Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #7

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In October I hope to cover the next eight verses of the Psalm.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law    and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,    and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;    and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise,    that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,    for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts;    in your righteousness give me life!

Sermon 42 (Psalm 119:37)

  • The first request is for the removing the impediments to obedience, the other for addition of new degrees of grace. These two are fitly joined, for they have a natural influence upon one another; unless we turn way our eyes from vanity, we shall soon contract a deadness of heart. Nothing causeth it so much as an inordinate liberty in carnal vanities. When our affections are alive to other things, they are dead to God; therefore the less we let loose our hearts to these things the more lively and cheerful in the work of obedience.
  • 1. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.’ There observe—(1.) The object, vanity; (2.) The faculty, mine eyes; (3.) The act of grace desired, the removing of this faculty from this object.
  • Doct. It concerneth those that would walk with God to have their eyes turned away from worldly things. I shall give you the meaning in these propositions.
  • 1. He that would be quickened, carried out with life and vigour in the ways of God, must first be mortified. Many would fain live with Christ, but first they must learn to die unto sin. It is impossible for sin and grace to live in the same subject.
  • 2. One great means of mortification is guarding the senses, eyes, and ears, and taste, and touch, that they may not betray the heart.
  • The eye, as it is used, will either be a help or a snare; either it will let in the sparks of temptation, or enkindle the fire of true devotion. These are the windows which God hath placed in the top of the building, that man from thence may contemplate God’s works, and take a prospect of heaven, the place of our eternal residence. The eye must be looked to, because it hath been the window by which Satan hath crept in, and all manner of poison conveyed to the soul. 
  • It is dangerous to dally with temptations, and to think no great harm will come of it.
  • Quickening is very necessary for them that would walk in God’s ways. I shall not consider it here as a prayer to God, or as it is a blessing to be asked of God, but as it is necessary to obedience; and here I shall inquire— 1. What quickening is. 2. Show the necessity of it.
  • First, What quickening is. It is put for two things (1.) It is put for regeneration or the infusion of grace; (2.) For the renewing the vigour of the life of grace, the renewed influence of God, whereby this grace is stirred up in our hearts. First, for regeneration or the in fusion of grace: Eph. 2:1, 2, When we were dead in trespasses and sins, yet now hath he quickened us.’ Then we are quickened or made alive to God when we are new born, when there is a habitual principle of grace put into our hearts. Secondly, Quickening is put for the renewed excitation of grace, when the life that we have received is carried on to some further increase; and so it is twofold, either by way of comfort in our afflictions, or enlivening in a way of holiness.
  • Liveliness in obedience doth depend upon God’s blessing; unless he put life and keep life in our souls, all cometh to nothing. Come to God upon the account of his glory: Ps. 143:11, Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake; for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.’ His tender mercies: Ps. 119:156, Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord; quicken me according to thy judgments.’ Come to him upon the account of Christ: John 10:10, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly;’ and John 7:38, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ Every new act of faith draweth from Christ some in crease of spiritual life.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review: Nativity

Nativity. Cynthia Rylant. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Premise/plot: The first half of Nativity is an abridgment of the the nativity narrative found in Luke 2 in the King James Version. It is an abridgment:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. KJV
And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Rylant's adaptation
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. KJV
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them. Rylant's adaptation
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. KJV
The angel said, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you this day is born a savior. And this shall be a sign to you: you will find the babe lying in a manger. Rylant's adaptation
It is not the whole narrative. Rylant does not include every verse, and she does abbreviate the sentences a good bit. You may notice, for example, that she does not include the phrase, "which is Christ the Lord."

The second half of the book races ahead to the start of Jesus' ministry on earth. She includes an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5. (The full sermon is Matthew 5-7). Again she is selective in what she shares:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. KJV
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rylant's adaptation
She includes verses: Matthew 5:3, 5:4, 5:5, and 5:8. She does not include: Matthew 5:6, 5:7, 5:9, 5:10.

The book ends with those four "blessed" statements. No further explanation or commentary provided.

My thoughts: Whether or not you like or love this one may depend entirely on how you react to the illustrations. I did like the illustrations for the first half of the book. I liked the shepherds, the sheep, the angels. I liked the simplicity of it. I wasn't as impressed with the illustrations for the second half. I wasn't sure if Rylant was bringing us forward in time...or not. One of the spreads shows a modern house with a Christmas tree, Christmas wreath, Christmas lights, candle, and smoking chimney. In this same spread there seems to be a sheep hanging out by a garbage bin. I could be wrong on what it is supposed to be. It could be a primitive shed or barn. But the spread that bothers me most--puzzles me most--is two men in profile on a beach in an ocean scene wearing tricorne hats.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #6

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In October I hope to cover the next eight verses of the Psalm.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law    and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,    and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;    and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise,    that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,    for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts;    in your righteousness give me life!

Sermon 41 (Psalm 119:36)



  • Doct. 2. That covetousness, or an inordinate desire of worldly things, is the great let or hindrance to complying with God’s testimonies.
  • Master your love to the world, and temptations lose their strength. 1. What is covetousness. 2. How it hindereth from complying with God’s testimonies. 
  • First, What is covetousness? I shall give the nature, the causes, the discoveries of it. First, the nature of it. It is an inordinate desire of having more wealth than the Lord alloweth in the fair course of his providence, and a delight in worldly things as our chiefest good.
  • Not only this greedy thirst discovereth covetousness, but a complacency, delight, and acquiescency of soul in worldly enjoyments.
  • When we set up our rest here, and look no further, we are guilty of this sin.
  • But now, because we may delight in our portion, and take comfort in what God hath given us; let us see when our delight in temporal things is a branch of covetousness. I answer—When we delight in them to the neglect of God, and the lessening of our joy in his service, and our hopes of eternal life are abated and grow less lively; when we so delight in them as to neglect God and the sweet intercourse we should have in him.
  • Secondly, Let us come to the causes of it, and they are two—distrust of God’s providence, and discontent with God’s allowance.
  • Distrust breeds discontent with our present portion, and discontent breeds ravenous desires, and ravenous desires breed distrust; for when we set God a task to provide for our lusts, certainly he will never do it.
  • When once men transgress the bounds of contentment prescribed by God, there is no stop or stay.
  • Secondly, I am to show how it hindereth us from complying with God’s testimonies. I shall do it by these arguments. 1. It disposeth and inclineth the soul to all evil, to break every command and law of God: 1 Tim. 6:10, The love of money is the root of all evil.’
  • As it doth dispose and incline the soul to evil, so it incapacitates us for God’s service, both in our general and particular calling. In our general calling, it makes us incapable of serving God. Why? It destroys the principle of obedience, is contrary to the matter of obedience, and it slights the rewards of obedience.
  • If covetousness be the great let and hindrance from keeping God’s testimonies, then let us examine ourselves, Are we guilty of it?
  • Let the men of the world, whose portion and happiness lieth here, scramble for these things; but you, that profess yourselves children of God, follow after all the gifts and graces of the Spirit; let that be your holy covetousness, to increase in these things.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Week in Review: October 8-14

REB (Revised English Bible)

  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel 1-13
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalm 120-150
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Review: Preaching to the Chickens

Preaching to the Chickens. Jabari Asim. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Little John Lewis loved the spring. He loved it not only because it was the time when the whole planet came alive, but also because it was the season of the chicks. Winter was too cold to bring them safely into the world, and summer was too hot. Spring was just right.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book biography of a young John Lewis. As a boy, he was in charge of the chickens on the family farm--about sixty. One of the things he loved to do was to preach to the chickens.
Like the ministers he heard in church, John wanted to preach, so he gathered his chickens in the yard. John stretched his arms above his flock and let the words pour forth. The chickens nodded and dipped their beaks as if they agreed. They swayed to the rhythm of his voice.
"Blessed are the peacemakers," he'd say when they fought over their morning meal.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness," he would tell a hen who didn't want to share, "for they shall be satisfied."
My thoughts: I enjoyed this picture book biography. I'd read the three volume graphic novel biography series, March, and was intrigued by his preaching to chickens as a young boy. I thought it was a well written story. There aren't an abundance of picture books sharing--showing--how faith impacts lives in the day-to-day. This one definitely does.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: The Sneetches and Other Stories

The Sneetches and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1961. Random House. 65 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence of The Sneetches:

Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches
Had Bellies with stars.
The Plain-belly Sneetches
Had none upon thars.
Plot/Premise of The Sneetches: Star-Belly Sneetches and Plain-Belly Sneetches have trouble playing and working together. The Plain-Belly Sneetches are envious of the Stars on the Star-Belly Sneetches. And the Star-Belly Sneetches look down on the Plain Belly sort. Sylvester McMonkey McBean takes advantage of the whole situation with his "Star On" and "Star Off" machine. He makes a LOT of money in the process. Will the Sneeches ever learn?

My thoughts: I think the Apostle Paul would have a lot to say to Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the Plain-Belly Sneetches, and the Star-Belly Sneetches. The truth is Christians can act just as stubborn, just as foolish, just as envious, just as greedy as the Sneetches we meet in the story.

Here are a few words Paul might say:
Love in all sincerity, loathing evil and holding fast to the good. Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection. Esteem others more highly than yourself. With unflagging zeal, aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer, contribute to the needs of God’s people, and practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
So no place is left for any human pride in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:29
First sentence of The Zax

One day, making tracks
In the prairie of Prax,
Came a North-Going Zax
And a South-Going Zax.
Plot/Premise of The Zax: A North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax meet. Neither Zax will budge because, of course, the North-Going Zax will only go North, and the South-Going Zax will only go South. Take a step in the wrong direction?! Never! How long will these two be stubborn?

My thoughts: Have you met a Zax or two in the church? I know I have. Some people just love to argue, to be right, to stand there not budging from their position. I think sometimes its more love of arguing than any one issue. When the Bible speaks of standing firm, I don't think it means like the Zax!

First sentence of Too Many Daves
Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?
Plot/Premise of Too Many Daves: The premise of this one is simple and clearly stated in the first sentence: The McCave family has too many sons named Dave. The joy in this one comes from reading it aloud. All the names she wished she'd chosen. Names like "Hoos-Foos" "Putt-Putt" and "Oliver Boliver Butt."

My thoughts: In this world, it's easy to feel unknown, misunderstood, invisible. But there is a God who knows us. God doesn't have "too many sons" he knows and loves them all. You are known by God. You are loved by God.

First sentence of What Was I Scared Of?

Well...
I was walking in the night
And I saw nothing scary.
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
Plot/Premise of What Was I Scared Of? The narrator of this one claims he's not scared of anything. But one night when he sees a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them...he becomes very frightened indeed. Will he ever overcome his fear? Should he overcome his fear?

My thoughts: The Bible has a lot to say about anxiety and fear. The narrator in this one is very fearful of the unknown. Aren't we all? The unknown in this instance is a pair of pale green pants. We all face our own unknowns. Time and time again we are pushed into facing our unknowns. We can react with fear and anxiety--dragging our feet. We can react with confidence--our confidence being in the God who is always with us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Review: Refresh

Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands. Shona and David Murray. 2017. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I was a crumpled heap.

Premise/plot: Refresh is a companion book to Reset. Reset was a book for men using a metaphor of a garage. Refresh is a book for women using a metaphor of a gym. The Murrays invite readers to "Refresh Gym" which features ten stations. The goal is to guide and teach women how to live better, how to have a grace-paced life. What is a grace-paced life? "It's a pace of life that's constantly refreshed by five wells of divine grace: 1) motivating well of grace, 2) moderating well of grace, 3) multiplying well of grace, 4) releasing well of grace, 5) receiving well of grace. The ten stations are: reality check, replay, rest, re-create, relax, rethink, reduce, refuel, relate, and resurrection.

Like Reset, the book focuses on the whole life--eating and drinking, sleeping, exercising, working, worshipping, relaxing, parenting, etc. In Refresh, Shona tells her own story--or stories of depression, anxiety, and burnout. Shona is a homeschooling mom of five, and, before she was stay-at-home, she was a doctor.

My thoughts: I thought I had trouble relating to Reset because it was written for men, but honestly I didn't have much better luck relating to Refresh the one written for women. This isn't unusual for me. Most books "for women" seek to be super-practical and go beyond the spiritual and theological. Most books for women tend to be about how to be a wife, how to be a mother, how to be a godly wife and godly mother and do all these godly things in and about your godly home. Most books assume that if you're not in that stage yet--it's just a matter of time until you'll need to know.

That being said, there are chapters that are applicable to anyone and everyone. For example, the chapter on sleep! The chapter on sleep was my favorite in Reset. But I think my favorite chapter in Refresh might be Relax. In this chapter, they address the DIGITAL DELUGE. These pages are very passionate. Here's how it begins, "Digital technology is killing us. It's killing our souls and our bodies. It's killing our marriages, families, and friendships. It's killing our listening skills and speaking abilities. It's killing face-to-face communications and interfamily relationships. It's killing our minds, especially our ability to focus and concentrate. It's killing communication with God as it usurps communication with him first thing in the morning and last thing at night...." She is JUST getting started.

Another interesting chapter was Refuel. She discusses how there are fillers and drainers in our lives, and it's important to know what fills us and what drains us.

Favorite quote:
Every Christian wants to know God more; few Christians fight for the silence required to know him. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible