Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Accomplishments

December Accomplishments:


This month's Bible reading: November 27-December 31

NKJV

  • Ezekiel 8-48
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude 
  • Revelation


NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Psalms
  • Song of Songs
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians


Tyndale New Testament

  • Matthew

ASV

  • Genesis 1-5
  • Ezra 1-5
  • Matthew 1-5
  • Acts 1-5


Books reviewed in December:
Christian fiction:
  1. Everyman. Anonymous. 1485. 98 pages. [Source: Library; play; classic]
  2. Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Mary's Christmas Story. Teresa Olive. Illustrated by Nancy Munger. 1996. Concordia. 16 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Time of Christmas. Suzanne Richterkessing. 1999/2002. Concordia. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Song of the Stars. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by Alison Jay. 2011. Zondervan. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. Alive in the Spirit. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Barbarians Are Here. Michael Youssef. 2017. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Beyond the 95 Theses. Stephen J. Nichols. 2016. P&R. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. John Piper. 2013. 94 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. From Heaven: A 28 Day Advent Devotional. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. God the Son Incarnate. Stephen J. Wellum. 2016. Crossway. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Good News of Great Joy. John Piper. 2012. 70 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Help Heavenward: Guidance and Strength for the Christian's Life Journey. Octavius Winslow. Foreword by Joel R. Beeke. Banner of Truth. 195 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. Nancy Guthrie. 2010. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield. 1854. J.C. Ryle. 80 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  11. You Can Change. Tim Chester. 2010. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Zechariah. J. Vernon McGee. 1979/1997. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week In Review: December 25-31

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

ASV

  • Genesis 1-5
  • Ezra 1-5
  • Matthew 1-5
  • Acts 1-5


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best Books of 2016

I read 151 Christian books last year--this includes both fiction and nonfiction. Here are my favorites!

Favorite Poetry:
  1. The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. George Herbert. 1633. 192 pages. [Source: Library] [poetry]
  2. Valley of Vision: A Collection of Prayers and Devotions. Arthur Bennett. 1975. Banner of Truth. 223 pages. [Source: Gift] DEVOTIONAL, POETRY, CHRISTIAN CLASSIC
Favorite audio book:
  1. C.S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. Tyndale. 2 Discs. [Source: Library]
Favorite Historical Fiction:
  1. The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2.  The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen. 2016. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. No Other Will Do. Karen Witemeyer. 2016. Bethany House. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Anchor in the Storm. Sarah Sundin. 2016. Revell. 400 pages. [Review copy]
  5. Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
Favorite Picture Books:
  1. Good Good Father. Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Miracle Man. John Hendrix. 2016. Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite Nonfiction:
  1. The Barbarians Are Here. Michael Youssef. 2017. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Baker Books. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ. Rondi Lauterbach. 2016. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Why The Reformation Still Matters. Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. 2016. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Overcoming Sin and Temptation. John Owen. Edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly M. Kapic. 2006/2015. Crossway. 462 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame. Heather Davis Nelson. 2016. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation. Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein. 2013. Reformation Heritage. 108 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering. Elizabeth A. Johnson. 2013. Ambassador International. 160 pages. [Source: Bought] [christian living, suffering, christian nonfiction]
  9. None Like Him. Jen Wilkin. 2016. Crossway. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Habits for Our Holiness. Philip Nation. 2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian living, spiritual disciplines, theology]

Favorite Rereads (Fiction and Nonfiction):
  1. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult fantasy]
  2. Heaven and the Afterlife. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Moody Publishers. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] CHRISTIAN LIVING, THEOLOGY   
  4. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Books Read in 2017

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: "Gabrielle lisante" and "Liseuse a la Venus"

January
Christian fiction:
  1. The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Moonbow Night. Laura Frantz. 2017. Revell. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Out of the Silent Planet. C.S. Lewis. 1938. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 2017. Moody. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Character of the Church. Joe Thorn. 2017. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament. Alec Motyer. 2015/2016. Christian Focus. 144 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  4. The Heart of the Church: The Gospel's History, Message, and Meaning. Joe Thorn. 2017. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. My Heart. Julie Manning. 2017. B&H. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  6. No Little Women. Aimee Byrd. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. New English Bible. 1970/1990. Illustrated by Horace Knowles. 973 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Openness Unhindered. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. 2015. Crown & Covenant. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Psalms of David. Illustrated by James S. Freemantle. 1982. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Prevailing Prayer. D.L. Moody. Foreword by Erwin Lutzer. 1987/2016. Moody. 143 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. Thru the Bible: 1 and 2 Samuel. J. Vernon McGee. 1976/1997. Thomas Nelson. 308 pages. [Source: Bought]
  12. Three Treatises. Martin Luther. 1970. Fortress Press. 316 pages. [Source: Gift] 
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What's Your Ebenezer?

I've mentioned this several times before, but, I am loving my Beyond Suffering Bible. The Word from Joni found in 1 Samuel is "My Wheelchair is My Ebenezer." The letter goes on to read,
"From the beginning, God has always sealed special events with some kind of physical memorial. He gave Noah a rainbow as a reminder of his covenant with humanity (Gen 9:17). He gave the Passover festival as a memorial of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Exod 12:17). He gave Moses the Law on two stone tablets (Exod 24:12). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus provided us with the regular, physical reminder of his sacrifice for us through the elements of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23-26).
We need these kinds of memorials in our present day, as well. For years now, I’ve looked at my wheelchair as my Ebenezer. It’s a visible, physical reminder; it’s my stone of remembrance to commemorate God’s grace in my life. It reminds me of how far the Lord has brought me, and everyone who sees me smile in this wheelchair knows that God is my help. Before the accident that landed me in my wheelchair, I was far from God and in real spiritual danger. But God rescued me through Christ, and now my wheelchair is a symbol of the grace that God has shown me. What are the memorials in your life? Do you have tangible reminders of God’s ever-present help? Maybe it’s a ring, a family Bible, a pair of crutches, or some memento from your journey—these things anchor the soul. When pain or sorrow become crushing, you can look at your memorial and pray, “Oh, God, thus far you have helped me, and I have every reason to believe you will continue to help me.” Then, rest your heart on the faithfulness of God and lift your Ebenezer high—no matter what the future brings."
The letter got me to thinking. It didn't take me long to conclude what MY ebenezer was. My ebenezer is a thirteen inch scar; a scar that to me speaks of LIFE, of hope, of faithfulness. God IS good. God IS faithful. God is ever-present. God does answer prayer. God is enough--more than sufficient for my every need. You don't have to convince me of God's Providence. I know God to be a provider of help and above all else a gracious, merciful life-giving God. To remember any of this, I just have to look down at my scar. Every day I see PROOF that God is good to me, that God's grace has covered me and upheld me. My scar to me is not ugly--despite what my sister says--it is beautiful. 

So my question is: What is your ebenezer? How has God helped you? What helps you to remember God's love and grace?
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

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quotes from the Cloud #44

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

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love. ~ Isaac Watts

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Review: Everyman

Everyman. Anonymous. 1485. 98 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: HERE BEGINNETH A TREATISE HOW THE HIGH FATHER OF HEAVEN SENDETH DEATH TO SUMMON EVERY CREATURE TO COME AND GIVE ACCOUNT OF THEIR LIVES IN THIS WORLD AND IS IN MANNER OF A MORAL PLAY.

Premise/plot: Everyman is a morality play from 1485. This play has a single focus--what will happen when man comes face to face with God and his works are examined. The speaking roles include: Everyman, God: Adonai, Death, Messenger, Fellowship, Cousin, Kindred, Goods, Good-Deeds, Strength, Discretion, Five-Wits, Beauty, Knowledge, Confession, Angel, and Doctor.

The play opens with Messenger and God having their say. God is angry with mankind--a race of sinners who have one and all forgotten him and forsaken worshiping him. Death is sent--by God--to "collect" Everyman. Everyman argues with Death. He does not want to die. He is not ready to die. He needs/wants more time. It's not fair. Can he pay Death money in exchange for more time. However, instead of taking Everyman right then and there, he does allow Everyman a little time to try to find a companion to take with him to the grave. Surprise, surprise, he doesn't find many eager takers for that one-way journey. He does, however, find some.

My thoughts: The subject matter is a sobering one. And while I'm glad that today's world offers more variety--a lot more variety--in terms of entertainment, in some ways we've lost something vital. I do think that contemplating life, death, what comes next, should have some part in our thinking lives. (If we actually have "thinking lives" today.)

Everyman is definitely an allegory, and one that predates Pilgrim's Progress by a century or two! I am hosting a reading challenge to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Reading Everyman a thoroughly medieval Catholic play gave me some background and context. For these two reasons, I am glad I read this short little play.

I will add one last thing. Theologically, Everyman is a mess. The message of Everyman seems to be that Good Works (and Strength and Knowledge and Discretion, etc.) accompany him to the judgment seat of Christ, and, because Everyman had received all seven sacraments of the church, he ultimately had nothing to fear because God found him good enough and worthy of heaven. Let's just say I wanted to yell at this book. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Year with Newton #18

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

Today I am sharing snippets from "Divine Guidance Question."
It is well for those who are duly sensible of their own weakness and fallibility, and of the difficulties with which they are surrounded in life, that the Lord has promised to guide his people with his eye, and to cause them to hear a word behind them, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when they are in danger of turning aside either to the right hand or to the left.
For this purpose, he has given us the written word to be a lamp to our feet, and encouraged us to pray for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, that we may rightly understand and apply it. It is, however, too often seen, that many widely deviate from the path of duty, and commit gross and perplexing mistakes, while they profess a sincere desire to know the will of God, and think they have His warrant and authority.
The Scripture cannot deceive us, if rightly understood; but it may, if perverted, prove the occasion of confirming us in a mistake.
The Holy Spirit cannot mislead those who are under his influence; but we may suppose that we are so, when we are not.
Others, when in doubt, have opened the Bible at a venture, and expected to find something to direct them in the first verse they should cast their eye upon. It is no small discredit to this practice, that the Heathens, who knew not the Bible, used some of their favorite books in the same way; and grounded their persuasions of what they ought to do, or of what should befall them, according to the passage they happened to open upon.
For if people will be governed by the occurrence of a single text of Scripture, without regarding the context, or duly comparing it with the general tenor of the word of God, and with their own circumstances, they may commit the greatest extravagances, expect the greatest impossibilities, and contradict the plainest dictates of common sense, while they think they have the word of God on their side.
A sudden strong impression of a text, that seems to have some resemblance to the concern upon the mind, has been accepted by many as an infallible token that they were right, and that things would go just as they would have them: or, on the other hand, if the passage bore a threatening aspect, it has filled them with fears and disquietudes, which they have afterwards found were groundless and unnecessary.
In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, who enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct.
Those who study the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching, are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them, and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their several situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Review: Alive in the Spirit

Alive in the Spirit. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From the introduction: The subject of this book, Alive in the Spirit, is a very crucial theme for the day in which we live. No other subject could be as controversial as dealing with the Holy Spirit.

If you've read my blog for any length of time--in the past four to five years that is--you'll have picked up on the fact that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE A.W. Tozer. I don't always agree 100% with him theologically. In fact, sometimes we are on opposing sides, disagreeing not just a little, but, a lot. But when all is said and done, I love him. I love him because he's a kindred spirit of sorts. He loved God. He loved the Bible. He believed that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He believed that this good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, changes EVERYTHING. He believed that Christians should pursue holiness and seek God always, always, always. Needing--wanting--MORE. He believed that we should never ever be content with where we are spiritually. We should desire God above all else. God's way, always. Our will should be brought into line with HIS will, and not the other way around!

So Alive in the Spirit is a book about the Holy Spirit. It opens with a chapter or two focusing on Tozer's conversion and testimony. This is unusual. He usually is so focused on the Word of God, and the truths of God, that he doesn't devote much time--if any--to stories from his personal life. But an exception is made in this one. For the Holy Spirit has to be experienced.

I share the table of contents with you.
  • My Experience With The Holy Spirit
  • My Perception of the Holy Spirit
  • My Warning to the Church
  • My Awareness of the Holy Spirit
  • The Threefold Foundation for Trusting the Holy Spirit
  • The Penetrating Voice of the Holy Spirit
  • The Dissimilarity The Holy Spirit Emphasizes
  • The Vitality of the Holy Spirit in the Church
  • A Portrait of the Spirit Filled Church
  • The Harmony of the Spirit Filled Church
  • The Holy Spirit: An Uncomfortable Presence
  • The Holy Spirit At Work in the Church
  • Standing in the Power of the Spirit-Filled Life
  • The Fruit of the Spirit Sustains the Church
  • Spiritual Gifts: The Function of the Local Church
  • The Gifts of the Spirit Are Essential to the Church Today
  • Our Personal Pursuit of the Holy Spirit
  • My Daily Walk with the Holy Spirit
It goes without saying--almost--that I recommend this one. I do. I would agree with Tozer that the Spirit is the neglected person of the Trinity. I would agree with Tozer that believers are missing out by not pursuing fellowship--a relationship. We are to walk with the Spirit, by the Spirit, in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit's job is NOT done after conversion, or the new birth. In fact, it's just beginning. The Spirit is not done with us this side of eternity. Count on that. This little book is PACKED with spiritual truths that could change the way you live.

Favorite quotes from the introduction:
The authority of the Holy Spirit must begin with the individual Christian and then flow over into the local congregation. The local church comprises individual Christians, and as those individual Christians go, so goes the local church. This was Tozer’s passion and it is shown here in this book. He bemoans the fact that the evangelical church has been so divided that it has lost its influence in the culture. Instead of the church influencing the culture, culture is not only influencing the church, it is taking over the church. Tozer declares that what we find in the world we also find in the local church. This ought not to be so.
It takes all the Bible to make the whole Bible.
Tozer is very careful not to attack individuals or even denominations, but he does attack errors of doctrine. As a man of God called to do the work of God, he felt an obligation to speak out against the spiritual errors of his day. The thing that is most amazing to me is that the sermons forming the basis of this book were preached in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I have to remind myself that Dr. Tozer died in 1963.
The problem Tozer had with entertainment is that it always promotes a person. Even though that person may mention Jesus or God and claim to be a Christian, the focus is really not on God but on the person and the performance. The same should be true of us today. Worship is critical, and for Tozer, worship could not be man-induced. Worship that does not start with the Holy Spirit is not true worship. Tozer suggests that our worship services today are man-centered and man-promoted as a result of neglecting the authority of the Holy Spirit in our congregations. As such, they cannot exalt Jesus Christ.
From the book:
Theology is simply the study of God, and I treasure nothing more in my life than the study of God. Sometimes, our study of God is merely technical and not personal. But if it is biblical truth, it has personal application to everyday living. We must do more than just believe the truth; we must allow the truth to transform us radically into new creatures in Christ.
Until my dying day, I want to surrender each day to the Holy Spirit to do that work in me that He wants to do. I will never dictate to the Holy Spirit or demand that He do this or that for me. Every day of my life, I want to surrender myself to Him and allow Him to set the agenda of my day.
God is not so much interested in coming into our world as He is in bringing us into His.
I am disturbed by the evangelical churches’ pulling aspects of the world into the church that are absolutely contrary to the Holy Spirit. Whatever is the latest trend out in the world soon finds its way into the church. I wonder how our Lord, who suffered on the cross for us, thinks about the levity that has come into our churches? If the only way we can get people is if we entertain them, the only way we can keep people is if we continue entertaining them with the newest and most popular form of entertainment.
My advice is to periodically take the time to go through these creeds. I am not sure what reading these does for you, but it is like a chicken dinner to my soul.
We are living in a lost world. By that I mean the inhabitants of the world are lost, not dramatically or poetically, but really and individually. But there is nothing poetic about being lost, as there is nothing poetic about having cancer. The worst part about our lostness is that it is inside of us. I am speaking of people born in the world who know trouble with the world and its lostness. A man lost in the forest knows he is lost and may find his way out. However, a man lost in the forest with amnesia who cannot remember his name or where he belongs is lost with a lostness that is not only external but also internal. Human beings are lost with an internal lostness making them insensible to the fact that they are lost. Or at least they scarcely know they are lost. It is a fact as real as gravity or mathematics or any other fact. The fact is the world is lost. But it is also a fact that though lost, it is not forsaken.
Nobody can repent until he knows the depth of his own sin, and nobody can know the depth of his own sin unless the Holy Spirit shows it to him.
The Holy Spirit is not just a doctrine we ascribe to. The Holy Spirit is not just part of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the One who is to come into our life and the life of our congregations and bring the power and authority of God himself. For the Holy Spirit to work in my life, I need to surrender all authority and all power to Him. For the Holy Spirit to work in our church life today, we need to surrender absolutely to the Holy Spirit.
When we deal with God, we must deal with Him on His terms, not ours.
The singing portion of church services—which some call worship—has spun out of control today. Our singing is on par with the world and the concerts the world puts on. As such, it fails to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who think singing a hymn is entertainment surely will not be happy in a Spirit-filled church. I have had people tell me that singing a hymn is a form of entertainment. If it is, I will sing no more hymns as long as I live. However, I know differently.
A false prophet who does not know Jehovah has no right to call anyone to Mount Carmel. Elijah was able to give them something better, and remember that is when the four hundred prophets of Baal were put to confusion and everybody cried, “Jehovah, he is God; Jehovah, he is God” (1 Kings 18:39 asv). The emphasis was not upon the destruction of Baal, but upon the discovery of Jehovah. No man has a right to break another man’s idol unless he has a true God. No man has any right to stand against something evil unless he has something good to put in its place. No person has any right to criticize someone who is going the wrong way unless they are going the right way themselves and are willing to witness to that.
We cannot walk together unless we can agree on which way we are walking. We cannot walk with the Holy Ghost unless we agree to walk the way He walks and go in the direction He is going. In order to walk together, we have to agree on the direction but also the destination.
No matter how much I know today, tomorrow will bring me something new about God, and I am anxious to discover the newness of God in my life every day. God’s mercies are new every day, and discovering the newness of God’s mercies is the great joy of my daily walk with God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Week in Review: December 18-24

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • 2 Chronicles 22-36
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Song of Songs
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December's Scripture Chain

  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Lamentations 3:22-27
  • The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. (John 3:35)
  • Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
  • Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. John 5:24-25
  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
  • But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28
  • Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek ye the LORD and his strength; Seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; His wonders, and the judgements of his mouth Psalm 105:3-5
  • Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11
  • I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1
  • I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. Psalm 104:33
  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

This month's inspiration: Choosing one promise from each monthly reflection
This month's translation: VARIOUS

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review: Newton and Polly

Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "I fear that our wassailing has become a nuisance."

Premise/plot: Do you enjoy historical fiction or historical romance? Jody Hedlund's newest novel is a fictionalization of the romance between John Newton and Polly Catlett. It covers the years 1742-1750. Narration alternates between John and Polly. These two met when they were young--in their teens--he claims it was LOVE at first sight, for him. But at that stage of his life, was he worthy of her and capable of putting her first? Not really. The book chronicles his ups and downs--physically and spiritually--as well as her steady faithfulness.

My thoughts: John Newton wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace." Recently I've started reading his sermons and letters. I consider him a must read! So I certainly was interested in reading this novel! The story could have been so different, one of despair, if God had not been the author. God's grace was displayed in Newton's life, and grace is indeed amazing.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: Mary's Christmas Story

Mary's Christmas Story. Teresa Olive. Illustrated by Nancy Munger. 1996. Concordia. 16 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Young Mary lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was a girl who tried to serve the Lord most faithfully.

Premise/plot: Retells the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-20 in rhyme for children.

My thoughts: I remember loving the ARCH BOOKS from my childhood. This one was not from my childhood years. So I was unfamiliar with it. I think I might have liked it better if the author had worried less about rhyming. That being said, it's not like every single poetic line was poorly done. It's just that while rhyming in and of itself isn't horribly difficult, writing rhyme with great rhythm is difficult. Rhymes should not distract readers from the story.

Mary did not understand. She asked, "How can this be?
I am still a virgin. I'm not married yet, you see."
Gabriel said, "God himself will cause you to conceive.
Nothing is impossible with God--you may believe!
Your relative, Elizabeth, who is old and worn,
Is finally a mother--her child will soon be born"
Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Time of Christmas

The Time of Christmas. Suzanne Richterkessing. 1999/2002. Concordia. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The cold fall wind sent the leaves skittering across the sidewalk.

Premise/plot: Smidge and Smudge are two mice who seek refuge in a big, warm-looking building that turns out to be the church. It isn't long before the two are listening to a voice explain a lot about the church and three seasons of the church: advent, Christmas, and epiphany.

My thoughts: It is just as instructional as I thought it might be. Readers learn along with mice--presumably--about advent wreathes, candles, chrismons, etc. The text is packed with information; it can get a little text-heavy at times. But it's a nice enough read.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Mortimer's Christmas Manger

Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In a big house lived a wee mouse named Mortimer. He dwelled in a dark hole under the stairs. Nobody ever noticed little Mortimer. And Mortimer liked it that way. But he didn't like his hole. "Too cold. Too cramped. Too creepy," squeaked Mortimer.

Premise/plot: Mortimer is in search of a new home, a better home. To his surprise, he finds such a home…easily. But it's a home filled with statues. There is even a statue of a baby of all things?! The baby is easily shoved OUT of the way. And Mortimer settles into a MOUSE-SIZE bed, happy at last. But will that happiness last? And why do the humans keep putting the statues back up day after day?!

My thoughts: When Mortimer encounters Jesus (Or "statue-baby-Jesus") for the first time, his response was quick: THERE'S NO ROOM FOR YOU HERE, OUT YOU GO. I think Mortimer's response is the natural human response to the actual Jesus. People may "have room" for baby Jesus a couple of days each December. Shoved in amongst other activities or festivities. But is there a place for Jesus in their actual lives, year round? Not just the baby Jesus, the harmless, inoffensive Jesus. But the born-to-die, Savior-Rescuer. (Jesus can't be squeezed into little corners, little pockets of our lives. He's the LORD of the universe.  But I digress.) 

Mortimer has a second encounter with Jesus. This time it's the Jesus of the Word. He overhears the family reading the Christmas story. He learns who Jesus is, he learns what Jesus came to do. This changes everything…for Mortimer. Jesus must come. He must go. They can't both sleep in the manger. And Mortimer surrenders what was never really "his" to Jesus. He also offers up a prayer. 

The story has a happy ending because the family has been busy making a gingerbread house. Of course Mortimer thinks it's a direct answer to his prayers! 

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Song of the Stars

Song of the Stars. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by Alison Jay. 2011. Zondervan. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The world was about to change forever. And it almost went by unnoticed…

Premise/plot: Song of the Stars is a Christmas story, a nativity story. The first twenty pages creatively display God's creation 'praising' God and 'preparing' for the advent of the Creator. The theme of their praise being: "It's time! It's time! Be glad! Be glad!" The second half takes a more traditional approach perhaps. At last we get a glimpse of Bethlehem and Mary and Joseph.

My thoughts: I liked it. Some spreads I more than liked: I loved. The focus was almost exclusively on various animals--and not even animals in Bethlehem--or creation itself. The illustrations almost reveal an almost Noah's Ark type procession of animals coming to worship baby Jesus.

The writing is lyrical.
"The One who made us has come to live with us!" 
Lying on a bed of straw
wrapped in rags--
a tiny little baby.
Heaven's Son
sleeping under the stars
that he made.
Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quotes from the Cloud #43

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

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Refrain
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Refrain
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Refrain
Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Refrain
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart. ~ Charles Wesley


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2017 Goals: Read 12 Bible Commentaries

In 2017, I am making it a goal to read twelve Bible commentaries.

I want to read three books in the "Exalting Jesus…" commentary series

1)
2)
3)

I want to read three books in the "Preaching the Word…" commentary series

1)
2)
3)

I want to read three books in the "Thru the Bible…" commentary series by J. Vernon McGee

1)
2)
3)

I want to read three books in the "Be…" series Warren Wiersbe

1)
2)
3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Beyond the 95 Theses

Beyond the 95 Theses. Stephen J. Nichols. 2016. P&R. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Beyond the Ninety-Five Theses contains two previously published Stephen J. Nichols titles; both published in 2002. I had not read Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought or Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses so this one was a very welcome addition for me!

The book has four parts. Part one focuses on the life of Martin Luther. Part two and three focus on Luther's theology and his legacy. In this section, Nichols walks readers through all of Luther's major works including the Three Treatises, Bondage of the Will, the Smaller Catechism, etc. Part four focuses on the 95 Theses. Nichols annotates these.

I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I am slowly but surely familiarizing myself with Luther and his work. (Earlier this month I finished The Three Treatises.) So I was definitely interested in the subject beforehand. I think this one serves as a good introduction overall.

From the preface:
This book offers a guided tour of Martin Luther’s life, writings, and thought. It is offered not in the hope that we merely enshrine Luther and his legacy but that in the hope that we too might find the same confidence in God, the Mighty Fortress; in God’s sure and certain Word; and in Christ and his finished work on the cross—alone. May we look back and be filled with gratitude for Luther’s life and legacy.
From the introduction:
This current lack of familiarity with Luther’s work is precisely the reason for this book. These ideas, however, are not mere relics of the past. To be sure, his thought inspired a whole generation in his own day. But, it also has the power to impact the church today and to ignite our own generation to a passionate quest for God and his truth.
From part one:
One thing on which scholars agree is that the world “Martin Luder” was born into on November 10, 1483, was quite different from the one he left on February 18, 1546. The decades of his life contained unprecedented change and upheaval, and Martin Luther was at the center of it all.
From part two:
Luther never wrote a systematic theology. His theology developed in the trenches, as it were, as he was thrust into conflicts and engaged in the controversies of his day.
“If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of those branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.” ~ Martin Luther
“There is nothing easier than sinning.” Martin Luther
From part three:
The Small Catechism is a masterpiece in being both comprehensive and concise. Timeless in its presentation, style, and content, the work ranks among classics of both devotional and theological literature. It consists of a brief exposition of the essential elements in understanding God, his Word, and his work in the world, as it contains brief teachings on the Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the sacraments. Luther expanded the catechism in later editions to include instructions on prayer and what he referred to as “the table of duties.”
A definite pattern emerges from this catechism section that continues through the entire text. He cites the commandment, then asks simply, “What does this mean?” (“Was ist das?”). Admittedly, the repeating question lacks originality and variety. Whatever qualities may be lacking in the question, however, he supplies in the answer. Concerning the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods,” Luther asks his trademark question, “What does this mean?” and then follows by answering, “We should fear, love, and trust God above all things.” This tendency to pull a positive teaching from the negative command reverberates throughout his discussion of the Ten Commandments. In fact, he uses the first part of the answer to the question concerning the first commandment, “We should fear and love God,” to begin the rest of the answers. Luther is guarding those children (and us) from simply viewing the Ten Commandments as an external law code. He also keeps us from moralism by grounding the basis and motive for adhering to the Ten Commandments in nothing other than an expression of grateful obedience to God. According to Luther, one’s relationship to God grounds an obedient Christian life.
Consider his answer to the fifth commandment, “You shall not kill,” as representative of his treatment of the other commandments. Here Luther informs us that “we should love and fear God, and we should not endanger our neighbor’s life, nor cause him any harm, but help and befriend him in every necessity of life.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Year with Newton #17

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

Today I'm sharing snippets from "Desires Unrealized" which dates from 1772.
"You cannot do the things that you would." (Gal. 5:17) This is an humbling, but a just account of a Christian’s attainments in the present life, and is equally applicable to the strongest and to the weakest. The weakest need not say less, the strongest will hardly venture to say more.
It would be easy to make out a long list of particulars which a believer would do if he could, but in which, from first to last, he finds a mortifying inability.
1. He would willingly enjoy God in prayer. He knows that prayer is his duty; but, in his judgment, he considers it likewise as his greatest honor and privilege.
But, alas! how seldom can he do as he would. How often does he find this privilege a mere task, which he would be glad of a just excuse to omit! And the chief pleasure he derives from the performance is to think that his task is finished: he has been drawing near to God with his lips, while his heart was far from Him.
2. The like may be said of reading the Scriptures. He believes them to be the Word of God; he admires the wisdom and grace of the doctrines, the beauty of the precepts, the richness and suitableness of the promises; and therefore, with David, he accounts it preferable to thousands of gold and silver, and sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. Yet while he thus thinks of it, and desires that it may dwell in him richly, and be his meditation night and day, he cannot do as he would. It will require some resolution to persist in reading a portion of it every day; and even then his heart is often less engaged than when reading a pamphlet.
Here again his privilege frequently dwindles into a task. His appetite is vitiated, so that he has but little relish for the food of his soul.
3. He would willingly have abiding, admiring thoughts of the Person and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Glad is he, indeed, of those occasions which recall the Savior to his mind; and with this view notwithstanding all discouragements, he perseveres in attempting to pray and read, and waits upon ordinances. Yet he cannot do as he would.
Ah! what trifles are capable of shutting out of our thoughts, of whom we say, He is the Beloved of our souls, who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and whom we have deliberately chosen as our chief good and portion.
4. He would willingly acquiesce in all the dispensations of Divine providence. He believes that all events are under the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, and shall surely issue in the glory of God and the good of those who fear Him. He doubts not but the hairs of his head are all numbered—that the blessings of every kind which he possesses were bestowed upon him, and are preserved to him by the bounty and special favor of the Lord whom he serves; that afflictions spring not out of the ground, but are fruits and tokens of Divine love, no less than his comforts—that there is a needs-be, whenever for a season he is in heaviness.
Alas! How vain is man in his best estate! How much weakness and inconsistency, even in those whose hearts are right with the Lord! And what reason have we to confess that we are unworthy, unprofitable servants!
The more vile we are in our own eyes--the more precious will Jesus be to us. A deep repeated sense of the evil of our hearts is necessary to preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole glory of our salvation where it is due.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: Help Heavenward

Help Heavenward: Guidance and Strength for the Christian's Life Journey. Octavius Winslow. Foreword by Joel R. Beeke. Banner of Truth. 195 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The children of God are on their way to the Father's house.

I really loved reading Octavius Winslow's Help Heavenward. How best to describe it? It was about the sanctification of believers, on how believers are supposed to live on earth while awaiting future glory. It wasn't so much about the destination (what heaven will be like) as the journey. Each chapter is supposed to guide or encourage Christian pilgrims on that journey. It is a practical book--instructional--and devotional.

Quotes from chapter 1:
  • Grace is the germ of glory; glory is the highest perfection of grace. Grace is glory militant; glory is grace triumphant. Thus the believer has two heavens to enjoy, a present heaven experienced in the love of God in his heart, and a future heaven in the fulness of joy that is at Christ's right hand, and the pleasures that are for evermore. (2)
  • Do not fail, beloved reader, to trace up your gracious springs to their infinite fountain, God's everlasting love. To stop at Calvary is to trace the river but halfway to its source. (5)
  • The cross is the only stand-point, and Christ is the only mirror, where God can be rightly studied and seen. (6)
Quotes from chapter 2
  • Sanctification, or heavenly meetness, is an initial work in the great process by which God prepares the soul for glory. Justification, that instantaneous act of his free grace by which the soul is brought into a state of divine acceptance, is a present and a complete work. (15)
  • There is no vision of God either present or future, save through the medium of holiness. (16)
  • The moment a poor believing soul is brought to Jesus, he is brought to rest. (18)
  • The believer has to fight his way to heaven. (19)
  • We must resolve the circumstance of God's permissive will touching the indwelling of sin in the believer into the same view of his character. His wisdom appoints it; his will permits it; his love controls it. (25)
Quotes from chapter 3
  • Spiritual sensibility is a sign of spiritual life. (31)
  • Each one has his cross, each his load, each his pressure. Oh, how this truth ought to unite the people of God in holy affection, forbearance, and sympathy towards one another! (31)
  • The curse, though removed, has left its lingering shadow upon the soul, and this, to a saint of God, is no little burden. (33)
  • A mind diseased involves more real suffering and demands more divine grace than a body diseased. (35)
  • What numbers are there of the Lord's people whose spiritual hope is obscured by mental disease, and whose mental disease is, in its turn, produced by some physical irritant--so close is the relation and so sympathetic the emotions of the body and mind. What a mystery is our being! (35)
  • You will advance more in divine instruction in one day at the feet of Jesus than in a lifetime at the feet of Gamaliel. (41)
Quotes from chapter 4:
  • Deem not your Christianity as true, nor your religion as sound, nor your hope as valid, unless you have seen by faith's spiritual, far-discerning eye Jesus in his divinity, the King riding in majesty and beauty in this cloud-chariot of his essential dignity and glory. (52)
  • The gospel is the vehicle in which Christ makes his constant advent to our souls. (54)
  • Let your great study be the mystery of Christ's love to sinners--the mystery of Christ's love to you. (55)
  • It is our wisdom and our happiness to know that there is not an event or circumstance, a cloud or a sunbeam, in our personal history and experience that is not a vehicle of Christ. (61)
Quotes from chapter 5:
  • A great cloud of witnesses all testify to sorrow as the ordained path to heaven. (67)
  • We know more of the Lord Jesus through one sanctified affliction than by all the treatises the human pen ever wrote. (69)
  • Our sins must bring us to his blood, our condemnation must bring us to his righteousness, our corruptions must bring us to his grace, our wants must bring us to his fulness, our weakness must bring us to his strength, our sorrow must bring us to his sympathy, and his own loveliness and love must attract us to himself. (69)
Quotes from chapter 6:
  • How few look fully into God's face as their Father? How few pray in the spirit of adoption? How few rejoice in the sense of pardoned sin and possess the peace which flows from the justified state procured by the blood and righteousness of our Emmanuel? (83)
  • Oh, come and rest where God rests, in the Crucified One! If he is pleased to accept you in his Son, are you not satisfied so to be accepted? If the blood and righteousness of Emmanuel are enough for God, are they not enough also for you? (87)
  • It is in submitting to his yoke and in bearing his burden that true freedom is found. (90)
Quotes from chapter 7:
  • We look at the want, and not at him who supplies it; at the storm, and not at him who controls it; at the care, and not at him who assumes it. (99)
  • Is not the Care-taker greater than the care itself? Yet how we limit the Holy One and magnify and multiply our cares, anxieties, and sorrows! (99)
  • To him there is nothing little, nothing insignificant, nothing beneath his notice and regard. (103)
  • You must believe that God's power is able, and that his love is willing, and that his grace is sufficient to assume the transfer; that Christ, who has borne the heavier pressure of your curse, and your sins, and your very hell, is prepared to sustain, succour, and comfort you, removing your burden of care by absorbing it in himself. (107)
  • Remember that this casting of our care on God is a present and a constant duty. (111)
  • A present care will find a present Receiver, a present Helper, and a present relief. (111)
Quotes from chapter 8:
  • There is no statement clearer in God's Word than this, that to enjoy heaven we must become heavenly. (117)
  • Your love to Christ will never increase by feeding upon itself. You must light your torch of affection at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you: the vastness of that love, the self-sacrifice of that love, how that love of Christ laboured and wept, bleed, suffered, and died for you. (119)
  • It is not for your worth that you are saved, but for Christ's worth. It is not on the ground of your personal merits that you are justified, but on the ground of Christ's merits alone. (121)
  • The blood of Christ pardons, the righteousness of Christ justifies you, and this is all that you require, or that God demands. (121)
  • Your sins, countless as the stars, are no barrier to your salvation if you but believe in Jesus. (122)
  • Ah, how little we deal with the heart of our Lord! We find finite depths of iniquity in our own, but we forget the infinite depths of grace that are in his. (134)
Quotes from chapter 9:
  • The heart is ever swerving from God. (142)
  • The past is gone, the future all to us unknown, it is with the present we have to deal. (145)
  • All that we can do is to make burdens, forge chains, carve crosses, inflict wounds--in a word, destroy our own selves. (146)
  • Seek to bring souls to Jesus. Let this be an object of life. Be especially tender, gentle, and kind to Christians who have fallen into sin and are thereby wounded, distressed, and despairing. Extend a helping hand to lead them back to Christ. Your deep abhorrence of the sin must not be allowed to lessen your compassion and sympathy for the sinning one. Jesus did not do so. (149)
Quotes from Chapter 10:
  • Weak as may be your faith, small your grace, limited your experience, you shall not perish, for it is not your hold upon Christ, but Christ's hold upon you, that insures your safe and certain passage over. (163)
Quotes from chapter 11:
  • The fatherhood of God is the first truth our Lord propounds in connection with this picture of heaven. (172)
  • In claiming God as his Father, he claimed him as ours too. (173)
  • We go to no uncertain home. It is the family mansion, eternally ordained and prepared for the dwelling of the saints. The everlasting love which chose us to salvation, the predestination which appointed us to be sons, provided the home we were eternally to occupy. (177)
  • How full and rich is the gospel of Christ! How divine the provision, how ample the supply, how free the invitation! The forgiveness of all and every sin, your reconciliation with the offended Majesty of heaven, peace so divine, so great in your soul that it 'passeth all understanding', life and immortality, the consummation and crown of its blessings! Oh, pray for and cherish a spiritual zest for this banquet! Bring to it your soul's cravings, your spirit's weariness, your heart's sadness, your sin-woundings, your worst and lowest frames; there is enough in the unfoldings of Jesus to satiate every weary soul and to replenish every sorrowful soul. (180)
  • Oh, come away from your doings and your failings, from your merit and demerit, from the things you have done and the things you have not done, from the keeping of religious days and fasts and festivals, from all the fond conceits of goodness, holiness, and righteousness in yourself, from all self-approval, self-justification, self-trusting, and as a sinner betake yourself to the righteousness of Christ, accept it as a free gift, put it on in faith; and from that moment you shall be found complete in Christ, and robed for the banquet of heaven. (182)
  • I do not think that in the archives of heaven, the sacred scroll of God's revealed truth will be missing. (189)


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week in Review: December 11-17

NKJV

  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

NLT

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles 1-21


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2017 Challenges: Cloud of Witnesses

Cloud of Witnesses
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2017
# of Books: I am aiming for 8

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2017 Reading Challenges: Operation Deepen Faith

Operation Deepen Faith
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up)
Dates: January 2017 - December 2017

I. Wonderful Words of Life

Bible Reading Goals:
Definite goals:
_ Finish the Beyond Suffering (NLT) Bible
_ Read the A.W. Tozer (NIV) Bible
_ Read at least a third of the way through the KJV Reformation Study Bible

Secondary goals:
_ Read the NASB Quick Study Bible
_ Read the ASV Bible

II. Christian NONfiction

Goals: Read 52 books.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Zechariah

Zechariah. J. Vernon McGee. 1979/1997. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

I enjoy reading J. Vernon McGee's commentaries. I don't always agree 100% with every single sentence, but, he always gives me something to think about. I find his work to be insightful and engaging. I like the casual approach in terms of writing style. He does not take a casual approach to Scripture, or, to the truth. He does not advocating compromising one's message in order to better "fit" with society.

I chose to read his commentary for two reasons. One, Zechariah is a super-super intimidating Old Testament book. One that I read but have never truly grasped or understood. Two, I needed a "Z" book for my Alphabet Soup challenge. The first reason would have led to me reading the book...eventually. The second reason led me to read it this December!

McGee's approach is to discuss the book of Zechariah passage by passage, chapter by chapter. He doesn't necessarily always break it down to verse-by-verse dissection. He keeps ideas chunked together. Context is crucial absolutely crucial to interpreting the book, McGee argues. One shouldn't read verses from the book and try to understand them apart from what went before and what comes after. Also, one should interpret the prophecies in this book in light of other Scripture.

Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai. Both men lived at the same time and prophesied to the same people. The two men were different from one another. The two men had different messages. God sent them both. Both messages were true and Spirit-sent.

While some of the prophesies in this book concerned things that have come to pass--for example, Alexander the Great, and the first advent of Christ--most of the book concern things still to come. Many--if not most--of the prophesies are about the future, about the tribulation, about the millennium, about the judgment day. It goes hand-in-hand with Revelation.

Quotes:
What are you doing today? What value will it be ten years from today? A hundred years from today? A million years from today? Are you and I actually working in the light of eternity? We should keep that in mind.
But God is going to make good His promises to Israel. He will be faithful to them. If you could persuade me that He is going to be unfaithful to the nation Israel, then I do not know on what basis I could believe that He is going to be faithful to the church. But God is faithful, both to us and to Israel.
Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation are the four apocalyptic books in the Bible. They all look to the future when the Kingdom is to be established here upon earth.
God has a plan and purpose for each one of us. He is working in your life and in my life. He works in our hearts both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Oh, to be in step with Him and to be going in the same direction as He is going!
We ought to digest the Word of God. It might be bitter in our tummies, but in our mouths it should be as sweet as honey—that is, something that we delight in giving out.
My friend, are you blind to the fact that God is moving today in the history of this world? Do you realize that God is judging our own nation?
In talking about salvation, people say, “Commit your life to Him.” If you ask them what they mean, they say, “Yield your life to Him.” Do you really think He wants your life? He says that our righteousness and even our so–called good deeds are filthy rags in His sight. God doesn’t want your dirty laundry, my friend.
If there is no deep yearning for a life that is well pleasing to Him, if there is no stimulating desire to know Him and His Word, church membership is just like a young man falling in love with a furnished apartment and marrying an electric stove, a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, a garbage disposal, and a wet mop!
The Lord Jesus came riding on the little animal of peace and came bringing peace at His first coming. He will come riding upon the white horse, the animal of warfare, at His second coming. But He is going to bring peace. How? By putting down all unrighteousness. You see, the world has had over nineteen hundred years to decide what it is going to do with Jesus Christ, and He is pretty much rejected in our day. So God is going to make it very clear that the Son is coming back to reign. He came the first time to die for our redemption, but the next time He will come to reign.
When He rode into Jerusalem, it actually marked a crisis in His life, a life that was filled with crises. It marked a change of tactics. Heretofore He had slipped into the city silently. He had entered unobtrusively. He had sought the shadows. There was no publicity. He was always withdrawing from the crowd, not courting attention. It was foretold that He would not cry or strive or cause His voice to be heard in the street (see Isa. 42:2). He entered by the Sheep Gate and would attempt to come in eluding the mob, evading the crowd. Even after He had performed a miracle, He put a hush–hush on it. Now there is an about–face in His approach. It would seem to us that there is an inconsistency here if we did not recognize this as a crisis point. Now He comes out into the open. He enters publicly. He demands attention. He requires a decision. He forces the issue. For one brief moment the nation must consider Him as their King and their Messiah.
He was not arranging to take up residence in Jerusalem and reign as King. He sent His disciples ahead to arrange for a room to eat the Passover, but He didn’t send them in to rent an apartment. He was not preparing for His reign; He was preparing for His passion, His suffering, His death, and His passing through the portals of death.
Not only is Zechariah the prophet of hope, he is also the prophet of truth. Being a prophet of hope is not enough, because it could be a false hope such as the false prophets were giving the people.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible