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I’ve been working on a blog post all week and in prayer, basically talking to God, telling Him, You know what the problem really is? Middle school algebra.

(By the way, of course God knows what the problem is. He’s God.)

The problem is so many people in middle school algebra just wailing, “But why do I have to learn this stuff, I’m never going to use it!” Do you remember teachers, parents, people telling you, “you’re not always going to have a calculator handy?” We sure showed them, didn’t we? Now days we have phones at our fingertips that not only have built in calculators, they have a handy, dandy flashlight, too!

I guess you were WRONG. I always WILL have a calculator handy….

True story, I’m much better at just doing the math than I am at finding the calculator on a darn phone.  But the point still stands, so many of us learned math by rote, disengaged from the process, just trying to put the numbers in the right order and check the right boxes to pass the stupid class, but really having no interest or desire or understanding of why or how any of this even matters.

Not all, mind you! Some people are math nerds, but the vast majority of us do not sit here in our adult lives diagramming sentences for fun nor solving equations to delight our souls.

The same problem can be true of scripture, we can have this inability to apply it, to receive it, to absorb it. The Word, applied to our individual lives.

There’s a lot of mystery to following Jesus. It’s not like a recipe or a math equation or something. It really defies explanation.  You kind of have to just put one foot in front of the other, let go, and let God do what He does.

I know a whole lot of people, Christian people, who don’t read the Bible. I also know many who don’t or won’t apply it to their lives. The thing is, James 1:22 says in part, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

I walked into church today and, poof! The sermon was actually on applied scripture and James 1. That is evidence of the mystery of The Word in action, the perfect synchronicity of the Lord, the way He hands us just what we need with His perfect timing.

I just love it when I walk into church and go, wait how did you know all that? Those aren’t just some vague references and loose connections, that is my whole life this week! Cracks me every time it happens.

James speak a lot about how we can be deceived, as he does in the verse I quoted,  and about the vanity or falsehood of “religion.” “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

Our religion can be meaningless, vain and in vain too, just phoning it in like we did in middle school math, if it is not received and applied to our hearts personally.

The Bible, The Word, scripture, Jesus Himself, are what we must apply, personalize, and internalize. We don’t read scripture so much as we grow still and let scripture read us. Let the Author and finisher of your faith, read it to you. And it is good, it is fruitful, it heals us, it gives us wisdom and strength, it produces joy and fills us with peace.

joy painting brush

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