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Archive | Scripture Memory

What should I do with Philippians 3:14?

Recently I joined a First Place 4 Health online small group for prayer, Bible study, and accountability. Our activities include a weekly Scripture memory verse. This week – our first week – we were challenged to memorize Philippians 3:14.

Philippians 3:14I taped the Scripture card to my desk where I can see it all the time and began to work on it. But soon I began to have questions. I needed to know more about the verse. If I’m going to work to “hide God’s Word in my heart” then I need to know its meaning, its truth, so I can understand it and apply its principles to my life.

First, I needed to understand the context. So I backed up and read the entire third chapter of Philippians. Paul began by addressing a false teaching plaguing the Gentile believers in Philippi. Jewish Christians were pressuring them to be circumcised. Paul passionately reminded the Philippians not to place in any value in works or accomplishments. Instead they must focus on Christ and push forward to God’s purpose for them.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14, NIV

Once I had the basic context, the specific verse prompted three questions I wanted to answer. So back to the larger context to find my answers!

  1. What is the “goal” I’m to press toward?

My “goal” is to be all Jesus saved me for and wants me to be (Philippians 3:12) – including experiencing the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:11) and receiving my glorified body (Philippians 3:21).

2. What is the “prize” God has called me to?

Our “prize” is glorious! Here are the things I found:

  • To know Christ – and that’s priceless gain! (Philippians 3:8)
  • To have Christ (Philippians 3:8)
  • To become one with Christ (Philippians 3:9)
  • To experience Christ’s mighty power (Philippians 3:10)

3. What does it look like to “press on?”

“Pressing on” requires discipline, diligence, and determination. It’s a lifelong process of following Christ in trust and obedience. Here are a few specifics I found in chapter 3.

  • I must get my priorities straight – Jesus over earthly things (Philippians 3:8)
  • I must trust in Christ’s ability to save and not my own abilities (Philippians 3:9)
  • I must focus on my sanctification (Philippians 3:12)
  • I must not dwell on past failures – or successes – that would keep me from moving forward (Philippians 3:13)
  • I must “dethrone” my earthly appetites and enthrone Jesus (Philippians 3:19)

Wow! There’s a lot of punch behind that one little verse. These 20 words reflect a lifetime of faith and discipleship. I’d say that’s worth taking to heart.

How do you feel about memorizing Scripture? Do you find it too hard? Are you working on a passage now? If so, I’d love to hear what it is!

Want to memorize Philippians 3:14? Print this Scripture memory card to help! (Click on the photo below to access the printable PDF.

Philippians 3:14

Want some help memorizing God’s Word? Here are some Scripture Memory resources to check out:

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Fruit of the Spirit Week 6: Beautiful, Bountiful Harvest

Fruit of the Spirit 6This post is the last lesson in a 6-week study series on the Fruit of the Spirit. (You can still access previous posts: Intro, One, Two, Three,  Four or Five.) You can read today’s post and make notes in a journal or print the PDF version.

When we began this study, I mentioned my lemon tree. How it budded and bloomed. How the little lemons began to grow. Six weeks later the lemons weren’t ready to harvest. The fruit was still growing; the lemons still green. Fruit production takes time. But I did eventually drink lemonade!

Like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight. We must work consistently to crucify the old nature. We must continually refuse to give in to our fleshly desires and yield our will to the Spirit’s. We can say “no” to our sinful nature, accept the “way out” God provides, and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

As we grow, the characteristics of Christ – fruit of the Spirit – will be manifested in our lives. As the Spirit transforms us more and more into the image of Christ, we will produce a beautiful, bountiful fruit harvest!

Get to Know the Qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit

In Week Two, we discussed the meaning of “fruit.” The Greek word “karpos” refers to the natural product of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The word is singular, signifying that “fruit” is a unified whole. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary suggests we think of the fruit as a “bunch of grapes instead of separate pieces of fruit.” As we grow in Christ-likeness we will produce all the characteristics of His nature.

In this week’s printable PDF lesson, you will work through definitions for each quality of the Holy Spirit’s fruit and see other passages in God’s Word that will help you cultivate them in your life. You don’t want to miss that! But here in the post, I thought I’d share a little trick that helped me memorize Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23, NIV 1984

Early in this study, I challenged you to memorize Galatians 5:22-23. Years ago, when I tried to memorize the passage, I kept missing some of the qualities or getting them out of order. But then I noticed a pattern in the qualities in the way they were listed in the passage. (Note: This was using the 1984 NIV translation.)

There are 9 qualities. The 1st three each have one syllable, the 2nd three each have two syllables, and the 3rd three each have three syllables. Learning the qualities in 3 groups of three caused a memorization breakthrough! I hope it helps you.

Prepare for a Fruitful Harvest

We’ve talked facts and definitions. Now, let’s get personal. It’s time to do a fruit check. This is between each of us and God. Spend some quiet time with Him now and reflect on each characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.

Ask God to show you the quality of the Spirit’s fruit in your life. Think about some recent circumstances. Was the Spirit’s character manifested in your life or did you allow your natural, sinful character to take over?

Although we will battle our fleshly nature for the rest of our lives, we become more sensitive to the Spirit’s leading as we mature and learn to recognize His voice. As we end our study, I pray God will encourage, strengthen, and grow you in the days ahead!

Let’s talk: What did you learn in this study series that has encouraged or challenged you the most?

 

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4 Cautions Before Choosing a Life Verse

My name is Kathy and I don’t have a life verse. And I feel like I just might be the only Christian on the planet who doesn’t.

What is a “life verse?”

According to the Dictionary of Christianese, a “life verse” is a “specific Bible verse that a Christian believes to be specially representative or predictive of his or her life. Many Christians regard their life verse as an inspirational motto or lifelong mission statement.”

Why do people choose a life verse?

Life verseHonestly, I’m really not sure. As far as Christian history goes, it’s a fairly recent practice – like in just the last 100 years. As far as I have been able to determine, there is no biblical principle to support choosing a life verse. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong, or a bad thing to do, but it could be more trendy than spiritual.

If you’re considering choosing a life verse, you can get all kinds of help online. For instance,  you can learn how to find your life verse. Then if you’re still having trouble narrowing the more than 31,000 down to just one, here are 20 suggestions! Still at a loss? You can take this quiz to determine what yours should be! But the article I like the most was this sarcastic one on “Stuff Christians Like.

Right now I don’t see a need to choose one verse that defines, directs, or represents my life. However, that doesn’t mean concentrating on a specific verse or passage for a period of time is a bad thing. But I do think you should proceed with caution.

4 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Life Verse

  1. All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12-13) – Yes, some verses and passages have greater impact at certain times in our lives. For instance, if we are in a season of grief and loss we may want to memorize verses about God’s comfort and peace. But God’s Word has value for all things – the whole Word of God, not just a piece. Why would we even attempt to narrow it down to one verse!
  2. One verse or passage can easily be misapplied – We cannot correctly understand one verse apart from its context in the greater passage. Pulling one out on its own can be dangerous. For instance, in the list of 20 life verses mentioned above, Philippians 4:13 was at the top of their list. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? I see it on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and wall plagues all the time. But I imagine most people take this verse out of context. When we read the larger passage, we discover that Paul was writing about finding contentment even in the most dire of circumstances. Yet we often claim this verse as a promise that God will empower us to tackle any big task or great thing we want to take on.
  3. Only God knows the future – It seems if we take this life verse thing really seriously that we just could get the cart before the horse. What I mean is this – if we choose one verse as a statement for our life, we could easily fall into choosing a verse that reflects our life rather than working to make our life reflect God’s Word.
  4. It’s easy to make ourselves the focus – Often choosing a life verse seems to be a lot about “me,” and not so much God. Many times, it’s about what makes us feel good or reflects what we want to do for God.

Yes, there are times when I’ve spent days or weeks or more focusing on one passage of Scripture. There are specific verses I hold dear because God has used them to teach me something huge or impact me in a significant way. And I fully expect that to continue. But for now, there’s no “life verse” for me.

Would love for you to chime in. “Yes” or “no” to a life verse and why!

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11 Tips for Spending Quality Time with God

11 tips quiet timeDid you resolve to spend regular time with God in 2016? We are 3 days into the New Year and you may already be wondering how to stay on track. These tips are for you!

I have posted some version of these quiet time tips for several years now, but it never hurts to review. The post also includes links to helpful tools and resources. Feel free to print what you need and share as much as you’d like!

11 Tips for Spending Regular Quality Time with God

  1. Establish a regular place and time – We are creatures of habit. If we know when and where we will meet with God daily we are much more likely to do it. Build it into your daily schedule. If this is new for you, start small, commit to it and God will grow it.
  2. Organize your “tool” box – Gather your tools (Bible, reading plan, journal, pen, etc.) and keep them together in your designated spot so you’ll always be prepared. I’ve found having a reading plan greatly increases the chance of me staying in the Word regularly. Without a plan, reading stays haphazard at best. Here are 5 different plans that would take you through the year.
  3. Minimize Distractions –  Though it’s not possible to eliminate them all, we can take steps to help maintain our focus. Email and social media are my biggest distractions. I had to determine not to open my laptop until after my quiet time. What competes for your attention the most?
  4. Start with prayer – Ask God to speak to you and help you understand His Word today. Thank Him for meeting with you.
  5. Begin to read the Bible – Remember your purpose is to communicate with God. The Bible is the primary way God speaks to us. Don’t read hastily just to get through the passage. Let God stop you.
  6. Meditate on the passage – Meditation is not emptying your mind. It is deep thinking on spiritual truths. As you read, linger over verses that impact you. Ask God questions and “listen” for His answers. These 5 PROBE questions are a great guide to meditate on a passage.
  7. Pray as you read – Time with God should be interactive. Respond to God as He speaks to you through His Word. Reading and praying creates a conversation with God.
  8. Sit still in God’s presence – We are products of our rushed, busy culture. Unfortunately, this tendency affects our time with God. We often rush through so we can get on with the next thing. I am certainly guilty of this. Commit to purposefully slow down! Sense God’s presence? Then simply sit still and be with Him.
  9. Journal – Read with pen in hand. Record what God says to you and how you will respond. Writing can help you stay focused on God and His voice. You can also read your thoughts later to be reminded of something God taught you, an answered prayer, a time you felt His presence, etc. Here are some extra tips on journaling by Rachel Wojo.
  10. Memorize – Commit to memorize verses God calls special attention to. Knowing Scripture by heart helps us guard against sin, reminds us of God’s promises, provides guidance, and allows us to meditate on God’s Word anywhere and anytime. These two posts will help: Scripture Memory Tips and 7 Activities to Help You Memorize Scripture.
  11. Application – Apply to your life whatever God says to you through prayer and His Word. It may be repentance. It may be a change in behavior. It may be a specific action.

May God draw you ever closer to Him in 2016!

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Gospel Basics Scripture Memory Chart

Salvation Scripture MemoryIf you’re a mom, you know how to be prepared for anything. You keep medicines on hand in case illness pops up in the middle of the night. You carry snacks in the car when you run errands because somebody will get hungry. You pack a change of clothes for play dates, just in case. But are you always prepared to share the Good News about Jesus?

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15, NLT

In his first letter, Peter urged believers to always be prepared to tell others about the salvation found only in Jesus. In addition to preparing our personal story of our faith in Christ we should also be ready to share key Scriptures about salvation. The best way to always have those “ready” is to memorize them.

Verses to Share the Gospel

The chart below suggests 24 verses or short passages. The first 10 will help you show an individual her need for Jesus and how to place her faith for salvation in Him. The remaining passages will help you walk them through an overview of what it means to be a disciple or to follow Jesus daily.

If this is your first time to seriously memorize Scripture you may want to pick just one of the two monthly passages to memorize. If you are ready for more of a challenge, memorize both passages each month.  PRINT PDF VERSION

Salvation Basics editedAdditional Help for Memorizing Scripture

If you’re new to memorizing Scripture, you may want to check out this additional posts and resources:

Scripture Memory Tips   (PDF version)

7 Activities to Help you Memorize Scripture

6 Reasons to Memorize Scripture

Have you ever used memorized Scripture to share your faith in Jesus with someone? How did God use it?

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6 Reasons to Memorize Scripture

memorize ScriptureI can think of several really logical reasons to NOT memorize Scripture. For instance, I have dozens of full translations at my fingertips all the time with the handy Bible app for my phone. And it never forgets. Plus, life is busy and Scripture memory takes time and effort. I can quickly search for and find any passage or verse I need.

You’ve probably thought along the same lines. But give me a chance to convince you – and remind myself – that memorizing Scripture is more than worth the effort.

There’s a drastic difference between having easy access to Scripture and making it a permanent part of you. Memorizing God’s Word solidly entrenches His truth in your heart and mind in a way that simply reading it or searching for a specific verse cannot. When His truth is firmly planted in you, its roots can stretch out everywhere. Then God can use its presence to minister to you in very powerful and personal ways.

Here are six ways God can work in your life through His implanted Word:

  1. Provide you comfort, encouragement, peace, and strength (Col 3:15-16; Ps 1:1-3; 119:28)
  2. Give you guidance and wisdom (Psalm 37:31; Psalm 119:24, 98, 105)
  3. Transform you spiritually (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 2:2)
  4. Equip you for evangelism (1 Peter 3:15; Acts 18:28)
  5. Fill you with joy (Psalm 119:24, 47, 103; James 1:21-25)
  6. Strengthen you against temptation (Psalm 119:11)

Are you ready to start memorizing? Here are some other resources to help you get started:

Which of these six ways encourages you most to want to memorize Scripture? Why?

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Scripture Memory Tips

Scripture Memory TipsDo you jump for joy when you hear the words “Scripture Memory” or do you break out in a cold sweat? Memorizing God’s Word successfully takes commitment, persistence, and work. However, it is a discipline that will reap many rewards. When you hide the truth of God’s Word in your heart it is then available for His use. God will use it to guide you, comfort you, and transform you to be more like Jesus. Additionally, you will always be ready to give an answer to everyone for the hope you have in Christ. (See 1 Peter 3:15.)

1. Have a plan

  • Decide on a time table for memorization. Will you memorize one verse a week   or one a month. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start simple and plan for success. If you are fairly new to Scripture memory, start with shorter, uncomplicated verses.
  • Use a list of Scriptures someone else has compiled.
  • Make your own list based on what God is doing in your life. For example: Is God calling you to witness? To live a holy life? Make a list of applicable verses.
  • Memorize sections of Scripture one verse at a time.

2. Write out the verses – the act of writing helps plant the words in our minds.

  • Use sheets of paper or index cards to write out each verse to memorize.
  • Make more than one copy to leave in the areas of the house you spend the most time in.

3. Have a storage system – here are a few ideas:

  • Index card box to file and store your verses for review.
  • Blank cards the size of business cards and a business card file. (These files look a bit like small photo albums and come in various sizes.
  • Card stock cut to fit a photo album with plastic sleeves.

4. Know the context

  • Before you start to memorize read the entire section of Scripture surrounding the verse. Know the setting and occasion. Commit to using God’s Word properly.

5. Use various methods to memorize

  • Write the verse. Write the verse and reference daily during the first week.
  • Verbalize it. Say the verse silently to yourself and out loud. Start phrase by phrase, working up to the entire verse with the reference.
  • Hear the verse. Record the verse in some way and play it back.
  • See the verse. Use additional index cards or Post-it-notes to put it in prominent places. For example: bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, the laundry room wall.
  • Create visual reminders. Draw symbolic pictures. For instance, for Ps 119:11 draw a Bible inside a heart to depict hiding God’s Word in your heart.

6. Word perfect

  • Memorize the verse and reference word perfect. Don’t settle for low standards.

7. Review, review, review

  • You must have a review system for long-term retention. Determine to review so many verses each week. Review new verses every week for a time, then less and less frequently. Use dead time, like holding on the phone, for review.

Downloadable PDF

What has been your own experience with Scripture memory? Success or failure? Joy or discouragement?

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Are You Raising Skeptics or Lovers?

I came across some sad statistics this week. For the last four years, The Barna Group has conducted a survey on behalf of the American Bible Society to find out how Americans feel about the Bible.

One particular statistic really jumped out at me: 19% of Americans are “skeptical” of the Bible. This is up from 10% just three years ago.

“Skeptics,” as defined by Barna, believe the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men, that it contains stories and advice.”

Bible reading surveyThink of the implications. If a fifth – up from a tenth just 3 years ago – of Americans reject the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, what does that mean for our society, future generations of Americans, and the American church?

More results from the survey help us sum it up: A growing number of Americans – particularly the younger generation – don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word, don’t read it, and don’t look to it for answers for life.

How did we get here and what can we do about it?

A host of factors probably contributed to Americans’ changing view of the Bible such as changing values and shifting worldviews. But a verse from Scripture popped into my mind as I thought about this.

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. Judges 2:10-11

There’s only one reason the new generation did not know about God and everything He had done for Israel. Their parents and grandparents did not tell them!

A new generation of Americans is growing up not knowing the truth of the Bible or its Author because their parents and grandparents have failed to give testimony to its power.

The greatest thing we can do to stop this growing tide of skepticism is to follow Moses’ instruction to the Israelites – that generation before the Judges. The one who failed to heed Moses’ wise advice.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

The principles found in these verses still apply today. If we treat the Word of God like Moses commanded the Israelites, then more of the next generation would know the LORD and believe His Word to be truth. Let’s consider what this looks like today:

  • Embed God’s Word in our hearts – We cannot give something that we don’t have. We must first read, know, and love God’s Word ourselves.
  • Impress them on our children – We must be purposeful in teaching them God’s Word. It won’t happen by osmosis and we can’t leave it solely to the church. Practice family devotions, bedtime Bible reading and prayer, Scripture memory!
  • Talk about God’s Word throughout our daily circumstances – Always be looking for opportunities to help your children view the happenings of life through the lens of the Bible. From problems with friends and loss of loved ones to entertainment and issues at school, help your kids prop them all up against God’s truth.
  • Make God’s Word the foundation of our lives – Tying God’s Word onto our bodies and writing in on our homes symbolizes a far greater need. God’s Word must permeate our thinking, guide the work of our hands, and be our guide for all of life. As we model this for our children, we must teach them to do the same.

Thankfully, the way society feels about the Bible or God does not change the truth. The Bible is God’s inspired Word, alive and active today, applicable to our lives, and the guide for all future hope.

Skepticism of the Bible does not have to continue to rise. As parents and grandparents, we can make a difference. We have truth on our side!

What will you do today to help your children embrace God’s Word?

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Bible Verses for Evangelism

Are you ready to share Jesus at a moment’s notice? Sharing the Good News of Jesus with others can be scary for many of us. But, half the battle is simply being prepared. One of the best ways to prepare is by memorizing Bible verses for evangelism.

Here’s some wise advice from the Apostle Peter:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15a

Bible verses evangelism

How can we prepare to share the Gospel?

  • First, we need to be ready to tell our own story – Be prepared to share your “story” (less daunting word than “testimony”) in 2 or 3 minutes. What was your life like before Jesus? How did Jesus break through to your heart and save you? Importantly, what is God doing in your life right now?
  • Second, memorize Scripture verses about salvation – Our personal experience is vital, but we need to be prepared to back it up with the authority of God’s Word. Jesus is not the only way because we say so. God says so and we should be armed with that truth. It’s also important to know verses by heart so we are ready any time and any where to share the Good News of Jesus.

My Top 10 List

There are some many verses we can use to share the Gospel message. But here are my favorite 10, in no particular order. And yes, I do know these “by heart!” Check them out and you’ll see why they made my top 10:

  1. Romans 3:23 – Every person has sinned and is therefore separated from God.
  2. Romans 6:23 – We have earned an eternal death penalty because of our sin.
  3. John 3:16-18 – We were under condemnation, but because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to provide a way of salvation.
  4. Romans 5:8 – God showed His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us.
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – Sinless Jesus, took our sin, so we could have His righteousness.
  6. 1 Peter 3:18 – Jesus, who was completely righteous, died for us, the unrighteous, so He could bring us to God.
  7. Ephesians 2:8-10 – We cannot do anything to earn our salvation. God saves us by His grace through faith in Christ.
  8. Romans 10:9-10 – We are saved through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  9. John 14:6 – Jesus is the way to God the Father.
  10. Acts 4:12 – Jesus is the only name that can save us.

You may already know many of these passages. If you don’t will you commit to memorizing some – or all?! Here are a couple of helps for you:

So, what do you say? Will you become a prepper? Do you have favorite verses to add to the list?

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7 Activities to Help You Memorize Scripture

We are almost a week into the new year. How are you doing with those New Year resolutions?

Perhaps you resolved to memorize Scripture in 2014, but now it feels like an insurmountable challenge. If you need some basic help getting started, check out these basic Scripture Memory Tips. If you need some direction about what to memorize, check out the various Scripture Memory Plans on my resources page.

Scripture memory activitiesOnce you have a list of Scriptures and know the basics, you can add use the following activities to enhance the memory process. Many of these activities assume you are using some kind of physical card system for your memory verses, such as index cards.

  1. Reflect on Key Truths – Spend a few moments reflecting on what the verse teaches. This will help implant its truths in your heart and mind. For instance, consider the following: What you should believe about God. Things you can praise or thank God for. What you can pray for yourself or others.
  2. Identify Anchor Words – Identify two to four key words or “anchor” words in the verse to help you remember it. For instance, in Psalm 46:1, three solid anchor words to remember could be “refuge,” “help,” and “trouble.” Circle these words on the front of the Scripture card and then write them on the back. Use these words as prompts during the memorization process.Scripture memory
  3. Draw a Picture or Symbol – On the back of your Scripture card, draw a symbol or picture that visually represents the verse. For instance, for Psalm 46:1 you could draw a fort or castle. Along with your anchor words, this picture or symbol will be another prompt to remember the truths and content of the verse or passage.
  4. Record It (great for auditory learners) – Use your smart phone, computer, or another device to record yourself reading or reciting the passage. Play it back throughout the day to further reinforce it in your memory.
  5. Choose an Object (great for tactile learners) – Select an object around your home or office that will remind you of the verse or passage each time you see it. For instance, for Psalm 46:1, a rock or stone object would remind you that God is your refuge, a strong safe place.
  6. Use Multiple Cards – Write the verse on more than just your primary card. Place these extra cards wherever you will seem them throughout the day and can take a moment to review – the bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink, your car visor, your computer monitor, above the washer and dryer, the refrigerator door.
  7. Reword it – Rewrite the verse in your own words. This will help you think about the meaning and how it should apply to your own life.

Let’s talk! Is there another activity that helped you in the past you’d like to share?

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