Thursday, December 31, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #52

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.
When sin is stirred to life, the precious blood of God’s Son is the costly medicine needed to remove it. We need to stay away from sin if we can. But if we have fallen into sin, we must learn how to get up again and regain a firm faith. These very struggles show us what it means to really believe. We need to realize that sin is a horrible evil. This doesn’t seem to be true when we’re committing sin. We enjoy it while we are doing it. But after God’s laws make us aware of our sin, we realize that sin is hell itself and far more powerful than heaven or earth. After that, we can’t understand God’s grace without great effort. But a heart burdened by sin can say, “Even though I have committed many sins, ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’” (John 3:17). Without this comfort, we would have no remedy or defense against sin and its sting. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, October 26
Christ tells us, “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” First, Christ commands us to pray. Then he admonishes us for not asking. He repeats his command and drives it home to show that he’s serious. He demands prayer as true worship and as the real work of Christians. Study what Christ commands in this passage and put it into practice. Don’t consider prayer something you do voluntarily, as if it wouldn’t be a sin if you neglected to pray. Don’t act as if it’s enough for others to pray. Now you know that Christ earnestly commands prayer. Prayer is our comfort, strength, and salvation. It’s our first line of defense against all of our enemies. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, December 2
The most important requirement of a true, sincere prayer is that we firmly believe that we have eternal life and that God is merciful. It’s only because God is merciful that we can be sure the Lord will protect us from eternal death. The most important requirement of prayer is firmly holding on to God and believing that he is merciful and compassionate—someone who wants to help us. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, November 29 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Weeks in Review: December 13-31


  • Acts


  • Psalms
  • Luke
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude

1599 Geneva Study Bible

  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation


  • Matthew


  • Mark

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #52

The Death of Christ
Charles Spurgeon
Isaiah 53:10
There is one great event, which every day attracts more admiration than do the sun, and moon, and stars, when they march in their courses. That event is, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. To it the eyes of all the saints who lived before the Christian era were always directed; and backwards, through the thousand years of history, the eyes of all modern saints are looking.
Taking our text, then, as a guide, we propose to visit Calvary, hoping to have the help of the Holy Spirit whilst we look upon him who died upon the cross. I would have you notice this morning, first of all, the cause of Christ’s death — “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him,” saith the original; “he hath put him to grief.” Secondly, the reason of Christ’s death — “ When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. “Christ died because he was an offering for sin. And then, thirdly, the effects and consequences of Christ’s death. “He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
FIRST, we have here THE ORIGINS OF CHRIST’S DEATH. “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” He who reads Christ’s life, as a mere history, traces the death of Christ to the enmity of the Jews, and to the fickle character of the Roman governor. In this he acteth justly, for the crime and sin of the Saviour’s death must lay at the door of manhood. But he who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, beyond the Jewish taunt and jeer, up to the Sacred Fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of Deity.
Now, beloved, there be many who think that God the Father is at best but an indifferent spectator of salvation. Others do belie him still more. They look upon Him as an unloving, severe Being, who had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Savior. Now, this is foul libel upon the fair and glorious grace of God the Father, to whom for ever be honor: for Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving, but he died because God was loving.
Christ was sent into the world by his Father, as the consequence of the Father’s affection for his people. Yea, he “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The fact is, that the Father as much decreed salvation, as much effected it, and as much delighted in it, as did either God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. And when we speak of the Savior of the world, we must always include in that word, if we speak in a large sense, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, for all these three, as one God, do save us from our sins.
First it is traceable in decree. God, the one God of heaven and earth, hath the book of destiny entirely in his power. In that book there is nothing written by a stranger’s hand.
The penmanship of the solemn book of predestination is from beginning to end entirely divine.
He determined that Christ should be born of the Virgin Mary, that he should suffer under Pontius Pilate, that he should descend into Hades, that thence he should rise again, leading captivity captive, and then should reign for ever at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Nay, I know not but that I shall have Scripture for my warrant when I say, that this is the very eve of predestination, and that the death of Christ is the very center and main-spring by which God did fashion all his other decrees, making this the bottom and foundation-stone upon which the sacred architecture should be builded.
Christ was put to death by the absolute foreknowledge and solemn decree of God the Father, and in this sense “it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”
But a little further, Christ’s coming into the world to die was the effect of the Father’s will and pleasure. Christ came not into this world unsent. He had laid in Jehovah’s bosom from before all worlds, eternally delighting himself in his Father, and being himself his Father’s eternal joy.
“In the fullness of time” God did rend his Son from his bosom, his only-begotten Son, and freely delivered him up for us all. Herein was matchless, peerless love, that the offended judge should permit his co-equal Son to suffer the pains of death for the redemption of a rebellious people.
Look ye there, and see the place where his only Son hung dead upon the cross, the bleeding victim of awakened justice! Here is love indeed; and here we see how it was, that it pleased the Father to bruise him.
Beloved, it is not only true that God did design and did permit with willingness the death of Christ; it is, moreover, true that the unutterable agonies that clothed the death of the Savior with superhuman terror, were the effect of the Father’s bruising of Christ in very act and deed.
This, my brethren, was the climax of the Saviour’s woe, that his Father turned away from him, and put him to grief.
WHAT WAS THE REASON OF THE SAVIOR’S SUFFERING? We are told here, “Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Christ was thus troubled, because his soul was an offering for sin. Now, I am going to be as plain as I can, while I preach over again the precious doctrine of the atonement of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christ was an offering for sin, in the sense of a substitute. God longed to save; but, if such a word may be allowed, Justice tied his hands. “I must be just,” said God; “that is a necessity of my nature. Stern as fate, and fast as immutability. is the truth that I must be just. But then my heart desires to forgive--to pass by Man’s transgressions and pardon them. How can it be done?” Wisdom stepped in, and said, “It shall be done thus:” and Love agreed with Wisdom. “Christ Jesus, the Son of God, shall stand in man’s place, and he shall be offered upon Mount Calvary instead of man.”
Now, mark: when you see Christ going up the Mount of Doom, you see man going there: when you see Christ hurled upon his back, upon the wooden cross, you see the whole company of his elect there; and when you see the nails driven through his blessed hands and feet, it is the whole body of his Church who there, in their substitute, are nailed to the tree. And now the soldiers lift the cross, and dash it down into the socket prepared for it. His bones are every one of them dislocated, and his body is thus torn with agonies which cannot be described. ‘Tis manhood suffering there; ‘tis the Church suffering there, in the substitute.
And when Christ dies, you are to look upon the death of Christ, not as his own dying merely, but as the dying of all those for whom he stood as the scapegoat and the substitute. It is true, Christ died really himself; it is equally true that he did not die for himself, but died as the substitute, in the room, place, and stead of all believers.
There was our debt, huge and immense; he paid the utmost farthing of whatever his people owed; and now there is not so much as a doit or a farthing due to the justice of God in the way of punishment from any believer; and though we owe God gratitude, though we owe much to his love, we owe nothing to his justice; for Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because he suffered in our stead.
Do you see, then, how it was that God the Father bruised him ? Unless he had so done, the agonies of Christ could not have been an equivalent for our sufferings; for hell consists in the hiding of God’s face from sinners, and if God had not hidden his face from Christ, Christ could not — I see not how he could — have endured any suffering that could have been accepted as an equivalent for the woes and agonies of his people.
Methinks I heard some one say, “Do you mean us to understand this atonement that you have now preached as being a literal fact?”
There are in the world many theories of atonement: but I cannot see any atonement in any one, except in this doctrine of substitution. Many divines say that Christ did something when he died that enabled God to be just, and yet the Justifier of the ungodly. What that something is they do not tell us. They believe in an atonement made for everybody; but then, their atonement is just this. They believe that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in hell were as much an object of Jesus Christ’s satisfaction as the saved in heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must mean it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes, Christ died in vain, for he died for them all, they say; and yet so ineffectual was his dying for them, that though he died for them they are damned afterwards.
I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it. Why, my brethren, if we were only so far atoned for by the death of Christ that any one of us might afterwards save himself, Christ’s atonement were not worth a farthing, for there is no man of us can save himself — no not under the gospel; for if I am to be saved by faith, if that faith is to be my own act, unassisted by the Holy Spirit, I am as unable to save myself by faith as to save myself by good works.
But do you know the limit of it? Christ hath bought a “multitude that no man can number.” The limit of it is just this: He hath died for sinners; whoever in this congregation inwardly and sorrowfully knows himself to be a sinner, Christ died for him; whoever seeks Christ, shall know Christ died for him; for our sense of need of Christ, and our seeking after Christ, are infallible proofs that Christ died for us.
What better testimony can we bear to the love and faithfulness of God than the testimony of a substitution eminently satisfactory for all them that believe on Christ?
You may be as sure you are God’s elect as you are sure of your own existence; for this is the infallible proof of election — a sense of need and a thirst after Christ.
The first effect of the Saviour’s death is, “He shall see his seed.” Men shall be saved by Christ. Men have offspring by life; Christ had an offspring by death. Men die, and leave their children, and they see not their seed; Christ lives, and every day sees his seed brought into the unity of the faith. One effect of Christ’s death is the salvation of multitudes.
There was not so much as an atom of chance-work in the Saviour’s death. Christ knew what he bought when he died; and what he bought he will have — that, and no more, and no less.
God’s good pleasure is, that this world shall one day be totally redeemed from sin; God’s good pleasure is, that this poor planet, so long swathed in darkness, shall soon shine out in brightness, like a new- born sun. Christ’s death hath done it. The stream that flowed from his side on Calvary shall cleanse the world from all its blackness.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #51

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.
All our teaching and faith should center and depend on Christ. Setting aside all of our wisdom and skill, we should know nothing except the crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 2:2). From God’s perspective, the highest wisdom and knowledge above all other wisdom and knowledge is to truly know this person Christ. We come to God through Christ alone. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, October 18
Our sins are so great and so far away from righteousness that it was necessary for the Son of God to die so that righteousness could be given to us. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, November 27
All of God’s promises are based on Christ. If we didn’t have Christ as our mediator, God would have nothing to do with us. There’s only one difference between Abraham’s faith and ours. Abraham believed in the promised Christ who was still to come. We believe in the Christ who has already come. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, November 28
What would it help me if Christ were born a thousand times, and the news of his birth was sung to me every day with wonderful music, if I didn’t understand that his death was for me and that I should make it my own? ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, December 23

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #51

Search the Scriptures
Charles Spurgeon

Isaiah 8:20
This is the age of bookmaking and book-writing, Now-a-days, what with periodical literature and the books upon our shelves, our Bibles do not get much read.
Oh! that we were wise, to give the Bible the largest share of our time, and ever to continue reading it, both by day and night, that we might be as trees planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth our fruit in our season!
Brethren, let me show you some of the GOOD EFFECTS that you will derive from a minute and careful study of the law and testimony of God.
First, remember, that unless you study the Word of God, you will not be competent to detect error. A man may, in your hearing, preach downright falsehood, but you will not be qualified to judge concerning that falsehood unless you have studied the Word of God.
But I hear some one say, that the Bible is so difficult a book that be is sure he never could understand it. Mark thee, man, the Bible is so plain a book that he that is willing to understand it may do so; it is so plain that he that runs may read, and read while he runs; yea, it is so plain, that the simpler a man is, the more easily he can understand it.
But I hear some one say, that the Bible is so difficult a book that be is sure he never could understand it. Mark thee, man, the Bible is so plain a book that he that is willing to understand it may do so; it is so plain that he that runs may read, and read while he runs; yea, it is so plain, that the simpler a man is, the more easily he can understand it.
All the learning that man ever received is rather a hindrance than a benefit when he comes for the first time to read the Word. Learning may untie many a knot afterwards, it may unravel many a mystery in after times; but we have heard deep-minded critics say, that at first they would have given all the world, if they could have thrown their learning aside, just to read the Bible as the humble cottager reads it, and believe it as God’s Word, without any quibbles of criticism.
This is no closed book, as the priest would tell us; it is a volume which the Sunday School child may understand, if the Spirit of God rests upon his heart. It is a book which the horny-handed workman may comprehend as well as the learned divine, and many such have become exceedingly wise therein. I say again, read your Bibles, that you may be qualified to detect error.
But again I do not like a man who is always looking out for error. That man has got some error in his own heart, depend upon it. They say, “Set a thief to catch a thief;” and it is very likely that there is some love of error in your heart, or else you would not be so ready to suspect it in other people.
But let me give you another reason. Search your Bibles; for then, when you are in a matter of dispute you will be able to speak very confidently. There is nothing gives a man so much power amongst his fellows as confidence.
It may be a great thing to doubt, but it is a great thing to hold your tongue while you are doubting, and not to open your mouth till you believe, and then, when you do open your mouth, to say the thing you know is true, and stick to it, not as an opinion, but as an incontrovertible fact.
Furthermore, search the Scriptures, and bring everything you hear to this great test, because in so doing you will get a rich harvest of blessing to your own soul. I suppose there is scarce a text in Holy Scripture that has not been the instrument of the salvation of a soul.
And now let me endeavor as briefly as I can, to urge upon you yet again the constant and perpetual reading of the Word of God, not only for the reasons that I have now propounded, but for others more important. Many false prophets have gone forth into the world: I beseech you, then, if ye would not be led astray, be diligent in the study of the Word of God.
Now, I would not say a hard thing if I did not believe it true; but I do solemnly think that there are some professed teachers of the Word, who are either so ignorant of spiritual things in their own hearts, or else so determined to preach anything but Christ, that you might do better without them than with them; and hence you have an absolute necessity to turn perpetually to this great compass by which alone you can steer your way.
And now I charge you that are now present to read your Bibles, for one thing. Read your Bibles to know what the Bible says about you; and some of you when you turn the leaves over, will find the Bible says, “Thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” If that startles you, turn over another page, and read this verse — “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” and when you have read that, turn to another and read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I pray you, put not away your Bibles till their dust condemns you.
But take them out, bend your knees, seek for the Spirit of divine teaching, and turn ye these pages with diligent search, and see if ye can find there the salvation of your souls, through our Lord Jesus Christ. May the blessing of God rest upon you in so doing, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C.S. Lewis. 1952. HarperCollins. 248 pages. [Source: Bought]

Is Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis my absolute favorite, favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia series? Almost, yes. It is at the very, very least my second favorite. The only other book that even comes close is the FIRST book in the series, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Returning to Narnia in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is Lucy and Edmund. The two siblings are joined by a cousin, I believe, Eustace. Lucy and Edmund are quite happy to be reunited with Prince Caspian--now King. Eustace is shocked and angry and irritable. The last place he wants to be is in Narnia. Or should I say on a Narnian ship, sailing with a Narnian crew, led by a Narnian king. Eustace himself doesn't actually step foot into Narnia--the country--at least not in this book. Readers will remember quite a few characters from Prince Caspian.

Caspian is on a mission to find out the fates of seven lords who were loyal to his father, lords that have been missing for over a decade if not two. Caspian is sailing from island to island making inquiries, and exploring new lands and countries. This can be risky and dangerous...

Does Aslan make an appearance? Yes!!! And it's probably one of my favorite, favorite scenes. Eustace and Aslan have some business between them! If Eustace hadn't been turned into a literal dragon, would he have been beastly forever? Probably. Turning into a dragon, changed, him for the better!

The book is a lovely adventure, and, a joy to read.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Quotes from the Cloud #50

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

For fellow participants, what I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here.
If the only thing you have to offer is a broken heart, you offer a broken heart. So in a time of grief, the recognition that this is material for sacrifice has been a very great strength for me. Realizing that nothing I have, nothing I am will be refused on the part of Christ, I simply give it to him as the little boy gave Jesus his five loaves and two fishes—with the same feeling of the disciples when they said, “What is the good of that for such a crowd?” Naturally in almost anything I offer to Christ, my reaction would be, “What is the good of that?” The point is, the use he makes of it is none of my business; it is his business, it is his blessing. So this grief, this loss, this suffering, this pain—whatever it is, which at the moment is God’s means of testing my faith and bringing me to the recognition of who he is—that is the thing I can offer. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving Even to the dregs of pain, at thy command, We will not falter, thankfully receiving All that is given by thy loving hand. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It is not our littleness that hinders Christ; but our bigness. It is not our weakness that hinders Christ; it is our strength. It is not our darkness that hinders Christ; it is our supposed light that holds back his hand. ~ Charles Spurgeon
Martin Luther was a man who was subject to deep, dark depressions, sometimes for several days. Once he was in one of his depressions, and poor Mrs. Luther had just about had it with Martin. She went in, put on her funeral garb, and stood before him. When he lifted up his head, seeing his wife dressed in black, he asked, “What has happened?” She said, “The way you are acting you would think God is dead!” He got the point.
“When God wants to use a man, he takes him and crushes him.” ~ Alan Redpath
These words, “Serve one another humbly in love,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” are eternal words. No one can think about, urge, and practice them enough. ~ Martin Luther, October 20

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Review: 52 Little Lessons from It's A Wonderful Life

52 Little Lessons from It's A Wonderful Life. Bob Welch. 2012. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

Did I enjoy reading 52 Little Lessons from It's A Wonderful Life? Yes. After starting the book, I realized I needed to re-watch the film. It honestly felt like watching the film for the first time. Perhaps because I watched it with subtitles and was able to "catch" stuff I'd never noticed before. (Like how the film begins with so many people in the town earnestly praying for George.) Perhaps because I never take the time to give it my attention, my full attention, I mean. It is so familiar that I almost dismiss it into the background at times. When I think of It's A Wonderful Life I tend to think of four or five particular scenes. Reading the book and re-watching the film helped me appreciate the movie as a whole, and pay attention to details big and small.

If you're looking to see "It's A Wonderful Life" through new eyes, I'd also recommend listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's "Meant to Be."
You were meant to be touching
The lives that you touch
And meant to be here
Making this world so much more
Than it would be without you in it
You were meant to be bringing
The gifts that you bring
And singing the songs
You've been given to sing
You are perfectly, wonderfully,
Beautifully meant to be
You were meant to be
So. Back to the book. There are 52 entries or readings. Each one focuses on a lesson to be learned from watching the movie. Each entry generally highlights a particular quote or a particular scene. A few just focus on a particular (usually minor) character.

Lesson 7: You Can't Run Away From Your Problems
Lesson 10: There's No Impact Without Contact
Lesson 15: Prayer Changes Things
Lesson 17: Don't Wait To Tell Someone You Care
Lesson 25: The Greatest Gift You Can Give Is Grace
Lesson 29: Look for the Best in People
Lesson 33: What Triggers True Change is True Humility

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #50

Search the Scriptures
Charles Spurgeon
Isaiah 8:20
When men will not receive the Scripture testimony concerning God’s creation, straightway they begin to form theories that are a thousand times more ridiculous than they have ever endeavored to make the Bible account of it, for God leaveth them, if they will not accept his solution of the problem, to grope for another, and their own solution is so absurd, that all the world except themselves hath sense enough to laugh at it.
And when men leave the Sacred Book of Revelation, ah! my friends where do they go? We find that in Isaiah’s time they went to strange places; for he says in the 19th verse, that they sought unto familiar spirits unto wizards that did peep and mutter; yea, they sought for things concerning the living, amongst the dead, and became the dupes of necromancers.
This seems likely to become the age of preaching, rather than the age of praying. We now see everywhere large congregations assembling in halls and abbeys to listen to the Word preached; and it is an ominous sign of the times, that these preachings are not only now espoused by the orthodox, but even by those whom we have considered to be at least somewhat heretical from the old faith of the Protestant Church.
It becomes, therefore, a serious thing; for it is most probable — and may not every wise man see it? — that whosoever may now arise who hath some powers of oratory and some graces of eloquence, will be likely to attract the multitude, preach he what he may, though the word that he should utter be as false as God’s Word is true, and as contrary to the gospel as hell is opposed to heaven.
To what book shall he commend his hearers? How shall he keep them fast? Where is the anchor which he shall give them to cast into the rocks? or where the rocks into which they should cast their anchor? Our text is a solution to that question. We are here furnished with a great answer to the inquiry — “To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”First, I shall endeavor this morning to urge you to bring certain things, to which we are afraid a superstitious importance may be attached, “to the law and to the testimony.” Secondly, I shall try to show the good effects that will follow, if each of you rigidly bring everything you hear and believe, “to the law and to the testimony.” And, thirdly, I shall give you some powerful reasons why you should subject everything to this sacred touchstone; and close by offering you some little advice how you may do this truly and profitably.
First, I would have you bring the ideas engendered in you by your early training, to the test of the Book of God. But we claim for ourselves, as men, that we should not be fed with doctrines as we were fed in our helpless infancy, with food chosen for us: we claim that we should have the right of judging whether the things which we have received and heard, are according to this Sacred Book; and if we find that in aught our training has been erroneous, we do not consider that we are violating any principle of affection, if we dare to come forth from our families, and join a denomination holding tenets far different from those which our parents had espoused. I will read the Bible, just as if I had never heard any preacher, or had never been taught by a parent; and I will then endeavor to find out what God saith, and what God saith, be it what it may I will believe and espouse, hoping that by his grace I may also feel the power of it in my own soul.
Remember, also, to bring the preachers of the gospel to this standard. A great many of you know but very little about what gospel is. The general notion of the mass is, that we are everyone of us right; that though to-day I may contradict some one else, and some one else may contradict me, yet we are all right; and though it is treason to common sense to believe such a thing, yet this is a common idea. Some men always believe like the last speaker.
Now, my dear friends, I claim for myself, when I enter this pulpit, the right of being heard; but I do not claim the right of being believed, unless the words that I speak shall be in accordance with this Sacred Book. I desire you to serve me as I would have you serve everybody else — bring us each “to the law and to the testimony.
I thank God, of my Bible I have no need to be ashamed. I sometimes am ashamed of this translation of it, when I see how, in some important points, it is not true to God’s Word; but of God’s own Word I can say, it is the man of my right hand, my meditation both day and night and if there be aught I preach that is contrary to this Word, trample it in the mire, spit upon it, and despise it.
It is not what I say, but what my God saith, that you are demanded to receive. Put myself and put all my brethren into the sieve; cast us each into the fire, put us into the crucible of truth; and what is not according to God’s Word must be consumed like dross.
There is another class of men quite contrary to those I have referred to. These men are their own preachers; they believe no one but themselves, and without knowing it, there is every reason for them to hate the Pope, because “two of a trade never agree,” they being Popes themselves.
These persons, if they hear a truth preached, judge of it not by the Bible, but by what they think the truth ought to be.
I have heard a person, for instance, say, when he has heard the doctrine of Election. or of particular Redemption, “Well, now, the doctrine does not please me, I do not like it.” And then he begins to urge some objection which he has forgot upon his own anvil, yet never trying to quote a Scripture text to refute it, if he can; never turning to some old saying of the Prophets, and endeavoring to find out that the doctrine was an error, but only judging of it by his own opinion, by his wishes as to what the truth ought to be.
Now it is just the same with the truth. People say, “I do not like such a truth.” That is no refutation of it. The question is, — Is it in the Bible? Because if it is there, like it or not like it, it is a fact and all the minister has to do is to report the facts that he finds there.
All I have to do is to tell you what I find in the Bible; if you do not like it remember, that is no refutation of it, nor do I care for your liking it or not liking it; the only thing is, is it in the Bible? If it is there I shall not stop to prove it. I do not come here to prove a doctrine at all. If it is in the Bible, it is true: there it is; I tell it out; reject it, and you do so to your own condemnation; for you yourself believe the Bible to be true, and I prove it to be there, and therefore it must be true.
Wouldst thou like to have a Bible made for the devices of thine own heart? If it were, it would be a worthless thing.

Wouldst thou desire to have a Gospel according to thy wishes? Then with some of you it would be a Gospel that allowed lasciviousness. Wouldst thou wish to have a revelation made that should pamper thee in thy lusts, and indulge thee in thy pride? If so, this know, God will never stoop to feed thy haughtiness or wantonness.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review: Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God. Russ Ramsey. 2011. Rabbit Room Press. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]

I would definitely recommend Russ Ramsey's Behold the Lamb of God. Is it an advent devotional? Yes and no. Yes, it's perfectly fine to use the book as an advent devotional. It would make a lovely early Christmas present. But is it only an advent devotional? I say that this is one "advent" devotional that is worth reading all twelve months of the year.

One reason why I think this is so is that it is all about engaging the reader with the Bible story. One could perhaps think of it as a bible story book for grownups. (Though I will add that this one would be fine to share aloud with the whole family.) Perhaps you're a new Christian, and, you're curious about what's in the Bible but the idea of reading the Bible through intimidates you more than excites you. Perhaps you've tried in the past to get the "big picture" of the Bible but for whatever reason, you gave up or lost interest. Perhaps you've been a Christian for many, many years, but, you're still not all that clear what the Bible is all about and how the testaments fit together.

Biblical literacy is important to Ramsey, and he's adapted the 'big picture' of the Bible into twenty-five readings. These readings point the way to Jesus Christ, and help emphasis the reason WHY we celebrate Christmas. About seventy-five percent of the book focuses on the Old Testament, but, don't think this means that Jesus is excluded--far from it! Christ is to be found in both Old and New Testaments, and, if you've never realized how or why, then, perhaps this devotional will help you see the Bible in a new way. That is perhaps the Holy Spirit will use Ramsey's book to minister to you.

I enjoyed this one. But I didn't enjoy all twenty-five readings equally. But by the time we get to the end of the book, it was absolutely giddy-making, and a true delight. The excitement built throughout the book as the plot advances towards Jesus: his birth, his life, his ministry, his death and resurrection. There was just something JOYOUS about it.

My hope is that reading this devotional will encourage you--inspire you--to pick up the Word of God and read it with new passion, new devotion, new longing to TASTE AND SEE spiritual things.

Woven throughout the story are all of humanity’s wrath and greed and lust and gluttony and sloth and envy and pride—together in force with all of their consequences. But through that darkness shine the bright rays of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22) It is the story of evil against good, of darkness locked in an epic struggle to snuff out the light forever. Will the darkness prevail in the end, or will the light overcome the darkness? (Jn 1:5) This, ultimately, is what the story is about. It is a tale filled with people in trouble, all living somewhere between wandering and homecoming, between devastation and restoration, between transgression and grace. Every mortal character in the story needs rescue, but they have all turned aside, and together they have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)
It’s the story of the one true God calling a people his beloved, though they’ve lived in perpetual rebellion against him. Since the beginning, this story has had an end—a glorious end. God’s call on the lives of his people, ultimately, is to himself—though it would come at a greater cost than anyone could imagine. The story ends with the maker and lover of the souls of men drawing his people to himself—purchasing their redemption through the lifeblood of his own Son. God did not spare his Son but gave him for us all. And if this is true, how will he not also, through his son, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32) The tale is a tall one, but it’s true.
To worship God is to dwell on who he is, to consider his handiwork. (Job 37:14) Often worship requires stillness. Stillness allows a mind to hold complicated thoughts without losing them. Silence was a gift God gave to Zechariah, and the old man put it to work.
There was no one around to coach them, no one to tell them everything would be all right. He held her and he prayed. They thought of the angels who visited their dreams. They thought of Adam and Eve taking the forbidden fruit and how one of the consequences of that act of rebellion was shooting through Mary from head to toe, every three minutes now. It was not a silent night. She strained and groaned and fought for every breath. She pushed as sweat beaded on her forehead. Joseph wiped her brow and told her a hundred times that he loved her, he loved her, he loved her. Swept up in waves of pain and contractions, Mary continued to push and breathe and strain while time passed. Eventually, as if cresting a ridge, her labor gave way to delivery, and her groaning gave way to the sound of the cries and the coos of little lungs drawing in the breath of earth for the first time. Joseph laid the baby on Mary’s chest, and to the wonder of the helpless man and the relief of the weary woman, they beheld him who, though he was the Son of God, was every bit a fragile, tiny baby.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2016 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge (sign up)

This will be the FOURTH year I'll be hosting the Cloud of Witness Reading Challenge. I hope you'll join me! I welcome back former participants! And I hope to see some new participants as well this year!  I'd love to show you that reading "from the Cloud" isn't intimidating and scary. The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.

The title of this reading challenge comes from Hebrews 12:1-2, which reads "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (KJV) If the KJV isn't quite for you,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

For an author to qualify for this reading challenge, they must be among "the cloud of witnesses".... in other words, they must be dead. (They must also be Christian.)

I think it isn't always easy for readers to pick up Christian classics. Perhaps because it isn't always easy to know exactly where to start. Perhaps because people think that they will be difficult to understand--that the language will be too difficult, the style too complicated. Perhaps because people question if a book will still be relevant. 

I believe that there are some AMAZING, GREAT, WONDERFUL, MUST-MUST-MUST reads out there waiting to be discovered.

The following list is NOT comprehensive by any means. It is just a small sampling of authors that count towards the challenge. 

  • Jerry Bridges (1929-2016)
  • Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)
  • Brennan Manning (1934-2013)
  • John Stott (1921-2011)
  • D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
  • Phillip Keller (1920-1997)
  • Bilquis Sheikh (1912-1997)
  • Loraine Boettner (1901-1990)
  • J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
  • Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)
  • Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
  • Catherine Marshall (1914-1983)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • William Barclay (1907-1978)
  • Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Peter Marshall (1902-1949)
  • Charles Sheldon (1857-1946)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
  • G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
  • B.B. Warfield (1851-1921)
  • Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)
  • Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
  • E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
  • Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • Egerton Ryerson Young (1840-1909)
  • J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
  • Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)
  • Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
  • Thomas Guthrie (1803-1873)
  • J.W. Alexander (1804-1859)
  • John Newton (1725-1807)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770)
  • John Wesley (1703-1791)
  • William Law (1686-1761)
  • Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
  • John Owen (1616-1683)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
  • John Flavel (1627-1691)
  • Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Brother Lawrence (1605-1691)
  • Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
  • Saint Augustine (354-430)
So what "counts" for this challenge? Well, the goal is to get you acquainted with different authors. So any reading material will count: no matter the length. It can be an article of a few pages; an individual sermon or a collection of sermons; it can be a book of quotes by that person; it can be a biography or autobiography about the person; you might find full-length books available online, or individual sermons online. And of course it doesn't matter if it's a book-book, e-book, or audiobook.

So how do I find books? Some authors will still be in print. Others won't be. Plenty of qualifying books can be found at Amazon for Kindle or Barnes & Noble for Nooks. Plenty can be read online or downloaded as pdfs. 

A great place to begin might be Free Grace Broadcaster. They've got subject-themed newsletters with articles by various authors. Topics include "The Work of Christ," "Worship," "Heaven," "The Resurrection." I also recommend Christian Classics Ethereal Library

So how many books are required? 

If you're completely new to christian nonfiction (christian living, theology, bible commentaries, bible studies, etc.) then I'd like to challenge you to read ONE or TWO books. If your first attempt is too tough, or proving not-for-you, try again. Don't assume that just because one author isn't working for you, that no author will. 

If christian nonfiction is something you're comfortable reading, I'd like to challenge you to read four to six books for this challenge. 

What I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I will be sharing a quotes post every Thursday. My first year of sharing quotes was 2015. You may share your own quotes in the comments of my weekly posts. Or, if you prefer, you might consider creating weekly, monthly, or quarterly quote posts of your own. Let me know if you do decide to do this! I'd love to keep up with what you're reading! (Or WHO you're reading!!!)

I'd also love to see participants recommend books to one another. If you write a review of a book, please share a link with me. You can leave a comment on this post, or, on any of the weekly quotes posts throughout the year. 

Sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment on the blog. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: December 6-12

NIV UK Audio

  • Mark

NIV Rainbow Study Bible

  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms 1-12
  • John

1599 Geneva Bible

  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews 
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

December "Memory" Work

I started out the year wanting to memorize Scripture, I've discovered that I'm satisfied meditating on Scripture. Here are the verses I'll be adding in December.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:24-26
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73:28
Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.
Our God is a God of salvation,
and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death. Psalm 68:19-20
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:3-4
We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds. Psalm 75:1
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Psalm 107:9
But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love. Psalm 59:16-17

Past memory verses:
  1. Revelation 21:34
  2. Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Psalm 34:3
  4. Psalm 34:8
  5. Psalm 103:1,2,3,4,5
  6. Psalm 103:101112
  7. Psalm 96:2
  8. Psalm 95:6-7
  9. Matthew 11:28
  10. Hebrews 7:25
  11. Ephesians 2:8910
  12. Psalm 138:8
  13. Psalm 27:14
  14. Proverbs 18:10
  15. Philippians 4:4
  16. Philippians 4:13
  17. John 14:123
  18. John 14:6
  19. John 11:2526
  20. Psalm 16:8
  21. Psalm 16:11
  22. Psalm 18:30
  23. Psalm 25:5
  24. Psalm 27:4
  25. Psalm 28:6
  26. Psalm 30:45
  27. Psalm 31:5
  28. Psalm 31:9
  29. Psalm 32:8
  30. Habakkuk 3:1718
  31. Zephaniah 3:17
  32. Jeremiah 17:14
  33. Lamentations 3:2223242526
  34. Deuteronomy 6:4567
  35. Exodus 15:18
  36. John 6:40
  37. John 6:44
  38. Jude 21
  39. Jude 24-25
  40. Isaiah 26:34
  41. Isaiah 25:1
  42. Isaiah 25:8,9
  43. Numbers 6:242526
  44. Deuteronomy 4:39
  45. Deuteronomy 29:29
  46. Psalm 119:111
  47. Romans 15:456
  48. John 17:17
  49. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  50. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  51. Galatians 5:1, NIV
  52. Galatians 5:22-25, NIV
  53. Galatians 2:20, NIV
  54. Psalm 23:1-3, ESV
  55. Psalm 23:4, ESV
  56. Psalm 23:5-6, ESV
  57. 1 Timothy 1:14-15, NIV
  58. 1 Timothy 1:17, NIV
  59. 1 Timothy 2:1234, NIV
  60. 1 Timothy 2:5-6, NIV
  61. 1 Timothy 3:16, NIV
  62. 1 Timothy 4:78910, NIV
  63. 2 Timothy 1:7,8 NIV
  64. 2 Timothy 1:910 NIV
  65. 2 Timothy 1:13-14, NIV
  66. 2 Timothy 2:8-10, NIV
  67. 2 Timothy 2:11-13, NIV
  68. 2 Timothy 2:19, NIV
  69. 2 Timothy 3:12, NIV
  70. 2 Timothy 3:14151617, NIV
  71. 2 Timothy 4:2-3, NIV
  72. 2 Timothy 4:8, NIV
  73. 2 Timothy 4:18 NIV
  74. Titus 2:11-14, NIV
  75. Titus 3:3-7, NIV
  76. Psalm 73:24-26 
  77. Psalm 73:28 
  78. Psalm 68:19-20 
  79. Psalm 105:3-4 
  80. Psalm 75:1 
  81. Psalm 107:9 
  82. Psalm 59:16-17

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible