- Book recommendation: Puritan Evangelism by Joel R. Beeke. A short but interesting look at the evangelistic efforts of the Puritans. These are not strategies, nor will this book give you a "pattern" for evangelism. Instead, Beeke offers several examples of the biblically-saturated, doctrinally-informed, application-oriented approaches of the Puritan preachers as they tried to reach those who were lost through prayer, plain preaching, and catechizing.
- This year I'm aiming to memorize Philippians. So far, I'm through most of chapter 1. One of the reasons I haven't given much thought to memorization, prior to this year, was because I didn't like the idea of memorizing verses in isolation from each other. In this post, James Pothen describes the value of memorizing chunks of the Bible instead of verses--context matters.
- A temptation for some pastors, preachers and ministers is to look with envy at the larger, more successful programs of churches around them. This article, referencing the Puritan preacher Richard Baxter, is a reminder that all effective pastoral ministry is based on clear preaching, evangelistic appeal, and pastoral care of members.
Links to three recent items of interest for me. Maybe they'll be of interest to you.
I accepted a challenge I read about to memorize Philippians this year. Sadly, Bible memorization has not been a real goal for me in my life. In high school, I picked up a little book by the Navigators that taught memorization. It even included several cards with Bible verses on them I could carry around to aid my memorization.
It didn't work, probably for a couple reasons. One, I didn't have the discipline for it. Two, more intuitively than consciously, I didn't like the idea of memorizing isolated verses. Even when I didn't know how to express it, I understood that the Bible should be read in its context, preferably book-by-book rather than piecemeal, like many Bible reading and/or memorization plans suggested.
As a new father, I've been taking my spiritual responsibilities much more seriously. It shames me to point this out, because I'm very aware of how I've dropped the ball in some areas as a husband and preacher. But in becoming a new father, and learning some new concepts in discussion with a good friend, one area I wanted to grow in was my exposure to the Bible, the written word of God. And I wanted this exposure to go way beyond my professional exposure to the Bible as a preacher.
As I contemplated this, I ran across the challenge to memorize Philippians. And because of my increased desire to spend time with the Bible, and because this challenge focused on memorizing a complete book of the Bible, I accepted it. What I'm doing is memorizing about a verse a day for the next 16 weeks or so. Here's what I'm learning:
1. Memorization is hard! Unless you have a photographic memory (which I don't), you should expect to spend some time memorizing the Bible (if you choose to). In addition to working on the new verse each day (which takes me about 5 minutes), there is recitation of old verses learned, as well as ongoing recitation throughout the day to imprint the word on your mind. Without this time commitment, you will not remember the Bible verses you are trying to commit to memory.
2. Memorization is fun. At least, it is for me. I begin my mornings with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and my journal. I read my daily assignment (I'm reading through the entire Bible this year), journal, then move on to memorization. I enjoy it. It adds a nice variety to my morning routine. And it gives me something to fill my with during the day. For example, after my morning reading, I needed to go outside and shovel snow before going to work. As I shoveled, I recited my memory work (Philippians 1:1-9) over and over. It was fun!
3. Memorization points out the differences in Bible translations. I typically preach and teach (and read) from the Today's New International Version (TNIV). Because the memorization booklet I downloaded uses the English Standard Version (ESV), I have switched to reading and memorizing from the ESV. What a difference! The ESV seeks to be a literal translation, working closer to the word-for-word end of the scale than the thought-for-thought end. As a result, for me, at least, the ESV introduces some awkward phrases. In particular, 1:4 and 1:7 spring to mind. Normally, I would probably pass over these quickly in reading, but slowing down to memorize has pointed out for me the difference between these two translations (and it would be like this for many different translations).
I'm undecided on the importance of my third thought, but in view of the first two thoughts, I encourage you to consider adding Bible memorization to your encounter with God and his written word. Pick a short book, perhaps even Philippians, or a psalm or chapter of Proverbs and begin memorizing a verse a day. See if it positively affects your life the way it has mine!
This blog is for articles and book reviews. I post my sermons at my Sermons page, where you can listen to sermons online or download them in MP3 format.
Although I work for the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan, this blog represents my own thoughts and does not necessarily correspond to the views and workings of the Otisville Church of Christ.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.