Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Reflections

The books I read in February:

The Fairest Beauty. Melanie Dickerson. 2013. Zondervan. 352 pages.
Rebekah. Jill Eileen Smith. 2013. Revell. 320 pages.
Comforts From Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at A Time by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. 2013. Crossway. 160 pages.
The Beatles, God, & The Bible. Ray Comfort. 2012. WND Books. 180 pages.
One Minute After You Die. Erwin Lutzer. 1997. Moody Publishers. 192 pages.
Your Eternal Reward. Erwin Lutzer. 1998. Moody Publishers. 171 pages.
A New Home for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2013. Revell. 272 pages.
Bride in the Bargain. Deeanne Gist. 2009. Bethany House. 365 pages.
Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Romans Chapters 1-8. J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 170 pages.
Love's Enduring Promise. Janette Oke. 1980. Bethany House. 239 pages.
Desiring God. John Piper. 1986/1996. Multnomah. 358 pages.
John Calvin And His Passion for the Majesty of God. John Piper. 2008. 64 pages.
One Perfect Life. John MacArthur. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 520 pages.
Marcia Schuyler. Grace Livingston Hill. 1908. 224 pages.
Convert: From Adam to Christ. Emilio Ramos. 2012. Bridge-Logos Foundation. 183 pages.
Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Romans 9-16. J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 144 pages.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: Romans 9-16

Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Romans 9-16. J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 144 pages.

My February reading project was to read the book of Romans thirty times. I also wanted to read a few books about the book of Romans.

McGee goes through the last eight chapters of the book of Romans. "The first eight chapters of Romans emphasize faith. Chapters 9-11 emphasize hope. Chapters 12-16 emphasize love. There is another way to view Romans: The first section deals with salvation; the second section with segregation; and the last section with service." (12) 

While many people love the first eight chapters of Romans, especially the eighth chapter of Romans. Romans 9-11 isn't exactly as popular, as beloved, as precious. McGee writes, "There is a sense in which chapters 8 and 12 can be joined together as two boxcars. But Paul was not making up a freight train when he wrote Romans. Romans is not a freight train but a flowing stream. Chapters 9-11 can no more be removed than you can take out the middle section of the Mississippi River without causing havoc. Griffith Thomas writes, "The chapters 9-10-11 are an integral part of the epistle and are essential to its true interpretation." (12-3) While these chapters do present the doctrine of election, they also discuss God's relationship with the Jewish people--past, present, future. 

Chapters twelve through sixteen focus on the Christian life--on how the Christian is to live, on the little but important details of what it means to be a Christian living and serving God in the world. 

This commentary is very reader-friendly. It's a commentary meant to be read and understood by non-scholars.

Favorite quotes:
"Joy" is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. Unfortunately, it is often absent from the lives of believers. There should be joy in our lives. This doesn't mean you have to run around smiling like a Cheshire cat, but it does mean you are to have a joyful feeling deep in your heart. (99)
In my opinion, the greatest sin in the church of Jesus Christ in this generation is ignorance of the Word of God. Many times I have heard a church officer say, "Well I don't know much about the Bible, but..." and then he gives his opinion, which often actually contradicts the Word of God! Why doesn't he know much about the Bible? These things were written aforetime for our learning. God wants you to know His Word. (106)
Ignorance of the Bible is the greatest sin of the hour--in and out of the church. (106)
The Word of God imparts patience, comfort, and hope. (106)
Every Christian should make an effort to know Romans. (112)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon: Week #8

This week I'm highlighting some short Spurgeon quotes taken from various Morning and Evening devotions the past two months:
Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Unless we follow Christ, and make our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most frivolous. ~ Charles Spurgeon
JESUS will not let His people forget His love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, He will visit them with fresh love. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Justice was offended by us; but found its satisfaction in Him. ~ Charles Spurgeon
THE time when Christians begin to sing in the ways of the Lord is when they first lose their burden at the foot of the Cross. ~ Charles Spurgeon
If saved by imputed righteousness, we shall greatly value imparted righteousness. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Who can be astonished at anything, when he has once been astonished at the manger and the cross? ~ Charles Spurgeon
I am a debtor to God's grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already paid. ~ Charles Spurgeon
"Believe, and live." It is a road so hard, that no self-righteous man can ever tread it; but so easy, that every sinner, who knows himself to be a sinner, may by it find his way to heaven. ~ Charles Spurgeon
God had one Son without sin; but He has no son without temptation. ~ Charles Spurgeon

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Elsie Dinsmore

Elsie Dinsmore. Martha Finley. 1867. 320 pages.

Reading Elsie Dinsmore is an experience. But is it a pleasant experience? Or an infuriating one? And if is an infuriating one? Why is it SO infuriating? Well, this is how Elsie's described:

Though not a remarkably precocious child in other respects, she seemed to have very clear and correct views on almost every subject connected with her duty to God and her neighbor; was very truthful both in word and deed, very strict in her observance of the Sabbath--though the rest of the family were by no means particular in that respect--very diligent in her studies; respectful to superiors, and kind to inferiors and equals; and she was gentle, sweet-tempered, patient, and forgiving to a remarkable degree. (17)
Elsie Dinsmore is a young girl being raised by her grandparents. Her father is alive but traveling; her mother is dead. The house has plenty of children, Elsie's aunts and uncles, most are close to her in age, just close enough to bully in some cases. Elsie is bullied by children older and younger than her. Most of her aunts and uncles are true brats, for the most part. But Elsie doesn't find compassion, sympathy, courtesy, or respect from any (white) adult on the plantation. (Most of the slaves, however, love and adore her.) So how does Elsie spend her time? Reading the Bible, crying, praying, and talking with her beloved mammy, one of the few people on the plantation that love Jesus just as much as she does. Anytime Elsie is picked on unfairly (which happens at least once per chapter), she doesn't complain; she doesn't make excuses; she doesn't defend herself; she doesn't tattle on others; she just cries and submits to whatever punishment the adults hand out. Several chapters into this one, her father returns home. Elsie wants more than anything to feel warmth, love, affection from her father. But he finds her an unnatural child and prefers to spend time with his own brothers and sisters (Elsie's aunts and uncles). Any interactions they do seem to have with each other is disciplinary. The more he disciplines, the more Elsie loves him. She doesn't resent his harshness or think him mean or unfair. The more he misunderstands her, the more she understands her own weaknesses and failures. She's a sinner. She's a horribly, rebellious sinner. Her father isn't punishing her enough.

Elsie Dinsmore is NOT Jane Eyre OR Mary Lennox OR Anne Shirley. She has no fight within her, no gumption or spirit.

Elsie Dinsmore talks openly about her faith in Jesus Christ. And her eagerness for everyone in her life to come to Christ is evident in her dialogue. She is clearly presenting the gospel message--the bad news and the good news--to everyone in her life. She's eager to share what truths she's learned with others. And she LOVES to quote Scriptures to those around her. Very few in her family want to hear talk about Jesus, very few want to hear the Bible read to them, but, Elsie consistently tries her best to reach out to others.

I had a difficult time liking any of the characters, especially the adults: her grandfather, her grandmother,  her father, her governess. I didn't have an easy time loving Elsie either. While I appreciated Elsie's love for Jesus, I could not identify with Elsie as a heroine. She did not respond naturally, in my opinion, to her family. The adults in Elsie's life were infuriating. There were dozens of times when it would only be normal and natural for Elsie to get angry and show it, even if that showing was only to the readers and happened in the privacy of her own room. I also hated the fact that her father was always, always yelling at her to stop crying. While her father eventually calmed down slightly and started treating his daughter better than before, it still wasn't enough for me to actually like this novel.

Elsie Dinsmore is rich in Scripture. And the gospel message is presented multiple times as Elsie witnesses to those in her life. And the gospel presented is true: the book speaks of man's sinful nature, of man's great need for a Savior, and the book delights in Jesus as that Lord and Savior. Elsie has a heart for the lost and she eagerly wants to see the people in her life come to salvation. Perhaps if there had not been such a focus on punishing Elsie in every single chapter, punishing her unjustly a good percentage of the time, I could have liked it better.

Have you read the novel? What did you think of the characterization and dialogue? Is there any benefit to reading Elsie Dinsmore?

Quotes from the novel:

She laid down the geography, and opening her desk, took out a small pocket Bible, which bore the marks of frequent use. She turned over the leaves as though seeking for some particular passage; at length she found it, and wiping away the blinding tears, she read these words in a low, murmuring tone:
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps."
"Oh! I have not done it. I did not take it patiently. I am afraid I am not following in His steps," she cried, bursting into an agony of tears and sobs. (6)
 Readers also meet Rose Allison, a Northern woman visiting the South. She is Elsie's kindred spirit.
"She is an odd child," said Adelaide; "I don't understand her; she is so meek and patient she will fairly let you trample upon her. It provokes papa. He says she is no Dinsmore, or she would know how to stand up for her own rights; and yet she has a temper, I know, for once in a great while it shows itself for an instant—only an instant, though, and at very long intervals—and then she grieves over it for days, as though she had committed some great crime; while the rest of us think nothing of getting angry half a dozen times in a day. And then she is forever poring over that little Bible of hers; what she sees so attractive in it I'm sure I cannot tell, for I must say I find it the dullest of dull books."
"Do you," said Rose; "how strange! I had rather give up all other books than that one. 'Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart,' 'How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.'"
"Do you really love it so, Rose?" asked Adelaide, lifting her eyes to her friend's face with an expression of astonishment; "do tell me why?"
"For its exceeding great and precious promises Adelaide; for its holy teachings; for its offers of peace and pardon and eternal life. I am a sinner, Adelaide, lost, ruined, helpless, hopeless, and the Bible brings me the glad news of salvation offered as a free, unmerited gift; it tells me that Jesus died to save sinners—just such sinners as I. I find that I have a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and the blessed Bible tells me how that heart can be renewed, and where I can obtain that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. I find myself utterly unable to keep God's holy law, and it tells me of One who has kept it for me. I find that I deserve the wrath and curse of a justly offended God, and it tells me of Him who was made a curse for me. I find that all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and it offers me the beautiful, spotless robe of Christ's perfect righteousness. Yes, it tells me that God can be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus."
Rose spoke these words with deep emotion, then suddenly clasping her hands and raising her eyes, she exclaimed, "'Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!'"
For a moment there was silence. Then Adelaide spoke:
"Rose," said she, "you talk as if you were a great sinner; but I don't believe it; it is only your humility that makes you think so. Why, what have you ever done? Had you been a thief, a murderer, or guilty of any other great crime, I could see the propriety of your using such language with regard to yourself; but for a refined, intelligent, amiable young lady, excuse me for saying it, dear Rose, but such language seems to me simply absurd."
"Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord pondereth the heart," said Rose, gently. "No, dear Adelaide, you are mistaken; for I can truly say 'mine iniquities have gone over my head as a cloud, and my transgressions as a thick cloud.' Every duty has been stained with sin, every motive impure, every thought unholy. From my earliest existence, God has required the undivided love of my whole heart, soul, strength, and mind; and so far from yielding it, I live at enmity with Him, and rebellion against His government, until within the last two years. For seventeen years He has showered blessings upon me, giving me life, health, strength, friends, and all that was necessary for happiness; and for fifteen of those years I returned Him nothing but ingratitude and rebellion. For fifteen years I rejected His offers of pardon and reconciliation, turned my back upon the Saviour of sinners, and resisted all the strivings of God's Holy Spirit, and will you say that I am not a great sinner?" Her voice quivered, and her eyes were full of tears.
"Dear Rose," said Adelaide, putting her arm around her friend and kissing her cheek affectionately, "don't think of these things; religion is too gloomy for one so young as you."
"Gloomy, dear Adelaide!" replied Rose, returning the embrace; "I never knew what true happiness was until I found Jesus. My sins often make me sad, but religion, never.
A glimpse of Elsie's mammy:
"I's only a poor old black sinner, but de good Lord Jesus, He loves me jes de same as if I was white, an' I love Him an' all His chillen with all my heart." (15)
A glimpse of Elsie's relationship with her dad:
"I am very sorry I was naughty, papa. Will you please forgive me?" The words were spoken very low, and almost with a sob.
"Will you try not to meddle in future, and not to cry at the table, or pout and sulk when you are punished?" he asked in a cold, grave tone.
"Yes, sir, I will try to be a good girl always," said the humble little voice.
"Then I will forgive you," he replied, taking the handkerchief off her hand.
Still Elsie lingered. She felt as if she could not go without some little token of forgiveness and love, some slight caress.
He looked at her with an impatient "Well?" Then, in answer to her mute request, "No," he said, "I will not kiss you to-night; you have been entirely too naughty. Go to your room at once."
Aunt Chloe was absolutely frightened by the violence of her child's grief, as she rushed into the room and flung herself into her arms weeping and sobbing most vehemently.
"What's de matter, darlin'?" she asked in great alarm.
"O mammy, mammy!" sobbed the child, "papa wouldn't kiss me! he said I was too naughty. O mammy! will he ever love me now?" (92)
 And then there's this infuriating scene:
"What is the matter?" he asked, looking up as they appeared before the door.
"Elsie has been very impertinent, sir," said Miss Day; "she not only accused me of injustice, but contradicted me flatly."
"Is it possible!" said he, frowning angrily. "Come here to me, Elsie, and tell me, is it true that you contradicted your teacher?"
"Yes, papa," sobbed the child.
"Very well, then, I shall certainly punish you, for I will never allow anything of the kind."
As he spoke he picked up a small ruler that lay before him, at the same time taking Elsie's hand as though he meant to use it on her.
"O papa!" she cried, in a tone of agonized entreaty.
But he laid it down again, saying: "No, I shall punish you by depriving you of your play this afternoon, and giving you only bread and water for your dinner. Sit down there," he added, pointing to a stool. Then, with a wave of his hand to the governess, "I think she will not be guilty of the like again, Miss Day."
The governess left the room, and Elsie sat down on her stool, crying and sobbing violently, while her father went on with his writing.
"Elsie," he said, presently, "cease that noise; I have had quite enough of it."
She struggled to suppress her sobs, but it was almost impossible, and she felt it a great relief when a moment later the dinner-bell rang, and her father left the room.
In a few moments a servant came in, carrying on a small waiter a tumbler of water, and a plate with a slice of bread on it.
"Dis am drefful poor fare, Miss Elsie," he said, setting it down beside her, "but Massa Horace he say it all you can hab; but if you say so, dis chile tell ole Phoebe to send up somethin' better fore Massa Horace gits through his dinner."
"Oh! no, thank you, Pompey; you're very kind, but I would not disobey or deceive papa," replied the little girl, earnestly; "and I am not at all hungry."
He lingered a moment, seeming loath to leave her to dine upon such fare.
"You had better go now, Pompey," she said gently; "I am afraid you will be wanted."
He turned and left the room, muttering something about "disagreeable, good-for-nothing Miss Day!"
Elsie felt no disposition to eat; and when her father returned, half an hour afterward, the bread and water were still untouched.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked in a stern, angry tone; "why have you not eaten what I sent you?"
"I am not hungry, papa," she said humbly.
"Don't tell me that," he replied, "it is nothing but stubbornness; and I shall not allow you to show such a temper. Take up that bread this moment and eat it. You shall eat every crumb of the bread and drink every drop of the water."
She obeyed him instantly, breaking off a bit of bread and putting it in her mouth, while he stood watching her with an air of stern, cold determination; but when she attempted to swallow, it seemed utterly impossible.
"I cannot, papa," she said, "it chokes me."
"You must," he replied; "I am going to be obeyed. Take a drink of water, and that will wash it down."
It was a hard task, but seeing that there was no escape, she struggled to obey, and at length every crumb of bread and drop of water had disappeared.
"Now, Elsie," said her father, in a tone of great severity, "never dare to show me such a temper as this again; you will not escape so easily next time; remember I am to be obeyed always; and when I send you anything to eat, you are to eat it."
It had not been temper at all, and his unjust severity almost broke her heart; but she could not say one word in her own defence.
He looked at her a moment as she sat there trembling and weeping; then saying, "I forbid you to leave this room without my permission; don't venture to disobey me, Elsie; sit where you are until I return," he turned to go.
"Papa," she asked, pleadingly, "may I have my books, to learn my lessons for to-morrow."
"Certainly," he said; "I will send a servant with them."
"And my Bible too, please, papa."
"Yes, yes," he answered impatiently, as he went out and shut the door. (99-101)
A word from Elsie herself:
"Dear papa, I love you so much!" she replied, twining her arms around his neck. "I love you all the better for never letting me have my own way, but always making me obey and keep to rules." (164)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review: Convert: From Adam to Christ

Convert: From Adam to Christ. Emilio Ramos. 2012. Bridge-Logos Foundation. 183 pages.

From chapter one: Many Christians have not thought hard and long about the implications of being in another person. Whether we think of ourselves as in Adam or in Christ, the reality that controls the universe (or at least is essential to how it runs) is this relationship of ourselves to another. (13)

Do you know what it means to be "in Adam" or what it means to be "in Christ"? In the first few chapters of Convert, Ramos examines the doctrine of salvation, focusing, in part, on the doctrine of imputation and federalism. He then details what the Christian life should look like. If God makes us new creations, if we're given new hearts and minds, what does that look like in reality? How will being "in Christ" change us in our daily lives, how will it impact our lifestyles? Our decisions and priorities? What are we supposed to be doing with our lives? How are we supposed to be reaching the world with the good news? The chapter titles may help clarify: "In Adam all die," "In Christ all will be made alive," "The New Man," "The New Birth," "The Mind of the New Man," "The Mission of the New Man," "The World and the New Man," "The Church and the New Man," and "An Explanation of the Great Commission." It isn't just a book about essential doctrines. And it isn't just a book about evangelism, missions, and church life.
The book "stresses the need for a merging of theology and evangelism, for thinking and doing, taking in and reaching out." (11) The second half of the book focuses on Paul as an example of a believer--an apostle--who was both strong as a theologian and an evangelist.

I really liked this one. It's a good book on the essentials of the faith. Every chapter is rich in Scripture, illustrating each of his points with the Word of God. I would definitely recommend Emilio Ramos' Convert: From Adam to Christ.

Favorite quotes:
The amazing thing about the Bible is that it accounts for everything, either explicitly or implicitly. Scripture has amazed me time and again for its capacity to relay deep and relevant information, instruction, wisdom, correction, and knowledge about practically everything in life. In fact, this self-absorbed attitude that now inundates our society is well accounted for in Scripture: The self as we know it today is to be understood 'in Adam.'  (14)
Adam radically affects every person around you who does not possess salvation. They are "in Adam."...This doctrine is one of the most foundational and at times perplexing teachings in Scripture. Still, it is essential to understand federalism in our task of evangelism because it teaches us that man has a legal representative before God: either Adam, or Christ. (15)
Man's only hope lies in a second Adam, another representative who could succeed where the first Adam failed, who could recover what the first Adam lost, and who could obey where the first Adam transgressed. (23)
There will never be enough sermons or volumes written on the person and work of Christ to exhaust His work or His person. (24)
Just as in Adam we were counted guilty, so in Christ we are counted righteous as His sinless life, atoning death, and righteous obedience was reckoned to our own account. The doctrine of imputation is vital for our understanding of how God comes to accept us in Christ. This doctrine is indispensable, for without imputation we are without a gospel. (32)
Sanctification is all about life in Christ. Life in Christ is lived out in the Spirit. It is through the ongoing work of the Spirit that Christ, who lives in us and lives His life through us, that these New Covenant realities can be appropriated by faith. (45)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Week in Review: February 17-23

This week I read


  • Romans


  • Ezekiel 8-48
  • Acts 1-9
  • Romans
  • Revelation


  • Romans (2)


  • Romans


  • Romans


  • Exodus 12-19
  • 1 Samuel 16-25
  • Proverbs 21-31
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Acts
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quoting J.C. Ryle

I started reading J.C. Ryle's Expository on the Gospel of Matthew over a month ago. I'm not quite halfway through it, but I thought I'd go ahead and share some insights with you. You can read this book for yourself online.
Here is one among many reasons, why we ought to be diligent readers of our Bibles. The Word is the sword of the Spirit. We shall never fight a good fight, if we do not use it as our principal weapon. The Word is the lamp for our feet. We shall never keep the king's highway to heaven, if we do not journey by its light. It may well be feared, that there is not enough Bible-reading among us. It is not sufficient to have the Book. We must actually read it, and pray over it ourselves. It will do us no good, if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds. Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading. Do we grudge the time and trouble this will cost us? If we do, we are not yet fit for the kingdom of God. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Humility is the very first letter in the alphabet of Christianity. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
It is perfectly clear that true Christianity is something more than being baptized and going to church. "Salt" and "light" evidently imply peculiarity both of heart and life, of faith and practice. We must dare to be singular and unlike the world, if we mean to be saved. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
We have no reason to be discouraged and cast down, if the religion we profess is not popular, and few agree with us. We must remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in this passage: "The gate is narrow." Repentance, and faith in Christ, and holiness of life, have never been fashionable. The true flock of Christ has always been small. It must not move us to find that we are reckoned singular, and peculiar, and bigoted, and narrow-minded. This is "the narrow way." Surely it is better to enter into life eternal with a few, than to go to "destruction" with a great company. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Happy is he who prays over his Bible and knows the difference between truth and error in religion! There is a difference, and we are meant to know it, and use our knowledge. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Faith in Christ appears a small and simple thing to the children of this world. They see in it nothing great or grand. But faith in Christ is most precious in God's sight, and like most precious things, is rare. By it true Christians live. By it they stand. By it they overcome the world. Without this faith no one can be saved. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Let us beware of loving the world more than Christ. Let us beware of hindering the salvation of others, because we fear the increase of true religion may diminish our gains, or give us trouble. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Let it be a fixed principle in our religion, that with Christ nothing is impossible. He can take a tax collector, and make him an apostle. He can change any heart, and make all things new. Let us never despair of any one's salvation. Let us pray on, and speak on, and work on to do good to souls, even to the souls of the worst. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
The first thing needful, in order to have an interest in Christ, is to feel deeply our own corruption, and to be willing to come to Him for deliverance. We are not to keep away from Christ, as many ignorantly do, because we feel bad, and wicked, and unworthy. We are to remember that sinners are those He came into the world to save, and that if we feel ourselves such, it is well. Happy is he who really comprehends that one principal qualification for coming to Christ is a deep sense of sin! ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Men are sadly apt to forget, that it does not require great open sins to be sinned, in order to ruin a soul forever. They have only to go on hearing without believing, listening without repenting, going to Church without going to Christ, and by and bye they will find themselves in hell! We shall all be judged according to our light. We shall have to give account of our use of religious privileges. To hear of the "great salvation," and yet neglect it, is one of the worst sins man can commit. (John 16:9.) ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Every believer may do something if he tries. There is always something for every one to do. May we each have an eye to see it, and a will to do it. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Few things do so much harm in religion as exaggerated expectations. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew
Happy is he who thoroughly understands, that though Christianity holds out a crown in the end, it brings also a cross in the way. ~ J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Romans Chapters 1-8

Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Romans Chapters 1-8. J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 170 pages.

My February reading project was to read the book of Romans thirty times. I also wanted to read a few books about the book of Romans.

McGee goes through the first eight chapters, paragraph by paragraph, discussing important themes and concepts of the gospel as revealed in the book of Romans. Readers will get a chance to learn about: sin, wrath, justice, righteousness, justification, sanctification, imputation, propitiation, etc.

This commentary is very reader-friendly. It's a commentary meant to be read and understood by non-scholars. McGee often quoted others in his work. Perhaps feeling that if another commentator had a great definition for a key term, there was no need to try to make it better! McGee's voice is strong throughout, however, and he addresses readers in a friendly, personal way.

There is a great introduction:
The world likes to hear, friend, about the glory of mankind. It likes to have mankind rather than God exalted. Now I am convinced in my own mind that any ministry today that attempts to teach the glory of man--which does not present the total depravity of the human family and does not reveal that man is totally corrupt and is a ruined creature, any teaching that does not deal with this great truth--will not lift mankind, nor will it offer a remedy. The only remedy for man's sin is the perfect remedy that we have in Christ, that which God has provided for a lost race. This is the great message of Romans. (x, xi)
It was Godet, the Swiss commentator, who said that the Reformation was certainly the work of the Epistle to the Romans (and that of Galatians also) and that it is probable that every great spiritual renovation in the church will always be linked both in cause and in effect to a deeper knowledge of this book. It was Martin Luther who wrote that the Epistle to the Romans is "the true masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, which is well-worthy and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as the daily bread of men's souls. It can never be too much or too well read or studied; and the more it is handled, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes." (xi)
After outlining the entire book, McGee then devotes a chapter for each chapter of Romans one through eight.

Favorite quotes:
Each one of us is completely lost outside of Christ. Either you are absolutely saved in Christ, or you are completely lost outside of Christ. All of us need the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ comes to us through our faith in Christ. Great men of the past have given some apt definitions of this righteousness. William Cunninham wrote, "Under law God required righteousness from man. Under grace, He gives righteousness to man. The righteousness of God is that righteousness which God's righteousness requires Him to require." That is a deep definition, but it is a good one. The great Dr. Charles Hodge has given this definition: "That righteousness of which God is the author which is of avail before Him, which meets and secures His approval." Then Dr. Brooks gives this definition, "That righteousness which the Father required, the Son became, and the Holy Spirit convinces of, and faith secures." Dr. Moorehead writes, "The sum total of all that God commands, demands, approves, and Himself provides." I don't believe it can be said any better than the way these men have said it. (67)
How I wish that more men who claim to be evangelical really believed the Word of God--that it IS the Word of God, that it is God speaking. (79)
Let me say a word about this matter of sanctification. There is a difference between justification and sanctification. These are two words from the Bible, my friend, that you ought to cozy up to and get acquainted with... Now let me put it like this: justification is an act; sanctification is a work. Justification took place the moment you trusted Christ--you were declared righteous; the guilt was removed. Then God began a work in you that will continue throughout your life. I believe in instantaneous salvation, but sanctification is a lifelong process. In other words, justification is the means; sanctification is the end. Justification is for us; sanctification is in us. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and power of sin. (103)
The sinner appropriates Christ by faith for both his salvation and his sanctification. (104)
The victorious life is not our life. It is His life. (163)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Desiring God

Desiring God. John Piper. 1986/1996. Multnomah. 358 pages.

I've been intending to read John Piper's Desiring God for years now. In the past, I've been intimidated and made excuses. This time I was determined to start and finish it. It was a much easier task than I thought it would be.

I found the opening chapters of Desiring God to be incredibly rich and thought provoking. And quote-worthy too! I absolutely loved his chapters on conversion and worship, for example. These opening chapters alone make this one worth reading; the book essentially focuses on two aspects of the christian life: our relationship with God and our relationship with others and/or the world.

Piper's argument in Desiring God can be summed up in this way:
The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. (15)

The chapter titles:

  • The Happiness of God
  • Conversion
  • Worship
  • Love
  • Scripture
  • Prayer
  • Money
  • Marriage
  • Missions
  • Suffering

Favorite quotes:
We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value, and celebrate what we love, and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full. So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, he must not only give us himself; he must also win from us the praises of our hearts--not because he needs to shore up some weakness in himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because he loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising him, the most magnificent of all Beings. (49)
For God, praise is the sweet echo of his own excellence in the hearts of his people. For us, praise is the summit of satisfaction that comes from living in fellowship with God. (53)
Why is conversion so crucial? What is there about God and man that makes it necessary? And what has God done to meet our desperate need? And what must we do to enjoy the benefits of his provision? These are huge questions. I attempt a summary answer with the following six truths from Scripture:
1) God created us for his glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7)
2) Therefore it is our duty to live for his glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
3) We have all failed to glorify God (Romans 3:23)
4) We are all subject to eternal condemnation. (Romans 6:23)
5) Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 4:25)
6) Turn from sin and trust the Savior (Acts 3:19; Acts 16:31) 
Repentance and faith are our work. But we will not repent and believe unless God does his work to overcome our hard and rebellious hearts. This divine work is called regeneration. Our work is called conversion. (62)
Behind the repentance that turns away from sin and behind the faith that embraces Christ is the birth of a new taste, a new longing, a new passion for the pleasure of God's presence. (69-70)
The fuel of worship is the truth of God, the furnace of worship is the spirit of man, and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, contrition, trust, gratitude, and joy. But there is something missing from this picture. There is furnace, fuel, and heat, but no fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of our spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There must be ignition and fire. This is the Holy Spirit. (77)
Love is the overflow of joy in God! It is first a deeply satisfying experience of the fullness of God's grace, and then a doubly satisfying experience of sharing that grace with another person. (103)
Faith is born and sustained by the Word of God, and out of faith grows the flower of joy. (127)
Not to pursue our joy every day in the Word of God is an abandonment of the revealed will of God. It is sin. (130)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nonfiction Books I Want...NOW!

The Scriptures Testify About Me, edited by D.A. Carson. April 2013. Crossway.

Publisher description: The Bible’s storyline is grand in its sweep, beautiful in its form, and unified in its message. However, many Christians still struggle to understand how the Old and New Testaments fit together, especially in relation to the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this collection of expositions of various Old Testament texts, eight prominent evangelical pastors and scholars demonstrate what it looks like to preach Christ from the Old Testament. From the experience of the Israelites during the exodus, to the cryptic words about Melchizedek in the Psalms, this book offers readers a diverse collection of approaches to gospel-centered preaching from the Old Testament by some of the most skilled expositors of our day.

God's Power For Your Life: How the Holy Spirit Transforms You Through God's Word. A.W. Tozer. March 2013. Regal.

Publisher description: Live the Word in power.
A. W. Tozer, one of the twentieth century Church’s most profound thinkers and pastors, believed that reading the Bible wasn’t enough—the Word must come alive in the Christian’s life. It isn’t enough to read Scripture and then try to obey its commands; rather, living by the power of the Word is a Spirit-enabled transformation that leads to the Word becoming incarnate within the believer’s life. In God’s Power for Your Life, the tenth book in a new library of never-before-published work by the renowned writer, Tozer teaches readers how to allow themselves to be shaped by the Spirit’s work as they study of the Word of God.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear. February 2013. B&H

Publisher description: “If there were a Guinness Book of World Records entry for ‘amount of times having prayed the sinner’s prayer,’ I’m pretty sure I’d be a top contender,” says pastor and author J. D. Greear. He struggled for many years to gain an assurance of salvation and eventually learned he was not alone. “Lack of assurance” is epidemic among evangelical Christians.
In Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, J. D. shows that faulty ways of presenting the gospel are a leading source of the confusion. Our presentations may not be heretical, but they are sometimes misleading. The idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to Jesus” often gives false assurance to those who are not saved—and keeps those who genuinely are saved from fully embracing that reality.
Greear unpacks the doctrine of assurance, showing that salvation is a posture we take to the promise of God in Christ, a posture that begins at a certain point and is maintained for the rest of our lives. He also answers the tough questions about assurance: What exactly is faith? What is repentance? Why are there so many warnings that seem to imply we can lose our salvation?
Such issues are handled with respect to the theological rigors they require, but Greear never loses his pastoral sensitivity or a communication technique that makes this message teachable to a wide audience from teens to adults.

Gods at War: Defeating the Idols That Battle For Your Heart by Kyle Idleman.  February 2013. Zondervan.

Publisher description: In gods at war, Kyle Idleman, bestselling author of not a fan, helps every believer recognize there are false gods at war within each of us, and they battle for the place of glory and control in our lives. What keeps us from truly following Jesus is that our hearts are pursuing something or someone else. While these pursuits may not be the 'graven images' of old, they are in fact modern day idols. Behind the sin you're struggling with, the discouragement you're dealing with, the lack of purpose you're living with is a false god that is winning the war for your heart. According to Idleman, idolatry isn't an issue---it is the issue. By asking insightful questions, Idleman reveals which false gods each of us are allowing on the throne of our lives. What do you sacrifice for? What makes you mad? What do you worry about? Whose applause do you long for? We're all wired for worship, but we often end up valuing and honoring the idols of money, sex, food, romance, success and many others that keep us from the intimate relationship with God that we desire. Using true, powerful and honest testimonies of those who have struggled in each area, gods at war illustrates a clear path away from the heartache of our 21st century idolatry back to the heart of God -- enabling us to truly be completely committed followers of Jesus.

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken. B&H.

Publisher description: The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, "Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place? It sure didn't work in Somalia.

Nik recalls that, “God had always been so real to me, to Ruth, and to our boys. But was He enough, for the utter weariness of soul I experienced at that time, in that place, under those circumstances?” It is a question that many have asked and one that, if answered, can lead us to a whole new world of faith.

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?

The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

Altar Ego by Craig Groeschel. February 2013. Zondervan.

Publisher description: You are NOT who you think you are. In fact, according to bestselling author Craig Groeschel in Altar Ego, you need to take your idea of your own identity, lay it down on the altar, and sacrifice it. Give it to God. Offer it up.
Why? Because you are who GOD says you are. And until you've sacrificed your broken concept of your identity, you won't become who you are meant to be.
When we place our false labels and self-deception on the altar of God's truth, we discover who we really are as his sons and daughters. Instead of an outward-driven, approval-based ego, we learn to live with an 'altar' ego, God's vision of who we are becoming.
Discover how to trade in your broken ego and unleash your altar ego to become a living sacrifice. Once we know our true identity and are growing in our Christ-like character, then we can behave accordingly, with bold behavior, bold prayers, bold words, and bold obedience.
Altar Ego reveals who God says you are, and then calls you to live up to it.

Weakness is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength. J.I. Packer. Crossway. May 2013

Publisher description: Most people think of weakness as purely negative, but true Christianity embraces weakness as a way of life. In this collection of meditations on 2 Corinthians, renowned Bible scholar and theologian J. I. Packer reflects on the central importance of weakness for the Christian life. He exhorts readers to look to Christ for strength, affirmation, and contentment in the midst of their own sin and frailty. Now in his mid-eighties, Packer mediates on the truths of Scripture with pastoral warmth and exegetical care, drawing on lessons learned from the experience of growing older and coming face-to-face with his own mortality. Overflowing with wisdom gleaned from a life of obedience to Christ and dependence on his Word, this encouraging book ultimately directs readers to the God who promises to be ever-present and all-sufficient.

Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know. J.I. Packer. Crossway. February 2013.

Publisher description: Explaining the essentials of the faith, renowned theologian and author Dr. J. I. Packer outlines the core commitments that are common to those of us who profess belief in Jesus. Here is a call to discipleship in mere Christianity—the business of taking God seriously.

Name Above All Names. Alistair Begg & Sinclair Ferguson. Crossway. May 2013.

Publisher description: The busyness of our lives and the diversions of this world have the tendency to distract us from the most important person we could ever know: Jesus Christ. Thankfully, God has given his people ample insights into the Savior in his Word. In this thoughtful treatise, two influential pastors guide everyday Christians through the entirety of the Bible, examining seven key aspects of Jesus’s identity and ministry. Beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation, this book will help readers focus their gaze on Christ, whether studying the promised seed of the woman in Genesis 3 or the reigning lamb on the throne in Revelation 5. Drawing on decades of pastoral experience, Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson have crafted a biblical resource sure to encourage genuine love for the Savior among God’s people for years to come.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quoting Robert Murray M'Cheyne

From the sermons of Robert Murray M'Cheyne
But let Christ be revealed to an unconverted soul, let it not be merely a man speaking about Christ unto him, but let the spirit of God reveal him, and there is revealed, not a truth, but the truth. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 1
Christ is the life of every soul that cleaves to him. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 1
More souls are lost through want of consideration than in any other way. The reason why men are not awakened and made anxious for their souls is, that the devil never gives them time to consider. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
Believers should live in daily consideration of the greatness and glory of Christ. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time,  no heart, for looking at Christ. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Christ. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
O happy believer, rejoice evermore. Live within sight of Calvary, and you will live within sight of glory. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
Oh! what a wonderful thing the eye of faith is: it sees beyond the stars, it pierces to the throne of God, and there it looks on the face of Jesus making intercession for us, whom having not seen we love, in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. ~ M'Cheyne, sermon 2
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Year With Spurgeon: Week #7

Last week, I didn't share any quotes from Morning and Evening. There was a GREAT entry for February 9 that I wanted to make sure I shared. Entries like this that make me think everyone should read Spurgeon!

Scripture references: Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 12:14, 2 Timothy 2:19
Many persons, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, "Being saved from hell and taken to heaven." This is one result of salvation, but it is not one tithe of what is contained in that boon. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all His people from the wrath to come; He saves them from the fearful condemnation which their sins had brought upon them; but His triumph is far more complete than this. He saves His people "from their sins." Oh! sweet deliverance from our worst foes. Where Christ works a saving work, He casts Satan from his throne, and will not let him be master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us--it will never be utterly expelled till the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion. There will be a striving for dominion--a lusting against the new law and the new spirit which God has implanted--but sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature. Christ will be Master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. The Lion of the tribe of Judah shall prevail, and the dragon shall be cast out. Professor! is sin subdued in you? If your life is unholy your heart is unchanged, and if your heart is unchanged you are an unsaved person. If the Saviour has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace which does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not in their sins, butfrom them. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among His people. Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honour my Saviour. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, February 9
and this evening entry for February 13 taking inspiration from Romans 8:1:
Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman, thy Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father's face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with Him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all His merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through Him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! how great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!
"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offerings to bring:
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: Love's Enduring Promise (1980)

Love's Enduring Promise. Janette Oke. 1980. Bethany House. 239 pages.

Love's Enduring Promise is a comfortable read. I've read it half a dozen times at least since it is the second book in one of my favorite series that I read as a child. In this second novel, Marty and Clark have a family together. The first few chapters sees the birth of their first child together. The remaining chapters see their family expand even more: with Marty having more children and with the couple adopting two daughters. By the end of the book, Marty has seen three of her daughters (Missy, Nan, and Clae) become teachers and marry. I can't remember if any of her sons have married by the end of Love's Enduring Promise or not, but, if they haven't it's just a matter of time. Most of the family is all grown up by the novel's end, the others are still attending school. The book gives us quick glimpses of life in the community, and their home life together. But we don't spend much time with the family at any particular time, perhaps with the exception of when Nandry and Clae are first adopted and the family is going through an adjustment period as the girls settle into their new home and as they all prepare for some of the children to attend school. My favorite chapters in this one feature "thet Willie" who is so pesky in Missie's eyes as a child and quite lovable through her grown up eyes.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Book Review: One Perfect Life

One Perfect Life. John MacArthur. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 520 pages.

The subtitle of One Perfect Life is, "The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus." And complete it is, compiling Scriptures from Genesis through Revelation in the New King James translation. There are eleven parts of the story divided into 215 readings. Each reading has a handful of MacArthur's study notes. So for those wanting to learn more, to understand more of the text, it's there.

  • Part 1: "Anticipating the Lord Jesus Christ"
  • Part 2: "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ"
  • Part 3: "The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry"
  • Part 4: "From Passover AD 27 to Passover AD 28"
  • Part 5: "From Passover AD 28 to Passover AD 29"
  • Part 6: "From Passover AD to Passover AD 30"
  • Part 7: "The Final Journey to Jerusalem for Passover AD 30"
  • Part 8: "The Passion Week of the Messiah AD 30"
  • Part 9: "The Upper Room on the Night Before His Death"
  • Part 10: "The Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension"
  • Part 11: "New Testament Reflections on the Gospel of Jesus Christ"

The first and last parts are quite interesting to me as they attempt to create one narrative from many sources of Scripture. For example, in the first reading, "Jesus Christ--the Preexistent Creator and Savior," the narrative is pieced together from these verses: Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-5a, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 1:3-5, Colossians 1:15-18, Colossians 2:9, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 1:1b-3a. It reads--in part--like this,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation... (17)
From the eleventh section, we have a reading entitled "Salvation is by Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone." Its narrative is drawn from these texts: Acts 4:12, Acts 15:11a, Romans 3:23-26, Romans 4:2-5, Romans 4:24-25, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:29-39, Romans 11:6, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:11-14, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:8-10a, 1 Timothy 2:5-6a, 2 Timothy 1:8b-11, Titus 3:4-7, Hebrews 7:25, and 1 John 2:1b-2. Here is how it reads--in part:
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (509-510)
The focus of the entire book is, of course, on Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and on the gospel. The book not only reveals who Christ is, it reveals who we are--with or without Christ. The very last reading is a great invitation to come to Christ and be saved.

One Perfect Life is a powerful, compelling read. I was reminded of the hymn, "I Love To Tell The Story."

I love to tell the story
of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory,
of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story,
because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings 
as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story,
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
'twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long. 

One Perfect Life is a book that is easy to love. The story may, at first, be familiar, but allow yourself to be fascinated by the drama and you might just be amazed.

Here is a very appropriate Dorothy Sayers' quote that I'd like to share (again):
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.
I would definitely recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God

John Calvin And His Passion for the Majesty of God. John Piper. 2008. 64 pages.

This book is a short biography of John Calvin written by John Piper. It isn't strictly a book about John Calvin or Calvin's theology. While some of the book deals specifically with Calvin and the times in which he lived, the book also presents a great argument for the importance of expository preaching. This book has a great deal to say about the Bible!

There are seven chapters and an appendix: "God Is Who He Is," "A Passion for the Glory of God in Christ," "Mastered by the Majesty and Word of God," "Ministry Made by the Majesty of the Word," "Marriage to Idelette," "Constant Trials," and "Constancy in Expounding the Word of God."

First paragraph:
John Calvin would approve that we begin with God rather than with him. Nothing mattered more to Calvin than the supremacy of God over all things. Focus your attention, then, on God's self-identification in Exodus 3:14-15. Here we will see the sun in the solar system of John Calvin's thought and life. (11)
From "God Is Who He Is"
Whether we want him to be there or not, he is there. We do not negotiate what we want for reality. God defines reality. When we come into existence, we stand before a God who made us and owns us. We have absolutely no choice in this matter. We do not choose to be. And when we are, we do not choose that God be. No ranting and raving, no sophisticated doubt or skepticism, has any effect on the existence of God. He simply and absolutely is. (12-13)
We cannot escape the simple and obvious truth that God must be the main thing in life. Life has to do with God because all the universe has to do with God, and the universe has to do with God because every atom and every emotion and every soul of every angelic, demonic, and human being belongs to God, who absolutely is. He created all that is, he sustains everything in being, he directs the course of all events, because "from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. (Romans 11:36) (13)
Other favorite quotes:
Even precious truth about eternal life can be so skewed as to displace God as the center and goal. (16)
There is the key for Calvin: the witness of God to Scripture is the immediate, unassailable, life-giving revelation to our minds of the majesty of God that is manifest in the Scriptures themselves. The majesty of God is the ground of our confidence in his Word. (25)
I take that to mean that God witnesses to us of his reality and the reality of his Son and his Word by giving us life from the dead so that we come alive. His witness is the gift of spiritual life. His witness is that we come alive to his majesty and we see him for he is in his Word. In that instant, we do not reason from premises to conclusions--we see that we are awake, and there is not even a prior human judgment about it to lean on. (26)
Calvin had seen the majesty of God in the Scriptures. This persuaded him that the Scriptures were the very Word of God. He said, "We owe to the Scripture the same reverence we owe to God, because it has proceeded from Him alone, and has nothing of man mixed with it." (45)
The Scriptures were absolutely central because they were absolutely the Word of God and had as their self-authenticating theme the majesty and glory of God. (46)
Calvin reckoned that the continuous exposition of books of the Bible was the best way to overcome "the fearful abandonment of God's Word." (48)
Calvin had a horror of those who preached their own ideas in the pulpit. He said, "When we enter the pulpit, it is not so that we may bring our own dreams and fancies with us." He believed that by expounding the Scriptures as a whole, he would be forced to deal with all that God wanted to say, not just what he might want to say. (49)
God's Word is mainly about the majesty of God and the glory of God. That is the main issue in ministry. And even though the glory and majesty of God in his Word can be known in the still, small voice of whispered counsel by the bedside of a dying saint, there is something in it that cries out for expository exultation. This is why preaching will never die. And radical, pervasive God-centeredness will always create a hunger for preaching in God's people. (50)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: February 10-16

This week I read:


  • Exodus 8-10
  • 1 Samuel 8-15
  • Psalms 90-150
  • Proverbs 1-20
  • Habakkuk
  • Luke 11-24
  • John
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

  • Romans


  • Romans


  • Romans (2)


  • Romans


  • Romans
  • Titus
  • Job 
  • Ezekiel 1-7


  • Romans

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Quoting Andrew Murray #2

This is my second post featuring quotes from Andrew Murray. (The first post is here.)
Prayer is what we need to be taught. And though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that even a small child can pray, it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which anyone can rise. It is fellowship with the unseen and most holy One. ~ Andrew Murray, Teach Me To Pray
God takes upon himself the responsibility of your being full of the Spirit, not as a treasure that you must carry and keep, but as a power that carries and keeps you. ~ Andrew Murray, The Fullness of the Spirit
The Redeemer cannot allow a ransomed soul to go from the table of the covenant without hearing this glorious word: "Go now and leave your life of sin." In the presence of the cross and what your sin cost Him, in view of His love and all the blessings He has bestowed upon you, this word comes with divine power. ~ Andrew Murray, The Lord's Table
Our power to become holy is to be found in the call of God. He not only says, "I am holy," but "I am the LORD, who makes you holy" (Leviticus 22:32). Because the call comes from  the God of infinite power and love, we may have confidence that we can be holy. ~ Andrew Murray, The Path to Holiness
If you would be full of the Spirit, be full of the Word. If you would have the divine life of the Spirit in you grow strong and exercise power in every part of your nature, let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. As the Word abides in you, the Spirit will reveal to you the will of God in every circumstance of your life. Let the written Word be transcribed on your heart. ~ Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ
Simple faith in God's Word and His love opens the eyes and the heart to receive and enjoy the indescribable glory of His grace. ~ Andrew Murray, Waiting on God
May our daily lives be the bright and blessed proof that a hidden power dwells within, preparing us for the glory to be revealed. May our abiding in Christ the Glorified One be our strength to live to the glory of the Father, our enabling to share in the glory of the Son. ~ Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ

All that He has to give or can give is only more of himself, in order that He might take the more complete possession. The presence and the power of the glorified Christ will come to them that are of a humble spirit. ~ Andrew Murray, Humility
The ground for answered prayer is God's forgiving love. When God's love and forgiveness have taken possession of our hearts, we will pray in faith and we will live in love. ~ Andrew Murray, Believing Prayer
It is in the place of quiet where we are alone with God that our spiritual life is both tested and strengthened. There is the battlefield where it is decided every day whether God will have all of us and whether our life will be one of absolute obedience. If we truly conquer there, committing ourselves into the hands of our Lord and finding a refuge in Him, the victory during the day is certain. The superficiality of our Christian service comes from having so little real contact with God. If it is true that God alone is the source of love, goodness, and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence, His fellowship, and His blessing is our highest joy, then surely to meet Him alone in the morning ought to be our aim. ~ Andrew Murray, A Life of Obedience
Christ came not only to deliver us from the law and its curse, but to bring human nature back into fellowship with divine life. ~ Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty (2013)

The Fairest Beauty. Melanie Dickerson. 2013. Zondervan. 352 pages.

I have loved Melanie Dickerson's novels in the past. I really enjoyed Merchant's Daughter and Healer's Apprentice. I was not disappointed with her third novel, third retelling. In The Fairest Beauty we have a LOVELY retelling of Snow White.

Sophie is a scullery maid tormented daily by the evil Duchess. But Sophie was born for higher things, she's the daughter of a Duke. The Duchess is truly her stepmother. Sophie doesn't remember, of course, her parents have always been dead. She's accepted the Duchess' story of her life. She's a peasant child--an orphan--taken in by charity; she should be grateful she's been allowed to serve the Duchess all these years. One woman who knows the truth about Sophie managed (at last) to escape...and news of Sophie's survival has (at last) been told... But Sophie's betrothed has a broken leg. Gabe, the brother, feels strongly that Sophie's situation is desperate. The Duchess is unpredictable, wicked, cruel. Every day Sophie spends there her life is in Gabe decides to go against advice and rescue her himself. It's dramatic, romantic, and lovely.