Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Year with Newton #5

Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. I have completed John Newton's sermon series on Handel's Messiah. I am moving on to his LETTERS. 

Today's letter is titled, "The Present and Future Rest of True Believers."
We need a Savior, and he must be a mighty one; but though our needs and sins, our fears and enemies, are great and numerous, we are convinced that the character of Christ is sufficient to answer them all.
We need a rest, a rest which the world cannot give.
Heaven will be a rest from all SIN. No 'unclean thing' shall ever defile or disturb us forever! We shall be free from sin in ourselves. This alone would be worth dying for!
Indwelling sin is a burden under which even the redeemed must groan, while they sojourn in the body; and those who are most spiritual are most deeply affected with shame, humiliation, and grief, on account their sins—because they have the clearest views of the holiness of God, the spirituality of the law, the love of Christ, and the deceitfulness of their own hearts!
Again; we shall be free from all the displeasing effects of sin in others. Our hearts shall be no more pained, nor our ears wounded, nor our eyes filled with tears—by those evils which fill the earth.
A glorious rest awaits you, where sin and sinners shall have no place, nor the alarms of war be any more heard.
Heaven will be a rest from all outward AFFLICTIONS, which, though necessary, and, under the influence of Divine grace, profitable, yet they are grievous to bear; but then they will be necessary no more.
Where there is no sin—there shall be no sorrow.
Heaven will be a rest from SATAN'S TEMPTATIONS.
Heaven will be a rest from unsatisfied desires. Here on earth—the more we drink, the more we thirst. But in heaven, our highest wishes shall be crowned and exceeded; we shall rest in full communion with Him whom we love; we shall no more complain of interruptions and imperfections, of an absent God, and a careless heart.
Our title to it cost him dear; he purchased it for us with his own blood; but to us it comes freely. Sincere faith in Jesus puts us in immediate possession of the first-fruits, the pledge of this inheritance; and faith will lead us powerfully and safely, through all hindrances and enemies, to the full enjoyment of the whole.
FAITH unites us to Christ; gives us an immediate interest in all the benefits of his life, death, and intercession; opens the way of communication for all needful supplies of grace here, and insures to us the accomplishment of all the Lord has spoken to us of, in a state of glory.
Commit your souls to him—and then fear nothing.
He will fight your battles, heal your wounds, refresh your fainting spirits, guide you by his counsel while here, and at last receive you to himself!
Believers, what should you fear, or why complain? Look back to where the Lord found you dead in sin, helpless and hopeless, and insensible of your danger! Look forward to what he has provided for you—a crown of life, and a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Winning Balance

Winning Balance. Shawn Johnson and Nancy French. 2012. Tyndale. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The first score I ever received was given on January 19, 1992, at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines.

Premise/plot: Winning Balance is an autobiography of gymnast Shawn Johnson. Most of the chapters conclude with a 'lessons learned' feature. Partially this is a spiritual autobiography as well. Johnson includes in her life story her spiritual testimony. How much is 'spiritual' and how much is plain and simple biography? I'd say the spiritual aspects of it are like the toppings on a sundae. I would say it's definitely for gymnastics fans. (She's not John Owen.)

My thoughts: I love, love, love gymnastics. I do. I've watched it since the late 80s and it's a sport I'm passionate about. So I was definitely engaged with this one. It was quite a change from the biographies I read on Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller. Of the three coaches, I think Shawn Johnson's comes across best.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week in Review: September 18-24


  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings 1-6
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Romans


  • Genesis 12-23

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

First Impressions of the NIV Journal the Word Bible

I have had the NIV Journal the Word Bible for almost a full week now. (It is a review copy, by the way). I definitely like it. And there is potential for love to grow, I'd say.

It is a text-only Bible. There are no book introductions, no study notes, no cross references, no concordances, no maps, no reading plans. This isn't that kind of Bible. Do I miss the extras when they are not there? Not really. Sure, I wish for short one or two page book introductions now and then. (Some books I "need" a little extra help placing in context.) But for the most part, text-only suits me just fine. In fact, I read text-only Bibles more often than not. By choice. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes that stuff is just a distraction.

It is single column. Each page has wide margins--lined margins--creating a square of Bible text. It is an oddly comforting shape. One I didn't expect to be drawn to. But I am.

The font size of the text is on the small side, I won't lie. The good news? I seem to be in the minority in preferred font size. My eyes enjoy a good 9 to 10 point font. The rest of the world? Well, they seem to be moving more and more towards a 7 to 8 point font. (This year alone, I've specialized in ordering large-to-giant-to-super-giant editions of the Bible in my favorite translations. The largest font size I've got is 18 point.)

The weight of the book is great. Because it is on the light side, one can easily read it in bed or sitting in a chair. One can easily carry it back and forth. There's a delicate balance between weight and font-size that must be achieved if a Bible is to be 'for me.' Too heavy, and it's not practical. Font impossibly small, it's not practical. (That's why study Bibles are becoming increasingly impossible for me to use--no matter how much I wish it was otherwise.) Because it is light enough to hold as close as I need to see, I can still manage this one.

Laying flat. It is ESSENTIAL in my opinion for a Bible to actually lay flat. So many Bibles have impossible margins where you lose the last word or two of text on each line. The NIV Journal the Word Bible is excellent at laying flat.

Black letter. I really love that this edition of the NIV Bible is black letter. The words of Christ are not in red in this particular Bible. I much prefer black letter Bibles to red letter Bibles. I do like that readers have choices. It is possible to get black letter or red letter in most translations. (With a few exceptions. I've spent YEARS of my life searching for NASB bibles that were both black letter and in paragraph format.)

Paragraph format. Poetry is still poetry, of course. But the prose sections are in paragraph format instead of verse, verse, verse.

Thickness of the paper. It is not as perfectly thick as it would be in my dream Bible. That being said, the pages are slightly thicker than what is being used in most Bibles. I think with each passing year, Bible pages are getting thinner and thinner. And it's becoming more and more difficult to read one page at a time. There is some bleed-through on this one. Not horrible or awful. But some. (One Bible I received recently--I won't name names--you could see about five or six pages of Bible text bleeding through. It makes me think: do publishers not understand that the Bible is for reading, and reading comfortably?)

Conclusion: I do think this Bible was put together with care and with readers in mind. I have not tried journaling in it--at least not yet--because I'm not sure what pens or pencils would be safe to use. If you have recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 24, 2016

September's Scripture Chain

  • Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
  • O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:1-5
  • For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
  •  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Inspiration: Reading Genesis
Translation Used: ESV

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: What Grieving People Wish You Knew...

What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps (And What Really Hurts). Nancy Guthrie. 2016. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I have to tell you something up front: I think you're awesome. I assume you're reading this book or considering reading this book because you want to figure out how you can be a better friend to people around you who are going through the devastation of losing someone they love.

Premise/plot: What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps is a nonfiction book written from a Christian perspective. The first chapter focuses on "What To Say and (What Not To Say). The second chapter focuses on "What To Do (and What Not To Do)." The three remaining chapters handle a variety of subjects: social media, if it's a good idea or a bad idea to talk theology to the grieving, frequently asked questions.

My thoughts: The book isn't just one person's idea of what works and what doesn't. (I hate the phrasing of that. The grieving are not a problem to be fixed, and talking to a grieving person isn't something to just check off your to-do list.) Guthrie has compiled dozens--if not hundreds--of statements from real people about the grieving process. You hear not just Guthrie's professional opinion, or even her personal opinion, you hear from people--just like you, just like me--who are sharing their stories, sharing their hearts. And all this for the cause of helping the average person better know how to respond to others.

Can a book truly teach you how to be compassionate and avoid horrible blunders? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it can help the anxious.
It matters less what you say than that you say something.
When you're grieving, you know who has acknowledged it in some way and who hasn't. You just do.
Your purpose in saying something is to enter into the hurt with them and let them know they are not alone.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #30

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

God's working in us [in sanctification] is not suspended because we work, nor our working suspended because God works. Neither is the relation strictly one of cooperation as if God did his part and we did ours so that the conjunction or coordination of both produced the required result. God works in us and we also work. But the relation is that because God works we work. ~ John Murray
“ Every sin is so voluntary, that if it be not voluntary it is not sin.” ~ Augustine
There will be no inward peace until God is exalted over us and we are abased. We can read all the books in the world and we can read the Scriptures through once a year and sing our way through the hymnal, but when it is all over, we will never find peace or victory until God is given the place in our hearts that He has in the universe. ~ A.W. Tozer
Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness and against every degree we grow to. ~ John Owen
Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lust. ~ John Owen

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible