|Three Memorization Questions|
By Dan Vis
February 19, 2018
This week, I want to do something different. Rather than posting an article on some specific topic, I decided to answer a few questions I'm frequently asked. Three of them, in fact, all related to memorization as part of our Back to the Bible focus for the month of February.
I tackle these questions with a bit of trepidation, knowing that no matter what I write, some of you are not going to like my answers! :) But they are important questions, and I think they are worth the discussion!
Question #1. Individual Verses or Whole Chapters?
If you have been a member of FAST for a while, or done any of our advanced memory courses, you probably know my thoughts on this. I'm a huge proponent of memorizing key verses as God gives them to you. Here's why:
1) I believe this is how God instructs us to study. Verses like Isaiah 28:9-109 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: and I Corinthians 2:13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. suggest God teaches us bit by bit, and then connects those insights together in our mind by the Holy Spirit. Memorizing verses as God gives them, allows Him to guide you in that process and will accelerate your learning. Yes, we should study our verses in context, but we do not need to memorize the context, to lay up some truth.
2) Practically, I have been in full-time ministry for nearly 30 years, preaching, teaching, giving Bible studies, writing, and all the rest, and I have never once been in a situation where I needed to quote an entire chapter to answer a person's question. But I've had plenty of experiences where some verse God gave me a few weeks earlier was just the verse I needed.
3) Long Passage Disease (as I refer to it) is one of the most common causes of a crashed memory program. Once people learn a few tools and discover how easy it really is to memorize, they set some giant goal and start plowing through a long passage. They increase their intake which bogs down their daily review. And they let their meditation on individual verses lapse, causing their review to become mechanical and dry. Before long, their memorization sputters out and dies. Literally, I've seen this repeatedly. Don't take a chance!
4) Last but not least, memorizing key verses keeps your memorization personal and real. This was the experience God commanded in Deuteronomy 6:6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:. Every time we review a verse through which God spoke to us, we can review the principles and applications He gave us. This helps us follow the counsel in Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip., and avoid being like the man in James 1:24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.. Verses like Deuteronomy 4:9Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; further suggests it is important to review the lessons God gives us, so we can share them.
Admittedly, it can be a real treat to throw in some slightly longer passage or even a chapter now and then, but the foundation of your memorization should be built on the day to day experience of taking verses straight from God's hand to your heart.
Question #2. What version should I memorize from?
Talk about a hot potato topic! This is a live one, if there ever was one. Given that everything on our site and in our study guides defaults to the KJV, my answer to this question may surprise you: Use the version that works best for you.
This is not to say all versions are created equal. I prefer Bibles that can be used freely without burdensome copyright restrictions (II Thessalonians 3:1Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:). I believe translations are better when they employ multiple translators, rather than an individual or a small team. I prefer a more literal translation to a paraphrase, or a translation with a specific agenda. The manuscripts used to create a translation should also be carefully considered. And I personally like the rich protestant history of the KJV Bible.
But I'm not in the camp who argue we should use the KJV Bible, because that's the version Paul used! :) I recognize the language is archaic and can be difficult to understand--especially for those whose first language is not English. There are numerous times, I have sensed the Holy Spirit impress me to look up some word in the Greek or Hebrew to discover a better word could be used. And I'm well familiar with various "problem texts" that have to be explained away because they were translated poorly in the KJV. Of course, these last two issues are true of all translations. None are perfect.
So the KJV is a good translation. I've used it for years and grown accustomed to the language. But it may not be best for everyone. I encourage each person to study the issues out for themselves and make an intelligent, informed decision.
The fact is, the natural man can't understand Scripture anyway, apart from the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit. And He can teach any person with an honest heart whatever lessons He needs to through whatever version is available. Choose the best translation you can, compare it with the original languages as best you can, and put your trust in the Author, not the version.
Question #3. Random or book order back review?
Here's a question I've been chewing on for awhile, especially since our last Breakout Memory Challenge, where we added some new features to the Engine allowing you to review your verses in book order. That is, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.
When I first began memorizing, I kept all my back review verses in book order, and reviewed my verses in that order--moving a little marker back through the box as I completed a different section each day. My goal was simply to get to the end of the box by the end of the month.
It worked well. And I suspect it helped cement the location of those verses in my mind. It also made it easier for me to do "Bible Trains". When out and about, I could try and run through all my verses in a specific book or section of the Bible from memory without having any cards in hand. I just went through it chapter by chapter and tried to recite every verse I knew.
Years later, when creating the Memory Engine, we settled on an algorithm to randomly pick back review verses, and shuffle their order. It kept the daily review challenging as you never knew what verse you would get and had to recall the verse with nothing to help you but that one reference. It also allowed you to review verses by topic as needed.
This approach helped keep references sharp, and the review interesting. In fact, I often ask God to intervene in the randomization process and give me just the verses I need to review for that day--and I believe He answers those prayers. This kind of review was not easy when limited to physical cards. I was hesitant to shuffle my cards for a more random review, or sort them into topics, knowing how long it would take to put them all back in book order.
So my conclusion after stewing on this question for awhile? Do both! We're currently in the process of revamping all the tools in our tool box and plan to give you an easy option to switch back and forth between random and book order back reviews any time you want. Alternate every other day, or do a bit of both each day. The option is (will be) completely yours!
So there you have it--my personal opinions on three common, but important, questions related to memorization! Focus on key verses, tied to your devotional life and the personal applications God gives you each day. Carefully assess the best Bible version for your needs, and trust the Holy Spirit to be your interpreter and guide. And last, mix up your review with both random and book order back reviews. Whatever you do, keep memorizing!
Have something you want to add to one of my answers above? Or perhaps have another question I didn't address? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Curious to see what new questions come up!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 01/19/20||MEMBER|
Thanks for affirming these points Paul. And your testimony is my experience also. Those verses God highlights are always the best ones. So much fun to review.
There's nothing wrong with a passage now and then, and everyone should at least memorize the 10 Commandments at some point for sure. But these longer passages should be the exception, not the rule!
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/25/18||MEMBER|
Wow! Thank you Linda for sharing what you did about FAST. Couldn't have expressed more beautifully what we really want our ministry to be! All glory to Him.
And I love your quote about God speaking through a donkey and about Bibles on the shelf. Great stuff! Enjoy your time at Arise. :)
|Posted by Linda Gerace on 02/25/18||MEMBER|
I appreciate your comments, Dan. I love the language of the KJV and prefer to memorize from it, even though it does have it's issues. Sometimes I wonder why the translators chose a particular word, and sometimes I struggle with understanding a passage and I will go to another version to help me understand it.
For a long time I have said "the best version of the Bible is the one that gets read," similar to what you said. I might have 50 KJV's laying around my house, but if I don't read them because I can't quite grasp the language, what good are they? I'd be better off giving them away and letting someone else get a blessing fron them. We limit God's power when we say that ONLY the KJV version should be used. I say, if God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through the NIV, KJV, NKJV, The Message, The Living Bible, or whatever translation/paraphrase a person owns. He may want to lead them to a different Bible later on in their relationship with Him, but the Holy Spirit is not limited to speaking through the KJV.
I love the changes that have been made to the FAST tools. I got off track the last month due to starting ARISE Online and getting behind... trying to catch up. Now that I am caught up I am hoping to keep up with both FAST and ARISE. I am so grateful that you have maintained the mission work that FAST is over the last 6 years since I joined. It has been a rock for me... always there no matter where I am, always wooing me back to my Bible, back to the Word, back to God. Praise God for what He is doing through this work.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/21/18||MEMBER|
Hi Gail! Always a blessing to see you and others from back home. And a very good comment! I think you are absolutely right--everyone should have a few good chapters in their back pocket. Romans 6-8, John 17, Psalms 91, or even something longer. If not at first, down the road a bit. These are wonderful to meditate on!
Kind of like jogging. A short job of 4-5 miles a day is good. But everyone one in a while it's run to train for and do a half marathon or something. Good for you, and a fun experience. :)
Thanks for helping to balance my answer! Please ask Howard to say hi to everyone in the FAST class for me...
|Posted by Gail Wein on 02/21/18||MEMBER|
|The questions (and responses) are all so interesting. My husband and I were discussing the "long passage" concept and we both had a similar outlook. When you reach our senior years the long passages have a couple of different and personal advantages. Seniors sometimes have nights that sleep will not come and those long passages, said quietly in the dark, can be so very comforting. It is also such a wonderful exercise for the aging brain.:) Aside from that we have to agree that for teaching and exhortation the shorter, to the point, verses are much more useful.|
|Posted by Patricia Jones on 02/20/18||MEMBER|
|You're right, Dan, no easy answer. It was simpler when I was growing up. There were other versions around, but generally everyone used KJV for all but comparison when studying or for a change in pace with devotional reading. Now they ask people to read aloud together in church for the opening scripture and even though there are KJV in the pews, there are a variety of versions read aloud at once. My preference would be to have one person read it or use the readings in the back of the hymnal so we're all reading the same thing, but . . . I love teaching the kids. That is my joy!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/20/18||MEMBER|
|Appreciate your ministry to your kids at church Patricia. Keep up the good work! As for versions, there's no easy answer. Hearing different versions all the time hinders memorization, but we won't all agree on one version. So we have to manage as the best we can! :)|
|Posted by Patricia Jones on 02/20/18||MEMBER|
|Dan, last night I mentioned my frustration with having the kids' verses in NKJV. With what you said about choosing a version to memorize, it probably is better, as for most kids these days it is probably easier to memorize in that than in KJV. I do have some kids who use KJV because that is what is used at home. I guess I just continue making sure I am reading it correctly when we review and when I switch to KJV let them know that's what happened.|
|Posted by Patricia Jones on 02/20/18||MEMBER|
|Pam, the Swiss cheese approach seems to be giving me the balance I want in long/short as well as helping me know where in a chapter key verses are. I have been including remembering the references, always the hardest part for me, since I have begun with FAST, and I am seeing improvement. I want to tie my memory work even closer to my reading and study. One step at a time.|
I find that I get the most out of the Bible and SOP reading/study I do to prepare for teaching the kids. All week long I'm reading and studying what I will be teaching and asking God to give me what He knows I need that day along with what He knows they need when I teach. Because I was putting so much time into it, I switched it to the morning and get up earlier so I have that unrushed time. In the evening I study the adult lesson and do other reading/study, but it is not the depth I have in the morning.
Dan, maybe it was here I heard about the Swiss cheese method. I've taken a lot of tips from many places. It does take review to keep passages, like individual verses, fresh. It is a work in progress to find what works best. I gradually make adjustments, and keep them if they work over time.
Thank you to you and the coaches who make this site available.
|Posted by Pamela Kendall on 02/20/18||MEMBER|
Patricia your "Swiss Cheese" approach to longer passages adding key verses first is good - and one verse at a time is good. I think part of my problem was that I didn't meditate on the verses so it was more of a rote memory task than communion with God through his word. I have wondered what rich experience I might have had if I had meditated on each verse or section as I learned it! The passages could be so much more personal and special to me!
On occasion someone here at FAST will post an insight into a verse from one of my "chapters" - insights from a verse that I lightly passed over and they found beautiful things in verses that didn't "look special" to me on the surface... The word of God is so deep and God can teach us so much from it if we take time to digest it with the Holy Spirit's influence!
Carole I like your plan for memorizing and Bible reading! In the past I read my Bible or SOP without stoping to think or meditate. I would forget almost all of what I read and it had very little impact on me. I have been amazed at the rich treasures God has been showing me since I began to slow down and actually think and ponder on what I am reading! The Bible truly is an amazing Book!
|Posted by Tesha Anna Gilmore Bair on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|Yes, normally long chapters are difficult for me to retain. When I memorized the Ten Commandments, and the Sermon on the Mount, I did it a verse or two at a time. It still took me a year or more to memorize the Sermon on the Mount, because I also memorized key verses from other passages during that year. |
Key verses are important for spiritual growth, I think, because I can memorize verses that I think I need to use in my life.
The only exception to the rule about long chapters, for me, is when I have found the chapter in Scripture song. Then reviewing it is a joy, because I can sing it each time!
|Posted by Patricia Jones on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|Like you Pam, I find I have far more verses I want to memorize than time/mental capacity to add them quickly. I too have several chapters and some longer passages I've memorized, but they are familiar passages. I'm working on getting them added verse by verse into the engine here. Somewhere I read about memorizing longer passages with a Swiss cheese approach: starting with key verses and gradually adding around them. With my reviews focusing on individual verses, I think it will keep the passage fresh. I will see how this method works. |
Dan, my focus has been and will continue to be on individual verses, but I like having the few chapters/passages I've memorized. I come across verses I want to memorize all the time, far more than I can reasonably keep up with. I've been adding in verses I previously memorized from Memverse along with verses I'm currently memorizing from your Verse Packs. I think I may put more emphasis on current verses from my devotional reading and slow down what I add in from other sources.
I've read, studied, and memorized in KJV primarily my whole life and it is by far what I prefer. I'm a bit frustrated because the kid's lessons I teach use NKJV for memory work. I have to read them when we review, or I switch to KJV.
I've always done random review, as I figure that is the way to ensure I know things solidly. I have a copy of my review list which I can use for train reviews when walking, driving, shoveling, etc. These are times I use for singing hymns and scripture songs as well.
I guess I like variety: long/short, in/out of order, Bible/SOP/songs. I also like the community here.
|Posted by Carole Bliss on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
Glad to hear it all made sense Carole! :) Your comment reminded me of a statement found in that great little classic Steps to Christ...
There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained. Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in the mind. (SC, p. 90)
Interesting how it goes from reading, to study, to memorizing. :)
|Posted by Carole Bliss on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|I appreciate this reading today. |
The way you answered each question, I agree with.
If I memorize too much, I lose the meaning. I would rather memorize one verse and know the full meaning, and apply it to my life, than many verses, and just memorize for the sake of saying I memorized this much.
While reading the Bible, I am trying to slow down, and think, about what I just read, how do I apply it to my life.
|Posted by Pamela Kendall on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|I like your answer John , yours too Dan - great points, thanks!|
|Posted by John Gilmore on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|Regarding quoting from the KJV, Pam, Paul quoted from what we call the Old Testament, but not always "word perfect", in order to get the message across to his readers. When speaking to a young child or someone who understands only simple English, for their sake, I paraphrase or give the meaning rather than quote verbatim. I see memorizing word perfect as most important for maintaining the accuracy of my mental record of God's Word, to keep my steps from wandering from His truth.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
John, thanks for emphasizing the most important thing: to keep memorizing, along with all the other M's. :) And you are right, the version issue is more a problem in English than other languages, but it is not unique to English. Several countries have two or more translations and they have the same debates.
Thanks Marion for sharing your testimony. So good to hear things are going strong again for you. I too have memorized some longer passages, and treasure those.
Pam, thanks for your testimony. I would definitely encourage anyone with questions about individual verses or long passages to read it. You expressed your story so beautifully. Thank you!
Other great points also. The plethora of versions today has made it harder to memorize because we continually hear verses quoted differently. That definitely hampers memorization. And switching versions, where you rememorize all your verses, is problematic too. In terms of memorization, you want every possible exposure to the Bible to reinforce the exact same wording.
As for your question about witnessing, I have found it simplest to just adjust the pronunciation slightly. So instead of "as he thinketh in his heart" I may say "as he thinks in his heart" when talking to someone. It's still word-perfect, but easier for the listener to understand. This solves a good share of the problems but not all. There are other "tricks" too, but that's another topic for another place! :)
I've known several people who use that approach as well, Diane, and just add the version to the reference so they memorize that as well. I personally prefer to stick to one Bible for memorizing--the Bible I keep with me. That way when I'm preaching, teaching, giving a Bible study, or whatever, the verse I quote always matches the Bible in my hand. I do however sometimes memorize a key verse (or phrase) in a "backup" translation. So I can quote a verse and then add, "or as the NEB Bible translates it..." This definitely comes in handy.
Thanks again everyone for your great comments!
|Posted by Diane Castanon on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
Hi Dan! I appreciate this topic for today. When I memorize, I use which ever version makes the text clear, after I've studied the text in my concordance. I also avoid paraphrased versions, but I do memorize in KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, etc...
As a side line, I love the updates that have been taking place over the past few years on FAST. Thank you and your family for all you guys do so that we can memorize "word-perfect."
|Posted by Pamela Kendall on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
I like your "M's" John ! Memorize, Meditate, Move, and Motivate, really great!
Dan when I first heard your emphasis on memorizing individual verse here and there (during my first BMC) Isaiah 28:10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: - I wasn't too excited about it. My memorization program had been focused almost entirely on long passages or chapters/books of the Bible. I had a system that worked for me (memorizing each verse separately and together) so I was successful in keeping up with my verses but they were not very "special" or personal to me and I did not meditate on them.
Despite my hesitancy/uncertainty I began introducing more individual verses to my review thanks to your advice - and this principle has greatly enriched my memory program! The verses are much more special to me now (especially when I take time to meditate on them well...not often enough yet). It is especially exciting when the Holy Spirit makes connections between verses during meditation I Corinthians 2:13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. !
I find that I find new verses I want to memorize faster than I can add them to my review (without over-bloating it) so I hardly have time for the chapter/book project I was working on... and hate to take away a spot from a "special" verse to add a "project" verse. As a result my "project" has nearly come to a halt - I may still add a project verse now and then but my focus is on the special verses that God gives me that are more pertinent to what I am studying in Devotions, FAST, something I hear in church that stands out to me, or a verse God brings to mind that specifically relates to a circumstance or need in my life at the moment.
It reminds me of nutrition - our health will be much better and our food will be more enjoyable if we eat a wide variety of healthy food than if we have a steady diet of one food only!
The here a little, there a little principle ( Isaiah 28:10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: ) has greatly enriched my memory program (especially when combined with meditation and when it connects with my life personally) and I encourage other "long passage" memorizers to give it a try! And I encourage anyone who hasn't taken the Breakout Memory Challenge be sure to sign up next time it is offered - there are so many great principles there to revolutionize your memory program making it much more personal and meaningful!
Briefly on the other 2 points. I personally grew up with the KJV and so am familiar with the language. When snatches of verses come to mind that I have heard before it is usually from the KJV and easiest for me to search for in KJV. I have done a lot of memory work in KJV as well. My Grandmother tried to switch her memory program from KJV to NKJV and she found it difficult and confusing.
So while I personally have stuck to KJV for my memory program, I do have a question on how it relates to witnessing to others. Suppose God brings a "perfect verse" to mind to share with someone but I have memorized it in KJV and it has some complicated language, and suppose the person I am sharing with does not have much Bible background and they aren't schooled in "KJV language"... if I quote the verse to them word-perfect from KJV will it be too confusing? If they don't understand the word(s) it might make it easier for the devil to snatch away the "seed" before it has a chance to take root in their heart... Matthew 13:19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. . Is it better to paraphrase it in today's language? If so it seems that would nullify the "word perfect" effect and make it a bit less powerful... I'd be interested in other's thoughts on the effect of Bible memory version on witnessing.
As far as book order versus random I have focussed primarily on random review order - but I do supplement with book order reviews. I started doing it mostly with my long passages and chapters because I wanted to be able to say them easily in order without having to pause to think of the next verse, but now I also include my "here a little there a little" verses. Basically I do my random review on one program (SwordScript in my case) and my book order review on a different program (Scripture Typer). It is great that the FAST engine will soon be able to do both easily! I think both methods are helpful. I like random review as my focus and book order review as a supplement.
|Posted by Marion Coppock on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
|Since I was one who lost my habit of memorizing when I started to memorize chapters, I agree with you Dan. I am happy I have learned whole chapters. I am reviewing special verses in them now, and find it very rewarding. I have always learned from the KJV, but really like your thoughts on what version to use.|
|Posted by John Gilmore on 02/19/18||MEMBER|
Yes, "keep memorizing!"
On the issue of versions, the fallacy of "only the KJV" is obvious as we consider that 80% of the world population does not speak English at all. For them to memorize in the KJV would be as profitable as for me to memorize the Koran in Arabic.
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