Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: The Jesus Project #MemoryProject2014 *UPDATED: Printable Bookmark with List of Verses

When in Rome… yeah, that….

When in Rome, do as the Romans.

2013 was this slippery year of that — living in Romans, doing as Romans.

The Farmer and I would crawl into bed, bone tired and hurting, lay there murmuring phrases of Romans 1 to each other…

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God… ”

Set apart for the Gospel…. Set apart for the Gospel.











Bird on roof

Memorizing His words, turning them over in our minds, in our mess, like raw-cut, unearthed diamonds, this is what rotated us.

I had muttered that one night to the Farmer laying there weary — It is only the turning the lines of Scripture that turn me around. Nothing else has the sheer strength to do that.

Every line of God’s Word is like an axle — turning the soul around, moving the soul forward. Getting me there. Without it, my life has no forward motion — I just ram hopelessly about in the same ruts.

For a year, I worked at not letting time or tasks get in the way of letting the axle turn…

In March, Lizzie and I served at a conference called, yeah, that: Set Apart … we stumbled and laughed and hung on and recited our Romans verses to each other… set apart for the Gospel….

Come summer, Romans 8 was a soundtrack playing loud and steady and sure in my head: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”

To-do lists could yell at me at the end of the day. Emails lingered, piled unopened. Resolutions splayed neglected. But what the heart knows by heart can heal and hold the heart, and His Word would come again like the lullaby of a strong, rhythmic heartbeat to me laying there wide awake… would come pull me close to thrum of the very heartbeat of God: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…

To stay on track, every heart needs to know a soundtrack by heart.

Laying a life up against the chest of His Word, and hearing the steady beat of His heart, is the only soundtrack that strengthens the human heart.

Come the end of summer, when the wheat was coming off, when we were behind in The Romans Project, as is our typical Modus operandi, when we pressed in close to Him to memorize the lines  of His song, the rhythm of His heart right there at the end of Romans 8, I felt the burning lump in my throat — how in the world did the likes of us end up with a love song like this?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

[And there it was — my life verse:]

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come … will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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.

The steady beat of His word is the only thing that gives a strong rhythm to our days.

That’s what happened: The lines memorized were lifelines, were cords that bound our hearts to the strength of God’s.

A year of groping through The Romans Project… and I didn’t expect it like this: I fell more in love with Him all over again. I kept learning to live loved. I kept learning to exhale.

Come the end of the year, there was the Tree hanging with all those ornaments of The Greatest Gift. And the lights and the lingering and a baby in a manger and I said with a whole lot of the world: I just wanted Jesus. That’s what I said.

And then the wonder Christmas had whispered it right into the pragmatism of my New Year:

Is Jesus merely useful to you — or is He ultimately beautiful to you?

When Jesus is merely useful to me, I want Him to move my world.

When Jesus is ultimately beautiful to me, it’s my heart that is moved – and this begins to change the world.

When I see Jesus as useful, He’s a gadget to make my life better. When I see Jesus as beautiful, He’s a joy that makes me live better….

That’s the question that moved me from one year into another:

Am I a Jesus-user?

Or a Jesus-adorer?

How does the church stop being a bunch of Jesus-users? And become a host of Jesus-adorers?

When did Jesus become more about business-like benefits to us instead of The Beautiful who calls us Beloved?

Looking for the beauty of Christ in the everyday isn’t some quaint exercise in poetry. It’s a critical exercise in staying alive. “Your new life, which is your real life, …. is with Christ. He is your life.” [Colossians 3]

And as we all wiped the vernix off a brand new flailing year, I stumbled across this gilded Bible.

Turning pages of illuminated Scripture, these lines of careful calligraphy, I slowed — caught my breath…

You could see it: how for centuries scribes spent their lives on His Word.  Because Jesus was beautiful to them.

Screen shot 2014-01-04 at 11.52.47 AM

I sat in the dark of a brand new year, an illuminated Bible in front of me, with this epiphany unfolding like new light:

For centuries …. Because Jesus was beautiful to God’s people — His Word was beautiful to God’s people. 

What if Jesus’ Word was more than useful to us? What if it was beautiful to us?

What if God’s Word was more than a manual in our lives — what if it was the masterpiece in our lives — that made our lives a masterpiece?

What if His Word was the art that we were captivated by — that freed us into the art of life?

That’s what I wanted a new year, a new memory project, to look like — I wanted Jesus The Beautiful — and His Beautiful Words.

So when I polled our wondrous little community about what we might memorize for 2014 — the book of James? How about 3 chapters from the Gospel of John? 52 topical verses for the year? or maybe just…  12 Soul-Sustaining verses?

So when I did this pathetic imitation of Richard Dawson’s “Survey Saaaays…” and it was clear:  The poll of God’s people overwhelmingly asked not to memorize a book of the Bible, not several chapters — but to memorize 12 Soul-Sustaining Verses, it was even clearer: We need Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us.

We need Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us ragamuffins who were facing battles every. single. day — and we are wild for a sword. 

We need Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us  — who need just a small change to make a big change.

We need Scripture Memorization for the Rest of us —  to get us through the rest of things.  “We want this to be a discipline we practice for the rest of our lives. Think marathon, not sprint.” writes Beth Moore. That’s what Beth said: “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 differenceNot. a. single time.”

So there it was, a  bit of a messy plan:

Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: The Jesus Project. We’d memorize the Soul Sustaining Words of Jesus. From the Gospel of John.

We’d start with just 24 verses (or you could choose just 12 of the 24) — all that would be rendered artistically, to make us see Beautiful in the Words of God. It would sort of be like this —  “More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints… 24 verses that would chronologically unpack across the Gospel of John. We’ll memorize at least one verse from every chapter in the Gospel of John. Sometimes several verses from each chapter.

Over the year, we’ll offer another free download of “More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints. Or maybe two sets,  offered later in the year? So the community could memorize 1 set of 24 verses… or 2 sets — 48 verses from the Gospel of John. Or 3 sets — 72 verses? All The Beautiful Words of Jesus….

It would be this fluid experience, entirely self-paced: you could pace yourself and pick 12 verses, and memorize  one a month. Or you could hang up several “More than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints and memorize a few every week. You could share with the kids. Tape to the mirror. Stick in the car. We will tape ours  up to the blackboard by the kitchen table.

I believe it: What is beautiful in our lives is what actually becomes the most useful in our lives. We are drawn to beauty and Jesus is the Most Beautiful — so hang up His words as art.

And memorization just got a whole lot easier: Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us. 

And by the end of the year? We’ll have memorized at least 24 — 48? 72? — verses all chronologically from the Gospel of John.

We’ll have this sort of art gallery  of “More than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints  —

a humble hanging of prints… God’s Word imprinted right into our being. 




























Download Bookmark [just if you are memorizing a verse a week? It’s all fluid — feel free to go at your own pace!]

[Next pack of “More than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints will be posted March 15th, and every Wednesday on the blog we will post a study and devotional unpacking that week’s verse]



This would be the year that the weary souls would take wing on the grace of Soul-Sustaining Verses.

This would be the year that we would be just bunch of messed-up, broken-down people — with a sword. Because every. single. one. of. us. is  facing. one. hard. battle.   

Christ’s weapon against Satan in the desert was memorized Scripture. And if you aren’t memorizing Scripture — what IS your weapon in your battle? Where is your defence, your arrow, your hope? We have got to do this thing. It. is. our. life.

This is the year we pick up a sword, that we carry our arrows, that we take aim —-

This is the year that we would fly.




Ready to Fly this year?

Here are the Details:

1. The First Saturday of Every Month and the Third Saturday of Every Month — we will talk about our verses. Recite them. Post video of us reciting?  Post the next Memory Prints for the chronological memorizing of certain verses throughout the Gospel of John. And encourage each other on!

2.Every Wednesday on the blog we will post a study and devotional unpacking that week’s verse

3. More free Download “More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints will be posted by March 15th. So download the next set of 24 verses March 15th, Lord willing. And keep memorizing His beautiful Word.

4. We will be sharing photos of where we are hanging our “More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints come over to our FB community and share photos of where you are hanging yours memory prints?

5. That little poll I mentioned? The only overwhelming response? Just about everyone wanted a way to celebrate #MemoryProject2014 …. So!? We are dreaming up ways to celebrate our community memorizing the #JesusProject this year. Maybe a T-shirt to wear? A virtual gathering? Or maybe… we are praying… maybe some kind of missional trip/experience to celebrate how prints of His Word — have been imprinted on us. Pray crazy with us? 

5. THIS IS THE YEAR TO FLY! #TheJesusProject … is yours for the downloading and the flying!

Download your free “More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints of the Gospel of John right here:

Large Prints or the Small Prints and Bookmark with List of Scriptures … And memorization just got a whole lot easier: Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us. An art gallery  of “More than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints  —

a humble hanging of prints… God’s Word imprinted right into our being. 


Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 2.26.42 PM

Last year’s memory project –The One Habit God Really Wants for Your New Year {Roman’s Project} 
The Most Important Skill That Your 2014 Really Needs
 Liz Curtis Higgs and I reciting from Romans to each other

Previous memory projects:
2012 – Matthew 5, 6 & 7 (Sermon on the Mount)
2011 – Colossians 1-4