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Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

News: January '12


"He Said - It is Written"
by Cortney L. Haley

Scripture by Heart in Times of Testing

This week I presented Matthew’s version of “The Testing of Jesus in the Wilderness” in Children’s Worship at my church. They learned the story by heart in Sunday school. The GoTell commentary about Jesus being “tested by the devil” helped the teachers and me prepare. Among other things, it underscores the importance of learning scripture by heart:

Jesus’ source of strength in this test is what he remembers from the Scriptures. He remembers what is written. In this moment of temptation, Jesus draws on his rock solid memory of the stories that he knew from the traditions of Israel. Jesus’ memory of the stories he knew about God by heart enables him to pass these tests and to overcome these temptations.

This story is virtually a mandate for the importance of learning the Scriptures by heart. Jesus’ internal strength comes from his deeply internalized memory of the stories of God in the traditions of Israel. That is equally true for each of us now. A primary resource for living through the tests and trials of life faithfully is the interiorization of the Scriptures.

Read the complete commentary on Matthew 4:1-11 (Link will open a pdf of the commentary)

The Evil One

How do we understand the character of the evil one in the story of Jesus’ wilderness testing? The devil, or Satan, is a personification of that which opposes God, an enemy of God, an embodiment of the force of evil. Dr. King addressed the persistent problem of evil in his sermon, “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore.”  Learning the story from Matthew 4:1-11 by heart invites reflection on the nature of evil; Dr. King’s sermon provides guidance for reflection:

Affirming the reality of evil in unmistakable terms, the Bible symbolically pictures the conniving work of a serpent that injects discord into the harmonious symphony of life in a garden, prophetically denounces callous injustice and ugly hypocrisy, and dramatically portrays a misguided mob hanging the world’s most precious Person on a cross between two thieves. Crystal clear is the biblical perception of evil. Nor was Jesus unmindful of he reality of evil. Although he never offered a theological explanation of the origin of evil, he never attempted to explain it away.

Jesus may not have explained evil away, but in the story of his testing in the wilderness he did send evil away. This story communicates Jesus’ internal struggle with evil. Internalizing the story of his triumph over Satan in this spiritual battle can be a source of courage and encouragement for following Jesus’ way of peace in the world today. It will help us know, deeply, what King asserts in his sermon:

Christianity clearly affirms that in the long struggle between good and evil, good eventually will emerge as victor.

Academy for Biblical Storytelling Master’s Retreat

This month the GoTell residence hosted the third Master’s Retreat for the Academy for Biblical Storytelling sponsored by the Network of Biblical Storytellers. The four candidates for master certification and their dean, Dr. Tracy Radosevic, stayed with us for three days to present work completed and in progress, including:

Candidates came from Houston, Montreal, New Jersey and Washington DC. It was a pleasure to spend time with these remarkable individuals and to witness the skills and expertise they are developing in the vocation of biblical storytelling.


Mark 13:1-8 image

Tell a Story; Sponsor a Story!


We have nearly completed all the story pages for every Gospel story in the three-year lectionary cycle. These pages are accessed either by clicking on the "Narratives" tab (listed by Gospel text reference) or "Lections" tab (listed by date).

SO! We invite you to choose your favorite story, or one you have learned and told, or one you would like to learn this year. And then, when you've made your choice, go to our Sponsor-a-Story page, make a donation ($20/story would asssure that we meet our goal) and write the bibical text reference in the Comments section of the page.

We'll put your name on the story page, and be very grateful for your support!

Here is the link for Sponsor-a-Story: