Memorizing the Bible: A Simple Scriptural Challenge

In 2002, I attended a Christian Conference while I was in college. The speaker of that event strongly emphasized the need for scripture memory. The students like myself in that room did not want another chore on our busy college plates. Plus, no one likes more legalism. Anticipating these responses, the speaker had a very fair challenge to the room of about 1,000 students. First, he asked every student to stand up. Next, he asked students to remain standing if only they could quote as many scriptures from memory as their age. In other words, if the average college student was 21 years old, they should have 21 verses memorized. After giving his second requirement only about ten students out of 1,000 remained standing. In full transparency, I was one of the 990 students who sat down. Doing so, I knew there was no reason why I should be sitting because committing one Bible verse to memory each year is not difficult.

So, let’s be honest for a minute. Why do we struggle to memorize a minimum of one scripture verse a year? This suggestion is not a harsh approach; rather, one scripture verse a year is more gracious than legalistic. Factoring in that we could count John 11:35, which says, “Jesus wept,” it’s an attainable goal. So, why do we struggle to memorize scripture? We may not know how, but an answer we should wrestle with is that we are lazy.

Lazy is a harsh term, but notice I included myself in this critique. I too could memorize more scripture than I do. Plus, if we focus on doing just one verse a year, then lazy is probably an accurate definition, even if it is a strong term. Furthermore, lazy is the opposite of self-control, which is the final Fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Still, since we should want to practice good spiritual discipline related to scripture memory, it would help to have a few practical suggestions too. Continue reading “Memorizing the Bible: A Simple Scriptural Challenge”

Recommended Devotional Guides

page45_picture0_slide_1312245123Recently I wrote an article encouraging you that there is always time to have a personal devotional. All it takes is a little planning and knowing what options are available. One of my suggestions included the use of a personal devotional guide. As a result, today I want to suggest to you some great devotional books. These suggestions are based a variety of reasons, which I’ll explain with each recommendation.

  1. New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp. This suggestion is the newest one to be published. It makes the list because of Tripp’s emphasis on grace each day. Recently, it has been my conviction that Christians need to be reminded of grace on a continual basis. Also, we need to remember how grace influences our lives beyond salvation. Grace should create a peaceful, hopeful, and positive change within us. This devotional accomplishes this because it is Christ-centered than one based on our interests.
  1. My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Many may already be familiar with this devotional because it is a classic. It’s strength is due to Chamber’s own reflections about how God works despite our circumstances. Chambers himself went through years of spiritual dryness, which is reflected in this devotional. So if you feel distant from God or confused then My Utmost For His Highest will provide some clarity. The best part of this devotional is that it comes in a variety of formats. There are journal based editions, old English editions, contemporary English editions, and more.

Continue reading “Recommended Devotional Guides”

Journaling: “Don’t Just Think It, Ink It!”

Unknown“Don’t just think it, ink it.”

This motivational quote can guide us in an important part of our spiritual journey, which is journaling.

As with anything there are many different ways to journal and in this article I want to share with you one of the two ways I journal. The first method will be shared today and the second method will be shared in the next post.

Also, know that while I may use two different methods, this does not mean that each person must use two methods. In fact, some people I know have difficulty using one journaling method. To be truthful, there are times I struggle with it. So I share these two methods with the hope that will inspire you. If not, then please feel free to share or modify either method in a way that enables you to grow in your faith.

Method #1: List Method and Some Narrative Writing

Often when someone thinks about journaling they picture someone writing a long narrative of something on their mind. The event could be reflections from their day, struggles they are facing, or anything else This technique is beneficial and I do use it from time to time, but it’s not how I primarily journal.

Rather, I list things out regarding a particular subject. If I feel I know enough about the topic I may even create an outline. Otherwise, I just list out words related to the subheading and date I’ve made in my journal. Then if I use the right words in my list I can refer back to it later and remember the gist of what I was thinking. If I feel more detail is needed, then I use the narrative technique mentioned earlier.

As a result, this process has allowed me to actively journal in a digestible way. This short natured approach encourages me to journal more as I don’t have to commit large chunks of time to writing. Instead, I’m free to write, as I desire. If more detail is needed, the option remains.

Final Thoughts

images-1Sometimes I’m asked, “Do you think pen and paper or technology is best for journaling?” My answer is, “Use what works best for you.” Since I believe in the power of journaling I’m not going to be strict either way.

That said, for this method I do use my smartphone than pen and paper. This is because with my active mind, a thought could come at any point and I want to jot them down ASAP. So I use my phone’s note taking feature because it’s the simplest. It’s also the most accessible for when those quick thoughts happen.

Again, if something I say inspires you and can be modified to fit you better, please change the method. The purpose is that you are journaling than not.

7 & Ways to End Isolation and Loneliness: Part 2

Connection

Today I want to close the post I began on Wednesday on how to end isolation and loneliness. If you did not get the chance to read the first part of this two-part blog post then feel free to read the post before reading the tips below. In my earlier post I mentioned that I believe connecting with others is important. This is because when we know how to connect with others we can also share Christ with those we love and meet. Learning how to connect with others also helps us diminish our loneliness and isolation, which can result in great sadness. Therefore, with these outcomes possible I want to give you my last tips.

5. Continue to Ask Questions

In my last post, I mentioned an interpersonal relationship skill I learned from my Father-in-law. Another tactic I believe he uses is that he asks questions about the others. For years, I have noticed that he attempts to connect with people by showing a genuine interest in them. As a result, when people know he cares they open up and have long conversations with him. They even love answering questions about themselves and when they do my Father-in-law is able to connect with them in multiple ways because he knows more about them. The more he knows the better he is able to connect with them because he is continually learning about them. Over time, he impresses me with how many people love to approach him simply because he connected with them by showing interest in them.

6. You Will Not Always Connect

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Batman Begins when Thomas Wayne tells his son Bruce Wayne, “Why do we learn to fall? So that we can pick ourselves back up.” Face it, you and I are going to fail and its alright. No one is perfect in anything and connecting with people is no different. So, go ahead and admit that you will fail at times, but rejoice when you do succeed. In fact, the only way you are going to get better at connecting with others for the future, is to practice in the present. Remember when we fail its a great opportunity to learn from out mistakes so we can better succeed in the future. You are going to fail and it is all right.

7. Connecting Improves Our Faith

Practically, my advice is to help you reduce any loneliness you may face. Spiritually, this post can also help you become a better evangelist. Often Christians will tell me they don’t know whom they can share Christ with and my response is “THE WORLD!” Christ tells us in Matthew 28:19 that each person who claims Him as Lord and Savior is to

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”

His command is not optional, but I believe Christians often fail to share Christ with anyone because we do not know how to connect with strangers, or even loved ones. Connecting with people is not difficult and I think we make it tougher than needed. Therefore, let me urge you to use these tips to improve your social skills and any loneliness you may feel. Also, use these tips to connect with people so that you can share Christ with anyone you meet. Should you not know how to share your faith then inform your pastor that you want to know how to share Christ and I am sure they will train you.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, loneliness is a real issue, but we do not have to remain isolated from the world. We can remedy our loneliness and isolation by applying some simple tips in our lives. The tips may seem scary at first, even if you are an introvert, but over time they will become easier. You will become more successful. Let me urge you to start applying just one tip and grow from there. Remember, the goal is to become connected and sometimes people are waiting on you just as much as you are waiting on them. This is because connection with others has spiritual connections as we share Christ with people. As you share your faith you will feel like you have made a difference in another’s life by making a difference in your own life. Therefore let us embrace these tips so we can feel connected, so we can share our faith, and bless others.

 

Trial and Error, and a New Focus

It has been a while since I have posted on my blog. In fact, it has been over a month. There are a lot of reasons to my inactivity. Things such as, writing essays for doctoral programs, to being unsure what I want to write about, to being too critical of my own writing abilities, and simply not liking my own blog-name and theme. I have also tried to be uncontroversial because I know too many people discredit themselves based on what they put on social media. Just the same, I have tried not to be negative. There is enough negativity on blogs, especially Christian-based Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) blogs. All of this means my writing goals have been experiencing an identity crisis. However, I recently have decided on a direction I am going to try to point my blog towards, which is simply sharing biblically based life illustrations.

A Solution

The idea for biblically based life illustrations indirectly comes from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) President Dr. Chuck Kelley. For years, Dr. Kelley kept a journal of illustrations he chronicles throughout the day. One of my preaching professors, Dr. Ron Pate reported that Dr. Kelley would record at least five (5) illustrations a day. To me, this sounds like a great practice and one I want to mimic. Personally though, I have failed miserably in this discipline. I may be too much of a product of my own generation, meaning I like to type more than I do write by hand. So I figured why not turn this failure and love for typing into the basis of this blog, hence the name “Vertically Illustrated.” The new name aspires to illustrate the Lord’s hand in the daily observations of my life or the life of others while pointing back to a biblical passage as the source of inspiration. Also, my prayer is that it will allow me to not just illustrate God’s providence in my life, but also point towards Christ in a very compassionate and common means.

A Benefit

In addition to helping me create illustrations that minister and biblically inspire others; I hope this approach will take the pressure off of my writing expectations. Before under the old name, “Vertical Resilience” I felt too constricted. I believed I had to write towards a certain niche of perseverance every time. This became too difficult because if I am writing about adversity in every post I might want to see counselor because I have problems, this sentence was a joke in case you do not know my dry humor. Therefore, by being Vertically Illustrated I now have the freedom to simply write. I can write about anything I have the passion to write about, it is like being literarily set free. I can use my variety of areas to illustrate and inspire others from a host of interests I maintain. Some of these areas include apologetics, sports, leadership, resilience, the SBC, and other concentrations. Basically, I want to use these things to biblically reflect the person whom the Lord Jesus Christ has created me to be and who He is molding me to be further.

Conclusion

This is where I intend to go from here because the old blog focus made writing more a chore than a joy. I see it as a new lease on blogging and really a new lease on my own spiritual formation. My prayer is by trying to minister and inspire others I will enhance my own walk with Christ. By not just seeing the inspiration in the daily activities of life, but by establishing them with a biblical basis I will be able to point myself and most of all others towards the love Jesus even more. To me, that sounds like fun and is worth writing about!

Blessings,

Mike