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!

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:

01 May

“Expository Preaching: Time for Caution” by Iain H Murray (289/1600)

Ian Murray puts forward two views of what constitutes expository preaching:

  1. Where the preacher “…confine[s] himself to the text of Scripture, and … make[s] the sense plain to others…”
  2. The same as the first except this also insists upon working through a book or passage of the Bible consecutively.

Murray is addressing the view that the second way of expository preaching is right and the first, applied to texts of scripture which are unrelated from week to week, is wrong.

There are several obvious benefits to preaching through entire passages/books, and Murray details them briefly. However, his intent is to focus on the disadvantages of such a style of preaching.

First, not every preacher is gifted in this style of preaching.

Second, preaching isn’t necessarily about covering as much of the Bible as possible – it’s about meeting the current needs of the congregation.

Third, working through an entire section of scripture consecutively can easily become a lecture rather than a sermon.

Fourth, the consecutive style tends away from being memorable due to covering too many ideas (rather than picking one or two main ideas from the passage). Murray explains that this is why Reformed preaching is often considered dull.

Fifth, consecutive preaching  does not fit well to an evangelistic style. Murray says that “preaching to heart and conscience commonly disappears.”

Murray finishes by saying that these points should not stop this style of preaching from happening, but that preachers must use it at the right time along with the one-off type messages in their right time. He is eager to emphasise that both consecutive and individual/isolated verses can be expositonally preached, and that all preaching must be exposition of the Bible.


19 Nov

How Do You Think When Encountering Scripture? by Sam Hight

In one sense, this is THE defining characteristic of a Christian. The ability to think properly about, and therefore apply properly to one’s life, the Holy Scriptures.

I’m toying with the idea of a regular blog post about Scripture reading and sanctification. More specifically, an open journal of sorts where I share some of the questions and ideas which I consider when reading the Bible. The intention would be to model a skill that is lacking in many Christians today, even in those who actually read their Bible daily.

Here’s a taster of the sorts of questions we should ask our self:

How does my life compare to each of the people I’m reading about?
Are the people I’m reading about good or bad (saved or unsaved)?
If they are saved, and a model of good, what can I learn from them?
If they are saved and are being sinful, what can I learn from them?
If they are unsaved, are there things they do which I do and which would confuse people who think I am a Christian?
What can I pray about right now with regard to the questions I’ve just asked?
What does the Bible say about how I can overcome specific situations mentioned which relate to me?

Let’s put that to use in a passage:
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them…” – Matthew 5:1-2

This is Jesus right at the beginning of the sermon on the mount. Even before the sermon we can learn lessons for our sanctification.

There are two people/groups here, Jesus and his disciples. Let’s look at Jesus first.

As I grow in character I become more like Jesus so maybe there is a goal to aim for here? Jesus is about to teach people the truth about spiritual things (the Kingdom of Heaven) which is for the purpose of their growth in understanding and godliness. Is this something I need to do? Thinking across all of scripture I think yes because we are expected to follow the great commission and to teach with doctrine. So how am I doing this? Am I doing this? I run a bible study at work and teach those students who want to know spiritual truth so that’s one example. And I talk about spiritual truth with my wife and we try to grow in knowledge and Christian character together so I think I’m doing this.

But while I’m thinking about this, can I do it better? Yes, I’m sure I can. That’s something to pray about and ask God for wisdom in what to do.

Now what about the disciples? They’ve gone to Jesus to hear from him and to learn from him. A non-christian wouldn’t do this, would they? I guess they would if they were interested in moralising and being boastful of their deeds because Jesus is clearly to most morally righteous person to learn from and to be like. So I have to be careful that I come to Jesus without great ideas of becoming great through him.