We frequently ask people who have memorized the Bible, “What is your favorite book of the Bible?” or “What is your favorite section you’ve learned,” but author and speaker Tammy Lea Fabian, who has memorized 30 books of the Bible, proposes a different query to take into consideration.
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Tammy Lea Fabian Transcript Interview:
Tammy Lea Fabian: Well, I have been memorizing for 13 years. I’m almost at the complete of 13 years. And I have, I’m memorized about 30 books of the Bible with two books of the Psalms.
Josh: Okay. All right. That’s great. What is it that really got you into doing Bible like or prioritizing Scripture memory over just what most of us do, which is just kind of just getting into reading or doing devotionals.
Tammy Lea Fabian: Well, I was saved a very young age, but there was a time in my thirties that I started rebellion against God and it was painful. And I turned my back you might say. I still talked to Him, but I was still rebellion. And I needed something that was powerful enough to turn my heart around. And so the only thing I knew that was strong enough was God’s Word. So I just clung to it and started memorizing it. And friends of mine just said, “Oh I love what it’s done to your heart. Do the book of James next.” And so that started my journey and memorizing and I haven’t stopped. I just, I wanted a new heart.
Josh: That’s such a, I mean obviously there’s a lot of emotion behind that and I’m sure there’s a whole long story that you don’t necessarily have to get into. But as you speak that, and as you kind of reminisce on that, was what God was doing was that in the actual memorization process? Was that in the time that you’re just reciting it to yourself? Like at where is it that God really met you in that process of memorization?
Tammy Lea Fabian: From the moment I got on my knees and looked to Him. I started doing a devotional based on what my mom, my mom’s example, she had passed away. And after that example, that first day of the Daily Breads reading was take up the sword of the Spirit. And for about six months I meditated on that. And then I decided to take it up. And I actually memorized Psalms 119 first. And I didn’t realize this then, but when I memorized the whole book of Proverbs, I realized that God was taking me on a journey to look at my shame. And so basically I went to the Bible as my counselor and he guided me to the book of James which taught me how to live a good Christian life. And then I had to face what I destroyed, my marriage. And the closest book I knew about that was Song of Solomon and woo was that a chore, a treat.
Tammy Lea Fabian: And then you have to face your sin. So, Hosea is the book of idolatry and adultery. And so I memorized that. I wanted to place Jesus as my King. So I went to Matthew, which is God is my King and I replaced Him. And then when I felt like He had restored me I started looking at the Bible for ways to let me grow in leadership. So let me memorize the book of Joshua or I wanna understand what divides the church or what seems to divide churches today. I wanna know about the Book of Acts ’cause that seemed to be controversial a lot of ways. So I memorized that. And today He has led me on a journey to memorize Lamentations. to memorize Lamentations. And I thought I’d be depressed, but because I came back to the Lord, that book has this sweetness I see that hope, it’s just beautiful what the Lord can do to someone’s heart And that is why I actually started memorizing. when they go to Him.
Josh: It sounds to me like the books that you memorize there instead of, like for me sometimes, honestly, it’s kind of a random pick. I chose Second Timothy because it was just something that appealed to me. But it sounds to me like for you there’s an intentionality and that intentionality reflects perhaps the season of life that you’re going through. Would that be a fair assessment?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Yes. Or the prompting of the Spirit. Like, I didn’t wanna do Ezekiel, I memorized Ezekiel and it is I thought it was the awfullest book in the Bible, but when people ask me what my favorite book of the Bible is, I say “That’s not the question you should ask. The question you should ask is what transformed you the most?” And Ezekiel transformed me the most than any other book.
Josh: All right, you can’t just end there Like, come on, gimme a little bit.
Tammy Lea Fabian: There is something about Ezekiel where he had to do things to get the Israelites’ attention because talking no longer did it. And so I now look at the world And so I now look at the world And Lord, what are you communicating that I can join you in? And how can I walk with you in this? And I feel like I walk more with purpose than I ever have because I’m joining Him in that journey. And so outside of spending two more hours discussing that I think that might be enough.
Josh: Yeah, well we can maybe save that for a special interview later, the two hour extended cut. Right?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Okay. Yes.
Josh: No, yeah, I know what you mean though. Like there are certain books that obviously cut to the core of what the Lord may be doing or speaking in your life and in my life. And I love how having that memorized allows me to continually keep that at the top of my mind as opposed to just something, there are certain things that I’ve been through where actually I have a notebook and I’ll refer to that notebook kind of as it’s almost like an annual ritual for me for certain event, for one particular event. And, but I don’t have that memorized like that’s just a notebook of mine. Whereas a book of the Bible, is something and just even relating that particular thing to Psalm 46. Psalm 46 is something that I can repeat to myself. And that, that’s just that reminder of that transformation that has happened that you talk about.
So I appreciate that. Can you share a little bit about, well I’ll get to your ministry in just a moment. Let’s dive in if you don’t mind to more of a practical thing ’cause you say 30 books and that’s just, wow. I mean that seems just crazy to me. Just from a practical sense, first of all can I ask and just be really blunt with you and say so does that mean you can recite all 30 books right now? Or does that just mean I’ve memorized them at one time and I’d have to go back and and review them or how does that work in your memory?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Well, how it works with my memory is I memorize a book and as Andy Davis says, I kiss it goodbye. [Josh] Okay. However, I recapture it and I recapture it and kiss it goodbye five times. And by the time the fifth time comes around, it’s solidified in my mind. So out of the 30 books I’ve memorized I bet I could quote to you 30 right now on the tip of my tongue, maybe a few with a five minute check, but
Tammy Lea Fabian: Yeah. I keep them up. Not Ezekiel, I’ve only memorized that once. I’ll have four more times with that one. But I do a little bit of Janet Pope where she, you’ve interviewed her. She recalls a lot, but I also do some of what Andy does. So I’m a mixture of both, so.
Josh: That’s great. I think that’s, I appreciate that answer. So what does your memorization and your review look like? Like what’s your methodology and how do you approach that?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Mm, my methodology is no index cards. Basically, I incorporate listening There’s the verse in the Bible, faith comes from listening, listening from the Word of God. And so I incorporate listening into my time. I engage in conversations about the Scriptures. I sit down on Sundays and write out what I am about to memorize. And I love Sundays ’cause I’m like, ooh what does my mind get to be filled with this week? And then I write out everything that I’ve memorized this past week that was new, about 15 verses to 25 verses a day depending on the length of the verses. I mean, not a day, a week. And I will check.
Tammy Lea Fabian: I will check my work and highlight all my errors. I mean, do we really remember the things we do or do we remember our errors and try to learn from them? So, that’s what I do. And then I just repeat, recite, I chart. I love to do comparisons through Scripture. I like seven days of creation. I did a comparison to the flood story and how I saw (indistinct) just kind of and so I do comparison that really tightens up what I’ve memorized and strengthens what I’ve memorized and it reinforces other things as well. And so I do that all week. And then Saturdays though, you have to rest ’cause the Bible is all about a Sabbath. So on Saturdays I don’t recite and then on Sundays start all over. And when I started that, oh, Sundays were so hard to do ’cause like, okay, I just almost lost it. But then Monday it’s even stronger than before. So, matter of fact, I’m taking my Sabbath year of rest. I even incorporated a year of rest from memorization and so.
Tammy Lea Fabian: Next January 2nd will start my 14th. I’ll be beginning my 14th year of memorization. So it will be a year of rest.
Josh: That is interesting I hadn’t thought about that. I mean obviously that’s a biblical concept. I’m on year three or I’m heading into year three so I’m not close to seven, but when I do I think that’s a fascinating idea to just take a break from it for an entire year. Wow, okay. And so then when you’re going back to review something is that in addition to the new material that you’re adding on Sunday and then you’re going back to I don’t know, review Ezekiel or does when you’re reviewing Ezekiel, does that take up your time that you’re doing in for the week?
Tammy Lea Fabian: It has evolved. I’m memorizing much faster than I ever have been. but now it’s like Lamentations this morning, Before it was just the passage, I did Lamentations and then I quoted the book of Hosea because they’re very similar time periods and can I learn from one, it’s that comparison that I’m doing. And so I did the portion of Lamentations up to chapter three and then I did Hosea. I think I focused on eight chapters of Hosea today before my two hours were up. I usually try to do two hours a day.
Josh: Okay. And that, does that happen in the morning or the evening for you?
Tammy Lea Fabian: I prefer in the morning, but as I tell people it’s really good to do things at different time periods in different places. You see more things alive than if you do it in the same place every day at the same time. As an example, I was in the Tomb of Seti in Israel and I was like, okay I’m gonna start memorize, I started quoting Colossians. And here it talks about being the firstborn from among the dead. And here I am in a tomb of a pharaoh that thinks they’re gonna rise from the dead. And no, Jesus is the firstborn. It just, it personalized it. It, I came to own it more.
Josh: Yeah. I love that. Talking about this is probably a ridiculous story to bring up here, but I still think it’s kind of funny how, like you’re saying, when we get into that, I don’t wanna call it a rut, but when we do the same thing at the same time over and over again, it sometimes trains our brain to kind of turn off at times. And I remember when I would used to drive into work in Dallas actually a number of years ago. And one of the things that I did, which is as I look back on it, it seems kind of silly, but I would park in a different parking spot every single time that I went into work so that way as I’m exiting, I have to literally think, okay where did I park the car this morning ’cause it’s not the same place that I always park.
And it had to, it forced me to keep my mind engaged with what I was doing and didn’t allow me to just kind of go through the motions. And I can see that as like a correlation between what you’re saying, where if it’s always, always, always at the same time. I mean there is is something good about building that habit, but it could in some ways be helpful to kind of change it up a little bit you know?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Oh, it does. It really, it really is very helpful.
Josh: Yeah. Well why don’t you share this just for a moment a little bit about, I’ve obviously looked on your website and kind of gone down the rabbit hole of the various, you got books, you’ve got speaking, you’ve got a number of different things. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your passion for these different projects and what they are?
Tammy Lea Fabian: My passion definitely is God’s Word in what it has actually done for me in transforming me. And I would love for other people to grab hold of that. So I do offer like a Scripture memorization workshop. It’s actually a practicum and about 90% of people walk out knowing a Psalm in three hours. And it’s.
Josh: Oh wow.
Tammy Lea Fabian: Enriching because I only talk for less than 45 minutes Enriching because I only talk for less than 45 minutes The rest is showing you what I do. So the other one is Steeping Tea. I’m partnering with a Bible teacher. Not that I can’t teach, but I prefer not to always do things on my own. And so what happens when we steep on Scripture? So it’s steeping on Scripture while sipping on tea. So it’s called Steeping Tea and it’s really for women’s events, another three-hour event. And then I wrote a book called “The Art of Wisdom” and it’s volume one, it’s chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Proverbs. So 91 Proverbs. I share a short story where I lived out whether being foolish or wise. And then I share a picture which holds a riddle to the proverb because in Proverbs it says that the proverbs are the sayings and riddles of the wise.
So can you guess the riddle in the picture for the proverb? Well, I have that and I also turned it into a wisdom art gallery where it’s a mobile art gallery I can take to conferences or churches to set up in their foyer. And my idea is to have the older generation bring someone from the younger generation so that they can share wisdom ’cause knowledge is so readily at there fingertips, they don’t need to know why and understand. So I have that too. And then every now and then I get called to recite or just to share my testimony. And of course that’s where the speaking comes in. So those are the areas that I dive into.
Josh: Well, thank you so much for sharing. As we close this out would you be willing to share what wisdom that you would love to pass down to, let’s say there’s somebody who is younger that is watching or listening to this. What would you say to them as they obviously turn into saying, hey Scripture memory is something that or I have a passion for Scripture. Even just erasing the the memorization for a moment, but just I have a passion for Scripture. What are the things that you would like to you could say to someone like that?
Tammy Lea Fabian: Well, one thing I would say is if you wanna memorize Scripture make sure your motive is right otherwise it comes back void. You want to fill God’s Word in you to walk with Him, to glorify Him. Scripture to me now is a form of worship. It’s not a list of to-do. And thankfully it’s not like, oh Lord I need you back in my life. It’s like, amen You’re in my life and I get to glorify You because of it. So one, make sure your motive is pure. Two, listen to others. Talk to others about what you’re memorizing to make sure you’re not justifying Scripture for your own benefit. Because Scripture is there so we know God and that we become holy like He is. Number three, I would test it, test God’s Word. Like when you come across a fast in the Bible, test it. Okay, I’m gonna fast, I just memorized the book of Esther. So I did an Esther fast for three days, I wanted to test it. And then the fourth thing I would encourage people to do is practice it. Make it who you are. Live in it, walk in it. That’s how He lives and moves in us.
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