PTR-1-Peter_728x90Summer is over, and boy what an eventful summer it was. It as if a seismic shift happened in our culture, especially as it relates to marriage and sexuality. But the decisions from the Supreme Court and the sway of cultural acceptance are but manifestations of a deeper spiritual reality. Christianity is no longer at the center of American life. We no longer can look other countries and think that marginalization and overt opposition only happens to them. This new reality begs new opportunities, not new fears or laments.

As all of this transpired over the summer, I began thinking about what I can do to help program my life not according to the dictates of the Supreme Court (or any other human authority) but according to God and His supremely authoritative Word. The letter of 1 Peter was written to a people of dispersion, “elect exiles”, as Peter would call them. The were pushed and pressed to the margins of society that despised them and constantly reminded them they were not welcome in their world run by the prince and power of the air. This letter was written to instruct them to remember the gospel, to know their identity in Christ, and to live in such a way that Jesus Christ would be clearly seen in their words, witness, way of life, and willingness to suffer for His glorious name.

Do we not have such a need to meditate and memorize such a letter in times like this? What difference would implanting the imperishable seed of the Word of God in the fertile soil of your heart do to help you live faithfully as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for His own possession? What means of grace would this be to not only memorize it ourselves but do so in a community doing the very same thing and encouraging one another along the way? That’s what Partnering to Remember is all about and why I want to launch a new P2R initiative called the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine.

During the summer of 2009, I created a method of memorizing Scripture called “The Memory Moleskine.” Basically, it is a simple, portable, accessible method of memorizing a large section of Scripture. In 2011, I created the Philippians Memory Moleskine, and never could I have imagined so many people would jump on board! Since then apps have been created and several other memory moleskines have been put together by those in the P2R community. Now, for the Fall of 2015, I would like to issue a new Scripture Memory challenge to us all with the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine.

What Is a Memory Moleskine?

I am a big fan of Moleskine journals, and I have found the Cahier pocket-size moleskines to be a perfect little tool for organizing and retaining a scripture memory method. These journals are 3.5×5.5 in size and can fit in pockets, purses, and small Bibles. They can be purchased in a set of 3 where you can take one for yourself and share the other two with those who partner with you.

How It Works

Using PTR-1-Peter_300x250the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, I have broken down the book of 1 Peter into 17 weeks. Beginning the first week of September 2015, this schedule takes you to the end of 2015 where you can begin the new year reciting the whole book of 1 Peter! Some weeks would have more verses to memorize than others (based on the section breaks), but on average, there are 6 verses each week to memorize (or roughly one verse per day).

Scripture memorization is hard. It’s best not to go alone. Do it in community. Partner together to remember God’s Word and encourage one another in the process. Loving exhortation and meaningful accountability is essential to sticking to the challenge and remaining committed week in and week out. There will be times you want to quit, discouraged or disappointed along the way.

Practical Steps to Begin

  1.  Purchase your set of Cahier pocket-size moleskine journals (or something similar to it)
  2.  Download the custom-made 1 Peter Memory Moleskine PDF and print it out
  3.  Cut out the sections according to the borders
  4.  Use double-sided tape to attach the sections on the right side of journal
  5.  Find a partner or two (or more!) to memorize 1 Peter with you
  6.  Get started with us at the beginning of September

The Important of Rehearsal and Retention

The left side of the journal is dedicated to rehearsal, reflection, and retention. Without regular review, the verses you memorize will be forgotten. Additionally, I have provided specific counsel from guys like Donald Whitney and Andy Davis on how to discipline yourself with a retention strategy. It would be a tragedy to memorize 1 Peter in 2015 and forget it in 2016! Let’s work hard to keep that from happening!

But more than that, use the left side of the page to write key words, phrases or thoughts that stick out in your meditation and memorization of the section for the week. Meditation sweetens the memorization and internalizes the verses you are memorizing so that it not only lodges deep in your head but deep in your heart as well.

Resources to Help You

There are some very practical resources out there to help you. Let me recommend to you the following:

  • ESV Audio of 1 Peter from Faith Comes by Hearing (to listen to 1 Peter in its entirety only takes 17 minutes. Do this daily. Seriously. It will do wonders for your memorization. Listening to it has a way of internalizing it that will help you press forward. Note: this link is to the podcast where you need to download each chapter to your phone or tablet. You can also listen to the Bible from other apps or online programs for free.
  • An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture (Kindle Version) by Andy Davis. Here is a great resource for kindle users that costs only $.99 where Andy Davis unpacks a popular and helpful strategy for not only memorizing but maintaining long passages of Scripture.
  • Commentary on 1 Peter by Wayne Grudem (for a devotional and theological study of 1 Peter). One reviewer says, “Here is a brief and very clear summary both of the consolations and instructions needful for the encouragement and direction of a Christian in his journey to Heaven, elevating his thoughts and desires to that happiness, and strengthening him against all opposition in the way, both that of corruption within, and temptations and afflictions from without.”
  • BibleMinded App – here is a popular app available on iTunes and Google Play that allows you to put in your own Bible verses using whatever Bible translation you prefer and provides ways to test yourself as you make progress.
  • ScriptureTyper App – another popular app for Scripture memorization not only on iTunes and Google Play but also Kindle and desktop versions as well.

Finally, A Missional Challenge

Everyday Church HeaderFor those who want to take the plunge a little deeper, let me recommend you to a book based on 1 Peter that gives practical application to life on mission. It is called Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. You can get this book as a paperback or kindle version. I find this book one of the most instructive and insightful books on how to live as the people of God every day in a world needing to know the love of Christ from a community of light. Here is the chapter breakdown and schedule that I plan to do along with the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine . . .

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

  1.  Life at the Margins (1 Peter 1:1-12) // September 1-14
  2.  Everyday Community (1 Peter 1:13-2:8) // September 15-30
  3.  Everyday Pastoral Care (1 Peter 1:22-2:3) // October 1-14
  4.  Everyday Mission (1 Peter 2:9-3:16) // October 15-31
  5.  Everyday Evangelism (1 Peter 3:15-16) // November 1-30
  6.  Hope at the Margins (1 Peter 3:8-5:14) // December 1-31

Connecting and Promoting

If anyone would like to help spread the word about the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine, be sure to find us on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page as well. For those who would like to promote it online, here’s a header (or footer) graphic as well as sidebar ad graphic.

I want to say a special thanks to my friend Drew Downs who helped me created the 1 Peter Memory Moleskine as well as the promotional ad/artwork. I could not have done it without him. Thanks Drew!

Are You In?

If you are going to accept the challenge to memorize 1 Peter with me, please let me know! If I can assist you, I will do my best. May God’s Word penetrate deep into our minds and hearts and conform us into the image of Jesus Christ as we seek live out our calling as elect exiles in this day and age.

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Post-Christendom Missional AttractionalSo far in this series, I have touched on Posture and Perspectives in Post-Christendom. At the close of the “Perspectives” post, I argued, “I believe there has been a considerable shift over the past decade (or two) toward paganism where the majority of non-Christians today are ignorant, indifferent, and militant.” In this post, I want to elaborate on the two paradigms for engaging non-Christians in Post-Christendom.

The Attractional Paradigm

During the times of Christendom and its decline, the attractional paradigm enjoyed much success. It was a time when the majority of non-Christians in culture found Christianity relevant and were quite conversant from a cultural standpoint. Christianity was looked upon favorably by the many, and churches seemed to engage the “unchurched Harry and Mary“. The attractional paradigm saw the rise of the seeker-sensitive movement, where a large focus of the church’s mission was to get non-Christians to “come and see” through the church event what Christianity was about. Missiologists call this a “centripetal” movement where the draw is toward the center, namely the Sunday morning event/experience.

The attractional paradigm found ways to reach the non-Christians through a focus on relevance and pragmatism. The event focused on “the experience” wherein the message would have relevance to the most pressing issues of the day (sex, happiness, relationships, overcoming fear, etc.). Outside the event, the attractional model produced goods and services that the non-Christian consumer would find practical and beneficial. Relevance and pragmatism became a winning combination for burgeoning megachurches who could exceed consumer expectations on what they could offer them and the experience they could find.

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Perspectives in Post-ChristendomLast week, I brought up the new posture of Christianity in post-Christendom and how we re-enter culture in a subversive way to advance the kingdom of God. Before I jump into the paradigm and practices in post-Christendom, I believe it is important to give a little perspective.

In the little diagram above, I lay out 5 different categories for unbelievers. I contend that, with the shrinking of Christendom, there is an increase in paganism. In other words, when non-Christians are categorized according to their position/stance regarding Christianity, there are far more today in the -3 to -5 categories than there is in the -1 and -2.

To be clear, everyone to the left of the center line is what the Bible calls “lost” and outside Christ. There are no degrees of lostness. Either you are saved or you are lost. The difference is twofold: access and attitude. The further to the left you go, the less access non-Christians have to the gospel and the more likely the attitudes are strongly antithetical to the Christian faith. While the two are not necessarily intrinsic to each other, they are often connected (e.g., someone who could have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and not necessarily be opposed to it, and someone could be strongly opposed to Christianity and had considerable access to the gospel message).

Acknowledging that these descriptions are not exhaustive, they are however an attempt to provide distinctions between non-Christians as I have studied and spent time with them in a post-Christendom America.

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Christendom to Post-ChristendomChristendom is dead. For some, this is a time of lament. For others, it is a time of renewal and revival. I want to offer my reflections on the three different phases of Christianity and culture and the corresponding posture for Christian cultural engagement.

Christendom: Synced with Culture

Syncretism is the blending or assimilation of two belief systems into one. There was a time when Christianity enjoyed cultural approval and widespread recognition. When someone spoke of religion, it was rare that anyone thought of another faith beside Christianity. Monuments to the Ten Commandments were erected in the public square. Prayers were offered by teachers in public schools. God Love for God and country were seen in churches who displayed a Christian flag on one side of the pulpit and an American flag on the other. Christianity was synced with American culture.

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