Dear Doubter,

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Dear doubting Christian,

A (very) wise woman of God once told me, “Doubt God-ward,” and here’s why I couldn’t agree or resonate with that more. What we both mean by that is to fight. Fight to keep going TO God in prayer with painful honesty about every doubt you have. And boy is it a fight, but the absolute worst thing you can do with doubt is to cut yourself off from God in your anger and bitterness, though it certainly is the easiest thing and the thing you’re probably longing to do. Don’t stop your spiritual disciplines–reading the Word, worshiping, praying, etc.. I have never regretted reverently baring my soul to the Lord, but I sure have regretted turning away from Him, even though I felt self-righteously justified in doing so at the time. You probably feel like your soul is living in limbo and like your trust in the Lord is being stripped away, but I’m telling you, “you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” God is not afraid of your blackest doubts. He’s not phased by it. Your questions do not change His unalterable character. And if you are in Christ, You will find in the end that your deepest fears about Him not being real, or being cruel, or in any way not being Who He said He was were so unfounded. You will one day confess with perfect, unhesitating certainty that He is Good and trustworthy and Love (Mark 10:18). And please, if you know someone who is battling doubts, pray hard for and be extra kind and tender toward them, because it’s scalding and scary when your whole worldview is under fire. There sure is a reason Scripture says “be MERCIFUL to those who doubt” (Jude 22-24). I distinctly remember the gentleness and compassion I was shown by my aunt and by a pastor during a dark, doubt-filled night of the soul and out of all of the responses I got those two brought me to tears and just meant the world to me. Also, do some research into the questions that are eating at them as well as the bigger picture questions like the evidence for the Bible so you can connect them to the right resources. It is probably frightening for you too to see a loved one be so rocked by skepticism, but take care to remember that they have a Good Shepherd and Guardian of their soul (1 Peter 2:25) who is power-fully able to bring the strays safely back into the fold, back into His arms. He did it for me, and I have full faith that He can do the same for you. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. ❤ (And I didn’t just say that to wrap this post up in a nice, neat little bow, I said that because He has taken me from being a constant “doubting Thomas” (John 20:24-29) who was so wise in her own eyes (Prov 3:7) to being intellectually satisfied and utterly convinced that Scripture is God-breathed and of the supremacy and phenomenal LOVE of Christ, who is God.) Take a few minutes to read the Scriptures below, it’ll nourish your soul and make this post make a lot more sense.

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18
“I am the good shepherd.” John 10:11
“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25
“24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. 26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed. 30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is [h]the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20
“7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your [a]body
And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16
“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18, regarding Christ’s supremacy
“But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.” Hebrews 1:8, regarding Jesus’ Divinity

Blessing the Blesser

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Dear God over every strange sea creature in the Mariana Trench (Genesis 1:20), over every rainbowed ray of light in the Aurora Borealis, over every ephemeral moment of every life (James 4:14), I want to use this moment of this life to bless Your Name (Psalm 103:1). Because at Your blessing, scarcity multiplied into abundance (Matt 14:19-21). At Your Word nothingness leapt into vitality (John 1:1-3, Gen 1:3,9,11,14-15 etc.). You know not only the number of the stars, but their names (Ps 147:4). You know the topography of every far-flung planet like you know the back of my hand, every groove of my fingerprints and every hair on my head (Lk 12:7). And suddenly, sized up against your omnipresence, I start to feel very, very small. I guess I’ve been that way all along, just with a bloated sense of self and a nearsighted scope of sight. You are incomprehensible in your understanding (Is 55:9), yet took on a clueless baby brain to learn obedience (Phil 2:5-7, Heb 5:8). Your love is to us and goes for us above and beyond what we could ask, think or imagine (Ps 36:5, Eph 3:20). It’s better than life itself (Ps 63:3). You are the Creator of the cosmos, yet created yourself confined to save sinners. You detest sin (Heb 1:9), yet befriended serial sinners (Matt 11:19). You taught us to set down our stones and took the stoning for us (John 8:7). You are sinless, yet sin-bearing (2 Cor 5:21). Slow to get angry (Ex 34:6, etc), not slow to bear the anger of the Judge against my treasons (Rom 5:9). My betrayals. My lawlessness (1 John 3:4). You have healed my infirmities, delivered me out of the hands of evil men, forgiven my darkest secrets, broken my addictions, fortressed me out of reach of demonic attackers, and taught me every good thing I know. You have given me bravery instead of fear, truth instead of deception, friendship instead of isolation, nurture instead of abuse, salvation instead of condemnation. And the list goes on, because You are ever-beneficent towards people who can be of no benefit to You. Even every pain You did not spare me from made me more like Jesus (Rom 8:28-29). So I, in my powerlessness to repay You (Rom 11:35), will just extol You (Ps 30:1), hoping that others would hear and put their trust in the One who is worthy of it (Ps 62:8). Help me to adorn Your already-exquisite Gospel with good works (Titus 2:10), and to compellingly speak of You to people whose hearts have never been graced with the knowledge of Your glorious goodness in Christ (2 Cor 4:6). And Lord, You said, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13) so grant me this trifecta of virtue, especially the crowning jewel of love for You and Yours. Amen. 

Tribute to the All-Deserving One

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Oh God, today I remember Your greatness and recount your lovingkindnesses. Both are spectacular. (Psalm 103:2)

The light of your countenance has banished forever the gloom of my adversary. (Psalm 89:15)

You have betrothed me to yourself. (Hosea 2:19-20) I glow because You love me.

Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness is my Jesus. (Psalm 145:8)

You are not easily offendable; Your durable patience outlasts my offenses.

It is fitting to acknowledge the Lord. It feels right to show some appreciation. (Psalm 92:1)

Your promises are precious and magnificent, those descriptors are apt indeed. (2 Peter 1:4)

Your ethics are blameless (Psalm 18:30); Your divinity is unparalleled (Jeremiah 10:6). 

Who is a Prophet like You, declaring the end from the beginning? (Isaiah 46:9-10) Nothing and no one comes close to omniscience.

You became a man of sorrows, yet Your joy is unscathed. (Isaiah 53:3) PTSD and all pain will pass away at the advent of the new heavens and new earth. (Revelation 21:4) We will walk through the fire, and exit it without the smell of smoke.

My failures are countless and incalculable, as are your acquittals. Your mercies are inexhaustible toward those in Christ. You are the God of continuous second chances. It goes without saying that this can be frighteningly abused, but you don’t rethink your policy of Grace because people are creeps (self included). You admonish and exhort us to shun sin instead. (Romans 6)

All your ways are utterly impeccable. I would say you have a heart of gold, but it’s much more tender than that. (Psalm 78:40)

I love you, Lord. Which says a lot more about You than it does about me. Your love is perpetually preceding my own watery imitations. (1 John 4:19)

You are the only being who thinks rightly about Yourself. And everything else.

So, oh that You would inspire my heart to discipline itself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:7) To seek Your approval in becoming a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed. (2 Timothy 2:15) Rid me of my idiocies, my sins, and clothe me in love, above all. (Colossians 3:14) Grant me, oh God, a heart that trembles at Your Word (Isaiah 66:1-2), that blesses you every day, now and till eternity. Amen. (Psalm 145:2

 

Because

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“I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”
–Psalm 116:1-2

A friend of mine at church tonight heard a worship song and just got overwhelmed with joy and started gushing about what the lyrics meant to her. One thing she said stuck out to me: “I just love the Lord.” And it took me aback. But really, it shouldn’t have. Because David said the same thing in this Psalm, when God heard his cry for help (vs 4) when he was at death’s door (vs 3) and literally saved his life (vs 4 & 6). I can relate. I can remember distinct times when I was in serious danger and the Lord protected me. Moments when you see your prayer answered and the goodness of God pour out on you or your loved one is just SO rad. Happened only a couple days ago and my jaw just about dropped. No wonder we declare our love for the Lord. He has declared His love for us by listening to our individual needs and coming to our rescue (vs 8), first in saving us from the Hell we truly deserved, then in countless ways after that, giving us the help we cry out to Him for in His attentive compassion (vs 5). Heck, I could go on and on about why, Biblically, believers love the Lord and keep praying throughout their lives (vs 1 & 2). But I’ll just post the whole 116th chapter here, because it says it SO WELL! Definitely better than I ever could.

In that vein, I’m also so grateful I found a group of earnest intercessors at Crossroads Christian Church Saturday nights at 4:30 pm (we meet in the chapel). Their sincere, Scripture-borne prayers are so refreshing. Come join us, if you can! And if you can’t, keep praying right where you’re at, because if you are in Christ He hears and He answers. While you’re at it, tell me specific prayer requests you have! I would love to be lifting up your needs to the Lord, who is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Exodus 34:6).

“I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
2 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death encompassed me
And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”

5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
6 The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
7 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For You have rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
9 I shall walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
10 I believed when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
11 I said in my alarm,
“All men are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I shall lift up the cup of salvation
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I shall pay my vows to the Lord,
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His godly ones.
16 O Lord, surely I am Your servant,
I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid,
You have loosed my bonds.
17 To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
18 I shall pay my vows to the Lord,
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!”
–Psalm 116 NASB

Also, if you’re wondering about verse 15, check out the following article by radicallychristian.com: “Is Death Precious in the Lord’s Sight?

Loving by the Love of the Father

“but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him.” –John Owen

The Son Ablaze

“Christ dazzles me and stirs within me such feelings of amazement that I can never get over Him.” AW Tozer

Revelation Chapter 1:

Vs 12: “then I turned” It is not until in repentance we turn away from evil and toward the Son that we could see Him.

“To see the voice” A voice is not visible. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him” 1 Peter 3;8 After hearing the voice, John finally turned to see the One whom he already knew well. “My sheep know my voice”–we can pick it out from a crowd, we can recognize it.

Vs 13: “in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man”

Mid-menorah stands the shamash, the helper candle. The shamash lights all of the wicks of the other candles. They are kindled by its fire.

All of the lampstands are illuminating the Son in their midst. Is the oil that lights the lamps the Holy Spirit?

In this vision, John is alone with Christ. And yet the churches are present–which represent whole multitudes of other believers. There is a sense in which we always encounter Christ solitarily, alone, and there is a sense in which we always encounter Him present with the whole universal Church.

Like a son of man” Christ came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” He looks like us, but He is not like us. Human, but radically not-human. Simultaneously. Its enough to destroy the powers of our reasoning.

“Clothed” no longer naked on the Cross. Or robed as mock royalty. But clothed as regally

“Long robe” why does it matter that the robe was long? Can’t see legs. Much more regal/priestly.

Vs 14: “Like white wool, like snow” atonement imagery. Not a dull white at all. bright or brilliant from whiteness, (dazzling) white: An unreal, shock of white hair. The spotless lamb. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow.” Your hair is glorious (1 Cor 11:15).

Contrast with the scarlet wool of Hebrews 9:19

“His eyes were like a flame of fire” Imagine looking into those eyes. Wild. Dangerous. Mesmerizing. Does the plural of eyes and the singular flame mean that both flickered in sync, as one flame?

Vs 15: “Feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace” Those feet walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. He walked through fire, that we would not be burned. Contrasting imagery of fire and snow (vs 14). Hot and cold. Fire and water. Phenomenons of nature. https://youtu.be/RDfjXj5EGqI

“Voice was like the roar of many waters” https://youtu.be/OESpc1cN5OU Like the sound of Niagara Falls. Thunderous

Vs 16: Nothing held in his left hand. One hand free.

“From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword” The sword, which is the Word of God, was not something that he held. It was not a tool that he employed. It was an extension of his being. Another appendage. He is the Word. Every Word He speaks is swordlike.

“Face like the sun shining in full strength” Like looking straight at the sun. Blinding. Could You see his features? God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Like Moses’s face glowed just from a close encounter with God.

Vs 17: “As though dead” Terror struck at the sight of him. Nothing in you. Motionless. Can’t move. Instantaneous collapse

“But he laid his right hand on me” The hand that held the seven stars. You are ever resurrecting the dead.

“First and the last” nothing preceding and nothing succeeding.

Vs 18: “and the living one” You are more alive than any being in the cosmos.

“I died and behold I am alive forevermore” John had already seen Christ once after his resurrection. When he appeared in the midst of the disciples. Lk 24:36, Jn 20:19.

“And I have the keys of death and Hades” You can liberate those imprisoned by death and Hell.

Vs 20: He only discloses part of the mystery. All of the imagery is symbolic, but he only explains the symbolism of what pertains to the next couple chapters–to what John is to write.

“Angels” lit messengers. The word is translated angel throughout revelation. Is he writing to key elders of the church. Why would Christ not give the message directly to an angel? Why write it down through John first? Does each church have only one specific angel? But there are always a multiplicity of elders, and often there is one angel assigned to a specific task. John was writing to angels then.

“Perfection of Beauty” by Shai Linne

“Beauty is sold in exchange for a “dime”
Nothing to attract us to You, yet we worship Your creation as fine
Captivated by its forbidden fruit
Pleasing our senses, so we suppress the truth
And eat the lie
Media’s fig leaf deadening our soul and mind

Sin blinding us to You
The only objective Beauty that’s truly absolute
Hidden in the symmetry of Your goodness, glory and truth
Each attribute working harmoniously
Justice with patience, wrath with graciousness
Omnipotence with humility, long-suffering with faithfulness
Each a note to a sweet melody
The ultimate hymn entitled “God’s Beauty”

Immutable, no change
Because “dimes” get lost daydreaming in dark gutters
Unable to hear the call to wake up
They, the noose, dripping honeysuckle
Lips pasted on with Mac makeup
If they truly beheld Your beauty
You’d make magazines and Mattell go bankrupt
You sent Your Beloved to be lifted up
On a beautiful, seemingly ugly cross
The visible image of Your hiddenness
Only You are beautiful and yet invisible
True beauty is spiritual

Therefore, sanctify our worldly minds
Your complexion is unappealing to lustful eyes
Besides, apart from new birth in Christ
Sinners beholding Your Holy beauty would die
Therefore, beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is a lie
It is found in the Beautiful One- The Most High.”

Mercy



Mercy renames me  Hosea 2:23

Triumphing over judgment James 2:13

It remembers that I am dust Ps 103:14

Remembers that I don’t love him 1 John 4:10

And chooses to anyway Hosea 3:1

Finds His wife in the act of her adultery

Prostituting. Sex slavery. Hosea 1:2 Jeremiah 2:20,

And still wants me

And again

And again

Turns toward me with a face so brilliant with grace my eyes are dazed Rev 1:16

Unlocking my Death and Hades Rev 1:18

And again

Calls the disowned His own Hosea 2:23

Mercilessly bestowing mercy Hosea 2:23

I am my Beloved’s

My betrayed Beloved is yet mine Song of Solomon 6:3


Sealed

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Exodus 12:23, “For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.”

When You saw the blood on the frame of the door, the same blood that stained the frame of the Cross, all of Your righteous fury against the sins I hid behind it abated.

That dark night I was about to lose a loved one.

My kid could have died.

Because of me.

Because of my petty disobedience, my fatal mistakes.

But You lost Your Loved One, to spare mine.

Your child was killed, that mine would live.

And this door is no longer a barrier slammed shut in Your face, but a grace-streaked threshold, an entrance to intimacy.

No lock and key could have kept You at bay. No effort of mine could have afforded protection against Your violent vindication.

But now none is needed.

Our home is Yours, what is Yours is ours.

Endless welcomes beckon You “come in, come in,” because I heard Your voice first say the same.

How gracious is the crimson seal of that unexpiring invitation.

21 Memorizing Scripture Hacks

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“1. I find one of the best things for reviewing is praying through the Scripture I am memorizing. Not only does it keep me going over it but it guards against making it rote memory and really forces me to think through it and work it into my heart.
2. I find memorizing the verse numbers within it helpful. It is surely not necessary, but I think the longer the section, the more helpful it is. It helps you feel a better sense of where you are at, especially when memorizing books.
3. I think we should have a good balance for lofty goals but realistic expectations. He does more than we can imagine, but also sometimes a lot less. It is humbling in a very good way to struggle in memorizing. However, bold faith in tackling huge chunks surely pleases him. Be satisfied however much is retained or not.
4. In regards to specifically review, I really do think it is the more the better. In that I mean both longer set times as well as more frequent times you are looking at it. Even just 5 minutes before or after every meal or bathroom break or waking and sleep or whatnot really make a massive difference. Last summer I memorized the Sermon on the Mount and I would listen to it as I biked. Yes, a lot of the time I was rightly focused on making the right turn and not the Scripture, but it was way better than nothing. Play around with different ways to take in the word. Say it. Sing it. Write it. Listen to it. Read it. Memorize in Community. Try to go through it silently in your head. I think the more the better.
5. One of the best ways to really memorize well is to force yourself to remember. That might sound obvious, but what I mean is that, say you are reviewing 1 Tim 3,16, you nail the first line, “Great indeed we confess is the mystery of godliness” and then you get stuck. You could quickly flip to your Bible, but fight for a solid 20 or 30 seconds to remember it. If you can remember it, the fight there literally strengthens the brain passages in a way a quick glance at the Bible really hurts. Then after your best attempt check to make sure your memory is not faulty
6. A big thing in reviewing is finding out how little you can review and still maintain and progress. If you are doing super in depth review all the time you will lack time to progress. But if you aren’t reviewing enough you aren’t maintaining. I try to go over all the Scripture I have ever memorized every 1-2 weeks, going over the newest stuff more frequently. I am not perfect in that, and there are definitely verses I don’t need to go over that often and others I really struggle will. I could probably find a better system, but it starts to get pretty complex. If you want a better system though, check out Anki. I use it for studying for school. Its a flashcard system that could be utilized for Bible memory I think quite well. 
7. Oh, this is massive, for me at least, as a visual guy. Try to memorize and review with the same Bible, or same notebook, (ie, using a phone is less then ideal). I find it is so much easier to have the structure of the text visually repeated. As I am running through a chapter or book I can run through the page in my mind. Therefore, I think things like highlighting and underlining only aid that. The more visual stimuli the better.”
[Advice from my dear brother Drew Nieveen. Now for my two cents:]
8. PRAY for the self-discipline and staying power it takes to become so well-versed in memorized Scripture.
9. Get accountability. Nuff said.
10. Anticipate backlash from the Enemy. It will be as fierce as it is subtle. The times immediately preceding whatever time you had set aside will be inordinately distracting, and you will be sorely tempted. You have decided to no longer live your life like the path or rocky ground that seed gets thrown on in the parable of the sower, that Satan might no longer snatch away the Word of God as soon as it makes contact with you, and that the roots of the Word might grow down deep in your life, not to be prematurely scorched and withered because of your fair-weather flightiness. Now he will try to choke the Word with life’s worries, the deceitfulness of wealth, and/or desires for other things, so that it would prove unfruitful (Mk 4:8-9). Don’t let him. Determine now, and then, to resist.
11. God will not love you more because you memorize Scripture. You will love God more, if you’re memorizing with the Gospel as your motivator and your hermeneutic. If you discern legalistic motives for memorizing, don’t stop memorizing until your motives change, but do preach the Gospel to yourself to get back to truth.
12. Look how far you’ve come from time to time. Make mental note of the rich, rich fruit borne from this careful seed-sowing of the Word.
13. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
14. Use it, and you won’t lose it. (An emphatic AMEN to what Drew said about praying Scripture), but also quote them in conversation. With Christians, with the Christless, sprinkle them liberally in talking with people. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).
15. The app RememberMe is helpful (because why not make playing games on your phone be pneumonic device for storage up the Word of God in your heart that you might not son against Him, Ps 119:11).
16. Navigators also has a fantastic topical memory system and app.
17. If complacency or discouragement is creeping in, slam your Bible open to Psalm 119 and be struck by the Psalmist’s magnificent obsession with Scripture. Beg God to give you that kind of love for His laws.
18. Make disciples that memorize. Teach them not just what you know (of Scripture), but how you learned to learn it (ie how to memorize (ie this post)).
18. Try typography or calligraphy.
19. Meditate on the Scripture you memorize. You’ll find it naturally follows that you remember it more readily, and for longer. Chew the cud of the Word like a big, beefy cow. Memorizing is not the ends, but the means. The purpose is to have a hard-won, holy familiarity with the Scripture.
All that we might love Him more. Because to Him, to love is to obey, and we cannot obey if we don’t know what the Word of God says.
20. Strive to fall in love with the incarnate Word in every word you memorize.