As a young believer I was exposed to the spiritual discipline of Scripture Memory. I can remember sitting in my living room with one of my mentors as we pulled scripture references out of jar and quoted the verse written on small piece of papers and checked one another from memory. We had tackled the Navigator’s famous TMS (Topicial Memory System) and had them down cold. Sixty of the gotta-know verses of the Bible. And with a little review I could probably knock these out again.
30+ years later I realized that mastering the TMS was about as far as I got. Oh I have tackled some other Scripture memory projects. I almost memorized the sermon on the mount. Almost memorized a short book of the Bible. Short term memory with some verses along the way. Piddled with the Navigator’s TMS on life issues (which is as good as the first one). Even created my own TMS (Tim’s Memory System). But to be honest after I got the verses in short term memory my review system overwhelmed me and I folded.
Unfortunately, I have fallen prey to the build-your-library verus go-to-the-library mindset in inputting the Word of God in my life. By that I mean, sometimes we want to buy books so that we can put them on our shelves and proudly display them to others. Contrasted with going to the library, checking out a book and consuming the content and then returning the book. In the world of Scripture memory, time has shown that I have room for about 60 verses. Kinda sad. And what is worst is that I stop attempting to memorize new verses because I don’t feel good about the others that I supposedly “memorized”. Defeated before I start again.
I am trying to rethink this approach. What if I spent time with key passages and meditated on them without feeling the pressure to memorize them word for word? What if it was good enough to spend time thinking and praying through a passage until I had soaked up all that I need from it and then moved on? What if I was a meditator versus a memorizer? What if I went to the Bible and checked out a passage and then returned it when I was done? That way I am impacted without a false sense of accomplishment. So that it what I have been trying to do. Even created an acrostic to help me. Thought I would share it with you. The acrostic is SWORD.
S- Slow Down. Pick a passage (2-3 verses or paragraph) and instead of reading and moving on. Spend several days on same passage.
W- Word by Word. Take your passage and work on a phrase at a time focusing on each and every word. What is the significance of each word?
O- Original Language. They say that reading the Bible in the original language is like looking at a TV in color verses black and white. I am not a seminary guy and don’t know the language but there a lot of original language tools on the internet and beyond that you can get your hands on these thing pretty easy. I use the Logos system. But there are online things too. One of my favorites is the Blue Letter Bible
R- Reflect. This basically mean stopping to pray and think about the small section you are in. This morning I am working through 1 Peter 5:5-7 and spent my entire time on the phrase- “God is opposed to the proud”. Very challenging.
D- Do something. The purpose of studying the Bible is to not just change your mind but also to change your life and change your world. As appropriate do something with what you are learning. For example, earlier in this passage it says that “younger men are supposed to be subject to your elders”. And I thought to myself- what older men am I seeking out for advise and input. And at 57, I realized that I am not taking advantage of the guys ahead of me to help me navigate this final part of the journey. So, I called and set up a meeting with a guy to quiz him about how he is finishing strong.
I am not saying that Scripture memorization is bad. But, I am just trying out a new wrinkle in how to get God’s word in my life. Maybe you can teach an old dog a new trick. Try it. You might like it.