We have made some adjustments to the main menu to reflect the new emphasis on a staged approach to memorizing.
The old 'Memorize' tab has been renamed 'Review'. It contains the links to the usual daily review of the memory verses you already 'know'.
The 'Learn' section contains tools relating to getting a memory verse stuck in your head initially.
We've also made a few improvements to the new 'Learn' tool (cunningly arranged under the 'Learn' menu). If you get stuck on a word you can now press the down arrow and the word will be temporarily revealed. Some of the other problems that people encountered should also be cleaned up.
Finally, a reminder: if you find a verse with an error, the best way to let us know is to navigate to your memory verse on the 'Home --> My Verses' page, find the offending verse, and click on the 'Verified' label in the final column. This will report the error and usually results in the verse being corrected within a day or two.
menu, learn, memory verses, getting started
Have you ever found it difficult to keep straight the main themes of the various books of the Bible? While many can outline the key arguments of Romans, few could summarize Hosea. That is why it is helpful to memorize a key verse or two of the lesser-known books. I'll use Hosea to illustrate.
Hosea is a difficult book to outline but it can be divided into two parts. The first three chapters describe an adulterous wife and a faithful husband, symbolic of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God through idolatry. The remainder of the book expands on this allegory through a series of prophetic messages and concludes with a promise of restoration.
Memorizing some of the key verses of Hosea can capture the main theme. If I had to pick only one I would probably choose Hosea 1:2 as it contains the symbolism on which the first section is based.
When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”
There are a few other key verses to memorize in this book. Hosea 2:23 foreshadows the grafting into the tree of the Gentiles:
I will plant her for myself in the land;I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
Assyria cannot save us;we will not mount war-horses.We will never again say ‘Our gods’to what our own hands have made,for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
Hosea, minor prophets, key memory verses
Those of you who have an iPad 3 should try out the voice dictation. I tried it a few days ago and, despite some difficulties with my other-wordly accent, it was relatively effective. I think over time it will only get better and I look forward to the day when typing out one's memory verses is just one of the alternatives.
I have been having some trouble memorizing Romans 8 so have been trying out a variety of tactics to break the logjam. I've recorded myself reciting the chapter and use my phone to listen to it when I have 5 minutes of down time. I also wrote it out by hand a few nights ago and found that very useful. But I found that there is nothing like slowly dictating it to really get it stuck in my head.
I would encourage everyone to use as many different techniques for memorizing the Bible as you can lay your hands on. The more variety you incorporate, the more likely you are to persist with your memorization and the quicker your memory verses will become lodged in your mind and heart.
A foreshadowing of an upcoming feature: we will soon be releasing the first Memverse badges. This would be a good time to be consistent, promotional, and gospel-minded.
badges, voice dictation
Andy Johnson has written a great blog post on nine benefits of Scripture memorization. We couldn't agree more! What we like most about his post, though, is his point that memorizing the Bible is a discipline that should be carried on into adulthood. Little warms our hearts as much as seeing entire families memorizing together.
As Andy says:
From pre-schooler to senior citizen, these benefits transcend age or level of spiritual maturity ... the benefits of hiding God’s Word in one’s heart clobbers the initial difficulties.
Nothing will convince children more of the value of memorization as a discipline than seeing it practised by their parents. We know that this is true of so many character traits, but I would suggest that it is doubly true in the case of scripture memorization. Not only will children learn by copying what they see you do, but the mind-transforming discipline of memorization on your own life will make children even more inclined to follow in your footsteps.
Kids, if your parents aren't memorizing the Bible alongside you, ask them why not! Challenge them to join you. It's never too late to start.
encouragement, motivation, memory verses, spiritual discipline
Alex's prior blog post on the importance of memorizing from the gospels rang especially true for me. It always seems easier to memorize from the epistles because they contain pithy summaries of the Christian faith; or from the Old Testament because it is rich in poetry and powerful, unambiguous statements from the LORD and his prophets.
The narrative, parabolic content of the gospels often seems less worthwhile memorizing because one has to commit an entire story to memory. Why memorize an entire story that appears to only make a single point? Why memorize the parables when we can memorize Paul's digested conclusion in an epistle?
I'm currently reading the 2nd volume in N.T. Wright's series, Jesus and the Victory of God. I highly recommend this series. Those of you who have followed the public debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright might harbor some reservations about Wright's theology. I, for one, have been both impressed by the civil tone of their debate and distressed at my inability to fully grasp their differences.
While you might not agree with every point that N.T. Wright makes, I can assure you that your understanding of Jesus will be tremendously advanced by following his carefully constructed arguments. Even the introductory sections on how we have arrived at our current thinking about Jesus is illuminating and worth grappling with. I had never realized how influential the Jesus Seminar really was, or how much the theologians in their ivory towers shape our theology.
How does this relate to the value of memorizing the gospels? I would contend that to fully appreciate the nuances of Wright's argument for understanding Jesus in a distinctly Jewish context, it is critical, or at least exceptionally helpful, to have some portion of the gospels memorized. When I came to the section in his book on the Sermon on the Mount, my understanding was greatly increased by having the complete sermon in my head. Memorizing the Sermon on the Mount inevitably requires starting with the structure of the sermon. As I memorized Matthew 5-7, I began to wonder why it began with the Beatitudes? Why does it end with the parable about the 'house on the rock"? What should we make of the selection of the six antitheses early in the sermon?
Reading his commentary on the other parts of the gospels made me regret not spending more time memorizing and reflecting on the gospels.
Over the past 50 years there has been so much disagreement as to who Jesus was and what his aims and beliefs were, that many of us have retreated to the epistles for our understanding of theology. Reading Wright has renewed my appreciation for the incredible continuity between the Old Testament, the gospels, and the epistles.
If the thought of reading four 700 page books is daunting, you might want to start with Simply Jesus, Wright's latest book which distills his many years of thinking about Jesus into 250 pages. I haven't yet read it, but intend to.
John Piper has written a great response to one aspect of N.T Wright's thinking: justification. The book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright is also available for free PDF download. If you would like to understand what the brouhaha is about, I would recommend reading both books. Whichever side you find yourself agreeing with more, you will probably learn a lot from both of them.
The purpose of this post is to reinforce the value of bible memorization coupled with deep bible study and broad reading. Those who know me will attest to my love of good-spirited debate as a means to get closer to the truth but, in this case, my primary point is that memorizing the Bible facilitates our understanding of theology and, ultimately, its application to our lives.
Have any of you read Jesus and the Victory of God or Simply Jesus? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
books, gospels, wright, piper, memorizing
Well, we missed our Christmas blog post and have almost missed our New Year one too! We trust, though, that everyone had a blessed and merry Christmas and quality time to reflect on the birth of Christ. The passage of two thousand years has not dimmed the significance of God sending his own son into the world.
As you think about your goals for 2012, consider setting yourself a memorization goal. In an upcoming release we will make it easier to see how many memorization sessions you have completed this year. Since it's difficult to know exactly how many verses it's possible to commit to memory in 366 days, consider setting a goal of completed memorization session. My personal goal is 250 sessions, or five per week. Let us know in the comments what your goal for 2012 is. Make it attainable.
Finally, a sequence of events over Christmas reminded me again of the importance of coupling memorizing with understanding. We continue to feel that memorizing Bible verses is most valuable when it is a discipline combined with a deep study of the meaning behind the word. Read Proverbs 2 for details. Even if you are memorizing select verses from a passage, please make it a habit to read and understand the full context.
If you're memorizing Matthew 2:11, more than memorizing which three gifts the Magi gave Jesus, it is important to understand why Matthew includes this account in his gospel. What does this tell us about Jesus' message to first century Jews? How does it introduce a major theme of Matthew's gospel? What light does this shed on Jesus' cleansing of the temple? How does this inform our eschatology? Combining your Bible memorization with deep study will give you a much richer understanding of the King we serve.
We look forward to hearing from you on December 31st, 2012. Memorize with a friend. Find support in a group. Be encouraged by the global church.
bible memorization, bible study
People have mentioned Seeds Family Worship on the blog before. We own all their CD's and they are brilliant for memorizing Bible verses. They are currently offering a free song download and a 25% discount on their products if you enter the coupon code, THANKFUL11 when you check out.
I can't say enough good things about their CD's. What's really cool is that they send you two copies of each CD you order so you can load up on stocking stuffers for everyone you know.
As far as I know most of their songs are word for word out of the NIV 1984 so if you're memorizing from that translation they will be a great addition for your commute.
I want to encourage you to not focus too much on Memverse's designation of whether or not a verse is memorized. We picked 30 days as an arbitrary milestone which wouldn't prove to be too elusive but was also something to strive for. Truly committing a verse to memory, though, takes a lot longer and will likely require you to frequently select option 1 or 2 and start again.
Let me illustrate my point. All of us at some point had the equation for the roots of a quadratic drummed into our heads in high school. I remember being able to wake up in the middle of the night and recite it without hesitation. Like so much we learn, after leaving school I never had occasion to use the equation for about a decade. A year ago, I had to solve a quadratic and was astonished to find that I couldn't recall the formula. Something that I had once memorized perfectly was no longer accessible.
Fortunately, I asked Google and it gave me the answer. What I found interesting is that a single refreshing of that memory (after more than a decade) was sufficient to completely lay down the track again. I'm fairly sure I will remember it for the next twenty years.
This is why it is best to rate yourself as honestly as possible when reviewing your verses. I've been using Memverse now for over two years and I am starting to experience some of my early verses that I haven't had to review for a long time come up again. Some of them I remember and as I type them out again I can feel the memory track getting deeper. Others I have to reset and over the next few months, as the interval grows again, I get to really know them well.
That's how Memverse is designed to work. Next time you experience your mouse swaying between option 2 and 3, remember that the race is long and not necessarily to the swift. It's often better to reset a verse earlier, rather than later.
Incidentally: the roots of a quadratic are given by: -b +- sqrt(b^2-4ac)/2a
Supermemo, memory verses, recall
We recently introduced two new features to help you manage your memorization schedule but we have not really explained how they work. The two features are:
Reset Schedule - this is a button that appears on the 'Memverse Today' tab of the home page when you have fallen behind in your memory verse review.
Pending Verses - this allows you to set verses to an 'Inactive' status.
First, there are two definitions that you should understand.
- Target Time - This is an option in your profile menu where you specify how much time you would like to spend memorizing each day.
- Required Time - This is the time that Memverse calculates you need to spend each day to not fall behind on the memory verses you are currently working on.
The 'target time' has only two functions at the moment:
- to determine when to convert verses from 'Pending' to 'Active' (if you have checked the box on the profile page that allows Memverse to automatically convert verses from 'Pending' to 'Active' status when your required time is below your target time.)
- to determine whether new verses start as 'Pending' or 'Active' when you add them.
The 'required time' is used in determining whether your verses are 'Active' or 'Pending' as outlined above.
It is also used to determine when to give you the option to reset your schedule. The 'Reset Schedule' button will appear when the number of verses you have due on any given day is more than 3x your 'required time'. For example, if your current required time is 10 minutes per day but you have 35 verses due for review that day, you can reset your schedule. Memverse will reschedule the verses into the future in such a way that you will have about double your required time for the next while.
If you are finding that you have too many verses to review each day but you are never seeing the 'Reset Schedule' button, then it's because you quite simply have too many active verses and you should convert some of them to 'Pending'. Take a look at the required time that Memverse thinks you need. If you don't think you can allocate that amount of time each day to memorization, you should reduce the number of verses you're working on.
We recommend that you use the following settings:
- repetition interval = 1 year
- target time = about 3/4 of what you think you can manage each day (this allows for the occasional missed day)
- 1st letter prompts = 'Learning' or 'Never' (these are a big crutch and you won't really remember verses unless you stop using them)
- 'Always show feedback' should be unchecked. (this is also a big crutch and you're unlikely to become fluent in your verses if you always use it)
- 'Add verses as needed' - this is up to you. It's useful to have it checked because then you don't need to worry about converting verses from 'Pending' to 'Active'
Those settings above will work well if you're planning a long term memorization program as you will be less likely to get overwhelmed and you will really start to memorize the verses properly. With these settings, if you go away on vacation for a few days or take a break, you can then reset your schedule when you return and you will soon be back on track. I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping your work load manageable. This is a marathon not a 100m sprint :)
These probably aren't the best settings for those of you who are working towards the Bible Bee competition but you can share your settings in the comments below.
reset schedule, pending verses
If you’ve been memorizing Scripture for very long, then you’ve probably already began to experience the amazing joy of having God’s Word hidden in your heart. After all, as we are told in John 13:17 obedience brings joy and none are more apt to obey God than they who have said with David, “I will delight myself in Thy statutes; I will not forget Thy Word.” (Psalm 119:16) It was once I personally began to realize this joy for myself that Scripture memorization became more than simply a personal part of my Christian life, but something I strongly believed every Christian with a Bible should do. Not only is it in your best interest if you desire to make your way prosperous and have good success (Joshua 1:8), but, to put it quite simply, the choice between memorizing Scripture and neglecting it is, in itself, a choice between obedience and disobedience (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
When I began to encourage others to memorize Scripture, however, I was struck with a startling realization: apparently 99% of our world's population suffers from extreme memory loss. Almost every person I speak with either is unashamedly unwilling to put forth the necessary effort, or believes their efforts would be in vain even if they did try. It breaks my heart because at one time I used to make those same excuses and I know that if they only realized what they‘re missing out on, nothing on this temporary earth could keep them from memorizing God’s eternal Word (Isaiah 40:8).
What has been your experience as you’ve encouraged others to memorize Scripture? Have you discovered any particular techniques which seem to get people especially excited about Scripture? From somebody who has watched every one of his referrals go inactive, I would especially like to hear what some of our top referrers have to say and gain insight as to how you tell others about memverse. Keep in mind also that, if you’ve been trying to figure out a way to spread the word about memverse and Scripture memorization in general, you can always utilize memverse’s flyer by posting in on your church’s bulletin board or send out an email blast to your friends. And don't forget word of mouth still works pretty well, too!
You can now toggle your memory verses between 'Pending' and active status by clicking on the status from the 'My Verses' page. Remember that you can filter your verses by clicking on the magnifying glass on the right, next to the 'Feedback' tab, a.k.a. the only place to ever ask for help :).
I highly recommend that everyone trot over to the Account -> Profile page and update your target time. We recommend selecting one level below what you think you can manage. For instance, if you think you can manage ten minutes a day, select the 7 minutes per day setting because that will allow for the occasional missed day. We calculate the number of minutes per day to be roughly equivalent to the number of verses per day. So a setting of 10 minutes would mean you would review, on average, ten verses per day.
If you don't want Memverse to automatically convert verses from 'Pending' to active status over time then uncheck the box labelled 'Add verses as needed'.
My personal recommendation is that you let Memverse convert verses to active status as your daily work load drops below your target, rather than adjusting them constantly yourself. But if you're a competitive Bible memorizer (you know who you are!) then you might want to adjust the number of pending verses yourself.
pending verses, inactive verses
I think it would be a great idea if all the Bible Bee verses were tagged in a consistent fashion. If everyone follows last year's most popular approach to tagging the Bible Bee verses that would mean we would use:
Bible Bee 2011 Level 1
Bible Bee 2011 Level 2
Bible Bee 2011 Level 3
Bible Bee, tagging, 2011
I’m someone who believes it’s important, not only to memorize Scripture, but to memorize It as accurately as possible when contrasted with the original text of your translation. Though it’s usually easy during the first week or so after memorizing a verse to quote it perfectly and without hesitation, I’m sure most of you have noticed that, over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that word-perfect level of accuracy or even to remember where the verse is found. If you’re someone who doesn’t concern yourself too much with whether you say “Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus”, then this post may not be for you; but if you’d like to improve your ability to recall verses with 100% accuracy then I'd like to share with you a few things I have found helpful in my own personal experience over the past year.
First of all, take full advantage of Memverse’s Accuracy and Reference Recall tests. These features are specifically designed to make each one of your memory verses stick in your mind firmly, and present you with a wider range of verses than does the Practice and Memorize sections of the site. This forces you to rely solely on good memory skills without being given the preceding or upcoming verses, and lets you know exactly where you stand by presenting you with an updated calculation of your accuracy at the end of each test. If you are shooting for 100% accuracy all across the board, then I would personally recommend taking the Reference Recall test once each day for every 100 verses you’ve memorized and the Accuracy Test about 3 or 4 times per month (more or less).
Secondly, I have found Memverse’s ability to print out your memory verses for you amazingly helpful in keeping up with those often obscure passages that seem to elude the grasp of your memory. I keep an updated list of all my verses in a three-ring binder (using sheet protectors), and try to review at least two Scriptures from each page daily in addition to my regular memory sessions right here on Memverse. Keeping a physical copy of your memory verses is also perfect for those times when you are away from the Internet for long periods of time but would still like to stay on top of your memory work.
Finally, over the past few weeks I have discovered a brand new way to speed up the learning process when you’re committing new passages of Scripture to memory: simply write down your new verses in a pocket-sized journal and carry them with you when you’re away from home. This allows you to meditate in God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2) regardless of where you are and without having to face the frustration of forgetting your most recent verses while trying to review them on your way to work! You can usually get them quite reasonably, and I have found this particular journal by Markings publishers to be ideal for recording and reviewing Scripture when you don't have access to your Memverse account. It contains an attached ribbon marker, firm leather covers, and a pocket in the back to store 3.5 x 5 inch notecards and other small, paper items. I got mine at Wal-Mart, but they are also available on Amazon.
So what about you? What strategies have you developed (other than using memverse, of course) to make your your memory verses stay firmly planted in your heart and mind? I'm sure we could all benefit from your experiences and would love to hear what you have to say on the subject.
One of our very talented members, Dakota Lynch, kindly made a video tutorial for those starting out on Memverse. There is a link to it under the 'Learn' menu as well. This is a great way to introduce people to Memverse as it nicely captures how to get started and what to expect. There's a chance that you'll pick up a new tip or two even if you've been using Memverse for a while now.
We are going to take a short break from our usual good cheer to draw your attention to a sobering observation after two years of involvement with Memverse: it is not easy to maintain the discipline of bible memorization.
- 75% of people who sign up on Memverse do not make it to the end of the first month.
- Another 25% of those who remain have dropped out by the end of the second month.
- Each month thereafter, another 10-12% of people do not keep up their memorizing.
- Even after a year of memorizing, the churn rate is still roughly 10% each month.
Of the ~400 people who signed up for Memverse in January 2011, there were less than 70 still active by the end of February. By the end of the year, there will likely be less than 30 of the original group of 400.
So why are we still optimistic? These numbers are not quite as dire as they seem at first blush and, in fact, are typical of free services which are easily tried and just as easily abandoned. We also realize that many of the 400 people who signed up in January never added their first verse. Over the next year, we are planning to make the 'first five minute' experience more engaging and less confusing. (If you have ideas, we'd love to hear from you, especially those of you who recently signed up and can still remember what it was like.)
One factor that surprised us: while we feel as though we've made fairly significant improvements over the past two years, the numbers are very consistent and predictable. Even once people have integrated Memverse into their daily lives, each month 10% of them just decide to stop using it. In my case, I've come to realize the danger of being "choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures" as I go on my way (Luke 8:14-15). Luke is correct, it requires perseverance to produce a crop.
Our conclusion: Memorizing God's word requires a mental commitment fully powered by the grace of the Spirit.
Find a friend to keep you accountable. Set reasonable goals that you can achieve. And pray. In all things. Continually.
We'll see you on March 1st, 2012 for our third birthday.