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The 1 Habit God Really Wants for Your New Year {The Romans Project}

A Holy Experience

For all of 2012?

I carry around the Mount and it moves mountains.

And there isn’t a bone in me that wants to come down from where He transfigures.

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A year of memorizing Sermon on the Mount, the 111 verses of Matthew 5, 6, and 7?

Say those Blesseds for a whole year and you can feel it, your whole world flipping upside down.

First, the walks through Knapp’s woods and the snow and the beginning of the tilting and all those startling Blesseds.

Then a thousand suns and thousand mothering messes and the thousand beggings of “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and this feeling it like the the dry roof of you, this dire, parched need of Him.

Then I fell behind in the memorizing, always falling.

And there was that two and a half hour line at the funeral for Dan Mier’s sister and I held that small Bible as we inched toward the casket and I memorized God and unless your righteousness surpasses the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

And after that obliviously calm morning when one Christian said things that speared my pulpy heart and I didn’t know how to keep breathing, I lay in bed that night and murmured my memory verses like a dying heart on life support,

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

And I got up the next morning and I never stopped quaking or bleeding but I reached out with an invitation for them to come for dinner and break bread.

God hands you lungs when He hands you His Word and says — These are not idle words to you, they. are. your. life.

What you really know by heart is what your heart really knows — and what you really live.

And it was like the wind in the trees all spring, and it moved me, sutured together the bloodied edges and I inhaled,”And if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that.” The world heals and dazzles and fills the lungs when it tilts upside down into His Words.

I don’t know how many times I laid my head right down on those verses, laid my head on those skin thin page like a woman pressing her cheek up against One.

Some weeks we memorized together. Some weeks I couldn’t find my mind. Some weeks I could only find my way by orienting to chapter and verse. He never releases His grip. He never stops hand-leading me forward.

In July, Caleb and I, we live Matthew 6, “so when you give to the needy,” and we fly to Haiti and muddle through security in Port-au-Prince airport only for a woman to throw her arms open to us on the other side, say she was from Tennessee and she had one of Caleb’s advent wreaths on her table back home in the States and she reads our messy stories here and her husband was memorizing the Mount with us. I felt around for those verses right there in my pocket. God’s Word is always Home wherever you are.

All summer, the verses of the Sermon stack like stones of the only foundation I can stand on and the children they say it together like a song:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

In the fall, the leaves blaze and the glory flaming everywhere, it ignites on the verses,“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light” and the only way I can keep pace with it all is when I keep company with Christ – day in and day out.

His Word is the only real seeing eyes.

Then, when the snow flies in December, the Tennessee woman we met in Haiti, she emails me:

Just wanted to say thanks. This morning my husband recited the whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7) to me after breakfast–what an incredible experience! He’s been working with your cards by himself all year, he never thought he could do it, but the Holy Spirit has blessed him so!

What a gift for him now, to have that Scripture with him always–it has always been his favorite passage. Thank you!

We are looking forward to what you are memorizing for 2013-we will do it together this time.

And glory, it lumps like a searing holiness right in the gullet and I can only bow my head.

Come the very end of the year, the Farmer finds me standing in Mama’s kitchen after a Christmas dinner, staring out her sink window across the fields.

“What you thinking?” He whispers it at my ear.

I shake my head.

“You’re thinking something.” He turns me around, pulls me in.

I bury my head in his shoulder, “I fell in loveYou can fall completely in Love with the Word.

I look up at him.

“Every line this year, in every airport, in every fear? The words of Jesus’ there on Sermon on the Mount…. Our camping weekend in the woods? “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry…” When the kids bickered? “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.… He was there. Always there.”

Am I making any sense here? My eyes are brimming but I find his.

When I didn’t know which way to turn — turning those pages turned me. The whole year — I learned by heart the heart of God — and He calmed my fearful heart.”

He pushes my bangs back out of my eyes.

“I just don’t want it to end.”

And he smiles, leans his forehead forward to touch mine.

“It doesn’t have to, you know.”

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So the New Year moves forwardturns with just this simplicity of a trinity of habits:

One Word,

One Thousand Gifts,

One Memory Project.

1. One Word: {With} IN to practice awaking to His presence, to live With and IN Him.

2. One Thousand Gifts – this dare to joy, to count His gifts everyday to know again who I can always count on.

There is no other way IN to His presence except through the gates of thanksgiving — and fullness of joy is found only in His presence. Thanksgiving is the key that opens the door to God and full joy –and I will count gifts because giving thanks in all things is God’s definite will for me IN Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)

3. One Memory Project — This year — The Romans Project, chapters 1, 8, and 12 of the book of Romans. John Piper said it in his last sermon as pastor and I listened to it during the final hours of 2012, that Romans 8 may be the most powerful chapter of the whole of the canon — and memorizing only 2 verses a week through 2013 will have us know by heart three Great Chapters of the Christian faith.

This is how you make the calendar for the year: you set Christ at the center.

This is the question: Will you spend your days meditating on His Word or your worries?

This is the resolution every new year needs — a revolution: A turning every day to Christ.

This is the thing: No one sends you a memo that Today is the day you’ll need a certain verse to keep you breathing through the day.

When you memorize Scripture, it’s like carrying your own oxygen tanks.

And then there’s Jesus:  Christ’s weapon against Satan in the desert was memorized Scripture. And if you aren’t memorizing Scripture — what IS your weapon against Satan? 

I turn at the window in my mama’s kitchen and the Farmer asks, “Yes?”

And I half smile and nod and know my heart wants to know God by heart and I whisper yes.

 

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night,

so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it;

for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”  ~Joshua 1:8, NASB

How to Make a Memory Commitment Booklet:
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— commit His Words to heart & our hearts to Him
1. Download & Print the Romans Project Cards:
Click here to print cards: Just 2-3 Verses a Week

2. Print and either have comb bound (cards are formatted to give space for comb binding), for ease of flipping cards, propping at the sink, etc.

3. Alternatively, cut and paste into a booklet like a pocket Moleskine

4. Tick off  little square boxes for each day of memory heart commitment

5. Find a partner to recite to — have them sign each week on the allotted line
(only *two to three short * verses a week – the verses are in the NIV version & take a bit to load. Thank you for grace!)

6. Or Join our Online The Romans Project Community!

The incredibly committed Brett and McKenzie over at Scripture Typer  have partnered with us to create The Romans Project community just for us! 

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A place where we

~ type out our verses in increasing levels of memorization,

~have ways to message and encourage each other,

~and have profiles to track our progress!

Warning: Memorizing over at Scripture Typer?  Is ridiculously fun and you won’t want to stop! {Kids here race each other on words per minute on each verse to see who can type theirs faster… and… um. Me too. ~grin~} Seeing how many words a minute you can type your verses out is very motivating! 

I confess — I am just flat out excited about meeting you over there and memorizing His Word together — it is. our. very. life.!

The Romans Project

The Romans Project Plan for this Year:

1. The First Friday of Every Month:

We’ll host a link-up here on the blog for you to link over to a video or audio on your blog of your memory work recitation … let’s leave no one behind. Mark it on the calendar right now — every Friday we’re sharing our Romans Project memory work!

Or you can share on our Facebook page?

2. If it matters — we make time. If it doesn’t — we make excuses. Commit. And making a public commitment? Holds us to accountability — so share with your family, on Facebook, or on your blog — invite others to join you in making His Word your life.

3. And…  if we finish The Romans Project? How about T-shirts?

Why Memorize Scripture?

I beg you — watch. this.

{RSS and email readers: Click here to listen to Mr. Piper’s compelling clip}

In making to-do lists to run our lives, why not make time to let God’s Word revolutionize our lives? Because making time to memorize His Word is putting the first things first.

If we fail to keep His Word in mind, we may simply fail.

In the age of Google, who still memorizes God? Are we losing a way of life… and losing our way?

What a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows,” urges Dennis Lennon. And what the heart knows by heart is all that can calm the heart. Direct the heart. Strengthen the heart. What do our hearts really know?

Will we who claim to be believers of the Word commit to shaping our lives with His Letters?

Committing the Holy to heart is the way we commune with the Holy Himself.

Scripture repetition is the way we daily revive our faith, the slow pumping of the Word of Life into the lungs with the breath of His Words.

And for the disciples of Christ, this Scripture Memorization isn’t a a one-time hurtle — but a life-long habit. A way of living to live the Way of Christ.

We want this to be a discipline we practice for the rest of our lives. Think marathon, not sprint.” writes Beth Moore.Never — NOT ONCE — have I ever known anyone to get to the end of a Scripture memory commitment and say that it didn’t make any real difference. Not a single time.”

Related Inspiration:
The Story of One Woman that will Definitely Motivate you to Memorize
Rather Memorize Colossians?
Colossians in a Year: Just 2 Verses a Week

Or last year’s memory project: Sermon on the Mount: 2 Verses a week

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