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Please Excuse my Dear Aunt Sally!

One of the first algebraic concepts I learned in school was called the Order of Operations. If you don’t know this concept, then you cannot do simple algebra. I was taught a simple memory device so that I would never forget the order of operations, and I still use that device to this day, some 40 years later. That device was “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” Today, students simply refer to it as PEMDAS. It stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. If you try to solve any mathematical equation without going through that order you will get the answer completely wrong. If you try to subtract before you add, or you try to multiply before dealing with the exponent values, or before solving the stuff inside the parenthesis, then you will end up with a mangle jangle mess of an answer. Your building won’t stand up. Your Investment projections will fail. And you won’t understand the statistical garbage with which a bad insurance salesman, or a fraudulent expert tries to persuade you.

You will find the order of operations in many forms and in many places in life. For instance, try getting a good job as a surgeon before getting a medical degree. If you do, it won’t be long before you’re talking to someone with a law degree. Sometimes, people engage in intimate behaviors with the opposite sex before a marriage commitment. Far too often, this disregard for the order of operations leads to a mangle jangle mess of a life with someone that they must learn to love instead of lust after. Or consider expecting a child to follow your written chore list before he or she has learned to read. It simply won’t work.

The most important element in all of the orders of operation is to put God first. When you put God first, the rest of your life falls into place. It saves you heartache, it gives you purpose, and it keeps you in right standing with the one who provides all good things. This concept is found throughout the bible. It’s implied in places like Deuteronomy 6:5 where we’re told to love God with everything, or in places like Romans 12:2, where Paul tells us to be transformed by putting the will of God as a prime measuring stick for life. Jesus puts it more directly in Matthew 6:25-33 when he instructs us to seek the Kingdom of God first, and God will make sure that our lesser needs are met. So take an inventory of your world, and see if you have been correctly applying the order of operations in all the equations that make up your life.

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