Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #30

Five Fears
Charles Spurgeon
1857
Ecclesiastes 8:12
Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has honored fear, for the whole of piety is comprehended in these words, “Fear God;” “the fear of the Lord;” “them that fear Him.” These phrases are employed to express true piety, and the men who possess it. Fear, I have said, may ruin the soul, alas! it has ruined multitudes. O Fear, thou art the rock upon which many a ship hath been wrecked. Many a soul hath suffered spiritual destruction through thee, but then it hath been not the fear of God, but the fear of man.
I am no general redemptionist, I believe Jesus Christ died for as many as will be saved; I do not believe he died in vain for any man alive. I have always believed that Christ was punished instead of men. Now, if he were punished in the stead of all men, I could see no justice in God punishing men again after having punished Christ for them. I hold and believe — and, I think, on Scriptural authority, that Jesus Christ died for all those who believe or will believe; and he was punished in the stead of all those who feel their need of a Savior, and lay hold on him. The rest reject him, despise him, sin against God, and are punished for their sine. But those who are redeemed, having been blood-bought, shall not be lost. Christ’s blood is too precious to have been shed for men who are damned. It is too awful a thing to think of the Savior standing in a sinner’s stead, and then that sinner after all having to bear his own iniquities;
I can never indulge a thought which appears to be so unrighteous to God, and so unsafe to men. All that the Savior bought he shall have, all that his heavenly Father hath given him, he says, shall come unto him. Now here is something solid for thee, poor soul. I ask again, dost thou know and feel thyself to be lost and ruined? Then the Savior bought thee, and will have thee; then he was punished for thee and thou never wilt be punished again; then he hung upon the cross for thee that thou mightest not perish. For thee there is no hell, so far as thou art concerned. The eternal lake is quenched; the dungeons of hell are broken open, their bars are cut in sunder. Thou art free; no damnation can ever seize thee, no devils can ever drag thee to the pit. Thou art redeemed, and thou art saved. “What!” sayest thou, “I redeemed! Why, sir, I am full of sin.” It is the very reason why thou art redeemed. “But I feel myself to be the guiltiest of all the human race.” Yes, and that is just the evidence that Christ died for thee. He says himself, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
If you have got abundance of good works, and think you can go to heaven by them, you will perish; but if you know your guilt, and confess it — it is not my affirmation, but the affirmation of the Scriptures — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” says the Apostle, “I am chief.” Lay hold on that, poor soul: and then I repeat to thee the text, “Yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” It shall be well with thee yet, and black though thou art, thou shalt one day sing among the bloodwashed ones in glory everlasting. That is the first stage of fearing God; we shall now proceed to another.
There are many who have believed, and are truly converted, who have a fear which I may call THE FEAR OF ANXIETY. They are afraid that they are not converted. They are converted, there is no doubt of it. Sometimes they know they are so themselves, but, for the most part, they are afraid.
Not only those who believe, but those who fear, have got a promise, I would to God that they had more faith; I would that they could lay hold on the Savior, and had more assurance, and even attain unto a perfect confidence; but if they cannot shall I utter a word that would hurt them? God forbid; “Surely it shall be with even with them that fear God, with them that fear before him.”
Now, I am about to utter a great paradox — I believe that some of these poor fearing people have got the greatest faith of anybody in the world; I have sometimes thought that great fear, great anxiety, must have great faith with it to keep the soul alive at all.
Now, in this case, he that fears the most believes the most; and I do think it is so sometimes with poor desponding spirits. They have the greatest fear of hell, and the greatest fear of themselves, and the greatest dread that they are not right. Oh, what a faith they must have, when they are enabled to throw themselves on Christ, and when they can but whisper to themselves “I think that he is mine” — “Surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear-before him.”
And you who are fearing, I would not say a word to hurt you, but I would say a word to comfort you if I could; I would remind you that you are not fit to judge of yourself.
We sometimes think ourselves proud, and we are never more humble than when we feel that we are proud. At other times, we think ourselves to be wonderfully humble, and we are never more proud than then.
All Christians, when they are in a right state, are afraid of falling into sin. Holy fear is the proper condition of a child of God. Even the most confident will not go into presumption.
You have never any right to believe, till you have nothing to believe in yourself. Until you have lost all, you have no right to take anything. But now, if you have lost all your own good works and righteousness, if you feel that there is no reason why you should be saved, that is the very reason why you should be. My Master bids me tell the naked to come to his heavenly wardrobe, and take his royal garment for their clothing. He bids me tell the hungry to haste away to his heavenly granaries, and feed upon the old corn of the kingdom to their very full. He bids me tell the thirsty that the river of life is broad and deep, and flows freely to all those who thirst after it. Now, sinner, if thou art sick of sin, and grieved at heart where thou standest, follow me in spirit in these words: “O Lord, I know my guilt, and I confess my misery. If thou dampest me to all eternity, thou wilt be just; but, O Lord, have mercy upon me, according to thy promise, which thou hast made in Christ Jesus, unto those who confess their faults.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: The Shaping of a Christian Family

The Shaping of a Christian Family. Elisabeth Elliot. 1992/2000. Revell. 240 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

I enjoyed reading The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot--for the most part. It is part autobiography, part how-to-parent. Several times, Elliot stresses the fact that it is the shaping of ONE Christian family--her own family. She's not necessarily advocating that there is one and only one 'Christian' way to raise a family. (Though I am guessing that there are a few guiding principles that she would have classified as essential for any and every Christian family.)

Most of the book is grounded in her family history. Therefore most of the book reads like an autobiography. Readers learn about her mother's upbringing, her father's upbringing, their courtship and marriage, and her own upbringing. She's one of six children, and, readers learn more about all six Howard siblings. Because of the way it is written, I felt the book was more of a tribute--a love letter of sorts--to her own mother and father, both passed away, of course. Most of the book is story-oriented. This is what my parents did. This is what my parents believed. These were the rules I grew up with, the routine that I was raised with, this is how it was, and I think it was wonderful.

There are dozens of times when Elliot moved from the personal to the general, where she gave specific advice to parents--new parents especially. The advice is somewhat practical, though not nearly detailed enough perhaps. If readers are going to find something to disagree about--it will be here. That is something that I think happens in any parenting book. You're going to find statements you agree with strongly, and statements you disagree with strongly. You can get a couple of good ideas, perhaps, without embracing each and every idea.
God's way of speaking to you and of getting at you will be through His Word. Dwell in it, therefore. Begin each day with a portion of it. Pray for grace to see when He is speaking to you, and for grace to adjust yourself to what He shows you. (46)
Christ is the Head of this house,
The unseen Guest at every meal,
The silent Listener to every conversation. (53)
How thankful I have been in the dark hours that my parents saw to it that hymns became fixed in our minds and hearts, through what was to us at the time merely a family routine. (58)
No one can make a child love anything, from spinach to sparrows to Scripture, but the parents' love for things exerts a powerful thrust in that direction (and I for one learned to love all of the above). (60)
There are so many wrong ideas about God. Wrong thinking about Him leads to wrong thinking about His actions. (118)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week In Review: July 19-25

From the opening chapters of Genesis to the end of Revelation, we find the same testimony—God is good. He is always good, for he never changes. ~ R. Kent Hughes, John: That You Might Believe
We need a regular plan of reading, study, and yes, even memorization. Bible study and Scripture memorization earn no merit with God. We never earn God's blessings by doing these things, anymore than we earn His blessing by eating nutritious food. But as the eating of proper food is necessary to sustain a healthy physical life, so the regular intake of God's word is necessary to sustain a healthy spiritual life and to regularly appropriate His grace. ~ Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace, p. 179
ESV Reader's Bible

  • Genesis 27-50
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Matthew 1-8

NKJV

  • Deuteronomy 16-34

NRSV

  • Revelation


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Transforming Grace

Transforming Grace. Jerry Bridges. 1991. NavPress. 207 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

I loved, loved, loved Jerry Bridges' Transforming Grace. It is a MUST READ in my opinion. If you've never read Jerry Bridges before, you don't know what you're missing. He is a GREAT author that every Christian--every Christian who reads--should try. And Transforming Grace would be a great introduction to his work.

Why? Well, because people NEED to know about grace, to embrace grace, to come to a greater, deeper appreciation of what grace is and all that it means. Not that any person can fully and totally comprehend God's grace and 'all that it means.' But you can live in awe of it, and let it transform you day by day, year by year. Grace isn't something to celebrate a couple of times in your life. It's something to celebrate each and every day.

Believers need to preach the gospel to themselves daily--and reading Jerry Bridges, well, may just help you remember to do just that. I believe that the book would prove beneficial to new believers and to old believers--those who have perhaps been in the faith for decades, but, could use a little refreshing. (Who doesn't need refreshing from the Spirit?!) The truth, in my opinion, never gets old. The good news is GREAT news. And one never outgrows one's need for gospel-truth, for the richness of grace.

Table of Contents:

  • The Performance Treadmill
  • Grace--Who Needs It?
  • Grace--It Really Is Amazing
  • The Generous Landowner
  • Does God Have A Right?
  • Compelled by Love
  • The Proof of Love
  • Holiness: A Gift of God's Grace
  • Called To Be Free
  • The Sufficiency of Grace
  • The Least of All God's People
  • Appropriating God's Grace
  • Garments of Grace

Quotes:
One of the best kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to Heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them--no exceptions. Why is this such a well-kept secret? For one thing we are afraid of this truth. We are afraid to tell even ourselves that we don't have to work anymore, the work is all done. We are afraid that if we really believe this, we will slack off in our Christian duties. (19)
What, then, is the grace by which we are saved and under which we live? Grace is God's free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It is the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him. Grace stands in direct opposition to any supposed worthiness on our part. (22)
You are loved and accepted by God through the merits of Jesus, and you are blessed by God through the merit of Jesus. Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves you strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus. (73)
To live by grace is to live solely by the merit of Jesus Christ. To live by grace is to base my entire relationship with God, including my acceptance and standing with Him, on my union with Christ. It is to recognize that in myself I bring nothing of worth to my relationship with God, because even my righteous acts are like filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). Even my best works are stained with mixed motives and imperfect performance. I never truly love God with all my heart, and I never truly love my neighbor with the degree of consistency with which I love myself. (101)
God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29). (139)
The Bible is God's self-revelation to us of all He wants us to know about Himself and His provision for our salvation and our spiritual growth. It is God's only objective, authoritative communication. to us. If we are to appropriate the grace of God then, we must become intimate friends with the Bible. We must seek to know and understand the great truths of Scripture: truths about God and His character, and truths about man and his desperate need of God's grace. (177)
It is difficult for us to see God's hand of love in the adversities and heartaches of life because we persist in thinking, as the world does, that happiness is the greatest good. Thus we tend to evaluate all our circumstances in terms of whether or not they produce happiness. Holiness, however, is a greater good than happiness, so God arranges and orchestrates circumstances to produce holiness before happiness. He is more concerned about our eternal than our temporal welfare and more concerned about our spiritual than our material welfare. So all the trials and difficulties, all the heartaches, disappointments, and humiliations come from His loving hand to make us partakers of His holiness. (183)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #29

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

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. John 6:47 One could preach a hundred thousand years about these words and emphasize them again and again. Yes, one can’t speak enough about these words. Here Christ explicitly promises eternal life to the believer. He doesn’t say that if we believe in him we will have eternal life. Rather, he says that as soon as we believe in him, we already have eternal life. He is speaking, not of future gifts, but of present ones. He is saying, “If you believe in me, you are saved. You already have eternal life.” If we believe in Christ and cling to him, we are redeemed from both physical and spiritual death. We already have eternal life. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, July 5
God forgives and even blesses the mistakes of faithful people. Important and faithful leaders often cause great harm through their advice and actions. If God didn’t have mercy on them and didn’t straighten everything out, the world would be in a terrible mess. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, July 8
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 You shouldn’t read the words good and love in a dispassionate way. Don’t skim over these words. Don’t say them too quickly or irreverently in church. Instead, remember that these are vibrant, relevant, and meaningful words that emphasize the goodness of God. God proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is good and loving. His daily and continual goodness shows this in rich and powerful ways. This psalm says, “His love endures forever.” In other words, God continually does what is best for us. He provides for our bodies and souls and protects us day and night. He continues to preserve our lives. He lets the sun and moon shine for us and allows the sky, fire, air, and water to serve us. The Lord causes the earth to give us everything we need—grain, food, cattle feed, wood, and the resources for making wine and clothes. He gives us gold and silver, homes and families, spouses and children, animals, birds, and fish. Who can count all the Lord’s blessings? ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, July 11
Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity would have been, more glorious than any unfallen race now is (if at this moment the night sky conceals any such). The greater the sin, the greater the mercy: the deeper the death, the brighter the re-birth. And this super-added glory will, with true vicariousness, exalt all creatures, and those who have never fallen will thus bless Adam’s fall. ~ C.S. Lewis, Miracles

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: Embracing Obscurity

Embracing Obscurity. Anonymous. 2012. B&H. 192 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
Introduction
What do you, me, a student, a musician, a stay-at-home mom, a laid-off blue-collar worker, a pastor, and a successful entrepreneur all have in common? We're drunk. In our defense the epidemic is so common that most of us don't even know we're under the influence. We're confused, blinded, and wandering around like sailors at dawn; but, then again, so is everyone else, so why should we be alarmed? But this unsuspected poison is simultaneously nimbus us, diverting our attention from the kingdom and undermining the gospel of Christ. We're drunk all right. We're intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected. We crave to be a "somebody" and do a notable things, to achieve our dreams and gain the admiration of others. To be something--anything--other than nothing.
Embracing Obscurity is a quick, light read, and, I definitely enjoyed reading it. I didn't love it exactly. But I didn't dislike it either. It wasn't a wow book for me. It was easy-reading, light and casual--definitely not an intimidating read. It's full of stories and good advice. One thing that I definitely appreciated was how rich it was in scripture: there are so very many verses quoted. I also appreciated the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #29

The Good Man's Life and Death
Charles Spurgeon
1857
Philippians 1:21
Our pilgrimage on earth is but a journey to the grave.
The pulse that preserves our being beats our death march, and the blood which circulates our life is floating it onward to the deeps of death.
If you would get a fair estimate of the happiness of any man you must judge him in these two closely connected things, his life and his death.
Call no man happy until he is dead; because the life that is to come, if that be miserable, shall far outweigh the highest life of happiness that hath been enjoyed on earth.
I suppose that every man living has a model by which he endeavors to shape his life. When we start in life, we generally select some person, or persons, whose combined virtues shall be to us the mirror of perfection. “Now,” says Paul, “if you ask me after what fashion I mould my life, and what is the model by which I would sculpture my being, I tell you, it is Christ. I have no fashion, no form, no model by which to shape my being, except the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, the true Christian, if he be an upright man, can say the same.
This is the very age of conventionalities. People dare not now do a thing unless everybody else does the same. You do not often say, “Is a thing right?” The most you say is, “Does so-and-so do it?”
I would we had the courage to look upon a thing, not according to its age, but according to its rightness, and so weigh everything, not by its novelty, or by its antiquity, but by its conformity to Christ Jesus and his holy Gospel; rejecting that which is not, though it be hoary with years, and believing that which is, even though it be but the creature of the day, and saying with earnestness, “For me to live is not to imitate this man or the other, but ‘for me to live is Christ.’”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible