Have you ever wondered how a verse or two of scripture could reshape your thoughts, perceptions, and even your life? Our special guest, Dr. Andy Davis, a pastor, author, and scripture enthusiast, makes a compelling case for the transformative power of scripture memorization in our recent chat. In a world plagued with distractions and uncertainties, he offers a lifeline – embracing the practice of memorizing God’s word. His personal faith journey is a testament to this belief, with his discipleship deeply rooted in the word of God.
Dr. Davis leaves no stone unturned as he addresses common hindrances that keep us from growing in our knowledge of the scriptures. His method of tackling scripture memorization, influenced by his own experiences, presents a clear and doable path for every Christian. He debunks the myth that scripture memorization is a daunting task and replaces it with the truth – it’s a worthwhile investment. He shares an inspiring story of a man who began memorizing with one verse and eventually learned over a thousand. The takeaway is crystal clear: start small, stay consistent, and let God’s word transform you.
In our discussion, we further explore the communal aspect of scripture memorization and its vital role in fostering unity and spiritual growth. The power of gathering together to dwell on God’s word is phenomenal, and Dr. Davis’s insights offer fresh perspectives on this practice. As we wrap up this enlightening conversation, we extend an invitation to you, our listeners. Take this journey with us, dig deeper into the scriptures, and allow them to mold you. Your review and ratings on our podcast would also mean the world to us as we strive to share more of these valuable discussions with you.
Biography: Andy Davis
Andrew M. Davis (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Durham, North Carolina, and the founder of Two Journeys Ministry. He is also a visiting professor of church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a council member of the Gospel Coalition, and a former trustee of the International Mission Board. He is the author of several books, including The Power of Christian Contentment. He and his wife, Christi, reside in Bahama, North Carolina, and have five children and three grandchildren. For more resources from Andy, visit twojourneys.org.
0:00:09 – Davies Owens
A foundational value for any Christian is to know and actively engage with the Bible. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts should include knowing it so well that we’ve memorized parts of the Scripture, and in doing so, it’s typically a part of our schools, where we intentionally expose students to God’s Word, memorizing and studying the Bible as the greatest book of the many great books that we read. But in an age of digital distractions, memorizing much of anything seems difficult. Our guest today offers practical and inspiring examples of how to bring God’s Word alive in our classrooms and in our homes, ready to be encouraged on the journey of raising the next generation. Stay tuned for this episode of Basecamp Live.
0:01:10 – Davies Owens
Welcome to Basecamp Live, Davies Owens. Here we are on an ongoing journey of raising up the next generation in partnership with one another, and it’s just great to be able to do this thing called podcasting where you guys are out there. Who knows what? Somebody’s laundry, somebody’s driving, somebody’s you know who knows washing the dog. I’d love to know what you’re doing when you’re listening to Basecamp Live and where you’re listening from. Continue to be encouraged by the many, many great listeners all around the world, and we are so thankful to be able to do this together and share and learn from one another. There’s a lot to learn and I’m realizing here is I’m getting to be more seasoned here in my 20, whatever. I’m in 23rd, 24th year in classical version education. There are hopefully some things I’ve seen along the way that we can point back to and give you encouragement with. Whether you’re in the classroom or you’re in your home, whether you’ve got older students or super young little ones. We’re all together in this thing, so excited to be together. Thank you for being a part of it. As always, drop me a line at infobasecamplivecom. And, as you hear more and more about I, am excited to be doing Basecamp Live. It’s really part of kind of a full-time work I’m doing, along with a few other important projects in this area of parent education and supporting classical Christian education. Love to be at your school in 2024. You can go to the speaker page there on Basecamplivecom and read about some of the things that I do when I come out to schools, including being able to offer maybe even doing a live Basecamp Live Podcast. That’d be a lot of fun and you’ll hear more about things that Keith McCurdy and I are doing as well. So reach out to me, Love to connect up with you. This episode is brought to you by our many sponsors, partners that come alongside us the CCU, the American Christian Credit Union, CAP, Classical Academic Press, the Good Agency, ADF, the Focus Group, the Classical Learning Test and Gordon College, among others. We are so grateful for your partnership.
Well, my guest today is a really impressive individual. He is a pastor who has spent many years not only teaching God’s Word but memorizing God’s Word in a very significant way. Dr Andrew Davis is a senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. He’s the founder of Two Journeys Ministry. He’s also a visiting professor of Church History at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s a council member of the Gospel Coalition and a former trustee of the International Mission Board, and he’s authored several books, including the Power of Christian Commitment. And he and his wife, Christy, they live there in the Durham North Carolina area. They have five children and three grandchildren, and he is a great inspiration. So, without further ado, here’s my conversation with Dr Andy Davis. Well, Dr Andy Davis, welcome to Basecamp Live.
0:03:49 – Andy Davis
Well, it’s great to be with you today.
0:03:51 – Davies Owens
So good to have you, andy. I know maybe folks don’t know you, but obviously a pastor in there in Durham you said for 20, almost 25 years or oh we just passed my 25th anniversary a month ago and my church celebrated that time.
0:04:06 – Andy Davis
It was really exciting. So we’ve been blessed to be here at First Baptist Durham for 25 years.
0:04:10 – Davies Owens
Yeah, I love the Raleigh Durham area. I lived there for seven years when I was at Duke and then in a local church, and we were just talking about a lot of the 25 years. You may be known for a lot of things, but the thing you seem to be known for is the important work and the teaching you’ve done around memorization of scripture, and it’s really wonderful in an age where I think so many people don’t think of scripture memory anymore because we all have everything on our phone. You’ve really become a great voice of that and we’ll talk a little bit about the book you’ve got coming out and the downloads. But just start out a little bit of your story and your own engagement. When did scripture memory become important for you?
0:04:46 – Andy Davis
So I was raised in a Roman Catholic family in Eastern Massachusetts, in Framingham, and I had a good experience in the Catholic church. I was an altar boy, I learned the basic facts of Jesus Christ and of the Trinity, but I didn’t understand how to be saved. And I went to MIT study mechanical engineering and I was in my junior year and a fraternity brother had been sharing Christ with me. He was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, a ministry now known as CREW. But just he was a fraternity brother, so I saw him every day and he just persistently shared Christ with me and I came to faith in Christ my junior year after a year of pushing it off and being negative and all that. So finally the Lord broke through and then I was discipled by a man named Tim Schumann who was on staff with CREW and he got me involved early on in scripture memorization through the Navigator’s Topical Memory System.
They have little flashcards that you have and you read the verse and it’s got a title like Christ, the Center, or something like that, and then the reference, and then you memorize it. And so I started cranking through the first verse. I memorized 2 Corinthians 5, 17. If anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation. The old is gone, everything has become new. So I was the first verse, and then Galatians 2, 20 after that, and so I just memorizing topical verses. Some of the guys that were further along in the process I’ve been doing it for a couple years would have these metal snap rings with maybe dozens and dozens of these cards with a hole punch, and it was like a janitor with a bunch of keys and they would just crank through these things and I thought it was very impressive. So scripture memory was a part of my Christian life from the very beginning. I came to faith in Christ just before my 20th birthday. I was 19., and so now I’m 61. And so scripture memorization has been a part of my whole Christian life.
0:06:44 – Davies Owens
So is it true you’ve actually memorized 43 books of the 66? Is that a fair statement?
0:06:49 – Andy Davis
Yeah, I don’t know if the number it might be higher than that. Now I just did Ezekiel. I finished a 15 month journey in Ezekiel. That was a very hard book to memorize. But you need to understand about me is that I believe in reciting the portions of scripture that I learned for a hundred consecutive days and after I finished it I kiss it goodbye, let it go. So I don’t claim to be able to recite all of those books, but I finished probably 44 books at this point. So I’ve completed and moved on to other projects.
0:07:19 – Davies Owens
Well, we’re going to talk here in a moment about the benefits, and I know there are many. I suppose it’s you know when I hear that I can remember the navigator cards. I didn’t get quite that far with what you did with it and I think everyone listening probably would say absolutely scripture memory, hiding God’s word in our hearts on when 19, is absolutely core to the Christian life and yet most of us, I think, live in this, you know, hyper-scattered world and I mean how? So how do you, you know, as a pastor, respond to that? I think in some way a practical question which is well sure you know. Back in, you know you talked about, you know, the Gutenberg world 1439 and you had to pretty much. You didn’t have pre Gutenberg a Bible. You had to memorize. It was an oral tradition. That’s not our world now. We have, you know, not only all, all access to the Bible. Any translation you can imagine is, you know, seconds away on your phone. So why is it so necessary right now?
0:08:13 – Andy Davis
Well, just because it’s on your phone doesn’t mean it’s on your mind. So I think memorization what it does is it imprints the truths of Scripture deeply in your heart and it’s uploaded on if we’re going to use computer language, it’s on the desktop of your mind, it’s in the forefront of what you’re thinking about as you do the work, and that is a form of extended meditation, deep thinking on Scripture. Insight is my goal Mind and life transformation. And just because you have access to as many versions as you could want on your smartphone and those devices really are quite remarkable and I use them myself every day but just because they’re there doesn’t mean you personally understand the passages, the way they’re written, that you have thought them through, that you’ve made connections with other.
The smartphone can’t do any of that. You know you make those connections, you learn, and so that’s the value of memorization having it uploaded in the front of your mind. And then insights that come, that bring great joy and they bring illumination and, frankly, as a Christian, they bring immediacy in my walk with Christ. You know he is the vine and we’re the branches and we’re told if we remain in him and his words, plural remain in us, then ask whatever we wish, and it’ll be done. This is to the Father’s glory that we bear much fruit. So this is a form of immediate fellowship with Jesus Christ, moment by moment, and your smartphone can’t do that for you.
0:09:37 – Davies Owens
Right now. That’s a great point and we’ll get into here later in the podcast just sort of how to do it. I mean, I think when I hear you’ve memorized 43 plus books, it reminds me I had an uncle back in the day who was in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of setups in one minute. I think it was like in the 70s. I think the current record’s like 87 setups in one minute and you know I always thought that was. It was kind of like a novelty and I’m thinking, well, maybe I could do 20 setups in a minute.
So you’re not advocating, if you’re use that analogy. I mean, 43 books is to me that’s. I don’t know what the Guinness Book of World Records is, but it’s pretty amazing. Spirit in the spiritual kingdom and just for folks listening oh, my goodness, I hardly have time to. You know, I don’t even remember my own kid’s phone number. You know much less memorizing a book of the Bible. So maybe just kind of address that from the beginning. Like the point of this podcast is not to challenge everyone to read, to memorize 43, but it should be a part of your life in some form.
0:10:32 – Andy Davis
I would just say start. You know, the topical memory system begins with some key verses. John Piper’s Church, bethlehem Baptist, that he pastored for many years, has fighter verses that you can use that help you fight sin, like you mentioned, psalm 119, verse 11, about hiding God’s word in our hearts so that we won’t sin. So it’s specific individual versus good place to start. And then, little by little, once you realize, hey, I can do this, then I would go into some of the richer passages in the epistles. You know sections of the Sermon and the Mount, sections of Romans 8, things like that. And then you just develop skill and strength in this area and think, hey, look, I really think I could do a whole chapter in one of the epistles and you do it.
And then, little by little, you’re like you know, these epistles really aren’t that long, I’ve already memorized. You know, in terms of the number of verses I’ve done, you know about a third of Philippians or you know that length anyway. And you could say, well, I couldn’t, I do 104 verses in Philippians or 155 in Ephesians. And so, little by little, you get into it and people do have a much better memory than they think they have. So I think, once you say I think I really can do this, and they develop, then what ends up happening is the value of the verses themselves sells. It sells the individual on the work. You’re like, hey, this is worthwhile because of the insights I’m getting in the sense of the fellowship with Christ that I’m getting. It’s well worth it. So that’s how it happens.
0:12:04 – Davies Owens
Yeah, and as I think, as we explore this idea of benefits I mean you’ve made, I’ve read some of the things you’ve written on and what you just said it’s easy to see this just as work. It’s sit ups, it’s push ups for Jesus kind of thing, like no, this is the fruit of this is so rich and fellowship with Christ, which we all want. You know, there’s a lot of benefits too and, as you know from your work, certainly modern people today, I mean it’s an age of anxiety and distraction and we know a lot of that’s coming through technology. You know, I think about the benefits of scriptural memorization. Some of it goes back to what we talk about in school world. Certainly Charlotte Mason, the educator, and others talk about the habit of attending and sort of the really the antidote to a culture of distraction. What does that do to us, just in terms of ability to focus, because we’re slowing down or really consuming slowly and thoughtfully God’s word. I mean it seems like the benefits are so multifaceted.
0:12:58 – Andy Davis
Yeah, they are. It really is. There’s so many things I could say about it, but I mentioned a moment ago it is extended meditation on scripture. You’re focusing on the words, and the words come through in such power when you see what the word of God is positioned to do in our souls, how the scripture is God breath and is useful for teaching, rebuking, training, correction and training in righteousness. How Paul says I’m not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. The gospel message is encapsulated in words and as we meditate on the words themselves, as we ponder them, we are transformed, like Romans 12 says, by the renewing of our minds. This is an ongoing salvation process. The Lord works in us. It’s very rich.
Now you mentioned anxiety. We struggle with anxiety where it says in Philippians 4, 6 and 7, be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Just going over those words brings peace and brings the immediacy of the omnipotent God right into the trouble and the issue that’s causing you anxiety. So that’s what the word of God can do, and so I very much believe in this discipline of memorization.
0:14:26 – Davies Owens
Well, I think there were disciplines, again, discipline. Maybe the knee-jerk reaction is probably negative in our kind of cultural moment, but it is where this fruit comes from. As you’re talking about scripture memorization, I’m reminded years ago my wife, when she was a little girl, was actually at a private school in Atlanta, georgia, and her church had encouraged her to start memorizing scripture and as she memorized it she interestingly found, and her parents found, that her grades began to improve and there was a corollary to the point at which she ended up on a NBC morning show in the Atlanta network about this interesting phenomena. They found where this little girl was memorizing scripture and it was having a direct effect on her ability to memorize other elements of her education. I mean, it’s a discipline that’s transformative, not only to our souls but just to even our education.
0:15:19 – Andy Davis
it seems like it is, and we could advocate that you could memorize a Shakespearean sonnet or something like that and you’re training your mind. But scripture is different. Scripture is the perfect word of God and I think that’s what you’re saying. If you look at Psalm one in verse three, it says that if you meditate on God’s word day and night, you’re like a tree planted by streams of water which shields fruit and season, there’s leaf, never withers. Then it says beautifully whatever he does, prospers. So here’s a student that you just mentioned that’s prospering in all areas of her life and that’s just the blessing that God said he would bring. You make my word first, you put my word first. I’ll bless you in all these other areas. As he said, seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
0:16:03 – Davies Owens
Yeah Well, we’re gonna take a break. I wanna come back in a moment and talk just a couple of excuses that so often people put forward and maybe some helpful responses to that, and then get into really. How do we actually do this, where do we start? What does it look like? Because I know this is certainly important and again, those listening that are part of classical Christian schools.
One of the interesting aspects of the trivium, that three phase grammar school and then logic and then high school is kind of rhetoric. Really, grammar school historically was that the grammar of everything from the English language and math to the grammar of scripture. What’s the basic building blocks. And so I think it’s hard too. My sense is that, just again, as adults we have a harder time, even than young children do. Children can memorize almost anything you put in front of them and that’s the beautiful thing. If they’re getting God’s word in those early formative grammar school years, they’re like sponges and it’s quite beautiful when they’re leaning into their natural wiring using God’s word. So it’s what our schools try to do, but I think there’s some opportunities for parents and educators to learn alongside those students.
So why don’t we take a quick break and we’ll come right back on this conversation with Dr Andy Davis. As schools and families, we engage with businesses every day and, unfortunately, many of them are increasingly embracing more progressive ideologies and practices. That’s why Basecamp Live we’re proud to partner with America’s Christian Credit Union, a banking institution that only serves and invest in kingdom causes. So, whether you’re managing a school, a home, a small business, accu can meet your banking needs while upholding biblical values. Find out why tens of thousands of families and ministries across the country, including Basecamp Live, have chosen to bank with ACCU by going today to americacristiancucom, and I’m sure everyone listening is saying, yes, this is a great topic. I love the importance of scripture hiding God’s word in our heart, but I really don’t have a good memory and Andy seems like a pretty remarkable guy. He went to MIT. I’m sure it’s easy for him. I’m over here, I’m busy. What are some of those excuses and what might you say to encourage folks who immediately kind of get stuck right the minute we get started with this?
0:18:15 – Andy Davis
Well, the scripture says in all hard work there is profit. The mere talk leads to poverty. So everything in life worth doing is going to be labor. If you get a degree in engineering or in some liberal arts field, you’re going to have to study, you have to work hard, you have to write papers. It’s going to be hard work and so it is. With any job that you have out in the professional world. It is worthwhile.
I’m saying, in my life there is nothing I put my hand to, that I’ve labored on, that has so returned the investment as memorization of scripture. Now, of course I am a regular preacher of the Word of God and I’m a writer of books and I’m a teacher of the Word of God, so of course it feeds that. But I would argue that, because of scripture’s role in every Christian’s life, this is a discipline that will pay off in every respect. On Judgment Day we’ll give an account for everything that we’ve done, but we will not feel that we wasted the time we spent memorizing scripture. We’ll not feel at that time that was a waste of time. Not at all.
Some of the excuses that I’ve made myself or that others have made. First of all, it’s hard work and it doesn’t necessarily flow easily. It takes a while to develop your memory. People will say things, as you mentioned, like I don’t really have a very good memory. The problem with that is that people actually have a much better memory than they think they have. They memorize all kinds of things just as part of normal intellectual life and, furthermore, I do believe that we can develop our memory like a muscle the more we use it, the better we get at it.
And just as a Christian, I believe as it says in Luke 24, then he opened their minds so that they could understand the scripture. So Jesus actually has the power to heal our minds, to open our minds and to give us the gift of memorization. But it’s still going to be hard work and, frankly, the process is more important than the product. The actual journey of going over the verses again and again is more important than the ability to perfectly recite it at the end of all that labor. So there’s a lot of excuses. I would say some of the worst just are an expose of somebody’s own spiritual state. If they say I’m really just not that interested, that’s a pretty significant statement to make about the Word of God. If you say I’m really just not that interested in the Word of God. But if somebody says that and says it with regret and say I’d like to be more interested, memorization is a great way to kindle an affection, a fiery affection for the Word of God.
0:20:47 – Davies Owens
Yeah, Well, let’s talk a little bit about how to get started. I always think of that somewhat humorous comment I used to make in the youth group when I ran youth group there in Durham talking about memorization, and kids said they couldn’t do it. And I said, well, why don’t we start with John 1135? And they said, well, what is that? And I said, well, that’s Jesus wept, and so let’s try it. And they said Jesus wept.
0:21:09 – Andy Davis
I said, great, you’ve already memorized your first verse there you go, often running, often running, there we go.
0:21:15 – Davies Owens
So anybody who’s listening to this podcast can already have memorized a verse just from listening to this podcast. Isn’t that amazing?
0:21:19 – Andy Davis
Yeah Well, they probably already have a lot of verses memorized.
0:21:22 – Davies Owens
They probably do, and this is one one.
0:21:24 – Andy Davis
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. There you go, there’s another.
0:21:27 – Davies Owens
So now they got two down from this part. Maybe you’re just killing it here. For us it’s amazing. But moving on to beyond the two verses we’ve given them, how might, how might you advise us especially, maybe start as parents? You’ve got five children of your own. You homeschooled. You’ve got grandchildren. Yeah, what does it look like when you’re dealing with you know, younger, younger folks around you as your own children or in the classroom? Where do you start?
0:21:50 – Andy Davis
Right. Well, so much of the kids just learn by observation. When they see me with my laminated sheets cranking through it, reciting, I involve them in it. I give them the sheets, I have them quiz me on chapters that I’m working on, and not that I’m doing great. On some I make lots of mistakes and they and they help me. And so they’re involved and they see it and then they want to do it for themselves.
My kids all memorized extended portions of scripture when they’re growing up and we didn’t require it of them. Now I’ve been a professor at a seminary, at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, and I do require it of my students. It’s like 5% of the grade to memorize a chapter like Romans 8 or Ephesians 1, something like that, and they’ll memorize it. So I would just say you know, if you want to get your kids involved, just make sure that it’s in your heart. You know, as it says in Deuteronomy, the commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. And then it says teach them to your children. And so that’s why I’d say, first, is it in your life? Is it something that you want to do? And they see it in you and they can pick it up and kids have a tremendous advantage over old guys like me. They just remember easily readily.
My wife and I were missionaries in Japan. We were learning the Japanese language. We were using flashcards and cassette tapes back then. Meanwhile my daughter Jenny turned one when we moved there we left two years later she was effectively fluent in English, effortlessly, because that’s her mother tongue. You know, that’s you know. With no flashcards, no cassette tapes, she just could speak English. That’s the minds that God gives to children, and so you know absolutely. Children can pick up memorization much more easily than adults can.
0:23:34 – Davies Owens
So talk a little bit more just about those practical steps. I mean, we’ve got these little sponges around us and they’ll memorize. You know an advertisement they hear on the radio without even trying to your point, and so what? How? All the better if it’s scripture. What does that look like? I mean, are you? I mean are. And I know in answering this, I mean certainly people have different learning styles. Some people learn just by hearing, others need to visually see it and write it down, or there’s some. How does that play into how you advise people to memorize?
0:24:03 – Andy Davis
Well, I don’t really approach it from a learning style sort of way. It is, you are burning the words into your mind and so for me it’s simple, it’s repetition over time. That’s the memorization technique. So you just repeat it and repeat it and repeat it, and then you repeat it some more the next day, and so I basically the way I do it is, I advocate that you open up the Bible and you look down at the Bible you can do it on your smartphone, but I usually think of a paper Bible, the normal Bible that you have at home and you open it up and you read the verse you know with your eyes, and say it out loud 10 times, and then you cover it up and you recite it 10 times and you know then that’s your first verse for the first day, and then the next day you do yesterday’s verse.
You recite it 10 times.
You probably have to look the first two times to remember it, and then you learn the next verse, and in this way I stitch together whole chapters.
I just keep at it a verse a day, and I usually say the starting point for someone who wants to memorize a whole book is Ephesians, 155 verses, and that’s about six months, six verses a day and you just it’s repetition over time and then once you’ve said it 10 times, then you say it once a day for 100 consecutive days and you just recite it every day for 100 consecutive days and it’s in that 100 day journey that you really do memorize it, you really do get to know it and then it flows, the you know the verses flow one into the next and in that way you start to get the flow of Paul’s argumentation, his epistles. He’s making an argument. You’re able to follow his, his train of thought and to understand what he’s saying. That’s a beautiful thing. And meanwhile, to going back to your point about that young woman that did so well in other studies, you’re developing logic, you’re developing linguistic skills, the ability to trace out an argument. Those are going to be useful to you in any field of study.
0:25:52 – Davies Owens
Yeah, well, and you know I would encourage our school teachers and administrators to think about and I know schools have done this is actually compile in one place all of the scripture that they are covering over the course of a year or even multiple years, and it’s, it should be impressive. It is impressive in our schools and it’s probably more like you were talking about Piper’s fighter versus, kind of just one off key verses, which is important. We need to have kind of the you know the best of, I guess, or the main verses that have really are fighter versus, to use Piper’s terms. But I’m also hearing you talk about just the value of kind of memorizing an entire chapter and continuity of eventually an entire book. How does that, you know, if you, I guess it’s, it’s not either, or hopefully it’s both, and but what’s your recommendation on single versus versus going through an entire chapter like that?
0:26:40 – Andy Davis
I think single versus is a great place to start. That’s what I would say. That’s a great place to start, but there comes a point in which you really just want more the, the, the logical end, the terminal stop on. Memorizing individual versus is like, I said, that snap ring with 200 cards, flash cards, and you realize there’s just a limit to that system, there’s a limit to what you can do, whereas we all have Bibles, and so you know, you can review Ephesians or Philippians or you know something else that you’re doing anytime by just picking up the Bible or going on your smartphone and it’s right there for you.
And I just advocate I think it’s better, if you can to develop and to emerge eventually into doing whole chapters and whole books. And then you know, for me I’m really advocating a lifetime of memorization. That you’re, this is just a discipline you’re going to do the rest of your life, and so the issue isn’t so much what books can you get accomplished and what chapters can you get finished. The issue is the learning you’re doing along the way. You know what I call in my book on sanctification a rising city of truth, of sound theology being built inside your mind and heart, one verse at a time, and to me that’s fantastic. That’s what’s going on, that’s your worldview, out of which you’re going to do marriage and parenting, and money and prayer and church life and evangelism and counseling and everything that you do in life. It will come out of that beautiful system of truth you’re learning.
0:28:02 – Davies Owens
Well, I think it’s a really important point that I’ve heard you talk about before that this is not. We tend to think of it maybe too mechanistically, like I’ve got to grit my teeth, memorize this thing, you know, swallow the vitamin, and now that it’s done, I can move to the next one to swallow and move on. And it’s in this beautiful invitation into deeper fellowship with the Lord and ultimately, this I think I’ve heard you use the term like become subterranean. You don’t actively remember everything you’ve memorized actively, but it’s such a part of you know you’re being, that the Holy Spirit then brings that back up at key moments.
0:28:36 – Andy Davis
Yeah, let me tell you a quick story. Earlier today I continued a discipleship and mentoring relationship with the woman that I have led Christ in the Persian Gulf. This is a woman who was a Muslim woman, who was very open to Christianity but had not come to Christ yet. It took about six months and she came to faith in Christ over a year ago and I’ve been discipling her electronically and we’ve been talking a lot about growing in grace and sharing the gospel with her Muslim family and friends. And you know it takes a lot of courage in her part. But today I just felt led to go over Ephesians 3, 14 through 21 with her and we went over it literally word by word. In translation I memorize it. It reads like this Paul says for this reason I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name.
I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and that you would know that love that surpasses knowledge, that you would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now, to him, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, both now and forever. Amen. Every phrase I could see tears coming down her face Every phrase was laden with spiritual truth and a sense of the presence and the immediacy of Christ in those words. Now, that’s an unusual portion of Scripture, but I had meditated on that for years. It was one of the first books I memorized, and it wasn’t just rote or gritting your teeth. It was beauty, it was truth, it was love, it was love encoded in the words, and that was what was so beautiful to see.
0:30:35 – Davies Owens
Well, and that’s such a great prayer, and I’ve you know it’s a beautiful one too to put their name and kind of make it first person and it’s a beautiful, powerful prayer. But we are you just immediately were able to pull that up. It was not a Well.
0:30:49 – Andy Davis
I don’t have it in front of me now. I just recited it, I know.
0:30:52 – Davies Owens
I was I’m vouching anybody listening on the see. He did not read that, he memorized that. He actually did it. It was beautiful. But you’re right, I mean what a gift. And I just think again about you know what. What dominates our thinking and if this is what you’re, you can only really think about one thing at a time, and if you’ve really spent time in the Word of God, it really dominates how you perceive the, perceive everything. I mean I love this. And just hearing you answer questions I think almost every time you answer you do it with Scripture I’m like that is amazing and it’s just coming so naturally from you. So why don’t we take a quick break or come back and kind of wrap things up and just give a few more pointers to folks to try to give us encouragement as they take this important step of memorizing Scripture?
0:32:17 – Davies Owens
Well, andy, this conversation reminds me of probably many that people hear. Where you know maybe you’re they’re hearing a to win. Some folks talk about the importance of being healthy and running every day and exercising, and we, you’re a marathon runner and they’re thinking themselves like I’m not a marathon runner. In fact, I get winded, going to the mailbox and I’m just not even really sure. This scripture memory thing is something I even want to take on because I don’t want to have another thing. I attempt, it then fails and I’m just, you know, feeling shamed by it. So what advice do you have so that folks don’t go out there and try to run five miles when they get winded, go in the mailbox and they get discouraged? What’s a? What’s a starting?
0:32:52 – Andy Davis
Let me tell you a story that I heard from my missions professor, gordon Conwell, a man named Christie Wilson, who is just a godly man, one of the great men that I’ve known in my life. He was a missionary for many years in Afghanistan and he wanted his class to memorize topical verses. He didn’t do all chapters and he told a story because the students were pushing back in the way that you just mentioned. You know the what you just said. I get winded going to the mailbox. You know I can’t memorize. He told a story, a true story, of a blue collar guy, a plumber, who just wanted to memorize John 316, the most famous verse in the Bible, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not bearish but have eternal life. And it’s just, that’s it. But Christie Wilson was one of the gentlest and most, you know, kindest men I’ve ever known. Said this about this man this man was so dense that after working on it every day for a month, he still couldn’t recite John 316. But then finally, after all that time, with that persistence, he finally was able to recite it and then went on to memorize over a thousand other verses. He said God was testing him to see if he really wanted it. And then, as I mentioned earlier, in Luke 24 God opened his mind so that he could understand the scripture. And so that’s a great story. Here’s a guy that just wanted to know one verse, a very famous verse, and worked at it. What’s amazing about that story to me is Not that it took him a month to memorize John 316, but that he didn’t give up.
The enemy of scripture memorizing is giving up. Just don’t give up. Just keep working at it. Don’t give up, and then you will find you don’t get winded. When you go to the mailbox you you’re like I actually can do this. I’ve done five or six verses.
Maybe a great place to start would be Psalm 1. It’s only six verses long. It’s beautiful. It promises rich blessings to those that meditate day and night on scripture. And how can you meditate day and night if you don’t memorize? You know, back in the days you said, before Gutenberg, they didn’t have copies of the scripture. The only way they could have meditated day and night was by memorizing it. So I would just say start with something like that and then, little by little, as you add other verses, you’ll find that you can do enough to do a whole chapter, like in Philippians one or Ephesians one or something like that, and and you find you can do it. So I would say don’t look at you know, memorizing some huge long book, but start with the first step, the first journey, and I would commend Psalm 1, those six verses, as a great place to start.
0:35:26 – Davies Owens
Yeah, a couple points you made there that I want to emphasize any because I think they’re so Significant and we talked before about you know it’s different a memorized scripture than whatever else you’re memorizing. Classical Christian Students and families are around memorization, especially in the grammar school, and it’s a great thing. But scripture is just in the totally different category and I do think you experience is in that great story, this super natural Even at times, kind of healing or restoration or opening or have whatever you want to describe it as that that you are now able to do far more than you could have ever. You know fission 320, far more you can ask or imagine. All of a sudden it starts happening.
0:36:02 – Andy Davis
And and you’re just so richly blessed, so I would commend it. Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged. It is well worth it. You will not regret a moment you spend memorizing. We’ll regret a lot of things. We wasted time on this. There are more time, more ways to waste time in our modern technological world than ever before, more past times and diversions and pleasures. This is one thing that, if you do, you will not regret it.
0:36:29 – Davies Owens
Well, maybe just it by way of closing our time. You know again the our audience here, base camp being primarily classical Christian students and parents and educators. You’re already you have an advantage, and that you are already in an environment where scripture is being Presented as something to be learned and memorized. And so, if your teacher, memorize it with your students, if you’re a parent, learn about it, learn, learn what verses are being studied and make that part of your family routine. That then ties back into the school. So there’s and and then what’s being memorized at church. And then this is, you know, we need to kind of call it, be a little bit more in Collaboration with one another, which would make it both some accountability there and some encouragement as well.
0:37:09 – Andy Davis
So, yeah, that’s great advice. I I totally, wholeheartedly agree with what you said.
0:37:14 – Davies Owens
Well, thanks it well. And for folks that you know want to learn more, you’ve got to talk a little bit about a Navy two journeys or website. You’ve got your book coming out. Help folks know a little bit More about how to get in touch with you.
0:37:24 – Andy Davis
Yeah, so all of my sermons. I’ve been here for 25 years so I have preached over a thousand expository sermons. I’m a line-by-line sequential expositor and so memorization of scripture has fed that approach to scripture. I was a mechanical engineer for 10 years and so I have a very logical approach to Exegesis and explanation what people have found helpful, and so just go to two journeys or WWWtojourneysorg and you know the materials all there available for free. And yes, crossway is publishing my book on memorizations coming out first quarter of 2024, so look for it and hopefully it will be helpful to you.
0:38:02 – Davies Owens
So you’ve had the book that’s coming out is, I guess, got some elements that were in an earlier Panflitter resource you had created with a big following.
0:38:12 – Andy Davis
Yeah, those were down. That was downloaded Over 50,000 times and so, but that now obviously with copyright. You know that’s all over the crossway, so that’s that’s how you access once crossway.
0:38:24 – Davies Owens
Sounds great. Well, I appreciate your time and your encouragement and look forward to Gathering more people together to memorize scripture. Thank you for being such a champion for this important cost.
0:38:34 – Andy Davis
Well, it’s been a joy talking to you and I’m very grateful for the work that you do. I think it’s so important, so continue serving the Lord as you have been doing. Thank you so much any.