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Reading vs Skim Reading

I love to read. When I am into a truly good story, I get mildly obsessed and can generally put down a 300 pager in a day.

But when I read that way, I’m skim reading. Meaning that I am reading it fast enough to get the main things, but I’m not picking up the detailed descriptions or the subtle nuances. That is also why if a book is good I’ll read it more than once. So I’ll see all the fabulous things hidden in plain sight by the author.

This is completely different than how I read The Word or a book about The Word. I can read one verse and ponder in it for several days. Or look up other verses on the same topic and spend several hours reading and rereading these verses until I understand what Jesus is showing me that day.

For example…it took me nearly 2 years to read “Captivating” by Stasi & John Eldredge. That book gutted me. I’d read a paragraph, or a sentence even, and I’d have to go to Jesus with what it brought up in me and let Him help me with it. Once I was healed, I’d go back to that book. This happened repeatedly for nearly 2 years.

One of the best and hardest to read books ever.

With The Word, from a single verse on one day I can get a general overview meaning that inspires me that day, and come back another day and get a deeper meaning from the same verse. A revelation that changes my whole perspective. It’s what I love about The Bible. It’s living and double edged.

I’m currently reading Good or God? by John Bevere. God has revealed some things to me over the years about the Garden of Eden that are being confirmed by this book, and I’m only in chapter 2! So I’m reading it slowly. Pondering. Chewing on it. Going into The Word from the verses mentioned and chewing on that.

What made me write this post today is something that I wish more pastors and teachers would remind people….

…verify what you hear for yourself!

How many people leave church after a sermon and just accept what they’ve been taught without going into The Word for themselves? Without taking it before God and asking Him to reveal how this can be applied to their life and situation.

I’m not judging….believe me…I’ve done it too. It’s easy when you sit under an excellent teacher to just take what they’ve spent hours and years to learn and move on with our day. But how effective is that in growing and maturing you?

Be honest. It isn’t. Not for you or me.

Think back to something you’ve learned in school. Like a foreign language or subject you didn’t care about. I took 2 economics classes as a part of my major, International Relations. I can tell you that economics is about supply and demand and that Adam Smith is the founder of modern economics. That is all I remember from 6 months of study.

So it’s not effective to just listen and not verify or study it for yourself. It only stays for maybe a day or a week at the most. If, we don’t apply what we’ve heard, the excellent teaching we received is wasted.

The person speaking is also human. They may have taken what The Word said and twisted it to support what they want it to say, rather than what it actually says. One of my favorite pastors, Duane Vanderklok, used to remind us every so often that he is just a man, and that we should be checking up on him, by reading The Word ourselves.

I’d like to believe when this happens it wasn’t intentionally done, but there are people in the world with selfish intentions or even dark motivations. We’ve all seen news stories about people who have been fooled by someone claiming to be good.

So it is always best to verify for yourself.

It’s like gossip or “fake news” on the internet. People read it and share it before verifying it’s true. One of my big pet peeves!!

Just because someone said it doesn’t mean it’s true. So if your skim reading your way through life, and never verifying what you’re hearing is true, then you’re probably believing at least one big fat lie. So take some time to verify for yourself.

Point to ponder while you wander… “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NKJV

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Eat it!

Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.

Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!

But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP 

I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16. 

And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.

I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.

But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.

I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.

Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.

Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.

Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?

It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in. 

And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.

So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.

Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV

Deep Thought Thursday: Being a Doer

Deep Thought of the Day:  Being a doer of the Word is actually loving God.

I woke up this morning hearing this:  “Just do it, Jill.  Just do what I told you to do.”  This made me think of James 1:22, “Be a doer of the Word, and not hearers only.”  Being a doer simply means you apply what you hear to your everyday life.

Here’s James 1:22-24 in NLT:  “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

When I first started learning about God’s grace and mercy it seemed like a contradiction to what James talks about.  On one hand you have the verses about resting and letting God do the work, then on the other hand you have be a doer of the word and faith without works is dead.  So which is right?

They both are.  God’s Word never contradicts itself.  We are supposed to rest in God and partner with Him.  But our part of that partnership is obedience to the Word of God.  Meaning you apply the Word to your life.  It’s that simple. 

What I find most interesting about being a doer is that God actually links our choice to obey His Word with our love for Him. 

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey my commandments.” 

He says in John 15:10, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” 

I John 5:2-3, “We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

Now before you start scrolling on back to Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy for all the laws and requirements.  Remember that Jesus gave us only two commandments:  ‘”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

The point is that when we walk in love and act in love, we are being a doer of the Word.  When we are being a doer of the Word we are being obedient, growing, maturing and loving God all at the same time.  Many birds, one stone. 

Happy Thursday!

Word Nerd Note:  The Greek word for ‘hearers only’ is akroates.  In classical Greek times akroates was used to describe people who audited a class.  (Taken from “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” by Rick Renner.)  These were people who went to lectures for entertainment. 

A Biblical example of these akroates would be the people Paul preached to in Athens (see Acts 17).  They were all about listening to what Paul had to say and learn about this “unknown god” but when it came down to accepting Jesus and living for Him, sadly they passed.

FYI:  Today’s Bible Version is the New Living Translation (NLT)