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How Lettuce Helps Me Memorize Scripture, Part 1

  • Posted on: 23 November 2015
  • By: Keith Reed


Memorizing Scripture used to be a staple of the Christian community. It used to be essential to teaching curriculum and a recognized mark of spiritual maturity. But I currently find it difficult to find adults memorizing Scripture with any sort of regularity or urgency. Why is this? A few reasons come to my mind that are based on my own observations:

The Childhood Fallacy

My guess is that the vast majority of Christ followers committed verses to memory early on in their Christian walk (be this as a child or close to the time of their conversion). But this practice has a way of fading as the years go on. The sad reality is that memorizing verses is seen as a chore for children and not an essential practice for all believers. It is quite common for a church to give an ovation after a young person publicly recites a verse aloud. But it is extremely uncommon to find adults challenging other adults to memorize Scripture, even though they tell their children it’s an important exercise. 

The Psalmist teaches that blessing comes to the person who delights and meditates on the law of the Lord (Ps 1:1-3). He says that God’s Word keeps people from committing sin (Ps 119:11). And while the young are specifically addressed at times (Ps 119:9), there is no indication that this activity should be reserved for the young minded.

Categorizing Bible memorization as a childish practice is bad theology. Even worse, it devalues God’s Word. 

The Cost Is More Than We Want to Pay

Committing anything to memory requires two things: time and effort. Most people think they suffer from a lack of time, but a more truthful statement is that most people are unwilling to invest the necessary time to memorize Scripture. While God has entrusted each person with a diversity of gifts and resources, He has chosen to give all of us the same amount of time. Our lifespans will vary, but all of us are given 24 hours each day and 168 hours per week. How we use the time He entrusts to us is a stewardship issue.

Five Reasons to Go on a Prayer Retreat

  • Posted on: 13 November 2015
  • By: Randy Wollf

Last week, I had the opportunity to go on a daylong prayer retreat. I came away refreshed, more in love with Jesus, and with a keener sense of His priorities for my life. Going on these kinds of retreats is something I’ve been doing for over 20 years (sometimes more regularly than others). Here are five reasons why I do them (and why I think others should consider doing them, as well):

We Experience Rest and Refreshment

When I go on a prayer retreat, I try not to schedule too many activities. It’s an opportunity for me to slow down – to practice a true day of rest. I come away from these times refreshed in body, mind, and spirit.

We Enter into Silence

Susan Moto says, “In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let alone try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be. Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God.”

I know that silence is difficult to embrace when we are not used to it (yes, it may mean shutting off our electronic devices). Yet, silence creates a space where we can experience God in a deeper way.

We Connect with Jesus

Healthy relationships require time to connect. A prayer retreat gives us the opportunity to spend prolonged, intimate time with Jesus – listening, talking, and just being together. During a prayer retreat, I will find myself adoring God through praise. I’ll spend time interceding for others. Sometimes, I’m brought to my knees in confession as the Spirit reveals sin in my life. Throughout the day, I experience God’s love and express my love to Him. I cannot think of a time when I left a prayer retreat not feeling more in love with Jesus.

We Gain a Renewed Focus

When I remove myself from my normal activities for a prolonged period of time, I am better able to focus on Jesus. As I do so, I am more likely to gain his perspective on my life, both the present and the future. My fears and anxieties begin to fade into the background as God takes centre stage.

We Receive Guidance

There is something powerful about prolonged, uninterrupted time with God that allows us to draw close to Him and hear His quiet voice. Whether it’s related to a significant personal decision, a family matter, or a work situation, I find that God will often speak into those situations as I take time to listen.

What is your experience with prayer retreats? I would love to hear what you have found beneficial (you can leave a comment below).

Spiritual Hunger Games

  • Posted on: 5 November 2015
  • By: Keith Reed

I have vivid memories of fasting when I was a kid. I remember the odd sensation of my stomach doing backflips in the early afternoon. I remember the newfound awkwardness that lunchtime presented in the public school cafeteria. I remember thinking that ingesting any sort of calorie might undo all of the spiritual collateral I had stored up to that point. And I remember not understanding how any of this was convincing God to respond more favourably to my prayer request.
This might be why I came to the point of choosing to use one spiritual discipline against another: I took a Sabbath from fasting for about 15 years. And I didn’t think I was missing anything until I realized that my full stomach was numbing an absent hunger that I no longer felt. I finally realized that if I truly wanted to hunger for God it might make sense to make my physical body hungry.
Fasting is known as a spiritual practice. These practices are healthy habits that bring us closer to God. Dallas Willard described these as activities within our power that enable us to accomplish what we cannot do by direct effort. They are training tools that enhance our spiritual lives. After all, star performers or athletes didn’t achieve their excellence by trying to behave a certain way only when they’re performing a concert or playing a game.* Their excellence came from a devoted commitment to practice.
What then are Christians practicing for? What is our “performance”? I have made the mistake of thinking our performance is similar to the stage or the field – the place where the crowd is watching and critiquing. But this ignores the importance of our inner life.
I believe we’re practicing for the field the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6:12“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” The intensity of this battle reminds me of the need to be prepared.
Our spiritual habits prepare us for the moments when we’re not at our best. For the moments when sin is crouching at our door (Genesis 4:7), be it a public or private moment.