Memorizing Scripture, word-for-word and with references, has not been one of my strong suits. Sure, I can tell you about the Word, and I can tell you some of what's in the Word, but generally I need a copy in front of me.
That's not all bad, because right now there are few times in America that reproducing Scripture from memory is all that necessary. However, in an effort to think more on the things of God and grow in my understanding, I've wanted to do better memorizing.
In the great milieu of Christians that blog, I caught a link to Timmy Brister's blog, where he put out a challenge to join him in memorizing Philippians between January 1 and Easter. He created an easy to use document that you cut out, paste in a little pocket-sized notebook, and use to help with the process. The document, found here, is a PDF that most computers can open. Included are tips to help with memorization, and the complete ESV Bible text of Philippians, allocated into weeks. Ann and I used small notebooks that we had available, and I bought this 3-pack to make notebooks for the kids (they're sold out now, but $3.99 was a good price, and we get free shipping on Amazon. Wal-Mart may have something, the 3x5 size is the main thing). There's enough space to take notes on the verses and also take notes on prayer requests or other needs in the notebooks.
So, I'll pass on the challenge: anyone else want to memorize Philippians with the Hibbard Family? I told Ann what I was doing, and she decided to do it. The girls saw me making the notebooks and asked what was going on, and they said they wanted to do it. Steven then asked where his notebook was when we were making the girls'! So, we're all in. Steven may have Philippians memorized before he can read.
I would love to fill the choir loft at church with people reciting Philippians the Sunday after Easter (well, I started yesterday, but you didn't, so we can add a week). Call me, email me, see me for details or help if you need it.
Meanwhile, I'll be occasionally blogging thoughts on Philippians and the process.
Philippians 1:1 (ESV): Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, along with the overseers and deacons:
Among the messages in this verse is this very important one: God speaks to the whole church. While there is a necessity of a leadership in the body of Christ, we see here that there are no private messages where the overseers and deacons are privy to God's will and "all the saints" are not.
This challenges leaders: if what you are telling your church is God's direction for the church and no one else sees it; if you are giving them interpretations of Scripture that no one else gets; if you are taking a walk and think you're leading: Get back with your people. They are also recipients of the Word.
This challenges the individual saint: if you are constantly the one in disunity, you need to ask some questions: 1.) Am I filled with the Spirit and able to hear the Word? Keep in mind that an unsaved person hears one basic message from God: Repent and surrender to Christ! If you are saved, are you surrendered to His will and full of His Word? 2.) Am I in a church that is actually trying to follow God's Word? Sometimes we have differing interpretations, and that's ok. However, if you're constantly irritated by those differences, you may not be in the right place. 3.) Have I really searched the Scripture on this one?
This challenges the church, saints and leaders: Keep in mind that leaders are a part of the church. I remember playing games in PE in elementary school, and we would run races where there were groups of kids inside large hula-hoops (or something like that). One kid was the leader at the front of the hoop, but we were all in the hoop, and we all had to run. Churches are similar: somebody's in the front of the hoop, but everybody's got to run, and run in the same direction. Are we (or is your church) running together? Are we at a pace that challenges us without tripping the guy in the back? Who is moving with us, and who is being dragged?
There's some basic thoughts on the first of Philippians. I'll be back with more thoughts, and no, I'm not preaching Philippians this year, at least not according to plan. We'll see what happens.