Archive | March, 2014

Remembering God’s Instructions: Tips for Memorization

28 Mar

Last week, we focused on Preparation for Memorization. This week, we’ll go a bit further as we examine a few techniques for memorization. Try a few of these suggestions on for size:

  1. Find the rhythm. While not every Bible passage is poetic, most have a discernable rhythm. Taking the time to figure out the natural “beat” of the passage can make a big difference in your ability to recall the actual words. You may even try setting that beat to a tune!
  2. Write it out. There is something about printing words on a page which helps us focus our attention. As you transfer God’s Words from your Bible to a notebook or scrap of paper, you’ll be carefully considering their order and meaning.
  3. Draw it. While words convey meaning, we see so many words during any given day that it can be difficult to recall their context. Taking time to illustrate a verse with pertinent images can provide that context. Even writing the words with different colored pencils can provide your mind with the visual cue it needs.
  4. Find a study partner. Partners help keep us accountable and can help us through rough spots. Ask a friend or friends to share the memorization journey with you.
  5. Don’t give up. Like making the perfect burger or avoiding obstacles with a pallet jack, this is one of those things that we get better at, the more often we do it. It’s okay if it takes a week or even a month to memorize a single verse. The point is to guarantee that we’ll remember it when the pressure is on.
  6. Don’t forget to review! Set aside time on a regular basis to go over the verses you’ve learned. But don’t panic if you’ve forgotten a few. That’s normal. The goal is to keep all of your hard work fresh in your mind.

The more you memorize the more comfortable you’ll become with the discipline. As time passes, you may even discover or develop some techniques that are all your own! When you do, I hope you’ll come back and share them with us.

Next week, we’ll shift our focus from remembering God’s instructions and take a look at some tips for remembering the instructions that we’re given by our earthly bosses. Meanwhile, feel free to share tips you may have on either topic in the comment box below!

Remembering God’s Instructions: Preparation for Memorization

21 Mar

Following God’s instructions isn’t just about having heard His words, but about remembering them. More than that, it’s about being so familiar with them that you can both automatically put them into practice and help others who don’t know how. This type of familiarity doesn’t come from a quick perusal of the Bible, but from the intentional devotion of time and attention. It requires discipline and hard work. It requires genuine study. And it requires a plan.

Of all the Spiritual disciplines, few will serve you as well in the workplace (or anywhere else, for that matter) as the art of memorization. This goes beyond a vague recollection of what God said. It goes straight to the heart. In Psalm 119:11, the psalmist declares, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (NASB) That’s exactly the familiarity that believers today ought to seek.

While Scripture Memory can be both challenging and, on occasion, intimidating, the time invested is never wasted. This week, we’ll share a few tips to get you started.

  1. The Bible is a big book and every page is packed with useful advice, but some passages will be more relevant to you and your present situation than others; these are the verses which you’ll want to commit to memory. To find them, keep your eyes open for passages which stand out to you while doing your daily devotions or do an internet search for verses about topics which particularly interest you. You may even want to ask family members and friends to share a few of their favorites.
  2. If you decide to memorize full passages of Scripture, take it one verse at a time. The goal here isn’t to demonstrate your amazing mental skill, but to truly commit God’s Word to your heart. Remember, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.
  3. Pick a translation that speaks to your heart and stick to it. Not all of us respond the same way to the poetic strains of the King James Version or the down-to-earth text of the New International Version… and that’s O.K. Select a translation that is easy for you to remember.
  4. Put your verses where you’ll see them. As with your Bible reading, if you don’t ever see your memory verses, you’re probably going to forget to work on them; keep your work in a visible location where you’re guaranteed to stumble across it on a regular basis. This could be a bathroom mirror, inside your cereal cabinet, taped to your computer monitor, or even inside of your Bible as a bookmark. If one location doesn’t work, shift to another until you find one that does.

These tips, of course, only cover the “what” of memorization. They give you thoughts to consider as you prepare to embark upon your journey. Next week, we’ll take a look at the “how” and offer some practical advice which will make memorization (in any context) a bit easier. Meanwhile, feel free to share how you chose what to memorize in the comment box below!

Hearing vs. Remembering: A Matter of Time and Attention

14 Mar

Taking the time to listen to what both God and your earthly boss have to say is a fantastic step in the right direction. Unfortunately, all of those hours are worthless if you can’t later recall what was said and put it into practice. Few things are quite as embarrassing as performing a task poorly or incorrectly because you weren’t actually paying attention to the directions being given.

If you’ve ever frozen on a test, you know exactly how this feels. It’s crunch time and, despite the many hours you’ve dedicated to reviewing flash cards, taking lecture notes, and faithfully attending your study group, you simply aren’t prepared. You’ve heard the answers before, but hearing them wasn’t enough. You need to remember them. And you don’t. Your body was present, but your mind was somewhere else and your grades will soon reflect this reality.

The truth is that spending hours reading a textbook, the Employee Handbook, or God’s Word often gives us a keen sense of accomplishment. We can quantify the number of hours spent and the pages read. Such success may even lead us to surmise that we’re reasonably diligent students, employees, or disciples of Christ. (After all, who actually reads any of these books in their entirety?) But this diligence isn’t enough to guarantee a good grade. Time, alone, doesn’t ensure that we’ll remember what we read when we’re put to the test.

The writers of the Bible recognized this and advised both the House of Israel and the Christian believers to devote themselves to those things which would help them remember God’s instructions. In Deuteronomy 6:7-8, the Israelites are commanded to, “teach them [God’s instructions] diligently to your sons and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (NASB) And in 2 Timothy 2:15, the Apostle Paul advises his young student to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV) (See Psalm 119; Proverbs 22:17, 23:12; Ecclesiastes 7:25; and 2 Peter 1:5-8 for a few more examples.)

The truth is, if you’re going to be an “A” student, you need to study and this involves more than just the consumption of information. Diligent study requires not just time, but attention. And in a good study program a large part of both are devoted to memorization. Next week, we’ll take a look at this vital skill, but for now, feel free to share your own thoughts on the subject in the comment box below!

Practical Tips for Time Management Part II

7 Mar

It wasn’t long before my newfound method of “mapping” my schedule began to evidence oddities in my routine.  For example, even in my small town, I was wasting a good 45 minutes each day trying to commute from one side of town to the other first for work, then again for school. With an hour or two in between meetings, it seemed rational to find a more centralized location between activities and apply the extra time to study rather than travel.

Other time-saving opportunities also presented themselves and I found myself cutting “fluff” from all sorts of places. I reduced the time spent reading my magazines by eliminating the less “useful” material, slashed the time spent watching television repeats (and a few less interesting shows), and even dropped a few “relaxing” activities that weren’t really as relaxing as I’d hoped they’d be.

Next on the chopping block was “business” – things I considered important, but which merited a second look. From checking stats on my blogs, I was able to determine that four posts a week was too many (a time-savings of several hours). A good look at my housework schedule yielded similar results: why was I doing laundry every week when I only had enough for full loads every other week? My schedule was becoming more efficient… and my free time was actually growing!

It was at this point that I was able to consider those two overlooked categories: “relaxation” and “relationship” and begin to give them some serious consideration. The latter could be mixed with other activities throughout the week – three or four walks with my sister were far more satisfying (both physically and intellectually) than a frenetic run on the treadmill in a secluded corner of the laundry room. A coffee with a friend, far more thought-provoking than an hour on the couch with “Dancing with the Stars”. The blank spaces began to fill up, but this time with activities that had the potential to provide relaxation, encouragement, and support for all who were involved. And this time, without the sense of frenzied rush which had accompanied the knowledge that there was too much to do and too little time in which to do it!

Keeping a schedule is, of course, only a start when it comes to efficiently managing our time. Taking the time to sit down and assess our priorities, reorganize our lives, and ensure that we are being the best possible stewards of all that God has given is a vital part of living a productive life both at home and in the workforce. I encourage you to give it a try!

 

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