a scribe’s scratchings: a log (4)

But they all alike began to make excuses. (Luke 14.18)

For a very long time now I’ve had the inkling in my head to copy the Bible by hand. And for a very long time now I’ve not acted on that inkling. I mean, in this regard I’ve put the pro in procrastination. My reasons: time and handwriting.

I say reasons. Rub that out. Completely. Replace it with a more accurate word: excuses.

Time. We all have the same amount of it each day. Of course, by no means are those hours all spoken for in the same way. And, due to profound responsibilities and necessities, some of us have precious “free” time each week. But, spending some time in the word of the Lord, well, this is a profound necessity we dare not skimp on or attempt to skirt; even if it is just a single sentence each day. And so, the only question that remains is exactly how we’ll spend that time in his revelation to us.

As for me, since I can read and write, then I can do both as I read. And so, to say to myself “I do not have enough time to write out Scripture” is simply empty self-deception.

Handwriting. Mine is horrific. Why, except for my signature, I gave up cursive while still in college. That’s been awhile. I, quite literally, can no longer even correctly form the cursive alphabet! [I just tried] And my hand-printing? Think whatever the antonym is of “draftsman;” I call it “encryption.” Oh, it is legible to me, but I’m always embarrassed for others to see it. No small number of people have commented or jabbed me about it through the years.

But, I must ask myself: why will I copy the Bible by hand? If the primary reason is not about others reading it, but is about my reading and experiencing it for own gain, then so long as I can still read my own handwriting, why should I care one wit what it looks like to others? While others will see it, this is not so much about display to others as it is for development of my walk with the Author.

And so … I am done with these lame excuses. Done, done, done, I say.

But, in so saying, this gives me pause … what other “reasons” in other areas of my life are actually just “excuses?”

C45 Scripture memorization project: common excuses called out

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him … (Ephesians 1.3-4a NIV)

That is our very first memory verse in this project and what a great one it is, no? Week # 1, starting today, Ephesians 1.3-4a. You can do this!

But now, (sigh) on to the excuses …

 
Excuse #1Uh, the dog ate my announcement sheet that had the memory verse on it.

A. Bad dog; b-a-d dog! Lucky for you the week’s text is also available on my Facebook and Twitter, on the church’s text message group and e-News (like this one), the projection announcements, and more. Not to mention – you can always make my day and just ask me. 😉

Excuse #2I don’t like the version selected that we’re supposed to memorize the passage in because it isn’t the one I use most of the time and it sounds different.

A. Get over it. That’s right, that’s what I said – get over it.

Think of it like this. If Jesus showed up and said something to your face one way one day and then, a few days later, spoke of the very same subject, but in slightly different words, would you correct him and say, “Hey, that’s not how you said it three days ago! That was the only right way and this way isn’t!” Uh, not, you wouldn’t. You’d gladly accept both ways of saying it; in fact, you’d be very humbled and grateful he even spoke to you at all, right? In fact, that’s what we have time and again with parallel passages throughout the Bible.

Well, it works the exact same way with Bible translations. Same thought/different words. Accept it. Further, learn to like it. Because it is the meaning you’re ultimately after, right, not just some argument over words?

Besides, if you can’t express the same thought two different ways, I dare say you don’t really understand the thought in it well enough yet. So don’t resist variation, rather, run to embrace it. And so, allow such moments to deepen your awareness, learning, understanding, and thinking … not allowing the devil to play with your head and lead you to grumble about the very words of God.

Excuse #3I’ve got a Bible. Several of them. Paper and digital. On my tablet and my phone. With every word in the Bible so easily and quickly accessible, tell me why I need to memorize these texts? 

A. You asked frankly so, I’ll respond frankly: because they’re everywhere except where they can be doing some good for you all of the time. Knowing where your Bible is, what you think it says, where to find things in it – none of these can take the place of keeping the word of God in your heart. It is the difference between having a package of seeds and having those seeds in the ground.

Excuse #4I. Need. Help. Because. This. Is. Hard. For. Me.

A. Fair enough; that is not an excuse; that’s a sincere cry for help! So, here are four truly helpful tips …

* Memorize the text in small pieces (4-8 words) at a time. Get that piece down cold – meaning you can say it aloud consistently, instantaneously, and flawlessly every time – before you add the next words. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

* Write the passage out several times each day (no typing allowed). This forces you to think about every letter of every word and engages an additional, powerful sense in the work – your sense of touch – which will – write it down! – greatly aid your memory.

* Pay close attention to movement in the passage. As in the sense of time (past, present, future) as well as other matters (who, what, where, why, how). Note as well things like causation (e.g. – “because,” “by,” “from”), company (e.g. – “with,” “in”) direction (e.g. – “to,” “up,” “down”), and consequence (e.g. – “so that,” “in order that”). Think of these matters as something like road signs along the way. Often those “little” words will prompt you to remember the entire following string of words.

* Use your body to help your brain. Get in front of a mirror and use gestures to help convey the meaning of the text as you say it aloud. For example, does the passage speak of something being done to you or inside of you? If so, point at your heart. Does it address a group a people with words like “us” or “we?” Then broadly gesture as if toward a crowd with the sweep of your hand. Is God addressed? Look up while you say the word “God.” You get the idea. Just try it; it works wonders with your memory!

Excuse #5This really does look like a great project and I’d really like to do it, but you just don’t know how busy my life is right now and …

A. Then you’re too busy for your own good. So get real honest, inventory what occupies your time, stop doing something (or cut back), and make memorizing what the Holy Spirit has said to you a greater desire and a higher priority.

Pick something: spend less time on social media, not as much time with the news, put this in place of some of your music or video time, etc.

Multi-task: write the week’s text on a sticky-note and tack it where you are at the moment (on the mirror while you’re shaving or putting on your make-up; on the equipment or in the palm of your hand while you exercise; on your dashboard while you’re driving; etc.).

You have the time. Reject telling yourself otherwise. Just make this matter a higher priority and let something of lower priority slide, for God speaking to you is rather important, no?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him … (Ephesians 1.3-4a NIV)

links: this went thru my mind

 

Children, education, handwriting & learning: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.”

Church attendance: Worship Service Release Form [this is great!]

“It’s better than a hall pass and obliterates guilt with a quick signature.”

Hispanics, immigration & poverty: An American Life, Lived in Shadows [required reading]

“He grabs a bag of bean and cheese sandwiches on wheat bread and heads to his truck, which is just a few years old. Despite the fact that money is tight, nice cars and cellphones are important. ‘If you have a nice car, they treat you well,’ he says, referring to the police. ‘If you drive an old, ugly car, they stop you and arrest you.'”

imagine you, on food stamps (6)

 

Let me ask you a question. I’ve asked it of a number of people through the years. It has two parts. Let me encourage you to be very specific in your answer. Don’t think your answer very long, just blurt out what first comes to your mind. What we’re aiming for here to reveal your first reaction; your gut instinct. Here’s the question:

Whenever someone says the phrase “food stamps” (here in Texas, it’s known as SNAP benefits), (1) what mental images or words immediately pop to your mind and (2) what do those images or words have in common?

Have you got your answers fixed in your mind? Good. Now are you curious as to what sort of answers I’ve received to that question? Let me share with you some of the most common responses I’ve received:

Part one: lazy people, bums, the guy on the corner who stands there all day long with a sign in his hand that says “Hungry and will work for food,” illegals, blacks and Mexicans, people who live off of others and who know how to work the system, dope heads, crooks, hookers.

Part two: they’re beggars and users.

Now without commenting at all on any of the preceding or its perceived connecting point, let me present you with another list, this one composed of answers I hear relatively rarely in response to my question.

Part one: broke, children, disabled, elderly, homeless, illiterate, migrant, sick, under-employed, unemployed.

Part two: they’re people who are vulnerable now and vulnerable to all sorts of further troubles and harm.

Which gives rise to two more questions in my mind:

(1) Am I missing something or are we missing seeing people in need?

(2) What would Jesus make of all of this; what might he say?

this went thru my mind

 

Church: *What People Experience in Churches (Barna report) * Study Says God-Connections at Church are “Rare” * Are You Remarkable? * Setting the Captives Free: Churches that Raided Slave Ships

Counseling: Why I Don’t Advise Pre-Martial Counseling Anymore

Facebook: Why Facebook Users Add And Remove Friends (infographic)

Faith & the Presidency: Jimmy Carter on his Faith-Filled Presidency

Giving & tithing: Paul was Post-Tithing

Islam: Ask a Muslim

Jesus & religion: * Jesus vs. Religion? * Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

Leadership: * 10 Mistakes Leaders Should Avoid at All Costs * How to Keep Camels Out of Our Tent (required reading)

Marriage: 5 Ways to Build a Solid Foundation for Marriage

Media addiction & multitasking: Multitasking: This Is Your Brain On Media (infographic)

Prayer: The Biggest Problem About Prayer

Resolutions: 12 “Other” Life Resolutions/Habits to Consider

Starting the day: * Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast (required reading) * The first thing you do when you sit down at the computer

Violence & the Bible: Kingdom Killing of Canaanites? Genocide and Joshua…

friedman’s fables (1)

The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them. Even the choicest words lose their power when they are used to overpower. Attitudes are the real figures of speech.

The Friendly Forest

Once upon a time in the Friendly Forest there lived a lamb who loved to graze and frolic about. One day a tiger came to the forest and said to the animals, “I would like to live among you.” They were delighted. For, unlike some of the other forests, they had no tiger in their woods. The lamb, however, had some apprehensions, which, being a lamb, she sheepishly expressed to her friends. But, they said, “Do not worry, we will talk to the tiger and explain that one of the conditions for living in this forest is that you must also let the other animals live in the forest.”

So the lamb went about her life as usual. But it was not long before the tiger began to growl and make threatening gestures and menacing motions. Each time the frightened lamb went to her friends and said, “It is very uncomfortable for me here in the forest.” But her friends reassured her, “Do not worry; that’s just the way tigers behave.”

Every day, as she went about her life, the lamb tried to remember this advice, hoping that the tiger would find someone else to growl at. And it is probably correct to say that the tiger did not really spend all or even most of its time stalking the lamb. Still, the lamb found it increasingly difficult to remove the tiger from her thoughts. Sometimes she would just catch it out of the corner of her eye, but that seemed enough to disconcert her for the day, even if the cat were asleep. Soon the lamb found that she was actually looking for the tiger. Sometimes days or even weeks went by between its intrusive actions, yet, somehow, the tiger had succeeded in always being there. Eventually the tiger’s existence became a part of the lamb’s existence. When she tried to explain this to her friends, however, they pointed out that no harm had really befallen her and that perhaps she was just being too sensitive.

So the lamb again tried to put the tiger out of her mind. “Why,” she said to herself, “should I let my relationship with just one member of the forest ruin my relationships with all the others?” But every now and then, usually when she was least prepared, the tiger would give her another start.

Finally the lamb could not take it anymore. She decided that much as she loved the forest and her friends, more than she had ever loved any other forest were friends, the cost was too great. So she went to the other animals in the woods and said goodbye.

Her friends would not hear of it. “This is silly,” they said. “Nothing has happened. You’re still in one piece. You must remember the tiger is a tiger,” they repeated. “Surely this is the nicest forest in the world. We really like you very much and we would be very sad if you left.” (Though it must be admitted that several of the animals were wondering what the lamb might be doing to contribute to the tiger’s aggressiveness.”

Then, said two of the animals in the friendly forest, “Surely this whole thing can be worked out. We’re all reasonable here. Stay calm. There is probably just some misunderstanding that can easily be resolved if we all sit down together and communicate.” The lamb, however, had several misgivings about such a meeting. First of all, if her friends had explained away the tiger’s behavior by saying it was simply a tiger’s nature to behave that way, why did they now think that as result of communication the tiger would be able to change that nature? Second, thought the lamb, such meetings, well-intentioned as they might be, usually try to resolve problems through compromise. Now, while the tiger might agree to growl less, and indeed might succeed in reducing some of its aggressive behavior, what would she, the lamb, be expected to give up in return? Be more accepting of the tiger’s growling? There was something wrong, thought the lamb, with the notion that an agreement is equal if the invasive creature agrees to be less invasive and the invaded one agrees to tolerate some invasiveness. She tried to explain this to her friends but, being reasonable animals, they assured her that the important thing was to keep communicating. Perhaps the tiger didn’t understand the ways of the lamb. “Don’t be so sheepish,” they said. “Speak up strongly when it does these things.”

Though one of the less subtle animals in the forest, more uncouth in expression and unconcerned about just who remained, was overheard to remark, “I never heard of anything so ridiculous. If you want a lamb and a tiger to live in the same forest, you don’t try to make them communicate. You cage the bloody tiger.”

MORAL: Reasonableness is the natural manure of terrorism.

Friedman’s Fables by Edwin H. Friedman (The Guilford Press, 1990), pp.5,25-28

(This fable makes me think of Proverbs 26:24-25)