Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: A Life Observed

A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis. Devin Brown. 2013. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Devin Brown's biography of C.S. Lewis. I'm not sure I found it as fascinating as his biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. But I definitely found it worth reading and of some interest. A Life Observed is not exactly a biography of C.S. Lewis, it is a spiritual biography. It is a book that seeks to trace the formation or transformation of C.S. Lewis' spirituality. The book relies heavily on Lewis' own work: his books, his essays, his letters, his diaries.

Table of Contents:

Prologue: A Longing Nothing Can Satisfy
Infant and Child (1898-1908)
Schoolboy and Adolescent (1908-1913)
Young Man and University Student (1913-1925)
Oxford Don and Reluctant Convert (1925-1931)
Inkling and Author (1931-1950)
Husband, Widower, and Brother Once More (1950-1963)
Epilogue: Home at Last

How do I feel about C.S. Lewis? Well, his work, I mean. I do like the Chronicles of Narnia for the most part. And I love The Screwtape Letters. But I don't love all his works. I don't like all his works. As a theologian, I find him somewhat suspect.

I would recommend A Life Observed to readers who want to learn more about C.S. Lewis.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #16

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.

Forgiveness of sins and tolerance for others are indispensable to the Christian life. We should bear with each other and forgive one another. ~ Martin Luther,  Faith Alone, April 21
We should be ashamed that we’re so lazy we need to be prodded into praising God or awakened to do so, as if we were sleeping. We’re showered with blessings every day, and we’re always using what God gives us. Why do we need to be continually reminded of the wonderful things God does for us? We should be able to remember to thank him without reminders from the Psalms. God’s gifts alone should inspire us to praise God. But this doesn’t happen. We have to be yelled at before we start praising the Lord. The words have to be written down for us and spoon-fed into our mouths, as this psalm does. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, April 27
God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received with the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that he might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory. ~ Jonathan Edwards
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~ Jim Elliot
Sin is very clever; it always brings forward its reasons, its arguments. Sin knows us so well; it knows that we like to think of ourselves as highly intelligent people. So it does not just tell us, “Do this”; it gives us reasons for doing it, and they appear to be so wonderful. But the whole point is that in reality they are specious; they are empty and foolish. The reasoning is always false reasoning. The arguments are always wrong. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Gospel

Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary. J.D. Greear. Foreword by Timothy Keller. 2011. B&H Books. 266 pages. [Source: Bought]

I first reviewed Gospel in 2011. It would be an understatement to say it was love, or, even LOVE. It was a book that I absolutely LOVED and couldn't stop gushing about. It was--and is--one of the very best books I've ever read about the gospel--what it is, how it changes us--and why we need to preach it to ourselves each and every day. It's an obvious recommendation, in my opinion, for believers new and old, even for believers that don't read all that much. 

I decided to reread Gospel because it was such a great experience for me the first time I read it. Also, I wanted to read his new book, Jesus Continued. 

I loved it just as much, if not more, the second time I read it.

Top Ten Quotes:
A Christianity that does not have as its primary focus the deepening of passions for God is a false Christianity, no matter how zealously it seeks conversions or how forcefully it advocates righteous behavior. Being converted to Jesus is learning to so adore God that we would gladly renounce everything we have to follow Him.
Always “begin again” with the gospel. Abide in it; swim in it; make your home in it. See more and more of your life through it. Be absolutely convinced at every moment of every day of the goodness of God in your life. That’s the only way you’ll ever really grow.
The Gospel Prayer “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.” “Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.” “As You have been to me, so I will be to others.” “As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
Awe combined with intimacy is the essence of Christian worship.

We often think we have done God a favor by down-playing the whole idea of His judgment. Our user-friendly God does not punish sin. He certainly doesn’t send people to hell. But hell gives us a picture of the absolute perfection and beauty of God. Hell is what hell is because God is who God is. Hell is what hell is because that’s what sin against an infinitely beautiful and glorious God deserves. Hell is not one degree hotter than our sin demands that it be. Hell should make our mouths stand agape at the righteous, just, holiness of God. Have you ever heard someone say that God should not be “feared,” only respected? You’d have a hard time selling that to the Israelites after their encounter near the mountain. That encounter was designed to produce fear. It is only when we see the holiness of God—a sight that should terrify us—that our hearts learn to worship Him.
You see, the gospel not only tells us about the power of God; the message of the gospel is itself the power of God. By the power of the Spirit, the hearing of the gospel re-creates our hearts to love the things God commands. Think of it like Jesus’ command to the lame man to walk. When Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk,” He was giving the lame man not only a command, but His words also gave the power to obey that command. In the same way the gospel God gives the power to do what He commands. Believing the gospel is not only the way we become Christians, it is the power that enables us to do, every moment of every day, the very things Jesus commands us to do.
How can we say we love others and not pour out our lives so that others can hear? I was once sharing the gospel with a girl named Rhonda. After talking for quite some time, she said, “I couldn’t believe what you believe. It would wreck my life.” I said, “Why?” She said, “If I believed what you believed—that my friends were condemned and salvation could only be found by believing in Jesus—I would approach each of them—in fact, every person I met—on my hands and knees and plead with them to believe in Jesus. I would never stop pleading, never stop weeping, until I had convinced everyone to believe.” Do we feel that way about the lost?
Martin Luther said that it wouldn’t matter if Jesus had died a thousand times if no one ever heard about it. We are the only way they hear about it.
Spiritual disciplines must be accompanied by a deep saturation in the gospel. The gospel changes the desires and cravings of the heart. The whole purpose of the disciplines, in fact, is to give you opportunity to think about, and meditate on, and move within the gospel. Spiritual disciplines are like wires that connect us to the power of the gospel. They have no power in themselves, but they connect us to the place from which the power flows. They are gateways to the gospel, but not the gospel itself.
Nonbelievers need to hear the gospel to believe it and be saved. Believers need to be reminded of the gospel so they can grow deeper in Christ. There is really no distinction, you see, between what believers need to hear and what unbelievers need to hear. Both believers and unbelievers need to get a glimpse of God’s majestic glory, a taste of His surpassing beauty, and a sense of how much grace God has shown toward them in Christ. Both believers and unbelievers need to be rebuked for their pride and self-sufficiency, to be reminded of the all-surpassing beauty of God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Year with Spurgeon #16

The Uses of the Law
Charles Spurgeon
1857
Galatians 3:19
If you could see the world without Christ in it, simply under the law you would see a world in ruins, a world with God's black seal put upon it, stamped and sealed for condemnation; you would see men, who, if they knew their condition, would have their hands on their loins and be groaning all their days — you would see men and women condemned, lost, and ruined; and in the uttermost regions you would see the pit that is digged for the wicked, into which the whole earth must have been cast if the law had its way, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.
Ay, beloved, the law is a great deluge which would have drowned the world with worse than the water of Noah'’s flood, it is a great fire which would have burned the earth with a destruction worse than that which fell on Sodom, it is a stern angel with a sword, athirst for blood, and winged to slay; it is a great destroyer sweeping down the nations; it is the great messenger of God’s vengeance sent into the world.
Apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, the law is nothing but the condemning voice of God thundering against mankind.
The first use of the law is to manifest to man his guilt. When God intends to save a man, the first thing he does with him is to send the law to him, to show him how guilty, how vile, how ruined he is, and in how dangerous a position.
Mark this, moreover, my dear hearers, one breach of this law is enough to condemn us forever. He that breaketh the law in one point is guilty of the whole. The law demands that we should obey every command, and one of them broken, the whole of them are injured.
Do you imagine that you can perfectly keep this law of God? Will you dare to say, you have not broken it. Nay, surely, you will confess, though it be in but an under tone, “I have revolted.” Then, this know: the law can do nothing for you in the matter of forgiveness. All it can do is just this: It can make you feel you are nothing at all; it can strip you; it can bruise you; it can kill you, but it can neither quicken, nor clothe, nor cleanse — it was never meant to do that. Oh, art thou this morning, my hearer, sad, because of sin? Dost thou feel that thou hast been guilty? Dost thou acknowledge thy transgression? Dost thou confess thy wandering? Hear me, then, as God’s ambassador, God hath mercy upon sinners. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. And though you have broken the law, he has kept it. Take his righteousness to be yours. Cast yourself upon him. Come to him now, stripped and naked and take his robe as your covering, Come to him, black and filthy, and wash yourself in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness; and then you shall know “wherefore then serveth the law?”
Now, the second. The law serves to slay all hope of salvation of a reformed life. Most men when they discover themselves to be guilty, avow that they will reform. It does it partly thus, by reminding the man that future obedience can be no atonement for past guilt.
Perfect obedience in the future is impossible. And the ten commandments are held up, and if any awakened sinner will but look at them, he will turn away and say, “It is impossible for me to keep them.”
The law tells you that unless you perfectly obey you cannot be saved by your doings, it tells you that one sin will make a flaw in it all, that one transgression will spoil your whole obedience. It is a spotless garment that you must wear in heaven; it is only an unbroken law which God can accept. So, then, the law answers this purpose, to tell men that their acquirements, their amendings, and their doings, are of no use whatever in the matter of salvation. It is theirs to come to Christ, to get A new heart and a right spirit; to get the evangelical repentance which needeth not to be repented of, that so they may put their trust in Jesus and receive pardon through his blood.
“Wherefore then serveth the law?” It serveth this purpose, as Luther hath it, the purpose of a hammer. Luther, you know, is very strong on the subject of the law. He says, “For if any be not a murderer, an adulterer, a thief, and outwardly refrain from sin, as the Pharisee did, which is mentioned in the gospel, he would swear that he is righteous, and therefore he conceiveth an opinion of righteousness, and presumeth of his good works and merits. Such a one God cannot otherwise mollify and humble, that he may acknowledge his misery and damnation, but by the law, for that is the hammer of death, the thundering of hell, and the lightning of God’s wrath, that beateth to powder the obstinate and senseless hypocrites. For as long as the opinion of righteousness abideth in man, so long there abideth also in him incomprehensible pride, presumption, security, hatred of God, contempt of his grace and mercy, ignorance of the promises and of Christ. The preaching of free remission of sins, through Christ, cannot enter into the heart of such a one, neither can he feel any taste or savor thereof; for that mighty rock and adamant wall, to wit, the opinion of righteousness, wherewith the heart is environed, doth resist it. Wherefore the law is that hammer, that fire, that mighty strong wind, and that terrible earthquake rending the mountains, and breaking the rocks, (1 Kings 19:11, 12, 13.) that is to say, the proud and obstinate hypocrites. Elijah, not being able to abide these terrors of the law, which by these things are signified, covered his face with his mantle. Notwithstanding, when the tempest ceased, of which he was a beholder, there came a soft and a gracious wind, in the which the Lord was; but it behoved that the tempest of fire, of wind, and the earthquake should pass, before the Lord should reveal himself in that gracious wind.”
Let me briefly hint at one other thought. “Wherefore then serveth the law.” It was sent into the world to shew the value of a Sauiour. Just as foils set off jewels, and as dark spots make bright tints more bright, so doth the law make Christ appear the fairer and more heavenly. I hear the law of God curse, but how harsh its voice. Jesus says, “come unto me;” oh, what music! all the more musical after the discord of the law. I see the law condemns; I behold Christ obeying it. Oh! how ponderous that price — when I know how weighty was the demand! I read the commandments, and I find them strict and awfully severe — oh! how holy must Christ have been to obey all these for me! Nothing makes me value my Savior more than seeing the law condemn me. When I know this law stands in my way, and like a flaming cherubim will not let me enter paradise, then I can tell how sweetly precious must Jesus Christ’s righteousness be, which is a passport to heaven, and gives me grace to enter there.
Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking- glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other.
If ye would know how we must be saved, hear this — ye must come with nothing of your own to Christ. Christ has kept the law. You are to have his righteousness to be your righteousness. Christ has suffered in the stead of all who repent. His punishment is to stand instead of your being punished. And through faith in the sanctification and atonement of Christ, you are to be saved. Come, then, ye weary and heavy laden, bruised and mangled by the Fall, come then, ye sinners, come, then, ye moralists, come, then, all ye that have broken God’s law and feel it, leave your own trusts and come to Jesus, he will take you in, give you a spotless robe of righteousness, and make you his for ever.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

Have you read the The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? Do you have a favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia? Have you read them all? 

I've been reading and rereading the Chronicles of Narnia since I was in fourth grade. The FIRST book, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was a classroom read-aloud. It was a powerful experience to listen to this fantasy novel. The story was familiar, in a way, yet new. I loved the characters then and now. This FIRST book is one I've read and reread dozens of times. I love Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. I love Mr. Tumnus, Mr. Beaver, and Mrs. Beaver. But above all else, I love, love, love Aslan. 

Why the emphasis that The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the FIRST book in the series? Well, though I don't like to think about it, some people insist on labeling it the second in the series. This might prove confusing to new readers. The story does have a proper order, and, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the only proper best introduction to Aslan. 
Here the Beaver’s voice sank into silence and it gave one or two very mysterious nods. Then signaling to the children to stand as close around it as they possibly could, so that their faces were actually tickled by its whiskers, it added in a low whisper— “They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.” And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer. “And what about Mr. Tumnus?” said Lucy; “where is he?” “S-s-s-sh,” said the Beaver, “not here. I must bring you where we can have a real talk and also dinner.”
“It’s no good, Son of Adam,” said Mr. Beaver, “no good your trying, of all people. But now that Aslan is on the move—” “Oh, yes! Tell us about Aslan!” said several voices at once; for once again that strange feeling—like the first signs of spring, like good news, had come over them.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan. “Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Queen all right. It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus.” “She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.
“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts…
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” “I’m longing to see him,” said Peter, “even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
I love everything about The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: the storytelling, the world-building, the pacing, the dialogue, and the characterization. Most of all, I love how Lewis doesn't waste words with battle-action. Things happen certainly, but, we don't have to endure endless descriptions of the action.

I do wish that every book in the series was as good as the FIRST book in the series. I certainly love others in the series. But not in the same way. My next favorite would be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My least favorite is The Last Battle.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week in Review: April 12-18

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
Do you realize that it is God’s will to make this earth into an extension of his throne room in Heaven? Do you realize that it is God’s will for his kingdom of glory to come into your life and for his will to be done in you as it is done in Heaven? Heaven is expanding, spreading in your direction. That is the meaning of your existence, if you will accept it and enter in. Heaven is taking over. Yield. ~ Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.

NKJV

  • Genesis 6-20
  • Joshua 7-24
  • Job 6-15
  • Psalms 119-150
  • Isaiah 7-19
  • Joel
  • Matthew 
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians

HCSB

  • Jeremiah


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review: Isaiah: God Saves Sinners

Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. R. (Preaching The Word Commentaries). Crossway. 2005. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]

I could gush about this commentary on Isaiah for days if not weeks and weeks. I won't lie. It did take me months to read it all. I tried to read a chapter or two per week. But it wasn't a chore or a duty to keep on reading it. Far from it. It was a book I picked up with pleasure and joy. For each chapter is packed with information and insight and grace and hope. No matter the chapter, there was always something thought-provoking or engaging. So even if you don't typically read commentaries--consider this one! It isn't so much a commentary--though it does examine every verse and chapter of the book of Isaiah--as it is a collection of expository sermons preached from the book of Isaiah.

This book is one of the best books I've ever read. It has depth and substance, but it's oh-so-accessible. Yes, five hundred pages is a commitment. But taken a chapter or two at a time, it's well worth your time. And I do recommend reading it slowly, and, alongside the book of Isaiah. I think the more of yourself you give to the reading, the more you'll learn. Engage with the text. Consider it. Be willing to ask hard questions and be honest with your answers.

I learned so much from each and every chapter. Here's a small taste of what to expect.

From the preface:
God saves sinners. We don’t believe that. We bank our happiness on other things. But God says to us, “I’m better than you think. You’re worse than you think. Let’s get together.” The prophet Isaiah wants to show us more of God and more of ourselves than we’ve ever seen before. He wants us to know what it means for us to be saved. Do we have the courage to listen? But God has opened a way for us to swim eternally in the ocean of his love. Our part is to look beyond ourselves and stake everything on God, who alone saves sinners.
As a pastor, it’s not my job to protect people from the living God. My job is to bring people to God, and leave them there.
From chapter one the introduction to Isaiah:
Every day we treat God as incidental to what really matters to us, and we live by our own strategies of self-salvation. We don’t think of our choices that way, but Isaiah can see that our lives are infested with fraudulent idols. Any hope that isn’t from God is an idol of our own making... A salvation we don’t even know how to define, Isaiah is an expert at explaining to us. He wants to lead us into a life that outlasts our earthly expiration date.
J. I. Packer puts into words the greatness of the Isaianic message: God saves sinners. God — the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of the Father and Son by renewing. Saves — does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners — men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, blind, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners. . . . Sinners do not save themselves in any sense at all, but salvation, first and last, whole and entire, past, present and future, is of the Lord, to whom be glory forever, amen!
If the world is not experiencing the grace of God, the church is being untrue to its destiny.
From chapter two: Our Urgent Need: A New Self Awareness I
We need a sense of sin. We shouldn’t fear it or resent it. It is not destructive. It is life-giving, if we have the courage to let Christ save us. We are often told — or just whispered to — that what we need is more self-esteem. That is false. What we need is more humility and more Christ-esteem.
What is conviction of sin? It is not an oppressive spirit of uncertainty or paralyzing guilt feelings. Conviction of sin is the lance of the divine Surgeon piercing the infected soul, releasing the pressure, letting the infection pour out. Conviction of sin is a health-giving injury. Conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit being kind to us by confronting us with the light we don’t want to see and the truth we’re afraid to admit and the guilt we prefer to ignore. Conviction of sin is the severe love of God overruling our compulsive dishonesty, our willful blindness, our favorite excuses. Conviction of sin is the violent sweetness of God opposing the sins lying comfortably undisturbed in our lives. Conviction of sin is the merciful God declaring war on the false peace we settle for. Conviction of sin is our escape from malaise to joy, from attending church to worship, from faking it to authenticity. Conviction of sin, with the forgiveness of Jesus pouring over our wounds, is life.
The reason we see so little repentance in the world is that the world sees so little repentance in the church.

The church survives because God saves sinners. He sees what we would become, left to ourselves, and in mercy he stretches out his hand and says, “I will not let you go.” That is why the evil inside every one of us doesn’t explode with its actual power, to our destruction (Romans 9:29). Apart from God’s preserving grace, we would relive the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are what they were. We deserve what they got. That’s what God says. And the only reason we’re still here is his overruling mercy saving us from ourselves.
From chapter three: Our Urgent Need: A New Self Awareness II
Rebellion against God is our problem. But God saves rebels. And true worship is rebels like us waving the white flag of surrender before our rightful Lord in repentance.
Let’s ask ourselves, what do we think is unbearably repulsive to God, to his very soul, right down to the depths of the Divine Being? We might answer, hard-core crime, the exploitation of children, terrorist mayhem —that sort of thing. It might not occur to us that what the soul of God hates and is burdened and wearied by is the worship we offer him, if we are not in repentance.
From chapter four: Our Urgent Need, A New Self Awareness III
What is redemption? Redemption explains how God saves us. How does he? By paying a personal price. In real life, we sin our way right into bondage, and there’s no easy way out. If we try to cover it up or make excuses, we dig ourselves in deeper. Every day we create the conditions in which we literally deserve Hell. But what does God do? He offers to get us out of trouble at his own expense. He offers to absorb within himself the consequences we have set in motion. He pays the price, so that we don’t have to, because we can’t anyway. That’s redemption. If you have sinned your way into helplessness, where you deserve to reap what you have sown, you can be redeemed. God is not only willing to pay the price, he already has — at the cross of Christ. You can enter into redemption freely, by his grace.
We add nothing to the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, but his love does claim all that we are. The flip side of God paying the price is that we are no longer our own (1 Corinthians 6:19b, 20a). What else can we do but repent? We need to repent of our sins every day. We need to repent of our fifth-rate righteousness every day. We need to receive afresh, with the empty hands of faith, real righteousness from Jesus Christ every day. The cross becomes a redeeming power for us as we learn what it means to repent.
From chapter five: The Transforming Power of Hope and Humility
We think too well of ourselves and too poorly of God to believe that his love for his glory and his love for us are one love, drawing him on to the final day when we will be forever happy with his glory alone. But how could it be otherwise? Human fulfillment is union with God.
Do you believe that there is enough glory in God to make you happy forever? If you don’t, why? What failing have you found in God? The gospel promises that his glory will remake the whole world. Stop valuing the idols you not only might lose but inevitably must lose. Learn to enjoy God. The triumph of his glory is enough to make your complete happiness forever invincible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible