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August 07, 2012

Law ManShon Hopwood robbed five banks before he was apprehended and sentenced to spend twelve years behind bars. Just twenty-three years of age, he was suddenly looking at living out some of his prime years in a federal penitentiary. Yet he somehow managed to find his place, not in sports or in gangs, but in the law library. There he found that he had a deep interest in the law and a knack for understanding it. Before too long he had become the resident jailhouse lawyer. In and of itself, this is not too unusual—every prison has its inmates who have an interest in law. But Hopwood stands out as the only one who wrote a petition that was accepted by the Supreme Court.

That is a notable accomplishment. There was another inmate in the prison whom Hopwood came to see had been trained unfairly in his arrest and conviction. The only hope was to appeal to the Supreme Court, something hundreds of people do each year. To make an appeal requires following a very rigid and specialized process that can confound even a season lawyer. Even then, only the smallest fraction of those cases make it past even the preliminary process of evaluation and acceptance. But Hopwood’s appeal was noticed and was just and was brought before the court. Even from behind bars he was able to be involved in the case, giving him an opportunity to become friends with some of the country’s top litigators.

The notoriety Hopwood gained has given him the opportunity to write Law Man, a memoir that releases today. This is the story of “robbing banks, winning supreme court cases, and finding redemption” (according to the subtitle). What you won’t find unless you read to the end is that the word “redemption” points well beyond the court room. All through Hopwood’s time in prison, friends and family were praying for him and sending him good books. Not only that, but there were Christians around him in the penitentiary. Shortly after his release, he got to the very end of himself and became a believer. He is now a student at University of Washington School of Law and attends Mars Hill Church U-District in Seattle, where Justin Holcomb serves as pastor.

November 30, 2008

It is my intention to primarily use email to update the participants in the Memorizing Scripture Together effort (click here to learn about the program). However, this morning I logged in to the software I use to send those emails only to find that it is down for maintenance until 9 AM tomorrow morning. And so I’m going to post this on the blog today just to keep people in the loop. The email blast will go out as soon as the software is available again.

As we began the program last week I received some immediate feedback. Much of it was of the “this is tough!” variety. And I tend to agree. Memorization does not come easily to most of us, so we are only going to commit passages to memory through long, hard work and through endless repetition. Speaking personally, though, I can say that already I’ve found these times to be a blessing. It has been a worshipful time as I’ve repeated God’s praises again and again. I’ve emphasized different words and phrases as I’ve gone through it and have repeated it with different focuses. This has kept it fresh in my mind and has kept me seeking the “heart” behind the passage.

Every week I want to offer a tip, a suggestion, an interview or something that will help us in our efforts. This week’s tip is very simple but very effective.

Use Index Cards. Choose a portion of the verse that you’d like to master that week, and either write or print it on an index card. I wasn’t able to find printable index cards at Staples so instead purchased cards meant to be inserts in name badges (Avery #05392). They are slightly different dimensions but work just fine. Print the verse on one side and the citation on the other. Put this card in your pocket or in your Bible or in some place where you are bound to come across it at least once or twice a day. You may also wish to print up several of the cards and place them around the house—on the bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink, below your computer’s monitor, on the fridge, and so on. That way, at any time, you will have the verse near you and can recite it a couple of times between other activities. As the program continues you will build up a collection of these cards and you can skim through them every week or two to ensure that the verses stay fresh in your mind. This is a memorization technique “classic” but one that continues to reap benefits.

This Week’s Fighter Verse

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Philippians 2:3

This Week’s Passage

Those of us who are working on the longer passage are focusing on Psalm 8. This is a three week project, taking us until December 14.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8

Join Us!

We would love for you to join us. I plan on sending out weekly emails (every Sunday) to remind you of the commitment and to tell you about the new verse. If you’d like to participate in the program, I ask as well that you sign up for these emails (though you certainly do not have to if you don’t want to). Otherwise, just keep an eye on this blog and dedicate time to memorizing the Scripture passages.

September 12, 2004

At the conference I attended Friday and Saturday there was a worship leader, but rather an old-school one. We sang only hymns and were accompanied by only organ or in one case, with piano. While most of the hymns were traditional (by which I mean old) there were quite a few that were more modern. It was certainly different from the worship I have grown accustomed to and really hearkened back to my younger days when I attended a church that worshipped in that manner. Actually, I have to admit, I quite enjoyed it as a change of pace. While I do appreciate many modern worship songs, there is something pretty special about the hymns and about placing the focus on the words rather than on the music. And those Presbyterians can sing!

Before each song the worship leader said a few words about the hymn we were about to sing - often introducing the theme of the hymn and saying a few words about the author. At one point we sang a hymn penned by Isaac Watts and the leader said something that really stuck with me. The hymn was actually an interpretation of one of the Psalms, and I regret to say I do not recall which one. But what he said was something along the lines of “when we sing songs that we write ourselves, we express our thoughts to God, and that is great. But how much greater is it to sing the Psalms, where we express God’s thoughts to God.”

I have often thought lately of how God was gracious to give us 150 of His own songs, written by our Lord Himself, so we can praise and honor Him by them. And I believe the worship leader was right. While God delights in the words we write for Him as we seek to honor Him and seek to express our understanding of who He is, how much more pleasing it must be when we express Him as He has perfectly revealed Himself to us.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do not mean to minimize hymns or worship songs. Rather I seek to elevate the Psalms - the songs God Himself gave to us.