Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 2012 Bible-Reading Records

Written by Moses

1. Genesis (KJV)
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy

OT Narratives

6. Joshua
7. Judges
8. Ruth (KJV)
9. 1 Samuel
10. 2 Samuel
11. 1 Kings
12. 2 Kings
13. 1 Chronicles
14. 2 Chronicles (KJV)
15. Ezra (KJV)
16. Nehemiah
17. Esther

Wisdom Literature

18. Job
19. Psalms (ESV)
20. Proverbs (ESV)
21. Ecclesiastes (KJV)
22. Song of Songs (KJV)

Major Prophets

23. Isaiah
24. Jeremiah
25. Lamentations
26. Ezekiel
27. Daniel

Minor Prophets

28. Hosea (KJV)
29. Joel (KJV)
30. Amos (KJV)
31. Obadiah (KJV)
32. Jonah (KJV)
33. Micah (KJV)
34. Nahum
35. Habakkuk
36. Zephaniah
37. Haggai
38. Zechariah
39. Malachi

NT Narratives

40. Matthew (ESV, KJV)
41. Mark (ESV, KJV)
42. Luke (ESV, KJV)
43. John (ESV, KJV)
44. Acts (ESV, NKJV)

Epistles by Paul

45. Romans (KJV)
46. 1 Corinthians (ESV, KJV)
47. 2 Corinthians (ESV, KJV)
48. Galatians (ESV, KJV, NASB)
49. Ephesians (ESV, KJV, NASB)
50. Philippians (ESV, KJV)
51. Colossians (ESV, KJV)
52. 1 Thessalonians (ESV, KJV)
53. 2 Thessalonians (ESV, KJV)
54. 1 Timothy (ESV)
55. 2 Timothy (ESV)
56. Titus (ESV, KJV)
57. Philemon (ESV, KJV)

General Epistles

58. Hebrews (ESV, KJV)
59. James (ESV, KJV)
60. 1 Peter (ESV, KJV)
61. 2 Peter (ESV, KJV)
62. 1 John (ESV, KJV, NKJV)
63. 2 John (ESV, KJV, NKJV)
64. 3 John (ESV, KJV, NKJV)
65. Jude (ESV, KJV)

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

66. Revelation (ESV, KJV, KJV)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Week In Review, April 21-28

A.W. Tozer Bible (KJV)

  • Genesis 38-50
  • Ezra
  • Proverbs 1-8
  • Isaiah 40-51
  • Micah
  • Luke
  • 2 Corinthians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 John 
  • 2 John
  • 3 John

ESV Grow! Bible

  • Psalms 107-150
  • Mark
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians


  • John 7-9

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My new reading system

I haven't exactly found the just-right-for-me Bible reading plan. Part of me absolutely LOVES the freedom of reading what I want, when I want. But part of me knows that when I just read what I love, I don't really have balance in my Bible reading. Not that you have to be completely-completely balanced. Not that there is a wrong way to go about it. I love freedom too much to go for any plan that is too strict, too structured, too complicated. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be reliant or dependent on having a printout or a bookmark telling me what books, what chapters I should read that day. The plan that works for me has to allow for generous doses of flexibility. After all, some days I may want to read twelve chapters in Isaiah, and the next day I might want to read two. So what I'm looking for is a plan that allows for freedom of choice, has ample flexibility, and built-in balance. And simplicity.

In early April, I wrote out a very simple plan. And I allowed myself the whole month to test it.

On Monday, I read from the Books of Moses (the first five books of the Bible)
On Tuesday, I read from the History books (Joshua through Esther)
On Wednesday, I read from the wisdom books (Job through Song of Songs)
On Thursday, I read from the Major Prophets (Isaiah through Daniel)
On Friday, I read from the Minor Prophets (Hosea through Malachi)

That is the Old Testament. What about the New Testament?

On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I read from the gospels and Acts.
On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I read from the epistles (Romans-Revelation)

And what about Sunday? Well, Sunday is READ WHATEVER I WANT DAY. I might use Sunday to help me get through one of the longer books I'm reading. I might use it to finish up a book I'm close to finishing. I can read ANYTHING.

My plan doesn't try to establish an order to reading these books, nor does it say how many chapters to read per day or per week or per month. It doesn't dictate that I should read Matthew before Mark or Luke. And it doesn't say that I have to read 1 Chronicles after reading 2 Kings. Within any category, I can pick what I want. Yet by saying that I will read something from the Old Testament each day, and something from the New Testament each day, I have balance.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Second Impressions of the A.W. Tozer Bible

Earlier this month I shared my first impressions of a brand new devotional Bible, the A.W. Tozer Bible published by Hendrickson. At the time I was liking it but having a few reservations. To be exact, I was worried that the size of the font and the fact that it was red letter would prove too much for me to make the A.W. Tozer "my" Bible. (That is THE Bible that I read every day, as opposed to a Bible that I'd read every once in a while.)

So what books have I read in the one month that I've had this Bible?

1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Song of Solomon
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Tozer quotes. I do. I am loving all three features:

  • "On Scripture" Over 365 selections add depth and insight to a particular verse's application for the believer.
  • "Reflections" More than 100 excerpts that apply the deep meaning of the Christian faith to everyday life.
  • "Challenges" Nearly 100 entries that exhort the reader to resist complacency in particular areas of one's "living out" in the world.

I think the Bible does a GREAT job at highlighting A.W. Tozer and his work. Reading these quotes day after day make me WANT even more Tozer. I've definitely started seeking out more Tozer books. And I've started buying more Tozer books. In the few weeks I've had this Bible, I think I've purchased at least three or four Tozer books!

It would probably be difficult to track down every single Tozer book to add to your library. But with this Bible you get a GOOD, very STRONG taste of Tozer. The Bible has excerpts or quotes from so very many Tozer books. Several dozen books at least. And these quotes do represent the best of the best of the best. And after spending some time with this Bible, you'll probably know exactly which books you want to track down first.

I know I've mentioned this before, but Tozer's zeal and enthusiasm for God is CONTAGIOUS. You can't help but get excited when you read Tozer. Tozer just has a very straight-forward, very honest, very tell-it-like-it-is, no-good-comes-from-sugar-coating approach to the Word. He talks about things that MATTER. His books aren't difficult to understand, but his ideas are challenging. They ask you to stop and consider. Are you living what you say you believe? Are you sure?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Week In Review: April 14-20

This week I read

A.W. Tozer Bible (KJV)

  • Genesis 22-37
  • Ruth
  • Song of Solomon
  • Isaiah 15-39
  • Jonah
  • Matthew 10-28
  • 1 Corinthians
  • James 
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Revelation

ESV Grow!
  • Psalms 73-106
  • Acts 17-28

  • John 1-6

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Root of the Righteous

The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 186 pages.

One marked difference between the faith of our fathers as conceived by the fathers and the same faith as understood and lived by their children is that the fathers were concerned with the root of the matter, while their present-day descendants seem concerned only with the fruit. 

Dare I say it? I think I loved The Root of the Righteous *even* more than I loved The Knowledge of the Holy. I would definitely consider The Root of the Righteous to be just as much of a must-read as Tozer's beloved classic, The Knowledge of the Holy. It may just be THE BEST book on Christian living that I've read in a while. To clarify, the best general book on Christian living that covers a dozen different subjects of Christian living--as opposed to a "Christian living" book that just focuses on one subject (grace; atonement; prayer; church leadership; worship; assurance of salvation; etc.) Many great, great books just focus one or two subjects. This one truly covers it all. No matter WHERE you are in your faith, in your life, no matter what you're struggling with....this one is just right for meeting your needs.

There are 46 chapters in The Root of the Righteous. Don't be intimidated though. Each chapter is three to four pages in length. This one would be a GREAT book to read devotionally--before or after Bible reading/prayer.

  • The Root of the Righteous
  • We Must Give Time to God
  • God is Easy to Live With
  • Listen to the Man Who Listens to God
  • We Must Hear Worthily
  • That Utilitarian Christ
  • On Receiving Admonition
  • The Great God Entertainment
  • Bible Taught or Spirit Taught?
  • The Terror of the Lord
  • No Regeneration without Reformation
  • Faith is a Perturbing Thing
  • True Faith Brings Committal
  • The Great Disparity
  • Our Enemy Contentment
  • Christ is the Pattern
  • The Cross is a Radical Thing
  • We Must Die If We Would Live
  • Christ Died For Our Hearts
  • We Stand in Christ's Triumph
  • To Be or To Do
  • Make Room for Mystery
  • The Whole Life Must Pray
  • No Saviorhood without Lordship
  • "A Sweet Lute, Sweetly Played"
  • The All-Importance of Motive
  • The Presence More Important Than the Program
  • The World's Most Tragic Waste
  • The Hunger of the Wilderness
  • Our Fruit Will Be What We Are
  • Needed: A Baptism of Clear Seeing
  • Narrow Mansions
  • The Sanctification of Our Desires
  • In Praise of Disbelief
  • Thankfulness As A Moral Therapeutic
  • Understanding Those Dry Spells
  • About Hindrances
  • The Uses of Suffering
  • Praise God for the Furnace
  • Victory in the Guise of Defeat
  • Love of the Unseen is Possible
  • Something Beyond Song
  • Three Degrees of Love
  • We Need Cool Heads
  • We Can Afford to Wait
  • God, the First and the Last

Each chapter is rich--very, very rich--in truth. Some truths *are* hard to hear, you should be warned. Reading Tozer might just challenge and convict you. Especially when he talks about complacency and laziness. But Tozer's passionate zeal, his enthusiasm for God, for the Bible, is super-contagious. And reading Tozer is very inspiring.

Favorite quotes:

The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God. (8)
Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him. (9)
No man has any right to offer advice who has not first heard God speak. No man has any right to counsel others who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord. True moral wisdom must always be an echo of God's voice. The only safe light for our path is the light which is reflected from Christ, the Light of the World. (16)
A truth fully taught in the Scriptures and verified in personal experience by countless numbers of holy men and women through the centuries might be condensed thus into a religious axiom: No one can know the true grace of God who has not first known the fear of God. (39)
People must be told that the Christian religion is not something they can trifle with. The faith of Christ will command or it will have nothing to do with a man. It will not yield to experimentation. Its power cannot reach any man who is secretly keeping an escape route open in case things get too tough for him. The only man who can be sure he has true Bible faith is the one who has put himself in a position where he cannot go back. (50)
To many Christians Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal; He is not a fact. Millions of professed believers talk as if He were real and act as if He were not. And always our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk. We can prove our faith by our committal to it and in no other way. Any belief that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief. (51)
Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present low estate from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith, scarcely one in a thousand reveals any passionate thirst for God. (61)
In every Christian's heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. (72-3)
We must never underestimate the ability of human beings to get themselves tangled up. Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood. By overemphasizing in one place and underemphasizing in another the whole pattern of truth may be so altered that a completely false view results without our being aware of it. This fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ so widely accepted in many religious circles. It goes like this: Christ is both Savior and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Savior without yielding to Him as Lord. The practical outworking of this doctrine is that the evangelist presents and the seeker accepts a divided Christ. We have all heard the tearful plea made to persons already saved to accept Christ as Lord and thus enter into the victorious life. Almost all deeper life teaching is based upon this fallacy, but because it contains a germ of truth its soundness is not questioned. Anyway, it is extremely simple and quite popular, and in addition to these selling points it is also ready-made for both speaker and hearer and requires no thinking by either. So sermons embodying this heresy are freely preached, books are written and songs composed, all saying the same thing; and all saying the wrong thing, except, as I have said, for a feeble germ of truth lying inert at the bottom. Now, it seems odd that none of these teachers ever noticed that the only true object of saving faith is none other than Christ Himself; not the "saviorhood" of Christ nor the "lordship" of Christ, but Christ himself. God does not offer salvation to the one who will believe on one of the offices of Christ, nor is an office of Christ ever presented as an object of faith. Neither are we exhorted to believe on the atonement, nor on the cross, nor on the priesthood of the Savior. All of these are embodied in the person of Christ, but they are never separated nor is one ever isolated from the rest. Much less are we permitted to accept one of Christ's offices and reject another. The notion that we are so permitted is a modern day heresy, I repeat, and like every heresy it has had evil consequences among Christians. No heresy is ever entertained with impunity. We pay in practical failure for our theoretical errors. It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him. Christ's saviorhood is forever united to His lordship. (95-7)
The man who has met God is not looking for something--he has found it. he is not searching for light--upon him the Light has already shined. His certainty may seem bigoted, but his is the assurance of one who knows by experience. His religion is not hearsay; he is not a copy, not a facsimile print; he is an original from the hand of the Holy Ghost. (181)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Pursuit of God

The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. A.W. Tozer 1948/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 70 pages.

Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow. We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. "No man can come to me," said our Lord, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him," and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the out working of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: "Thy right hand upholdeth me."

I have just been LOVING my A.W. Tozer Bible. As in there are no words for how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reading it. So when my library got a copy of A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God, I knew I had to read it.

It is a short book: ten little chapters, around 70 to 80 pages. I'll share a list of chapter titles with you because I think the titles alone can help you decide if this is something that you'd be interested in reading for yourself:

  • Following Hard After God
  • The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing
  • Removing the Veil
  • Apprehending God
  • The Universal Presence
  • The Speaking Voice
  • The Gaze of the Soul
  • Restoring the Creator-Creature Relation
  • Meekness and Rest
  • The Sacrament of Living

Each chapter is three or four pages in length. Each chapter concludes with a prayer. I just LOVED these prayers, it's true. For me, they were the highlight of the whole book. I wish the A.W. Tozer Bible had a fourth feature--prayers of Tozer.

From "Following Hard After God"
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
From "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing"
Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
From "Removing the Veil"
Lord, how excellent are Thy ways, and how devious and dark are the ways of man. Show us how to die, that we may rise again to newness of life. Rend the veil of our self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple. We would draw near in full assurance of faith. We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there. In Jesus' name, Amen.
From "Apprehending God"
O God, quicken to life every power within me, that I may lay hold on eternal things. Open my eyes that I may see; give me acute spiritual perception; enable me to taste Thee and know that Thou art good. Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been. Amen.
From "Restoring the Creator-creature Relation"
O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, "Hosanna in the highest."
The text of this one is available through Project Gutenberg.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Week in Review: April 8-13

A.W. Tozer, King James Version

  • Genesis 11-21
  • 2 Chronicles 10-36
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Isaiah 6-14
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Matthew 1-9
  • John
  • Jude
  • Titus
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation

ESV Grow!

  • Psalms 32-72
  • Proverbs 25-31
  • Acts 1-16

NASB, Wide Margin

  • John 1-3

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Nature of God (Gleanings in the Godhead)

Nature of God (Formerly published as Gleanings in the Godhead). Arthur W. Pink. 1975/1999. Moody Publishers. 347 pages.

What is the best way to approach A.W. Pink's The Nature of God? I'm not exactly sure. But I'd certainly recommend going at a slow-but-steady pace. The but is very important. For if you just go slow and unsteady, then you lose momentum and motivation. If it's just a book you pick up once a month, then, it's not something you're likely to finish. Then again, realistically speaking, this may not be a book you'd want to *have* to read a chapter a day in. So perhaps a compromise of sorts is in order, setting a goal for yourself to read two chapters a week? But, let's go back to basics...

Why should you want to read The Nature of God? Quite simply you should want to read this one because it is a great book about God the Father and God the Son. The first part is "excellencies which pertain to the Godhead as God." The second part is "excellencies which pertain to God the Son as Christ."

Sample chapter titles from part one:

  • The Knowledge of God
  • The Foreknowledge of God
  • The Supremacy of God
  • The Sovereignty of God
  • The Holiness of God
  • The Faithfulness of God
  • The Loving-Kindness of God
  • The Goodness of God
  • The Patience of God
  • The Grace of God

And that's just a sample. There are many more chapters in this section!

Sample chapter titles from part two:

  • The Fullness of Christ
  • The Radiance of Christ
  • The Humanity of Christ
  • The Person of Christ
  • The Crucifixion of Christ
  • The Lordship of Christ
  • The Saviorhood of Christ
  • The Call of Christ
  • The Rest of Christ
  • The Yoke of Christ

Again, just a sample list. There are more chapters in this section!

How reader-friendly is this classic? Well. That depends. The good news is that most of the chapters are short. It's not unusual for many chapters to be under five or six pages. Of course, there's exceptions. Some chapters are twice that length. As far as vocabulary and style, I found it accessible. Pink relies on Scripture. So the more familiar you are with your Bible, the more accessible you'll find this one. If you find the Bible difficult to understand, then you'll probably find this book just as challenging. That's not to say that this book isn't practical and relevant. I did find it very relevant! And I personally found it rich in truth. There were so many passages worth sharing with you, worth remembering myself. (I marked so many passages that I'm a little overwhelmed and intimidated to sort through them at the moment. Maybe I'll share in a separate post later.)

I definitely liked this one!!!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Letters to a Diminished Church

Letters To A Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine. Dorothy Sayers. 2004. Thomas Nelson. 280 pages.

Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine--dull dogma as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man--and the dogma is the drama.

I never know whether to start with the good news or the bad news when writing a book review. To me, this book was a slight disappointment, but I'll need to clarify. While I was familiar with Sayers oh-so-excellent work as a mystery writer during the 1920s and 1930s, I was unfamiliar with her work as a writer of theology or christian living. I read half-a-dozen Sayers quotes in a Michael Horton book earlier this year, and it was LOVE. I mean I thought her work, her writing, her insights were absolutely wonderful, brilliant, wise. I LOVED them so much I typed them all up and shared them as a Sunday Salon post. So my expectations were exceedingly high. And I ordered Letters to a Diminished Church because I thought it sounded very, very promising.

The good news is that this book has two of the best essays ever. "The Greatest Drama Ever Staged" is one of the best, best, best essays ever. These seven pages are truly must-read-material. I mean these pages are rich in truth. Sayers' insights are great. "What Do We Believe?" is an interesting essay that challenges readers to think about what they really believe and if their so-called beliefs impact how they do in fact live daily in a practical way. It is not as brilliant, perhaps, as "The Greatest Drama Ever Staged," but it is at least practical. "The Dogma is the Drama" is a quirky little piece with some truth to it. (Think Screwtape Letters). It is in an unusual question-and-answer format. Sayers is writing what the average person *may* say in response to these general-and-basic questions. Questions such as "What does the church think of God the Father? What does the church think of God the Son? What does the church think of God the Holy Spirit? etc. This article is more about how Christianity is misunderstood by many--even those who have some experience with church. In other words, what answers would the person off the street be like if asked these basic creedal questions. "Creed or Chaos?" is an excellent essay or article. It is definitely in the top two from this collection. I'd definitely consider it must-read.

The bad news is that the remaining essays were dry(er) and less relevant to the general readership. Among other things Sayers emphasizes the creative-imaginative artist; art and Art in the world; literature and literary criticism. I personally could not work up enthusiasm for essays like "The Faust Legend and the Idea of the Devil," "The Writing and Reading of Allegory," and "Toward a Christian Esthetic."

I'm not saying that the only quote-worthy sections are the four essays that I absolutely loved and adored. There were a few gems hidden in the other essays, but, you had to be super-super patient. And even then it wasn't a sure-thing.


Sayers' on TOLERANCE

It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is a mortal sin. (103)

Sayers' on PREACHERS

If spiritual pastors are to refrain from saying anything that might ever, by any possibility, be misunderstood by anybody, they will end--as in fact many of them do--by never saying anything worth hearing. (117)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Salon: Quoting A.W. Tozer

I am really enjoying my A.W. Tozer Bible! I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes with you!

From the note on Hebrews 3:12-13,
What is overlooked in all this is that faith is good only when it engages truth; when it is made to rest upon falsehood it can and often does lead to eternal tragedy. For it is not enough that we believe; we must believe the right thing about the right One. To believe in God is more than that believe that He exists. Ahab and Judas believed that. To a right faith knowledge is necessary. We must know at least something of what God is like and what His will is for His human creatures. To know less than this is to be thrown back upon the necessity of accepting the affirmations of the soul and substituting "Thus saith my soul" for the biblical "Thus saith the Lord." True faith requires that we believe everything God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us. Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down. It never quite accepts the severity of God or the depravity of man. It stresses the goodness of God and man's misfortune. Sin is a pardonable frailty and God is not too much concerned about it. He merely wants us to trust in His goodness. To believe thus is to ground faith upon falsehood and build our eternal hope upon sand. No man has any right to pick and choose among revealed truths. God has spoken. We are all under solemn obligation to hear the affirmations of the Holy Spirit. (Of God and Men)
From the note on Hebrews 12:1-2
We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do--flee it or die upon it. And if we should be so foolhardy as to flee, we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power will depart with our departure from the true cross. If we are wise we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise the shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling. The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works. The changed attitude toward the cross that we see in modern orthodoxy proves not that God has changed, nor that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross; it means rather that current Christianity has moved away from the standards of the New Testament. So far have we moved indeed that it may take nothing short of a new reformation to restore the cross to its right place in the theology and life of the Church. (The Root of the Righteous)
From the note on Hebrews 1:12
The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever and the present is passing as swift as the shadow of the sun dial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it. We do well to think of the long tomorrow. Toward the world to come we are all headed. How unutterably wonderful that we Christians have one of our own kind to go ahead and prepare a place for us! That place will be in a world divinely ordered, beyond death and parting, where there is nothing that can hurt or make us afraid. (Of God and Men)
From the note on John 3:16
The mercy of God has never been any more than now, and the mercy of God will never be any less than now. Don't imagine that when the day of judgment comes God will turn off the mercy as the sun goes behind a cloud or as you turn off a spigot. Don't think for a minute that the mercy of God will cease to be. The mercy of God will never be any less than it is now, because the infinite cannot cease to be infinite, and the perfect cannot admit an imperfection. And again, nothing that occurs can increase the mercy of God or diminish the mercy of God or alter the quality of the mercy of God. For instance, the cross of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross the mercy of God did not become any greater. It could not become any greater, for it was already infinite. We get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died. No--Jesus died because God is showing mercy. It was the mercy of God that gave us Calvary, not Calvary that gave us mercy. If God had not been merciful there would have been no incarnation, no babe in the manger, no man on a cross, and no open tomb. God has mercy enough to enfold the whole universe in His heart, and nothing anybody ever did could diminish the mercy of God. A man can walk out from under and away from the mercy of God as Israel did and as Adam and Eve did for a time, as the nations of the world have done, and as Sodom and Gomorrah did. We can make the mercy of God inoperative toward us by our conduct, since we are free moral agents. But that doesn't change or diminish the power of the Word of God nor the mercy of God. And it doesn't alter the quality of it. The intercession of Christ at the right hand of God does not increase the mercy of God toward His people. If God were not already merciful, there would be no intercession of Christ at the right hand of God. And if God is merciful at all then He is infinitely merciful. It is impossible for the mediatorship of Jesus at the right hand of the Father to make the mercy of God any more than it is now. (The Attributes of God 1)
From the note on Philippians 2:15
The wisdom of the cross is repudiation of the world's "norm." Christ, not society, becomes the pattern of the Christian life. The believer seeks adjustment, not to the world, but to the will of God, and just to the degree that he is integrated into the heart of Christ is he out of adjustment with fallen human society. The Christian sees the world as a sinking ship from which he escapes not by integration but by abandonment. A new moral power will flow back into the Church when we stop preaching social adjustment and begin to preach social repudiation and cross carrying. Modern Christians hope to save the world by being like it, but it will never work. The Church's power over the world springs out of her unlikeness to it, never from her integration into it. (The Price of Neglect)
From the note on Galatians 2:20

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross...What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die. Having done this, let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Savior, and from him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ. (The Old Cross and the New)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week In Review: March 31-April 7

This past week was the "Read the NT in a Week" event/challenge. If you participated, I would LOVE to hear about it. I would learn to love what you learned. What was the hardest thing about the challenge, what was the easiest thing, etc. And perhaps most importantly, do you think this will change the way you read the Bible?

ESV Grow!

Proverbs 22-24
John 5-21
1 John
2 John
3 John
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy

A.W. Tozer Bible (KJV)

Genesis 1-10
2 Chronicles 1-9
Ecclesiastes 1-3
John 1-5

Max Lucado Life Lessons (NKJV)

1 John
2 John
3 John

NASB (Wide Margin)


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:12-23 ESV)

This Is What We Believe, Aaron Shust

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Impressions of the A.W. Tozer Bible

This week I spent some time in the newly published A.W. Tozer Bible. I thought I would share my first impressions with you.

The text of this one is the King James Translation. I don't mind the KJV. I really don't. While it wouldn't be my first-first choice for a new Bible, it certainly would be in my top three. (To be honest, if this Bible had been published in the NIV, I'm not sure I would have talked myself into it. If it had been done in ESV, I probably would be giddy with delight and gushing about it nonstop.)

What I like best about the King James Version is the language and style of it. I think it's a great translation in terms of beauty and quality. Especially the Psalms. What I like least about the King James Version is its tendency to be published in red-letter. (That is most KJV Bibles publish "Words of Christ" in red.) I am not a fan of red-letter because even if the premise is a good one--and I am not convinced it is a good one, by the way--I'm like Goldilocks about the ink, the color of the red ink. It can be too orange. It can be too pink. It can be too faded. It can be too fluorescent. It can be too distracting. It can be hard to read--a real strain on the eyes. It's not that I've never ever seen red-letter printed to my liking, it's just that it is so rare to have it be "just right." Unfortunately, the red letter in the A.W. Tozer Bible isn't "just right." It's not horrible, I admit. But to me, the red-letters have a blending-in or faded-out appearance to them. So my eyes have to work twice as hard to read the Words of Christ. (This color "red" is also the color of the chapter-numbers. Unfortunately. It seems like such a small thing to mention. But it does effect every chapter in the Bible. Black font color would have been such a great, great thing.

Instead of the text being arranged in paragraph format--something that I think should almost be a requirement--the text is in verse, verse, verse, verse format. That is each verse begins on its own line. No matter if it is in the middle of a sentence. No matter if it's in the middle of a thought. New paragraphs are indicated by a paragraph symbol. (I found this VERY annoying. At the very least, it would take some getting used to. I'm not saying that it will still bother me a month from now, but for now, it's just a reminder that the formatting is not my style.)

The size of the font. Font size can be tricky to get right, I know. Well, I don't know really, I just imagine. You've got to balance between the weight, size, and bulkiness of a Bible and a comfortable reading font. And every reader's idea of a "comfortable" reading font differs. I found the font size of the A.W. Tozer Bible to be on the small size. Not the impossibly small size where I'm only kidding myself that I can use it as my everyday Bible. But the slight strain to the eyes size that makes shorter reading times more appealing. If they'd just gone one size up I think it would have been great! (To count down on bulkiness, they could always format it in paragraphs.)

Now, for the really good news. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Tozer elements of this one. There are three features:

  • "On Scripture" Over 365 selections add depth and insight to a particular verse's application for the believer.
  • "Reflections" More than 100 excerpts that apply the deep meaning of the Christian faith to everyday life.
  • "Challenges" Nearly 100 entries that exhort the reader to resist complacency in particular areas of one's "living out" in the world.

I've read in the Tozer Bible nearly a week now and I am just LOVING the Tozer excerpts and quotes. I am. More than I even thought I would. And it's making me want more Tozer. I find myself wanting to hunt out more books by A.W. Tozer so I can read them in their entirety. Tozer's zeal is still contagious. And I definitely enjoy his tell-it-like-it-is approach. Yes, his words can convict and challenge. But that isn't a bad thing. I find his honest-zeal, his genuine love for God and God's holiness, to be refreshing and very much needed.

While the Bible isn't perfectly-perfectly appealing to my eyes (in terms of font size, font color, etc), it is definitely appealing to the heart, mind, and soul.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: It Is Well

It is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement. Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence. 2010. Crossway. 224 pages.

It is Well is a great little book with a great little premise. A whole book devoted to discussing the substitutionary atonement, a book dedicated to illustrating it, supporting it, proving it, using scripture after scripture after scripture. Each chapter focuses on a specific text in the Bible.

The Passover, Exodus 12
The Day of Atonement Leviticus 16
Crushed For Our Iniquities Crushed For Our Iniquities Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Ransom for Many: Mark 10:45
Forsaken: Mark 15:33-34
To Save the World: John 3:14-18
Better That One Man Die: John 11:47-52
Propitiation: Romans 3:21-26
Delivered Over to Death for Our Sins: Romans 4:25
Justified By His Blood: Romans 5:8-10
Condemned Sin: Romans 8:1-4
Becoming a Curse for Us: Galatians 3:10-13
Bore Our Sins In His Body on the Tree: 1 Peter 2:21-25
Christ Died For Sins 1 Peter 3:18

The book in many ways seeks to defend this view of the atonement against its critics new and old. (Though the focus is on new critics.) These arguments are important overall, but they're not necessarily practical. I'll clarify. It is very, very, very important that you and I know what the cross means, what Jesus' death on the cross means. There is no truth more vital for us as believers to know. Truly. The atonement definitely matters in how we live our lives, because our beliefs about the cross, about atonement, about the works and person of Jesus Christ MATTER. But is following along with the arguments--with the new critics equally important to each and every believer? It is very, very important that each person knows the truth and can discern the truth from a lie. But is it important that believers read up on each and every lie that comes about? For some the answer would be, Yes, of course! For others, it's not likely to come up. I believe that some people are definitely called to defend the faith, to write persuasively and biblically about important doctrines. I do think the truth is worth standing up for. And I think pastors and teachers especially should know and be aware. But this book isn't necessarily the first choice I'd recommend to just anyone.

I did like this one. I think I read it the wrong way though. So if you're considering this one, let me tell you true, TAKE YOUR TIME. Do not rush through this one. Definitely don't try to read it all in one week. Don't read one essay after another after another after another. These essays, these chapters, should be taken slowly so that their messages can be absorbed.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ

Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ. Edited by Richard D. Phillips. 2009. Crossway Books. 240 pages.

I definitely liked Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ. It is a collection of essays on the atonement, on the blood of Christ, on what Christ accomplished on the cross. There are many contributing authors in this collection. The first half of the book is centered on the Bible. It presents atonement as seen through varied Scriptures. Each chapter complements the others, each seeking to bring out all the details, all the richness in the doctrine of the atonement.

  • Necessary Blood by Joel R. Beeke
  • Redeeming Blood by W. Robert Godfrey
  • Atoning Blood by Philip Graham Ryken
  • Cleansing Blood by Richard D. Phillips
  • Offensive Blood by W. Robert Godfrey
  • Precious Blood by R.D. Sproul

The second half of the book focuses on how "the atonement" has been viewed or treated through the centuries. These trace the development of a doctrine surrounding the atonement, and examine the doctrine in its theological context. Was the atonement viewed differently in 300AD as opposed to 1600AD, etc.

  • Early Church Reflections on the Atonement by Derek W.H. Thomas
  • The Medieval Achievement: Anselm on the Atonement by Philip Graham Ryken
  • The Reformation Concensus on the Atonement by W. Robert Godfrey
  • The Blood of Christ in Puritan Piety by Joel R. Beeke
  • Post-Reformation Developments in the Doctrine of the Atonement by Carl R. Trueman
  • Penal Substitutionary Atonement and It's "Non-violent" Critics by Richard D. Phillips

I can't promise that you'll find each and every essay wow-worthy or life-changing. But I found all of them to be interesting. Some more interesting than others, perhaps, but still I'm glad I read all of them. I thought it was important to show that the doctrine of atonement--penal substitutionary atonement--is being attacked by some, and how this attack is changing the gospel to a certain degree. I think it's good to know what to believe, what is biblical, so that you can take a stand and recognize problematic teachings.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 2012 Goals

I like the idea of having monthly goals. And some months the goals are easy to formulate. I know exactly what I want to do and have a plan. Some months, not so much. And that is okay too. I don't think you NEED to have a PLAN in order to read the Bible.

I have one definite goal this month--to participate in my own Read the NT In A Week event. I was planning on using the chronological HCSB Bible--reading the NT. But then I fell in love with the ESV Grow! Bible, so now I'm torn between going with what I want at this very minute and sticking with what I had originally planned from January. (That's one reason why I don't like setting yearly goals.)
If I don't read Reading God's Story: A Chronological Bible for the NT in a week challenge, I may try to read it during the whole month of April. Or I may not. I just don't know at this point.

It is also my goal to spend A LOT of time with John again. Yes, yes, I know I spent all of February reading 1 John. And I know I read the gospel of John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation multiple times--about once a week each week. BUT. I want to spend MORE time with John. I do. I really, really do. Specifically, I want to spend a great deal of time with the gospel of John and the book of Revelation. I would LOVE to make some real progress in A.W. Pink's Exposition of the Gospel of John.

The Bibles I *think* I may be reading are:


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Do you have special plans this week?

This week I am hosting an "event" or "challenge" called "New Testament in a Week." Though participants don't have to make it their goal to read the whole New Testament, I hope to challenge some to read more than they might have before. It is from April 1 through April 8.

I'd be very happy if I was able to read the whole New Testament. But. I'm not going to stress if I don't. I'd be happy if I finished half of the New Testament, to be honest!!! Half would be enough of an accomplishment for me.

Especially since I still want to read a few other books this week. Like Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence's It is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement. Just look at the table of contents!!!

The Passover, Exodus 12
The Day of Atonement Leviticus 16
Crushed For Our Iniquities Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Ransom for Many: Mark 10:45
Forsaken: Mark 15:33-34
To Save the World: John 3:14-18
Better That One Man Die: John 11:47-52
Propitiation: Romans 3:21-26
Delivered Over to Death for Our Sins: Romans 4:25
Justified By His Blood: Romans 5:8-10
Condemned Sin: Romans 8:1-4
Becoming a Curse for Us: Galatians 3:10-13
Bore Our Sins In His Body on the Tree: 1 Peter 2:21-25
Christ Died For Sins 1 Peter 3:18

And I definitely want to finish watching The Gospel of John. I just love, love, love and adore this movie!!! It's a movie I could gush for hours--if not days--about because it's just that good!!! As I'm watching the film, I'm reminded of a Dorothy Sayers quote:
The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man--and the dogma is the drama...This is the dogma we find so dull--this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore--on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him "meek and mild," and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. (63)
That God should play the tyrant over man is the dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. (64) 
Let us, in Heaven's name, drag out the Divine Drama from under the dreadful accumulation of slipshod thinking and trashy sentiment heaped upon it, and set it on an open stage to startle the world into some sort of vigorous reaction. If the pious are the first to be shocked, so much the worse for the pious--others will pass into the Kingdom of Heaven before them. If all men are offended because of Christ, let them be offended; but where is the sense of their being offended at something that is not Christ and is nothing like Him? We do Him singularly little honour by watering down His Personality till it could not offend a fly. Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ. It is the dogma that is the drama--not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and moral uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death--but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that one might be glad to believe. (262-263)
And I especially, especially love to listen to the album Brother to Brother by Michael Card and John Michael Talbot during Lent. If I'd known that Amazon still had copies to sell, I might have written about it earlier. I just assumed that this CD--released in 1996--was no longer available. Anyway, it's one of the best, best albums ever.

One Faith (listen)
Come Worship the Lord (Psalm 95)
Glory to Thee (O God of Life)
Immanuel/Behold Now the Kingdom
Advent Suite
The Word
The Final Word
The Mystery
Healer of My Soul
Live This Mystery
Come to the Table

He's recorded Come to the Table many times. Here is one version of the song I was able to find on YouTube. It is NOT the one from the Brother to Brother album.

And one version of "The Final Word."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible