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The Perks of Being a Bible Quizzer: The Case For Setting Your Mind On Scripture

The Perks of Being a Bible Quizzer: The Case For Setting Your Mind On Scripture

When I was growing up, my dad helped lead a Bible quizzing program at our church and his energy and enthusiasm about it was contagious. Though I sometimes gave my parents a hard time about it, and even tried to quit once or twice, I was a highly engaged Bible quizzer from 3rd–12th grade.  

Looking back, I must confess that Bible quizzing is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Every year we would study a different book (or books) of the New Testament, and we had to be very familiar with the material, even memorizing particular verses and passages, to be successful in the competition.

Despite all of that Scripture in my mind, even as a Bible quizzer, I still found a way to be a rascal in many of my interpersonal relationships, but that was no fault of the Scripture. My life contains many mistakes, but my involvement in Bible quizzing, which led me to ingest large amounts of the New Testament into my long term memory, and eventually into my heart, is not one of them. 

I backed my way into immersing my mind in Scripture as a child, but now in adulthood, I have found it to be extremely helpful for the learning involved in discipleship to Jesus. 

 

The Why

If we have accepted the status of disciple (a student or apprentice) of Jesus Christ, then, as good students, what we fill our minds with will have important ramifications on our learning. As disciples of Jesus, our course of study is to learn how to live our lives within the reign and action of God, just like Jesus would if he were us. Such a way is outlined for us in Scripture.

In Psalm 1:1–3, we find a picture of the kind of person whose delight is in God’s law or word, and meditates on it day and night: he or she is like a tree planted by streams of water. Their fruit yields in season, their leaf does not wither, and whatever they do prospers. This kind of  student or disciple has their mind on the material, and will be successful in learning kingdom living.

How could we expect to grow in Christlikeness, if we don’t recognize our obligation to set our minds on the material of the course? If we set our mind on “whatever,” then “whatever” will be our result. The lesson of garbage in, garbage out, is completely accurate.   

Can you imagine failing a course, and then complaining to your teacher, “Oh… you actually expected me to study?” 

If our goal is to learn to live in cooperation with God’s action, then, as students, there is material available for us to set our minds upon to aid us in that pursuit. 

We can do this, and we can start afresh today. 

 

The How

With the right “why” in hand,  we are motivated and prepared to ask how we might immerse our minds in Scripture. 

To this end, Dallas Willard offers 3 keys for setting our minds on Scripture: 

 

  1. Concentration: We have to actually set our attention on the Scripture.
  2. Repetition: We have to go over the same material multiple times to become familiar with it.
  3. Understanding: We must understand it for it to be profitable to our hearts.  Sometimes looking at multiple Bible translations or resources like commentaries, BibleProject podcast and videos, and audio Bible recordings can help. 

If you are ready to concentrate, repeat, and understand Scripture, here are a few passages to start with. I know you will find many more to add to the list!

Psalm 23
Proverbs 3:5–8
Isaiah 40:27–31
Philippians 4:4–9
Colossians 3:1-17

In Psalm 119:11, we read, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

May this be true of each one of us this year, and for the rest of our earthly sojourn. 

Daniel Tiger, the King, and Me

Daniel Tiger, the King, and Me

My 3-year-old son Benjamin’s favorite book series and TV show is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. One of his biggest highlights of this summer was our visit to our family in Pennsylvania where we actually got to meet Daniel Tiger in person at Idlewild Park.  

Fred Rogers, a man who inspired me and so many others, was an ordained Christian minister and, like me, a native of Pittsburgh, PA.  

The Daniel Tiger TV show is a reboot of the classic TV show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and shares many of the same characters. Each story has a theme with a lesson featuring a catchy jingle that culminates in a full length song. We often refer to some of the jingles in our home, which offer valuable life lessons. One of my favorite episodes from this TV show is  “King Daniel for the Day.”


King for a day 

In the story Daniel Tiger asks King Friday what it is like being king. King Friday, knowing experience to be the best teacher, allows Daniel to be king for the day and assigns him two kingly duties: to acquire both a tasty dessert and a loud musical instrument and bring them to the castle. Then King Friday tells him that the most important thing about being a king is to be kind.  

The story goes on and Daniel gets a tasty treat from the bakery, but he sees his friend O the Owl accidentally drop his special dessert onto the ground. Remembering King Friday’s words (in the form of a catchy jingle) “You can choose to be kind,” Daniel offers his own dessert to his friend.  

Then Daniel acquires loud cymbals from the music shop, but on his way back to the castle, he comes upon his friend Miss Elaina, who has just dropped her doll in the mud. Once again, Daniel remembers King Friday’s words and gives the cymbals to his friend, who receives them gladly. 

It’s the moment at the end that really gets me.  

As Daniel is on his way back to the castle, he is discouraged because he doesn’t have any of the things King Friday asked him to bring. He stands before the king at the end of the day and is asked to give an account, and he says, “I don’t have anything. I guess I didn’t do a good job as king.”

King Friday responds, “That’s not what I heard. I heard you found lots of ways to help others and be kind. You have done your job as king very well.” 

Daniel succeeded by heeding the voice of the king, and prioritizing kindness over his particular objectives and deliverables. And as a result, this moment that looked like failure was actually success.  

 

Heeding the Voice of the King

This simple story reminds me that we’re all kings and queens put on this earth to exercise dominion to some degree or another (Genesis 1:26). We have all kinds of concerns each day. But if we just do one thing, everything else falls into place. If we listen to the voice of the King of All Creation, and offer the love and care for others that is appropriate for fellow creations of God, regardless of our projects and timelines.

This story is moving to me because my work is never perfect, and I am often discouraged about my failures, both in my practical details of life and in my work. But, unlike Daniel Tiger, I often fail to prioritize kindness in those moments.  

I long to heed the voice of my King, that at the end of a long day, I might hear from him, that I, too, have done my job of ruling very well.  

So like Daniel Tiger, I want to keep the mindset of the King ever before me.   

Isaiah sums it up beautifully. 

If you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.

Isaiah 58:11 ESV

Isaiah’s hopeful word is that even when it looks like we have failed, if we entrust ourselves to God the true king by expending ourselves in love for others, choosing to be kind, we will not be alone. He will be there. 

Serving with Jesus’ Mindset

Serving with Jesus’ Mindset

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭43b‬-‭45‬ ‭The Message

 

In my discipleship to Jesus, I’m learning to be a servant, but I’ve had years of practice in the other direction. For so long I have been afraid to serve others. 

When I consider what’s going to happen to me if I serve others, I wonder if it’s safe. It looks like pain to me, it looks confining, suffocating even. Once I get on the inside, however, it’s always more freeing than I originally thought! Why? I’m not alone there. God is there.  

I understand Jesus-style servanthood in fits and starts now, but I want to practice it as a lifestyle. In order to make that a reality, I know I need to follow Paul’s advice to his Philippian friends and live under a new mindset.

Having called them to a lifestyle of love, Paul then says: 

 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

 

Jesus understood it. He didn’t have to cling to his position as God over others. He didn’t have to try to control everything to make sure it all came out just right. He wasn’t in the position of making sure it all went “his way” from his human point of view. 

So instead of clinging to his equality with God, he simply clung to God himself, and entrusted himself to God by taking the form of a servant. All the way to the cross.  

How did he get the ability to do that? It started with his mind. A mind that presumes upon the mystery at the bottom of the universe; God is good, and thus, God is trustworthy.  Laying it all out on the line with and for God leads to complete safety, no matter the conventional wisdom.  

How did that turn out for Jesus?

 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV

 

That’s pretty good. I can’t imagine it would turn out poorly for me either.  

Still, simply attempting to serve isn’t enough… 

When I attempt to serve others without adopting Jesus’ mindset, I just end up disgruntled and testy. Now I see Paul’s brilliance in the following verses to tell his friends to do everything without complaining or arguing. In being disgruntled, I’m still in control. I’m still holding on. I’m still running things. 

But in Jesus’ mindset, to let that go is to turn it loose to God and just serve, with my expectation on him, trusting that he will always provide; to think like Jesus, to venture out in love and service, and leave the rest to God.

Is that safe?  

Yes. 

Why? 

He will be there.