. What he asks is that we study his Word and obey it (Joshua 1). Memorizing the Bible may be hard, but studying it is easy, and the goal of memoriazation will give me something to shoot for while I am obeying God's command to study His Word.

A good friend of mine (he's 27, but he's wise enough to be thousands of years old) told me that I have nothing to be concerned about in this challenge. "After all", he said, "any scripture you memorize will leave you better off than you were before. You don't have a single thing to lose!" I like that attitude. I think I'll use it.

Well, so much for fear. But that leaves the next question: How on earth am I supposed to go about doing this? I'll explore that tomorrow.