Today is the first game of the test match season – cricket, of course! And to anyone in the know, TMS = Test Match Special, which has been broadcast since 1957. With great and famous commentators through the years, characters such as Brian Johnston, Tony Lewis, John Arlott, CMJ Aggers and Blowers (see here for explanation if any is needed :rolleyes: ), TMS has become an institution as much as the game itself. I have listened for hours on end, at all times of day and night, even at the games themselves (how else to know what’s going on?!) … as much for the banter as the facts and figures. And although he is no more, I shall never forget the Bearded Wonder, my hero (though Aggers comes a close second).

However, recently TMS gained a whole new meaning for me. I remember many years ago as a new Christian, learning memory verses using a set of cards produced by The Navigators. They have been in my head and heart ever since, albeit from the first bible I ever used, the KJV or ‘Authorised Version’. Long outdated in terms of language, those verses still spring to mind when I have need of them. DD2 had a Lent project this year, in which she created a webpage for a different memory verse for every day in Lent. She had plenty of her own ideas, but needed an occasional hint or suggestion – and I thought of the memory verses I learned sometime in the 1970s. So I went on an internet hunt (as you do) and found … TMS, the Topical Memory System, now available in no less than eight, yes eight, different bible translations! :lol:

Subtitled ‘Hide God’s Word in your heart’, the complete set now comes with preprinted memory cards (in all eight versions, so it’s quite possible for more than one person to use the one set), a workbook (not least to set the verses in their context as well as to make them the subject of meditation and prayer) and a handy little credit card holder to carry a number of cards with you during the day as you repeat and learn them, over and over again, until they stick!. So I have set about relearning all 60 verses on the list – it’s supposed to take me 30 weeks.

Trouble is, while I have forgotten a few of them (or more likely, their location), when I start to repeat them, the old version comes back to muddle me :lol:

Galatians 2:20 (KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I didn’t quite manage either of them from memory – but I’ll never forget the basics!

And the point of learning verses by heart? I’ve just been on a week’s silent retreat. Looking back, I think I went more with ‘having the space to catch up with God’ in mind than keeping the silence. It was on the final morning, after the silence was over, that I relearned the value of having the scriptures in my heart as I sat to pray and a psalm came to me (Psalm 139 if you’re interested) – it blessed me so much to say it back to God and to know his heart at that moment, without the distraction of finding a page in a bible, or not having the right glasses to see the print, with the blessing of saying and praying it looking at the amazing view all the time and thinking of the infinite, deliberate detail in all he has made …

I think of all those Christians around the world who don’t, for whatever reason, have access to a bible in time of need.

I think of all those moments when I need to pray an instant prayer and to know God’s mind in a crisis.

I hear that voice which guides me away from an unkind word, a deliberate sin or a thoughtless deed … straight from the word of God.

Have you ever considered why we call it ‘learning by heart’ and not ‘learning by mind or memory’?

Scripture memory is not an end in itself. It must be followed by prayer meditation and by obedience and application.

  • Scripture memory puts God’s Word on your mind.
  • Prayerful meditation puts God’s Word in your heart.
  • Obedience puts God’s Word into action.

(TMS workbook p.18)

I’m six verses through now, still a long way to go. But I can recommend the practice. TMS has always been a huge blessing to me and it’s the perfect time for me to revisit it. Just as long as the other TMS isn’t too much of a distraction in the coming weeks … perhaps I should pray for rain?! :o :lol: