Spiritual Disciplines

Your Best Season Of Life

  • 30 March 2016
  • Keith Reed

My wife and I sometimes wonder what we spent our time doing before our children were born. We don’t remember feeling troubled by an abundance of time, but compared to what we now experience, it’s hard to understand our earlier years any other way. Revisionist history now tells us that we must have read dozens of books each month and weren't unsurprised by the sound of silence.  

It can be habitual to think that life was easier when we look in the rearview mirror. I know of many parents who bemoan their shortage of time and the increased responsibilities that they now bear. This is usually compounded by the guilt they carry from no longer devoting as much time to the spiritual practices they think “count” such as personal Bible reading and prayer. Not surprisingly, any activity that requires personal time is likely to take a significant hit when anyone becomes a care taker for a young child (my golf game is a perfect example).

Comedian Jim Gaffigan defines children as young humans constantly making noise. He would know since he and his wife share their two-bedroom apartment with their five kids.

If quiet time is so hard to come by, what can a parent do to have Christ formed within them?

John Ortberg suggests that our season of life is not a barrier to our spiritual growth because our growth should not be defined by prescribed activities. Parents may have limited opportunities for quiet time, but as they care for their child they can offer expressions of gratitude, prayers for help, and the patient acceptance of trials. This, Ortberg argues, might become a kind of school for transformation into powerful servanthood beyond anything a person might have otherwise known [1]. 

It can be tempting to define unexpected or unwanted circumstances in our lives as barriers to our spiritual growth, but these can actually be the very catalysts for our growth. We can choose to devote each season of our life to the transforming work of the Spirit.

Some of our circumstances come through our choices, but we live with other realities that we had no choice of. Either way, every season of our life counts. If we find ourselves wishing away a particular season, we’re actually wishing away our very life.

Instead of wishing we were in another season, let’s discover what this one offers. Because the best season of your life is now.

Keith Reed is the Associate Director of MinistryLift at MB Seminary

How Lettuce Helps Me Memorize Scripture

  • 24 November 2015
  • Keith Reed

 lettuceAdults have developed many excuses to convince themselves that memorizing Bible verses isn't important (click here to read the post). Despite what we may tell ourselves, our minds have an incredible ability to remember; we simply lack the creative energy or the creative methods to make the important things stick. Let me suggest a number of ways that you can develop Bible memory like you develop muscle memory:

Use Props and Associations

When I was a child in Sunday school, the classic strategy was writing a Bible verse on the blackboard and then erasing individual words and reading the verse aloud as a group. This was effective (reading something 20+ times over 20+ minutes will do this), but it was painfully boring. Thankfully, I also remember a teacher using a head of lettuce to help us remember the beginning of Galatians 6:9 (“Let us not become weary in doing good…”). I remember another time when a racing illustration was used: On your mark, get set, “Go into all the world and preach the good news…” (Mark 16:15). Be creative in how you develop associations to the key words you're memorizing. The options are nearly limitless.

Find a Partner

Sharing your goal with another person greatly increases your chance at succeeding. When you’re working with someone to memorize Scripture, it will also provide you with a number of creative options (i.e. you can text the verse to each other during the day or develop a scoreboard to see how each of you are doing).

Involve Children

Kids are naturally creative! Ask for them for ideas for how you can remember a verse and see what they come up with (scavenger hunt anyone?).

Use Music

There’s a good chance that a musician has already developed a song from a verse you’re trying to memorize. Try googling the verse to see what comes up. You can also try writing your own song or taking an existing tune and exchanging its lyrics for the words from the verse (if you choose to do this, please upload your recording online and send me the link!). 

Make it Visible

Save the verse as your computer’s screen saver or use it as the background image for your phone. Use sticky notes on your car’s dashboard or on your mirror in the bathroom. Set up a reoccurring meeting on your online calendar and include the verse in your meeting notes.

Develop a Pattern

Why Adults Don't Memorize Scripture

  • 23 November 2015
  • Keith Reed


Memorizing Scripture used to be a staple of the Christian community. It used to be essential to teaching curriculum. It used to be a recognized mark of spiritual maturity. But I now see little evidence that adults are memorizing Scripture with any sort of regularity or urgency. Why is this? A few reasons come to my mind that are simply based on my own observations:

The Childhood Fallacy

My guess is that the vast majority of Christ followers committed verses to memory early on in their Christian walk (when they were a child or at a time close to their conversion). But this practice has a way of fading as the years go on. The sad reality is that memorizing verses is seen as a chore for children and not an essential practice for all believers. It is quite common for a church to give an ovation after a young person publicly recites a verse aloud. But it is extremely uncommon to find adults challenging other adults to memorize Scripture, even though they tell their children it’s an important exercise. 

The Psalmist teaches that blessing comes to the person who delights and meditates on the law of the Lord (Ps 1:1-3). He says that God’s Word keeps people from committing sin (Ps 119:11). And while the young are specifically addressed at times (Ps 119:9), there is no indication that this activity should be reserved for the young minded.

Categorizing Bible memorization as a childish practice is bad theology. Even worse, it devalues God’s Word. 

The Cost Is More Than We Want to Pay

Committing anything to memory requires two things: time and effort. Most people think they suffer from a lack of time, but a more truthful statement is that most people are unwilling to invest the necessary time to memorize Scripture. While God has entrusted each person with a diversity of gifts and resources, He has chosen to give all of us the same amount of time. Our lifespans will vary, but all of us are given 24 hours each day and 168 hours per week. How we use the time He entrusts to us is a stewardship issue.