We launched Memverse a year ago, hoping to inspire a new generation of computer-savvy Christians to memorize their Bibles in earnest. As of today we have hundreds of active users and thousands of verses memorized. We still have plenty of plans for Memverse (more than when we started!) and, as always, will be relying on the feedback of users in determining what to work on next.
You will also notice a couple of changes to Memverse:
- By popular demand, the reference recall test has been changed to include all your verses. If you liked memorizing just the first verse of each passage, you can still select that option in your profile.
- There is a new 'Accuracy Test' which will let you know just how well you really know your memory verses. Don't be surprised when you find that it's a lot harder without the feedback! We recommend taking it periodically to ensure that you're scoring yourself correctly during your memorization sessions.
That's all for today. If you'd like to give us a birthday gift, we'd love you to send out some invites to your church, mention us on Facebook, or call up a family member and ask them to memorize God's word with you.
Onwards in Christ!
There are a few common mistakes that we've noticed when people enter new memory verses:
- Quotation Marks - please do not omit quotation marks. It is understandably tempting to omit the single sided quotation marks but they should be included as they are part of the text
- 'LORD' vs 'Lord' - I don't remember the exact difference but in Old Testament verses we frequently see 'LORD' entered as 'Lord'. These two terms are different and it's important to enter them correctly. Fortunately, everything is case-insensitive when you're memorizing so you won't be tested on the difference!
- Periods and Full-stops - these are very frequently left out at the end of verses.
We are not being pedantic on this front. All the major translations' copyright restrictions require identical punctuation and spelling so we eventually correct every verse to match the given translation.
entering verses, punctuation
A Gem, a Swiss Cheese, and the Whole Enchilada
Most methods for scripture memorization take a linear approach: start at Chapter 1:1 and add a verse or two every day or two until you reach the end. I'm sure many of you have tried to memorize a chapter, or maybe an entire book, and have used some variant on this method. I know I have tried and become discouraged using this method and I'm sure many of you have too. I would suggest that this method was appropriate for memorizing from a printed (or handwritten) page but I think there is a better way. If you've every tried to memorized Romans and lost steam somewhere towards the end of Chapter 1 with a firm understanding of the wrath of God being revealed against the wickedness of mankind but wondering why Paul longed to visit Rome, then this method could be for you.
One of the biggest disadvantages of starting at the beginning and working your way through a book, is that at the end you often remember the start a lot better than the end. Assuming you make it to the end. In the worst case, you only remember the start. (Remember those high school courses? Do you remember the first chapter better than the last chapter today?) A far better method is to start with the most important sections of a passage and then add in the details later.
An Example: Memorizing Paul's Epistle to the Galatians
The Swiss Cheese approach that I recommend would work as follows:
- The Gem: start with a key verse or two for the entire passage. For instance, for Galatians it could be Galatians 2:16. Look at Memverse's list of popular verses if you need ideas.
- Swiss Cheese: over time, gradually add key verses that summarize themes or major ideas in Galatians. For example, in the letter to the Galatians Paul mentions crucifixion three times: Gal 2:20 (crucifying the self), Gal 5:24 (crucifying the sinful nature), and Gal 6:14 (crucifying the world). There are lots of key verses in Galatians that you could use. By adding these first, you will begin to better recognize the structure of epistle and the main ideas will be drawn out. More importantly, you will be entrenching the major themes in your memory first. Even if you stop memorizing at this point, you will have the foundational verses to build upon later.
- The Whole Enchilada: The best way to then complete the book or chapter, is to fill in the gaps. Add the verses around your anchor verses and gradually fill in the holes in the swiss cheese.
Memverse is ideally suited to this approach to memorizing. It has the advantage of memorizing key ideas first and is a great way to integrate studying and memorizing into one activity. I actually leave as many holes in my swiss cheese as possible. That way, everything stays in manageable bits until you add the connecting verses. If you're memorizing an entire book, you can start with the key chapters and complete each one individually. Or, you can add verses from all over the book and then gradually fill in the gaps across the entire book.
There is one caution, though: be careful to not leave out verses that you find difficult to accept or less inspiring. Those verses that will convict you at the times in your life when you need them the most, are very often the verses that everyone else neglected to memorize as well.
If you do tend to be a very linear thinker and are confident in your ability to persevere to the end, Andrew Davis (at John Piper's church in Minnesota) has published an article on "An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture" which some people have found works well.
There are a few new settings on the Profile page.
Maximum Verse Interval
In the past, the maximum interval between repetitions was 365 days. If you feel that this was too long, you can now set the maximum interval to be as short as three months. On that setting, you will repeat every verse at least 4 times a year, no matter how well you know it.
Memverse Mnemonic Prompterizer
There are three settings for the 1st letter prompts on the flash card:
- Learning -- this setting will only turn on prompts for new verses that you are learning. This is the default setting.
If your country is "United States" you can now pick your state. And yes, there could well be a State leaderboard one day ;)
If you're working on memorizing some new Bible verses you'll notice that the memorization flash card now has the first letter of each word on the flipcard. This should help jog your memory in those early stages of memorization. I haven't ever used them before but have read in various places that people find them very helpful. They will currently only show up for memory verses with a repetition interval less than a week. We might adjust this in future based on everyone's feedback but it seemed better to not get too dependent on them.
Feel free to leave feedback in the comments or, if you prefer, click through to our main feedback website. Incidentally, the little black tab on the right (labeled 'Feedback') can be used for reporting bugs, submitting new ideas, commenting on features - pretty much anything that doesn't already have a blog post. You can also go there to vote on new features that you'd like to see on Memverse.
John Piper, Philippians, recitation
It often seems like our church culture is losing interest and trust in the Scriptures and in the true Biblical God. However, against this dark backdrop it is exciting to hear of and meet people who are devoting their time and talent to helping people get to know, trust, love and serve the true Biblical God through His Word. Here is a spot for you to share the resources you have found with the rest of us: Good scripture songs, visual Bibles, Scripture memory websites or computer software, Bible quizzing venues, Marquis Laughlin (or others) dramatically presenting Scripture, unique and creative Scripture memory tools and creative ideas, current Scripture memory challenges, churches/schools/home school groups on fire encouraging, inspiring, and equipping people to memorize Scripture; Biblical dramas, Scripture celebrations and/or quoting sessions, etc. We want to know what's out there and celebrate with you as we together fight Biblical illiteracy in our country to the glory of God.
One of the first blogs to link to Memverse was Ann Voskamp's 'A Holy Experience'. It was a few weeks after Memverse had launched and we definitely weren't ready for the hundreds of people who came pouring in. But many stuck through the bugs and the crashes and the vanishing verses and have since memorized big chunks of the bible. Ann has a way with words and with photos that is an oasis in the frenzy of the web. A few months ago she wrote a blog post on why we should memorize Scripture. This was a quote from her post that has stuck in my head:
[I] know that when men etch Words into cells, orbits shift and when men meet and speak God-words, the demons flee because what else is a double edge sword and who is a warrior who doesn't wield the Word and I know why I bear gaping wounds.
And I know it again, that 'what a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows' and I've got to hide Words in the chambers, to cut down the soul-stalker, pump pulsing Truth through the veins.
I'm repeating Words.
There is also a great list of resources at the end of the post.
A Holy Experience, motivation
We are having endless problems with both the account activation emails and the reminder emails not getting delivered because they are often classified as junk email. To make sure that you get your reminder email, please add 'email@example.com' to your email address book. This should work for most email service providers but if you have a different method of white-listing email domains then you should follow that procedure as well.
Even if you are receiving your reminder emails it would be a big help if you could add our address to your address book as it will improve our email reputation.
If you've found that having the feedback section makes memorizing the verses a little too easy, there is now an option to turn off the feedback once the interval gets past two months. Some of you might have experienced that feature today because we accidentally rolled it out to everyone. (One of our cats reached out his paw and pounded on my keyboard). It should be working properly now. If you would like to turn off the feedback, go to the profile page and uncheck the option next to 'Always Show Feedback'
Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote:
Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization
- Dallas Willard (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7)
Dallas Willard, memorization
In 1519 Luther had his famous 'Tower Experience' in which he discovered the true meaning of righteousness.
Meanwhile in that same year, 1519, I had begun interpreting the Psalms once again. I felt confident that I was now more experienced, since I had dealt in university courses with St. Paul's Letters to the Romans, to the Galatians, and the Letter to the Hebrews. I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: "The justice of God is revealed in it." I hated that word, "justice of God," which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.
But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn't be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, "Isn't it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?" This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 [Romans 1:17] and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.
I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: "The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: 'The just person lives by faith.'" I began to understand that in this verse [Romans 1:17] the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: "The just person lives by faith." All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light. I ran through the Scriptures from memory and found that other terms had analogous meanings, e.g., the work of God, that is, what God works in us; the power of God, by which he makes us powerful; the wisdom of God, by which he makes us wise; the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
I exalted this sweetest word of mine, "the justice of God," with as much love as before I had hated it with hate. This phrase of Paul was for me the very gate of paradise. Afterward I read Augustine's "On the Spirit and the Letter," in which I found what I had not dared hope for. I discovered that he too interpreted "the justice of God" in a similar way, namely, as that with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although Augustine had said it imperfectly and did not explain in detail how God imputes justice to us, still it pleased me that he taught the justice of God by which we are justified.
Notice how when Luther came to understand the Gospel in Romans 1 his insight was bolstered by the fact that he was able to verify his conclusion with the rest of Scripture from memory. He immediately knew that his interpretation agreed with the rest of the Bible.
You will notice a black rectangle on the right side of your web browser labeled 'Feedback'. That's a link to a new tool that we're using to allow people to submit ideas for new features, to ask questions about how to use the website, or to report problems. Since we now have thousands of registered users, it has become harder for us to answer everyone's questions and help new users get started. Our hope is that by creating a repository for new ideas and questions on the usage of the website, it will allow the community to help out (and will allow us to get back to the top of the leaderboard ... just kidding).
If any of you would like to volunteer to help answer the questions that people have, let us know and we can add you as an 'employee'. Either way, I think anyone can jump in and help out.
We'd also love people to propose new ideas for Memverse and to vote on the ideas that other people have submitted as that will help us prioritize what we work on. So just click on the 'Feedback' button on the right and try it out.
Alert users will have noticed the new avatars next to their blog comments. As you can see, we spent less on our default avatars than James Cameron did on his. You, however, face no such restrictions. If you don't like the avatar next to your name, feel free to change it at Gravatar.
Those of you who use an RSS reader can now subscribe to the Memverse blog as we have finally got the RSS feed up and running. That way you don't need to keep checking for new posts. Many of you have asked for a way to track recent comments (rather than clicking through every blog entry every day!) ... we're working on it.