Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: When Calls The Heart

When Calls the Heart. Janette Oke. 1983/2005. Bethany House. 224 pages.

It came as a great surprise to me. Oh, not the letter itself. We were all used to the arrival of letters from brother Jonathan. They came quite regularly and always caused a small stir in our household. No, it wasn't the letter, but rather what it contained that caught me completely off guard. And Mother's response to it was even more astounding. 

When Calls the Heart is one of my favorite, favorite books by Janette Oke. The first two books in the Canadian West series make me giddy. (I don't remember the others in the series, they may work for me too; I just don't have the same connection with them in my memory!) As an adult, I can see this book breaking all the so-called rules of what makes Christian fiction "bad" or eye-rolling especially among unbelievers. But at the end of the day, I just don't care if the descriptions are too much in the first half of the book! The truth is that I love, love, love Wynn Delaney. And the romance between Wynn and the heroine, Elizabeth, is extremely satisfying. Elizabeth has come out west to teach school. She wants to teach. She doesn't want her brother to try to match her up with one of his single friends. She wants to prove her independence (it's set circa 1910). She's not horribly independent when the novel starts. In fact, she's never lived alone or managed her own life, not really. So living on her own will be a challenge for her. Especially since she has no idea how to cook and how to keep mice away. Readers see her in and out of the classroom. The best parts of this one focus on her romance with Wynn Delaney. From the moment she sees him--they're not properly introduced--she's wowed. She can't stop thinking of him. When they do finally meet, she is under the belief that he's married, that he's the father of one of her students (she's a teacher). He's not married, he is very available! So when he does all these heroic things (things that would make her swoon and say my hero!) she purposefully distances herself from him. She's out to prove that she's not one of those girls whose daydreams carry them away. When, however, she learns the truth. Well, she can't help BEING in love with him. And while she isn't going to go out of her way to hide the fact that she loves him madly, she's going to modestly do all she can to keep his attention and friendship.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Quarterly Bible Reading Check-In

This covers July through September

Written by Moses

1. Genesis (ESV, NASB)
2. Exodus (NASB)
3. Leviticus (NASB)
4. Numbers (NASB)
5. Deuteronomy (HCSB, NASB) 

OT Narratives

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

Wisdom Literature

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

Major Prophets

23. Isaiah
24. Jeremiah (ESV, 
25. Lamentations (KJV)
26. Ezekiel (HCSB)
27. Daniel (Jubilee Bible) 

Minor Prophets

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

NT Narratives

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

Epistles by Paul

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

General Epistles

58. Hebrews (KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB) 
59. James (ESV, ASV, Weymouth, NIV, RCV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB) 
60. 1 Peter (KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB) 
61. 2 Peter (KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB) 
62. 1 John (Jubilee Bible, ESV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB)
63. 2 John (Jubilee Bible, ESV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB)
64. 3 John (Jubilee Bible, ESV, KJV,  NKJV, ESV, HCSB)
65. Jude (Jubilee Bible,  ESV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB)

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

66. Revelation (Jubilee Bible, NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week in Review: September 22-28

This week I read:


  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua


  • Acts
  • Hebrews
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation


  • John 1-9

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Goals for the Rest of the Year

I have not been sharing my goals month-by-month the past few months. This is not because I have stopped having my own goals. More of not being able to put into words in a timely manner my goals for any given month! Since my current goals are big goals that are not quite manageable in any one month, I thought I would just share my goals for the remaining months of the year: October, November, and December!

One of my goals is to use the NASB translation of the Bible to do the Bible in 90 Days program. Because one of the requirements of 'officially' joining the challenge is to use the NIV translation, I am unofficially involved, of course! Carrie's Heart Bible in 90 Days started September 16. I started that date as well. I had printed out a schedule for the 90 day program several years ago, and I am loosely following that. But I am also working at my own pace which currently means I am ahead of schedule. The program, for better or worse, reads the Bible Genesis through Revelation, no skipping around. I do love the Old Testament, but I cannot live on the Old I'll be supplementing my 90 day program with additional New Testament readings! In September, my goal was to carry on the good work of August and FINISH the New Testament in the HCSB translation. I'm not sure exactly which translations I'll be reading in October, November, and December. But possibilities, of course, include: RSV (Revised Standard Version), NKJV (New King James Version), and ESV (English Standard Version).

Another goal is to read and review the Gospel Transformation Bible, ESV. This is a new Bible that Crossway is publishing, and I'm very excited! I should be writing a 'review' at some point in October. Bibles review differently than other books. I have a way I approach reading Bibles for review. I try to read one book of Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy); I try to read one or two history books; I try to read Psalms and/or Proverbs. I try to read a major prophet and a couple of minor prophets. If there is not a deadline, I like to aim for the whole New Testament! If there is a deadline, well, I try to read one gospel at least, perhaps the book of Acts, and at least three or four letters. It is also essential, to me, to read Revelation! Therefore my goals for the rest of the year include reading twelve to eighteen books of the Bible from the Gospel Transformation Bible.

I am also considering rereading One Perfect Life. I am even considering hosting a readalong if I can get enough interest!!! If you are interested in reading this with me, let me know in the comments. I'm not sure on the timing just yet. It may be an Advent through Lent project. It might be an Advent only or Lent only project.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Song of Redemption

Song of Redemption. Lynn Austin. 2005. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

Song of Redemption is the sequel to Lynn Austin's Gods & Kings.  Now that Hezekiah is king, he has a unique opportunity. He can lead his nation back to God. He can read and study the law; perhaps, more importantly, he can follow it and require that others follow it as well. Of course, he cannot command his subjects to truly believe and have faith in Yahweh. But, he can forbid idol worship, destroy idols, and encourage rightful worship of the one true God. Not everyone in his kingdom is excited about the reforms. Even within the royal palace there are those that see this transformation as a big, big mistake.

Song of Redemption stars Hezekiah and his wife Hephzibah, Hilkiah and his son Eliakim, and two Israelite refugees: Jerusha and Maacah. Jerusha's story is truly haunting. While attending a wedding celebration with her family, the Assyrians attack killing many and kidnapping others. Jerusha is not killed; instead she becomes a slave. She travels with the invaders. She is repeatedly raped. Her life is a living nightmare.

Song of Redemption is an intense novel. Judah has stopped paying tribute to the Assyrians. War could come at any moment. And when Israel is defeated, their own defeat seems inevitable. Many fear the worst. Hezekiah clings to his faith. He believes that God can and will save them no matter the odds. His faith will surely be tested....

Song of Redemption has two strong relationships. Eliakim and Jerusha. Eliakim believes in God, but does he BELIEVE in God? Does his faith go beyond the surface? Is it a transforming faith? Jerusha comes into his father's house a broken woman. Her faith in God and in humanity being shaken. She doesn't feel worthy of a normal life, of friendship of family of love. Austin clearly illustrates redemption through Jerusha's story and her love story with Eliakim. Another woman readers get to know is Hephzibah. At the start of the novel, she was Hezekiah's only true wife but his least favorite in his harem. He'd had no use for her since completing the obligatory wedding week. She longs for love and a true marriage. She longs for a child or two. Hezekiah's new faith means that he turns away from his concubines and seeks a faithful and loving relationship with his wife. Here is an opportunity for both to grow in faith and love for better or worse. Unfortunately, Hephzibah is one of those in the palace who does not believe in God. She is a secret idol worshipper. Hephzibah is presented sympathetically as a sorrowful woman with a need so deep that only God can fill it.

Austin's biblical fiction is worth reading!
"Has Yahweh revealed to you what's going to happen to our nation--to our people?"
The prophet's expression changed, as if he had glimpsed something wonderful and terrible, awesome and dreadful. "Yes," Isaiah said. "But who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? God has shown me things I'm not sure I fully understand yet. I've seen the promised seed of Abraham, the righteous Servant of Yahweh, a Light for the Gentiles and a stumbling block to our people--the Messiah, who will reign on the throne forever."
"Will God send the Messiah now--to deliver us from Assyria?"
The question seemed to annoy Isaiah. "You don't understand. He will be your offspring, but you and I won't see Him. And when He does come, many will hear Him but not understand."
"Rabbi, what about our present crisis?" (323-4)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quoting A.B. Simpson #4

From Days of Heaven Upon Earth: A Year Book of Scripture Texts and Living Truths. A.B. Simpson. Originally Published 1897. 372 pages.
“Vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23). Our Father is fitting us for eternity. A vessel fitted for the kitchen will find itself in the kitchen. A vessel for the art gallery or the reception room will generally find itself there at last. What are you getting fitted for? To be a slop-pail to hold all the stuff that people pour into your ears, or a vase to hold sweet fragrance and flowers for the King's palace and a harp of many strings that sounds the melodies and harmonies of His love and praise? Each one of us is going to his own place. Let us get fitted now. The days of heaven are Christly days, The Light of Heaven is He; So walking at His side, our days As the days of heaven would be. The days of heaven are endless days— Days of eternity; So may our lives and works endure While the days of heaven shall be. Walk with us, Lord, through all the days, And let us walk with Thee; 'Til as Thy will is done in heaven, On earth so shall it be. (April 1)
The greatest need of our souls and bodies is to know Jesus personally, to touch Him constantly, to abide in Him continually.
Let us live as self-unconsciously as possible, filling up each moment with faithful service, and trusting Him to stir the springs at His will, and as we go on in faithful service we shall hear, again and again, His glad whisper: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
The secret of love is very simple. It is to take the heart of Jesus for our love and claim its love for every need of life, whether it be toward God or toward others. It is very sweet to think of persons in this way, “I will take the heart of Jesus toward them, to let me love them as He loves them.” Then we can love even the unworthy in some measure, if we shall see them in the light of His love and hope, as they shall be, and not as they now are, unworthy of our love.
Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone. If we wholly trust an interest to God we can keep our hands off it, and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him.
There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will.
April 28. “For it is God which worketh in you” (Philippians 2:13). Sanctification is the gift of the Holy Ghost, the fruit of the Spirit, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the prepared inheritance of all who enter in, the greatest obtainment of faith, not the attainment of works. It is divine holiness, not human self-improvement, nor perfection. It is the inflow into man's being of the life and purity of the infinite, eternal and Holy One, bringing His own perfection and working out His own will. How easy, how spontaneous, how delightful this heavenly way of holiness! Surely it is a “highway” and not the low way of man's vain and fruitless mortification. It is God's great elevated railway, sweeping over the heads of the struggling throngs who toil along the lower pavement when they might be borne along on His ascension pathway, by His own almighty impulse. It is God's great elevator carrying us up to the higher chambers of His palace, without over-laborious efforts, while others struggle up the winding stairs and faint by the way. Let us to-day so fully take Him that He can “cause us to walk in His statutes.”
In our work for God it is a great thing to find the key to men's hearts, and recognize something good as a point of contact for our spiritual influence. When Jesus met the woman at Samaria He immediately seized hold of the best things in her, and by this He reached her heart, and drew from her a willing confession of her salvation.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon: Week 38

Is the carnal mind at enmity against God? Then salvation cannot be by merit; it must be by grace. If we are at enmity with God, what merit can we have? How can we deserve anything from the being we hate? Even if we were pure as Adam, we could not have any merit; for I do not think Adam had any desert before his Creator. When he had kept all his Master’s law he was but an unprofitable servant; he had done no more than he ought to have done; he had no surplus, no balance. But since we have become enemies, how much less can we hope to be saved by works! Oh! no; but the whole Bible tells us, from beginning to end, that salvation is not by the works of the law, but by the deeds of grace. Martin Luther declared that he constantly preached justification by faith alone, “because,” said he, “the people would forget it; so that I was obliged almost to knock my Bible against their heads, to send it into their hearts.” So it is true; we constantly forget that salvation is by grace alone. We always want to be putting in some little scrap of our own virtue; we want to be doing something. I remember a saying of old Matthew Wilkes: “Saved by your works! you might as well try to go to America in a paper boat!” Saved by your works! It is impossible! Oh! no, the poor legalist is like a blind horse going round and round the mill, or like the prisoner going up the treadwheel, and finding himself no higher after all he has done; he has no solid confidence, no firm ground to rest upon. He has not done enough—“never enough;” conscience always says, “this is not perfection; it ought to have been better,” Salvation for enemies must be by an ambassador,—by an atonement,—yea, by Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God
A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, and you have admired the talent of the persons who could write so well; but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
Jesus Christ never fawned upon the rich; he stooped not to the great and noble; he stood erect, a man before men—the prophet of the people; speaking out boldly and freely what he thought. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
We must amalgamate with our boldness the loveliness of Jesus’ disposition. Let courage be the brass, let love be the gold. Let us mix the two together; so shall we produce a rich Corinthian metal, fit to be manufactured into the beautiful gate of the temple. Let your love and courage be mingled together. The man who is bold may indeed accomplish wonders. John Knox did much, but he might perhaps have done more if he had had a little love. Luther was a conqueror—peace to his ashes, and honor to his name!—still, we who look upon him at a distance, think that if he had sometimes mixed a little mildness with it—if, while he had the fortitier in re, he had been also suaviter in modo, and spoken somewhat more gently, he might have done even more good than he did. So brethren, while we too are bold, let us ever imitate the loving Jesus. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
If there is one virtue which most commends Christians, it is that of kindness; it is to love the people of God, to love the church, to love the world, to love all. But how many have we in our churches of Crab-tree Christians, who have mixed such a vast amount of vinegar, and such a tremendous quantity of gall in their constitutions, that they can scarcely speak one good word to you: they imagine it impossible to defend religion except by passionate ebullitions; they cannot speak for their dishonored Master without being angry with their opponent; and if anything is awry, whether it be in the house, the church, or anywhere else, they conceive it to be their duty to set their faces like flint, and to defy everybody. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS IMITATE CHRIST? The answer comes very naturally and easily, Christians should be like Christ, first, for their own sakes. For their honesty’s sake, and for their credit’s sake, let them not be found liars before God and men. For their own healthful state, if they wish to be kept from sin and preserved from going astray, let them imitate Jesus. For their own happiness’ sake, if they would drink wine on the lees well refined; if they would enjoy holy and happy communion with Jesus; if they would be lifted up above the cares and troubles of this world, let them imitate Jesus Christ. Oh! my brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep you head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ. It is when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are enabled to walk with Jesus in his very footsteps, and tread in his ways, you are most happy and you are most known to be the sons of God. For your own sake, my brethren, I say, be like Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Christ's People--Imitators of Him
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Love's Awakening (2013)

Love's Awakening. Laura Frantz. 2013. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Love's Awakening is the second in the Ballantyne Legacy series by the fabulous Laura Frantz. The first in the series is Love's Reckoning. I believe you could read the second novel as a stand-alone, however, if you have plans to read the first book, you should read the two in order! The second book is set about twenty years after the first book; the novel is about the next generation.

The heroine of Love's Awakening is Ellie Ballantyne. I loved her from the start. (In many ways, she has a much easier time than her mother, Eden!) The novel opens with Ellie's homecoming. She's returning from finishing school (or the equivalent) and her journey home turns interesting with a huge, disruptive storm. There is a hero to be found, however, a dashing Jack Turlock. His family doesn't have the best reputation perhaps, and there is some tension between the Turlock family and the Ballantyne family. But Jack Turlock escorts Ellie home and there is a spark of something between them. Nothing improper, mind you, and if it hadn't been for a meddling sister, perhaps, nothing would have come of this attraction...

I REALLY loved Jack's sister, Chloe! And not just because she helps Jack and Ellie come together. I love seeing the "good" in the Turlock family. I loved Jack and Chloe's friendship. I thought he was a good brother. And his tender relationship with his sister, well, it only helped me love him more!

So Ellie returns home a bit unexpectedly. Her parents are away on an extended trip. She has brothers and sisters. Some a bit bossy! Ellie has an idea on how she can help her community. She'll open a day school and teach. Chloe is one of the young ladies that desperately wants to attend or have lessons. There are others as well, but, to be honest Chloe is the only one developed that we come to know and care about! Jack, as Chloe's guardian of sorts, says no initially...

Beneath the surface of this historical romance, there is gritty history. This novel is about the underground railroad...

Love's Awakening is intense and compelling. It has its sweet moments. I really love Laura Frantz. I do. Her historical fiction is among the best of the best. Love's Awakening did not disappoint.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Which Bible Translation...

Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of 4 Major Recent Versions. Andreas J. Kostenberger, ed. 2012. B&H. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This book approaches the question "Which Bible Translation Should I Use?" with scholarship and care. There is an introduction to the history of translation AND the philosophy of translation by Andreas J. Kostenberger and David A. Croteau. This book examines four (and only four) translations. The translations used are ESV, NIV, HCSB, NLT. Sixteen Bible passages are examined in great detail. There is an entire chapter of the book that presents all sixteen passages in all four translations. The chapter is for easy comparison and reference. But that's just the start. Each translation has a spokesperson, of sorts. Wayne Grudem argues for the ESV. Douglas J. Moo argues for the NIV. E. Ray Clendenen argues for the HCSB. Philip Comfort argues for the NLT. In their individual essays, they go through the sixteen passages. Some take a good deal of time and unpack why their translation is the best. Others are more succinct. Most go back to the ideas presented in the introduction in terms of translation philosophy. The reader can tell that PHILOSOPHY matters. That these authors take translation very seriously.

The sixteen passages:

Exodus 2:5-6 ESV
Exodus 2:5-6 NIV
Exodus 2:5-6 HCSB
Exodus 2:5-6 NLT
Exodus 2:5-6 NASB
Psalm 1:1 ESV
Psalm 1:1 NIV
Psalm 1:1 HCSB
Psalm 1:1 NLT
Psalm 1:1 NASB
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 ESV
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NIV
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 HCSB
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NLT
Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21-24 NASB
Matthew 5:1-3 ESV
Matthew 5:1-3 NIV
Matthew 5:1-3 HCSB
Matthew 5:1-3 NLT
Matthew 5:1-3 NASB
Mark 1:40-45 ESV
Mark 1:40-45 NIV
Mark 1:40-45 HCSB
Mark 1:40-45 NLT
Mark 1:40-45 NASB
Mark 16:9-20 ESV
Mark 16:9-20 NIV
Mark 16:9-20 HCSB
Mark 16:9-20 NLT
Mark 16:9-20 NASB
Luke 17:3 ESV
Luke 17:3 NIV
Luke 17:3 HCSB
Luke 17:3 NLT
Luke 17:3 NASB
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 ESV
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NIV
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 HCSB
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NLT
John 1:3-4, 14, 18 NASB
John 2:25-3:1 ESV
John 2:25-3:1 NIV
John 2:25-3:1 HCSB
John 2:25-3:1 NLT
John 2:25-3:1 NASB
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 ESV
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NIV
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 HCSB
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NLT
1 Corinthians 2:1, 13 NASB
Galatians 5:2-6 ESV
Galatians 5:2-6 NIV
Galatians 5:2-6 HCSB
Galatians 5:2-6 NLT
Galatians 5:2-6 NASB
Colossians 2:8-15 ESV
Colossians 2:8-15 NIV
Colossians 2:8-15 HCSB
Colossians 2:8-15 NLT
Colossians 2:8-15 NASB
1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV
1 Thessalonians 1:3 HCSB
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NASB
1 Timothy 2:12 ESV
1 Timothy 2:12 NIV
1 Timothy 2:12 HCSB
1 Timothy 2:12 NLT
1 Timothy 2:12 NASB
Jude 4-5 ESV
Jude 4-5 NIV
Jude 4-5 HCSB
Jude 4-5 NLT
Jude 4-5 NASB
Revelation 3:20 ESV
Revelation 3:20 NIV
Revelation 3:20 HCSB
Revelation 3:20 NLT
Revelation 3:20 NASB

The book is very practical. It is practical, but, extremely scholarly. It may be too detailed for some readers. There is a lot of Greek-talk about how individual Greek words are translated in this context and other contexts and different manuscript readings, etc. And some of the manuscript talk could potentially overwhelm readers. But. I liked the thoroughness of it.

If I could change just one thing about the book--and it's a BIG thing--it would be the translations. I REALLY want a book to examine the NASB and compare it with the ESV specifically. Two of the translations in this book are ones I'd never really consider reading. I've added the links to the NASB verses for my own sake. I *want* the comparison to be easy for me. The book does not include the NASB.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week in Review: September 15-21

This week I read:


  • Genesis 
  • Exodus


  • Ezekiel 26-48
  • Matthew
  • Luke

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 20, 2013

Quoting Martin Luther

For the world never has enough of this life, while the experienced Christian is ready to be removed. What the world seeks, he avoids; what it avoids, he seeks. ~Martin Luther
Faith is something all Christians have, though not in equal measure, some possessing more and others less. However, in faith all have the same possession—Christ. ~ Martin Luther
Faith renders you equal with others, and others equal with you. ~ Martin Luther
Spiritual fervor increases with undertaking and effort. It is the nature of spirit not to know weariness. Spirit grows faint and weary only by idleness. Laboring, it increases in strength. ~ Martin Luther
You will never offer true prayer from a book. To be sure, you may, by reading a prayer, learn how and what to pray, and have your devotion enkindled; but real prayer must proceed spontaneously from the heart, not in prescribed words; the language must be dictated by the fervor of the soul. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: God & Kings (2005)

God & Kings. Lynn Austin. 1995/2005. Bethany House. 317 pages. [Source: Bought]

I love, love, love Lynn Austin's Gods and Kings. This was, in fact, the very first Austin book I ever read. After reading it, I wanted to read all of her books. (I still haven't managed that!) But I would definitely recommend her books to anyone looking for a great read. She's great at characterization, dialogue, relationships, and pacing. Her novels feel relevant and timely. Her writing just draws you into the story, into the culture.

“His death was honorable, my lady—a glorious sacrifice to be celebrated,” Deborah insisted. Abijah stared at her in disbelief. “What kind of mother could celebrate her child’s death? And what kind of father would kill his own child to save himself? Only a monster could do such a thing.” She could see that her words had shocked the servant, but she didn’t care. She looked down at her sleeping son again. “And only a monster would force his other children to watch.” “You’d better be careful what you say,” Deborah said, her voice a near-whisper. “Your husband is the king.”
THE NIGHTMARE JOLTED HEZEKIAH awake. He had dreamed of Molech again, the image so vivid that he’d felt the heat of the flames. He lay awake in the darkness, breathing hard, his heart pounding until his chest hurt. He listened for soldiers and distant drums, but the palace hallways were quiet. It was just a bad dream, he told himself. But when he gazed at Eliab’s bed, he knew that Molech was real.
“Our Temple worship must change as the world changes or it will eventually die out altogether. We’re so bound to tradition that we no longer listen to the people. I’m not talking about changing Yahweh’s laws, I’m talking about examining our traditions. If the men of Judah are drawn to the religions of the nations around us, then we need to ask ourselves why. It’s time we consider changing our outmoded traditions to fit the times instead of blindly clinging to the old ways.” Azariah could no longer restrain himself. “That’s outrageous!” he shouted. “Don’t listen to him!”
“This Temple has been trying to operate under your narrow-minded, archaic views long enough. Repentance! Where has that gotten us? The whole purpose of this Temple is to serve the spiritual needs of the people. Obviously our traditions aren’t meeting those needs or the people would come back. First we must draw them back to worship. Later we can wean them from their idolatry.”
“What’s wrong?” Hezekiah asked. “What do you want?” “Listen, all you leaders of Judah,” the man said. “You’re supposed to know right from wrong, yet you’re the very ones who hate good and love evil. You skin my people and tear at their flesh. You chop them up like meat meant for the cooking pot—and then you plead and beg with Yahweh for His help. Do you really expect Him to listen to your troubles? He will look the other way!” Uriah leaped to his feet. “Guards!” he shouted. “Take this man out of here!” “Wait,” Hezekiah said, holding up his hand. “Let him finish.” He didn’t need this stranger to tell him how much his people were suffering. And seeing the remains of the feast all around him filled Hezekiah with guilt. Maybe this stranger had answers. The hall gradually grew silent as the guests noticed the confrontation. “Why are you here?” Hezekiah asked. “Yahweh has filled me with the power of his Spirit, with justice and might. I’ve come to announce Yahweh’s punishment on this nation for her sins.” “Yahweh?” Hezekiah repeated. “One of Israel’s gods?” This all seemed like a dream he’d once had, and he had the peculiar feeling that this had happened before. Something about the man seemed familiar to him. He tried to remember but couldn’t. “Listen to me, you leaders who hate justice—you fill Jerusalem with murder, corruption, and sin of every kind. Your leaders take bribes, your priests and prophets only preach or prophesy if they’re paid—” “Your Majesty, tell the guards to take him out of here,” Uriah pleaded. “This man is either drunk or insane.” The banquet hall was dimly lit, and although the man’s face looked bruised and swollen, as if he’d suffered a beating, he didn’t appear drunk or insane to Hezekiah. He turned to Uriah and noticed that all the color had drained from the priest’s face. He was glaring at the stranger with a mixture of hatred and fear. Hezekiah had the eerie feeling that his elusive dream involved Uriah, too. He turned back to Micah. “You’ve made some serious accusations. I think you’d better explain yourself.” “My judgments are not my own. I’m here to plead Yahweh’s case.” “All right,” Hezekiah replied. “Let’s make this a formal hearing. You may present Yahweh’s case.” He sat down to listen, and Uriah sat grudgingly beside him. “Listen, O mountains, to Yahweh’s accusation,” the man shouted. “Hear, O earth, for Yahweh has a case against his people. He will prosecute them to the full: ‘My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.’ ” “I’ve studied our nation’s history,” Hezekiah cut in. He’d hoped to learn something that would help him, but he was growing impatient. “What does Yahweh want?” The stranger’s tone changed suddenly as he switched roles, pleading the case for the people. He dropped to his knees. “How can we make up to God for what we’ve done? Shall we bow down before Yahweh with burnt offerings and yearling calves? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, and with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Would He forgive my sins if I offered Him the fruit of my body? Shall I sacrifice my firstborn?” Sacrifice my firstborn. Suddenly the floodgate burst open, and the memories poured into Hezekiah’s mind. The rumble of voices and trampling feet. “Which one is the firstborn?” The priest’s hand had rested on Eliab’s head. “This one.” He remembered the column of smoke in the Valley of Hinnom and the pounding drums. He remembered the heat and the flames; the monster’s open mouth and outstretched arms. Molech. Hezekiah began to tremble. “Yahweh,” he whispered.
Gods and Kings is biblical fiction at its absolute best. It is the story of the young prince who grew up to be King Hezekiah. Two of the prophets it stars is Micah and Isaiah.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: The Prophet

Prophet by Frank Peretti. 1992/2004. Crossway. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]

I first read this one soon after its release. I absolutely LOVED Frank Peretti when I was in junior high and high school. His books were among the very first "adult" books that I read devoured. I thought it would be good fun to revisit one of his books at least. The Prophet was one of my favorites.

My first thought upon rereading is how much has changed and how much has stayed the same! How what is socially acceptable has changed in the last twenty years. Even how we talk about controversial subjects has changed--for better or worse. I'm not only talking about sin or life choices. 1992 can seem so disconnected from now--when looked at solely in terms of technology. 

Prophet is a novel about the media, about reporting news, about politics, about biases, about balancing what do people NEED to know, what do we want people to know, and what do people think they need to know. All three are important, of course. Sometimes people NEED to hear the truth, need to know the facts, even if it isn't something they want to hear. The hero of The Prophet is a anchor man on the news. Through him readers get a behind-the-scenes look--though it is an extremely outdated behind-the-scenes look--at a newsroom in action. Readers get to learn about what stories make it on the air, and which stories get dropped at the last minute. They get to hear WHY stories are chosen over others. 

It is also a novel about abortion. It is admittedly a biased novel on abortion. Fatherless, a novel I reviewed in the summer, presents alternative viewpoints in a reasonable, fair way when all is considered. I can't exactly say the same in Prophet. Every character that is pro-choice in Prophet is illogical at the very least. That is to say that the pro-choice characters are presented as being so fundamentally in love with the idea of abortion--abortion for one and all!--that when the truth comes out that there are unsafe clinics with unsafe doctors killing women through their carelessness, the pro-choice people are all the truth must be suppressed at all costs. We don't need change or reform or guidelines or safety procedures or capably trained and morally responsible doctors and nurses. The idea of stopping unsafe abortions while allowing safe ones doesn't seem to be a justifiable position in Peretti's novel. Peretti seems to be all-extreme when it comes to presenting liberals. One other question I had while reading this is how realistic is it--I honestly don't know--that there would be vans routinely sent to high schools every week to pick up students and deliver them to the clinics for abortions. This is presented as very routine and matter-of-fact. 

Prophet is also about tense relationships between fathers and sons. Our hero, John Jr., has had a terribly rocky relationship with his own father, and he has an extremely bad relationship with his own son. While he misses out on the opportunity of making things right with his father, he does get a good opportunity to restore a relationship with his own son before it is too late.

Prophet has many memorable scenes. I definitely am glad I decided to reread this one! 

Well, if he couldn't nail down what Evil was, why fight it? Whatever was evil today could be voted, legislated, or judged good tomorrow. Maybe if we just wait long enough, he thought, we'll get comfortable with the way things are. (146)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon: Week #37

The cool impudence of Cain is an indication of the state of heart which led up to his murdering his brother; and it was also a part of the result of his having committed that terrible crime. He would not have proceeded to the cruel deed of bloodshed if he had not first cast off the fear of God and been ready to defy his Maker. Charles Spurgeon
“Preach with this object, that men may quit their sins and fly to Christ for pardon, that by His blessed Spirit they may be renovated and become as much in love with everything that is holy as they are now in love with everything that is sinful.” CHARLES SPURGEON
“If persecution should arise, you should be willing to part with all that you possess—with your liberty, with your life itself, for Christ—or you cannot be His disciple.” CHARLES SPURGEON
“Young men and old men, and sisters of all ages, if you love the Lord, get a passion for souls. Do you not see them? They are going down to hell by the thousands.” CHARLES SPURGEON
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: The Invention of Sarah Cummings (2013)

The Invention of Sarah Cummings. 2013. Revell. 304 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

The Invention of Sarah Cummings is the third book in Cummings' Avenue of Dreams series set in Chicago at the end of the 19th century. Sarah Cummings is leading a double life. In reality, she is Sarah Cummings, a servant to the wealthy Banning family. In her dreams, she's a society lady named Serena Cuthbert. Her rich persona is not an orphan, she's always had a comfortable even luxurious life. There are people in Chicago who know her as Sarah and people in town who know her as Serena. She's hoping her two worlds will never collide. Her biggest dream of all: using Serena to catch her dream man. And at first, it appears like she might have a chance. Of course, nothing is certain. And just because a man gives her attention now and then does not mean she should start planning the wedding. She's not quite that foolish. But she seems willing to do whatever it takes to keep herself living the good life. But this becomes more difficult with each passing week...

It isn't just Mr. Townsend she is deceiving, she's become best friends with a new resident, Lillie Wagner. The two become very close in a short amount of time. My guess is that Lillie may be the next heroine we meet?! I certainly wouldn't mind reading that book!

I liked this one. I liked the second and third books in the series better than the first book.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week in Review: September 8-14

This week I read:


  • Proverbs 22-31
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • Ezekiel 1-25
  • Mark
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 13, 2013

Quoting A.B. Simpson #3

From Days of Heaven Upon Earth: A Year Book of Scripture Texts and Living Truths. A.B. Simpson. Originally Published 1897. 372 pages.
“Wait on the Lord” (Ps. 27:14). How often this is said in the Bible, how little understood! It is what the old monk calls the “practice of the presence of God.” It is the habit of prayer. It is the continued communion that not only asks, but receives.
Our hearts are too vast to take in His fulness at a single breath. We must live in the atmosphere of His presence till we absorb His very life.
Christ has overcome for us every one of our four terrible foes—Sin, Sickness, Sorrow, Satan.
Faith is hindered by reliance upon human wisdom, whether our own or the wisdom of others. The devil's first bait to Eve was an offer of wisdom, and for this she sold her faith.
How shall we know the difference between the earthly and the heavenly love? The one terminates on ourselves and is partly ourself seeking its own gratification. The other reaches out to God and others, and finds its joy in glorifying Him and blessing them. Love is unselfishness, and the love that is not unselfish is not divine. How much do we pray for others, and how much for ourselves? What is the center of our being? Ourselves, or our Lord and His people and work? The Lord help us to know more fully the meaning of that great truth, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
God wants us all in various places, and the secret of accomplishing the most for Him is to recognize our places from Him and our service in it as pleasing Him. In the great factory and machine there is a place for the smallest screw and rivet as well as the great driving wheel and piston, and so God has His little screws whose business is simply to stay where He puts them and to believe that He wants them there and is making the most of their lives in the little spaces that they fill for Him.
“The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds” (Phil. iv. 7). It is not peace with God, but the peace of God. “The peace that passes all understanding” is the very breath of God in the soul.
There are two ways of living in His love. One is constant trust, and the other is constant obedience, and His own Word gives the message for both.
“We are His workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). Christ sends us to serve Him, not in our own strength, but in His resources and might. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.” We do not have to prepare them; but to wear them as garments, made to order for every occasion of our life. We must receive them by faith and go forth in His work, believing that He is with us, and in us, as our all sufficiency for wisdom, faith, love, prayer, power, and every grace and gift that our work requires. In this work of faith we shall have to feel weak and helpless, and even have little consciousness of power. But if we believe and go forward, He will be the power and send the fruits. The most useful services we render are those which, like the sweet fruits of the wilderness, spring from hours of barrenness. “I will bring her into the wilderness and I will give her vineyards from thence.” Let us learn to work by faith as well as walk by faith, then we shall receive even the end of our faith, the salvation of precious souls, and our lives will bear fruit which shall be manifest throughout all eternity.
The Lord will give grace and glory. This word glory is very difficult to translate, define and explain; but there is something in the spiritual consciousness of the quickened Christian that interprets it. It is the overflow of grace; it is the wine of life; it is the foretaste of heaven; it is a flash from the Throne and an inspiration from the heart of God which we may have and in which we may live. “The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given them,” the Master prayed for us. Let us take it and live in it. David used to say, “Wake up my glory.” Ask God to wake up your glory and enable you to mount up with wings as eagles, to dwell on high and sit with Christ in the heavenly places.
What we need is to act, and to act with the best light we have, and as we step out into the present duty and full obedience, many things will be made plain which it is no use waiting to decide.
Beloved, cut the Gordian knot, like Alexander, with the sword of decision. Launch out into the deep with a bold plunge, and Christ will settle for you all the questions that you are now debating, and more probably show you their insignificance, and let you see that the only way to settle them is to overleap them.
The mercy of God is an ocean divine, A boundless and fathomless flood; Launch out in the deep, cut away the shore line, And be lost in the fulness of God.
“He is a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Resurrected, not raised. There is so much in this distinction. The teaching of human philosophy is that we are to raise humanity to a higher plane. This is not the Gospel. On the contrary, the teaching of the cross is that humanity must die and sink out of sight and then be resurrected, not raised. Resurrection is not improvement. It is not elevation, but it is a new supernatural life lifting us from nothingness into God and making us partakers of the Divine nature. It is a new creation. It is an infinite elevation above the highest plane. Let us not take less than resurrection life. I am crucified with Jesus, And the cross has set me free; I have ris'n again with Jesus, And He lives and reigns in me. This the story of the Master, Through the cross He reached the throne, And like Him our path to glory, Ever leads through death alone. Lord, teach me the death-born life. Lord, let me live in the power of Thy resurrection!
The joy of the Lord is the strength of His people. The sunshine that scatters their sadness and gloom; The fountain that bursts in the desert of sorrow, And sheds o'er the wilderness, gladness and bloom.
There is an angular, hard, unlovely type of Christian character that is not true holiness; at least, not the highest type of it. It is the skeleton without the flesh covering; it is the naked rock without the vines and foliage that cushion its rugged sides. Jesus was not only virtuous and pure, but He was also beautiful and full of the sweet attractiveness of love.
There are a thousand little graces in Christian life that we cannot afford to ignore. In fact, the last stages in any work of art are always the finishing touches; and so let us not wonder if God shall spend a great deal of time in teaching us the little things that many might consider trifles.
Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting and entering into it because God has said it. Faith turns the promise into a prophecy. While it is merely a promise it is contingent upon our co-operation; it may or may not be. But when faith claims it, it becomes a prophecy and we go forth feeling that it is something that must be done because God cannot lie.
Faith is the answer from the throne saying, “It is done.” Faith is the echo of God's voice. Let us catch it from on high. Let us repeat it, and go out to triumph in its glorious power.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: One With Christ

One With Christ. An Evangelical Theology of Salvation. Marcus Peter Johnson. 2013. Crossway. 256 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I hate having to rate books on Amazon--especially Christian books.   It is hard to balance the theology of the book, the spiritual or theological content of a book AND the way that information is conveyed or expressed. A book can contain theological truth but be so inaccessible that it makes it almost impossible to comprehend. Such is the case with Johnson's One With Christ. I believe the significance of his message. What I was able to comprehend, usually when he was providing summaries and making formal conclusions, I tended to agree with. But there was so much of this one that was too complex, too intense, too mind-boggling. For scholars and theologians, for those with a heavy background in deep theology, this one might seem manageable. For the average reader, however, it is a struggle. I can't recommend a book this inaccessible to most readers.

I was pleased every time I saw Johnson quoting Martin Luther or John Calvin. In some ways, I was eager for these passages, these quotes, because I found them more accessible than the main narrative. That wasn't always the case, however.  I used Johnson's quotes of other people to make some sense of Johnson's own text. And without his conclusions at the end of each chapter I would have been horribly lost.

I do think the book was biblical--at least what I could understand. I think his subject is quite important; his main point being that believers need to give proper credit to being IN CHRIST and united to Christ's person. That it is only because we are IN CHRIST that we have obtained salvation, been justified, etc. It is because of this extraordinary vital connection with Christ--that the Christian life is possible. This is something we read of in the Bible over and over and over again. Those little phrases "in Christ" or "in Him". This book contemplates this subject on a grand level. And it is definitely a worthy subject.

Favorite quotes:
Jesus does not send the Spirit to the church in order that she might become holy in Jesus's absence. Rather, Jesus sends the Spirit in order that he, through the Spirit, might be present as her holiness. (126)
Once joined to Christ, believers will never be separated from him. This is not because our grasp on Christ is so strong, but because his grip on us is unbreakable. (174)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: Sovereign Grace

Sovereign Grace Its Source, Its Nature, and Its Effects. Dwight Lyman Moody. 1891. 90 pages. [Source: Bought.]

In August, I reviewed D.L. Moody's Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. I was impressed. I knew I would definitely be seeking out other Moody books to read. The one I chose next was his little book on grace. It is Sovereign Grace Its Source, Its Nature, and Its Effects. It may be a short book, but it is RICH theologically. Its depth may just surprise you. Moody can succinctly convey biblical truths to readers. Though this one was written so long ago--over a hundred years ago--it is just as relevant today as ever! Grace is one of those subjects that believers need to immerse themselves in--if not every day, close to it!!! We can never embrace grace too fully. 

I shared numerous quotes from this book earlier in the month. Here are some of my favorites:
For six thousand years, God has been trying to teach the world this great and glorious truth--that He wants to deal with man in love and in grace. It runs right through the Bible; all along you find this stream of grace flowing. The very last promise in the closing chapter of Revelation, like the first promise in Eden, is a promise of grace; "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." So the whole revelation, and the whole history of man is encircled with grace, the free favor of God.
 Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2). There are three precious things here: peace for the past ; grace for the present; and glory for the future. There is no PEACE until we see the finished work of Jesus Christ - until we can look back- and see the Cross of Christ between us and our sins. When we see that Jesus was "the end of the law for righteousness" (Romans 10:4); that He "tasted death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9); that He "suffered the Just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18) - then comes peace. Then there is "the GRACE wherein we now stand." There is plenty of grace for us as we need it - day by day, and hour by hour.Then there is GLORY for the time to come. A great many people seem to forget that the best is before us. 
It has been well remarked: "Grace is glory militant; and glory is grace triumphant. Grace is glory begun; glory is grace made perfect. Grace is the first degree of glory: glory is the highest degree of grace.
A man once said that a good many of his congregation would be lost because they were too generous. He saw that the people looked rather surprised; so be said, "Perhaps you think I have made a mistake; and that I ought to have said you will be lost because you are not generous enough. That is not so; I meant just what I said. You give away too many sermons. You hear them, as it were, for other people." So there are a good many now hearing me who are listening for those behind them: they say the message is a very good one for neighbor so-and-so; and they pass it over their shoulders, till it gets clear out at the door. You laugh; but you know it is so. Listen! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon: Week #36

“Try after sermons to talk to strangers. The preacher may have missed the mark, but you need not miss it. Or the preacher may have struck the mark, and you can help to make the impression deeper by a kind word.” CHARLES SPURGEON
“I have no confidence at all in polished speech or brilliant literary effort to bring about a revival, but I have all the confidence in the world in the poor saint who would weep her eyes out because people are living in sin.” Charles Spurgeon
“When it comes to seeking and saving the lost, it’s always hunting season. We should be ready to preach the gospel to everyone we meet.” “What we want in the Church of Christ is a band of well-trained sharpshooters, who will pick the people out individually and be always on the watch for all who come into the place, not annoying them, but making sure that they do not go away without having had a personal warning, invitation, and exhortation to come to Christ.” Charles Spurgeon
“He is no Christian who does not seek to serve his God. The very motto of the Christian should be I serve.” CHARLES SPURGEON
“Defend the Bible? I would as soon defend a lion!” Charles Spurgeon
“No sinner looks to the Savior with a dry eye or a hard heart. Aim, therefore, at heart-breaking, at bringing home condemnation to the conscience and weaning the mind from sin. Be not content till the whole mind is deeply and vitally changed in reference to sin.” CHARLES SPURGEON
“I believe that the most damnable thing a man can do is to preach the gospel merely as an actor and turn the worship of God into a kind of theatrical performance.” CHARLES SPURGEON
The Law also shows us our great need—our need of cleansing, cleansing with the water and the blood. It discovers to us our filthiness, and this naturally leads us to feel that we must be washed from it if we are ever to draw near to God. So the Law drives us to accept Christ as the only Person who can cleanse us, and make us fit to stand within the veil in the presence of the Most High. The Law is the surgeon’s knife that cuts out the proud flesh that the wound may heal. The Law by itself only sweeps and raises the dust, but the gospel sprinkles clean water upon the dust, and all is well in the chamber of the soul. The Law kills, the gospel makes alive; the Law strips, and then Jesus Christ comes in and robes the soul in beauty and glory. All the commandments, and all the types direct us to Christ, if we will but heed their evident intent. Charles Spurgeon

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: A Surprise for Lily

A Surprise for Lily. Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2013. Revell. 268 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

A Surprise for Lily is the fourth book in the Adventures of Lily Lapp series by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. I have followed this series from the very beginning, and I have loved each and every book. As I'm reading each one, I think this is my favorite so far. Of course, I'm not sure I could really choose. There is no real reason why I'd ever have to choose a favorite! The first three novels in the series are: Life with Lily, A New Home for Lily, and A Big Year for Lily.

In this fourth book, our heroine is now 11! She is growing up so fast in many ways! Each book roughly covers a year of her life. And with multiple releases a year, time is flying by for our heroine! A Surprise for Lily follows Lily through fifth grade. The book still is her adventures and misadventures with friends, classmates, cousins, and brothers. And it wouldn't really be a Lily book if it didn't include a few scenes with Lily learning homemaking--cooking, baking, sewing, etc.

I just LOVE Lily. I love her family, her mother and father, and ALL THOSE BROTHERS. I really like seeing the world through Lily's eyes!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week In Review: September 1-7

  • Psalms 64-150
  • Proverbs 1-21
  • John 
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
Of note: Carrie's Heart is hosting a Bible in 90 Days Reading Challenge. It starts September 16th.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Journaling Sovereign Grace #3

Sovereign Grace Its Source, Its Nature, and Its Effects. Dwight Lyman Moody. 1891. 90 pages. [Source: Bought.]

In the first two journaling posts, we've covered the first five chapters of D.L. Moody's Sovereign Grace.
There are many Christians who practically limit the grace of God. It is like a river flowing by; and we can have all we need: but if we do not come and get a continual supply, we cannot give it out to others.
Mother! father! are you not longing to see your children won to Christ? What is the trouble? Is it the fault of the minister ? I believe that though ministers were to preach like angels, if there is a low standard of Christian life in the home, there will be little accomplished. What we want, more than anything else, is more grace in our lives, in our business affairs, in our homes, in our daily walk and conversation. I cannot but believe that the reason of the standard of Christian life being so low, is that we are living on stale manna. You know what I mean by that. So many people are living on their past experience-thinking of the grand times they had twenty years ago, perhaps when they were converted. It is a sure sign that we are out of communion with God if we are talking more of the joy, and peace, and power, we had in the past, than of what we have today. We are told to "grow in grace;" but a great many are growing the wrong way.
God give us grace to see our need of grace; give grace to ask for grace; give us grace to receive grace; give us grace to use the grace we have received.
Many say they are anxious to "grow in grace." I do not think they ever will, until they go out into the harvest field and begin to work for others. We are not going to have the grace we need to qualify us for work until we launch out into the deep, and begin to use the abilities and the opportunities we already possess. Many fold their arms, and wait for the grace of God to come to them; but we do not get it in that way. When we "go forward," then it is that God meets us with His Grace.
In 2 Corinthians 9:8, we read: "God is able to make all grace abound towards you ; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." There are three thoughts here–God makes all grace to abound, that we may have all sufficiency in all things. I think this is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible.
There is plenty of grace. Many Christians, if they have grace enough to keep them from outward sin, seem to be perfectly satisfied; they do not press on to get fullness of grace, so as to be ready for God's work. Many are satisfied to go into the stream of grace ankle deep, when God wants them to swim in it.
It is said that Alexander the Great had a favorite General to whom he had given permission to draw upon the royal treasury for any amount. On one occasion this General had made a draft for such an enormous sum that the Treasurer refused to honor it until he consulted the Emperor. So he went into his presence and told him what the General had done. "Did you not honor the draft?" said the Emperor. "No; I refused till I had seen your Majesty; because the amount was so great." The Emperor was indignant. His Treasurer said that he was afraid of offending him if he had paid the amount. "Do you not know," replied the Emperor, "that he honors me and my kingdom by making a large draft?" Whether the story be authentic or not, it is true that we honor God when we ask for great things.
It has been well remarked: "Grace is glory militant; and glory is grace triumphant. Grace is glory begun; glory is grace made perfect. Grace is the first degree of glory: glory is the highest degree of grace.
Man lost spiritual life and communion with his Maker by listening to the voice of the tempter, instead of the voice of God. We get life again by listening to the voice of God. The Word of God gives life. 
A man once said that a good many of his congregation would be lost because they were too generous. He saw that the people looked rather surprised; so be said, "Perhaps you think I have made a mistake; and that I ought to have said you will be lost because you are not generous enough. That is not so; I meant just what I said. You give away too many sermons. You hear them, as it were, for other people." So there are a good many now hearing me who are listening for those behind them: they say the message is a very good one for neighbor so-and-so; and they pass it over their shoulders, till it gets clear out at the door. You laugh; but you know it is so. Listen! "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
The moment a man is willing to part with his sins, God meets him in grace and offers him peace and pardon.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible