Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week In Review: November 24-30

This week I read:


  • Genesis 1-5
  • Ruth
  • Psalm 116-150
  • Isaiah 1-35
  • 1 Corinthians (2)

KJV Audio Dramatized Bible

  • Genesis 
  • Exodus
  • Luke 
  • John
  • 1 Corinthians (2) 
  • Philippians 
  • Colossians


  • Psalm 116-150


  • Psalm 116-150


  • 1 Corinthians

ESV / ESV Gospel (will be indicated by *)

  • Judges 1-12*
  • 1 Corinthians (2)


  • 1 Corinthians 


  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel 1-19
  • Matthew 20-25

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Excuses, Excuses...

In Taking Back The Good Book, Woodrow Kroll shares with his readers a top ten list of excuses people give for NOT reading the Bible. Do you agree that these are all-too-familiar excuses? Are there any excuses you'd add to the list?

Reason 10: I Don't Know Where To Start
Reason 9: I Can't Find What I Want In the Bible
Reason 8: The Bible Doesn't Confirm What I Believe
Reason 7: I Hear the Bible at Church, So Why Do I Need To Read It for Myself?
Reason 6: The Language of the Bible Doesn't Make Sense to Me
Reason 5: The Bible is Such a Big Book, I Could Never Read It All
Reason 4: The Bible Isn't Relevant to My Life
Reason 3: The Bible is Boring and Wasn't Written to Me Anyway
Reason 2: Reading the Bible isn't a Priority in My Life
Reason 1: I Don't Have Time to Read the Bible

Woodrow Kroll has responses to all ten excuses. Here is his response to the number one reason:
The most common excuse for not reading the Bible is our busy lives. We don't seem to have time to do the things we need to do. There's work and school, running to the store, soccer practice, dinner--life is just a bit harried. Who has time to sit and read?

You do. Here's why: time is a set quantity. It's not elastic. We all have sixty seconds in every minute, sixty minutes in every hour, twenty-four hours in every day. Time may fly, but it doesn't change. You have 1,440 golden minutes in every day and so do I.

The issue is never about time; it's always about what we choose to do get done in the time we have. Is reading God's Word, meditating and benefiting from it, something you wish to take the time to do or not? If not, the convenient but pathetic excuse is to say, "I don't have time."

A couple of years ago, I took a stopwatch with me everywhere I flew. I would read my Bible while in flight and time how long it took to read each book of the Bible. Once when I was returning from Frankfurt on a flight to Chicago, a flight attendant saw the stopwatch and asked, "Are you timing our service?" I chuckled and said, "No, I'm timing how long it takes me to read my Bible." Puzzled, she asked why someone would want to do that. I said, "Because everybody tells me they would read their Bible but they don't have time. I want to know how much time they don't have."
Did you know that you can read half the books of the Bible in less than thirty minutes each? You can read twenty-six of them in less than fifteen minutes. The whole Bible, cover to cover, can be read by an average reader in less than seventy-two hours.
Maybe it's time we rethink our reasons for not reading the Bible and just call them what they are--excuses. Take another look at these "Top Ten." How many of them have you used with God as an excuse for not reading his Word? If you can see through the excuses so quickly, imagine how easily he can see through them.
The Bible is read by people who choose to read it. Bible reading is neglected by people who choose to neglect it. It's just that simple. No excuses. Just honesty. (76-77)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Giving Thanks #30 Wycliffe New Testament

A few years ago, I read and loved (really, really, really loved) the Wycliffe New Testament which was first published in 1388. The edition I read was "The Wycliffe New Testament 1388. transcribed by W.R. Cooper Into Modern Spelling." It is published by The British Library in association with The Tyndale Society. It is a translation of the Latin Vulgate into English. It wasn't that influential in terms of other English translations (Tyndale, Geneva Bible, King James Version) but it was an early English translation. 

From Matthew 1:
But the generation of Christ was thus. When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was spoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found having of the Holy Ghost in the womb. And Joseph, her husband, for he was rightful and would not publish her, he would privily have left her. But while he thought these things, lo, the angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to him and said, Joseph, the son of David, nil thou dread to take Mary, thy wife, for that thing that is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bear a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus, for He shall make His people safe from their sins. For all this thing was done that it should be fulfilled that was said of the Lord by a prophet, saying, Lo, a virgin shall have in womb, and she shal bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, that is to say, God with us. And Joseph rose from sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary his wife. And he knew her not till she had borne her first begotten son, and called His name Jesus.
From Matthew 7:
Nil ye deem, that ye be not deemed. For in what doom ye deem, ye shall be deemed, and in what measure ye mete, it shall be meted again to you. But what see thou a little mote in the eye of thy brother, and see not a beam in thine own eye? Or how say thou to thy brother, Brother, suffer I shall do out a mote from thine eye, and lo, a beam is in thine own eye? Hypocrite! Do thou out first the beam of thine eye, and then thou shall see to do out the mote of the eye of thy brother. Nil ye give holy things to hounds, neither cast ye your margarites before swine, lest peradventure they defoul them with their feet and are turned and all to-tear you. Ask ye, and it shall be given to you. Seek ye, and ye shall find. Knock ye, and it shall be opened to you. For each that asks, takes; and he that seeks, finds; and it shall be opened to him that knocks.
From Luke 2:
And shepherds were in the same country, waking and keeping the watches of the night on their flock. And lo, the angel of the Lord stood beside them, and the clearness of God shone about them, and they dreaded with great dread. And the angel said to them, Nil ye dread, for lo, I preach to you a great joy that shall be to all people. For a Savior is born today to you that is Christ the Lord in the city of David. And this is a token to you, ye shall find a young child lapped in clothes and laid in a cratche. And suddenly there was made with the angel a multitude of heavenly knighthood, herying God and saying, Glory be in the highest things to God, and in earth peace to men of good will. And it was done, as the angels passed away from them into heaven, the shepherds spoke together and said, Go we over to Bethlehem and see we this word that is made, which the Lord has made and shown to us.
From John 6:
Therefore Jesus answered and said to them, Nil ye grouch together. No man may come to Me but if the Father that sent Me draw him, and I shall again-raise him in the last day.
From John 14:
Be not your heart afeared, nor dread it. Ye believe in God, and believe ye in Me. In the house of My Father are many dwellings. If anything less, I had said to you, for I go to make ready to you a place. And if I go and make ready to you a place, eftsoons I come, and I shall take you to Myself, that where I am, ye are. And whither I go, ye wit, and ye wit the way.

From John 15:
I am a very vine, and My Father is an earth-tiller. Each branch in Me that bears not fruit, He shall take away it. And each that bears fruit, He shall purge it that it bear the more fruit. Now ye are clean for the word that I have spoken to you. Dwell ye in Me and I in you. As a branch may not make fruit of itself but it dwell in the vine, so neither ye, but ye dwell in Me. I am a vine, ye are the branches.
From Hebrews 4 in the Wycliffe Bible:

For the word of God is quick and speedy in working, and more able to pierce than any twain-edged sword, and stretches forth to the departing of the soul and of the spirit, and of the jointures and marrows, and deemer of thoughts and of intents and hearts. And no creatures is unvisible in the sight of God. For all things are naked and open to His eyes, to whom a word to us. Therefore we that have a great Bishop that pierced heavens, Jesus the Son of God, hold we the acknowledging of our hope. For we have not a bishop that may not have compassion on our infirmities, but was tempted by all things by likeness--without sin. Therefore go we with trust to the throne of His grace, that we get mercy and find grace in covenable help.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks #29 Bible Promises

From How To Find God in the Bible by Woodrow Kroll:
There is much about God that you would never know apart from His Word. Sure, you may become convinced that God exists by what you see in the world. You may even philosophically come to the conclusion that the order in our universe demands an almighty Creator to bring it about. But if the Bible had never been written, think about all the things you would never know about God.

Without a Bible, you would never know that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)

Without a Bible, you would never know that God "will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV)

Without a Bible, you would never know that "the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Without a Bible you would never know that "those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31)

Without a Bible, you would never know that God takes no pleasure in punishing sinners: "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" (Ezekiel 18:23)

Without a Bible, you would never hear Jesus' invitation: "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Without a Bible, you would never realize that "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved," but the name Jesus (Acts 4:12).

Without a Bible, you would never know that "there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Without a Bible, you would not have God's promise that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, NKJV)

Without a Bible, you would not appreciate that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Without a Bible, you would not recognize the fact that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8)

Without a Bible, you would never guess that a day is coming when God "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4)

Without a Bible, you would not be encouraged, "Behold I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:12-13) 
Without a Bible, you would know very little about God, His character, His promises and plans for you, or what awaits you in the future. All this and more is revealed only through the pages of His Word. If you want to encounter God and His truth, becoming one with nature just isn't enough. (28-30)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Not In the Heart

Not In The Heart. Chris Fabry. 2012. Tyndale. 432 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

I did not love Not In The Heart. Not in the same way I loved, loved, loved Almost Heaven. But comparing the two perhaps is unfair.

Truman, the narrator of Not In The Heart, is down on his luck. He's let his addiction to gambling destroy his life. He's consistently made the wrong decisions in his life for years now. He isn't only hurting himself, however. He has a wife who loves him despite his problems, despite their current separation. He also has two children: a nearly-grown-up daughter, Abby, and her younger brother, Aidan, who is dying. Does Truman see his family often? Does he help support his family? The answer, as you might have guessed, is no. Truman is selfish. For example, he knows that his son wants to see him; he knows that his son would love for him to come by the hospital and spend some time together. And Aidan's the type of kid who doesn't ask for much. But Truman knows that going to the hospital would make him feel uncomfortable, would make him feel bad. So he stays away.

So. Truman is offered an opportunity. There is a convicted murderer who is willing--even anxious--to donate his heart to Aidan. He is willing to stop his appeals, to accept his death sentence, IF he (Truman) will agree to write a book, to tell his story. The wife (supposedly) will even pay to help sweeten the deal. He agrees. But within hours of agreeing, he's lost all the money gambling. Now guilt and guilt alone will urge him forward, compel him to write the story with diligence and care. He even involves his daughter on this case. He becomes a crime-solving journalist on a tight deadline. If he uncovers the innocence of the man, if he finds enough to prove it, will he do the right thing even if it means his son dies?

Not In the Heart is very much focused on solving a crime, on uncovering clues, of following dangerous leads, of taking big risks, of following instincts and putting all the little details together in just the right way. It is an intense thriller. And plenty of broken things need to be pieced together in this novel. I like the humanity of the characters. I like the messiness, the brokenness just fine. I like the struggle, the efforts. It's not like Truman's second chance is going to automatically cure him of selfishness and stubbornness. It's not like he's going to suddenly become a great father now that there is a small chance his son will survive. That being said, I feel the novel is a bit too manipulative. The ending is extremely predictable. One could almost guess the outcome just from reading the title alone. Or at least I thought so.

I think for readers looking for an intense, contemporary thriller with plenty of action and danger, this one would be a good fit. For readers who are looking for a quirky, feel-good novel, this one isn't a good match.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!"

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

For you are, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Scriptures from: Philippians 4:4Psalm 63:4Psalm 68: 19Psalm 70:4Psalm 73:25Psalm 86:5Psalm 92:1-2Psalm 95:1-2,

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Giving Thanks #28 KJV Dramatized Bible

I have always wanted to find an audio bible to love. Always. But I've had problems in the past. Either I loved the Bible translation and really really really did not like the narration. Or. I liked the narration just fine, but did not really care for the translation. So when I discovered that Bible Gateway had audio bibles, I was curious--very, very curious. I ended up LOVING, absolutely LOVING the KJV Dramatized Audio Bible. So far I've listened to

Psalms 130-150
1 Corinthians

So I think it's fair to say it is LOVE.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Read With Me: The Gospel of Luke

Do you have plans for Advent? Do you have reading plans for the month of December? Would you like a daily reminder of the reason for the season? I invite you to join me this December in reading the Gospel of Luke. You may use ANY translation. You may read one chapter a day, December 1 through December 24. OR. You may read several chapters a day and have a few days you skip.

Why Luke?! Well. Some advent readings focus on the Old Testament, OR, perhaps on the nativity of Christ. I wanted to focus on the WHOLE story. I wanted the nativity, but, I wanted the teachings, the miracles too. I especially wanted passion week. I think the BEST Christmas songs, the best Christmas sermons, touch just as much upon the cross, upon the resurrection, as they do the manger. He was a child born with one purpose, one mission. He came to SAVE US FROM OUR SINS; He was born to be a deliverer.

I also thought it was a great choice because it is exactly 24 chapters long!!! Every one reads at a different pace, but allow for ten to fifteen minutes a day. The two longest chapters are Luke 1 and Luke 22. My audio bible has Luke 1 at a little over ten minutes in length; Luke 22 is almost nine minutes long.
The whole of Christ's life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where he was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the creche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed his glory by his death. ~ John Donne
Men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus — unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus — are those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season; but they will soon fall away and return to the world. ~ J.C. Ryle, Holiness
There is no unpardonable sin for those who come to Christ for forgiveness. For those who refuse Him, all sins are unpardonable. (Erwin Lutzer, Cries from the Cross, 46)
He that hung upon the cross was the Maker of all worlds. He that came as an infant, for our sake, was the Infinite. How low he stooped! How high he must have been that he could stoop so low! ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Simplicity and Sublimity of Salvation."
Keep before your mind, as an ever-present truth, that the Lord Jesus is an actual living Person, and deal with Him as such. I am afraid that many who profess Christ in our day have lost sight of our Lord's person. They talk more about salvation — than about their only Savior, and more about redemption — than the one true Redeemer, and more about Christ's work — than Christ Himself. This is a great fault — one that accounts for the dry and shriveled spirit that infuses the religious lives of many who profess faith. As ever you would grow in grace, and have joy and peace in believing — beware of falling into this error. Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard it as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend. This is the kind of Gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons, was the loving heart of an actual living Christ. This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and fitness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that Heaven where Christ's personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face, as to realize communion with Christ, as an actual living Person here on earth. There is all the difference in the world, between an idea and a person. ~ J.C. Ryle, Holiness

We Are The Reason, David Meece,

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
Of all the gifts and toys we knew we'd find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Signing Up for Cloud of Witnesses (My Post)

Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible; sign up post
January - December 2014
# of Books: my goal is 12 books

My Cloud:

Charles Spurgeon
J.C. Ryle
Dwight Moody
George Whitefield
Horatius Bonar
Andrew Murray
B.B. Warfield
A.W. Tozer
Martyn Lloyd Jones
A.W. Pink
G. Campbell Morgan
A.B. Simpson

Alternates not pictured in 'my cloud'

J. Vernon McGee
James Montgomery Boice
Loraine Boettner
R.A. Torrey
Matthew Henry
Stephen Charnock
Martin Luther
Jonathan Edwards
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
John Calvin

I had picked 12 authors for my cloud. I haven't done as great a job sticking with those specific twelve. But I have read plenty of books.

What I read:
  1. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  2. Isaiah 36-66 (Thru the Bible #23). J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
  3. The Attributes of God. A.W. Tozer. 1996. Christian Publications. 176 pages. [Book I Bought]
  4. The Attributes of God, volume 2: Deeper Into the Father's Heart. A.W. Tozer. 2001/2007. Wingspread. 203 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. Discovering the Power of Christ's Prayer Life. Charles Spurgeon. Compiled and Edited by Lance Wubbels. 1995. Emerald Books. 204 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings From the Gospel of John. A.W. Tozer. 2009. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  7. Saved In Eternity (The Assurance of Salvation #1) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1988. Crossway. 187 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Safe in the World (The Assurance of Salvation #2). D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1988. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9.  Sanctified Through the Truth. (The Assurance of Salvation #3) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1989. Crossway. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  10. Growing in the Spirit (Assurance of Salvation #4) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1989. Crossway. 158 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  11. All Loves Excelling (The Saints' Knowledge of Christ's Love)John Bunyan. 1692/1998. Banner of Truth. 144 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  12. Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith. A.W. Tozer. 2009. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  13. Fellowship with God (Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John #1) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1993. Crossway. 142 pages. [Source: Bought]
  14. (Puritan Pulpit) Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758. (Containing 16 Sermons Unpublished In Edwards' Lifetime) Compiled and Edited by Dr. Don Kistler. Soli Deo Gloria. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]
  15. Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever. Michael S. Horton. 2014. Crossway. 271 pages.   
  16. The Great Divorce. C.S. Lewis. 1945. HarperCollins. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
  17. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
My Cloud:

Charles Spurgeon
J.C. Ryle
Dwight Moody
George Whitefield
Horatius Bonar
Andrew Murray
B.B. Warfield
A.W. Tozer
Martyn Lloyd Jones

A.W. Pink
G. Campbell Morgan
A.B. Simpson

Alternates not pictured in 'my cloud'

J. Vernon McGee
James Montgomery Boice
Loraine Boettner
R.A. Torrey
Matthew Henry
Stephen Charnock
Martin Luther
Jonathan Edwards
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
John Calvin

I've also continued My Year With Spurgeon, which, should probably count for something, right?! Since each week is at least one sermon! Over the course of a year, that adds up!

I've also done monthly quote posts for Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 
I made my cloud of witnesses with Mosaic Maker from Big Huge Labs.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Signing Up For Operation Deepen Faith (My Post)

Operation Deepen Faith
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign-up post)
January - December 2014

I. Wonderful Words of Life. Goal: Read the Bible using a Bible Plan

  • I will definitely be using John MacArthur's reading plan of 30 Days in a row! These books are likely contenders: 2 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Thessalonians (together), James, Galatians. Each month I use this system, I will write a separate post and add it to the 2014 Goals Sidebar. I will keep track each time I read the book. 
  • I am thinking about trying the M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. Would anyone be interested in trying it with me? I think I might be more successful at sticking with it if I have company.
  • I will probably alternate the intensity of the MacArthur system with the broadness of my own reading plan. (On Mondays, reading from the pentateuch, on Tuesdays, reading from the history books, on Wednesdays, reading from the wisdom books, on Thursdays, reading from the major prophets, on Fridays, reading from the minor prophets. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, reading from the gospels, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays reading from the epistles--the rest of the NT essentially. Sundays are completely free for me to choose where I want to read.)

II. How Firm A Foundation. Goal: STUDY one book of the Bible throughout the year.

  • I will be spending an entire year with the Apostle John. I will be studying these three books of the Bible: John, 1 John, Revelation. I plan to read each of these books at least twelve times. I'd really, really, really love to read each of these twenty-four times! But let's see if 12 is even achievable!

III. Deep and Wide; Goal: read multiple books of the bible in multiple translations.

  • This goal is accomplished every time I do the MacArthur 30 Day system. 
  • This goal is accomplished when I try to read the New Testament through each year in a handful of different translations. I try for some variety: ESV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, etc.

VI. Christian Nonfiction. 

  • My minimum goal is to read at least one Christian nonfiction book per month. Ideally, I'd be able to read four Christian nonfiction books per month. It would be GREAT if I could read fifty over an entire year. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Made In Our Image

Made In Our Image. Steven J. Lawson. 2000. Doubleday. 224 pages. [Source: Borrowed From Friend]

I am so thankful to have discovered Steven J. Lawson this year. He has turned out to be an author who does not disappoint! The first section of Made In Our Image focuses on a society that likes--even loves--to remake God into their own image.  What we think about God is so essential, so important. What is shaping our image of God? Think about it. Consider. Is "our God" the God of the Bible, or, are we reshaping God and fixing him to our own liking, perhaps trying to sell him to more people? The second section of Made In Our Image examines who God is, what he is like, his attributes, his character. The third section focuses on the individual, the personal experience of knowing, fearing, loving God. All of it was good--really good. I think the book is very relevant. In many ways, it is similar to A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. The books share the same focus and goal. Both books are excellent by the way! 

From the introduction: This is a book about God. Not God as we might loosely imagine Him to be, but as He truly is--holy, awesome, sovereign, righteous, and full of love and goodness. I believe that there is one area of our theology that is most lacking in the church today, it is our understanding of who He really is. Our most rudimentary problem is that we do not fully comprehend who He is. Our thoughts about Him have become very unclear, fuzzy, and oblique. The result of this distorted view of deity is that it leaves everything else out of focus as well. Whenever we lose a right view of God, everything else gets out of perspective. (15)

Favorite quotes:
The most important thing about you is who you believe God is. (25)
Who we believe God is impacts every area of our lives--our attitudes, priorities, choices, and even our destiny. The true knowledge of God is so vast and overreaching that it is the only subject large enough, and powerful enough, to define and determine every aspect of our lives. (25)
The greatest sin anyone can commit is to distort the true knowledge of God. Vandalizing God's image--not with spray cans or permanent markers, but with loose thinking, partial truths, and bad theology--is at the center of every sin. (32)
A demeaned view of the one true God is the result of a pattern of compromise--from watered-down sermons presenting a low view of God to the trendy music of Christian performers who crossover to secular markets but forget to carry the Cross with them. (32)
Too often, we allow our surroundings and imagination, instead of Scripture, to govern our thoughts about who God is. We often project our self-limitations on to our picture of Him, resulting in a god made in our own image. This is the curse of the user-friendly god--namely, low views of Him who is high and lifted up, finite views of Him who is infinite and beyond our comprehension. (62)
Our definition of God should not be left up to our own imaginations; it must be determined from the pages of the Bible. When it comes to defining who God is, individual speculation is no more valid than a roll of the dice. The God we are talking about is the Creator of the universe, the original being, the sovereign ruler of all that is. He is the sole judge of all that is true and false, right and wrong, good and bad. He is the One who communicates to humankind generally in nature and specifically through the words of the Bible. (63)
What is the primary truth about God that we must grasp if we are to have a high view of Him? More than any other of His divine attributes, God has revealed Himself to has as being absolutely holy. Arguably, God's holiness is the most important of all His attributes. It constitutes the core of His nature, the essence of His attributes. It constitutes the core of His nature, the essence of His being, and the crown of His character. If our thoughts of God are to be worthy, the primary truth that should govern how we perceive Him is that He alone is perfectly holy. If we are to properly understand who He is, we must grasp the true meaning of this central aspect of His divine being. (77)
In the minds of so many people today, even some in the body of Christ, the user-friendly god has voluntarily limited his control and given free reign to the actions of people in order to give them unconditional liberty. This restricted ruler is slightly sovereign--enthroned, but not empowered; presiding, but not prevailing; trying, but not triumphing…This is the user-friendly god. But is this God? Has He really chosen to limit the free reign of His sovereignty? Is He limited by the choices of man? Or is God really the supreme ruler of the universe, exercising total control over all the works of His hand? Rest assured, God is in complete control! (93)
Only when we understand that He judges sin--all sin, even our own sin--can we appreciate His glorious grace for what it is. The darkness of God's wrath showcases the flawless gem of His unmerited mercy toward us. But remove the dark background of His wrath, and our appreciation of the brilliance of His amazing love fades. The gospel is not good news until we first know the bad news. The good news of His love does not truly become good news until we know the bad news of His wrath. (109)
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible presents a consistent picture of a holy God who reserves wrath for sinners, who is angry with the wicked every day, and yet, who, at the same time, loves sinners with the strongest, most tender love. (110)
Despite this biblical account of God's wrath, I frequently hear people talk about God as though He never punishes sin. Many today have adopted the user-friendly god who never judges sinners. Choosing not to entertain frightening thoughts about God's wrath, they favor a feel-good approach to the Almighty. But this approach indicts God. In a court of law, if a judge knowingly acquits the guilty, he himself becomes corrupt, guilty of the same crime. Along this same line, if God is to be the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, he must punish sin, or He Himself would become guilty of it and from moral necessity, topple from His throne of holiness…There are others who believe in God's wrath, but choose never to talk about it or warn lost men and women about it. Their silence is deafening. (113)
Far worse than the physical torment He endured at the hands of the Roman soldiers was the spiritual suffering He endured at the hands of God… Only those who have died without Christ and now endure God's eternal wrath in hell can even begin to comprehend what Christ endured on our behalf… Jesus suffered a wrath equal to the eternal wrath we would suffer forever in hell if we were to die without Him. He who is infinite, the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered in a finite period of time--a few hours upon the cross--what you and I, begin finite, would suffer in an infinite period of time in hell… If God were ever to withhold His wrath against sin, it would have been in the case of His own Son. But He did not--because all sin must be punished! God, who did not spare His Son, will not spare us from being the object of His eternal wrath if we die in our sins. But because God's Lamb bore heaven's wrath for our sins, we need not suffer His vengeance. This is the good news of the gospel. The redemptive wrath of God, unleashed at the cross, means we need not face eternal wrath in hell. When we put our faith in Christ alone, we escape the wrath to come. God will in one way or the other pour out His wrath on every sin ever committed. Every sin will either be pardoned in Christ or punished in hell. God is that holy. (120-1)
Whenever we elevate God's love to a preeminent place in our thinking without first considering His holiness, sovereignty, and wrath, we distort the true picture of God. We reduce His love to syrupy, sentimental mush and turn Him into a user-friendly god who pats us on the head instead of delivering us from condemnation. (125) 
Our view of God has everything to do with how, or whether, we glorify Him with our lives. A diminished view of God demeans the worship we give to Him. The higher our view of God is, the greater our adoration for Him will be. Conversely, the lower our view of God is, the lower our worship of Him will be. Our worship will rise no higher than our thoughts of Him. (162)
No one giggles his way into the kingdom of God. All who enter through the narrow gate that leads to life come with godly fear, brokenness, and mourning over their sin. (Matthew 5:3-4, Matthew 7:13-14) As we walk by faith on the narrow path of the Christian life, we grow in our proper reverence for God. (196)
Fearing God is a heart attitude of worshipful submission to Him. It is a reverential awe for God in which we recognize Him for who He is--the holy, sovereign, righteous God who loves us and desires to have fellowship with us. In coming face-to-face with His holiness, we are overwhelmed and struck with the sheer glory of His being. Fearing God means to live a God-centered life in which our entire beings revolve around Him, not ourselves. It means we take Him very seriously, not superficially. (197)
Reverencing God comes from receiving His Word into our hearts. To know Him is to fear Him. (200)
Whenever we weaken our understanding of who God is, we weaken our resolve to resist temptation and we fall into sin. The most loving thing I can do for you is to lead you to fear God. The wisest thing pastors can do for their congregations is to teach them to fear God. If parents want their children to live pure and godly lives, they must teach them to fear God! (203)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Giving Thanks # 27: J. Vernon McGee

From the Thru The Bible Commentary, "Guidelines for Bible Study"
Sir Walter Scott, on his deathbed, asked Lockhart to read to him. Puzzled, as he scanned the shelf of books that Walter Scott had written, he asked, “What book shall I read?” And Sir Walter replied, “Why do you ask that question? There is but one book; bring the Bible.” There is only one Book for any man who is dying, but it is also the Book for any man who is living. A great many folk do not get interested in the Bible until they get to the end of their lives or until they get into a great deal of difficulty. While it is wonderful to have a Book in which you can find comfort in a time like that, it is also a Book for you to live—in the full vigor of life. It is a Book to face life with today, and it’s the Book which furnishes the only sure route through this world and on into the next world. It is the only Book that can enable us to meet the emergencies and cushion the shocks that come to us in life. The Bible is different from any other book. 
The Bible is a corridor between two eternities down which walks the Christ of God; His invisible steps echo through the Old Testament, but we meet Him face to face in the throne room of the New; and it is through that Christ alone, crucified for me, that I have found forgiveness for sins and life eternal. The Old Testament is summed up in the word Christ; the New Testament is summed up in the word Jesus; and the summary of the whole Bible is that Jesus is the Christ.
This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
There are certain guidelines that each of us should follow relative to the Word of God. I guarantee that if you will follow these guidelines, blessing will come to your heart and life. Certainly there should be these directions in the study of Scripture. Today a bottle of medicine, no matter how simple it might be, has directions for the use of it. And any little gadget that you buy in a five-and-ten-cent store has with it directions for its operation. If that is true of the things of this world, certainly the all-important Word of God should have a few directions and instructions on the study of it. I want to mention seven very simple, yet basic, preliminary steps that will be a guide for the study of the Word of God. 1. Begin with prayer. 2. Read the Bible. 3. Study the Bible. 4. Meditate on the Bible. 5. Read what others have written on the Bible. 6. Obey the Bible. 7. Pass it on to others. You may want to add to these, but I believe these are basic and primary. Someone has put it in a very brief, cogent manner: “The Bible—know it in your head; stow it in your heart; show it in your life; sow it in the world.” That is another way of saying some of the things we are going to present here.
I find that the people who are more ignorant of the Bible than anyone else are church members. They simply do not know the Word of God. And it has been years since it has been taught in the average church. We need to read the Bible. We need to get into the Word of God—not just reading a few favorite verses, but reading the entire Word of God. That is the only way we are going to know it, friend. That is God’s method.
You have to study the Word of God. You ought to read it when you can give time to it. And if you can’t find time, you ought to make time. Set apart thirty minutes or an hour. Or if you do things haphazardly like I do, read thirty minutes one day, perhaps only five minutes the next day, and two or three hours the next day, however it fits into your program.
Not only read the Bible, not only study the Bible, not only meditate on the Bible, and not only read what others have written about it, but pass it on to others. That is what we all should do. You will reach a saturation point in the study of the Word unless you do share it with others. God won’t let you withdraw yourself from mankind and become some sort of a walking Bible encyclopedia, knowing everything, while the rest of us remain ignorant.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks #26 Election

IF there were no other text in the sacred Word except this one [2 Thessalonians 2:13-14], I think we should all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness of the great and glorious doctrine of God’s ancient choice of his family. But there seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine; and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded. In many of our pulpits it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermon upon election, because they could not make it what they call a “practical” discourse. Whatever God has revealed, he has revealed for a purpose. There is nothing in Scripture which may not, under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical discourse: for “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” for some purpose of spiritual usefulness. It is true, it may not be turned into a free-will discourse—that we know right well—but it can be turned into a practical free-grace discourse: and free-grace practice is the best practice, when the true doctrines of God’s immutable love are brought to bear upon the hearts of saints and sinners. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
To confess you were wrong yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser to-day; and instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honour to your judgment, and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of the truth. Do not be ashamed to learn, and to cast aside your old doctrines and views, but to take up that which you may more plainly see to be in the Word of God. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
We must not stand on the Bible to preach, but we must preach with the Bible above our heads. After all we have preached, we are well aware that the mountain of truth is higher than our eyes can discern; clouds and darkness are round about its summit, and we cannot discern its topmost pinnacle; yet we will try to preach it as well as we can. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
Now, first, I shall speak a little concerning the truthfulness of this doctrine: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Secondly, I shall try to prove that this election is absolute: “He hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” not for sanctification, but ”through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Thirdly, this election is eternal, because the text says, “God hath from the beginning chosen you.” Fourthly, it is personal: “He hath chosen you.” Then we will look at the effects of the doctrine—see what it does; and lastly, as God may enable us, we will try and look at its tendencies, and see whether it is indeed a terrible and licentious doctrine. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, which are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there a heretic of no very honourable character might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren—I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election 
The great truth is always the Bible, and the Bible alone. My hearers, you do not believe in any other book than the Bible, do you? ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election 
Just let me run through a catalogue of passages where the people of God are called elect. Of course if the people are called elect, there must be election. If Jesus Christ and his apostles were accustomed to style believers by the title of elect, we must certainly believe that they were so, otherwise the term does not mean anything. Jesus Christ says, “Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.” “False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.“ “Then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven” (Mark 13:20,22,27). “Shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7). Together with many other passages which might be selected, wherein either the word “elect,” or “chosen,” or “foreordained,” or “appointed” is mentioned; or the phrase “my sheep” or some similar designation, showing that Christ’s people are distinguished from the rest of mankind. Throughout the epistles, the saints are constantly called “the elect.” In the Colossians we find Paul saying, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies.” When he writes to Titus, he calls himself, “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.“ Peter says, ”Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Then if you turn to John, you will find he is very fond of the word. He says, “The elder to the elect lady”; and he speaks of our ”elect sister.” And we know where it is written, “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you.” They were not ashamed of the word in those days; they were not afraid to talk about it. Now-a-days the word has been dressed up with diversities of meaning, and persons have mutilated and marred the doctrine, so that they have made it a very doctrine of devils, I do confess; and many who call themselves believers, have gone to rank Antinomianism. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
But now for the verses that will positively prove the doctrine. Open your Bibles and turn to John 15:16, and there you will see that Jesus Christ has chosen his people, for he says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” Then in the 19th verse, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Then in the 17th chapter and the 8th and 9th verses, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Turn to Acts 13:48: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” They may try to split that passage into hairs if they like; but it says, “ordained to eternal life” in the original as plainly as it possibly can; and we do not care about all the different commentaries thereupon. You scarcely need to be reminded of Romans 8, because I trust you are all well acquainted with that chapter and understand it by this time. In the 29th and following verses, it says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” It would also be unnecessary to repeat the whole of the 9th chapter of Romans. As long as that remains in the Bible, no man shall be able to prove Arminianism; so long as that is written there, not the most violent contortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine of election from the Scriptures. Let us read such verses as these—“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” Then read the 22nd verse, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Then go on to Romans 11:7—“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” In the 5th verse of the same chapter, we read—“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” You, no doubt, all recollect the passage in I Corinthians 1:26-29: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.” Again, remember the passage in I Thessalonians 5:9—“God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
If you love religion, he has chosen you to it. If you desire it, he has chosen you to it. If you do not, what right have you to say that God ought to have given you what you do not wish for? Supposing I had in my hand something which you do not value, and I said I shall give it to such-and-such a person, you would have no right to grumble that I did not give to you. You could not be so foolish as to grumble that the other has got what you do not care about. If you believe them to be good and desire them, they are there for thee. God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, he makes them desire, otherwise they never would. If you love these things, he has elected you to them, and you may have them; but if you do not, who are you that you should find fault with God, when it is your own desperate will that keeps you from loving these things—your own simple self that makes you hate them? ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
Faith is the gift of God. Every virtue comes from him. Therefore it cannot have caused him to elect men, because it is his gift. Election, we are sure, is absolute, and altogether apart from the virtues which the saints have afterwards. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
And, next, the election is PERSONAL. Here again, our opponents have tried to overthrow election by telling us that it is an election of nations, and not of people. But here the Apostle says, “God hath from the beginning chosen you.“ It is the most miserable shift on earth to make out that God hath not chosen persons but nations, because the very same objection that lies against the choice of persons, lies against the choice of a nation. If it were not just to choose a person, it would be far more unjust to choose a nation, since nations are but the union of multitudes of persons, and to choose a nation seems to be a more gigantic crime—if election be a crime—than to choose one person. Surely to choose ten thousand would be reckoned to be worse than choosing one; to distinguish a whole nation from the rest of mankind, does seem to be a greater extravaganza in the acts of divine sovereignty than the election of one poor mortal and leaving out another. But what are nations but men? What are whole peoples but combinations of different units? A nation is made up of that individual, and that, and that. And if you tell me that God chose the Jews, I say then, he chose that Jew, and that Jew, and that Jew. And if you say he chooses Britain, then I say he chooses that British man, and that British man, and that British man. So that is the same thing after all. Election then is personal: it must be so. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
I tell you—the chief of sinners—this morning, I tell you in his name, if you will come to God without any works of your own, cast yourself on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; if you will come now and trust in him, you are elect—you were loved of God from before the foundation of the world, for you could not do that unless God had given you the power, and had chosen you to do it. Now you are safe and secure if you do but come and cast yourself on Jesus Christ, and wish to be saved and to be loved by him. But think not that any man will be saved without faith and without holiness. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
Lay not election as a pillow for you to sleep on, or you may be ruined. God forbid that I should be sewing pillows under armholes that you may rest comfortably in your sins. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
First, I think election, to a saint, is one of the most stripping doctrines in all the world— to take away all trust in the flesh, or all reliance upon anything except Jesus Christ. How often do we wrap ourselves up in our own righteousness, and array ourselves with the false pearls and gems of our own works and doings. We begin to say “Now I shall be saved, because I have this and that evidence.” Instead of that, it is naked faith that saves; that faith and that alone unites to the Lamb, irrespective of works, although it is productive of them. How often do we lean on some work, other than that of our own Beloved, and trust in some might, other than that which comes from on high. Now if we would have this might taken from us, we must consider election. Pause my soul, and consider this. God loved thee before thou hadst a being. He loved thee when thou wast dead in trespasses and sins, and sent his Son to die for thee. He purchased thee with his precious blood ere thou couldst lisp his name. Canst thou then be proud? I know nothing, nothing again, that is more humbling for us than this doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen prostrate before it, when endeavouring to understand it. I have stretched my wings, and, eagle-like, I have soared towards the sun. Steady has been my eye, and true my wing, for a season; but, when I came near it, and the one thought possessed me,—“God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation,” I was lost in its lustre, I was staggered with the mighty thought; and from the dizzy elevation down came my soul, prostrate and broken, saying, “Lord, I am nothing, I am less than nothing. Why me? Why me?” ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
He who is proud of his election is not elect; and he who is humbled under a sense of it may believe that he is. He has every reason to believe that he is, for it is one of the most blessed effects of election that it helps us to humble ourselves before God. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Election
Before There Was Time, Caedmon's Call

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible