Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Scripture by Heart: Devotional Practices for Memorizing God's Word by Joshua Choonmin Kang

I found this book while searching on Amazon for stuff by Dallas Willard. I was puzzled when that search brought up something by Joshua Choonmin Kang, who I'd never heard of, but then saw that Dr. Willard had written the forward. I have to say: what a helpful search feature for Amazon to have! It's not a jump to suppose that a buyer would be interested in books that their favorite authors approve of. And in this case, I was very interested indeed, because I've been trying for some time to make scripture memorization a bigger part of my life.
Upon receiving this book, I found that it's half instructional manual and half devotional: some of the chapters teach you how to memorize scripture and some of them inspire you with reasons to memorize. Most of them are a mix of the two, both encouraging and equipping you at the same time. Though I read most of this book on retreat, I think it's perfectly suited for a nightstand: it's the sort of book that will give you the push you need to keep going when you're halfway through the long slog of memorizing a chapter or a book of the Bible. Most of the chapters are only a few pages long, but densely packed with jewels like this:
"Memorized Scripture verses make it just that much easier for the Holy Spirit to communicate with us, to guide and instruct us."
"Please note, when the bible uses the word success, it refers to accomplishing something God has entrusted to us."
"Receiving the Word of God is tantamount to welcoming Jesus into our heart."
Pastor Kang's words have been immensely helpful to me in my quest to memorize scripture because he doesn't just urge you to do it, he tells you why you should, and his reasons are compelling. He says, "Love and learning have always been relative to each other." In other words, when we love someone, we want to know him. So, loving God implies that we will learn about him.
In the end though, it's that first quotation that seems to me to be the heart of the book: "Memorized Scripture verses make it just that much easier for the Holy Spirit to communicate with us". I want my mind to be shaped by God's words, so that when he has something to say to me, it will be easy for me to receive it. In the words of the old Arch Bible story book The Seeds that Grew to Be a Hundred:
Now, some people listen, but others don't.
So the meaning of the story is clear.
Don't be like ground where seeds can't grow.
Open your ears and hear.
This is the message of Pastor Kang's book: hide God's word in your heart and that word will shape your heart. It will shape it so that it is like Jesus'.

I highly recommend this book.
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

1 comment:

Katie K said...

This book sounds like exactly what I need. I've been in and out of a scripture memorization routine for years now but it would be nice to have some structure and maybe a few new ideas for how to approach the whole thing. God's word becomes so much clearer to me when I memorize it- somehow I always seem to forget that until I'm actually working on it and then I remember, "Oh, yeah, this is why it's good to do this!"
Thanks for reviewing this book. I'll be sure to check it out.