Sack Cloth, Locusts, and Memory Packs

Wednesday, February 06, 2013  ::   5 important comments

Do you have anyone in your life that whenever you talk to them scripture just rolls out of their mouth in a beautiful, natural way?

There are a couple of people that come to my mind when I think about this, but one is on my mind a lot today. Just this week I was able to talk with my friend, David Englehart, about what has been going on in my life. Every single time I talk to him he speaks of the glory of God and quotes scripture that applies perfectly to our conversation. It isn't contrived or pious, but natural and edifying. He has spent so much time with Jesus, and the Spirit just spills out of him.

David and his wife, April, invested heavily in me through college. Through discipleship, babysitting, great meals, and laying on their couch when I had mono I spent many hours with them. There was formal discipleship/investment, but they also poured into me through their lives. I'm so grateful even now.

Through the investment, David challenged me personally with scripture memory. He never quizzed me on my verses, but he would tell me he was proud of me often which was music to my ears. I would always see him with his big fat thick memory pack and hear him quote scripture in his messages. But, it was never an isolated discipline, but part of a whole love for the Bible that characterized his life.

Sometimes I feel like people view me as a raving lunatic in the desert with my sack cloth, locusts, and scripture memory pack. "Memorize scripture! Memorize scripture!"

It is true that I believe and have experiential knowledge that God uses the Bible to change our lives. However, I want to set the record straight on how I believe we should be taking in God's word.

Scripture memory is only one slice of the inspired, holy, Bible pie. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then knowing and living the Bible is the most basic element of faith. There is no excuse of not having time, not wanting to read it, getting bored with it.

Please hear me say as believers we should be active in hearing God's word read and taught through the local church. Being connected to people who are hearing God's word together is transformative. The Bible speaks often about how the early church met together. Hear God's word consistently.

We should also be reading the Bible. Just read it like a good book. To be honest there is so much of it I do not understand. I'm currently reading Joshua and there are concepts that are blowing my mind. But, I keep reading, four to five chapters at a time.

Studying the bible is where you put meat to the bones of your understanding of scripture. Right now have chosen to connect what I hear on Sundays to what I personally study, 1 Peter. I'm reading, taking notes, looking up information through online commentaries, referencing what I learn on Sunday through Chad's teaching....real life study. There are so many good tools to use in this process. Feel free to ask if you need guidance.

Then comes memorizing scripture. Without the other three elements, memorizing is just child's play. Erin wrote about her study through memorizing Isaiah 61. Yes! She read, studied, memorized, and meditated.

Finally, meditating on God's word takes what has been revealed to you deep into your soul. On March first, my good friend, Jamie, will be sharing with us her experience in meditating on scripture.

Do you see the five aspects of taking in the bible? They all go together. This is what David taught me all those years ago. He values scripture so much in his life and God has used it to make him more like Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." In many ways I still am following the example of David in my life. As he shared a perfect verse for me this week, my heart swelled and I was reminded that I want to be like that, scripture pouring out of me, lifting others up, giving glory to Jesus.

I realize this may seem incredibly time consuming and overwhelming, but think of it like cross training in exercise. A person may swim, lift weights, run, hike, and bike, but not all of it happens on the same day. When I was working out at my strongest, I would incorporate a couple of different types of exercises a day a few times a week. I sought to be well-rounded and well-trained in my body. I, also, desire to seek to be well-rounded and well-trained in my soul. All five aspects of taking in scripture won't happen in the same day, but I work to make each aspect a consistent part of my life.

The whole process of taking in God's word has changed my life, not one discipline. Let me be the raving lunatic in the desert with my sack cloth, locusts, and worn bible. "Hear, read, study, memorize, the glory of God!" 

Psalm 119:33-34
Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees 
then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law 
and obey it with all my heart. 
Direct me in the path of your commands 
for there I find delight. 
Turn my heart toward your statutes 
and not toward selfish gain. 
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; 
preserve my life according to your word. 
Fulfill your promise to your servant, 
so that you may be feared. 
Take away the disgrace I dread 
for your laws are good. 
How I long for your precepts! 
Preserve my life in your righteousness.

What is the most challenging aspect of taking in scripture to you? In what area are you the strongest? Whose example in your life do you want to follow concerning their love for the bible? Would you be willing to become of raving lunatic in the desert with me concerning scripture?

Silencing the Chaos :: A Guest Post

Friday, February 01, 2013  ::   9 important comments

Having guest posters for Moxie Memorizers is a spectacular idea, if I do say so myself! And this gem that you are about to read, proves it. 
My friend, Erin, is a light to those around her. She exudes joy, tenderness, and grace. The humility with which she carries herself draws people to her. The words God gives her to encourage others often shocks me. The Spirit of God has heavily gifted her to be able to encourage individuals, and I have seen Him use this gift in her life to encourage our church body. 
I had the privilege of hearing Erin quote a whole chapter of scripture at a dear friend's wedding. Instantly, I knew I should ask her to share her journey with us. Please read and take in every word.  

Whenever I see the women around me quoting the Bible verbatim, I’m like, “I want that.” I admire the power Angel displays in her reciting of Scripture, and each time I memorize a new verse, I feel that power deep in my soul.  I feel a change and a growth. And then God uses it, and I’m like, “Hello! Amazing!”
So, back in September, I met with my dear friend Kelly (then Thompson, now Jones). We usually laugh together and celebrate what God is doing in our lives, but on this particular day, my eyes were filled with tears. My plans for a relationship had failed. I was filled with loss, regret, and doubt of myself as a woman and follower of Christ. I felt broken, unsure how to go on. She listened intently, encouraged, and supported me. Then she asked me to stand up in front of everyone at her wedding and read Isaiah 61.
I felt a spark ignite. “What an honor! Of course I’ll do it!” 
Almost immediately the doubts set in. What? Me? There is absolutely no way. But I kept quiet, said goodbye, and my mind churned over this new challenge. 
As the weeks went on, the doubts persisted, and my anxiety kicked in. It’s so long…what if I’m crying? What if I have an anxiety attack right before and can’t do it? What if I can’t breathe? What if…
To silence the chaos, I decided to start memorizing and see if that helped. Suddenly, I felt a rush of power. 
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…”
Bind up the brokenhearted! Like me! 
“To proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Freedom. Release. No more darkness. No more sin. No more shame. No more confusion.
I was determined to memorize the whole thing. I didn’t think it was possible to actually recite it at the wedding. My nerves, the pressure... But memorizing it was helping me deal with my emotional turmoil, so I continued. I brought index cards with me while I went hiking (which I love to do). Hiking and memorizing is like surrounding yourself with God. It’s amazing. I’d reach an overlook and spread out my hands.
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God! To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion. To bestow on them a crown of BEAUTY instead of ashes, the oil of JOY instead of mourning, and a garment of PRAISE instead of a spirit of despair!”
No more sorrow! No more tears! A crown of beauty!
But as the weeks went on, the doubts festered. So many lies ran around in my head. Some of them told me I was inadequate, others told me that reading the Scripture was bad…At one point I even told Kelly she needed a backup plan. But God knows my heart, and every time those doubts crept in, so did Isaiah 61. 
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
God does the work. I can glorify Him just like a tree, my leaves clapping and my soul rejoicing. He will make Himself known in my life. He will use me to display His splendor. What an honor!
I wish I could go through every twist and turn of the story and the significance of each line of Isaiah 61. But God used amazing people, experiences, and many ups and downs to lead me to Kelly’s beautiful wedding on December 28th where I stood, knees shaking, heart pounding, praying my breath wouldn’t give out. As a harp gently played and the gorgeous trees around us clapped their hands, I read the Scripture…for a few verses until I just had to look up and speak it as the Truth that was now so hidden in my heart.
“Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will REJOICE in your inheritance. And so, you will inherit a double portion in your land, and EVERLASTING JOY will be yours.” 
It isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus! Yes, I have a screwed up past. Yes, I have made mistakes and make more every day. But more importantly, I am God’s child, a believer in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to free the captives, release prisoners from darkness, and avenge evil by dying on the cross. HE ROSE FROM THE GRAVE TO DEFEAT DEATH. He is freedom! 
How grateful I am that He works beyond my doubts, insecurities, greed, envy, pride, and everything else that goes on my crazy heart and mind. He uses my imperfections to show His perfection. And as Tori eloquently described in her testimony on Women’s Retreat, He is a God who wastes nothing. He wastes nothing. We can give Him everything, because He will make Himself known through it. Our struggles, our darkness, our memories; He uses all of it, no matter how horrible it seems.
“Your descendents will be known among the nations and your offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
What a promise. 
“I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness…”
God gives His children a new wardrobe. No more rags from Satan. Robes of righteousness.
“As a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Like Kelly shone so radiantly at her wedding, decked out in her bling (I love bling), we are meant to shine brightly for our Savior. No hiding under bushels. I’m gonna let it shine!
I deeply encourage memorizing a chapter that speaks to you. It’s intimidating, but it will change your life. If I can do it, you can do it!
“For as the soil makes the sprout come up, and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” 
I second that amen, Erin! Thank you so, so much for sharing. 
As I've shared before, memorizing scripture for me is much more difficult than it was. Please know this difficulty is not causing me to curl up and quit. I'm still working hard on it. I won't give up. 
I'm still working on Colossians 2:6-7. I can tell you exactly what it is about, but I struggle with quoting it. My plan is to keep working on it, but I'm going to add another one to work on.
Isaiah 40:11 
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. 
Friends, post what you are memorizing and please share a little comment love for Erin. Let's encourage our friend who so often encourages us!