One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given regarding preaching was to write the passage out by hand. I know it sounds pedantic, and maybe even a little ‘legalistic’, but it has been one of the best ways to grow in my knowledge and understand of the Scriptures. That’s why the following initiative by J.R. Briggs is such a great idea:
A while back I set a goal to write out the four gospels by hand. It’s tedious and slow, but it forces me to see details I never would otherwise. I’ve finished Matthew and Mark and now on to Luke.
This is such a great idea and I hope that you might prayerfully consider joining me in doing it. One person I read on Twitter is even planning — using this method of ten verses per day — to write out the entire New Testament for his three sons. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind!
Briggs also offers the following suggestions to help you on this spiritual journey:
1. Decide on a translation of your choice. Some people choose a translation they are familiar with; others choose a new translation so they can “hear” Scripture differently than they are used to. Whatever you choose, just stick with your translation all the way through.
2. Start with a fresh notebook. When I start a new project, I like to have a fresh journal or notebook. Several asked me what notebooks I use. I actually ordered four notebooks, one for each Gospel. I use these notebooks. But you can use whatever notebook or journal you want.
3. Choose a pen you like. For some, any old pen will do. But I admit: I am pretty particular about the pens I write with (some would call me a pen snob). Several years ago I purchased a fountain pen – and I absolutely love it. It helps me approach my hand-copying time with a little bit more anticipation than normal. But use whatever pen you feel most comfortable with since you’ll be spending a lot of time with your pen.
4. Make a grace-filled commitment to write out ten verses a day.Just ten. Some people get overwhelmed and discouraged because they make a commitment to do a chapter a day or five chapters a week. That’s a lot! Take your time, slow down, and enjoy the journey. If you do less than ten, that’s fine. If you end up doing more than ten, that’s fine, too.
5. Find a dedicated place and time each day. I like to hand-copy each morning, right after I make my coffee. I do it either in my reading chair or, when the weather is nice, outside on the porch. Having a grace-filled rhythm helps me engage with it more easily on a daily basis.
6. Invite others to join you. It’s more fun to take a journey with others. Why not invite friends, neighbours, people from church and/or family members to join you (in person or online)? It can add another rich layer to experiencing God’s Word.
7. Before you begin each time, say a simple, heart-felt prayer. I usually whisper a short and simple prayer: “Lord, teach me something new today.” I am not doing this simply to write out the book; I want to encounter the living God through His living Word. I want to make sure I am centered and oriented with an openness to receive from Him as he speaks to me through the process. Consider a simple prayer of humility, anticipation, and openness to the Lord meeting you in the process as you begin each day.
8. Find — and settle in to — your own hand-copying “personality.” Each one of us will find we have our own hand-copying rhythm and process. It took me a bit to figure mine out, but I learned that I write best when I move through the text phrase by phrase. I say each phrase out loud… and then copy it down. Then I say the next phrase aloud… and copy it down. This is what works for me, but find what pace, rhythm, and style works for you.
9. Share your hand-copying journey online. Share on social media what you are learning, being reminded of, or seeing for the first time. Also, take pictures of your journal throughout the experience and post them with the hashtag #handcopyingLuke so those of us who are on this journey can learn with and from others.
10. Stay in touch. Speaking of joining with others, stay in touch with me. I’d love to hear what you are learning, how the process is going, what you are seeing afresh in Luke, and how the Lord is meeting you in the process. You can contact me here.
I’d really like to commend this to you, as I’m convinced that you’ll be richly blessed if you do!
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