Friday, May 09, 2014

Taking Philippians to heart

Over the past two months, I have been engaged in an activity that I hadn’t planned initially on doing when I began this journey into the depths of Philippians.  It was shortly after hearing John Piper quote Philippians from memory at the THINK  2014 conference that I decided that my initial plan on memorizing 20+ verses was too small a goal.  I decided that I should take the whole book to heart.

So it turns out that memorizing an entire book of the bible isn’t as difficult as I first imagined, and last week I finished memorizing the last verses of chapter 4 and now I am beginning a period where daily I recite the book from memory.  The technique I used for this endeavour was a resource that John Piper recommended and I found it to be very helpful.  Here is the article.

But why do this?  Why memorize?  I encourage you to read the article, because it does a better job at answering this question than I will ever do.  The only thing I will add is that the argument that really hit home for me is the reason John Piper gave during the Q&A session.

For John, his father had dementia in his later years and during that time things would come out of his mouth that shocked people.  John goes on to say that in 10-20 years in all likelihood that would be him, and it frankly scares him to think that in a similar state shocking words might come out of his mouth.  Scripture memorization in part is an effort for him to fill his mind with truth to the degree that it will still be a comfort and blessing to him in his final days, pushing out any sinful thoughts and memories, that may be locked up in his mind even since childhood and that may come out in a state of dementia.

As I pondered this I realized that for the good of my own soul, I needed to start memorizing scripture.  I need God’s word inside of me.  I think of how much ‘sin’ I see in life, whether in the media I watch or just around me in my daily life, and I think of how those images and those words I hear constantly are being impressed on my mind and I ask myself what am I doing to push back?  What am I doing to actively fight for purity and truth?  Well scripture memorization is one of the most powerful weapons in this regard and to ignore it is to hinder my progress and joy in the faith. 

I have discovered joy in this spiritual discipline and I pray that going forward it will become a faithful friend to me and not that long lost companion it was.

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