Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gift Ideas from the Clouds

All of these gift ideas come from "the clouds of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1-2)


  • Pursuit of God Bible, A.W. Tozer, NIV
  • A.W. Tozer Bible, KJV
  • Matthew Henry Study Bible, KJV
  • C.S. Lewis Bible, NRSV
  • NIV Ragamuffin Bible, Brennan Manning
  • NIV Streams in the Desert Bible, L.B.E. Cowman
  • ESV Oswald Chambers Devotional Bible
  • Wesley Study Bible, available in CEB and NRSV
  • Andrew Murray, 365 Day Devotional Bible, KJV

Note: Wouldn't it be a wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL thing if there was a Charles Spurgeon Study Bible?!?!

Commentaries also come to mind!


  • Walking with God Day by Day, Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • Spurgeon's Daily Treasures in the Psalms, Charles Spurgeon
  • Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon (available with Scripture references in KJV, NIV, ESV, and maybe others?)
  • Streams in the Desert by LB.E. Cowman
  • Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, edited by Arthur G. Bennett
  • Year with C.S. Lewis, Daily Readings from His Classic Works
  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
  • Mornings with Tozer, A.W. Tozer
  • Evenings with Tozer, A.W. Tozer
  • Tozer on the Almighty God, A.W. Tozer
  • My Daily Pursuit, A.W. Tozer
  • Daily In His Presence by Andrew Murray
  • Then Sings My Soul, Hymns and Hymn Stories, Robert J. Morgan


  • Keith Green, Ministry Years 1977-1979
  • Songs, Rich Mullins
  • Songs 2, Rich Mullins


Series Biographies

Theologians on the Christian Life, published by Crossway

  • Luther on the Christian Life
  • Bavinck on the Christian Life
  • Newton on the Christian Life
  • Owen on the Christian Life
  • Warfield on the Christian Life
  • Edwards on the Christian Life
  • Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life
  • Wesley on the Christian Life
  • Calvin on the Christian Life
  • Schaeffer on the Christian Life
  • Augustine on the Christian Life

A Long Line of Godly Men, published by Reformation Trust

  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther
  • The Daring Mission of William Tyndale
  • The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen
  • The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts
  • The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards
  • The Mighty Weakness of John Knox
  • The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon
  • The Expository Genius of John Calvin
  • The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield

Armchair Theologians, published by WJK

  • Augustine for Armchair Theologians
  • John Knox for Armchair Theologians
  • Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians
  • Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians
  • Barth for Armchair Theologians
  • Wesley for Armchair Theologians
  • Luther for Armchair Theologians
  • Calvin for Armchair Theologians
  • Aquinas for Armchair Theologians
  • The Reformation for Armchair Theologians



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Year with Spurgeon #47

What Have I Done?
Charles Spurgeon
Jeremiah 8:6
How can we resist feeling that he is a God whom we must love, when we know that he regards everything that concerns us, numbers the very hairs of our heads, bids his angels protect our footsteps lest we dash our feet against stones, marks our path and ordereth our ways. But especially is this great truth brought near to man’s heart, when we recollect how attentive God is, not merely to the temporal interests of his creatures, but to their spiritual concerns.
Few men like to take the trouble to review their own lives; most men are so near bankruptcy that they are ashamed to look at their own books. The great mass of mankind are like the silly ostrich, which, when hard pressed by the hunters, buries its head in the sand and shuts its eyes and then thinks, because it does not see its pursuers, that therefore it is safe.
The great mass of mankind, I repeat, are ashamed to review their own biographies. and if conscience and memory together could turn joint authors of a history of their lives throughout, they would buy a huge iron clasp and a padlock to it, and look the volume up, for they dare not read it. They know it to be a book full of lamentation and woe, which they dare not read, and still go on in their iniquities.
No tradesman ever gets the poorer by looking to his books. he may find himself to be poorer than he thought he was, but it is not the looking to the books that hath hurt him; he hath hurt himself by some ill trading before. Better, my friend, for you to know the past whilst there is yet time for repairing it, than that you should go blindfolded, hoping to enter the gates of Paradise and find out your mistake when alas! it is too late, because the door is shut.
You might as well hope to go to heaven by cursing and swearing, as by the merits of your own good works; for although good works are infinitely preferable to cursing and swearing in a moral point of view, yet there is no more merit in one than there is in the other, though there is less sin in one than in the other.
Lord accept me, Lord pardon me, and take me as I am, from this time forth and for ever, to be thy servant whilst I live, to be thy redeemed when I die.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, November 23, 2015

2016 Operation Deepen Faith

This challenge has multiple parts. (You wouldn't have to sign up for each part. But. Ideally participants would be interested in doing more than just one.) The challenge is from January 2016 through December 2016. Read carefully, I've added some new things this year!!! One thing I've added is an OPTIONAL introduction survey for you to fill out either in the comments or on your own blog.

I. Wonderful Words of Life. Goal: Read the Bible. The goal isn't to read the Bible following a specific plan or by a certain date. The goal is to read the Bible. For some that might mean reading the Bible once a year. For others it might mean reading the Bible over two or three years. What matters is that you incorporate reading the Bible into your life.

Looking for a plan? I've got a list:
  • Back to the Bible's 21 Day Bible Reading Challenge (John only)*
  • Back to the Bible's 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge (Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke only) (link to pdf file)*
  • Back to the Bible's 6 Month Bible Reading Challenge (Acts through Revelation, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes only) (link to pdf file)*
  • 5X5X5 Bible Reading Plan (New Testament Only, 5 Days A Week, 5 Minutes a Day) (link to pdf file)*
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (Book-at-a-Time) (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • (Whole) Bible in 90 Days Plan (link to pdf file)
  • John MacArthur's NT Plan (read a book 30 days in a row)
  • Woodrow Kroll's Plan (read whole books at a time; read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting)
  • Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • 52 Week Bible Reading Plan, Different Genre Every Day (link to pdf file)
  • Legacy Reading Plan (No set daily readings, but, set monthly readings) (link to pdf file)
  • Back to the Bible's Chronological Plan (lists readings month by month, the link to January)
II. Sweet Hour of Prayer. Goal: Pray daily. I don't know about you. But prayer doesn't always come easily, naturally, effortlessly. The weight and shame of not praying or not praying good enough or long enough or hard enough can be heavy and burdensome. And if your guilt and shame keeps you from even trying, that's a problem. There are so many books on prayer, on praying, on learning to pray. There are two or three that come to my mind as being the best. But any book that helps you out, that gets you praying, that keeps you praying, will do. (Often it's getting started, creating a habit that is the toughest part.) 

One I recommend is PRAYING THE BIBLE by Donald S. Whitney. I personally think it's the best of the best when it comes to practical books on how to pray. His method of praying has you praying the Bible, praying the book of Psalms to be exact. What's the date? Say it's the 5th. You would skim Psalms 5, 35, 65, 95, and 125. (Just find the date. Add 30. Keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms!) After briefly skimming them to see which one is the best fit for you on that day, you'd then choose ONE to pray. Read the chapter. Line by line, verse by verse. Talk to God. Let His word talk to you, to minister to you. Pray what's on your mind. Use the words of Scripture--when possible--to shape your prayer. But not in a strict, confining way. You'll notice that much of it is God-centered and praise-and-thanksgiving-centered. And that's a great thing!!! You can pray for yourself, pray for your loved ones, pray for your circumstances. But focusing on how good and righteous and faithful God is makes a difference. You almost have to try it yourself to see it's true. 

But let me stress again, it's not the plan or method that matters. Pray daily. 

III. How Firm A Foundation. Goal: STUDY (meditate too!) one book of the Bible throughout the year. I'd recommend reading it at least four times. But even better perhaps would be to read it twelve times--one each month. Read it on your own. But also take a few extra steps to get to know it. If possible, read the notes in a study Bible, or, read a commentary book about your book, or, read and listen to sermons on your book, or, doing an inductive (manuscript) study of your book. Consider reading it in different translations. Get to know that one book well. Let God speak to you through it. Online commentaries are available. Classic Bible Commentaries. Bible Gateway offers several as well: IVP New Testament Commentary Series; Reformation Study Bible; Asbury Bible Commentary. List of commentaries available throughBibleStudyTools.com. J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible sermons are also available. (Listen online through Oneplace.)

IV. Deep and Wide; Goal: read multiple books of the bible in multiple translations.

For example that might mean reading four to six books of the Bible (OT or NT, whatever you prefer) in four to six different translations. The books wouldn't have to be long books. You might choose Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, etc. Or you might choose  John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation. Or Luke, Acts, Romans, Hebrews. You can choose a group of books that makes sense to you. Books that you want to explore further. You choose the books, you choose the translations. You choose the pace. 

V. Meditate or Memorize. Note the OR! Not everyone is comfortable committing to memorize Scripture. (I'm one of them!) Goal: Choose about a verse a week--or a verse every other week--to reflect and meditate on. It might mean memorizing it. It might mean writing or journaling about it. (Or blogging about it if you like.) It might mean praying it. Or studying it. It's taking the reading of Scripture into something a little more--worship. These verses would not (have to) be chosen ahead of time. I'm not asking for a list. This is all about choosing-as-you-go, choosing as you read, let Scripture speak to you. Or if you want to make a list, make a list. Whatever gets you excited and keeps you excited about the Word of God.

VI. Choose a Research Project. You can choose the extent of it. If you want it to be small, medium, or large. If your research focuses on studying the Word of God itself or if it incorporates reading other books. It can be a question you're researching, or, just a subject you're researching. For example "the atonement,"  "parables of Jesus" or "sermon on the mount" or "prayer" or "forgiveness" or "predestination" or "grace" or "heaven." OR "What does 1 John teach us about love?" OR "What do different commentators say about John 3?"

VII. Christian Nonfiction. Don't be afraid to give it a try. Read some theology. You choose the number of books to aim for. A beginner might not feel comfortable committing to more than one book. And that's fine. I want to challenge you to start somewhere. This challenge is for everyone. Not just for people who want to commit to reading twenty!  

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Books about God (his attributes, his character, his names, the trinity)
  • Books about the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ; His person, his work. 
  • Books about the Bible (how to read the Bible, how to study the Bible, how it's translated, the history of translation, why it's reliable and trustworthy, why it's inerrant and infallible, etc.)
  • Commentaries on specific books of the Bible (Ezekiel, Gospel of John, Romans, etc.)
  • Books about Bible characters (Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah, Ruth, Mary, Peter, Paul, etc.)
  • Books about prayer and/or fasting
  • Books about worship, praise and thanksgiving, music in church, etc.
  • Books about church life, church growth, church leadership, church discipline, etc.
  • books about missions (evangelism, outreach, discipleship,  service, local and global)
  • sermon collections (book, ebook, websites of teaching ministries, etc.)
  • biographies/autobiographies of theologians, preachers, missionaries, other Christians 
  • books about pain, suffering, grief, and tough questions
  • books about apologetics 
  • books about other religions, specifically books about other religions written from a Christian point of view
  • topical books offering a Christian perspective on any subject (marriage, family life, parenting, finances (getting out of debt), dieting, starting a business, being single, fostering or adopting children, war, terrorism, politics, etc.
  • books about end times 

Completely Optional Choices:

VII A. READ THE ALPHABET. Choose if you want alphabetical book titles or alphabetical authors. Try to read a book for each letter. Some creativity is allowed! For example, I will be using "Exalting Jesus in…" (a commentary series) for the letter X. For Z, I will be reading a commentary on Zechariah. For trickier letters, perhaps allowing any word in the title to count. OR even making individual sermons count as a whole book.

VII B. BINGO. Create your own bingo card. You might want to focus on topics (see above list for suggestions). Or you might want to focus on authors. Or you might want to focus on other things. For example:

  • a book published in the 1970s
  • a book published by Thomas Nelson
  • a book borrowed from the library
  • a book with a blue cover
  • a book with the word "Holy" in it
  • an author who uses initials (C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, A.W. Tozer)

VIII We Believe. Goal: Choose a number of creeds, confessions, or catechisms to read throughout the year. They can be of any length. Some are short. Some are long. Is there a minimum? I'd say at least two or three! You wouldn't have to commit to one per month or anything. Just however many you want. Share your thoughts on what you read.

Sign up by leaving a comment. Be sure to let me know which of the eight you're interested in joining. You don't have to commit to specifics. (You don't have to tell me which one book you're going to study. Or how many books/how many translations you're going to read. Or the number of theology books you're wanting to commit to.) Though if you have decided, then feel free to share! But you don't have to have it all exactly planned out in order to join!

The completely optional, but I really-hope-you-do-it, introduce-yourself survey:Also: There are no wrong answers. I promise. 

  1. Introduce yourself. Which categories are you joining? Which category are you most excited about?  
  2. Have you participated in this challenge before? 
  3. Do you have a blog? Please share a blog address if you have one! I'd love to add you to my blog list and keep up with you.
  4. Have you read the Bible before? Or is this your first time reading it? Are you looking for support and encouragement on the journey? Or is it something you want to do on your own? Do you plan to blog about your Bible reading? 
  5. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? a favorite verse of the Bible? 
  6. Have you read many Christian nonfiction books? Why or why not? 
  7. Do you have a favorite author? a favorite book?
  8. Which books or which authors would you recommend to other participants?
  9. Would you be interested in reading a book with another participant (book buddy) or even participating in a group read-a-long? 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

DVD Review: Doctrines of Grace in the Gospel of John

The Doctrines of Grace in John. Steven Lawson. 2011. Ligonier. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Borrowed from Friend]

Watching this made me GIDDY. Why???? Two or three reasons come to mind. First. It's a teaching series focused on the gospel of John. Second. DOCTRINES OF GRACE. I haven't always been Reformed, in fact, I was raised in a denomination where the idea that we didn't have free will--in the matter of salvation--would have been seen as outrageously ridiculous. But as an adult, as I've read the Bible--the whole Bible--for myself I've come to embrace the doctrines of grace. Embrace may not be a strong enough term though!!! For in the doctrines of grace are hidden--or not so hidden--reasons to REJOICE. Third. Steve Lawson. I haven't watched him before, but, I am a big fan of his books.

So how excited was I to watch The Doctrines of Grace in John?! Well, I watched all twelve messages--and took notes, of course--all in one day!!! We "walk" at least four, or maybe five, times through the gospel of John. One "walk through the gospel" is focusing on Radical Depravity, for example. The next "walk" might focus on "Sovereign Election." The next on "Definite Atonement," etc. I love how he looks at specific verses and passages and discusses them at length. He lets the Bible do the talking and persuading!!!! Yes, he mainly stays in John. But he does reference other books of the Bible.

Here are just a handful of verses discussed throughout the series!
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:9-13, ESV
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3, ESV
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:12-21, ESV
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:35, 36, ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:37-40, ESV
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. John 6:44-47, ESV
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:63-65, ESV
The twelve messages:

  • Laying the Foundation
  • Radical Depravity, Part 1
  • Radical Depravity, Part 2
  • Sovereign Election, Part 1
  • Sovereign Election, Part 2
  • Definite Atonement, Part 1
  • Definite Atonement, Part 2
  • Irresistible Call, Part 1  
  • Irresistible Call, Part 2
  • Preserving Grace, Part 1
  • Preserving Grace, Part 2
  • This Changes Everything!

From "Laying The Foundation"

  • Jesus had more to say about the sovereignty of God in salvation than anyone else in the Bible
  • John has a dual focus. One "track" is the free offer of the gospel in an evangelical manner. "The arms of Christ are wide open as we read the gospel of John." Human responsibility. The second "track" is the sovereignty of God in salvation. We need to, "put our arms around the entire Bible." 
  • Introduces the subject of the doctrines of grace: Radical Depravity, Sovereign Election, Definite Atonement, Irresistible Call, Preserving Grace. All 5 stand or fall together. There is organic unity within the 5. All elevate God and humble man.

From "Radical Depravity" parts one and two

  • Once set in place you're begging for sovereign election
  • Radical = comprehensive; it effects the whole person: the mind, the emotion, the will
  • Nine points that show where we once were and where he found us, that show the natural state of man without the Spirit, without God: 1) Spiritual Ignorance (John 1:9-11, 13) 2) Spiritual Blindness (John 3:3) 3) Spiritual Hatred (John 3:19-20) 4) Spiritual Defiance (John 3:36) 5) Spiritual Death (John 5:25, Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:5) 6) Spiritual Inability (John 6:44, 65, 66) 7) Spiritual Slavery (John 8:34) 8) Spiritual Bondage (John 8:44) 9) Spiritual Deafness (John 8:43, 47)
  • "What can a dead man do?" "Stink!" 
  • Do you see what a miracle it is that we are saved? Should we not be grateful? 

From "Sovereign Election" parts one and two

  • How can anyone be saved? "BUT GOD" 
  • "God's choice is the root. Our choice is the fruit. God's choice is the cause. Our choice is the effect."
  • I believe, there are seven points in these lectures. He wasn't as good at mentioning numbers this time!
  • They are: Divine Choice: John 1:12-13; Loving Choice: John 6:37-39; Previous Choice: John 10:1-3; Distinguishing Choice: John 13:18, Romans 8:29; Purposing Choice: John 15:16; Saving Choice: John 15:19; Sovereign Choice: John 17:1-2, 6, 9, 24. 
  • This shows not only his love for us, but, also love for His Son.
  • This is your testimony and story--"but he called them by name"
  • God has never learned anything.
  • None of us want what is fair. What is fair is that we all suffer in hell forever.

From "Definite Atonement" parts one and two

  • Sometimes called Particular Redemption
  • Heart of the doctrines of grace is the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for sinners. Middle of the 5 Points. Heart of what we believe.
  • Asks two questions: 1) For whom did Jesus die? 2) What did he accomplish in that saving death? The answer to the second question will answer the first. Intent and Extent.
  • "Not one drop of his blood was shed in vain. All for whom He died for he saved. It was a triumphant death, a glorious death. He did not shed his blood in defeat. All for whom he died upon that cross he purchased their salvation. He secured their redemption. Jesus in his death did not merely make people savable." 
  • Jesus fulfilled the very purpose for which He came into this world.
  • It was a real atonement (John 1:29); a specific atonement (John 3:14, 15, 16); an exact atonement (John 6:37-39); an exclusive atonement (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18, 30; John 11:49-52; John 12:32-33; John 15:13); a priestly atonement (John 17); and a triumphant atonement (John 19:30)
  • John 10 is the Lord's own commentary on his own death
  • Those for whom he prayed (in John 17) are those for whom he died on the cross and those for whom he continues to make intercession for in heaven right now
  • The word world is used ten different ways in the gospel of John

From "Irresistible Call" parts one and two

  • "Regeneration is the life of God in the soul of man."
  • I didn't catch the official names of all the points in this lecture. But I did get all the Scripture references. John 1:12, 13; John 3:3, 5, 8; John 5:24, 25; John 6:37, 44; John 10:1,2, 3, 4,5.
  • The greek work translated "draw" means dragging, hauling, or towing. 
  • At the same time he's drawing us, he's giving us a new heart. 
  • It is not believe and then be born again; it is be born again and then believe.
  • Imparting life to the dead.
  • "To come to Christ is to be resurrected."
  • God gives the gift of repentance. God gives the gift of faith. "Repentance" and "faith" are not something that we can work up ourselves. They do not come from within. They are gifts. It has to be granted to us to believe. 

From "Preserving Grace, parts 1 and 2"

  • Also called "Eternal Security"
  • This is the truth that makes the doctrines of grace so sweet.
  • John 3:15. John 3:36. Eternal Life. Have in present tense. Not will have. Eternal life begins the moment you believe in Christ. "Eternal life" used 17 times in John. First time in John 3:15. It has to do with both quality and duration. 
  • John 3:16. Never Perish. "What part of "not perish" do we not understand? 
  • John 4:14 Never thirst. 
  • John 5:24. Never condemned
  • John 6:39, 40, 44, 54,  Never Lost
  • John 6:51 Live Forever
  • John 10:27, 28, 29, Forever Secure
  • John 11:25-26 Never Die
  • John 14:16, 17 Never Abandon
  • John 17 "All roads lead to John 17" "This prayer will always be answered

From "This Changes Everything"

  • His testimony of how he came to believe/embrace the doctrines of grace; his background, etc.
  • 9 reasons why he feels believing the doctrines of grace changes EVERYTHING. I agree with all of them. 
  • "There is no greater comfort or no greater peace on your deathbed than those found in the doctrines of grace."
  • "These are not just truths to live by but truths to die by."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Week in Review: November 15-21


  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel

KJV Study Bible

  • Isaiah 40-66
  • John 1-7

ESV Reformation Study Bible

  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

NIV-UK Audio Bible

  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

November "Memory" Work

I started out the year wanting to memorize Scripture, I've discovered that I'm satisfied meditating on Scripture. Here are the verses I'll be adding in November.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:7-8, NIV
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:9-10, NIV
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14, NIV
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:8-10, NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13, NIV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19, NIV
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12, NIV
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17, NIV
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:2-3, NIV
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8, NIV
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18, NIV
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14, NIV

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7, NIV
Past memory verses:
  1. Revelation 21:34
  2. Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Psalm 34:3
  4. Psalm 34:8
  5. Psalm 103:1,2,3,4,5
  6. Psalm 103:101112
  7. Psalm 96:2
  8. Psalm 95:6-7
  9. Matthew 11:28
  10. Hebrews 7:25
  11. Ephesians 2:8910
  12. Psalm 138:8
  13. Psalm 27:14
  14. Proverbs 18:10
  15. Philippians 4:4
  16. Philippians 4:13
  17. John 14:123
  18. John 14:6
  19. John 11:2526
  20. Psalm 16:8
  21. Psalm 16:11
  22. Psalm 18:30
  23. Psalm 25:5
  24. Psalm 27:4
  25. Psalm 28:6
  26. Psalm 30:45
  27. Psalm 31:5
  28. Psalm 31:9
  29. Psalm 32:8
  30. Habakkuk 3:1718
  31. Zephaniah 3:17
  32. Jeremiah 17:14
  33. Lamentations 3:2223242526
  34. Deuteronomy 6:4567
  35. Exodus 15:18
  36. John 6:40
  37. John 6:44
  38. Jude 21
  39. Jude 24-25
  40. Isaiah 26:34
  41. Isaiah 25:1
  42. Isaiah 25:8,9
  43. Numbers 6:242526
  44. Deuteronomy 4:39
  45. Deuteronomy 29:29
  46. Psalm 119:111
  47. Romans 15:456
  48. John 17:17
  49. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  50. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  51. Galatians 5:1, NIV
  52. Galatians 5:22-25, NIV
  53. Galatians 2:20, NIV
  54. Psalm 23:1-3, ESV
  55. Psalm 23:4, ESV
  56. Psalm 23:5-6, ESV
  57. 1 Timothy 1:14-15, NIV
  58. 1 Timothy 1:17, NIV
  59. 1 Timothy 2:1234, NIV
  60. 1 Timothy 2:5-6, NIV
  61. 1 Timothy 3:16, NIV
  62. 1 Timothy 4:78910, NIV
  63. 2 Timothy 1:7,8 NIV
  64. 2 Timothy 1:9, 10 NIV
  65. 2 Timothy 1:13-14, NIV
  66. 2 Timothy 2:8-10, NIV
  67. 2 Timothy 2:11-13, NIV
  68. 2 Timothy 2:19, NIV
  69. 2 Timothy 3:12, NIV
  70. 2 Timothy 3:14, 15, 16, 17, NIV
  71. 2 Timothy 4:2-3, NIV
  72. 2 Timothy 4:8, NIV
  73. 2 Timothy 4:18 NIV
  74. Titus 2:11-14, NIV
  75. Titus 3:3-7, NIV

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: Like Jesus

Like Jesus: Shattering Our False Images of the Real Christ. Jamie Snyder. 2016. [February 2016] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Jamie Snyder's Like Jesus was an incredible read. Is it a must-read? Is any book a must-read for Christians other than the Word of God? Well, I can only say that I hope it finds a LOT of readers, because I think it is a relevant, timely, necessary read. He challenges readers to reflect on their lives, to ask tough, uncomfortable questions. I love that he challenges assumptions and even some terminology. (For example, that we "accept" Jesus into our hearts.*)

Is the Jesus you worship, the real Jesus? That is one of the questions Snyder asks readers. This book is all about shedding ourselves of the false Jesuses we've created in our own image, and, discovering the real Jesus, the true Jesus.** He writes,
Discovering Jesus is not a once in a lifetime event---it is an endeavor that lasts a lifetime. So use this book as an opportunity to continue that journey of discovery. Perhaps it has been some time since you have intentionally thought about who Jesus is, what He is like, what He has called you to, and last but not least, which Jesus you have been following.
Jesus is not content for you to like Him; he wants you to become like Him.
This is really what the book is all about. But before you can become like HIM, before you can want to become like HIM. You have to know him, not just know about HIM, though knowing about him is perhaps the first step. You have to be able to discern between the real Jesus as revealed in the Word of God--the Bible--and the Jesus that you may have been reshaping and molding in your own heart and mind. Jesus doesn't need us to "perfect" him or "refine" him. He doesn't want us to "make him acceptable or presentable" to today's society. We need to shape our thinking of who God is, who Jesus is, by the Word of God. Not by what we would have him to be, want him to be, but by who he actually reveals himself to be.

I like the fact that the book focuses on the BECOMING. Snyder acknowledges that this side of heaven, it is impossible for anyone to actually come close to achieving "being like Jesus." But we can all be a work in progress. We can all be on the path to becoming like Jesus. He writes,
Everyone, everywhere is becoming more like someone or something. The question is, what or whom? 
I don't know about you, but, that makes me stop and THINK. And that's one reason why I loved the book so much. It isn't an instant warm-and-fuzzy book. I love that Snyder speaks truth. You don't accidentally become like Jesus. You don't accidentally stumble into a deep, meaningful relationship. It takes commitment and discipline and effort. Note: I'm not saying that Snyder is in any way saying that we earn our salvation or that we're clothed in our own righteousness or that God's approval of us is dependent on our strivings and efforts. It's obvious that Snyder embraces the amazingness of GRACE.

Another passage that made me stop and think was this one:
Our Jesus is built within our hearts and minds according to our preferences and desires. So when we study Scripture and read Jesus' teaching, we usually nod our heads in agreement, because we assume He is always talking to someone else….If you find that you can read through pages of red letters without your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your mind spinning, there is a distinct possibility you don't understand whom Jesus is talking to. He's talking to you. And me.
And also:
Many people would claim to have a relationship with Jesus, and yet the role they envision Him playing in their lives is not a role He offers to play.
The book is divided into three sections: Imitation, Identification, and Intimacy.

I loved this book. I did. I just loved it. I thought it was packed with insight and truth.

*Snyder writes, "No one accepts Jesus. We have not been invited to do so. We don't have that power, and we don't play that role. I know some could say this is just semantics, but the words we use communicate the thoughts we think. "Accepting Jesus" communicates clearly that at some point in time, He was allowed to enter into your world. He was added to your schedule. He was put on your calendar… Jesus has never asked anyone to accept Him, nor will He ever do so… Jesus is not in need of being accepted. But you are. And so am I. Thank God, literally, that the acceptance we need is available, and it begins and ends with an invitation."

**I love how Snyder asks readers FIVE questions to determine if they could be worshipping a counterfeit Jesus. This section was GREAT. One of the five questions is "Is your Jesus content to leave you the way you are?"

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible