When Scripture Makes Your Heart Sing!

This morning in my quiet time I camped out in Colossians 3:16:

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And it hit me how key music is for letting God’s Word dwell in me richly.  According to this verse it’s right up there with teaching!  Have I ever found this to be true in my own life.  Most of the scriptures I’ve memorized, especially the longer portions stick with me because they’ve been put to music.  Not always great music, mind you!  But even little ditties help things stick better in my brain.

And it’s not just my brain.

I’ll never forget when my son was three years old, I decided to walk to the gym with him in the stroller, by the time we were headed home huge storm clouds gathered, leaving the sky ominously dark.  You could hear thunder rumbling all over the place.  As I raced the mile home pushing him in the stroller, praying that the fury of the storm would hold off just a bit longer I suddenly heard him saying something over and over.  Leaning in I discovered he was quoting Psalm 56:3-4a to himself repeatedly.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.”

He was applying scripture, using it to calm his fears!!!  At three years old!

How could this be?

We’d been listening to Steve Green’s CD Hide Them In Your Heart!  The song got in and when the truth was needed it was there.  Years later I learned how crucial this is – if a child feels like he’s all alone when he’s experiencing pain he will often feel the need to self protect and shut down his heart emotionally. Can this ever impact his life and relationships even decades later!  But if he’s aware of the Lord protecting him, he won’t feel the need to self protect.  Truly one of the most important things parents can teach their children is that God is with them and able to protect and comfort them, especially their heart when it hurts.

That’s what Doug and Debbie Kingsriter discovered when their son had to have emergency surgery but no one mentioned that when he awoke after surgery he’d be unable to communicate for awhile.  They were so concerned since they hadn’t prepared him for this.  The doctor warned them most children freaked out but when their son could finally communicate again he was totally peaceful.  The doctors were amazed!  When they asked him about it, he shared how a verse they’d been memorizing as a family came to mind and calmed his heart.  They were utterly blown away!  He was so little they had no idea it had even sunk in!  That’s when they decided to create the GT and the Halo Express CD’s where all the songs were scripture!  If you can find a copy of these they are pure gold!

I cannot recommend highly enough moms listen to songs that feature scriptures with their children.  Even with babies!

Now the thunderstorm incident happened over 20 years ago, but since then even more Scripture song resources have been created – for you as well as your children (and grandchildren!  :0)  I love to memorize using the Fighter Verse app on my phone.  There’s a ton of variety in these songs and do they ever stick!  I listen to them as I’m exercising, learning a new one each week and it’s amazing how I’ll find myself throughout the day not only humming the tune but meditating on the words!  This is so helping God’s Word to dwell in me richly!

Recently my prayer partner shared with me another wonderful resource called Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs by Randall Goodgame.  My friend is absolutely loving using this with her children – and she has 13 of them! But note, she’s also really enjoying the music herself too.  If you go to Amazon.com you’ll find their CD’s have received 5 star reviews!*


Here’s a link to one of my favorites from here, featuring the African Children’s Choir:


I honestly believe providing opportunities for our children to hide God’s Word in their hearts is one of the most important things we can ever do for them.  We never know when the enemy may come to attack while we’re not around and what a difference it can make to equip them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) so they are ready for such times!  And not just when they are little…

A few years ago when my son was in college he passed through a difficult time of disappointment and pain.  During his hardest moment you know what helped?  A verse he’d memorized through song as a child, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you, says the Lord.”

But here’s the crazy thing – while I bought those children’s CD’s for my son’s benefit, after listening to them over and over for years as he grew up, those verses are forever etched in my memory – and on my heart, where they continue to make a difference in my life!

So please hear me on this – Scripture songs aren’t just for children!  Especially as I’m getting older I’m finding it’s much harder now to memorize.  But when something is put to music, memorization suddenly becomes do-able!  It really is helping God’s Word dwell richly in me… and then flow out of me so i can talk about it when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up, impressing them on those around me.  (Deuteronomy 6:7)

So for my application from this morning’s quiet time can you guess what I did?!  :0)


*NOTE: Slugs & Bugs is Kickstarting Sing the Bible Volume 2!  You’d better believe this is one kickstarter project I am so excited about supporting!!! http://kck.st/1H60szM    And no, I get nothing for posting this on here!  But I so love passing on treasure when I find it – and trust me this is one kickstarter you receive treasure when you support! ;0)

Learning to Learn

The original goal of a liberal arts education was to equip people so that by the time they graduated from college they would know how to study any topic on their own.  That’s why it’s called “Liberal Arts” – because the goal was to liberate people from needing someone to teach them!

Ever wonder why in college you have to take so many courses “you’re never going to use?”  It stems from this educational philosophy.  The goal wasn’t to cram content in, but to equip you with as many different learning tools possible since there are different ways of learning different topics.  Studying biology requires different tools than learning physics!

I was blessed to be discipled by Barb Choate for two years when I was in college.  But you know, Barb didn’t teach me all I needed to know for walking with Jesus these past 30 years.  What she did was lay a foundation, helping me learn how to learn from Jesus so I could keep following Him.

All those spiritual disciplines – they are not ends in themselves, but ways of learning to learn – of helping you show up for Jesus to teach you.

Having a quiet time? That’s learning to listen – a foundational part of the learning process – it all starts here!

Scripture memory?  That’s learning to remember – another key part of learning!

Fasting?  That’s learning to focus!

Praying? That’s learning to ask questions and interact with your teacher! :0)

Bible study?  That’s learning how to observe, interpret and apply!!!  Especially when you teach how to inductively study God’s Word.

So don’t feel like it all depends on you to teach someone everything they need to know when you are meeting with them. And be careful you don’t disciple in a way that promotes the person you meet with becoming dependent on you!  (btw that’s a quote from my husband!  :0) Instead, equip her with tools, helping her learn to learn from Jesus and you will be laying a foundation for a lifetime of learning!

Memorizing for Life!

When do you have a verse memorized?  It’s not when you can quote it!

You see there is short term memory and long term memory.  You can memorize something short term in just a few minutes – and forget it just as easily!  But for a verse to truly be memorized long term you need to have quoted it word perfect 100 times!  Three times a day for a month will just about get you there!

And you are much more likely to remember something that is significant to you.

This is why I love to memorize verses with those I meet with – I have found getting off to a good start can really help someone succeed in developing this discipline.

1.  When the Lord lays it on my heart to have someone memorize a verse, we start our time together praying, asking the Lord to help us not only memorize the verse but also understand it and give us wisdom to know how it can make a difference in our life.

2.  Next we read through the verse in context and then break it into phrases.  You can have so much fun with this – bring colored pens and have them create word art on a 3×5 card.  It’s amazing when you create a visual like this how it can help start you remembering.

3. Then we tackle memorizing the first phrase.  We go back and forth repeating it to each other, taking turns being the reviewer – and note when you are serving as reviewer make sure you are looking at your card so you’re certain you’re memorizing the right words.  In the midst of repeating one can easily make mistakes!!!   (Even when the verse has been memorized for over thirty years!  ;0)

If someone struggles with memorizing, I will ask the Lord to give creative ideas – either a rhythm or a song or sometimes we’ll use sign language.  It’s amazing how helpful this can be!  With one student, a dancer, she found choreographing the verse really helped her.  Did she ever get a great workout reviewing!  :0)

4.  Only after she has quoted the first phrase word perfect a couple times, will we move onto the next phrase.  We’ll seek to learn that second phrase then add it onto the first phrase and keep going back and forth saying those two phrases together.  Hearing and saying are both helpful – but again, when you are reviewing make sure you’re looking at the card!!!

5.  If she’s a kinesthetic learner we may even move around learning each phrase in a different place (this is really helpful with kids! But you’d be surprised at how even college students love this!)  You need to be thorough, but you don’t want it to be boring.

7.  So you keep adding on one phrase at a time, not stopping until the whole verse can be quoted word perfect.

8.  Then we go back to the first phrase and start asking questions about it.  The goal here is to really understand what the verse says… and what it doesn’t!

For example, when memorizing John 16:24, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name, ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete”  For that middle phrase I’ll ask, “Receive what?”  And how would it be different if the verse read, “and you will receive what you ask for?”  “So what is the Lord promising here?!”

9.  And I’ll share different cross references that can help us understand this part of the verse even more. For example, James 1:17 states “Every good and perfect gift comes from above…”

It’s vital she understands that God is the giver of good gifts.  Yet we don’t always know what’s good.  So there’s a real safety in this.  God promises whenever we ask, we will receive… something!  And because He is good, it will be good!  But if we ask for something that’s not good, we’ll still receive – you never leave the Lord empty handed! – but because He loves us and protects us it may not be what we ask for. But whatever it is will bring us joy!

10.  Each time we move to the next phrase I’ll have her review me saying the whole verse and then review her saying it.  By the time our one on one is finished, she is off to a good start towards quoting that verse 100 times!

11. The most important part of our time comes at the end when we each determine how we can apply the verse in our life during the coming week.  This is so critical!  Because once someone starts experiencing first hand the value of this verse lived out, that’s one of the strongest motivators for memorizing scripture ever!

This is why I don’t start with a lengthy discussion of why she should memorize, instead we dive in and let her discover this for herself!

12.  And we always start our time the next week sharing what happened as a result of our application!

So there are two assignments I give whenever I do this with someone – one is to do the application she’s come up with.  The other is to keep reviewing the verse.

But it’s vital neither assignment be vague.  (check out the previous post on how to make your assignments SMART)  Remember the goal is to review it 100 times so it’s lodged in her long term memory!  No one makes that goal without intentionality!  So I ask her to review her verse three times a day every day and we create boxes!  :0)  You can do this on an index card or an iphone!  Work with her to determine what will work for her.  And I really encourage you to do it with her!

Scripture memory is one of those things that seems so easy initially ~ just memorizing a verse, especially a short verse isn’t that difficult ~ but remembering it for life takes much more intentionality and effort!  Yet I have found over and over the effort is so worth it!  Because when applied, when you live out what you’re memorizing, it really does add life to your life because you don’t just know in your head that God’s Word is more precious than silver, you’ve experienced the incredible value of it first hand!

I Can’t Do That!

Precious Friend:  But I can’t memorize scripture?

Me:  What do you mean?

Precious friend:  I have a horrible memory.  Trust me, I’ve tried so many times to memorize verses and there’s just no way I can do it.

Me: (turning to Philippians 4:13)  Would you mind reading me this verse?

Precious Friend:  (reading) I can do every thing through Him who gives me strength.

Me:  Do you think that includes Scripture memory?

Precious Friend:  Um, maybe….?!

Me:  Why don’t we start by asking Jesus to help us!

And as we pray the idea comes to ask Him to give us a tune to help us learn the verse.  And He does!  Right there on the spot, phrase by phrase, He gives us music to help us memorize.  Oh, it won’t win any Grammy’s but here’s the best part ~ two years later I get a text from my son’s girlfriend, a sophomore at the University of Florida:

“Hey!  You aren’t going to believe this!  I just got together with one of the freshmen in my Bible study and while we were doing scripture memory, she starts singing one of the verses and I’m like, “That’s really neat.  Do you always sing to remember verses?”  And she said, “No.  When my older sister was a student at the University of South Florida she use to meet with this lady and this is how she taught her the verse.”  By any chance was that you?!”

Not only did my precious friend memorize the verse, but she taught it to her younger sister… who still remembered it years later!  How cool is that?!!!

Not only does this highlight how helpful singing can be when doing scripture memory, it also illustrates the truth, “Things that are impossible with men are possible with God”  (Luke 18:27)

It’s not uncommon for people to be resistant when they think they can’t do something.  But not only is the Lord an amazing enabler, He’s also a great idea giver!  As it says in James 1:5  “If any of you lacks wisdom He should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.”  I frequently pray this while I am meeting with someone, especially when there is resistance.

But here’s the crazy thing, opportunities like this are not only great for helping someone overcome their resistance, but also to help people grow in relying on the Lord!

Now I know Philippians 4:13 relates specifically to Paul learning to be content, but in truth it also represents a principle I have found to be true ~ When we rely on the Lord, asking Him for help to do what He wants us to do, as it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work!”

May we make the most of every opportunity to encourage those we disciple to rely on Him.  Can’t never could.  But the One who created the world and everything in it, is so able to enable us to do whatever He wants us doing!

And yes, that even includes scripture memory!