Saturday, February 28, 2015

Focus on Psalm 103


Many of my February memory verses come from Psalm 103. Though I've chosen to memorize these verses in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate this passage. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

KJV
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
Complete Jewish Bible
Bless Adonai, my soul!
Everything in me, bless his holy name!
Bless Adonai, my soul,
and forget none of his benefits!
He forgives all your offenses,
he heals all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the pit,
he surrounds you with grace and compassion,
he contents you with good as long as you live,
so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not treated us as our sins deserve
or paid us back for our offenses,
because his mercy toward those who fear him
is as far above earth as heaven.
He has removed our sins from us
as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
HCSB
My soul, praise Yahweh,
and all that is within me, praise His holy name.
My soul, praise the Lord,
and do not forget all His benefits.
He forgives all your sin;
He heals all your diseases.
He redeems your life from the Pit;
He crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
He satisfies you with goodness;
your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our offenses.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His faithful love
toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed
our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NASB
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
Living Bible
I bless the holy name of God with all my heart. Yes, I will bless the Lord and not forget the glorious things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins. He heals me. He ransoms me from hell. He surrounds me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:1-5)
He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NLT
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:1-5)
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:10,11)
ESV
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)
NIV
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10,11)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Knowledge of the Holy

Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

I believe this is the third time I've read and reviewed A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. I reviewed it also in 2012 and 2014. I would say I gushed about how wonderful the book was in both reviews. This is just the kind of book where it's almost impossible not to gush. Because Tozer accomplishes something quite well: he manages to speak of the deep and heavy things of God--who He is, His nature, His attributes, etc--and to do so in a way that is devotional and thought-provoking. I tend to associate "devotional" with light, fluffy, surface-satisfaction. Tell me something in a few quick words that make me feel good about myself. But that is not a fair assessment in all cases I've come to learn. Knowledge of the Holy is devotional in that it tunes you into God. He's so passionate, so zealous, so concerned with God's Glory that it's just contagious. Reading Tozer makes you excited to think--really think--about God. And often that means reflecting and engaging. Tozer is readable--never dry or boring--but he's challenging as well. 

It will be tough to find quotes to share without repeating from earlier reviews. But I'll do my best to find a handful
We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.
What is God like? What kind of God is He? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? Such questions are not merely academic. They touch the far-in reaches of the human spirit, and their answers affect life and character and destiny.
It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God.
To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away. Twentieth century Christianity has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God's free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.
God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade us that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional.
Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.
Mercy never began to be, but from eternity was; so it will never cease to be. It will never be more since it is itself infinite; and it will never be less because the infinite cannot suffer diminution. Nothing that has occurred or will occur in heaven or earth or hell can change the tender mercies of our God. Forever His mercy stands, a boundless, overwhelming immensity of divine pity and compassion.
Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. It is a self-existent principle inherent in the divine nature and appears to us as a self-caused propensity to pity the wretched, spare the guilty, welcome the outcast, and bring into favor those who were before under just disapprobation. Its use to us sinful men is to save us and to make us sit together in heavenly places to demonstrate to the ages the exceeding riches of God's kindness to us in Christ Jesus. We benefit eternally by God's being just what He is. Because He is what He is, He lifts up our heads out of the prison house, changes our prison garments for royal robes, and makes us to eat bread continually before Him all the days of our lives.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #8

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.

This week I'm quoting A.W. Tozer, Martin Luther, and Francis Schaeffer.
Bible-believing Christians should never have the reaction designated by the term shocked. There is a type of Christian who constantly draws himself or herself up and declares, “I am shocked.” If he is, he is not reacting to reality as he should, for it is as much against the teaching of Scripture to romanticize men, himself or others as to explain away sin. We should not be surprised when a man demonstrates he is a sinner because, after all, we know that all men are sinners. When someone sits down to talk with me, I should convey to him (even if I do not express it in words) the attitude that he and I are both sinners… Nothing will help you as much in meeting people, no matter how far out they are or how caught they are in the modern awfulness, than for them to perceive in you the attitude “we are both sinners.” This does not mean that we minimize sin, but we can still exhibit that we understand him because we stand in the same place. We can say “us” rather than just “you.” To project shock as though we are better slams the door shut. Each of us does not need to look beyond himself to know that men and women are sinners. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"

If we demand, in any of our relationships, either perfection or nothing, we will get the nothing. Only when we have learned this will we be Bible-believing Christians, and only then will we understand something of life. Only then can we be more understanding toward men and show real compassion. Consequently, I would repeat, if in any of our relationships of life we demand perfection or nothing, we will have nothing. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"
The Christian is called not to sin, and we should say repeatedly to one another, Do not sin. But if a Christian does sin, he still has an Advocate with the Father. Isn’t that beautiful? Could you live if it were not true? Not if you really understand sin. This should make us worship and adore God. Though our call is not to sin, God is not done with us when we do sin. Happily for the Apostle John and for Paul, and for us, God is not done with a Christian when a Christian sins, or God would be finished with all of us. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"
Before paradise was lost, paradise had already been regained. Because Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world and in the mind and purpose of God, Christ had already died before He was born. In the purpose of God, Christ had already died before Adam was created. In the purpose and plan of God, the world had already been redeemed before the world was ever brought into being. Paradise lost did not drive God to some distracted action and bring about redemption, but paradise lost was foreseen before the world was and before paradise existed. God had already preordained and foreknown the Lamb that was without spot or blemish, and this purpose in eternity lay in the mind of God. ~ A.W. Tozer, Living As A Christian
We must take all the Word of God and not water it down. “Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Our growth is to be by the Word, and it will be the exact proportion to the diet we follow. ~ A.W. Tozer, Living As A Christian
We are in Christ, and Christ is in us. The first truth points upward; the second points downward. We must first be in him with all our being—with our sin and weakness and even with death. We know that in God’s eyes we are freed, redeemed, and saved from these through Christ. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 19
We still have sin that bites and entices us, but it doesn’t rule over us. The sin within us is like a person who is tied up and being led away to his death. The weapons that person might use to harm others have all been taken away. But that person isn’t dead yet. Similarly, the sin in our bodies surges up, rages and rants, and doesn’t let up. For we always love what is ours and depend on our own strength. We don’t put our trust in the Word and don’t believe God. Our sinful nature doesn’t want it any other way. But the best remedy against the pull of this nature is meditating diligently on God’s Word. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 26
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: First Love

First Love: The Joy and Simplicity of Life in Christ. John MacArthur. 1994. Victor Books. 191 pages. [Source: Bought]
The One who is the object of our love was born contrary to the laws of nature, reared in obscurity, lived in poverty, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born--and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence, and had neither training nor education in the world's schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential.
In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood He puzzled learned doctors. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services.
He never wrote a book, yet if everything He did were written in detail, the world itself couldn't contain the books that would be written. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine, yet He has healed more broken hearts than doctors have healed broken bodies. Throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on: Herod could not kill Him, Satan could not seduce Him, death could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him. 
First Love is a very good, very basic book about Jesus Christ: who He is, and what He has done. It is divided into four parts: Jesus Our God, Jesus Our Savior, Jesus Our Lord, and Jesus Our First Love. I could see the book being beneficial to new believers and old believers alike. It may primarily be written for believers who have lost their love for Christ, their passion, their 'first love.' But I think it could be beneficial for new believers as well. The focus throughout the book is on Christ. Readers are reminded countless times in every chapter who Jesus is, why He came, what He did, and what He is still doing…for them. The book is a plea for believers--new or old--to LOVE Christ, to fall more and more in love with him, to seek Him more, to abide in Him. It is a call to have a relationship with Jesus.

I definitely would recommend this one. It is rich in Scripture. It is also rich in quotes. I loved how MacArthur quotes various theologians like John Owen and Benjamin Warfield.

Quotes:
How can I know God? You don't hear that question asked too often in our society. You are, however, more likely to hear questions like: Am I valuable? Can I find a way to accept myself as I am? And you'll find numerous opinions suggesting answers to those questions. (27)
Man's basic problem is not lack of harmony with his heritage or environment, as society would have you believe, but his total lack of harmony with His Creator, from whom he is alienated by sin (Eph. 4:18). He is spiritually dead to all God offers, including righteousness, inner peace, and happiness, and ultimately every good thing. Apart from God men are spiritual zombies--they are the walking dead who can't even know they are dead. They may go through the motions of life, but they certainly don't possess it. (69)
Christians today can easily become complacent in their love of Christ when they are continually exposed to a society that is only too eager to tolerate and excuse any sin. (83)
The goal of your life as a Christian is to love Christ and in loving Him to become like Him. (143)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #8

Why Are Men Saved?
Charles Spurgeon
1857
“Nevertheless He saved them for his name’s sake.” — Psalm 106:8.
The text is an answer to the two great questions concerning salvation: Who saved men and why are they saved? “He saved them for his name’s sake.”
First, then, here is A GLORIOUS SAVIOR — “He saved them.” Who is to be understood by that pronoun “he?” Possibly many of my hearers may answer “Why, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of men.” Right, my friends; but not all the truth. Jesus Christ is the Savior; but not more so than God the Father, or God the Holy Ghost. Some persons who are ignorant of the system of divine truth think of God the Father as being a great Being full of wrath, and anger, and justice, but having no love, they think of God the Spirit perhaps as a mere influence proceeding from the Father and the Son. Now, nothing can be more incorrect than such opinions. It is true the Son redeems me, but then the Father gave the Son to die for me, and the Father chose me in the everlasting election of his grace. The Father blots out my sin, the Father accepts me and adopts me into his family through Christ. The Son could not save without the Father any more than the Father without the Son, and as for the Holy Spirit, if the Son redeems, know ye not that the Holy Ghost regenerates? It is he that makes us new creatures in Christ, who begets us again unto a lively hope, who purifies our soul, who sanctifies our spirit, and who, at last, presents us spotless and faultless before the throne of the Most High, accepted in the beloved. When thou sayest, “Saviour,” remember there is a Trinity in that word — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, this Savior being three persons under one name. Thou canst not be saved by the Son without the Father, nor by the Father without the Son, nor by Father and Son without the Spirit. But as they are one in creation, so are they one in salvation working together in one God for our salvation, and unto that God be glory everlasting, world without end, Amen.
Brethren, if the work be done at all, it must be done of God for if God do not convert there is nothing done that shall last, and nothing that shall be of any avail for eternity.
But some reply, “Well, sir, but men convert themselves.” Yes, they do, and a fine conversion it is. Very frequently they convert themselves. But then that which man did, man undoes. He who converts himself one day, unconverts himself the next; he tieth a knot which his own fingers can loosen. Remember this — you may convert yourselves a dozen times over, but “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and “cannot see the kingdom of God.” It is only “that which is born of the Spirit” that “is Spirit,” and is therefore able to be gathered at last into the spirit-realm, where only spiritual things can be found before the throne of the Most High.
Now, secondly, THE FAVORED PERSONS — “He saved them.” Who are they? Note, first, that they were a stupid people. God sends his gospel not always to the wise and prudent, but unto fools. Note, again, they were a very ungrateful people, and yet he saved them. And note, once more, they were a provoking people.
I did not say he saved the provoking people, and then let them still provoke him as they had done before; I did not say he saved the wicked people, and then let them sin as they did before.
The word “saved” does not mean merely taking men to heaven, it means more — it means saving them from their sin; it means giving them a new heart, new spirits, new lives; it means making them into new men. Is there anything licentious in saying that Christ takes the worst of men to make them into saints? If there be, I cannot see it. I only wish he would take the worst of this congregation and make them into the saints of the living God, and then there would be far less licentiousness.
Sinner, I comfort thee; not in thy sin, but in thy repentance. Sinner, the saints of heaven were once as bad as thou hast been.
There is nothing in a sinner which can entitle him to salvation, or recommend him to mercy; it must be God’s own heart which must dictate the motive why men are to be saved.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: The Trouble With Patience

The Trouble with Patience. (Virtues and Vices of the Old West #1) Maggie Brendan. 2015. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I love The Trouble With Patience? Probably not love, I can easily say I liked it however.

Patience Cavanaugh has inherited her grandmother's boardinghouse. It isn't in perfect condition, there is much to be repaired and updated if she wants it to thrive. But she's willing to give it her all. She finds a handful of people in the community supportive and friendly.

Jedediah Jones is the local marshal in town. He is sometimes supportive and sometimes friendly. At least in her eyes. Readers perhaps have an easier time recognizing Jed for the hero he so obviously is.

One of the first scenes in the novel is a bit odd, in my opinion. Patience interrupts Jedediah in the middle of an arrest. He's caught a man trying to steal a horse. Patience interferes and then gets all upset when he tells her to mind her own business! She walks away with the impression that he is rude and obnoxious and oh-so-impossible.

He's just confused by Patience's sudden appearance and outspokenness. What kind of lady comes out onto the street during an arrest--with at least one gun drawn--and interrupts the scene so she can speak her mind?! In his opinion, a crazy one. Oh, she's pretty enough, he notices. But his opinion of her is not improved when she later comes by the jailhouse insisting that he apologize to her immediately!

Can these two learn to get along? Can they learn how to help one another? For the truth is, he needs her. And she needs him…

I liked this one well enough. Especially in the moment. As I was reading this one, it was easy to enjoy.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quoting John Owen

The revelation made of Christ in the blessed gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, more filled with rays of divine wisdom and goodness than the whole creation, and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or afford. Without this knowledge, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion. This therefore deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in living where He is, and beholding of His glory, what better preparation can there be for it than a constant previous contemplation of that glory as revealed in the gospel, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory? (The Glory of Christ, John Owen, as quoted in First Love by John MacArthur)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: February 15-21

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.” ~ Raymond Ortlund, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Preaching the Word Commentary Series)
NASB

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations

ASV, 1901

  • John
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

KJV Rainbow Study Bible

  • Matthew

NIV-UK Audio

  • 1 John 
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Things of Earth

Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. Joe Rigney. Foreword by John Piper. 2015. Crossway. 272 pages.

If you enjoy reading Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Lewis, John Piper, and Doug Wilson, then there's a good chance you'll find The Things of Earth fascinating for it is those four theologians that have influenced the author most--not including the Bible. (A love for Narnia and Middle-Earth would help as well!)

What is it about? Well, it's about the tension between LOVING God and LOVING 'the things of earth.' On the one hand, there are verses that direct us to hate the world, to put the world behind us, and focus solely on Christ. On the other hand, there are verses that direct us to embrace God's creation and enjoy everything that God has blessed us with in this life. Rigney's book is for those that struggle with finding that balance. For those that feel guilty perhaps when they enjoy themselves too much. For those that feel they don't love God enough, or, live out that love enough. Those are just two examples. He probably has a little something to say for every believer.

The book is about God, His creation: its initial goodness, its subsequent fallenness, and His creatures. It's about idolatry and true worship. It's about sin and the Savior who saves us from sin. It's about our relationship with our God.

I think my favorite chapter of all was "The Author and His Story."
Now here’s the amazing thing: how do we know that God is God? How do we know that God is the author, the causer of all things? We know because God reveals it to Moses in a burning bush, at a particular time, in a particular place. In other words, we come to know that God is self-existent and that he is the author because God reveals himself as a character within the story. God is not merely the one in whom we live and move and have our being. He is also the one who speaks to Abraham at Mount Moriah, who leads Israel through the wilderness as a pillar of cloud and fire, and who makes his presence to dwell in the temple in Jerusalem.
This is what the incarnation is all about— the author of the story becoming not just a character, but a human character. In this narrative, God is the storyteller and the main character. He is the bard and the hero. He authors the fairy tale and then comes to kill the dragon and get the girl.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: Killing Christians (2015)

Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It's Not Safe To Believe. Tom Doyle. 2015. [March 2015] Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Killing Christians is well worth reading. It is intense, emotional, and thought-provoking. Readers will meet men and women living in the Middle East who LOVE Jesus passionately and are willing to die for him. Most, if not all, of these Jesus-believers were former Muslims who have converted to Christianity. Though it's extremely dangerous to share the gospel in these high-risk areas, these are men and women who are reaching out to others with the gospel message.

Table of Contents:

  • The Pirates of Somalia
  • The Only Empty Graveyard in Syria
  • Syrian Refugee, But Not Forgotten
  • Get Your Bible at the Mosul Mosque
  • The Joy of a Baghdad Beating
  • The Bodyguard of Saudi Arabia
  • When The Brotherhood Has A Knife At Your Throat
  • The Gaza Strip Infiltrators

I'd recommend reading this one slowly, thoughtfully, prayerfully. Allow the stories to perhaps thaw your hardness of heart or indifference. Yes, the book is about persecution. No doubt about it. But for me, a message that came through just as clearly was how deeply and passionately these men and women LOVE Jesus. These aren't lukewarm Christians. They don't need the warning of Revelation 2:4. They're not going through the motions. Their faith is active and vibrant. God is WITH them.

Another thing that stood out for me from reading these stories is how much these believers LOVE the Bible, are hungry for more, more, more. They eagerly read the Scriptures. They keep reading and they keep seeking. And they're eager to share Bibles with others, to share the gospel, to share their knowledge, to share their faith. The Bible is not boring or irrelevant in their eyes.

So. The book is about believers living with the daily threat of persecution. They know that they could be killed because of their faith. But they are not willing to give up their faith, their belief that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

The book ends with an opportunity, an invitation. Will you commit to praying daily for fellow believers at a certain time each day?

Quotes:
There is remarkable freedom in having no expectations, no plans for tomorrow. The question I and many others start every day with is this: "Jesus, what do You have planned for me and my family?" Only today matters. Only how I live for Jesus counts. Everything else is superficial. When I hand over my life to my Lord, knowing each day may be my last one on this earth, I am more at peace than ever before. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #7


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.

This week I'm quoting C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and Martin Luther.
It is the shepherd’s hand that guides the sheep, the shepherd’s hand that takes the crook to rescue the silly sheep and the rod to guard against the wolf that chases the sheep. And we are God’s sheep for whom He acts in history. God has made us a promise: He is committed to work in history for us, His sheep. Being His sheep is not just pie in the sky, or a better leap than some other leap, or the relief we get from using evangelical god-words. All these are a kind of blasphemy. That we are His sheep means He works in the external world on our behalf. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Hand of God"
For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is our-selves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That’s as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God’s hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his “religion,” his “service,” as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted—what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy—is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim.
For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him. ~ C.S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"
Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
God is the only comfort. He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. . . . Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Love, as everyone already knows, is simply being kind to someone, showing that person goodness, and offering friendship… My heavenly Father wants me to be favorable to everyone, whether friends or enemies, just as he is. He lets the sun rise and shine on both good and evil people. God shows goodness to those who continually dishonor him and misuse what he has provided through their disobedience, blasphemy, sin, and shameful behavior. In the same way, he lets rain fall on both the thankful and the unthankful. He gives money, property, and all types of things from the earth to the very worst scoundrels. Why does he do this? He does it out of genuine, pure love. His heart is full and overflowing with love. He pours his love over everyone, leaving no one out, whether good or bad, worthy or unworthy. This love is righteous, godly, whole, and complete. It doesn’t single out certain people or separate people into groups. He freely gives his love to all. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 15

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bible Review: Tyndale's New Testament (1534)

Tyndale's New Testament. Translated by William Tyndale. A Modern Spelling Edition of the 1534 Translation with an introduction by David Daniell. 1996. Yale University Press. 466 pages. [Source: Bought]

This New Testament is a translation from the Greek into English, it was the first English Bible translated from the Greek text. (The Wycliffe New Testament was translated from the Latin.) It was also the first English Bible to be mechanically printed. (The Wycliffe New Testament was handwritten.) Tyndale also wrote a preface for each book of the New Testament. (By the way, Tyndale's New Testament and Wycliffe's New Testament do not have verse numbers.)

In translating the Bible into English, William Tyndale was breaking all the rules and risking his own life.
In considering the spiritual state of England, Tyndale came to the sober realization that England would never be evangelized using Latin Bibles. He concluded, “It was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scripture were laid before their eyes in their mother tongue.” (The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Steven Lawson)

and
Ready for delivery in the spring of 1526, Tyndale shipped his Bibles, hidden in bales of cotton, along the international trade routes to England. German Lutheran cloth merchants in England received the disguised shipment, ready to distribute the Bibles. Once past the royal agents, these forbidden books were picked up by a secret Protestant society, the Christian Brethren, and taken throughout England to various cities, universities, and monasteries. The newly printed Bibles were sold to eager Englishmen—merchants, students, tailors, weavers, bricklayers, and peasants alike––all hungry to read and grow in their knowledge of God’s Word. (The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Steven Lawson)
Tyndale revised his translation in 1534. It sold out within a month! Ultimately, he was martyred for his work. Within several years of Tyndale's death, the king of England gave his approval for the Bible to be translated into English.

I loved reading Tyndale's New Testament. I loved reading this edition of Tyndale's New Testament. You can really tell that Tyndale meant his translation to be read and understood by everyone. It is clearly and beautifully written.
And it fortuned while they were there, her time was come that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first begotten son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them within in the inn. And there were in the same region shepherds abiding in the field and watching their flock by night. And lo: the angel of the Lord stood hard by them, and the brightness of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. But the angel said unto them: Be not afraid. For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy that shall come to all the people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior which is Chris the Lord. And take this for a sign: ye shall find the child swaddled and laid in a manger. And straightway there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly soldiers, lauding God and saying: Glory to God on high, and peace on the earth: and unto men rejoicing. (Luke 2:1-14)
For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only son, that none that believe in him, should perish: but should have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world, to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him, shall not be condemned. But he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he believeth not in the name of the only son of God. And this is the condemnation: that light is come into the world, and the men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)
No man can come to me except the father which hath sent me, draw him. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, that they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the father cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the father, save he which is of God: the same hath seen the father. Verily verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh from heaven, that he which eateth of it, should also not die. I am that living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread that I will give, is my flesh, which I will give for the life of this world. (John 6:44-51)
And he said unto his disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me. In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you even unto myself, that where I am, there may ye be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas said unto him: Lord we know now whither thou goest. Also how is it possible for us to know the way? Jesus said unto him: I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man cometh unto the father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye had known my father also. And now ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:1-7)
As soon as Jesus had received of the vinegar, he said: It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)
When he saw the people, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came to him, and he opened his mouth, and taught them saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meal: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men revile you, and persecute you, and shall falsely say all manner of evil sayings against you for my sake. Rejoice, and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets which were before your days. (Matthew 5:12)
I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercifulness of God, that ye make your bodies a quick sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable serving of God. And fashion not yourselves like unto this world: But be ye changed in your shape, by the renewing of your wits that ye may feel what thing that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God is. (Romans 12:1-2)
This edition has modern spelling. It makes Tyndale's translation a comfortable choice. Here's a small taste of the original spelling:
I beseche you therfore brethre by ye mercyfulnes of God that ye make youre bodyes aquicke sacrifise holy and acceptable vnto God which is youre resonable seruynge of god. And fassion not youre selves lyke vnto this worlde: But be ye chaunged in youre shape by the renuynge of youre wittes that ye maye fele what thynge that good yt acceptable and perfaycte will of god is. (Romans 12:1-2)
For God so loveth the worlde yt he hath geven his only sonne that none that beleve in him shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe. (John 3:16)
And he sayd vnto his disciples: Let not youre hertes be troubled. Beleve in god and beleve in me. In my fathers housse are many mansions. If it were not so I wolde have tolde you. I go to prepare a place for you.And yf I go to prepare a place for you I will come agayne and receave you eve vnto my selfe yt where I am there maye ye be also. (John 14:1-3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Year with Spurgeon #7

Preaching for the Poor
Charles Spurgeon
1857
“The poor have the gospel preached to them” — Matthew 11:5
In the first place, let me say then, that the gospel must be preached where the poor can come and hear it. How can the poor have the gospel preached to them, if they cannot come and listen to it? And yet how many of our places of worship are there into which they cannot come, and into which, if they could come, they would only come as inferior creatures. They may sit in the back seats, but are not to be known and recognised as anything like other people. Hence the absolute necessity of having places of worship large enough to accommodate the multitude, and hence, moreover, the obligation to go out into the highways and hedges. If the poor are to have the gospel preached unto them, then we must take it where they can get it. If I wanted to preach to English people, it would be of no use for me to go and stand on one of the peaks of the Himalayas, and begin preaching; they could not hear me there.
The gospel must be preached attractively before the poor will have the gospel preached unto them. Why, there is no attraction in the gospel to the great mass of our race, as it is currently preached. I confess that when I have a violent headache, and cannot sleep, I could almost wish for some droning minister to preach to me; I feel certain I could go to sleep then, for I hare heard some under the soporific influence of whose eloquence I could most comfortably snore. But it is not at all likely that the poor will ever go to hear such preachers as these. If they are preached to in fine terms — in grandiloquent language which they cannot lay hold of — the poor will not have the gospel preached to them, for they will not go to hear it. They must have something attractive to them; we must preach as Christ did; we must tell anecdotes, and stories, and parables, as he did, we must come down and make the gospel attractive. The reason why the old puritan preachers could get congregations was this--they did not give their hearers dry theology. They illustrated it; they had an anecdote from this and a quaint passage from that classic author; here a verse of poetry; here and there even a quip or pun — a thing which now a-days is a sin above all sins, but which was constantly committed by these preachers, whom I have ever esteemed as the patterns of pulpit eloquence.
Preaching must reach the popular ear; and to get at the people it must be interesting to them, and by the grace of God we hope it shall be.
But, in the next place, if the poor are to have the gospel preached unto them, it must be preached simply. It is a waste of time to preach Latin to you, is it not? To the multitude of people it is of no use delivering a discourse in Greek.
We may preach, very simply too, and very attractively, and yet it may not be true that “the poor have the gospel preached to them,” for the poor may have something else preached to them beside the gospel. It is, then, highly important that we should each of us ask what the gospel is, and that when we think we know it we should not be ashamed to say,”This is the gospel, and I will preach it boldly, though all men should deny it.” Oh! I fear that there is such a thing as preaching another gospel “which is not another, but there be some that trouble us.”
Mark, it is not preaching, but it is preaching the gospel that is the mark of Christ’s dispensation and of his truth. Let us take care to preach fully the depravity of man, let us dwell thoroughly upon his lost and ruined estate under the law, and his restoration under the gospel, let us preach of these three things for as a good brother said, “The gospel lies in three things, the Word of God only, the blood of Christ only, and the Holy Spirit only.” These three things make up the gospel. “The Bible, the Bible alone the religion of Protestants; the blood of Christ the only salvation from sin, the only means of the pardon of our guilt, and the Holy Spirit the only regenerator, the only converting power that will alone work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Without these three things there is no gospel. Let us take heed, then, for it is a serious matter, that when the people listen to us it is the gospel that we preach, or else we may be as guilty as was Nero, the tyrant, who, when Rome was starving, sent his ships to Alexandria, where there was corn in plenty, not for wheat, but for sand to scatter in the arena for his gladiators.
The Lord grant that the whole of us may feel the influence of the gospel I contend for this, that to gospelize a man is the greatest miracle in the world.
“The lame walk.” Gospelizing a man is more than this. It is not only making a lame man walk, but it is making a dead man who could not walk in the right way walk in the right way ever afterwards.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: The Crimson Cord

The Crimson Cord: Rahab's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land #1) Jill Eileen Smith. 2015. Revell. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoy reading biblical fiction. Some authors I tend to love more than others. I do tend to like Jill Eileen Smith's books. I haven't "loved" every single novel. But for the most part, I eagerly anticipate each new release. How did I like The Crimson Cord? Well...

I loved, loved, LOVED Jill Eileen Smith's The Crimson Cord. It was WONDERFUL. The Crimson Cord is Rahab's story. It is fiction, of course. The author imagines what Rahab's life might have been like. Why was she a prostitute? Was this something she chose for herself? Or was it forced upon her? Is it a lifestyle she enjoyed? Or was it a burden, of sorts, for her? Was she trapped and weighed down by it? Why did she choose to help the two spies? Why did she trust them and their God? Was it easy for her to convince her family to stay with her in her house? How did they view her lifestyle? What happened to them after Jericho's fall?

Jill Eileen Smith excels at storytelling. This story is captivating from start to finish. It is faithful to Scripture--what is clearly revealed in Scripture. Yet at the same time it is creative fiction. Nothing in the  novel contradicts Scripture, but, so much of the novel is imaginative speculation. I loved Smith's Rahab.   I found Rahab an intriguing character, easy to love and sympathize with. And her love story, well, it was wonderful.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week in Review: February 8-14



If someone asked us, “What is the Bible?” we probably would not begin our answer by saying, “The Bible is a realistic book.” Yet in the twentieth century this might be the best place to start—to stress the realism of the Bible in contrast to the romanticism which characterizes the twentieth-century concept of religion. To most modern people, truth is to be sought through some sort of leap from which we extract our own personal religious experiences. Many feel that the Bible should portray a romantic view of life, but the Bible is actually the most realistic book in the world. It does not glibly say, “God’s in His heaven—all’s right with the world!” It faces the world’s dilemmas squarely. Yet, unlike modern realism which ends in despair, it has answers for the dilemmas. And, unlike modern romanticism, its answers are not optimism without a sufficient base, not hope hung in a vacuum. So we should say at once to twentieth-century people: the Bible is a tough-fibered book. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "The Weakness of God's Servants"

NASB
  • Psalms 11-150
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon

Tyndale New Testament

  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • James
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

NIV-UK Audio Bible

  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Focus on Psalm 96:2

One of my February memory verses is Psalm 96:2. Though I've chosen to memorize this verse in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate this verse. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

ASV
  • Sing unto Jehovah, bless his name; Show forth his salvation from day to day.
CEB
  • Sing to the LORD! Bless his name! Share the news of his saving work every single day!
Complete Jewish Bible
  • Sing to ADONAI, bless his name! Proclaim his victory day after day!
ESV
  • Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
1599 Geneva Bible
  • Sing unto the Lord, and praise his Name: declare his salvation from day to day.
HCSB
  • Sing to Yahweh, praise His name; proclaim His salvation from day to day.
KJV
  • Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Living Bible
  • Sing out his praises! Bless his name. Each day tell someone that he saves.
MEV
  • Sing unto the LORD, bless His name; declare His salvation from day to day.
NASB
  • Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
NIV

  • Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 

NKJV

  • Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 13, 2015

Journaling Institutes #2

Institutes of the Christian Religion. John Calvin. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. 1559/1960. Westminster John Knox Press. 1812 pages. [Source: Gift]

I think the best way to approach the Institutes of the Christian Religion is by journaling the experience, sharing as I go.

In today's post, I'll be covering book two: The Knowledge of God the Redeemer in Christ, First Disclosed to the Fathers Under the Law, and Then to Us in the Gospel. It's roughly three hundred pages of theology! It covers a handful of topics:

  • Adam, Eve, the fall, original sin, sin, concept of total deprivation
  • free will?! what is "free" and what is "enslaved" about our nature and/or will, election, new birth, etc.
  • the law, the ten commandments, old covenant, new covenant
  • Jesus, the incarnation, his life, his death, his resurrection, the Apostles Creed, the atonement, Christ as prophet, priest, and king.
  • the need for people to understand the bad news before hearing the good news, or, appreciating the wrath of God so you can "get" the mercy of God

All chapters within book two are not of equal worth and importance to modern readers. For example, some chapters focus exclusively on refuting or debating specific arguments by specific theologians. The chapters where Calvin clearly presents his theology and more often than not backs it up with Scripture--many, many Scriptures, are excellent. The chapters where Calvin is discussing  the ideas--often flawed ideas--of dozens of other theologians--some his contemporaries, some from the past--are of less interest perhaps. It is almost always enjoyable, however, to have Calvin quoting Augustine. For example, "For what do you have of your own but sin?" and "Why do we presume so much on ability of human nature? It is wounded, battered, troubled, lost. What we need is true confession, not false defense." (269) "To will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace" (335) and "Unless God helps, we shall be able neither to conquer nor even to fight" (335).

Quotes:
Here, then, is what God's truth requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission. (242)
Once we hold God's Word in contempt, we shake off all reverence for him. For, unless we listen attentively to him, his majesty will not dwell among us, nor his worship remain perfect. (245)
Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God's wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls "works of the flesh." (251)
Only those men, therefore, who have heard and have been taught by the Father come to him. What kind of learning and hearing is this? Surely, where the Spirit by a wonderful and singular power forms our ears to hear and our minds to understand. (279)
If anyone wants a clearer answer, here it is: God works in his elect in two ways: within, through his Spirit; without, through his Word. (322)
The will of man is said to be restored when, with its corruption and depravity corrected, it is directed to the true rule of righteousness. (335)
The Word of God does not leave a "half life" to man, but it teaches that he has utterly died as far as the blessed life is concerned. Paul does not call the saints "half alive" when he speaks of our redemption, "Even when we were dead,… he made us alive" [Ephesians 2:5]. He does not call upon the half alive to receive the illumination of Christ, but those who are asleep and buried. [Ephesians 5:14]. (339)
The law is like a mirror. In it we contemplate our weakness, then the iniquity arising from this, and finally the curse coming from both--just as a mirror shows us the spots on our face. (355)
Here, therefore, let us stand fast: our life shall best conform to God's will and the prescription of the law when it is in every respect most fruitful for our brethren. (417)
This is our acquittal: the guilt that held us liable for punishment has been transferred to the head of the Son of God. [Isaiah 53:12] We must, above all, remember this substitution, lest we tremble and remain anxious throughout life--as if God's righteous vengeance, which the Son of God has taken upon himself, still hung over us. (510)
Therefore, we divide the substance of our salvation between Christ's death and resurrection as follows: through his death, sin was wiped out and death extinguished; through his resurrection, righteousness was restored and life raised up, so that--thanks to his resurrection--his death manifested its power and efficacy in us. (521)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #6

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.

This week I'm quoting Martin Luther, Francis Schaeffer, and Oswald Chambers.
The Scripture emphasizes that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God. There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "No Little People, No Little Places"
Each Christian is to be a rod of God in the place of God for him. We must remember throughout our lives that in God’s sight there are no little people and no little places. Only one thing is important: to be consecrated persons in God’s place for us, at each moment. Those who think of themselves as little people in little places, if committed to Christ and living under His Lordship in the whole of life, may, by God’s grace, change the flow of our generation. ~ Francis Schaeffer, "No Little People, No Little Places"
Everyone who is saved is called to testify to the fact of his salvation. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 2
Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 4
The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 7
Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 8
Dear brothers and sisters, it’s impossible for you to become so righteous in this life that you won’t feel sin anymore. It’s impossible for your body to become as bright and spotless as the sun. Though you still have wrinkles and spots, in spite of this, you are holy. But you may wonder, “How can I be holy since I sin and feel sinful?” Recognizing and feeling your sin is good. Thank God, and don’t despair. It’s a step toward health whenever a sick person recognizes his disease. “But how can I be freed from sin?” you wonder. Run to Christ, the Physician who heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). He makes sinners holy. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 25
If you grasp hold of God’s Word in your heart and cling to it with faith, the devil cannot win. He has to flee. If you can say, “My God has said this, and I stand upon it,” you will find that the devil will quickly leave. Then apathy, evil desire, anger, greed, despair, and doubt will soon go away. But the devil is crafty and doesn’t want to let you get to that point. He tries to snatch the sword out of your hand. If he makes you lazy so that your body becomes unfit and out of control, he can tear your sword out of your hand. This is what he did to Eve. She had God’s word. If she had clung to it, she would not have fallen. But when the devil saw that she held the word loosely, he tore it from her heart. She let it go, and the devil won (Genesis 3:4, 13; 2 Corinthians 11:3). Peter has instructed us on how we should fight against the devil. It doesn’t require a lot of running around or doing special kinds of works. Rather, it calls for nothing more than clinging to the Word through faith. If the devil wants to drive you to despair because of your sin, just grab the Word of God. It promises forgiveness of sins. Rely on God’s Word, and the devil will quickly leave you alone. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 27
What could be more clear and concise than the truth stated in this verse [Matthew 7:12]? But the world won’t let us reflect on these words. Our sinful nature won’t let us measure our lives against this standard. We let this verse go in one ear and out the other. If we would continually compare our lives and actions against this standard, we wouldn’t live so carelessly. We would have more than enough to do and wouldn’t need to pursue other works we consider holy. We would become our own teachers and begin teaching ourselves how we should live. We wouldn’t need so many lawyers and law books, for this standard is concise and easy to learn. If only we were diligent and serious enough to live according to it! ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 1
When I feel anxious about sin and hell, I remind myself that when I have Christ, I have all that is necessary. Neither death, sin, nor the devil can hurt me. If I believe in Christ, I have fulfilled the law; it cannot accuse me. I have conquered hell; it cannot hold me. Everything that Christ has is mine. Through him, we obtain all his possessions and eternal life. Even if I am weak in faith, I still have the same treasure and the same Christ that others have. There’s no difference: we are all made perfect through faith in him, not by what we do. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, February 4

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: What Every Christian Needs To Know About Passover

What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover: What It Means and Why It Matters. Rabbi Evan Moffic. 2015. Abingdon Press. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I found What Every Christian Needs to Know About Passover informative and interesting. It is written primarily for a Christian audience, a Christian audience with an interest in Judaism. The author assumes that his readers are curious and seeking. (I imagine he's right about that for the most part!)

Not every Christian will find the subject fascinating. I believe that there is one book and only one book that EVERY Christian needs to read: the Bible. There are few books, in my opinion, that "every" Christian "needs" to read.

That being said, most of my life I've been curious about Judaism: Jewish culture and traditions and beliefs. So this book definitely filled a need for me. It is a reader-friendly book on the subject of Passover.

The first three chapters serve as an introduction. The first chapter focuses on the first Passover. The second chapter focuses on how/why Passover was celebrated throughout the centuries up until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. The third chapter focuses on the celebration of Passover since the destruction of the Temple. In other words, how Passover has changed throughout the centuries, and more on how it is currently being celebrated, and why it still matters.

The next five chapters focus on the preparation for Passover and the meal itself. These chapters are rich in detail. In some ways, I feel these chapters are the most substantive.

The next two chapters focus on contemporary meanings of the Passover story. It's all about the freedom themes of Passover, and the universal quest for freedom.

The final chapter is a script of sorts. A Passover seder that strives to be authentically Jewish yet be primarily (exclusively) for Christian participants.

Christians interested in the subject should find it worth their time. It is informative, and rich in detail. But don't expect it to be gospel-focused. Expect facts and details about Passover, some reflection on what it has meant, and continues to mean to various Jewish communities.

The book is not about how Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies, the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God. I can't help but feel that Charles Spurgeon would be disappointed with this one! The focus is on the Passover meal itself, and, not on Jesus Christ.


Quotes:
This meal can draw you closer to God, and can help you find God's liberation from the places of scarcity, of imprisonment, that lurk in your life. 
The Passover story can speak to us wherever we are on the journey of our lives. My goal in this book is to help you discover what message this sacred story holds for you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #6

Confession of Sin: A Sermon with Seven Texts
Charles Spurgeon
1857
The subject of this morning’s discourse will be this — CONFESSION OF SIN. We know that this is absolutely necessary to salvation. Unless there be a true and hearty confession of our sins to God, we have no promise that we shall find mercy through the blood of the Redeemer. “Whosoever confesseth his sins and forsaketh them shall find mercy.” But there is no promise in the Bible to the man who will not confess his sins. Yet, as upon every point of Scripture there is a liability of being deceived, so more especially in the matter of confession of sin. There be many who make a confession, and a confession before God, who notwithstanding, receive no blessing, because their confession has not in it certain marks which are required by God to prove it genuine and sincere, and which demonstrate it to be the work of the Holy Spirit.
THE HARDENED SINNER PHARAOH — “I have sinned.” — Exodus 9:27.
The repentance that was born in the storm died in the calm; that repentance of his that was begotten amidst the thunder and the lightning, ceased so soon as all was hushed in quiet, and the man who was a pious mariner when on board ship, became the most wicked and abominable of sailors when he placed his foot on terra firma.
THE DOUBLE-MINDED MAN BALAAH — “I have sinned.” — Numbers 22:34.
I know the Scripture says, “No man can serve two masters.” Now this is often misunderstood. Some read it, “No man can serve two masters.” Yes he can, he can serve three or four. The way to read it is this: “No man can serve two masters.” They cannot both be masters. He can serve two, but they cannot both be his master. A man can serve two who are not his masters, or twenty either, he may live for twenty different purposes, but he cannot live for more than one master purpose — there can only be one master purpose in his soul. But Balaam labored to serve two, it was like the people of whom it was said, “They feared the Lord, and served other gods.”
THE INSINCERE MAN SAUL — ”I have sinned.” — 1 Samuel 15:24.
There are some men who seem to have india-rubber hearts. If you do but touch them, there is an impression made at once; but then it is of no use, it soon restores itself to its original character. You may press them whatever way you wish, they are so elastic you can always effect your purpose; but then they are not fixed in their character, and soon return to be what they were before.
To say, “I have sinned,” in an unmeaning manner, is worse than worthless, for it is a mockery of God thus to confess with insincerity of heart.
THE DOUBTFUL PENITENT ACHAN — “I have sinned.” — Joshua 7:20.
I have singled this case out as the representative of some whose characters are doubtful on their death beds; who do repent apparently, but of whom the most we can say is, that we hope their souls are saved at last, but indeed we cannot tell.
THE REPENTANCE OF DESPAIR JUDAS — “I have sinned.” — Matthew 27:4.
Here is the worst kind of repentance of all; in fact, I know not that I am justified in calling it repentance; it must be called remorse of conscience. But Judas did confess his sin, and then went and hanged himself. Oh! that dreadful, that terrible, that hideous confession of despair. Have you never seen it? If you never have, then bless God that you never were called to see such a sight. I have seen it once in my life, I pray God I may never see it again,—the repentance of the man who sees death staring him in the face, and who says, “I have sinned.” You tell him that Christ has died for sinners; and he answers, “There is no hope for me; I have cursed God to his face; I have defied him; my day of grace I know is past; my conscience is seared with a hot iron; I am dying, and I know I shall be lost!”
THE REPENTANCE OF THE SAINT Job. — “I have sinned.” — Job 6:20
Job was a saint, but he sinned. This is the repentance of the man who is a child of God already, an acceptable repentance before God.
THE BLESSED CONFESSION THE PRODIGAL — “I have sinned.” — Luke 15:18.
There are many who have been running away a long time now. Does God say “return?” Oh, I bid you return, then, for as surely as ever thou dost return he will take thee in. There never was a poor sinner yet who came to Christ, whom Christ turned away.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: Where Trust Lies

Where Trust Lies. Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan. 2015. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed reading Where Trust Lies, the second book in the Return to the Canadian West series by Janette Oke. (The first book in this series is Where Courage Calls.)

Beth Thatcher, our heroine, has returned for the summer. She's hoping that she'll return for another year of teaching, but, nothing has been decided upon with complete certainty. Beth has something to surprise her family with: she's fallen in love with Jarrick. And her family has something to surprise her with: a trip--a cruise.

Beth will be going on a trip with her family and friends for most of the summer. This gives readers a unique opportunity to get to know Beth's family better: her mother, her older sister, Margret, her younger sister, Julie. (Edward's mother and sister are going on this trip as well. Edward is a mountie from the first book.)

Most of the book is about this trip--this family vacation on board a cruise ship and at the various destinations where they stop. Beth has plenty on her mind: Jarrick, for one thing, and the year ahead for another. Julie also keeps Beth busy. And not always in a good way. Beth worries for her younger sister. And she's right to be concerned…in a way. Julie is young and impulsive and oh-so-trusting. She has really come alive during the trip--she's LOVING every single moment of it. And she's making so many new friends. Beth, on the other hand, is enjoying herself respectfully but not losing herself in pleasure.

Where Trust Lies is certainly dramatic in places. I did enjoy it more than I thought I would. I enjoyed it perhaps even a little bit more than the first book in the series.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Focus on Psalm 95:6,7

One of my February memory verses is Psalm 95:6-7. Though I've chosen to memorize these verses in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate this passage. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

ESV
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Complete Jewish Bible
Come, let’s bow down and worship;
let’s kneel before Adonai who made us.
For he is our God, and we are the people
in his pasture, the sheep in his care.
NASB
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
HCSB
Come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture,
the sheep under His care.
Living Bible
Come, kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God. We are his sheep, and he is our Shepherd.
NLT
Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.

NIV
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
MEV
O come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker.
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture
and the sheep of His hand.
NKJV
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
NET
Come! Let’s bow down and worship!
Let’s kneel before the LORD, our Creator!
For he is our God;
we are the people of his pasture,
the sheep he owns.
KJV
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible