Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Washing in the Jordan

How do we clean the sinful mental practices we hide in our brains? You know ... the nasty private habits we don't show anyone:  lust, greed, bitterness, resentment, judgmentalism. There's a long list of thought-sins we practice faithfully. Since they're our little dirty secrets, nobody holds us accountable. Eventually they become entrenched. How do you rid your mind of such things?

Naaman had a nasty physical disease, leprosy. He asked God's prophet how to get it off his body. He didn't like the answer, the cure. "Go wash in the Jordan River," said the man of God. Ugh! The Jordan is disgusting, Naaman thinks. Ha! He doesn't want his skin (his diseased, filthy, leprous skin) next to that murky water. Can't I bathe in a different, cleaner river? he asks. No, there's only one solution: the Jordan.

There's one solution to our diseased minds as well. Adam reminded us of this a couple of weeks ago at church -- the only solution he's ever found for scrubbing the mind clean of filthy, sinful thought-habits. You ready?

Memorizing Scripture.


Do we have to?? Isn't there an easier solution?

I'm no good at memorizing anymore. My brain is old. Not too old for filthy thought-habits, but much too old to memorize. About ten years ago I memorized Psalm 27, my favorite at the time. That went well. Then a bit later I launched into Isaiah 40. Oh my! I got about half-way through and languished. I haven't memorized anything new since then.

How does one pick a passage to memorize? How long should it be? Which passage is the right one?

After Adam's sermon I asked myself this question: which sinful thought-habit do I really need to get rid of? I knew immediately, of course. My worst mental habit is anxiety, worry, fretting about money and such things. I know I'm not supposed to do it, but I succumb. It shows a lack of trust in God. It shows I haven't learned from His previous provision for me.

And ... what Bible passage might help with such a mental state? I chose Matt. 7:25.
The heading above that verse says it all:
And realizing that I'm a very visual learner, I assisted myself with a piece of paper on which I re-wrote the verse in separated phrase segments, noting parallel structure that would help me memorize, and circling tag words to prompt my brain.
That helped a lot. Lastly, I decided to memorize just one verse. Just this one, first. After mastering this one, if I wanted to add the next and expand it to a passage, I could. I'm never again going to over-challenge myself with a whole chapter only to feel defeated and sad when I couldn't keep it all in my brain. The piece of paper above has a sticky-note back, so it stays on this page in my Bible.
During the day, when I remember, I try to recite the verse to myself, visualizing the paper, the structure, the sense of it. I'm amazed at the meaning I'd overlooked before. When I'm anxious about food, drink, or clothing, I'm actually worshiping those things. I can't worship them and simultaneously worship God. I must choose. This memorizing is a constant reminder to my brain: Choose! Whom do you worship and love?
I nailed verse 25, and now I'm moving on to verse 26. Scrubbing away at that brain. Washing in the Jordan.

1 comment:

  1. I have the same problems memorizing. My idea was to put verses by the kitchen sink, but after one year I still have the same verse there. You are encouraging me to get back to it!


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