05 Jul

Extended Scripture Memorisation Experiment by Sam Hight

For the past two and a half months I have been trialling the memorisation of larger chunks of the Bible. I have successfully memorised the book of Jude (25 verses) and the first two chapters of 1st John (39 verses) and will continue the practice as long as my life (God willing).

I’m not sharing this to brag. I’m sharing this because I think pretty much anyone is capable of doing this and it is a given that such memorisation is good for your spiritual development.

I’ve had a number of obstacles through this process which have made it a challenge to keep up the practice, but despite these it has proven surprisingly easy. If you are similarly challenged I want to encourage you that you can do this still, and if you are not facing similar obstacles then you have no excuse at all.

Some Of My Obstacles (And Why They Should Not Stop You)

Time – this must take a while to work on right? Actually, it takes about five to ten minutes in the morning over breakfast in my modified version, and a few minutes scattered here and there through the day to check and correct what I learned in the morning. The long part is daily reciting the whole of what I’ve already learned (developing long term retention) but this I do while driving or riding to and from work, or while spending a few moments with my eldest daughter while putting her to bed (she asks, “Papa lie on the floor?” and I quote about 30 verses)

Tiredness – This can be hard to overcome and takes a little persistence. However, if I keep in mind that the method will definitely work, even through the foggy-tired-brain of a father of sleepless young children, I do manage to stay positive during the practice until each part is successfully completed. Because the method is basically repetition it is almost a mindless process anyway. It tends to go faster if the mind is engaged, but it can definitely be done under less than ideal mental conditions.

Distractions – similar to tiredness, distractions require some persistence to overcome. This is not because of the interruptions to the memorisation process, which you just make time for when there are no distractions around (get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later – when all of the distractions/children are asleep). This is more an issue of an overworked or divided mind which refuses to focus on the task at hand. Once again, trusting the process and committing to completing the verse repetitions is all that is required.

Really, all hurdles to completing such a beneficial practice for your spiritual walk will be overcome if you just commit to doing it, and trust God to make it happen. You will always find a way through if you are serious about making the effort. I hope I have inspired you to make the effort!

Resources:
Extended Scripture Memorization by Dr. Andrew Davis (free PDF or for purchase on Amazon)
Video of me showing how to do the daily memorisation, minus the extended quoting of the entire previously memorised section:


Video of me quoting the book of Jude:

15 Jan

Made In The Image Of God by Sam Hight

When challenging ourselves to treat others with love and respect, it can be difficult to see anything worth loving and respecting in them. Drug dealers, dole bludgers, disobedient kids, and disabled people (who may seem like a drain on society).

It is easy to put yourself above these others because you have no illegal addiction, work for your livelihood, obey the rules, and contribute more than you take. But these things are very minor, vanishingly minor even, compared to the one thing which gives each of us our surpassing worth.

You, me, and everyone who makes you grind your teeth in “righteous” anger at their worthlessness – we are all made by God and made in his image. Being an image bearer of the God of the Universe is a crown of high royal standing and worthy of love and respect. This is true even if those people are not living up to the standard for which they were created. Mistreat royalty, even if they mistreat you first, and it is “off with your head”.

I want to say it again because it is so important that you understand this: Our worth comes from our relationship to God. He made all of us. Our actions don’t really reflect our worth because we all fail to live up to that high, high standard which our Creator has set for us.

A quick note on love: love is not always a feeling, and that is true most especially in this case. Love is committing to do what is caring for another’s wellbeing and reputation, and honouring their inherent value through actions. The feelings tend to follow in any case. Sometimes it is hard to feel love for certain of your family members but you do the loving thing anyway. It’s not such a huge step to love your enemies from there. It is often those closest to you, who you love the most, who will wound you the worst anyway!

A quick question: We can see now (hopefully) that everyone is worthy of your loving kindness, but are you truly living up to the value of your own royal worth? How can you know? What can you do if you are failing in this?

You can only know what is expected of you by reading the instructions from your Creator and following them as best you can. Read your Bible for the details but here is the essence of those instructions:

You are expected to be perfect in pleasing your Creator. That is what he made you for. Nobody has lived up to that level of worth and we are all guilty of undervaluing ourselves and others. This is such a wicked crime because it means we are undervaluing the One who made us and stamped his image on us. We have failed to please God by our actions and attitudes towards each other and towards God.

But God is merciful and made a way for us to be forgiven and to be restored to the function for which he made us. Rather than take our own deserving punishment in hell, God’s son Jesus will take it for us on the cross if we turn to him and follow his way of living. This will begin a personal transformation toward purity which will continue through this life. And when Jesus returns at the end of the age we will complete that transformation and we will be perfectly pleasing to the Lord. We will never again undervalue him or his image.

Free Bible Apps:
YouVersion (Android, iOS)
Logos (Android, iOS)
ESV (Android, iOS)

Bible websites:
Bible Gateway
ESV

10 Jan

“Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency'” by Tim Keller (243/1137)

Tim Keller addresses the common objection to Christianity, that of the inconsistency of Christians following only the rules from the Bible which seem to suit them. For example, the Old Testament sacrificial laws and laws about stoning disobedient children are ignored but the laws about prohibiting homosexual behaviour are not.

Keller explains that the essential morality in the Old Testament continues in the New Testament and in the teachings of Jesus, however the ceremonial laws and laws about ritual cleanliness are no longer in action as they have been fulfilled in Jesus.

He also explains that the punishments for moral crimes in the Old Testament are different to those for today. This is because of the difference between the religiously controlled state law of Old Testament Israel and the church instituted by Christ which is a part of all nations and cultures under their own state rule.

Keller finishes with the observation that, “If Christ is God, then this way of reading the Bible makes sense,” and that those objecting to Christianity on the grounds of their misunderstanding of what seems to them to be inconsistency; those people are asking Christians to deny this core of Christianity in order to make Christianity not make sense, i.e. they make an assertion without logic behind it.

Christianity, properly understood, must lead to picking only some rules to follow from the Old Testament.

The full article is required reading for a deeper understanding.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/making-sense-of-scriptures-inconsistency

04 Jan

The Word In The Old Testament by Sam Hight

Under the Old Covenant, which was started during Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, the High Priest would enter into the tent of meeting (the most holy place) to meet with the Lord. God’s visible presence marked the tent as holy, either by falling on that location as a cloud or as fire.

It is impossible to know just how the people of Israel would have felt when witnessing this, but we can be sure that a holy fear or terror would have been a part of the experience. Imagine for a moment that you are standing in front of a bonfire which is raging as it burns a pile of wood. Or maybe you’ve experienced the fear of being in the path of a furious bush fire – out of your control and heading right for you…

Consider the fear, but also consider the privilege of being able to enter that tent without being consumed by the fire.

In that tent there were a number of items. Some were man made and some were made by the hand of God himself. The elaborate garments, utensils, etc. were man made – his best efforts to produce an offering that was acceptable to God, and worshipping him how he said he wanted them to worship. All of these things were made from the matter which God had already made in Creation. And from God there was his law, written by his own hand, and the miraculous bread from heaven.

There was bread made by man and bread made by God in that place. I think that this was the only item which both brought there. Is there symbolism in a shared meal, fellowship over potluck food? I think so. Now we have Jesus though, the Bread of Life, from whom we will never need to eat again once he has fed us of himself.

Also in that place of God’s presence was the law of God. This shows that his presence is there when we read the Bible today. This is one of the most privileged positions, in the presence of the Word of God, and now blasted wide open, beyond the bounds of a mere tent and veil, for all to partake of freely if they care to do so.

Do we value the Word as we should? Do we treat every detail as a deliberate part of the message from God? Do we enter into his presence often to hear from him in the sure word of Scripture? Do we?

I urge you… Please do.

01 Jan

Why Does A Christian Have To Read Their Bible Regularly? by Sam Hight

I am a person who loves to read. If I had the time and money for books I would read about a thousand times more than I do. I realise that not everyone is a natural and passionate reader like I am.

Even for me, it is sometimes a battle to make sure that I read my Bible. However, I am always of the mind that it is essential to read it regularly and I discipline myself to do so.

I am continually shocked, not by the staggering number of Christians who fail to read their Bibles regularly but, by the many Christians who don’t feel bad about their failure in this duty. Some are professing Christians who are not really Christians, some are trying to justify themselves because that is their pattern of behaviour when confronted with their sin, and some genuinely (but foolishly) think that the little they pick up from occasional reading is sufficient.

Here are a few quick reasons for reading the Bible regularly:

It is God’s Word to man – God is important and he determines your eternal fate. Listen to what he has to say, take it seriously, live by it.

It is an amazing read and will make your heart sing and your mind expand.

If other things in your life are more important than the Bible, these things will guide your thinking and your decisions. Do you watch TV more than you read the Bible? Do you play video games or spend more time on Facebook? If you do then the odds are you don’t even know how much influence these worldly things have on you. What should influence you more?

Psalm One says that you will be blessed and you will prosper if you meditate at all times on the Word of God.

Psalm 119 says that you can overcome sin in your life by taking the Word of God into your heart.

Jesus said in John 8 that the truth of his words will set you free.

At the end of the day, what you value is what defines you. And what you truly value is what you keep coming back to regularly. If you don’t value the Words of God graciously given to you, then you are definitely not a Christian.

Why not take the time to refocus your life on Jesus and his Word this year? Show the world who you follow and be a better advocate for the truth which can save the world.

What other reasons for reading your Bible are particularly important to you?

Further resources:
Daily Verse Project
A 2 Year Bible Reading Plan (article and helpful suggestions)
YouVersion Bible Software – free audio options available (Bible app available on iTunes and Play Store)
Logos Bible Software (iTunes app and Play Store app also available)