Dear First Pres,

   On Sunday, at the end of my sermon, I invited you to join me in two practices to help us grow as disciples of Jesus. The first was to pray every day that God would increase our faith in Jesus - to pray that God would help us to truly believe the truth about Jesus. The second was to begin working on memorizing all of Mark 1. Here is your first friendly check-in. Have you started? How are you doing?  
   Today I'm down to about verse 8 in my memorization (remember, I got a head start), and I'm already sensing the benefit. Whenever I'm working to memorize a big chunk of Scripture I find myself thinking about it randomly throughout the day. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that I am regularly tempted to think about that are far from holy. So, when my mind stays on Scripture it is an incredible blessing. It helps me to pray. It helps me to resist temptation. It helps me to remember the Spirit's presence in my life. If you haven't started working on Mark 1, I really encourage you to join in on the fun. What do you have to lose?
   Here's what pastor and author Chuck Swindoll wrote about memorizing Scripture: "I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. ... No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified" (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, 61). 
   I couldn't agree more. And this is what I pray will happen in our congregation as we engage these two practices in the weeks ahead. 


P.S. Have you noticed the way we've been starting our worship services lately? I'll be writing about it next week.