Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: How To Study the Bible

How To Study The Bible. R.A. Torrey. 1896. Hendrickson Publishers. 90 pages.

Is R.A. Torrey opinionated?! You better believe it!!! But he's also practical. In How To Study The Bible--first published over a hundred years ago--Torrey gives you practical guidelines on how to read the Bible, how to study the Bible, how to get the most from your time in The Word.

He urges his readers to remember..."that the Bible contains gold, and almost anyone is willing to dig for gold, especially if it is certain that he will find it. It is certain that one will find gold in the Bible, if he digs."

Chapter by chapter he goes through a handful of different methods including: the study of individual books, topical study, biographical study, study of types, the study of the books of the Bible in the order given in the Bible and in their chronological order, and the study of the Bible for practical usefulness in dealing with men.

Many of the chapters are quite detailed. Many follow a formal organizational layout--they're written in outline form practically. So the chapter on how to read an individual book offers several methods, several techniques, several levels to do just that. So you can get ideas from Torrey and adapt them to fit you where you are. Therefore under "Select A Book To Study" we find: 1) For your first book study, choose a short book 2) Choose a comparatively easy book 3) Choose a book that is rich enough in its teaching to illustrate the advantages of this method of study, and thus give a keen appetite for further studies of this same kind.

But it is under the heading "Master the Book's General Contents" that I found the most inspiration. It's challenging to say the least. But. I think it might be worth considering.
"It consists in merely reading the book through without stopping, and then reading it through again, and then again, say a dozen times in all, at a single sitting. To one who has never tried it, it does not seem as if that would amount to much, but any thoughtful man who has ever tried it will tell you quite differently. It is simply wonderful how a book takes on new meaning and beauty upon this sort of an acquaintance. It begins to open up. New relations between different parts of the book begin to disclose themselves. Fascinating lines of though running through the book appear. The book is grasped as a whole and the relation of the various parts to one another apprehended, and a foundation laid for an intelligent study of those parts in detail."
Torrey also suggests methods that sound like the modern-day inductive study. These methods include writing your own book introductions, writing your own summaries, dividing the book into sections, writing your own headings, writing down "truths" from each verse--what each verse has to say in great detail. Not only does he have you study each verse in each chapter in each book. He has you looking up the WORDS in each verse. Studying how individual words were used throughout the Bible. So if the book you were studying has a verse that mentions grace or love or justification or mercy or hope or whatever....then he has you looking up every use of that word so you can compare usages and definitions. So you can make connections between verses, find parallel passages, etc.

He is very detailed, very organized, very practical. This is the kind of resource that is MOST helpful to people seriously seeking a way to study the Bible, to understand it, to appreciate it. While not every method is as apparently helpful as others--it took me a while to grasp the point of "the study of the Bible for practical usefulness in dealing with men"--I think overall it does a good job in what it's trying to accomplish.

The second part of this book is crucial. It's subtitled: "Fundamental Conditions of the Most Profitable Bible Study." It stresses the fact that readers need to be a) born again b) have a love of the Bible, c) have a willingness to work or "dig" into the Bible, d) be willing to surrender their will to God, e) be willing to be obedient to the Bible's teachings f) have a child-like mind. (He writes, "Do not come to the Bible full of your own ideas, and seeking from it a confirmation of them. Come rather to find out what are God's ideas as He has revealed them there. Come not to find a confirmation of your own opinion, but to be taught what God may be pleased to teach. If a man comes to the Bible just to find his notions taught there, he will find them; but if he comes, recognizing his own ignorance, just as a little child, to be taught, he will find something infinitely better than his own notions--even the mind of God.") g) study the Bible as the Word of God h) come praying!

While I'm not sure it would be practical to use EVERY method suggested within How To Study The Bible, I think Torrey gives readers a good place to start.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: How To Pray

How to Pray. R.A. Torrey. 1900. Hendrickson Publishers. 82 pages.

R.A. Torrey's work on prayer may have been published over a hundred years ago, but I found it ever-relevant. What Torrey has to say on the subject of prayer--on the matter of prayer--is a detailed study of what the Bible says on it. And though he's using the English Revised Version (1881) instead of a more modern translation, what he has to say is still reader-friendly.

Is it easy to understand How to Pray? Yes and no. Yes, in that Torrey approaches the subject in a matter-of-fact way. In a this-is-what-the-Bible-says-about-prayer way. He doesn't over-complicate issues by trying to be scholarly or profound or poetic. No, in that the matter of prayer itself is sometimes confusing.

For example, one chapter might explain how God is always there listening to us, ready to forgive us, heal us (though not always physically heal us), restore us, use us. And another chapter might explain how God doesn't hear us because we're not being obedient or because we're not forgiving others or because we're not in right relationship with a spouse or parent, etc. So some chapters were a bit confusing. Especially considering how he stressed we had to be in the right frame of mind for prayer, that we had to wait until we felt we were in the presence of God no matter how long it took, but that we also couldn't work ourselves into that emotional state. In a way, it seemed--at face value--that there were a lot of rules about prayer. But. I don't think he exactly meant to say that praying to God was super-complicated.

So I thought it was a thought-provoking examination on prayer. I liked the attention to detail. How he discusses one Scripture passage after another after another after another. He seemed very thorough, very precise in his writing. Never for a minute did I doubt where Torrey was getting his message. Still. It made me realize how much more there is to learn. Where I might need to focus on my study, on my meditation. And that has to be a good thing, right?

R.A. Torrey was very bold in his writing. He wasn't afraid to offend. And perhaps his message wouldn't have been quite as offensive as it would be today. Maybe. But Torrey definitely sees things as either right or wrong. And for Torrey, that meant smoking, drinking (drinking irresponsibly), playing cards, dancing, going to the theatre, reading immoral novels, etc. He even saw golf as a sin because it took you away from God's work! So would Torrey be popular with today's crowd? Probably not. But can today's modern Christian learn from him? I think so! Maybe not about every little thing--like golf--but in the big things, the Bible-based things--I think there is much to learn!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Taste and See: Are you an optimist?

Before you answer that, I'd like to place my question into context. I was reading R.A. Torrey's How To Pray, a work originally published in 1900. I'll be reviewing that later this afternoon. But. I came across this passage.
If facing the facts is to be called a pessimist, I am willing to be called a pessimist. If in order to be an optimist, one must shut his eyes and call black white, and error truth, and sin righteousness, and death life, I don't want to be called an optimist. But I am an optimist all the same. Pointing out the real condition will lead to a better condition. (69)
"Facing facts" equals seeing things the way God sees things.

I am a big believer that sharing the good news--the gospel--has to begin with the bad news. If Jesus Christ is to be confessed as Savior (or Lord and Savior), people have to KNOW (in a very personal way) what Jesus is saving them from. They have to KNOW that they are desperately in need of a Savior. Proclaiming Jesus as a way to be happy and healthy and wise that is NOT the gospel. Holding up Jesus as the ultimate example of a good man, a good teacher, that is NOT the gospel either.

Reading the Bible challenges us as readers to "face facts." The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict, to discipline, as well as to encourage, comfort, and transform. Hebrews 4:12 reads: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (NASB) Yes, reading the Bible can make you feel good. If you're hurting, suffering, needing to find refuge in the God who sees, the God who comforts, you'll find it in the Word. You will. There are promises and treasures to be found. But. The Bible isn't only for feeling cozy and happy and comfortable. The Bible calls us to act, to believe, to grow. God uses the Bible--and the Spirit--to discipline us, to challenge us, to call us out of our comfort zones. He uses the Word to make us feel uncomfortable. He uses the Word to bring us to new awareness. He uses the Word to convict us.

Sometimes we get so focused into making God in our own image. We pick and choose passages from the Bible to support OUR view of God. Or--if OUR view of God isn't to be found in Genesis through Revelation--we do our best to convince ourselves and others around us that the Bible is irrelevant. That the Bible isn't the Word of God. The Bible isn't the first or last authority. Becoming insistent  that these verses are true--those verses aren't true. Who's telling them what's true and what's not true? Sometimes they are deciding for themselves. (This feels right to me.) Sometimes they are under the influence of others--other teachers or preachers or authors.

But we've got to realize--at one point or another--that God is God is God. We are NOT God. We cannot reshape God into who we want him to be. We can't make God obey our rules. We've got to realize that 'who God is' is revealed in the Bible, in the Word of God. God reveals to us--to us--things about Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. God speaks to us in His Word. God uses the Word--and the Spirit--to renew our minds, to transform us into who He wants us to be, needs us to be.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O LORD, You are our Father,  
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand. (NASB)

Facing facts isn't a one-time deal either. Yes, the conversion experience is one time that calls for us to face facts. To acknowledge the weight of our sin, our need for a Savior, to express or confess our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord, as our Savior. To put our lives in God's hands. To follow, obey, trust, love, serve. Romans 12:1 calls us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. We have been delivered from slavery to sin to slavery to righteousness. We've been called from death to life. We've been called to take on Christ's yoke (Matthew 11:28-30).

Every time we open the Bible, every time we read Scripture, there's an opportunity there. God can speak to us through the Word, through His Spirit. Think about it! God can use the Scripture to minister to us personally. Have you noticed that one name for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth?!

So Scripture is one tool God uses to prune us, discipline us, love us, transform us, strengthen and comfort us. But it isn't the only way. (Though both ways rely on the Spirit.) Preaching is the second way. Expository preaching especially serves the cause of Christ. Preachers proclaiming the Word of God. Reading the Word aloud. God calls preachers and teachers to preach sound doctrine, to bring to their listeners THE TRUTH. The difference between true prophets and false prophets in the Old Testament and false teachers and true teachers in the New Testament is that false leaders always, always, always shape their message to please their audience. They tell people what they want to hear not what they need to hear. They don't think it's important for anyone to "face facts."

2 Timothy 4:1-4
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (NASB)

Is it better to be safe and comfortable and cozy in ignorance? Or is it better to hear the truth, to know the truth, to have the chance to let the truth set you free? 

In John 8:31-36, we read:
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved by anyone; how is that You say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (NASB)

In John 14:6, we read:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me. (NASB)

And in Galatians 5:1, we read:
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (NASB)

It isn't always easy to welcome truth into our lives. Sometimes it's easier to block out certain truths about ourselves. The temptation to write our own truths--while ignoring God's truths--is very real. But is the truth necessary? Can the truth mend as well as wound? I believe that the truth can heal, transform, and restore.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: The Judgment

The Judgment. Beverly Lewis. 2011. Bethany House. 336 pages.

Tomorrow holds nary a promise, my dear Mamm often says. But thankfully some things are quite certain--we plow, we plant and harvest. We attend canning bees and quilting frolics. Our wedding season always begins on the first Tuesday in November. And this year there are many couples marrying and looking ahead to starting their own families.

The Judgment is the sequel to Beverly Lewis' The Thorn. It is the second in the trilogy; these books are set in the mid-80s in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The novels focus on two sisters--Rose and Hannah.

Hannah (Hen) is married, but she's--for better or worse--separated from her husband. He is of the world, and he wants to raise their young daughter to be of the world. He doesn't think it's a "problem" for her to be watching Madonna videos, for example. Hen never knew how much her faith meant to her until she realized how far she'd fallen through the years. She sacrificed her family, her faith, her traditions to marry this man. Now that she's wanting to reconnect with her faith, her tradition, he's saying NO WAY. There is NO WAY he's going to stay married to a woman who dresses plain and frowns on the sinful "modern" world. He does NOT want his daughter to be brought up Amish. He's not willing to compromise. Hannah must choose between her faith--her way of life--and her marriage. If she doesn't give up--or give in--then he'll file for divorce and custody.

Rose should be content. She's engaged to Silas Good a perfectly respectable man in the community. She should be happy that he's courting her. She should be able to ignore the not-so-new woman in town who's been rather chatty with him. But. If Silas has a few secrets of his own, so does Rose. For Rose can't stop thinking about Nick--even though Nick left the community in disgrace. Nick's not around for her to talk to, to confide in. But he's never far from her thoughts.

So this one has some drama. Two sisters trying to make sense of their love lives. But it's more than just a romance. It's a family drama too.

Did I love it? I'm not sure that I did. I enjoyed spending time with Hen and Rose again. And I look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. But it wasn't quite love, love, love. I liked it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: Cries from the Cross

Cries From the Cross: A Journey Into the Heart of Jesus. Erwin Lutzer. 2002. Moody. 170 pages.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

I loved this one. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Why? Well, it's rich in gospel-truth for one thing! In Cries from the Cross, Erwin Lutzer spends one chapter on each of Jesus' seven 'cries' from the cross. Need a refresher course? Here they are in the order in which he writes about them:

A Cry for Pardon: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
A Cry of Assurance: "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
A Cry of Compassion: "Dear woman, here is your son...Here is your mother." (John 29:26-27)
A Cry of Anguish: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
A Cry of Suffering: "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
A Cry of Victory: "It is finished." (John 19:30)
A Cry of Submission: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

Those chapters--along with the preface, introduction, and epilogue--do an amazing job of presenting the gospel. Not the easy gospel. Not the watered-down gospel. Not the afraid-to-tell-the-bad-news gospel. But the cross-centered, Christ-centered gospel. The gospel that calls for you and me and everyone to repent and believe.

Here is, in part, what he says in the preface:

To stand at the foot of the cross is to witness the purpose for which God created the world. Here we see the attributes of God on display; and if we look carefully, we will see ourselves, with all of our needs, sins, and self-deceptions. Thankfully, it is at the cross that God chose to remove His wrath from those who would humbly trust Christ as their sin-bearer. (11)

And here are some gems from the introduction:

The cross properly understood exalts no one whom it first does not humble; it gives life only to those whom it first "puts to death." The cross exposes the futility of our self-righteousness; it reminds us that we are sinners, incapable of bringing about our own reconciliation with God. Before the cross we can only stand with bowed heads and a broken spirit. (16)

Unless we see ourselves as deserving of the verdict that Pilate gave to Jesus, unless we see ourselves a worthy of hell, we will never understand the Cross. Someone has said that it is difficult for us to embrace the cross in a day when person enjoyment is king.
Contrary to popular belief, the central message of Christianity is not the Sermon on the Mount or Jesus' parables about love toward one's neighbor. The message that changed the first-century world was that human beings are guilty, helplessly guilty of sins for which they cannot atone. The cross shatters all pride and undercuts the ultimate value of self-effort. The cross stands as proof of God's great love but also reveals our own ugliness. (17)

Jesus' suffering was terrible for the simple reason that our sin is terrible. (20)

Today we often hear it said that God forgives people on the basis of His love rather than on the basis of His atoning sacrifice. Modern minds, having rationalized their sins, find it difficult to understand that God cannot extend His grace toward sinners until His holy justice is satisfied. (23)

As we shall learn, Christ was forsaken that we might not be; He experienced hell that we might experience heaven. (28)

And here are a couple of quotes from "A Cry For Pardon":

Certainly all sin makes us ignorant. We have no idea of the greatness of our sin because we do not understand the greatness of our God. (42)

There is no unpardonable sin for those who come to Christ for forgiveness. For those who refuse Him, all sins are unpardonable. (46)

And now "A Cry of Anguish":

Jesus went through darkness that we might have light. He was cursed that we might be blessed. He was condemned that we might be able to say, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). (103)

Either Jesus bears our sin, or we do. If the Father turned His face away from His beloved Son when He was regarded as a sinner, we can be sure that the Father will turn away from every sinner who stands before the Judgment Bar on his own merits. We are either saved by His rejection, or we must bear our own rejection for all of eternity. (103) 

I hope by sharing a couple of quotes, a couple of gems, that I can persuade you of this book's worth. For it is truly one of the best books I've read. It is a necessary book. A book with potential to change your life. It is rich in gospel truth, the kind of truth that can set you free. For it is only when you get the bad news AND the good news that you can find life, abundant life.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday Salon: Week In Review: April 17-23

This week I...

read Jeremiah 1-10 in the KJV
read Matthew 1-9 in the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible
read Galatians in the NKJV Nelson Study Bible, the NKJV Soul Care Bible, the American Standard Version 1901
finished 2 Kings in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Jeremiah in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
read 2 Corinthians in the NASB Thinline Bible
read 1 John in the NASB Thinline Bible
read 2 John in the NASB Thinline Bible
read 3 John in the NASB Thinline Bible
read 1 Chronicles in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Matthew in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Lamentations in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
read Psalms 1-15 in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
read Mark in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Romans in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Luke 1-6 in the NASB Thinline Bible
read Psalms 1-20 in the American Standard Version 1901
read Genesis 1-5 in the King James (Single Column)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book Review: Through Gates of Splendor

Through Gates of Splendor. Elisabeth Elliot. 1956/2005. Tyndale. 296 pages.

The Santa Juana is under way. 

This biography has become a classic, and not without good reason! For within its pages, Elisabeth Elliot tells the story of five missionaries who became martyrs for Jesus Christ. Jim Elliot, the author's husband, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming. Five men, five very different men. Readers learn how each came to Christ. See how each one was called to serve, to give. Not only called to serve in general. But each called to serve specifically. God is in the details. God led each man to want to go to Ecuador to reach the native tribes who had not yet heard the gospel. Though each was initially called to serve different tribes, different regions within the country, each came to see that God was leading them to serve together, to reach out to one tribe, perhaps the tribe with the worst reputation, the people in the most need of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. In the first edition of the book, these people are called Auca. A word that means "savage" in one of the neighboring languages. It's not until the second epilogue, that readers learn the tribe's name for themselves, Waorani.  God was writing their story. And he was preparing them day by day, week by week, month by month to accomplish HIS will. Preparing them to serve, to love, to give. Giving them strength and courage and desire. Giving them peace and joy and hope. (Not that they didn't have their down moments, not that they didn't have their discouraging moments. But they were living for Christ. They were ready TO LIVE OR DIE for Christ. No matter the outcome, they knew that they were right where God wanted them to be. And they trusted that whether they lived or died, Christ would get the glory, that HIS will would be done, HIS purposes accomplished.)

This book focuses on their time in Ecuador--the years leading up to January 1956. I won't lie. I won't say that I found it compelling and powerful from the first page. But. By the end, I was swept into the story. It was powerful and compelling and emotional and beautiful and haunting and terrible and wonderful all at the same time.

I agree with Annette, it's hard to read this book without looking at the heart of it all. Would you give your life for the sake of Christ Jesus? Would you be willing to go where he sends you? Willing to give the LORD full control of your life? Willing to put God first in ALL things?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels To Portray One Person

Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person? T.D. Alexander. 2010. Crossway Publishers. 144 pages. 

The preface reads,
most Christians do not have a particularly clear understanding of them. Two factors possibly explain this. First, the contents of Matthew, Mark, and Luke overlap considerably. This makes distinguishing between them difficult, and for many Christians, these Gospels tend to blur together. Second, the Gospels are often read in piecemeal fashion. Short passages are taken from here and there, without any meaningful attempt being made to see them within the context of a whole Gospel. As a result, exceptionally few Christians, even among those who are educated theologically, are able to describe with certainty the distinctive features and themes of each Gospel.
If you think this is an overstatement, test yourself and your Christian friends with a few questions: How do the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke differ from each other? What is distinctive about each? How does Mark's picture of Jesus differ from that of Matthew (or Luke, or John)? Why is John's Gospel quite unlike the others? Even mature Christians will struggle to answer these questions. (13)
I didn't quite agree with everything T.D. Alexander said in the preface about Christians struggling with the four gospels. And I didn't quite agree with everything T.D. Alexander said to "explain" away the "Synoptic Problem." But. For the most part, I learned from reading Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels To Portray One Person. I found it well organized and written in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way.

Here are the chapter titles:

  • A Brief Overview of the Four Gospels
  • Common Themes in the Gospels
  • Mark's Gospel and the Son of God
  • Mark's Gospel and Discipleship
  • Matthew's Gospel and Conflict
  • Matthew's Gospel and the Son of David
  • Luke's Gospel and the Holy Spirit
  • Luke's Gospel and Saving the Lost
  • John's Gospel and Believing
  • John's Gospel and a New Exodus
  • The Composition of the Gospels
  • Review and Final Observations

There are a couple of charts to help you "see" things the way he does. And there are discussion/study questions at the end of each gospel. The book covers the basics of the gospel. And because it is so basic, because it covers the essentials in an easy-to-understand way, this one might be a good choice for small groups to read together. 

Curious about how concise Alexander is in "summing" up the differences between each gospel?

Matthew's Jesus -- The Son of David who establishes the kingdom of heaven
Mark's Jesus -- The Son of God who suffers to ransom others
Luke's Jesus -- The Savior of the world who seeks the lost
John's Jesus -- The Lamb of God who brings eternal life through a new exodus

In particular I enjoyed reading his thoughts on the gospel of John. I'd never seen John from that perspective before. He compares John with Exodus, makes comparisons between Jesus and Moses. Points out that Moses gave "signs" to the people--both Hebrews and Egyptians just as Jesus gave signs. Once he pointed out a couple of similarities, I started making connections of my own.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Taste and See: Knowledge of Good and Evil

Psalm 34:8 says, "O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" But not every believer makes the time, takes the time, to see if it is so. Not every believer spends time in the Word. That is one of the reasons I started Operation Actually Read Bible. To encourage people (myself mainly) to read the Bible, to abide in The Word, to spend time reading, meditating, studying Scripture. While I've been fairly consistent in sharing my progress reading--mainly through my Sunday Salon posts. I don't often journal what I'm reading about, what I'm learning, what God is showing me. (I'm not sure that this is absolutely necessary. But. I do know that I like to read posts like that on others' blogs. So maybe it's time I tried to doing a little something myself?)

So, I was reading in Romans--one of my favorite, favorite books. And I had come to the sixteenth chapter. I'll be honest. While I spend time reflecting and meditating and studying Romans 1-15, I'd never really given much thought to the last chapter of Romans because on the surface--at least--it's all about Paul greeting various people. But. This time I noticed verse 19. "For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil." (Emphasis mine). It goes on to say in verse 20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." (I include verse 20 not so much it "spoke" to me then but because of something I realized much later. Mainly the connection with Genesis 3:15. But also because it later occurred to me that God's grace is sufficient. See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)

There's so much in that half of verse! Do you think it is harder to be wise in what is good OR harder to be innocent in what is evil? Or are they equally challenging, equally demanding? On the one hand, to be wise in what is good means abiding with Him, spending time in His Word, walking closely with our Savior and Lord. For only God is good. (Mark 10:18) And to fear the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10) It calls for us to commit our hearts and minds and bodies to the Lord. To live for Christ. To make more of Him and less of ourselves. On the other hand, we are born having a sinful nature. Sin comes easy to us. (You can read Romans 1-7 if you don't believe me.) So to be innocent in evil? Well, that takes some commitment too. For how easy it is to lose our innocence--depending on how you define innocence--just in our daily contact with the world. (You don't even have to leave your home to face worldly temptation.)  How hard it is to unsee something we shouldn't have seen. To unhear something we shouldn't have heard. (Not to mention "unthinking" or "unsaying" something!) How difficult it becomes to stay away from something that we know is "bad" for us. How easy it is to say, it won't hurt if just this once I read that book, see that movie, hear that album, play that video game, etc. How easy to say, I'm not really addicted to that sin--or that sin, or that sin, or that sin. I could stop any time. (They may even try to prove it by giving it up for Lent. Showing that they know it is wrong to begin with, perhaps? Showing that deep down they know they should give it up completely?) It brings to mind Robert Boyd Munger's short little work called MY HEART CHRIST'S HOME. Just seven or so pages, you can download a pdf and read it yourself if you like.

So let's go back to the start of it all. Go back to Genesis 3, the message of the serpent: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Eve (and Adam, I suppose) assumed that this was a good thing. That knowledge was knowledge was knowledge. That knowing about evil would be a good thing. But it was a lie that led to disobedience, a lie that led to the blame game, a lie that led to pride, a lie that led to shame and guilt, a lie that led to pain and suffering. Not to mention death. So maybe it is harder to be innocent in what is evil.

But. God is there for us. God has provided a way. He is able to renew our hearts and minds. He is able to cleanse us from sin. He has taken God's wrath--the wrath we deserved for our sins--so we could take HIS righteousness.

Romans 5:6-11 reads, For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person--though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.

Romans 12:2 reads, Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

And then, of course, there is Romans 8. It is hard to know exactly what to quote from that wonderful, wonderful chapter! But. I went with Romans 8:24-39.

 24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
 25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
 26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
 31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:24-39, King James Version)

So what do you think? Do you think believers struggle more with "being wise in what is good" or with "being innocent in what is evil"? Do you think being discerning is a good thing? a necessary thing? Do you think growing in knowledge of God, growing in relationship with God, helps you fight your sin nature, fight temptation? Have you found the Word of God to be the sword of the Spirit? (Ephesians 6:17)

*Psalm 34:8 from the New American Standard Version.
** Romans 16:19-20 from the New American Standard Version.
***Genesis 3:5 from the New American Standard Version
****Romans 12:2 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
*****Romans 5:6-11 from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
******Romans 8 from the King James Version

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Not-So-Small Goals of Mine

As you might have guessed by now, I am VERY interested in reading different Bible translations. I LOVE reading prefaces to translations and such. So I thought I would share my not-so-small goal of reading from these translations as occasion allows.

King James Version (Authorized Version)
English Revised Version (1881-1895) ~ being a revision (of sorts) of the King James Version (This is the only version on the list, that I don't have. And one that I'd just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see in print).
American Standard Version (1901) ~ being an American revision of the English Revised Version (I just found a reprint of this one!)
Revised Standard Version (1946-1977) ~ being a revision of the English Revised Version and the American Standard Version
New American Standard Bible (1971 and 1995) ~ being a revision of the American Standard Version by those who didn't quite approve of the Revised Standard Version
English Standard Version (2001/2007) ~ being a revision of the Revised Standard Version
New King James Version (1982) ~ A revision of the King James

*I could technically include the New Revised Standard Version (1990) in this listing since it is a revision of the Revised Standard Version. But. I don't own one. And I don't necessarily *want* to own one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review: April 10-16th

This week I finished the New Testament!!!

James in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
1 Thessalonians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
2 Thessalonians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Mark in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
1 Corinthians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
2 Corinthians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Galatians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible, KJV, American Standard Version 1901,

Matthew in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Romans in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Luke in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Ephesians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible, KJV
Philippians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible, KJV
Acts in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Colossians in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Philemon in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
1 Timothy in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
2 Timothy in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Titus in the ESV Classic Reference Bible

1 Peter in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
2 Peter in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Jude in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Hebrews in the ESV Classic Reference Bible

1 John in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
2 John in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
3 John in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
John in the ESV Classic Reference Bible
Revelation in the ESV Classic Reference Bible

I also finished Isaiah in the KJV Bible. (I've been working off and on with this one for weeks. Not because I don't love, love, love Isaiah, but because I've been busy reading other books. So this was an opportunity to savor it slowly.) 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Day Seven: Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed your week in the New Testament. I hope you benefited from time in His Word. I'd love to hear your thoughts. And of course, you can share your progress! Did you read as much as you hoped? Was it easier than you thought? Or more difficult?

Major Themes Taken from The Matthew Henry Study Bible:

Jude - Contend earnestly for the faith
Revelation - Hope. The apostle assures his readers that Christ will reward the righteous and judge the wicked.

Petra's We Need Jesus:

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Book Review: No Other Gospel

No Other Gospel: 31 Reasons From Galatians Why Justification by Faith Alone is the Only Gospel. Josh Moody. 2011. Crossway. 288 pages. 

In the heart of everyone lies an atheist. Not perhaps the kind that thinks in a strict literal sense that God does not exist. There may be some in church like that. When Christians gather, we are never to assume that all believe; rather, we are to hope that those who do not believe come so that we might present the truth of God in word and deed. 
There may be some reading these words who struggle with the reality of God when difficult things are happening and times are tough. But the kind of atheist I am talking about, which lies in my heart and in yours, is the kind which believes not that God does not exist but that God is not able. We are practical, not theoretical, atheists. We come to church. We are busy in God's work. We serve. We talk the talk; we even walk the walk. But we tend to act as if God and the gospel are not sufficient to achieve what needs  to be achieved. We are people who have the gospel but for whom the gospel has become a starting point rather than the reference point for all our efforts. We are religious; we may call ourselves to evangelicals, but the evangel (that is the gospel) does not impregnate every aspect of our theology nor every part of our lives.
Would I recommend this one? Yes! What did I like about it? Well, I liked how detailed and structured it was. I liked how it examines the book of Galatians verse by verse by verse. In 31 chapters, readers get a detailed tour through Paul's epistle. Is No Other Gospel difficult to understand?  I wouldn't say that it was. It seeks to help readers appreciate and understand Paul's letter, and well, Paul's letter is complex. (Part of what makes it so complex are the references to the Old Testament to the Law to the Jewish religion/faith.) I would definitely recommend that readers take the time and effort to read and reread (and reread and reread) the book of Galatians yourself as you read No Other Gospel. I read Galatians about six or seven times while reading through this one. And I think it helped. It helped me keep the big picture, to stay connected. It worked better--for me--to read this as a companion to the Bible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2011 Christian Book Award Finalists

Today I learned about the finalists in this year's Christian Book Awards. "Given out by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), the awards honor excellence in content, literary quality, design, and significance of contribution in six categories, including: Bibles, Fiction, Children, Inspiration, Bible Reference, and Non-fiction." The winners will be announced in May, I believe.

The five Bibles honored are as follows:

 Apologetics Study Bible for Students (HCSB)

Product Description
Like the acclaimed Apologetics Study Bible, the Apologetics Study Bible for Students anchors younger Christians in the truths of Scripture by equipping them with thoughtful and practical responses for whenever the core issues of their faith and life are challenged.

In addition to the complete HCSB text and dozens of articles collected from today's most popular youth leaders, including editor Sean McDowell, this new study Bible also includes:
  • Two-color design-intensive layout on every page for the visual generation
  • Study notes
  • 120 articles by leading Christian thinkers dealing with life's ultimate questions
  • Sixty “Twisted Scriptures” explanations correcting distortion & misunderstanding of scripture
  • Fifty “Bones & Dirt” entries (archaeology meets apologetics)
  • Fifty "Notable Quotes" from influential people throughout history
  • Twenty-five “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments
  • Twenty “Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives
  • Twenty “Top Five” lists to help remember key apologetics topics
  • Bullet notes explain Bible terms
  • Book introductions
  • Presentation page
 ESV Seek and Find Bible (ESV) -- which I own!!! You can see my full review here.

Product Description

Published in partnership with Concordia Publishing House, this full-color children's Bible combines the complete ESV Bible text with more than 120 new, vibrant illustrations of major Bible stories. Accompanying each full-page illustration is the Bible story itself, clearly and accurately retold for young readers—and for the parents, grandparents, and teachers who read to them. Each story includes a Key Bible Verse to memorize, Additional Readings for discovering more of the story throughout the Bible, and simple Reflection Questions to help children begin to understand and apply God’s Word. Colorful icons make it easy for young readers to see where each story is found in the Bible text and to locate the illustration that goes with it.

In addition, dozens of Bible characters are profiled throughout the pages, and color call-out sections provide illustrated facts about important Bible objects, structures, and places. Each Bible book begins with a child-friendly introduction, highlighting the important characters and themes found in it.

The ESV Seek and Find Bible is the ideal first "real" Bible for pre-readers and young readers, ages 5 to 10, to grow up with. It is also a wonderful resource for parents to use in family Bible reading and for teachers who teach the Bible to young children.

  • More than 120 full-page, full-color illustrations
  • Simple Bible story retellings for each illustration
  • Age-appropriate introductions to each Bible book
  • Key Verses to memorize
  • Illustrated profiles of more than 60 major Bible characters
  • Illustrated facts about Bible objects, structures, and places.
  • Reflections Questions for children, parents and teachers

HCSB Study Bible (HCSB) -- which I own and just love, love, love!

Product Description
When reading a passage in the Bible, you shouldn't have to wonder where to find supporting reference notes and commentary that go along with it. That’s why the HCSB Study Bible-featuring approximately 15,000 study notes-is designed so that every clarifying resource is there on the same page spread as the biblical text to which it refers. You’ll never again forget what you were looking for, because the pertinent note, map, chart, word study, or illustration is already there. And when an even deeper view is desired, there are also introductions for each book, outlines and timelines, a concordance, and more. For the growing believer whose desire is to know Scripture more intimately and live out its loving instruction, the HCSB Study Bible always keeps you and God on the same page.

  • 290 word studies
  • 141 photographs
  • 62 timelines
  • 59 maps
  • 24 articles
  • 16 illustrations/reconstructions
  • 15 charts
  • Four-color presentation pages
  • Two-column text setting
  • One-year Bible reading plan
  • Center column references
  • Topical subheads
  • Black letter text
  • Lined pages for personal notes
  • Presentation page
  • Ribbon marker

The Case for Christ Study Bible: Investigating The Evidence for Belief, ed. by Lee Strobel. (NIV)

Product Description

Using a journalist's precision in gathering and presenting evidence, The Case for Christ Study Bible is an engaging, informative resource that motivates seekers and skeptics—as well as long-time Christians—to investigate for themselves the Bible’s most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.

Drawn from Lee’s own experiences as a former atheist and featuring his journalistic style from his days as an investigative reporter with the Chicago Tribune, the notes and articles throughout The Case for Christ Study Bible are designed to motivate you to investigate the Bible’s claims for yourself. Whether you are a Christian seeking encouragement in your faith and knowledge about who God is or a seeker or skeptic searching for answers, you will benefit from Lee’s own extensive search for the truth.

Some of the excellent study notes found in this Bible include:
  • Case for Christ Articles Over 220 Case for Christ notes explore Jesus’ claims and deity and demonstrate that he is the Messiah.
  • Case for the Bible Notes
    More than 170 Case for the Bible notes explore the character of the Bible and the extra-biblical evidence that corroborates Scripture as well as explain apparent contradictions within the Bible.
  • Case for a Creator Notes 75 Case for a Creator notes highlight the wonders of creation and demonstrate how the scientific evidence points to one all-powerful Creator.
  • Case for Faith Articles 100 Case for Faith articles address questions such as, “How can there be a God that would allow so much pain and suffering?” and, “Doesn’t science prove that the world was created by chance?”
  • Verdict Notes 20 Verdict notes provide testimonies from scholars and other Christians who have examined the evidence, discovered the reality of Jesus, and put their faith in him.
  • Book Introductions
    Sixty-six Book Introductions offer a short overview of each book.
Additional Features
  • Book Introductions for each book of the Bible
  • 16 pages of full-color maps
  • NIV Concordance
  • Subject index
  • Presentation page

The NKJV Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (NKJV) (I own the first edition of this one. And I can't justify buying it again even if it is new and improved.)

Product Description

Discover the life-enriching biblical application you're searching for in The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible.
With more than 1,000 "Life Lessons" offering insights straight from Max, the message of God's Word will be more meaningful and impactful than ever.

This beautifully designed Bible contains practical application drawn from Max Lucado's entire career—from his first book to his latest release, Outlive Your Life. For the first time, all the devotional material in this fully-revised edition of The Inspirational Study Bible is from Max Lucado and uses the popular and reliable New King James Version translation!

An ideal companion for Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life DVD-Based Study.

With the Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible you will:
  • Gain a unique, inspirationally focused view of Scripture
  • Experience God's interaction with people like yourself
  • Acquire new perspectives from the devotional insights of Max Lucado
  • Shine a light on "the map that leads us to God's highest treasure"

I've not looked at two of these--the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and the Case for Christ NIV Study Bible. First, I'm not young enough to be a "student." And while I've spent *some* time in the store looking at the adult Apologetics Study Bible, I've not been persuaded enough to buy it. Second, the NIV is not my favorite or best translation of choice. I have read one Lee Strobel book--can't remember if it was The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, or The Case for Resurrection. (If it was in another translation, I'd probably have opened it up and read some in the store to see if it was for me.)

The Life Lessons Lucado Bible I've *looked* at in the store. Even somewhat longingly. But knowing that I have the first edition, and knowing how full my Bible shelf already is has kept me far!

I own two of the finalists--the HCSB Study Bible which is one of the best, best, best study Bibles that I've discovered in a while! And the ESV Seek and Find Bible which is unique and good in its own way. (If I could have had this one when I was 8, it would have been love, love, love!!!)

Two of the finalists are for youth--either children or teens. Three are for adults. One seems a bit more "inspirational/devotional" than study-study. But I think each has its strengths. Each, of course, has the potential to be THE ONE for some one out there seeking God's Word, God's Truth.

I do wish that the ESV MacArthur Bible would have made the finalist list. I really, really do. Because it's one of my favorite Bibles. It's a great translation--I just love, love, love the ESV. And the notes are so thorough and well-written. And the format/design is great. I *think* it is the best formatted of the MacArthur Study Bibles--comparing it with the first edition of the NKJV, and the NASB edition.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Easter Presents For The Kids (Gift Ideas)

Do I believe in the Easter bunny? No. I can't remember the Easter bunny ever visiting me as a child. For Easter was always about the resurrection. About Jesus rising from the dead! About how every morning is Easter morning from now on. But I do think this Lent/Easter season is a good one for gift-giving. A good opportunity for parents and grandparents to help focus the excitement in the right direction, in a heavenly direction.

Board Books

Baby Bible: Stories About Jesus. Illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo. Robin Currie. 2008. 32 pages.  [My review]

My Toddler Bible. Bethan James & Yorgos Sgouros. 2008. Tyndale. 36 pages. [My review]

Rise and Shine. Illustrated by Tim Warnes. (Song is in the public domain.) 2010. February 2010. Board Book. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [My review]

The Story of Easter. Patricia A. Pingry. Illustrated by Lorraine Wells. 1998. 26 pages.

Picture Books

God is Great: A Toddlers Bible Storybook by Carolyn Larsen. Illustrated by Caron Turk. 2011. Crossway Publishers. 44 pages. [My review]

Mortimer's First Garden. Karma Wilson. 2009.  Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [My review]

Thank You, God (various authors), illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. 2009. (January of 2009) Simon & Schuster. [My review]

Larger Bible Story Books

The Big Picture Story Bible. David R. Helm. 2004/2010. Crossway Publishers. 456 pages. [My review

My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 256 pages. [My review

My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories. Jan Godfrey. 2009. Illustrated by Paola Bertolini Grudina. Tyndale. [My review]

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Deluxe Edition. Sally Lloyd-Jones. 2009. Zonderkidz. 352 pages. [My review

Classic Bible Storybook: More Than 120 Bible Stories From Kenneth N. Taylor. Tyndale Publishing. 270 pages. [My review

Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book. Written by Starr Meade. Illustrated by Tim O'Connor. 2010. Crossway. 288 pages. [My review

Children's Bibles

ESV Seek and Find Bible. Crossway Publishing. 2010. 1888 pages. [My review

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Day Six: Way Back When

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you!

Major themes taken from the Matthew Henry Study Bible

1 Peter - Exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Much of it reads like a sermon written to remind Christians of their conversion, privileges they have in Christ, and the holy lives they are to live. 
2 Peter - Stay diligent. Jesus Christ will return. 
1 John - Believers can have assurance of salvation. No true knowledge of God is possible without commitment to the divine-human Son of God and without receiving forgiveness for sin that His death provides. 
2 John - An earnest plea to continue to love one another and so obey Christ's commandment. To reject the subtle deceivers who deny that Jesus Christ truly became a human being. 
3 John - Encouraging God's workers to show hospitality at all times to ministers and missionaries. 

When God Ran by Benny Hester...

Michael W. Smith's Secret Ambition...

Michael Card's Love Crucified Arose...

Dallas Holm's Rise Again...

See also, He's Alive by Don Francisco and The Coloring Song by Petra.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Testament in a Week: My Progress

I didn't want to "clutter" up this blog with daily updates, since I am the host, but I wanted to share with you my progress on reading the New Testament this week. Some days I was able to read A LOT. Some days I only read a little. I think it probably helped mixing up the books, not trying to go from Matthew to Mark to Luke to John. The epistles definitely lighten up the load of reading! And there's such richness to be found, such depth, such treasure!  

Day One:

1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Matthew 1-15

Day Two:

Matthew 16-28
Luke 1-13

Day Three:

Luke 14-24
1 Timothy
2 Timothy

Day Four:

1 Peter
2 Peter

Day Five:

1 John
2 John
3 John

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Day Five: Heaven Is A Wonderful Place

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you!

Central Themes taken from the ESV Seek and Find Bible

Titus - Sound doctrine is important; doctrine and godliness go together; godly elders should be appointed; salvation comes by God's grace.
Philemon - The greatest reconciliation is between God and man; there should be reconciliation between Christians; Christians must show love and forgiveness; debts can be both repaid and forgiven. 
Hebrews - God speaks most fully in His Son; Jesus is superior to angels and to Moses; Jesus is our great high priest; Jesus is the perfect sacrifice all other sacrifices pointed to; Christians must hold to Jesus in faith and not turn back; faith is defined using Old Testament examples.
James - Joy and patience are required during suffering; true wisdom comes from God; believers should turn to God in prayer and faith; the Church should have a right attitude toward riches, including sharing with the needy; the tongue must be guarded; good deeds show real faith; loving the world is sin. 

Steven Curtis Chapman's Not Home Yet...

MercyMe's I Can Only Imagine...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day Four: Daddy's Song

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you!

Central Themes taken from the ESV Seek and Find Bible

1 Thessalonians - Jesus will come again; suffering for Christ is part of the Christian life; ministers of the gospel must labor diligently in love; those who reject the gospel will be judged; believers will be resurrected to glory; Christians must pursue holiness.
2 Thessalonians - When Jesus returns God will show wrath to unbelievers and show His glory to believers; before Jesus returns there will be a time of rebellion and the 'man of lawlessness' will appear; Christians are called to faithful, holy living; idleness is rebuked.
1 Timothy - False teaching must be resisted and sound doctrine promoted; the gospel leads to authentic godliness; prayer should be ongoing and for all people; elders and deacons must meet certain requirements; relationships among believers should be gospel-centered; believers are called to exercise faithfulness in ministry. 
2 Timothy - Suffering is a normal part of the Christian life; Christians are to depend on God's power and keep trusting God through suffering; the good news of the gospel is our reason for enduring; Scripture is God's very Word to His people; false teaching must be firmly resisted.

In two parts, I've got Daddy's Song by Dennis Jernigan...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day Three: Grace Alone

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you!

Major Themes Taken from the Matthew Henry Study Bible

Galatians - Liberty in Jesus. We are saved by faith in Christ alone, apart from the works of the Jewish law.
Ephesians - The body of Christ, His church. The book of Ephesians was intended to strengthen the church and to make Christians more conscious of their unity in Christ.
Philippians - Joy in the Lord regardless of circumstances.
Colossians - Christ is pre-eminent. He is the Head of all; He is Lord of all.

Today I am sharing one of my favorite, favorite songs. Caedmon's Call's Mystery of Mercy...

and Who Am I? by Casting Crown...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day Two: All Eyes On Him

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you!

Key Purposes taken from the ESV Seek and Find Bible

Acts - The purpose of Acts is to show how Jesus' ministry continued through the Spirit-filled apostles and church as they witnessed about Jesus from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

Romans - The purpose of Romans is to explain the gospel to the Christians living in Rome, showing how the gospel freely saves both Jews and Gentiles in a way that fulfills God's Old Testament promises.

1 Corinthians - The purpose of 1 Corinthians is to remind the Corinthians how different Christianity is from the way the world is, to exhort them to live lives faithful to the gospel and in unity with one another, and to answer questions that the Corinthians had asked.

2 Corinthians - The purpose of 2 Corinthians is to demonstrate that Paul was a true apostle, since false apostles were telling the Corinthians he was not, and to show that Christianity is opposite of the way we normally think about religion.

Today I thought I would share a few videos with you.

The first, "In Christ Alone" by Newsboys

The second, "Before There Was Time" by Caedmon's Call

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day One, Welcome!

If you'd like to share your progress in the New Testament this week, I'd love to hear from you. Of course, you don't have to share your progress, you don't have to "report" daily! This is a very personal challenge after all! But I thought I would try to cheer you on day by day by sharing a little bit about each book of the New Testament, and by sharing a few videos per day!

Key Purposes taken from the Matthew Henry Study Bible:

Matthew -- Matthew wrote especially to Jewish readers. His main purpose was to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, and Eternal King. He does this by showing how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. His gospel includes fifty-three quotations from, and seventy-six references to, the Old Testament, more than any other New Testament writer.

Mark -- Mark's gospel is short, not giving so full an account of Christ's sermons, but insisting chiefly on His miracles. Mark presents the person and work of Jesus Christ to a mostly Gentile audience at Rome. His readers' attitude may have been: "Just give us the facts." As such, Mark's gospel moves quickly to the cross and resurrection of Christ.

Luke -- Luke was a Gentile writing to a Gentile audience. As such, he often uses Greek terms rather than Hebrew and emphasizes that the gospel is for the entire world.

John -- John's gospel is rather different from the "Synoptic" gospels. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke concentrate upon recording the events of Jesus' life and ministry, John dwells upon the spiritual meaning of what Jesus said and did. It is thought that John was writing with a Greek reader in mind. Therefore he lays strong emphasis upon the signs of Jesus, the miracles that prove Jesus is the Christ. In the gospel of John, Jesus' miracles are reported selectively, as seven specific signs, eight including the resurrection. These signs are intended to encourage belief in Jesus, John's stated purpose for writing is that his readers would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and "that believing ye might have life through His name."

Beginning with Matthew? You might be "inspired" by Andrew Peterson singing "Matthew's Begats"! You may never *read* this genealogy the same way again!

Or perhaps you'd like to start with a letter? How about 1 Corinthians? Here's Michael Card's God's Own Fool:

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible