Planted By The Waters
A few weeks ago we went to the park with my family, and one of my cousins pointed this tree out to me. At the time I just thought it was a pretty cool tree, and so I took a few pictures of it. But a few nights later the Lord began to minister to me and show me the spiritual principles to be learned here.
Just like this tree, "the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is" shall be as a tree "planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7, 8) Because Christians have a constant supply of spiritual nourishment, we should be able to bring forth fruit in our lives continually. When hardships fill our life, and at times when anybody else would throw in the towel, we can continue to press on.
While everybody else is looking for the meaning of life in sinful things, we have found our own little oasis from which we may drink continually: God's Word. Whether we are in Sunday morning church service, or in the super market picking up a few groceries, we can receive what we need from God through the Word we have hidden in our heart. Just like this tree, those who have memorized the Scriptures can constantly be drawing strength and nourishment from it. While the world around us perishes with thirst, we can not only survive, but we can thrive!
*Photo Copyright 2010
New Memverse Progression System
Today we introduced a first version of a new progression system on Memverse. It's intended to be a very complete Bible memorization program that will last a lifetime. At the moment, as evidenced by those of you who whizzed through the first six levels, it only lasts about a day! We can assure you that it will become more challenging. Our hope is that this will also help new users familiarize themselves with Memverse. It should also provide a sense of achievement for those who don't want to get too caught up in the leaderboards.
You'll notice that we've also revamped the old 'reports' section under the 'Account' tab -- the one that you never visited :) Our hope is that the new Account Dashboard page will be increasingly useful in the future.
A bit more about the Memverse Memorization Plan:
- It will encourage users to explore all aspects of Bible memorization and will require you to memorize longer passages and verses from all over the Bible. We've tried to not make it too restrictive but your feedback is welcome.
- We highly recommend completing at least the first ten levels as you'll get to explore all the major areas of the website. Many of the frequently asked questions will be answered in the reading in the first few levels.
- It will enable you to proceed at whatever pace you desire. No more frantically adding verses to keep up with the power memorizers on the the leaderboards ;)
- You will have to encourage friends of yours to join you in Memorizing the Bible. Those of you who have already reached level 6 will notice that you need to refer one person to Memverse. We'll soon add a page where people can designate you as the person who referred you. We also have plans for a fun new leaderboard where you'll get to add all the verses of the people you recruit and even the ones they recruit. See Ponzi for details.
- We will continually add levels to make sure that you never run out of things to do. It takes quite a while to add all the goals but we'll hopefully add a few new ones each week. Expect them to get quite a lot tougher as time goes by.
- We promise you that at some point in the future there will be games incorporating the verses you've memorized. If you have some great ideas, or would like to volunteer to write one, we'd be thrilled to hear from you.
- If you want to get a headstart: make sure you tag about 20% of your verses and keep telling others in your churches to join. And keep working on that accuracy test :)
Remember that participation is optional. If you'd prefer to stick with your own memorization plan, you won't lose out at all.
- We will never profit from selling your information.
- We will never intentionally give away your information for free.
- We will make a stout effort to ensure that your information is never stolen but we can't guarantee that. We use fairly standard tools for everything and have similar security to many websites. That said, we're not a bank and if an army of hackers attacks us, there's a chance your email address will be stolen by scoundrels.
Getting to Know You: Favorite Part of Memverse
We just sent out our 3rd newsletter with an emphases of inviting people who have tried memverse in the past to consider continuing to use it in the future. I got curious. What about the people already hooked on memverse. What in particular do you like most about memverse? I think my favorite part is all the inspiration and encouragement for churches and other groups to memorize together. (The group I would most like to see popping up on the leaderboard is Christian colleges.) A related close 2nd would be the instant encouragement and inspiration I get seeing friends and strangers memorize Scripture on "Recently on Memverse" What about you?
getting to know you
Redeeming The Time
Those of you who have been memorizing for more than a little while know that taking time out of each day to concentrate completely and totally on God's Word is not always easy. With our hectic lives and busy schedules, it's easy to allow the cares of this world to steal from us the time that rightfully belongs to the Lord. What we're doing with our time (talking on the telephone, surfing the web, etc.) may not be inherently sinful, but if it keeps us out of the Word, then we need to reevaluate our priorities.
To be thoroughly transparent, I have been going through one of those "dry times" in which memorizing Scripture comes difficult to me and, with hundreds of memverse users out there, I'm confident that I am not alone. The verses just don't seem to be sticking in my memory, and finding the time - or perhaps making the time - seems more difficult than ever. No doubt the Word of God has not changed: I'm still memorizing from the same Book that imparted to me indescribable joy and peace just a few weeks ago. Surely, if I it brought me such joy then, it can bring me that same joy again today.
So what do we do then? Do we just stick to our routine and hope that things work out by themselves? Well, I guess that's an option; but I believe the answer to this problem is to simply rediscover the joy of memorizing Scripture. Think back for a moment of time to the day when you committed your very first Bible verse, or perhaps an entire chapter, to memory. Do you remember the joy that flooded your soul as you began to uncover the hidden treasures found in God's Word? If so, know that the same joy you had then can be found in the same place you discovered it in the first place: the Scriptures.
Perhaps you have never felt this way. Maybe you've been memorizing for months, or even years, and you're still going strong. If that's the case, congratulations! But let me encourage you to bookmark this page, because you'll likely need it at some point in the future.
What's your story? Have you ever been, or are you now, discouraged in your memorization? How did you overcome that discouragement? We'd love to hear, and be encouraged by, your testimony!
Of Tags, Translation and Gender
There are two new settings on the profile page: you can now specify your gender so that we no longer have to refer to you with the genderless pronoun "their". Instead of seeing "Mary has memorized their 100th verse" you will now see "Mary has memorized her 100th verse".
Second, you can now pick your preferred translation. Currently, the only effect this will have is that the tag cloud (now looking a little more cloudy) will show verses in your preferred translation (if they are available in the system). In other words, if someone using the King James Version has tagged Genesis 1:1 with the "Creation" tag, you will see the verse in the NIV version (if that is your preferred translation) even if no one has tagged the NIV version of the verse. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but it should make the tag cloud a lot more useful when searching for verses based on a theme. So keep on tagging verses because it's a great way to give back to the community and remember to recycle tags when you can.
profile, tag cloud
Dashes in Verses
When a verse has more than one user it goes through the verification process and we convert all the double dashes ("--") and dashes without spaces around them to (" - "). If you are entering verses, please enter them that way as it will save us time on the verification side. More importantly, the feedback section of the website doesn't handle double dashes correctly. It will also interpret a dash without spaces around it as a hyphen.
So for instance, Ephesians 2:8 should be entered as:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God —
and not as:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
Tag Your Memory Verses
By popular demand we have released a beta version of tagging functionality. This means that you can now start to tag and categorize your memory verses to your heart's content.
How Tagging Works on Memverse
Everyone is able to tag their own memory verses with whatever tags they would like. Our hope is that popular tags will eventually be reflected across Memverse and will be useful for everyone, including those who couldn't be bothered to tag their own verses. Additionally, there will be Memverse tags which will be controlled by us and will eventually feed into the solo progression goals which we are working on. There is a good chance that we will be guided in our selection of those tags by what emerges from the group consensus.
To tag a verse, click on the reference in the 'My Verses' list of verses. This is currently the only way to access the tagging function but over time we will propogate it to other areas of the website. Feel free to use whatever tags you want but please try to put some thought into it and stick with broad thematic tags e.g. Redemption, Salvation, Fruit of the Spirit, etc. as those tend to be the most useful.
tags, tagging, new feature
Memory Verses from the Minor Prophets
If you're like me, there's a good chance you don't frequently delve into the minor prophets. And you might not know that the most popular memory verse in Zephaniah is 3:17
The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
As it turns out, and not doubt this is a sign of the tough economic times in which the world finds itself, the most popular memory verse in Habakkuk is also 3:17
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Perhaps we are all learning a collective lesson about where our focus should be. For as Haggai said in 1:5 to Zerubbabel:
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
We will shortly be linking to a new page where you can search for the most popular memory verse by book of the bible. Just type in a book name and Memverse will retrieve the ten most popular verses. It still needs some work but you can preview it for now. We're hoping that this will inspire people to memorize some of the lesser known passages of Scripture.
Add Entire Chapters
We have finally released one of the most requested features: the ability to add entire chapters. Whenever you enter a verse, Memverse will now check whether the entire chapter is in the database and will give you the option to add it all at once.
We definitely recommend using this with caution. It can be very useful when you're adding chapters that you've already memorized. But if you're starting from scratch on a lengthy chapter, you will probably have more success if you take it a verse or two at a time and only add new verses as you memorize the prior ones.
Getting Started: Deleting Verses
If you would like to remove one or more verses from your list of memory verses, simply go to the "My Verses" page (under the 'Home' tab) and check the box(es) next to the verse(s) you would like to remove. At the bottom of the page, click the "Delete Selected" button to finish.
If you're getting started on memorizing scripture, don't underestimate the importance of keeping the list of verses you're working on manageable. Look at your time required and try to keep it realistic. In fact, if you're starting out, we recommend aiming for 5-10 mins per day. Yes, there are many times when memorizing the bible adds a spring to your step and you will get to the end of your list of verses and think "I wish there were more to do, let me add another 20 verses." But like any pursuit in life, there will be days (maybe even weeks) when you might not hear a choir of heavenly angels singing as you joyfully memorize your verses.
If you find that you have a day with only a few verses to review, rather take the extra time to explore some of the other areas of Memverse. Work on the reference recall section. Take the accuracy test. Read through the list of popular verses. Maybe just sit down and read the sections around your favorite memory verses (Gal 5:19-21, for instance).
We have seen many people drop out shortly after adding too many verses. If you feel as though you're falling behind, consider deleting a few verses and re-adding them later.
Finally, it's always a good idea to stop adding verses in advance of a crunch time. If you know that you're going on a long vacation, or exams are looming, or you're about to have a baby, stop adding verses about a month in advance. This will give you time to consolidate the memory verses you're working on and will enable you to stick to your routine throughout those busy periods. I failed to take my own advice before having our first baby. In fact, I took the opposite approach and actually increased my time allocation in the few months before. Despite my best intentions I've missed a few days here and there and I now find myself logging in with 120 verses due for review!
Remember, lots of small steps taken with purpose over a lifetime will get you to your destination.
getting started, deleting verses
Variations in Bible Translations
We are alive and well if somewhat tired. (Even the cats are tired!)
We have started to realize that there are slight discrepancies in the various Bible translations. Apparently given translations made slight changes over the years as they published new editions. So, for instance, early NIV translations contain slight differences to the later NIV translations.
Believe us when we say that this disturbs our sense of order in the world but for now we are going to have to pick an arbitrary reference as our gold standard. Many people have reported errors in verses which, as far as we can tell, are in accordance with the translations on Bible Gateway and YouVersion. (We realize that there are occasionally very obvious errors in the translations on both of those website and we do our best to report them when we discover them.) While we realize that everyone would like to memorize verses as they appear in their Bible, it is currently beyond our capabilities to provide support for different publication dates of the same translation.
For now, though, if you think you have found an error in a verse which is currently flagged as 'Verified', please first check it against both Bible Gateway and YouVersion. If you still believe that there is an error, please let us know through the feedback forum either via the "Feedback" tab on all pages or at http://getsatisfaction.com/Memverse and describe the error. If a verse that you have reported as having an error is re-classified as 'Verified' without any change being made, it is because it matches what is shown on Bible Gateway.
Apologies to everyone for falling behind on verifying the verses but we didn't want to add to the confusion without an explanation. And thanks again to everyone for using the official Memverse Error Reporting Method.
New Scripture Memory program and support group
John Brand, who is Principal of the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh, Scotland, is starting a new Scripture memory program and support group called 119v7. As you may have guessed it is based on PSALM 119:7 I will priase you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. Starting June 1st the group will memorize long passages of the Bible at the pace of 1 verse per day. We would love for you to join us. John will also provide support in sharing meditations on the verses we memorize and has set up a website so that blogging and sharing thoughts about the Scripture and the memorizing experience can be maximized. You are welcome to join us now at www.119v7.com and start preparing for the first Scripture, or you can wait until June 1st to see what passage is chosen. I praise God for calling John to initiate this and look forward to being an active part of this community of Scripture enthusiasts all memorizing and meditating and encouraging each other on the same Scripture.
Changes to Memory Verse Reference Recall
We've made some changes to the reference recall section. Similar to the accuracy test, you will now have a running score for the reference recall. Every set of ten questions will give you a score out of 100. Each question is worth ten points and currently you get ten points if you remember the reference perfectly, and 5 points if you get the book and the chapter but can't remember the exact verse.
In the past we've recommended that you run through the reference recall section once or twice a day. I confess that I'm often quite lazy on doing my reference recalls and it always catches up to me because I can't pair the reference and the text. My goal is to keep my reference recall score around 80% or so because I know that will help me with the main memorization section.
For those of you who like math and care about such minutiae, the running score will be calculated as 25% of the most recent test and 75% of all the previous tests.
As always, questions and comments welcome.
The National Bible Bee
Memverse is my favorite Scripture memory website (easily beating out my own currently mostly dead, but hope to revive someday www.scripture-memory-support.org ) I would like to share with you my favorite Scripture memory event, the National Bible Bee, now in its 2nd year. The National Bible Bee is a contest for 7-18 year olds with a local competition in different sites around the country on August 28th (there is still time for your group to host a local competition) and then a National Finals in Chicago, IL for the top 300 contestants, and then outlandish cash prizes from $5,000 to $100,000 for the top 9 finishers. It is also simply a wonderful Scripture memory resourse for all ages who want help memorizing up to 800 key verses in the KJV, NKJ, NIV, ESV, or NASB.
I am completely sold on the benefit of the National Bible Bee to inspire, encourage, and equip thousands of people to get to know the Living God better and better through His Word, and Lord willing, as a tool God uses to lead towards a much needed revival of Spiritual/Scriptural truth in our churches and "Christian" culture. Last year I ran 5 unofficial Bible Bee Scripture memory camps (NY, PA, OH, MO, FL) and this summer will be sent around the country by headquarters to run official Bible Bee camps from June 6th - August 6th. (If you hear of a camp coming to your area, I would love to meet any Memverse Scripture enthusiasts on my travels, even if you are not involved with the Bible Bee)
I am obviously biased, but I believe that every single 7-18 year old in the USA should sign up for and get involved with the Bible Bee. I don't think everyone should feel obligated or be pushed by parents/teachers/etc. to try to win the Bible Bee. There could be a lot of reasons not to try to win the Bible Bee this summer, but I believe all who sign up, receive the verse list and all the helpful support to memorize Scripture will benefit greatly from being a part of the National Bible Bee. Maybe a low key "introduction year" this summer may lead your 7-18 year old to be self motivated to memorize as much as they possibly can next summer.
I also believe every church, Christian home school group and Christian school should host a local Bible Bee (or connect with another church/school in their area who is hosting) to spur Scripture memory among your people and as a wonderful, God-honoring, eternally and temporal fruitful outreach ministry to your community.
You can check out more about the National Bible Bee or contact headquarters through www.biblebee.org If you have any questions or thoughts about the Bible Bee, you can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or through this blog.
In Christ, Phil Walker
PS If you are interested in starting Scripture memory initiatives in other countries, I would also love to hear from you.