Category Archives: spiritual disciplines

“There’s a Psalm for That”

In our highly technological age, we often assume that any problem can be tackled with a computer program, mobile app, or invention.  And we certainly have seen a number of needs addressed.  I use my phone on a daily basis for easy access to an alarm clock, camera, calendar, and, oh, yes, a telephone (but there are also apps that will let me use it as a level with a virtual bubble, print wirelessly, play games, watch videos, listen to my music collection, check my bank account, etc.).  For so many things that a person would like to do…. “There’s an App for That” ™ (literally ™ – Trademarked by Apple in 2010, but my phone happens to be Android, for what it’s worth).

In our highly technological age, we often forget to interact with a resource that deals with virtually any spiritual problem with struggle with.  And we certainly have a number of them.  Confusion, depression, anxiety, and fear, as well as thankfulness, joy, and celebration are all dealt with in this resource.  For so many things that we as sinners struggle with…  Yes, it’s in the Bible.  But even more specifically, there is one book that is especially suited to the whole range of human emotions.  Whatever your situation, however you feel…. “There’s a Psalm for That” (and yes, I realize others have thought of this adaptation of the catchphrase).

In many ways, the book of Psalms is the “app store” of the Bible, a place you can go and search for God-inspired material about what you are going through.  You can tell by the New Testament “ratings” (69 quotations versus 51 for the next most quoted Old Testament book, Isaiah, out of 263 total citations), which include use by Jesus and the apostles, that the Psalms ought to be used by Christians (not that we shouldn’t use the rest of the Old Testament and the Bible!).

Feeling far from God but looking for hope?  Check out Psalms 42 & 43.  Struggling with fear?  Psalm 27.  Expressing thanks?  Psalm 106 and 107.  Got contentment?  Psalm 23.  Oppressed by enemies?  Psalm 55.  Want to praise the Lord with music?  Psalm 150.  Facing a crisis where it feels like your world is falling apart?  Psalm 46 (God is our refuge and strength – a very present help in trouble, even though the earth be removed and the mountains quake!).  This is not an exhaustive list.  There are 150 Psalms that cover the whole range of human emotions – yours to download, peruse, pray, sing, read, apply – no credit card information required.

With this being said, it would not be fair to characterize the Psalms as band-aids or quick fixes for our problems.  But sometimes the Psalm is the medicine for the situation (and we may have to take it multiple doses!).  Other times, the psalm helps us to trust the Great Physician for His wisdom and timing in placing us in that situation or helps us to wait on Him to remove the problem in His appointed way and time.

In the preface to his commentary on the Psalms, John Calvin wrote (and this quote is worth citing and reading in full):

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us. But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particulars in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and of the many vices with which we abound, may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in The Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, will be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine. Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God. It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book. And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds.

Struggling with something in your life?  Feel far from God?  Need to rejoice?  There’s a Psalm for that.

Studying and Preaching the Bible in the Digital Age (Part 2 of 4): Resources for Spiritual Disciplines

Bible Digital AgeThis is part 2 of a 4 part series. Part 1 is here.

Here are some recommended resources for help practicing the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, Bible memorization, prayer, and journaling.  The idea of the list is to share resources that you can selectively use (not to make you think you have to use all of these).

All apps and programs are free unless otherwise noted.  All apps have access to multiple translations unless otherwise noted.

Multi-Purpose

e-sword (PC version has tools for Scripture memory and prayer lists as well as Bible reading; only select translations are free)

Bible Reading
The Bible App by YouVersion  web   Android   iOS
Olive Tree Bible Reader   Android   iOS   (KJV free, pay for other versions)

Bible Memorization
Bible Minded lets you choose verses to memorize whereas the other two have pre-selected lists.

Bible Minded (ABS)   Android  iOS
Topical Memory System Android   iOS
Fighter Verses   Android ($2.99)   iOS ($.2.99)  (ESV & NIV)

Prayer & Journaling
The following are apps that can be used to keep track of prayer lists and to journal on the computer (or to store pictures of written journals or other files)

Prayermate    Android   iOS

Evernote    web   Android  iOS  (file storage, sync & share & more)
Google Drive    web  Android  iOS  (file storage, sync & share & more)
Penzu  web   Android  iOS (basic is free, but there are paid upgrades available)

Coming Up…

Next week we hope to look at resources useful for intensive Bible study.  If you have any, please send them to us via the contact form below.  (These lists can be updated in the future after they are published as well.)

[contact-form]

Praying for Eight Things Pastors Need from the Holy Spirit

In C. H. Spurgeon’s book on pastoral ministry, Lectures to My Students, he talks about eight ways pastors need the help of the Holy Spirit. Several of these apply specially to preaching, but there is much application for ministry in general as well. After reading this list, I am reminded that we are utterly helpless if we do not have the help of the Holy Spirit, and any ministry will be powerless if not empowered by Him. I have summarized and adapted these below as an encouragement to believers in Christ to pray these things for your pastor, or if you are a pastor, for yourself and fellow ministers of the Word. Pray for the Holy Spirit to grant:

1. knowledge – that God would illuminate his study of the Word, particularly showing him the things of Christ.

2. wisdom – particularly, how to use knowledge rightly and communicate it appropriately to various types of people.

3. freedom of utterance – a boldness of speech that clearly and appropriately communicates the truth in the choice of words and emotional expression, and is also free from that which would distort, dishonor, or distract from the message.

4. an anointing on the entire delivery during his preaching– so that not only in his speaking, but in his body language, eye contact, demeanor, and consciousness, the Spirit would specially rest upon him and use him.

5. the actual effect of the gospel – that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of hearers, producing the lasting change that comes from the work of God in hearts, instead of apathy to the message or manufactured or manipulated responses that are not genuine.

6. a spirit of supplications – that the pastor would continually rely on God in prayer, daily, as well as in the midst of his ministering, including while preaching.

7. a spirit of holiness – that the pastor will be set apart from the world, kept clean from that which is impure and defiling, and living a life in public and private that is worthy of the gospel.

8. a spirit of discernment – that God would help the pastor to know how to deal with a variety of people, including those who are difficult, and that he would make the best choices in using his time, being able to see, value, and choose what is best for a given situation.

From volume 2 of Lectures to My Students, “The Holy Spirit in Connection with Our Ministry” (free eBook from Google; this chapter begins on page 15)

Fall Class on Spiritual Disciplines in Bristol, Virginia

We are praying and discussing the possibility of offering a class on the spiritual disciplines (using Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life as a text) this Fall in Bristol, Virginia at Fellowship Chapel with a few of us team teaching it (Doug, plus some of the pastors at Fellowship).  It will likely be from September to November, six double sessions that meet every week or two (probably 7-9 p.m. on a Thursday night).  Let me know if you may be interested (unless you have already let me know – about 9people have so far).  You may contact us by clicking here.

Some of the topics to be covered include:

* Bible intake: reading, meditating, memorizing

* Prayer, including praying Scripture

* Fasting

* Family Worship

* Journaling

Introducing the Spiritual Disciplines

“…Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7)

WHAT ARE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

 Definition of Spiritual Disciplines The word “exercise” in 1 Timothy 4:7 KJV (can also be translated as “discipline”) comes from the Greek word from which we derive gymnasium and gymnastics.  In the ancient world, those who “exercised” in this way removed even their clothing to focus on working out and training without any hindrance.The apostle Paul, in this context, is warning Timothy of false teachers and worthless teachings.  He tells Timothy to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7 KJV).

Just as Timothy was to shun what was unhelpful and harmful, we too must say no to that which is unprofitable and actively exercise ourselves for the purpose of growing in godliness.  We need to practice specific disciplines, or exercises, taught in the Word of God if we are to become more holy and Christlike.

Spiritual disciplines, then, are exercises designed to strengthen one’s spirit and grow one in godliness – things we must actively engage in to see progress.

Biblical spiritual disciplines are exercises designed to strengthen one’s spirit and grow one in godliness that are taught by command or example in the Bible.

Spiritual disciplines

Biblical

Spiritual Disciplines

Bible reading

Yes

Yes

Prayer

Yes

Yes

Fasting

Yes

Yes

Journaling                 Yes

Yes

Labyrinth walking

Yes

Not Biblical

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

TYPES OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES

Spiritual disciplines can be broken down into two further categories:  personal and inter-personalPersonal spiritual disciplines are those we can practice as individuals (individual Bible reading, prayer, fasting, etc.).  Inter-personal spiritual disciplines are those practiced with others (corporate worship, etc.).

 WHY ARE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES IMPORTANT?

I.             They are a means to an end – godliness.

We are to exercise or discipline ourselves “unto” or for the purpose of growing in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).  The disciplines are not ends in themselves, any more than going to the gym, using an exercise machine, or practicing musical scales are ends in themselves – they are a means to a greater goal.

  • “…Exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7).
  • [The ultimate destiny for believers is] “to be conformed to the image of His [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:29).
  • “…with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
  • “Follow [pursue] peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

II.           God expects them to be a part of our lives.

God commands them.  The word “exercise” or “discipline” in 1 Timothy 4:7 is a present active imperative verb, where we are commanded to keep on exercising or disciplining ourselves.

  • “Thou shalt meditate therein” (Joshua 1:8)
  • “Watch and pray” (Mark 13:33).

God assumes them.  Some of God’s commands speak to how to practice the disciplines with the assumption that we are practicing them.

  • “When ye pray…” (Mark 11:24); “When ye fast…” (Matt. 6:16)

III.         Spiritual disciplines have been modeled for us.

Scripture provides authoritative examples.

  • Jesus
    • “…He went up…to pray…” (Matthew 14:23)
    • “…when He had fasted…” (Matthew 4:2) 
  • Paul
    • “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do…” (Phil. 4:9)
    • “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… making request with joy… and this I pray…” (Phil. 1:3-4, 9)

Church history provides encouraging examples.  Through journals and eyewitness testimony, we may learn of many believers blessed by God through their pursuit of Him through the spiritual disciplines.  Examples include:

  • The Puritans
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • George Muller

 IV.         We neglect them to our harm. 

  • spiritual weakness (Mark 14:38)
  • fruitlessness
  • deception?

 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9)

 V.           We benefit greatly when we practice them rightly. 

  • Godliness – we become more like Christ
  • Joy – as we become more like God, we will enjoy communing with Him and serving Him more and more.
  • Usefulness – as we grow in godliness, we are more useful in ministry
  • Freedom – to quote Scripture; to pray spontaneously, etc.

Freedom and discipline have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive, when in fact freedom is not at all the opposite, but the final reward, of discipline. (Elisabeth Elliot)

Spiritual disciplines are a means to an end – getting to know God.  Not about performance, but about pursuing a relationship with Christ.

It is easy to get so distracted with things of no profit (1 Timothy 4:7) but we need to pursue God through the spiritual disciplines for the purpose of godliness!

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.  (1 Timothy 4:8)

HOW ARE WE TO APPROACH THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES?

The right approach to the spiritual disciplines sees them as a means to grow in God’s grace, NOT as a basis for acceptance with God.

I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace – mark that – yet it will be the channel of it. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Let us see the spiritual disciplines as training exercises that will help us become stronger spiritually and more Christlike.  Let us head to the spiritual gym and devote ourselves to the workouts taught in the Bible – to exercise ourselves unto godliness.

Recommended book:  Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Ezra 7:10 – Overview of Sermon Preparation Process

* Click here for a PDF file or click here for a Word document file of this article (4 pages).

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)


We will overview the sermon preparation process, looking at Ezra 7:10.

1. Before doing anything else, we need to read and re-read the text and…

2. pray over the text.

3. Write down some observations on the text itself. Aim for 30.

4. Read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Ezra is the book the text is found in.  Ezra and Nehemiah were not two, but one book in the Jewish arrangement of this portion of the Bible.  This will give you a head start on the historical and literary context of Ezra 7:10.  Note any connections to the content of Ezra 7:10.

Now we are ready to look at the basic study process and sermon preparation based on this text.

———————

HERMENEUTICS (STUDYING THE TEXT)

This process lays the groundwork for the sermon.  Using Daniel Doriani’s method from Getting the Message (which we use as a text book in CAPS classes), we will look at hints for studying Ezra 7:10 in light of its:

C – Context – literary and historical.  What can we learn from the words, sentences, paragraphs, books, etc. around the text and is there anything from history (in or outside Scripture) that sheds light on the meaning and significance of the text?

A – Analysis – How is the passage put together?  What are some important grammatical and content markers?  Can you outline or structure the text visually to show how it functions?

P – Problems – Do you see any difficulties in understanding or communicating the text?  Has the text been misused to teach false doctrine?  Are there translation issues?  Could someone easily misunderstand this text?  Are there wrong assumptions to guard against in interpreting and applying this text?  Are there unfamiliar concepts or words?  Are people overly familiar with this text yet missing its full teaching?

T – Themes – What are the main themes addressed in the passage?  Can you relate them to other key passages in the Bible?  How does this passage specifically and (uniquely?) advance these themes in comparison to the other passages?  What are relevant cross-references?  Are there word studies that help you understand the themes of this passage (that also do justice to the interpretation of the text in context)?

O – Obligations – What does the text require people to believe, do, or avoid?  Does the application look significantly different for us versus what was required for the original audience?  What is the principle to be obeyed and how can it be obeyed today?

R – Reflections (Main Point & Redemptive Thrust) – What is the main point of this text?  How can you boil it down to a single sentence proposition that tells us the primary theme/topic (what the text is talking about) and the thrust (what the text is saying about what it is talking about) – and join the main application with the main theme?  How does the text point to our need of Christ or what Christ has done?

(CAPTOR – acronym helps you remember these phases of study for hermeneutics)

———————

HOMILETICS (PREACHING THE TEXT)

The task now is to take the most important insights from our study of the text and communicate them in a sermon.

  • Take the main point of the text and rephrase it for the sermon – draw the congregation in by making the application clear in the main point of the sermon (we must…/you must…).
  • Craft the homiletical outline and transitional statements, especially between your sermon points.
  • Make sure you have prepared to adequately explain the text and include appropriate illustrations.
  • Craft your introduction and sermon conclusion.  (Frontload application in introduction, bring home in conclusion.  Rule of thumb: land where you took off.)

HERMENEUTICS:  For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)

  • CONTEXT OF EZRA 7:10 – Literary: Books of Ezra/Nehemiah, especially Ezra 7:9 & 8:22.  Historical:  Post-Babylonian captivity, return to the land, Ezra a scribe/priest.
  • ANALYSIS OF EZRA 7:10 – Ezra had prepared his heart to do three things, all related to “the law of the LORD”:  seek, do, and teach.  “For” indicates this is a reason for something else (context indicates “the good hand of God” – 7:9).

For Ezra had prepared his heart

  1. I. To seek the law of the LORD
  2. II. and to do it
  3. III. and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
  • PROBLEMS IN RELATION TO EZRA 7:10 – What is “the law of the LORD”?  “Statutes and judgments”?  The relation of “the law of the LORD” to our concept of Bible & Gospel?  What do we make of the handling of the mixed marriage situation in Ezra-Nehemiah?

  • THEMES IN EZRA 7:10 – God’s Word (Josh 1:8; Ps 1, etc.); obedience/blessing; teaching/preaching (Matt 28:18-20)

  • OBLIGATIONS IN EZRA 7:10 – God’s hand can be on leaders and all other people (8:22) if we devote ourselves to God’s Word (God’s Law… now “all Scripture” 2 Tim 3:16-17) by study, obedience, and teaching.  Devote ourselves to these things – make God’s Word priority #1; Devotion – active – does not happen by accident – not passive, but proactive!  “Bible before breakfast” – say no; schedule; alarm clock, etc.; quiet place; streamline reinforcement (audio Bible on drive, etc.).

This order is important:  to teach we need to be models of obedience, to obey we need to know what Word teaches, etc. and must have a devotion to God to do all of these!

Study – set aside time & routine; read, meditate, ask questions of Bible; learn how to use study tools properly; Obedience – do what we understand God’s Word to require, even if inconvenient or hard; Teach – share with others what God’s Word teaches (evangelism, family worship, parenting, Sunday School, preaching, etc., etc.)

  • REFLECTING ON THE MAIN POINT & REDEMPTIVE THRUST OF EZRA 7:10

Main Point – Ezra experienced the blessing of God because he was devoted to the Word of God; Redemptive Thrust – our fallen condition of ignoring or misusing the Word/fear of sharing it & Christ’s (the incarnate Word) perfect example of knowing, doing, and teaching God’s Word – God’s Word points to Him and brings us to faith.  Do these things on the basis of the Gospel — Romans 12:1-2  (this devotion to God’s Word is not moralistic but a response to the great salvation He has accomplished for us).

———————

HOMILETICS: For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)

  • MAIN POINT – God’s blessing rests on those who devote themselves to His Word (study, obey, teach).  à  In order to enjoy the blessing of God on our lives, we must devote ourselves to the Word of God.
  • HOMILETICAL OUTLINE & TRANSITIONS –

To enjoy God’s blessing, we must devote ourselves to

1. Study God’s Word (DILIGENTLY SEEK OUT ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR LIVING)

TRANSITION:  “To enjoy God’s blessing, we not only need to devote ourselves to studying God’s Word, but also to obeying God’s Word.  We need to obey God’s Word to enjoy His blessing.  Notice that the text said that Ezra ‘prepared his heart…to do it,’ that is, to practice, obey, or perform what he saw in his study of God’s law….”

2. Obey God’s Word (DO WHAT IT REQUIRES)

TRANSITION:  “We need to obey God’s Word.  But devotion to God’s Word does not stop with study and obedience.  We also need to teach God’s Word.  Notice that the Bible says Ezra ‘prepared his heart…to teach.’”

3Share God’s Word (TELL OTHERS WHAT IT REQUIRES)

  • ILLUSTRATIONS – Biblical illustrations (obedience to God’s Word in Ezra-Nehemiah – handling the intermarriage situations, festivals; teaching – Neh. 8); illustrations from word studies; how you know what someone is devoted to or if someone is devoted to something (their tools/equipment; their schedule; their activities; their performance; their conversation); what/who a preacher is devoted to (who he quotes, models his ministry after, listens to etc. etc.); qualities of a good teacher; qualities of a bad teacher (illustrating by contrast)
  • INTRODUCTION – get attention, raise need, hint at application, orient to text, give context;

Text is about qualities of a person blessed by God & their devotion to His Word – about a teacher who is favored.  An introduction might talk about how you know if someone is devoted to something (see in illustrations above).  Another approach might be to talk about the opposite of Ezra – qualities of a bad teacher (we can all think of real life examples).  This illustration would also function throughout the sermon as a foil to compare what we should be against the alternative.

Introduce text, theme, context — People were coming back from Babylon, where they had landed because they refused to devote themselves to know and obey God’s Word – were now returning – how to enjoy God’s blessing?

Ezra’s example:  Ezra a leader – but this applies to all of God’s people (8:22).

Introduce proposition before transitioning to body:  If we want God’s hand of blessing, we must devote ourselves to His Word.

  • CONCLUSION – Land where you took off. For example, recap qualities of a bad teacher and qualities of a good teacher, the things we must be devoted to according to Ezra 7:10.

Growth in godliness and usefulness in ministry (as leaders or church members) are evidence that God’s blessing is upon our lives.  This blessing comes via our devotion to seek out, obey, and teach God’s Word.  Does your life give evidence of God’s blessing?  Devote yourself to these things.  You will please God.  You will enjoy God.  You will point others to God.  In other words, if you commit yourself to these, you will enjoy His blessing.

———————

After you do your Bible study and steps to prepare your sermon, finish up by completing the outline or manuscript you will take to the pulpit or use from memory.  Put the intro and conclusions in their place and flesh out the outline with the illustrations and other material you wish to include, including integrating the redemptive thrust so that your sermon is preached in the context of the Gospel.  Pray over it and preach the Word!

Bible Reading Plans in 2011

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

To walk with God in 2011, we need to be in His Word daily.  Here are some resources for Bible reading plans:

There are certainly many other Bible reading resources and many ways to read the Bible… going through the books in order, reading selections for each testament, reading one book at a time in any order, using a One Year Bible (with selections portioned out for each day), combining reading it with listening to a recording of it being read, etc.  But the most important thing is to actually READ God’s Word.  However we do it, let us resolve with the help of God to pay even more attention to His Word this year than last and feast upon it in 2011.

Praying Scripture and Sermon Preparation

“One of the best ways to make sure you confront the text personally is to turn it into prayer.  Pray as a sinner needing forgiveness, as a worshiper expressing praise, as a servant accepting the Master’s will, as a pilgrim seeking companionship and guidance, as a disciple asking for truth.”

Warren W. Wiersbe, Preaching and Teaching with Imagination, page 212

You can learn more about praying Scripture here:

Dr. Don Whitney on Praying Scripture

Memorizing Scripture – Some Reasons & Tools to Help

Pastor John Piper lists six reasons we should memorize Scripture (click here to read the entire article):

1. Conformity to Christ
2. Daily Triumph over Sin
3. Daily Triumph over Satan
4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and His Ways

Here are some resources on how to memorize Scripture:

  • Piper on his method
    Go to the 1:00 minute mark to hear see/hear him recite the entire book of Philippians from memory, until 18:35.
    [vimeo http://vimeo.com/50687239]
  • Pastor Andy Davis on “An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture” (pdf file)
  • I would also suggest forming a group or at least getting one other individual to memorize a particular passage or set of verses and hold each other accountable and encourage each other in this discipline.

Here are some electronic tools that are handy aids for memorizing:

  • e-Sword (free Bible software that includes an excellent Bible memory feature with multiple quizzing methods to really help memorize quickly and in an interesting way)

  • Bible Minded (ABS)   Android  iOS
  • Topical Memory System Android   iOS
  • Fighter Verses   Android ($2.99)   iOS ($.2.99)  (ESV & NIV)
  • CueCard (free windows-based computer program, creates flashcards which may include image, text, sound)
  • Flash (free mac-based computer flashcard program)
  • StudyDroid (free Android mobile phone and computer flashcard application)
  • Learn! (free Android mobile phone flashcard application, creates with still or video image, text, sound)

If you just set aside time to memorize one verse a day (and review them in the days ahead), you could memorize the whole book of Philippians in four months or less. Chapter 1 – 30 verses; Chapter 2 – 30 verses; Chapter 3 – 21 verses; Chapter 4 – 23 verses I am hoping to do this, or the book of James, in the near future. Screenshot:  Access Scripture Memory via the Tools menu in e-Sword  The original version of this post appeared on capsministry.com.

Character Counts, Especially in the Ministry

Last night in our Bristol CAPS class, Pastor Bryan Hall spoke on the need for the preacher to be a man of character and integrity.

I wanted to mention three additional resources to encourage you to pursue godliness in your personal life:

1. Dr. Don Whitney has written a great article entitled “The Sinkhole Syndrome” -great material for the kind of regular spiritual check-ups we should engage in.

A couple of quotes:

I’m sure you’re already familiar with many factors that undermine intimacy with Christ. Realize that it’s almost certain that the ‘time-thieves’ trying to steal from your time with God will only increase as the years pass. My hope is that this article will alert you to this subtle, creeping tendency so that it won’t overtake you.

Resolve never to let your daily life keep you from Jesus daily.

2. Messages from the 2010 Bancroft Leadership Conference on Integrity in the Ministry (free downloads, messages by Dr. Peter Youmans)

3. Warren Wiersbe’s book, The Integrity Crisis (required reading for the CAPS diploma program)

* Note: if you are presently in the CAPS class and are a member of my local church and do not have a copy, please let me know.