A crazy new word has entered my vocabulary this summer – MVOTW. It stands for “Memory Verse of the Week.” I have learned that elementary kids and preteens love weird words. They also love doing silly motions to spell out or act out something. So each week at camp this summer, I have taught the kids a MVOTW. It usually goes along with the camp theme or the Bible Study for the week. At Mt. Lebanon Camp in Dallas it was Psalm 127:1. At Highland Lakes Camp this past week it was Hebrews 12:1. I have the kids stand up and slowly move their hands to their head to form the letter “M” over their heads. While we do that we are slowly crescendoing into saying “MAAAAVOTWA!” Then the guys act like bodybuilders and the girls act like cheerleaders (and some kids just do either one if they feel like it).

Then we simply act out the memory verse using motions for each word. It is an easy and effective way to teach kids how to memorize God’s Word. I had kids come up to me this summer and do the memory verse from two summers ago. They had remembered it because they had silly motions to go along with it.

Often I get a chance to teach kids the “why” behind memory verses. It is not just a meaningless memory game. It is a chance to hide God’s Word in our hearts. And that comes in handy when we are tempted to sin (among other benefits of memorizing Scripture). I teach them about the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4). Three times the devil tempted Jesus and three times Jesus responded to the temptations by saying “It is written…” He was quoting memory verses to the devil and eventually fended him off because each temptation was struck down with a passage from God’s Word. Jesus memorized Scripture (he probably did so as a boy growing up in the Jewish school system of his day). So I challenge the kids to memorize God’s Word so they can wield that “sword of the Spirit” when Satan tempts them.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.