Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A 2012 Challenge

When people challenge you to something what do you think? Have you ever been challenged to a sword duo and lived to tell about it? Has a close friend or relative challenged you to lose weight or confront some other physical obstacle? Often challenges are wrought and fought in the realm of a community of sorts.

So, if you have stumbled here or through a social media link, would you consider joining me for a challenge this year? What is it?
Memorize a part of the New Testament.
Part= 80 (?) verses or more.

Backstory on the Challenge
Back in 2005 or 2006, I read Juan Piper's book When I Don't Desire God. It's a book, well, about John's favorite subject to write on. In it, he mentioned a resource that he has employed to store up God's Word in his heart. I took it as a challenge. I started memorizing a chapter here and there, but didn't get serious about it. Maybe not as serious as the author of the article. So in mid-2010, I committed to memorize a small book of the New Testament using the tool: An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. Since then, I've stored up 3 mid-size NT books; no big deal; nothing to really be proud about. The effect has been both rewarding and constantly rebuking and the full effect, well, remains to be seen which is the beautiful thing about the Word of God (not returning empty). I don't promise that you'll be a better wife or husband, student or pastor. If anything you'll be a more awakened sinner. Perhaps, you'll gain discernment and wisdom along the way.
Without feeling the need to convince you of the importance of storing up God's Word in your heart and before you read the whole article, let me give you the skinny.
  1. Choose a book that is neither too long or too short that stirs your soul. For your first go at it, I would recommend a book that has between 80-120 verses; maybe even smaller for starters.
  2. Identify the same time of day that you'll do this (before kids get up, morning commute, before you jump into bed, etc.)
  3. Count the verses and add about 10 or 15% more days to give you some space for a break or the occasional miss. So, if you are shooting to memorize 60 verses starting on January 2nd, 2012, then mark that date and Saturday, 3/10/2012 allowing for that 15% fudge space.
  4. Learn one new verse a day.
  5. Prioritize the review of all old verses before learning new ones.
  6. When you finish around the 10th of March, then pause to celebrate and praise God. However, your work has only begun.
  7. Commit to a 100-day review of the chunk. Start the day after you finish your regular, daily memory to keep it fresh. Mark your calendar for the finish of the 100-day review (again, I would add a 10-15% fudge factor).
My challenge is for you to join me in memorizing something. I am considering Romans 1-8. You may want to start w/ something smaller. Would you start w/ me on January 2nd? would you even bring someone along in your church or geographic area to do this w/ you? If you're a church leader, how about taking another elder, emerging leader or a deacon and pass the challenge on to him/her?
Would you contact me via email if you are considering this? willpareja [at]
The nice thing about such a challenge is that you and I don't have to live close to each other and say verses to each other. We can pray for one another in the endeavor and check-in regularly that would be the accountability side of the challenge.
Let me relay an example of a way you could bring others along in this even in some modified form. Last year as I was contemplating what book I should take on next, I challenged one of the guys in my community group to memorize one chapter of 1 John with me (for I had decided that that was the next book to memorize). Without telling him my full ambition, he accepted my challenge for those 10 verses. We decided on a 3-4 week space to memorize and set a date to get together for coffee and say these verses to each other. By God's grace, my friend nailed it and so did I. Then, I just kept on going.

Wouldn't it be great if in 2012, we could see a wave or movement of God's people around this country committing to this (or some similar) method? Elections and Olympics, what would the effect be in 2012? over 5 or 10 years?
Pray about this. Think about it.
Email me by December 10th to let me know if you are in for January.

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