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For this week's memo, I've pulled out a bit of my own personal story, of how I got started with memorization, and the impact it has had on my life. It's the perfect article given that enrollment in our Breakout Memory Challenge is closing in just a few days. Get ready!



Making disciples involves more than just doing evangelism. Real disciple-making is connecting people to the real disciple-maker: Jesus Christ. At least, that's how I've come to view it after nearly 30 years of full-time ministry.

Jesus made this point exactly in his parting instructions to the church: "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" by 1) "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and then 2) "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-2019 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen., NKJV). It is both calling people to follow Christ, and then helping them grow in their walk with Him, together, that makes up the Great Commission.

“Real disciple-making is connecting people to the real disciple-maker: Jesus Christ.”

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I became a Christian as a young college student, just a couple months into my twenties, after reading a copy of the Desire of Ages that I had stumbled on to in a used book store. Through a series of additional providential steps, the Lord soon brought me into his endtime church, and I was baptized. That was part one of the Great Commission.

Fortunately, I had some friends around able to help me with part two. A handful of guys from the university I attended, took me under their wing and began to teach me the basics of the Christian walk: how to pray, study the Bible, deal with temptation, manage my time, share my testimony, and more.

Perhaps most important--they taught me the one thing Jesus said we should teach every new believer: how to "observe" the things Christ commanded. By introducing me to the basic nuts and bolts of Bible memorization, they gave me a skill that completely transformed my life.

“In discovering the basic nuts and bolts of Bible memorization, I gained a skill that completely transformed my life.”

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You see, the word "observe" in the Great Commission comes from a Greek word meaning to guard or keep. It's used in Matthew 27:54Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. to describe how the centurion was assigned to "watch" Jesus on the cross. And in Acts 16:23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:, it's used to describe how the jailor was charged with "keeping" Paul and Silas locked up in prison. And in Jude 1:6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day., it's used to describe how the fallen angels are being "reserved" in chains until their judgment.

Together, these verses suggest "observing" means to lock up God's Word so securely, it can never be taken from you. To me, that sounds like memorization!

Through memorization, I could fix my eyes on Jesus anywhere--by simply meditating on verses I knew. Through memorization I was able to lock up the Bible in my mind, and prevent it from slipping away. Through memorization, I was able to reserve the Scriptures, so they would be available for any trial I faced. Basically, memorizing connected me to the One who gave us the Word.

It wasn't easy, at first. I didn't have a great memory, and I had little exposure to the Bible growing up--so it was all brand new to me. But I was determined, and persevered in investing whatever time it took to get my verses learned each week. I learned to memorize word-perfect, the secret to long term retention, how to remember references, and more. Little by little, my store of verses began to grow.

At one point, something clicked. I had probably accumulated 50 or 60 verses, when I started noticing them popping up in sermons. Or I'd be studying a passage in my devotions, and some verse I had memorized would come to mind, shedding light on what I was reading. Or I'd be praying about something, and I'd suddenly think of a promise directly related to that request. And old temptations began losing their hold in my life, as I discovered how powerful quoting Scripture can be. When asked a question, it seemed I always happened to have just the verse I needed to explain my faith. It was as if Jesus were right there at my side, day by day.

In fact, the more it happened, the more exciting it got. At the time, I had a job that enabled me to memorize while at work--and I took advantage of it. Soon I had moved from 2-3 verses a week to 2-3 verses a day. Memorization was getting easier, and I couldn't seem to get enough. The Bible became "the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.).

And it soon began to open doors. Though young, and quite new to the church, I was soon asked to teach the lesson study in my church. And then to do prayer meeting. Soon I was preaching sermons.

Looking back now, I'm amazed at the doors God opened. With no formal training, I was soon invited to teach Bible at a local academy. Then a second academy. Then a small college. I went on to serve as an administrator in two evangelistic training centers. And ultimately, was asked to pastor a church in the Chicago suburbs--where I was ordained to the Gospel ministry. I've preached in hundreds of churches in more than a dozen countries. The last two decades have just been a blur of amazing adventures.

I'm fully convinced these doors opened, because years earlier, a handful of college friends took some interest in me, and taught me how to memorize Scripture. How to "observe" the teachings of the Bible.

These doors opened for me, because those friends were true disciple-makers, connecting me to the real disciple-maker. Jesus Christ. And following Him is never anything less than an amazing adventure!



Comments

How important is it to combine evangelism with follow-up and training? How important is it to make sure our training connects people to Jesus, the real disciple-maker? How important is memorization in the life of a believer? Share a thought or two in the comments below...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 11/21/22
Thanks Daniel! Glad this was helpful! :)
Posted by Daniel on 11/20/22
Encouraging Dan
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/13/22
Some great verses Deanne, and I appreciate your points about the need for regular spiritual nourishment through the Word, and also the need to stick with and encourage new members for a good long while. Both so important!

Also a nice post Annalise. I appreciate your chicken and the egg illustration! :) And also the need for our own personal walk with God if we are to be effective in reaching out to and also discipling others.
Posted by Annalise Felkel on 11/13/22
Regarding the first question. When people enter/baptised/born again and come into the church as a new Christian, they are like a baby chicken that has just hatched out of the egg. What does the mother Hen do, does she force that chick out of nest to fend for itself , feed itself, learn to fly by itself? No she disciples that baby chicken by initially feeding it, cleaning it and nurturing it and then role modelling how it can take care of itself. As it matures the mother hen may take a less and less hands on approach, but she is still there to encourage, and nurture as required. Eventually that baby chicken has matured into an adult and now is capable of producing its own offspring and raising and discipling.
2Q. We can only connect people to Jesus if we ourselves are actively persistently connecting with Him for personal victory, personal discipleship, and as our guide on how to disciple others. I.e. The Gospel is the same , but there are varied ways of explaining this, for example someone may not understand words and may need visual illustrations. This is why we must personally connect with Christ (by daily prayer and devotion) so that He can instruct us on how to best disciple those we are associating with so that it best meets their level of understanding.
Posted by Deanne Reinke on 11/11/22
one more thought I would like to add: Eve's problem in the garden happened because she doubted God. It occurs to me that if we have scriptures memorized, then we remove all doubt from our minds . this gives us a powerful, strong faith!!!
Posted by Deanne Reinke on 11/11/22
John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - the word was with God and the word WAS God
John 17:17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. - We are Sanctified by the truth, God's word is truth
John 18:37Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.- Jesus said: for this reason I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.
John 1:4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.- Jesus was life and this life is the light of the world.
John 6:56He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.- He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me And I in Him.

from these texts I deduce that my spiritual nourishment comes from God's word, God's word will provide light to show me the way to eternal life, by spending time in God's word I abide in Him, by God's word I am Sanctified. Every one who spends time in God's word knows the truth and hears Jesus voice speaking to them. To me. these verses confirm that internalizing God's word through memoriaztion means that ALL OF THESE BLESSINGS BELONG TO ME!! THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF MY WHOLE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. IF I HAVE HIS WORD MEMORIZED, THEN IT IS ALWAYS WITH ME AND CANNOT BE TAKEN FROM ME. MEMORIZATION IS EVERYTHING!
*
regarding evangelism with follow-up training--YES! this is ESSENTIAL!
very few converts stay if they do not have follow-up training! my experience has been that they need continuous support for up to 2 years so that they have time to process the new information, and hear it over and over and then have all their questions that come up fully answered and verified and reconfirmed and to get them established in their relationship with Jesus. memorizing texts helps them remember what they believe in and gives them points of reference to confirm what they believe. gives them reassurance that they are not mistaken or confused . This is also what it does for those who are not NEW disciples !!
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/09/22
Right Louise. All of these different facets are important to doing a well-balanced work. Sounds like the program you did was well designed and well run. Great job!
Posted by Louise P on 11/08/22
Evangelism requires follow-up and training in a similar way that introducing lifestyle changes require follow-up and training e.g. our church participated in a 10-day Daniel challenge which included group meetings, information with worksheets, Facebook sharing forum and online cooking demonstrations. Many of our church members have continued with a plant-based diet, and are still supported via Facebook sharing and cooking demonstrations. Blessed!
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/25/22
We've got some great tips on that Gail in our Crash Course class. Or even better, consider doing our Breakout Memory Challenge. Enrollment closes for that class in just a couple days...
Posted by Gail Lutton on 10/25/22
I look forward to practicing memorization, more. Bible verses come to me quite easily, but I need to learn to add their "addresses!" I find myself having to google the address when the verse pops into my head.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/25/22
I really love your testimony Rebecca, about the power of memorization. That's actually the first verse we assign in our Survival Kit course--which is our basic introduction to memorization for small groups. Hiding God's Word in our heart is truly transformative!

And yes, we will definitely be talking more about how to help others grow in Revival School--though the first part of the class is more about how to make sure we are growing in all the key areas of our life.

Posted by Rebecca on 09/24/22
I’m grateful to you and your ministry for turning me on to memorization. I decided to make the effort with just one text. Jeremiah 31:3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. as I memorized the text, breaking it down word by word, I fell in love, in more love with God! It was with ‘loving kindness’ that He drew me to him. Your right, texts now leap off the pages of the Bible as ones I know and live and a pile of texts on cards for future memorization. God has used this tool to change me. Follow up training is vital. I hope to learn more about how to disciple others.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/24/22
Beautiful testimony Julio! There's definitely real power in the Word if we can just get seriously connected to it...

Great reasons for making sure our follow-up programs are strong Barbara! Also, I like your point that all our efforts should be to point people back to Jesus, the true disciple-maker. And yes, memorization helps equip us to help others. Good post!
Posted by Barbara E. LaRose on 09/24/22
How important is follow up? When we call others to Christ many don’t have any idea of what to do or how to do it. Following up encourages them to stay on task, gives them a feeling of community. Paul did this by going back and visiting the churches or writing letters to them. All our training needs to lead them to Jesus, the source of all true discipline. He has given us all the but and bolts of how to win others and how to implement them. Memorizing scriptures has given me the tools to help others when they are faced with great trials, hardship, pain, and temptations. It is a great encouragement to me.
I really like Jeremiah 15:16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts..

Jeremiah 15:16
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
Posted by Julio Useche on 09/24/22
Bible memorization has been a huge blessing in my life. Exactly as you described it, after starting to memorize scripture I also began reciting memorized verses in prayer, in answer to questions and in bible study. They've been a guard to me in temptation and a tremendous stress reliever! They've been a practical guide in daily decisions, and business decisions. They've been a comfort, and strength to my soul! God's word truly is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pat!
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/22
Nice prayer Teverly! Learning to see God in those around us. That potential! It's powerful isn't it?

I once heard someone say fellowship was two fellows in the same ship. The way you wrote about being in this "disciple-ship" kind made me think of that. We are in this all together!
Posted by Tev Gray on 09/23/22
An amazing testimony of how God can work in and through us and the people He sends in our lives.

My prayer is that I'll always see God in those around me and have that love in action, to want salvation for them and to be diligent at it. In this disciple-ship, I am claiming God's promise in Proverbs 13:4The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. that the soul of the diligent will be made fat.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/23/22
Yes Louise! I'm so thankful for those young men--all fellow college students. My first time to really be around a group of Christian peers. I've lost track of them, but am SO grateful for their influence in my life!

As for that Greek word, TEREO, track that down through the New Testament. It shows up in other very surprising places! :)
Posted by Louise P on 09/23/22
What a wonderful testimony to God’s goodness! Also noteworthy is friends who connected with you and helped strengthen your connection with Jesus!
Lovely enrichment of ‘observe’ in Matthew 28:20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. - thank you for further insight into the Word!
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/21/22
That's a powerful testimony of your friend's ministry in your life Tonya! I had a family doing something similar for me. Very grateful! We can all be that someone to the next person!

You're right, it is a simple process Richard. But it's powerful because it is centered in real-life discipleship. And once people get connected to Jesus, He changes everything! :)
Posted by Richard on 09/21/22
Indeed a very powerful testimony of what God can do through his word. That clearly illustrates the simple process that we have covered in our study guide for this week The Call to Commitment on our practical suggestions. The end result of spending time with the Word, Prayer, Obedience, we will become great witnesses for Jesus     
Posted by Tonya Anspach on 09/21/22
I came to the church through a friend at work. We were fairly new acquaintances and I was just trying to get to know her. We took walks together after work almost every day. I would ask her about her religion. Eventually she invited me to some seminars and the rest was history. However, that history included her feeding me books that brought me closer to God and having me and my husband over for fellowship. Without her and her husband's efforts and follow through I'm not sure I would have stayed with the church. We all need support in our new found faith. I pray God uses me in that way as well.
Posted by Dan Vis on 09/20/22
Sadly people are sometimes baptized without being well grounded in the basic teachings of the Bible, there is limited or no follow-up, and because strong ties and relationships are limited, people go off on tangents.

I've got an article on this you might find interesting Sam. It's entitled, Death in the Pot.
Posted by Shawnda McKnight on 09/20/22
Follow up is very important. I had a friend in the church whom I thought believes the way I do. We would always talk about God and His goodness. Then one day I mentioned that we don't get to the Father except through Jesus and she laughed.. ( I was so taken aback) After all of these years she doesn't believe that Jesus is God! If I had asked questions early on.... I know I cant blame myself bc she studied for herself and this is what she came up with.. Lets keep her and others that don't believe in the Creator/Savior/Word come to life....
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/19/21
I think those are indeed the critical skills: internalizing Scripture, and then learning to apply it. The third thing I gleaned from them that was really foundational was multiplication. That's still the bedrock of our ministry: take it in, live it out, pass it on.

For a fun verse Valerie, take a look at Ezra 7:10For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 10/17/21
Dan,
I always gain something new from this story. First, I love the fact that you had friends that taught you how to memorize and to study the Scriptures. They cared about you enough to lead you to Christ.

This time I learned that your primary training came from the Holy Spirit through the knowledge and application of God’s Word. The formal training came after you were equipped by God to work in His vineyard. Truly an example of being chosen. (Many are called, but few are chosen.)
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/11/21
That's a powerful cross reference there in John 3:33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true., and yes this process is definitely an important aspect of the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:16-1716 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.). I also really like your emphasis on relationship Paul, both our personal relationship with God, and how well we are able to help others have that experience. Good post!
Posted by Paul Carson on 10/11/21
You nail it with the line from Jeremiah 15:16Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. in that God's word is good (full of nutrients) for the soul.
Additionally John 3:33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. indicates to me that receiving God's word (His testimony, His covenant), is related to the sealing work of the Holy Spirit upon the believer.
It follows that our impact as disciple-makers is directly correlated to the relational connection that God has established for us - that of engaging with Him through His word.
We can only impart that which we have tasted, and testified to, as making a difference in our own lives.
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/23/20
You are very welcome Carlos. I remember that day very fondly. Thanks for going on to become the first Project CALL leader in our church the following year. You started a sequence that continued for 7 generations and is still going today...

Your friendship has been a huge blessing to me!
Posted by Carlos Vera on 11/21/20
It was ten years ago in October 2010 that I heard a new Pastor had just started at North Aurora SDA church. I visited and was sold on the vision of transforming the church into a training center. The flyer for Project CALL starting in January 2011 was exactly what I felt I needed and the first day of Survival Kit confirmed it was definitely for me.

Thank you for sharing your ministry with us and for continuing to make this incredible content available. I know I am blessed by what I study and learn here.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/18/20
That's awesome Tina, that people could be drawn to you through your quiet and peaceable life. And yes, every little effort adds up, doesn't it?

That's the exact progression Richard we should all seek: spiritual babe, mature disciple, and finally worker. That's going from seedling to mature plant to multiplying fruit in the parable of the sower. Let's all aim to be good soil for the seed!
Posted by Richard on 10/16/20
That is an amazing experience, that is a practicle summary of the process of a through desciple. Being a baby Christian, to a Desciple, to a Worker. We all need to experience similar growth in our spiritual journey with God   
Posted by Tina Deetua Glentworth on 10/15/20
I do agree that real disciple is about living a faithful Faith life around people we are connected, the Holy spirit worked in those souls around us to open their eyes to see the presence of God in us. I did have experience where people around me noticed that my life is full of life and peace and they wanted that life for themselves the life that Christ is made Lord in all aspect. And when i saw this happened it gave e joy to see that a quiet walk with God can also see God's mighty work of saving souls. let's not weary in doing small little thing in every day walk with God. Holy Spirit God can do great things!!   
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/13/20
Petrona , yes definitely! Not only will it help us stay on the right path, but also those we work with. Good post!

Lupita, actually they reached out to me. It's a good point worth mentioning, that new believers rarely know what they need. Which is why we should take the initiative in reaching out to them. :)

Jeannie, I've moved your question to a dedicated forum post as I think it is a super important topic and deserves some dedicated attention and discussion...
Posted by Jeannie Marcoux on 10/12/20
Dan So, if the discipleship training ends with Revival Keys vs. Team Tactics, how does one move a group in an in-person setting to the evangelistic component?   Already, the discipleship course with Team Tactics, and excluding Revival Keys took 8–9 months. Just trying to understand how to do it better next time around.   
Posted by Lupita on 10/12/20
How did you find these friends? How were you drawn to them?
Posted by Petrona Spaulding on 10/12/20
I think it’s important to combine evangelism with follow-up and training to ensure that we are staying on the right path, and being consistent in the Word of God. Connecting people to Jesus through training will also empower them to help others get connected to Jesus. Memorizing scriptures will keep us walking close to Christ and living by His every word.
Posted by Dan Vis on 08/21/20
That's great Dicky! I just saw your post there--and made this exact recommendation. :)

In our new discipleship track, we're recommending Revival Keys instead of Team Tactics for our level three course. Team Tactics is now part of our Evangelism track, along side several other ministry components. Revival Keys is more a refresher on basic principles of discipleship, combined with an emphasis on preparation for ministry by seeking the power of the Holy Spirit for ministry. If you haven't taken it yet, that's our current promotional class.
Posted by Dicky on 08/20/20
I decided to take up the Lost Art course, instead of TT. Yes, I have 2 persons in mind I am praying before meeting them. They had completed SK, BT, and TT some time back, as my church signed up with FAST in 2012-2013. Pray that God's Spirit will move their hearts.
Posted by Dan Vis on 08/14/20
God is good Dicky! I pray the Lord gives you someone (or a group) you can help invest in and disciple. It will be a wonderful experience!

Our study guide courses are a whole different experience when they are done in a group, face to face. Or even by skype/zoom. Something about the interaction that's really powerful and life-changing...
Posted by Dicky on 08/13/20
Reading your testimony excites me, inducing a desire for similar experience. I guess, I have experienced partially some of what you shared. Praise the Lord for His goodness, and FAST mission ministry.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/19
Stay encouraged friend!
Posted by Chrstian Emenike on 10/29/19
Thanks and I really appreciate the effort. Stay bless
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/19
We sometimes get sponsorships for our Study Center Chrstian, but I don't have any available at the moment. We'll see what happens. But do feel free to take advantage of our free tools and classes. We try to open up a different class every month!
Posted by Chrstian Emenike on 10/28/19
One of the challenges I am facing is the ability to meet certain financials. I am determine to succeed in life only through the power of Jesus Christ. I was to join if there is a kind of scholarship to assist me in my learning.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/10/19
That's wonderful Bert! We're thrilled to have you here. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help. And thanks so much for sharing about us in your sermon!!! :)
Posted by Bert Hopkins on 10/10/19
I am very happy to have found the Fast Missions Ministry and I thank God for the opportunity it gives me to memorise Scripture. I am trying to get my Church involved and included in my last Sermon. I want to start at least a team and God willing the Church.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/10/19
Happy to share my experience Nan. God is good, and His Word is powerful! It's a blessing to share it. :)
Posted by Nan on 10/09/19
Thank you brother Vis for your powerful testimony. I was greatly blessed! It reminded me of Acts 4:13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.. Knowing and sharing the Word is the life of evangelism and Abba's opportunity to bless his children as He did with you!
May Abba continue to bless you as you do unto others as it has been done unto you!😊
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/09/19
Amen Carol. Anything we can do to help others get going strong in their walk with God is a blessing to the cause of Christ!


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