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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scripture Memorization

One of the things I found annoying as a Young Life Church Partner was having to memorize short pieces of scripture, because they were often proof texts to a contrived evangelical message.

Today, I was reminded of the power of God's word that becomes imbedded into our hearts, not by our forced memorization but by God's constant speaking to us.

I just received one of the most difficult phone calls of my ministry of someone in crisis, and I felt as though I failed mesirably. Seeking God in prayer afterwards; hoping that God could clean up the bigger mess I just made a simple verse came to mind: "Father forgive us, for we do not know what we are doing." Not only a prayer for this person, but more importantly a prayer for myself. Reassurance that as some Reverend Pastor guy, I am still forgiven for my ineptitude.

This small piece of scripture coming to life gave has given me the biggest sense of peace.

And it recalled another time where scripture came alive. Having just learned about my cancer the verse of the leper resonated on my heart: "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean."

Neither of these verses were part of the Topical Memory System implemented by YL. Neither had I exegeted or heard a profound sermon exposit it's merit. Rather these scriptures emerged deep from within; These experiences help me understand what we talk about God's ability to have the Spirit move through our situations to place God's word upon our hearts.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

It was not god's spirit moving through your body. You were doing what all humans do when they are at their best. You were consoling another in a time of need.

You did not need god or scripture to help that person. You did the most natural thing in the world. You empathized. Your answer to that person was that we are all human.

Let the best of your humanity shine through and you will receive a great reward.

wes said...

Dear Jeff,
Glad you were able to read and engage these thoughts I have written for our community in Charlotte.
You highlight some interesting concerns regarding the existence of God and trusting in humanity. The challenge is you and I's starting point is radically different.
As you state in an earlier post, you examine humanity and see it as a place to put my hopes and aspirations. When I look at humanity, when I speak with friends and congregants, when I look at human history, I see a brokenness that is far too deep to place my hope. I believe, "The best humanity has to offer itself" is self-denial; to recognize that we are in need of others, in need of community and in need of something larger than our individual selves.
In your third post you suggest that empathy is the most natural human action. Most scholars (theologians and psychologists) recognize that empathy is not a natural human action...most psych 101 students have heard "there is no such thing as altruism." The natural human tendency is not empathy but selfishness.
There is an interesting movement in the atheistic community called New Atheism, USA Today had an article called Atheism 3.0 last month, which states the same belief. Basically the argument is that organized religion provides an intrinsic value to humanity because it battles against the natural tendency for humans to look out for only themselves and instead to consider the needs of others.
It is from this starting point--that humanity is not a sustainable place for me to put my trust in--that reveals our different worldviews.
Glad you stumbled across my website, hope you are able to continue engaging people who look at the world and humanity through a different lens.
Peace and blessings,
WB

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