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, mediate...to the glory of God!"
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?