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 'firstname.lastname@example.org' 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.
It's often tricky memorizing which memory verse goes with which part of the Bible. If you find yourself staring at Psalm 119:11 thinking "I know this verse, I just can't remember which verse in which Psalm it is" then you should start making up a story that goes with each verse reference. For instance, when I see Psalm 119:11 I immediately think that the 9 is hidden in all the 1's and that jogs my memory that the verse is about hiding something somewhere.
The more ridiculous the story is, the easier it is to create the association in your head. You'll find that as you start to have more memory verses, it gets harder to keep track of which verse connects with which reference. Creating an association in your head becomes key.
I'd love to hear some of the associations that people have created. If you use this method for memorizing references, why don't you post your most memorable one in the comments. If you have a different method of memorizing the references, share that with us all too.
Some of you might have received the message from Phil about the campaign to memorize 10 million verses in 2010. To that end, we will be starting to track the total number of memory verses that are classified as 'Memorized' here on Memverse. You will see a new tab under the 'Leaderboards' section called 'One Church' which links to a graph of the daily number of verses that are being learned and that are already memorized, as well as the number of active users on Memverse.
As of today we have 2,672 verses memorized so we have a way to go! The graph is currently updated once a day but I'm hoping to have a counter somewhere on the website that will be updated continuously. Either way, I think it is a great goal for us all to work towards. If you're thinking of a goal for yourself, definitely set your sights high!
Churches and Groups
Ten Million Challenge
Phew! The transition to the new server is complete and it looks as though everything is working. We'll be tweaking the configuration over the next few weeks so you might notice the occasional blip. This is a very exciting development as we now have capacity to expand throughout 2010 and beyond.
Some of you might have noticed that the number of error messages was growing quite quickly as the database expanded and more users joined. Hopefully, this transition will put those days behind us. In the past, we were sharing space on a single server with many other websites. This resulted in very unreliable performance. Even worse, though, was that our hosting company would frequently bump users off the server in mid-memory verse to free up capacity.
We now have our own dedicated space with room to expand and we're hoping that Memverse will be a lot more reliable. Thanks again to those of you who have generously supported this transition.
I realize that the raison d'etre for Memverse was (in part) the elimination of Bible flash cards. However, so many of you have asked to be able to print your memory verses that I have finally relented. You will now find a link to a PDF of all your memory verses at the end of the list on the 'My Verses' page. The current layout is not final but it will suffice for now.
Those of you who have been memorizing scripture for a while know that one of the challenges is committing the reference to memory. In the past, the Reference Recall section would pick 10 random verses from your 50 most difficult verses for you to review. That system didn't work very well because some verses are difficult to memorize but the reference is easy and vice versa.
The new system will associate a testing interval (Ref Int) and a next test date (Ref Test) with each of your memory verse references. If you're one of the people memorizing passages of scripture, you'll only review the first verse of each section. We encourage you to make it a habit to run through the reference recall test as often as possible. At some point we will be incorporating it into the main memorization section of the website so the sooner you start, the less you will have to review when that first happens.