It was Tuesday morning, the usual time for my dermatopathology didactic teaching session with my dermatology residents. Gathered around the multi-head teaching microscope, I was presenting a series of unknown microscope slides and asking for their diagnostic input.
“Ok, here is a familiar skin tumor. It is one of the painful tumors of the skin. What are the others? Remember that mnemonic I taught you?” Painful cringes contorted the faces of my dermatology residents. One brave soul meekly asked, “Can you tell us again?”
“ANGEL!” as I happily obliged. All heads nodded in agreement as dusty neurons re-ignited. “And what does this acronym mean?” In unison, they confidently chanted, “A for angiolipoma, N for neuroma, G for glomus tumor, E for eccrine spiradenoma, and L for leiomyoma!”
“You’ll never forget it again!”
Mnemonics assist us in remembering obscure facts and all medical residents are bombarded with thousands of such minutiae. Unless there is a scaffold, a realistic and practical way to organize these disparate bits of information, the data will aimlessly drift within our neural connections, awaiting the proper connection to string them together. But it is not only medical facts that are difficult to remember.
Memorizing Bible verses is a continual struggle for me. I love the Bible but became frustrated when I could not recall familiar verses I had just read or be able to quote a verse, in the appropriate situation. My problem was the same that confronted my residents. I had no template, no scaffold upon which the Bible verses were organized in my mind.
One day, I prayed to God to help me remember the Bible verses I had just read. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and ironically used a familiar prayer mnemonic to enlighten me. The mnemonic is a modification of the acronym-ACTS, a Christian mnemonic frequently used to assist one’s prayers.
I modified it to AAAA because I believe that our prayers need to begin with confessing and repenting of our sins before God to place each believer in the proper attitude and position before our Creator.
Acknowledgment of Sins (Confession)
Adoration of God
Appreciation for God (Thanksgiving)
Asking God for others (Supplication)
I have organized every book of the Bible by verses under these general headings. As an example, for the book of the Prophet Nahum, the following verses are linked to the acronym headings.
|Acknowledgement of Sins (Confession)||Nahum 1:2 (ESV)||The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps wrath for His enemies.|
|Adoration of God||Nahum 1:15 (ESV)||Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!|
|Appreciation for God (Thanksgiving)||Nahum 1:3 (ESV)||The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.|
|Asking for others (Supplication)||Nahum 1:7 (ESV)||The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.|
Using this mnemonic, memorizing Bible verses became easier. God, once again, answered my prayers and He provided the connections, the missing scaffold I needed to organize His Word. As the Prophet Nahum reminds us through the Holy Spirit…
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him.
Nahum 1:7 (ESV)
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.