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Friday, April 29, 2016

Accused, Dismayed, Baffled - A Unique Chapter in Bible Quizzing

If you know me even casually, you know that Bible Quizzing ( has been a huge part of the ministry to which the Lord has called me.

I've been involved since 1977...for two decades I directed the quiz program at Family Life Ministries in NY (and PA); and continue to be very much involved since moving to Midland Ministries.

I've often said it's the only thing I can in which I can't lose...I can preach and blow it, counsel and blow it, but facilitating the memorization of God's Word is a win-win...

In all training of volunteers, in all opportunities to promote quizzing I (and others) point out that mere memorization is not the goal...thinking about, chewing on, figuring out how passages apply to our daily walking around life is the goal. And, even if teens shun that part, if they don't receive guidance at home...they are still filling their minds with the holy inspired active Word of God...and "the Word of God does the work of God" is a cliche because it is true.

A few weeks ago I was able to see a couple who I've known for decades. We became friends while I served in NY; they then moved overseas for many years; and came back stateside a few years ago. They were financial supporters (I serve as a home missionary) and often communicated, asking for prayers and offering encouragement.

During our recent face to face we observed and discussed Bible quizzing. Their children had been involved in another form of Bible quizzing, and had a bad experience.

When we had to say "goodbye" the possibility, even probability, was that they were going to send their children to Midland's camp the week I am speaking this summer.

A while later I received an email from the husband that, in part, read:

"I am a layman without formal training who has been fighting institutionalized movements with good intentions but wrong primary or secondary focus. An example of misplaced primary focus is "Focus on the Family" and secondary focus is "The Navigators" with their memorization instead of meditation. Oh, how powerful it would be if someone were to turn the who memorization focus to day&night meditation and teach folks to pray without ceasing, dwell in the house of the Lord all the day long, abide in Jesus,  ... God's Word taken into memory in the heart through meditation is a strongly prescribed method in the Word of God."

He included a copy of an email he sent to his wife:

"I am not weak in either my Bible knowledge or my christian experience. My objection has nothing to do with the Power of God's Word. This is a misdirected rebuttal to my objection to memorization without personal meditation/ application.

It is so sad (not being cynical) to see folks like Jack spending so much energy and time misleading many by promoting memorization - path to the brain/memory, instead of meditation  - path to the heart, which God has prescribed in His Word so clearly. Here are just a handful of popular references that allude to heart both in the positive and the negative effects of the misplaced priority.
Deut 6:1-9, Josh 1:8, Psalm 119:9-11, Matthew 15:7-19, Heb 4:12, ...

Its up to you if we should take this issue up with him or not.  I am tired of warning "so-called" well-meaning believers more than once or twice."

After thinking about it for a while, I responded with this:

"I admit I am a bit shocked to be called a "misleader". If that is your true thought than I think you should obviously quit financially supporting me as that would make you, in effect, a co conspirator. In practices our coaches are instructed and encouraged to devote time to discussing the meaning of the verses (in context) and to dwell on them. They can not be meditated on if they are not memorized. Memorization is a step on the path, not the path itself. Meditation...or memorization...without application is not the end either.
... God's Word should be memorized (Jesus did), God's Word should be chewed upon (meditation), God's Word should be lived, God's Word should be shared.

In view of your statements I would assume your kids will not be coming to our camp; as we do Bible quizzing as part of the program.

I appreciate your honesty, appreciate you all, and am still a little dismayed that you view much of my life and ministry as misleading..."

The final communication I've had is this, from the wife:

"In all the verses that we have studied and discussed through this thread, meditation is the repeated instruction.  Even the devotional that you forwarded had at its core meditating, not memorizing.   I understand that it is hard to test or make a fun way to test meditation.  But what we found from our family's star quizzers was this: Memorizing scripture brought with it a "form of godliness" that was so contrary to God's way.  We saw our children be excited about gaining head knowledge without heart knowledge.  This was the reason we pulled out of quizzing.  I want my children to love God and His word, and I detest the substitutions to true Godliness.

I struggle with the fact that it is ugly and unpleasant to not dwell together in unity.  I sometimes am willing to compromise on God's demands in order to have harmony.  This is my nature and God is teaching me even through this experience to hold Him high beyond my friendships." 

The loss of a $100.00 monthly supporter is not a thrill, but not as bad as losing the respect and friendship of this wonderful family.

Apparently their previous experience with quizzing resulted in a child being, at least from their perspective, over-competitive...I am trying not to read between the proverbial lines...

In forty years of involvement in quizzing I've never have seen an argument such as this (there are plenty of objections...wrong translation, how dare you compete over God's Word, etc...but never has someone accused me of misleading people.

Does it hurt?

Sort of. I've got pretty thick skin (right or wrong).

But what really baffles me is how memorization of God's sharper-than-a-two-edged sword is, in and of itself, "bad'?

I don't get it.

But I'll not concentrate on it by His grace; I'll look forward (we are in Colorado Springs for the National Tournament) and instead remember the teens and "alumni" of quizzing who tell me that it was a huge part of their spiritual maturity and how the Word they memorized years ago "pops" up in their minds at the most appropriate time. (or, from their perspective - in "Jack, I was about to do something really dumb when a passage I memorized in quizzing came back to my mind...)

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