Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: Living by the Book

Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

Yes, I'm talking to you! If you have any desire at all to read the Bible OR study the Bible or meditate on the Bible or pray using the Bible, this book is for you. They will show you throughout the book how to read a verse, how to read a paragraph, how to read a chapter, how to read a book.

Living by The Book is many things: practical, straight-forward, and reader-friendly. The authors will take you step by step by step by step and teach you how to read the Bible, how to turn your reading of the Bible into studying the Bible. There are three main sections: OBSERVATION, INTERPRETATION, and APPLICATION.
1. Observation. In this step, you ask and answer the question, What do I see? The moment you come to the Scriptures you ask, What are the facts? You assume the role of a biblical detective, looking for clues. No detail is trivial.
2. Interpretation. Here you ask and answer the question, What does it mean? Your quest is for meaning. Unfortunately, too much Bible study begins with interpretation, and furthermore, it usually ends there. But I'm going to show you that it does not begin there. Before you understand, you have to learn to see. Nor does it end there, because the third step is…
Application. Here you ask and answer the question, How does it work? Not, Does it work? People say they're going to make the Bible "relevant." But if the Bible is not already relevant, nothing you or I do will help. The Bible is relevant because it is revealed. It's always a return to reality. And for those who read it and heed it, it changes their lives. (35-6)
Within each section, the authors teach you exactly what you need to know, what you need to keep in mind, etc. For example, in the first section OBSERVATION, there are "10 Strategies to First-Rate Reading" and "Six Things To Look For."

I've said that the book is practical. Each chapter is written to help you, to teach you, to guide you, to illustrate how and why. In Read Repeatedly, one of the "10 Strategies to First-Rate Reading" here are the practical tips:

  • read entire books in one sitting
  • start at the beginning of the book 
  • read the Bible in different translations
  • listen to an audio bible
  • read the Bible out loud
  • set up a schedule for Bible reading 

In Read Selectively, another one of the 10 Strategies, the authors give readers six questions to ask any passage of Scripture.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • Wherefore?

This is a book that almost is so very, very good that it needs to be reread regularly--perhaps once a year--to refresh and encourage readers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #4

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.

This week I'm sharing quotes from Oswald Chambers, Martin Luther, and Andrew Murray.
A person who has forgotten what God treasures will not be filled with joy. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 21
God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 31
Our prayers must not be vague appeals to His mercy or indefinite cries for blessing, but the distinct expression of a specific need. It is not that Jesus’ loving heart does not understand our cry or is not ready to hear, but He desires that we be specific for our own good. Prayer that is specific teaches us to better know our own needs. To find out what our greatest need is demands time, thought, and self-scrutiny. To find out whether our desires are honest and real, and whether we are ready to persevere in them, we are put to the test. It leads us also to discern whether our desires conform to God’s Word and whether we really believe that we will receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for a definite answer and to be aware of it when it comes. And yet how much of our prayer is vague and pointless. Some cry for mercy without saying why they need mercy. Others ask to be delivered from sin but do not begin by naming any sin from which deliverance may be claimed. Still others pray for God’s blessing on those around them, for the outpouring of God’s Spirit on their land or the world, and yet do not pinpoint a particular spot where they will wait and expect to see God answer. To all of us, the Lord asks, “What is it you really want and expect me to do?” ~ Andrew Murray, Teach Me To Pray
I understand what Jesus is saying here [John 14:6] in the simplest manner, so that it all applies to this one person, Christ. Jesus is called “the way” because he is the beginning, “the truth” because he is the one who helps us continue, and also “the life” because he is the end. For he must be everything—the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. That is why we place him as the foundation stone on which the other stones are set and on which the entire roof is built. He is the first, middle, and last rung on the ladder to heaven (Genesis 28:12). For through him we must begin, continue, and finally reach the life beyond. So there is only one Christ, but he assumes different roles in our salvation experience. In the beginning it’s hard to find the way. Then life becomes more difficult as we continue to walk along the way. It becomes extremely tough when we have traveled on the way for a long time and are about to reach our final shelter—heaven. So if you hold on to Christ in faith, then you have started in the right place. If you remain with him, then you will be walking on the right path. If you persevere until the end, then you will be saved. Christ wants to pry our hearts away from trusting anything else. There is no other way, highway, bridge, or path for us than Christ alone. ~ Martin Luther, January 19
You must pray when you are in the heat of temptation—when your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of lust or revenge. If someone urges you to pray under these circumstances, your mind often insists that it’s too impure—as if your dirty thoughts leave no room for prayer. But you must not wait for temptation to end or the thoughts of lust and other sins to totally disappear from your mind before you pray. At precisely the moment when you feel the strongest temptation and are least prepared to pray, go to a place where you can be alone. Pray the Lord’s Prayer or any other prayer you can think of to defend against the devil and his temptations. Then you will feel the temptation decrease, and Satan will run away. Those who think you should wait until your mind is free from impure thoughts to pray only help Satan, who is already far too strong. Waiting to pray is an unchristian approach to prayer. It’s a teaching that comes from the devil. In order to keep yourself from believing these kinds of wrong ideas, you must follow David’s example in this psalm. Even after David admitted his terrible sin with Bathsheba, he didn’t run away from God. He didn’t say what Peter foolishly said while in the boat: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8).Instead, David trusted in God’s mercy and began to pray, “Lord, even though I am a sinner, have pity on me.” The time when you feel your sins the most is exactly the time when you most need to pray to God. ~ Martin Luther, January 20

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Exalting Jesus in Matthew

Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Exalting Jesus in Matthew is a commentary on the gospel of Matthew. It is not an intimidating read. It is admittedly long--as it should be to cover all twenty-eight chapters of the gospel. But intimidating? No. I don't think so. It is actually very reader-friendly. The series introduction points out that it is written with busy pastors in view. "Our aim is to present a readable and pastoral style of commentaries."

If I have a complaint at all, it is a small one. I wish, in a way, it had included the text of the Scripture for each section as it was being discussed. Yes, it would have added length to the book overall. Yes, most readers probably have a Bible that they could choose to read alongside the commentary. But it would have been nice even if it wasn't absolutely necessary. That being said, I have nothing but good things to say about the commentary!

Each chapter has a main idea, an outline of the discussion, the discussion itself, and reflection/discussion questions. Within the discussion, the most essential ideas are in bold. The chapters are well-written and well-organized.

For best results, it would probably be best not to rush through this one in a weekend. I'd recommend this one to anyone--pastor or not--who is looking to study the book of Matthew.

Favorite quotes:
There is only one conclusion to draw when we hear the invitation "Follow Me": Jesus is worthy of far more than church attendance and casual association. We have such a dangerous tendency to reduce Jesus to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for you and me to accept Him into our lives. As if Jesus needs to be accepted by us! Jesus doesn't need our acceptance; He is infinitely worthy of all glory in the whole universe and He doesn't need us at all. We need Him. (80)
God the Father sent the Son to bear the wrath you and I deserve on a cross so that we, by His grace, might be drawn to Him. (84)
The cross is absolutely necessary for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the cross is predominant when you come to any of the four Gospels. Whether you're reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, you can never read these accounts apart from the very end of the story. The cross is always looming; it's always lurking. The cross should always impact what we're reading, even though the crucifixion hasn't yet happened in the narrative. This is especially true for the Sermon on the Mount. The last thing we need to come away with is an imposing and crushing laundry list of things that we must do in order to be accepted by God. (92)
The central message of Christianity is that God will forgive your sins through Jesus. There is no greater news in the whole world than this. (120)
Who you say Jesus is will determine everything about how you follow Him. If you think Jesus was a good teacher, then you will follow Him like you would a good teacher. If you think Jesus merely had some good ideas, then you will listen to what He says every once in a while. If you think Jesus was a good example, then you will try to follow His example. However, if you believe that Jesus was and is the promised Messiah who came to the earth to save us from our sins, to conquer sin and death, and to reign and rule over all as Lord, then that changes everything about how you live. The church is made up of people who believe in that Jesus and know Him intimately. Do you know Jesus intimately? (216)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Year With Spurgeon #4

A Mighty Savior
Charles Spurgeon
“Mighty to save” — Isaiah 63:1.
It is one of the mysteries of the Christian religion, that we are taught to believe that Christ is God, and yet a man. According to Scripture, we hold that he is “very God,” equal and co-eternal with the Father, possessing, as his Father cloth, all divine attributes in an infinite degree. He participated with his Father in all the acts of his divine might; he was concerned in the decree of election, in the fashioning of the covenant; in the creation of the angels, in the making of the world, when it was wheeled from nothing into space, and in the ordering of this fair frame of nature. Before any of these acts the divine Redeemer was the eternal Son of God. “From everlasting to everlasting he is God.” Nor did he cease to be God when he became man. He was equally “God over all, blessed for evermore,” when he was “the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,” as before his incarnation. We have abundant proof of that in the constant affirmations of Scripture, and, indeed, also in the miracles which he wrought. The raising of the dead, the treading of the billows of the ocean, the hushing of the winds and the rending of the rocks, with all those marvellous acts of his, which we have not time here to mention, were strong and potent proofs that he was God, most truly God, even when he con descended to be man. And Scripture, most certainly teaches us, that he is God now, that he shares the throne of his Father — that he sits “high above all principalities and powers, and every name that is named,” and is the true and proper object of the veneration, the worship, and the homage of all worlds.
We are equally taught to believe that he is man. Scripture informs us that, on a day appointed, he came from heaven and did become man as well as God, taking upon himself the nature of a babe in the manger of Bethlehem. From that babe, we are told, he did grow to the stature of manhood, and became “bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh,” in everything except our sin. His sufferings, his hunger, above all, his death and burial, are strong proofs that he was man, most truly man, and yet it is demanded of us by the Christian religion, to believe, that while he was man he was most truly God. We are taught that he was a “child born, a son given,” and yet, at the same time, the “Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father.” Whosoever would here clear and right views of Jesus, must not mingle his natures. We must not consider him as a God diluted into deified manhood, or as a mere man officially exalted to the Godhead, but as being two distinct natures in one person.
First, we shall consider that what is meant by the word, “to save;” secondly, how we prove the fact that he is mighty to save;” thirdly, the reason why he is “mighty to save;” and then, fourthly, the inferences which are to be deduced from the doctrine that Jesus Christ is “mighty to save.”
Commonly, most men, when they read these words, consider them to mean salvation from hell. They are partially correct, but the notion is highly defective. It is true Christ does save men from the penalty of their guilt; he does take those to heaven who deserve the eternal wrath and displeasure of the Most High, it is true that he does blot out “iniquity, transgression, and sin,” and that the iniquities of the remnant of his people are passed over for the sake of his blood and atonement. But that is not the whole meaning of the words “to save.”
Now, it means vastly, I had almost said, infinitely more than this. “To save” means something more than just delivering penitents from going down to hell. By the words “to save” I understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire, the first spiritual conviction, onward to complete sanctification. All this done of God through Jesus Christ. Christ is not only mighty to save those who do repent but he is able to make men repent; he is engaged not merely to carry those to heaven who believe, but he is mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them, he is mighty not merely to give heaven to one who wishes for it, but he is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, to constrain the despiser of his name to bend his knee before him, and to make the most abandon d reprobate turn from the error of his ways.
By the words “to save,” I do not understand what some men say they mean! They tell us in their divinity that Christ came into the world to put all men into a salvable state — to make the salvation of all men possible by their own exertions. I believe that Christ came for no such thing — that he came into the world not to put men into a salvable state, but into a saved state; not to put them where they could save themselves, but to do the work in them and for them, from the first even to the last. If I believe that Christ came only to put you, my hearers, and myself into a state where we might save ourselves, I should give up preaching henceforth and for ever, for knowing a little of the wickedness of men’s hearts, because I know something of my own — knowing how much men naturally hate the religion of Christ — I should despair of any success in preaching a gospel which I had only to offer, its effects depending upon the voluntary acceptance of it by unrenewed and unregenerate men. If I did not believe that there was a might going forth with the word of Jesus, which makes men willing in the day of his power, and which turns them from the error of their ways by the mighty, overwhelming constraining force of a divine and mysterious influence, I should cease to glory in the cross of Christ, Christ, we repeat, is mighty, not merely to put men into a salvable condition, but mighty absolutely and entirely to save them.
Our Lord is not only mighty to make men repent, to quicken the dead in sill, to turn them from their follies and their iniquities. But he is exalted to do more than that: he is mighty to keep them Christians after he has made them so, and mighty to preserve them in his fear and love, until he consummates their spiritual existence in heaven.
We do believe that God never begins a good work in a man without finishing it, that he never makes a man truly alive to spiritual things without carrying on that work in his soul even to the end by giving him a place amongst the choirs of the sanctified. We do not think that Christ’s power dwells in merely bringing me one day into grace, and then telling me to keep myself there, but in so putting me into a gracious state, and giving me such an inward life and such a power within myself that I can no more turn back than the very sun in the heavens can stay itself in its course, or cease to shine. Beloved, we regard this as signified by the terms “mighty to save.” This is commonly called Calvinistic doctrine, it is none other than Christian doctrine, the doctrine of the holy Bible, for despite that it is now called Calvinism, it could not be so called in Augustine’s days; and yet in Augustine’s works you find the very same things. And it is not to be called Augustinism, it is to be found in the writings of the apostle Paul. And yet it was not called Paulism, simple for this reason, that it is the expansion, the fullness of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We will give you the strongest argument first; and we shall need but one. The argument is, that he has done it. We need no other, it were superfluous to add another. He has saved men. He has saved them, in the full extent and meaning of the word which we have endeavored to explain. But in order to set this truth in a clear light, we will suppose the worst of cases.
The best proof you can ever have of God’s being mighty to save, dear hearers, is that he saved you.
But now it is asked, “WHY IS CHRIST MIGHTY TO SAVE?” To this there are sundry answers. First, if we understand the word “save,” in the popular acceptation of the word, which is not, after all, the full one, though a true one — if we understand salvation to mean the pardon of sin and salvation from hell, Christ is mighty to save, because of the infinite efficacy of his atoning blood. Sinner! black as thou art with sin, Christ this morning is able to make thee whiter than the driven snow. Thou askest why. I will tell thee. He is able to forgive, because he has been punished for thy sin. If thou dost know and feel thyself to be a sinner, if thou hast no hope or refuge before God but in Christ, then be it known that Christ is able to forgive, because he was once punished for the very sin which thou hast committed, and therefore he can freely remit, because the punishment has been entirely paid by himself. Whenever I get on this subject I am tempted to tell a story; and though I have told it times enough in the hearing of many of you, others of you have never heard it, and it is the simplest way I know of setting out the belief I have in the atonement of Christ.
It is not the minister, it is not the preacher, but the God who first designs the salvation, and afterwards uses the preacher to work it out.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Last Words of Jesus

Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I would definitely recommend Last Words of Jesus: First Steps to a Richer Life to anyone seeking to read a good book for Lent. (Not that the book is merely a book you read for Lent, it's so much more than that.) One chapter is given for each of the seven last words from the cross. Each chapter has discussion questions. Each chapter includes Scriptural Reflections.

  • Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
  • Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
  • Woman, behold thy son!…Disciple, behold thy mother! John 19:26-27
  • My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:33
  • I thirst. John 19:28
  • It is finished. John 19:30
  • Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46

Each chapter is reflective. Epperson writes beautifully about the meaning--the true meaning, the deeper meaning--of each last word. It is passionate and sometimes poetical.

I loved the focus of this one. How each chapter brings glory to God. I loved the Scriptural Reflections at the end of each chapter. It was probably the one thing that made me love the book. It also helped that he frequently quoted A.W. Pink.

Scriptural Reflections -- Chapter 2 -- Luke 23:43

  • Psalm 34:18
  • Psalm 103:11-12
  • Proverbs 11:30
  • Isaiah 53:12
  • Isaiah 57:15
  • Matthew 9:13
  • Matthew 27:38
  • Mark 15:27-28
  • Luke 23:32-33
  • John 19:18
  • Romans 5:5-6
  • Romans 10:9-10
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
  • 1 Timothy 1:15
  • 1 John 5:11-12

Favorite quote:
There's no other way than the way of the Cross. Without the Tree of Death, there could be no Words of Life!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week in Review: January 18-24

God’s praises sound best in concert, for so we praise him as the angels do in heaven. Those that share in God’s favour, as all the saints do, should concur in his praises; and we should be as desirous of the assistance of our friends in returning thanks for mercies as in praying for them. ~ Matthew Henry, Commentary on Psalm 34
Wycliffe New Testament 1388

  • John
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude 
  • Revelation

NASB (text only)

  • 2 Samuel 10-24
  • 1 Kings

NIV-UK Audio

  • Song of Songs
  • Ecclesiastes

KJV Dramatized Audio

  • Psalms 107-150
  • Proverbs 4-31
  • Ecclesiastes 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Behold the King of Glory

Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Looking for a book to read for Lent? You might want to consider reading Russ Ramsey's Behold the King of Glory. Ramsey retells gospel stories for his readers in forty chapters. The goal of this one, I believe, is to help readers grasp the big picture, to see how all the stories within the four gospels, come together to tell one story: an amazing story of a Savior and King.

It is slightly similar to John MacArthur's One Perfect Life. Slightly. One Perfect Life is made up of Scripture. The Scriptures have--at times--been rearranged or made more concise. But it seeks to give readers a big picture of who Jesus is from Genesis to Revelation. One Perfect Life is also twice as long as Behold the King of Glory.

Behold the King of Glory is a retelling: an informed retelling, no doubt. It is a retelling that seeks to bridge culture gaps and provide deeper context to contemporary readers. It is a substantive project. And it's a project that I can appreciate. The chapters are not short. The reading are not overly devotional. The readings are meaty, substantive, giving readers something to think about. Don't expect a novel. Don't expect a devotional book. It won't read like either type of book. It is not a paraphrase of Scripture. It is at all times reverent.

At times it is creative, imagining how people felt, what people saw, what people said, etc. At times it reads more like an introduction to a Bible book or a study note. But most of the time it is factual sticking closely to Scripture though not the wording of Scripture.

  • Life for the Dying (John 4:43-54)
  • Wild with Hope (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:19-51)
  • One Hundred and Fifty Gallons (John 2:1-12)
  • Destroy This Temple (John 2:13-25)
  • Zeus and The Pharisees (John 3:1-21)
  • Herod's Half Brother's Wife (John 3:22-4:3)
  • Famous (Luke 5:1-26)
  • Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-11)
  • Only Say the Word (Matthew 8-9)
  • The Death of John (Mark 6:14-29; Luke 7:18-35)
  • The Storm Treader (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-56)
  • Bread of Life (Matthew 14:34-16:12; John 6:22-7:1)
  • You Are the Christ (Luke 9:18-36)
  • Before Abraham Was Born (John 7-8)
  • Born Blind (John 9-10)
  • The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:1-37)
  • The Leaven of the Pharisees (Luke 11:29-13:35)
  • Lost Things Found (Luke 14-15)
  • Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1-44)
  • A World Upside Down (Mark 10:35-45)
  • The Living Legend (mark 10:46-52; John 12:9-11)
  • The King's Coronation (1 Kings 1; Luke 19:28-36)
  • Hosanna (Luke 19:36-40)
  • The Vinedresser's Tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Luke 13:6-9)
  • Indignation (Matthew 21:12-17)
  • John's Baptism (Mark 11:27-12:44)
  • The Scent of Opulence (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 13:3-13; John 12:1-8)
  • Thirteen Men (John 13:1-35)
  • The Last Cup (Mark 14:22-42; John 14)
  • Trial at Night (Matthew 26:47-68)
  • The Reckoning (Matthew 26:69-27:2; Mark 10:17-31)
  • What Is Truth (John 18:28-19:16)
  • Crucifixion (Luke 23:26-46)
  • The Forgotten Day (Matthew 27:51-66)
  • He Is Not Here (Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-10)
  • Flesh and Bone (Matthew 28:11-15; John 20:11-29)
  • Do You Love Me? (John 21:1-23)
  • Behold the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53; Luke 24:1-35)
  • Behold the King of Glory (Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 15:3-49; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Romans 8; Revelation 21)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Focus on Proverbs 3:5-6

One of my January memory verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. Though I've chosen to memorize these verses in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate this passage. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

  • Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

Living Bible
  • If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don't ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 

Complete Jewish Bible
  • Trust in ADONAI with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him; then he will level your paths.

Common English Bible
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart; don't rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.

GNT (Good News Translation)
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the LORD in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.

  • With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: Living As A Christian

Living As A Christian: Teachings from First Peter. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

A.W. Tozer's Living As A Christian is a thought-provoking read covering topics from 1 Peter. Each chapter is about a specific verse or passage. One chapter surprised me by being about a verse in Jude. In this one, the focus is on the Christian life. What is a Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian? to live as a Christian? How does Christianity define believers? How should it be defining believers? What are people getting right? What are people getting wrong?

Tozer's writing style is great, if you've read him before you know just what to expect and probably won't need convincing. For those new to Tozer, his style is honest and zealous, very much tell it like it is. Tozer's passion for God is evident on every page. Tozer's love for the Word of God is also evident. Here was a man who took Scriptures seriously. He urges his readers to take God seriously, to take their faith seriously. To not be casual or carnal. But to surrender all to God. If I had to choose one word, however, to describe his writing, I'd choose RELEVANT. You might think, perhaps, that because Tozer died in the early 1960s, that he'd have nothing relevant or worthwhile to say to today's generation. But his works are rich in truth and timeless. His message, I imagine, is even more needed today than it was in his own generation.

If you're new to "theology" or "christian living," I'd say Tozer is a great place to start. In the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin he writes, "The theologian's task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure, and profitable. (164)" When I read that I almost instantly thought of Tozer!!!

Table of Contents:

  • The Christian Believes In Things He Cannot See (1 Peter 1:8)
  • The Christian Understands the Truth About Salvation (1 Peter 1:10-12)
  • The Christian is Redeemed From A Foolish Way of Life (1 Peter 1:18-19)
  • The Christian's Hope Versus All Other Hope (1 Peter 1:19-20)
  • The Fundamental Difference Between the Christian and the Non Christian (1 Peter 1:22)
  • The Christian Puts Aside Certain Things (1 Peter 2:1-3)
  • Christianity: An Experience NOT An Experiment (1 Peter 2:3-5)
  • The Christian Believes He Is Exactly What God Says He Is (1 Peter 2:8-10)
  • The Christian's Life Among Non Christians (1 Peter 2:11)
  • The Christian's Presence Among the Unsaved (1 Peter 2:12)
  • The Christian's Relation to Government and Authority (1 Peter 2:13-16)
  • The Christian Cannot Be Harmed (1 Peter 3:13)
  • The Christian Believes The Whole Bible (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:6)
  • The Christian Is A Stranger In A Strange Land (1 Peter 4:1-5)
  • The Christian Bears His Suffering With Joy (1 Peter 4:12-13)
  • The Christian Doesn't Have A Care in the World (1 Peter 5:7)
  • The Christian Stands Firm Against False Teaching (Jude 3, 4) 

Top Ten Quotes from Living As A Christian:
If we could ever make people see three things about themselves, I think we could settle many of our problems. One is what wonderful creatures they are; second, what hopelessly sinful creatures they are; and third, what great hope there is in Christ.
The simplest explanation of any text is just what it says. Just read it, get on your knees and take it at its plainest meaning. As Mark Twain quipped: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they don’t understand, but for me I have always noticed that the passages that bother me are those I do understand.”
We never should separate the gift from the source, the gift from the Giver. We never should say, “I have forgiveness.” We should say, “God has forgiven.” We never should say, “I have eternal life.” We should say, “God has given me eternal life and Christ is my life.” The point is, God never separates Himself from His gifts. Whatever God gives, He cannot but give Himself in it. If a man has been forgiven, what has happened to him is that the forgiving God has touched him. God has forgiven him, that is true, but it is God that matters more than the forgiveness. If a man has eternal life, it is that he might know Jesus Christ. That word “know” is “experience” again. We must be careful that we do not separate God’s gifts from God Himself… What is wrong with Christians in our day is that they have the gifts of God but have forgotten the God of the gifts. There is a difference between noble, strong, vigorous and satisfying spiritual experience and the other kind of spiritual experience, which takes the gifts of God but forgets the Giver.
We are pilgrims journeying home, and the only real enemies, the only dangerous enemies, are within us. 
Truth is never found in only one verse; truth is found in one verse plus another verse plus another verse plus another verse until the whole truth of God lies before you.

God never made me a judge over anybody, and He never made you a judge. He made us witnesses, but not judges.
When a truth has been revealed in the Bible, our business is to find out what that truth is and then in all of our teaching conform to that truth—not edit it or change it, but let it stand just as it is. It is the truth of God declared as it is, and do not try to change it… For me to pray a lifetime and preach a lifetime about God in a way that was not true to what God is really would be a terrible, tragic calamity. To believe in a God that was a composite of ideas drawn from philosophy and psychology and other religions and superstitions would be eternally disastrous. No, God is what He is and we had better learn what God is and then conform our teachings to God… So we had better make the study of this Bible the business of our lives to find out what God is and then conform our views to God.
You cannot know the truth about yourself unless you first know the truth about God. You came from the hand of God, and back to God you must go for better, for worse, for judgment or for blessings.

Dare to believe something and dare to stand for God… We are not called to smile and smile and smile. We are called sometimes to frown and rebuke with all long-suffering and doctrine. We must contend but not be contentious. We must preserve truth but injure no man. We must destroy error but not harm people… Dare to preserve truth without hurting people.
Let us by the grace of God, with charity for all and hatred for none, but determination to be loyal to truth if it kills us, put our chin a little higher and our knees a little lower, and let’s look a little further into the throne of God, for Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. And let us be courageous, attentive, severe but kind. Let us pray in the Holy Ghost, keep ourselves in the love of God, build ourselves up in the most holy faith and win all we can until the day of the glory and the song. Amen.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #3

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.

This week I'm sharing quotes from Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Martin Luther, and A.B. Simpson.
Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is. ~ Oswald Chambers, January 2, Utmost for His Highest
There are not three stages in spiritual life – worship, waiting and work. Some of us go in jumps like spiritual frogs, we jump from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together. They were always together in the life of Our Lord. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 6
We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves, it is the last conceit to go. The only One Who understands us is God. The greatest curse in spiritual life is conceit. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 12
Always take grace as something you don't deserve, something that is freely bestowed. The long, deep, boundless river is free; it is as free at the mouth as it is at the little stream, and free all the way along, and anybody can come and drink, and anybody can come and bathe in its boundless waters. ~ A. B. Simpson, Days of Heaven Upon Earth, July
Let this be a day of prayer. Let us see that our highest ministry and power is to deal with God for men. Let us be obedient to all the Holy Spirit's voices of prayer in us. Let us count every pressure a call to prayer. Let us cherish the spirit of unceasing prayer and abiding communion. Let us learn the meaning of the ministry of prayer. Let us reach persons this day we cannot reach in person; let us expect results that we have never dared to claim before; let us count every difficulty only a greater occasion for prayer, and let us call on God, who will show us many great and mighty things which we know not. And let it be a day of joy and praise. Let us live in the promises of God and the outlook of His deliverance and blessing. Let us never dwell on the trial but always on the victory just before. Let us not dwell in the tomb, but in the garden of Joseph and the light of the resurrection. Let us keep our faces toward the sun rising. Arise, shine. Rejoice evermore. In everything give thanks. Praise ye the Lord. Lord, give us Thy joy in our hearts which shall lift us to lift others, and fill us so we may overflow to others. ~ A.B. Simpson, Days of Heaven Upon Earth, July
WE MUST THINK not only of our waiting on God but also of God’s waiting on us. Look up and see our great God on His throne. He is Love—He longs and delights to bless. He has inconceivably glorious plans concerning each of His children to reveal in them His love and power by the power of His Holy Spirit. He waits with all the anticipation of a father’s heart. You may ask, “How is it, if He waits to be gracious, that when I come and wait on Him, He does not always give the help I seek?” There is a twofold answer. The first is that God is a farmer. He waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has patience. He cannot gather the crop until it is ripe. He knows when we are spiritually ready to receive the blessing to our profit and His glory. Waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen the soul for His blessing. Waiting under the cloud of trial that breaks in showers of blessing is essential. Be assured that if God waits longer to answer than you anticipated, it is only to make the blessing all the more precious. The second answer points to what has been said before. The Giver is more than the gift; God is more than the blessing; and our time spent waiting on Him is the only way to learn to find our life and joy in Him. It is a blessing when a waiting soul and a waiting God meet each other. ~ Andrew Murray, Waiting on God
The gospel can show its power only where there is a cross and where there is suffering. Because it’s a word of life, it must exercise all its power in death. If dying and death are absent, then it can do nothing. No one would discover that it’s stronger than sin and death. That’s why God imposes the cross on all believers. He wants us to experience and demonstrate God’s power. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 16
So if you want to be comforted when your conscience plagues you or when you are in dire distress, then you must do nothing but grasp Christ in faith and say, “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who suffered, was crucified, and died for me. In his wounds and death, I see my sin. In his resurrection, I see the victory over sin, death, and the devil. I see righteousness and eternal life as well. I want to see and hear nothing except him.” This is true faith in Christ and the right way to believe. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 18

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Remember the Lilies

Remember the Lilies. (Women of Courage #3) Liz Tolsma. 2015. [February] Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Remember the Lilies is set in an internment camp in the Philippines during the last years of World War II. Readers meet Irene Reynolds and Rand Sterling the two protagonists of the novel. Rand is a former nightclub owner with a less than pristine past. Irene is a missionary; she was raised by her missionary aunt after being abandoned first by her mother, then by her father. When the novel opens, Rand is preparing a daring escape. His motivation is that he feels he really needs to go see the person who is his father figure. He's learned that this person is very sick, and, in fact could be dying. Irene works at the censor's office. Her message to Rand was missing vital information. When she realizes that, she rushes to find him and warn him that his escape will surely fail if he attempts it that night as planned. But. She arrives just a tiny bit too late. In time to see it fail in front of her eyes. She knows that he'll be tortured and/or executed.

Weeks later, she's surprised to see that he survived the torture. The two will come together--as friends, especially at first--throughout the novel. Their stories become more and more connected. Readers meet other characters, of course. And the novel is more than just a romance. The setting is a difficult one. It isn't every reader who wants to spend time in prison/internment camps, who wants to read of hunger and starvation, of cruelty and torture, of attempted rape and brutal beatings.

Did I "enjoy" this one? Yes and no. Of course, I didn't enjoy reading about torture. But at the same time, I found it engaging and compelling. I wanted to know what happened. I cared about the characters.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Year with Spurgeon #3

Heavenly Worship
Charles Spurgeon
“And I looked and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps; And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders, and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” — Revelation 14:1-3.
This morning I shall endeavor to show you, first of all, the object of heavenly worship — the Lamb in the midst of the throne; in the next place we shall look at the worshippers themselves, and note their manner and their character; in the third place we shall listen to hear their song, for we may almost hear it; it is like “the noise of many waters and like great thunder ;” and then we shall close by noting, that it is a new song which they sing, and by endeavoring to mention one or two reasons why it must necessarily be so.
But he begins by saying,”I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” to teach us that the very first and chief object of attraction in the heavenly state is “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” Nothing else attracted the Apostle’s attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who is the Lord God, our most blessed Redeemer: “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!”
It is the joy of the heart to hold daily fellowship and communion with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy in heaven. “there shalt thou see him as he is, and thou shalt be like him.” Thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of his presence, and thou shalt dwell with him for aye, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!”
Why, that Lamb is heaven itself, for as good Rutherford says, “Heaven and Christ are the same things; to be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ.” And he very sweetly says in one of his letters, wrapped up in love to Christ: “Oh! my Lord Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” It is true, is it not Christian? Does not thy soul say so?
Why should Christ in heaven choose to appear under the figure of a lamb, and not in some other of his glorious characters? We reply, because it was as a lamb that Jesus fought and conquered, and therefore as a lamb he appears in heaven.
The second point is, THE WORSHIPPERS, WHO ARE THEY? Turn to the text, and you will note, first of all, their numbers — “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand.”
There will be just as many in heaven as are sealed by God — just as many as Christ did purchase with his blood; all of them, and no more and no less. There will be just as many there as were quickened to life by the Holy Spirit, and were, “born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” “Ah,” some say, “there is that abominable doctrine of election.” Exactly so, if it be abominable; but you will never be able to cut it out of the Bible. You may hate it, and gnash and grind your teeth against it; but, remember, we can trace the pedigree of this doctrine, even apart from Scripture, to the time of the apostles Church of England ministers and members, you have no right to alter from me on the doctrine of election, if you are what you profess by your own Articles. You who love the old Puritans, you have no right to quarrel with me, for where will you find a Puritan who was not a strong Calvinist? You who love the fathers, you cannot differ from me. What say you of Augustine? Was he not, in his day, called a great and mighty teacher of grace?
But, above all, I challenge every man who reads his Bible to say that that doctrine is not there.
We hold, as the Bible says, that all the elect, and those only, shall be saved, but we hold that all who repent are elect, that all who believe are elect, and that all who go to Christ are elect.
So that if any of you have in your heart a desire after heaven and after Christ; if you carry out that desire in sincere and earnest prayer, and are born again, you may as certainly conclude your election as you can conclude that you are alive. You must have been chosen of God before the foundation of the world, or you would never have done any of these things, seeing they are the fruits of election.
The choristers of heaven have all had rehearsals upon earth, before they sing in that orchestra. You think that, die when you may, you will go to heaven, without being prepared. Nay, sir, heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and unless you are “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” you can never stand there among them. If you were in heaven without a new heart and a right spirit, you would be glad enough to get out of it, for heaven, unless a man is heavenly himself, would be worse than hell. A man who is unrenewed and unregenerate going to heaven would be miserable there. There would be a song —he could not join in it; there would be a constant hallelujah, but he would not know a note: and besides, he would be in the presence of the Almighty, even in the presence of the God he hates, and how could he be happy there? No sirs; ye must learn the song of paradise here, or else ye can never sing it. Ye must learn to sing — “Jesus, I love thy charming name, ‘tis music to my ears.” You must learn to feel that “sweeter sounds than music knows mingle in your Saviour’s name,” or else you can never chant the hallelujahs of the blest before the throne of the great “I AM.” Take that thought, whatever else you forget; treasure it up in your memory, and ask grace of God that you may here be taught to sing the heavenly song, that afterwards in the land of the hereafter, in the home of the beatified, you may continually chant the high praises of him that loved you.
WHY IS THE SONG SAID TO BE A NEW SONG? But one remark here. It will be a new song, because the saints were never in such a position before as they will be when they sing this new song. They are in heaven now, but the scene of our text is something more than heaven. It refers to the time when all the chosen race shall meet around the throne, when the last battle shall have been fought, and the last warrior shall have gained his crown. It is not now that they are thus singing, but it is in the glorious time to come, when all the hundred and forty and four thousand — or rather, the number typified by that number — will be all safely housed and all secure. I can conceive the period. Time was — eternity now reigns. The voice of God exclaims, “Are my beloved all safe?” The angel flies through paradise and returns with this message,”Yea, they are.” “Is Fearful safe? Is Feeble-mind safe? Is Ready-to-Halt safe? Is Despondency safe?” “Yes, O King, they are,” says he. “Shut-to the gates,” says the Almighty, “they have been open night and day, shut them to now.” Then, when all of them shall be there, then will be the time when the shout shall be louder than many waters, and the song shall begin which will never end.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 19, 2015

Journaling Institutes #1

Institutes of the Christian Religion. John Calvin. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. 1559/1960. Westminster John Knox Press. 1812 pages. [Source: Gift]

I think the best way to approach the Institutes of the Christian Religion is by journaling the experience, sharing as I go.

In today's post, I'll be covering book one: THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE CREATOR. (It's roughly two hundred pages of theology.)

The edition I'm reading is wonderfully organized. The table of contents describes and summarizes the contents of each chapter. For example, Chapter 6: "Scripture is Needed as Guide and Teacher for Anyone Who Would Come to God the Creator" and Chapter 16: "Discussion of Human Nature as Created, of the Faculties of the Soul, of the Image of God, of Free Will, and of The Original Integrity of Man's Nature." In addition, the text of each chapter is broken into sections and paragraphs--with subtitles. If I said it made the book accessible, I'm not sure you'd believe me. So I'll just say it makes the book more accessible than you might think.

My first impressions are positive. I am finding John Calvin quite readable!!! I didn't expect to, mind you. Calvin can be quite straightforward and thought-provoking. Some of his bold statements remind me of what I love about A.W. Tozer.

I am NOT going to discuss the contents of each and every chapter of book one. (The first book has eighteen chapters.) My goal is not to summarize. I think it would be tedious for me and tedious for you. My primary goal, of course, is to read the book myself, to work my way through it. I'll be sharing quotes as I go. The book has some great treasures within, and, I want to remember them. Of course, if that inspires YOU to seek out John Calvin's Institutes that would be great. But at the very least, I hope a few quotes of what I share will benefit you as is.

I will say that the first book is about God, about God's nature and attributes, about how God has revealed Himself in nature and in the Word, about the trinity. Plenty is also said about mankind--humanity--primarily in terms of being God's creation. As God's creatures what do we owe him, what should we think about God, about ourselves, etc. Topics like knowledge and wisdom and truth.
I call "piety" that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him--they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him. (41)
What help is it, in sort, to know a God with whom we have nothing to do? Rather, our knowledge should serve first to teach us fear and reverence; secondly, with it as our guide and teacher, we should learn to seek every good from him, and, having received it, to credit it to his account. (41)
But they do not realize that true religion ought to be conformed to God's will as to a universal rule; that God ever remains like himself, and is not a specter or phantasm to be transformed according to anyone's whim. (49)
We know the most perfect way of seeking God, and the most suitable order, is not for us to attempt with bold curiosity to penetrate to the investigation of his essence, which we ought more to adore than meticulously to search out, but for us to contemplate him in his works whereby he renders himself near and familiar to us, and in some manner communicates himself. (62)
For as rashness and superficiality are joined to ignorance and darkness, scarcely a single person has ever been found who did not fashion for himself an idol or specter in place of God. (65)
For by his Word, God rendered faith unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion. (71)
And let us not take it into our heads either to seek out God anywhere else than in his Sacred Word, or to think anything about him that is not prompted by his Word, or to speak anything that is not taken from that Word. (146)
The theologian's task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure, and profitable. (164)
For if we have God's glory at heart, as we should have, we ought with all our strengths to contend against him who is trying to extinguish it. If we are minded to affirm Christ's Kingdom as we ought, we must wage irreconcilable war with him who is plotting its ruin. Again, if we care about our salvation at all, we ought to have neither peace nor truce with him who continually lays traps to destroy it. (174)
At the outset, then, let my readers grasp that providence means not that by which God idly observes from heaven what takes place on earth, but that by which, as keeper of the keys, he governs all events. Thus it pertains no less to his hands than to his eyes. (202)
For our wisdom ought to be nothing else than to embrace with humble teachableness, and at least without finding fault, whatever is taught in Sacred Scripture. (237)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Love Gently Falling

Love Gently Falling. Melody Carlson. 2015. Center Street. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Love Gently Falling is a quick, sweet read. I'd say it's completely predictable, but, predictable is not bad in my books for this genre. I like to know what to expect and am happy when a book meets those expectations.

Rita Jansen is a hairdresser living in Hollywood. She's perfectly content where she is, but, she's also ready to help out her family when they need her. The book opens with Rita receiving a phone call. Her mom has had a stroke and is in the hospital. Rita goes to be with her family. She's by her mom's side. She's supportive of her brother and father: whatever happens, they'll face it together as a family. One thing that Rita can do that her father and brother can't do is to help out with her mom's salon. What she sees convinces her that it's time for a redesign…

Love Gently Falling is contemporary romance. Rita meets someone, the hero, and it's the start of something. Rita has no idea what…if it will work out or not…but…she's oh-so-interested…but it turns out that she's not the only one interested in this guy…

The book is a quick read and quite satisfying overall. I liked the characters well enough.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Week in Review: January 11-17

And if you were to memorize the whole Bible by heart, you would still need the presence of God and the living influence of the Holy Ghost living within you to enable you to live even a tiniest verse of that Bible. ~ A.W. Tozer, Living as A Christian
NASB (text only)

  • Joshua 3-24
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel 1-9

J.B. Phillips (text only)

  • Mark 4-16
  • Luke
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

NIV-UK Audio Bible

  • Esther 
  • Job

KJV Dramatized Audio Bible

  • Psalms 73-106
  • Romans

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Focus on Psalm 34:3, Psalm 34:8

Two of my January memory verses come from Psalm 34. Though I've chosen to memorize them in the ESV, I thought it would be interesting to see how other versions of the Bible translate these verses. After all, almost more important than memorization is meditation and understanding. And reading in various translations can help with that!

  • Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:3)
  • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)
  • Proclaim Yahweh's greatness with me; let us exalt His name together. 
  • Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
  • Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
  • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Living Bible
  • Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name.
  • Oh, put God to the test and see how kind he is! See for yourself the way his mercies shower down on all who trust in him. 
  • Come, let us tell of the LORD's greatness; let us exalt his name together.
  • Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

  • O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
  • O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
  • Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
  • Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 


  • Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
  • Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!


  • O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
  • O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Complete Jewish Bible

  • Proclaim with me the greatness of ADONAI; let us exalt his name together.
  • Taste, and see that ADONAI is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him!

1599 Geneva Bible

  • Praise ye the Lord with me, and let us magnify his Name together.
  • Taste ye and see, how gracious the Lord is: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 

Common English Bible

  • Magnify the LORD with me! Together let us lift his name up high!
  • Taste and see how good the LORD is! The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy!


  • Honor the LORD with me! Celebrate his great name.
  • Discover for yourself that the LORD is kind. Come to him for protection, and you will be glad. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review: Weighed and Wanting

Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments. D.L. Moody. 1898. The Bible Institute. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
Weighed in the Balances In the fifth chapter of Daniel we read the history of King Belshazzar. One chapter tells us all we know about him. One short sight of his career is all we have. He bursts in upon the scene and then disappears. “This is the writing that was written, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene—God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Tekel—Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres—Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” If some one had told the king an hour before that the time had come when he must step into the balances and be weighed, he would have laughed at the thought. But the vital hour had come…
Perhaps you say: “I hope Mr. Moody is not going to compare me with that heathen king.” I tell you that a man who does evil in these Gospel days is far worse than that king. We live in a land of Bibles. You can get the New Testament for a nickel, and if you haven’t got a nickel you can get it for nothing. Many societies will be glad to give it to you free. We live in the full blaze of Calvary. We live on this side of the cross, but Belshazzar lived more than five hundred years on the other side. He never heard of Jesus Christ. He never heard about the Son of God. He never heard about God except, perhaps, in connection with his father’s remarkable vision. He probably had no portion of the Bible, and if he had, probably he didn’t believe it. He had no godly minister to point him to the Lamb of God.
All this happened long centuries ago. Let us get down to this century, to this year, to ourselves. We will come to the present time. Let us imagine that now, while I am preaching, down come some balances from the throne of God. They are fastened to the very throne itself. It is a throne of equity, of justice. You and I must be weighed. I venture to say this would be a very solemn audience. There would be no trifling. There would be no indifference. No one would be thoughtless.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Moody's Weighed and Wanting: Addresses on the Ten Commandments. It's a thought-provoking, often-convicting, humbling read. You might think that a book about the law, about the Ten Commandments, would be so stern and harsh that it would withhold grace or gospel or hope from its readers. That certainly isn't the case. The book is not anti-gospel or anti-grace. If it has to be anti anything, I'd say it would be anti-pride and anti-conceit. It's humbling to the extent that it makes your own righteousness--your apart-from-Christ-righteousness--appear as God sees it: filthy rags. It brings to mind the lyrics to Caedmon's Calls' I Boast No More:
No more my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done
I quit the hopes I held before
To trust the merits of Thy Son
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done
So the premise of the book is a simple one. He challenges his readers to weigh themselves not by their own standards, not by the standards of the church and neighbors, but by God's standard alone. He will examine--carefully elaborate--on each of the Ten Commandments. He'll ask readers to see how they measured up one commandment at a time. There is one chapter per commandment, I believe.
I will admit that if you perfectly keep the commandments, you do not need to be saved by Christ; but is there a man in the wide world who can truly say that he has done this? Now face these Ten Commandments honestly and prayerfully. See if your life is right, and if you are treating God fairly. God’s statutes are just, are they not? If they are right, let us see if we are right. Let us pray that the Holy Ghost may search each one of us. Let us get alone with God and read His law—read it carefully and prayerfully, and ask Him to show us our sins and what He would have us to do.
Favorite quotes:
The conviction deepens in me with the years that the old truths of the Bible must be stated and restated in the plainest possible language.  
Man does not need to be commanded to worship, as there is not a race so high or so low in the scale of civilization but has some kind of a god. What he needs is to be directed aright.
“Thou shalt not” is the pruning-knife that God uses. From beginning to end, the Bible calls for wholehearted allegiance to Him. There is to be no compromise with other gods.
Many a professing Christian is a stumbling-block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on week days God has little or no place in his thoughts.
You don’t have to go to heathen lands to-day to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever you love more than God is your idol.
The road to heaven and the road to hell lead in different directions.
Worship involves two things: the internal belief, and the external act. We transgress in our hearts by having a wrong conception of God and of Jesus Christ before ever we give public expression in action.
The opinions that some people hold about Christ are not in accordance with the Bible, and are real violations of this second commandment.
We are apt to rush into God’s presence, and rush out again, without any real sense of the reverence and awe that is due Him. We forget that we are on holy ground.
I believe that the sabbath question to-day is a vital one for the whole country. It is the burning question of the present time. If you give up the sabbath the church goes; if you give up the church the home goes; and if the home goes the nation goes. That is the direction in which we are traveling. The church of God is losing its power on account of so many people giving up the sabbath, and using it to promote selfishness.
You may be a professing Christian, but I wouldn’t give much for your religion unless it gets into your life and teaches you how to live. I wouldn’t give a snap of my finger for a religion that doesn’t begin at home and regulate your conduct toward your parents.
Did you ever in your heart wish a man dead? That was murder. Did you ever get so angry that you wished any one harm? Then you are guilty. I may be addressing some one who is cultivating an unforgiving spirit. That is the spirit of the murderer, and needs to be rooted out of your heart. We can only read man’s acts—what they have done. God looks down into the heart. That is the birthplace and home of the evil desires and intentions that lead to the transgression of all God’s laws.
The home existed before the church, and unless the home is kept pure and undefiled, there can be no family religion and the church is in danger.
Partial obedience is not enough: obedience must be entire. The little indulgences, the small transgressions are what drive religion out of the soul. They lay the foundation for the grosser sins. If you give way to little temptations, you will not be able to resist when great temptations come to you.
Let your confession be as wide as your transgression.
We may say that covetous desire plunged the human race into sin. We can trace the river back from age to age until we get to its rise in Eden. When Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food and that it was desirable to the eyes, she partook of it, and Adam with her. They were not satisfied with all that God had showered upon them, but coveted the wisdom of gods which Satan deceitfully told them might be obtained by eating the fruit. She saw,—she desired—then she took! Three steps from innocence into sin.
For fifteen hundred years man was under the law, and no one was equal to it. Christ came and showed that the commandments went beyond the mere letter; and can any one since say that he has been able to keep them in his own strength?
“Love to God will admit no other God. Love resents everything that debases its object by representing it by an image. Love to God will never dishonor His name. Love to God will reverence His day. Love to parents makes one honor them. Hate, not love, is a murderer. Lust, not love, commits adultery. Love will give, but never steal. Love will not slander or lie. Love’s eye is not covetous.”
Now is the day and hour to accept salvation, and then He will be with you. Do you step aside and say: “I’m not ready yet. I want a little more time to prepare, to turn the matter over in my mind?” Well, you have time, but bear in mind it is only the present; you do not know that you will have to-morrow. Wasn’t Belshazzar cut off suddenly? Would he have believed that that was going to be his last night, that he would never see the light of another sun? That banquet of sin didn’t close as he expected. As long as you delay you are in danger. If you don’t enter into the kingdom of heaven by God’s way, you cannot enter at all. You must accept Christ as your Savior, or you will never be fit to be weighed. My friend, have you got Him? Will you remain as you are and be found wanting, or will you accept Christ and be ready for the summons? “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” May God open your heart to receive His Son now!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Quotes from the Clouds #2

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.

This week I'm sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, and Martin Luther.
He is not far from God'’s heart who hath meditations of God in his own heart. If we desire to seek after God, to know him, to understand him, and to be at peace with him, it is a sign that God has dealings with our soul, for otherwise we should still have hated his name and abhorred his character. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "Question of Fear and the Answer of Faith," 1856
He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is "life eternal," and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus--as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, "Nearer, nearer." Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of him in his divine nature, in his human relationship, in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 4
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
It [The Bible] is, if you like to put it that way, not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite, it excludes or repels, the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force. You are cutting the wood against the grain, using the tool for a purpose it was not intended to serve. It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long except to those who go to it for something quite different. ~ C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays
If you are a sincere believer, you have all of God’s treasures and are God’s child. The rest of your life on earth is merely a pilgrimage. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 9
How should we address God? How should we honor the one we pray to? And how should we present ourselves so that he will be gracious and willing to listen to us? No name anywhere makes a more favorable impression on God than the name “Father.” Calling him Father is a friendly, affectionate, deep, and heartfelt way to address him. It wouldn’t comfort us nearly so much if we were to call him Lord, or God, or Judge. For the name Father is instinctive and naturally affectionate. That is why hearing us call him Father pleases God the most and moves him to listen to us. By doing so, we acknowledge ourselves as children of God, which again stirs God’s heart. For there is no voice more dear to a father than his own child’s voice. It also helps when we say, “in heaven.” These words express distressing need and misery because we are on earth and God is in heaven. Those who pray, “Our Father in heaven,” and do so out of the depths of their hearts, acknowledge that they have a Father and that their Father is in heaven. Moreover, they acknowledge that they are abandoned on earth and are in misery. Those who pray this way soon feel a heartfelt yearning, like a child who lives far from his father’s land in misery and distress among strangers. It’s as if they are saying, “O Father, you are in heaven. I am your poor child far from you on earth, in misery, in peril, in distress, and in need. I am surrounded by devils, great enemies, and many kinds of danger.” Those who pray in this way stand with pure, uplifted hearts toward God. They are able to pray and move God to mercy. ~ Martin Luther, Faith Alone, January 12

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review: Lizzy & Jane

Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay. 2014. 339 pages. [Source: Bought]

One misstep can kill a New York restaurant.

Did I love, love, love Lizzy & Jane like I loved, loved, loved Dear Mr. Knightley? Not really. The books are quite different from one another. Lizzy & Jane was good. But I just didn't love it. Not that swept-up-wow-kinda-love.

Lizzy & Jane will appeal to those who love to read about food, who love to cook, or who love the idea of loving to cook. Lizzy, the heroine, is the head chef of a New York restaurant, Feast. She oh-so-relunctantly takes a leave of absence to go spend some time with her sister and father. The family could accurately be described as broken. Elizabeth isn't really on good terms with her father or sister. She's not wanted to deal with her family. I don't think she is angry at her father so much as unable to cope with visiting her father. The pain is just too great since her mother's death--cancer. She IS angry with her sister, Jane, however. Angry that her sister never came home when their mother was sick and dying. That she barely made an appearance at the funeral. They have plenty of unresolved issues. And now that Jane has cancer, well, Elizabeth does not want to deal with that. But. Oh-so-relunctantly she will. She'll reconnect with her Dad and sister. She'll spend time with her niece and nephew. She'll go with her sister to chemotherapy. She'll meet other cancer patients. She'll deal with the uncomfortable-ness of it all.

Jane has no appetite. She doesn't really like to eat or want to eat. But Elizabeth won't budge. She is the best cook in the whole world. She WILL make something that her sister will love to eat and be able to keep down. She will. She must. She won't let herself fail. With her sister as an ongoing challenge and inspiration, she spends much of her time experimenting in the kitchen.

(She'll even take on other patients to experiment on.)

Lizzy & Jane is also a romance novel. Elizabeth falls in love with someone she meets while staying with her sister. (A neighbor and coworker, I believe.) He's a single father. One thing that I did love about the book is the relationship between Elizabeth and Nick. (I also loved the relationship between Elizabeth and Jane.)

What I didn't quite love was all the food talk: the descriptions of shopping for food, creating recipes,  preparing food, cooking food, tasting food. I found it odd that Elizabeth was 'inspired' by particular books to create different recipes specifically for cancer patients. That is patient A reads this author, so I'll cook this, this, and that. Patient B reads that author, so I'll cook this, this, and that. I don't think liking a particular author has much of anything to do with what you like to eat or want to eat. The authors that inspire her recipes are Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Year with Spurgeon #2

Going Home: A Christmas Sermon
Charles Spurgeon
“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, And hath had compassion on thee. — Mark 5:19.
Love those who are knit to you by ties of nature.
Now, here is Christmas-day come round again, and they are going home to see their friends. When they get home they will want a Christmas Carol in the evening; I think I will suggest one to them — more especially to such of them as have been lately converted I will give them a theme for their discourse on Christmas evening; it may not be-quite so amusing as “The Wreck of the Golden Mary,” but it will be quite as interesting to Christian people. It shall be this: “Go home and tell your friends what the Lord hath done for your souls, and how he hath had compassion on you.” For my part, I wish there were twenty Christmas days in the year. It is seldom that young men can meet with their friends; it is rarely they can all be united as happy families; and though I have no respect to the religious observance of the day, yet I love it as a family institution, as one of England’s brightest days, the great Sabbath of the year, when the plough rests in its furrow, when the din of business is hushed, when the mechanic and the working man go out to refresh themselves upon the green sward of the glad earth.
“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” First, here is what they are to tell; then, secondly, why they are to tell it; and then thirdly, how they ought to tell it.
First, then, HERE IS WHAT THEY ARE TO TELL. It is to be a story of personal experience. “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” You are not to repair to your houses and forthwith begin to preach That you are not commanded to do. You are not to begin to take up doctrinal subjects and expatiate on them, and endeavor to bring persons to your peculiar views and sentiments. You are not to go home with sundry doctrines you have lately learned, and try to teach these. At least you are not commanded so to do; you may, if you please and none shall hinder you; but you are to go home and tell not what you have believed, but what you have felt — what you really know to be your own; not what great things you have read, but what great things the Lord hath done for you.
Note, next, it must be a story of free grace. It is not, “Tell thy friends how great things thou hast done thyself,” but “how great things the Lord hath done for thee.” The man who always dwells upon free will and the power of the creature, and denies the doctrines of grace, invariably mixes up a great deal of what he has done himself in telling his experience.
Go home, young man, and tell the poor sinner’s story; go home, young woman, and open your diary, and give your friends stories of grace. Tell them of the mighty works of God’s hand which he hath wrought in you from his own free, sovereign, undeserved love. Make it a free grace story around your family fire.
Tell them it is a great story, and if they cannot see its greatness shed great tears, and tell it to them with great earnestness, and I hope they may be brought to believe that you at least are grateful, if they are not.
And lastly, upon this point: it must be a tale told by a poor sinner who feels himself not to have deserved what he has received.
Tell your story, my hearers, as lost sinners.
But now, in the second place, Why SHOULD WE TELL THIS STORY?
First, for your Master’s sake.
Will you not, wherever you go, tell of the God who loved you and died for you? This poor man, we are told, “departed and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him, and all men did marvel.” So with you. If Christ has done much for you, you cannot help it — you must tell it.
But, in the next place, are your friends pious? Then go home and tell them, in order to make their hearts glad.
Once more, dear friends. I hear one of you say. “Ah! Sir, would to God I could go home to pious friends! But when I go home I go into the worst of places; for my home is amongst those who never knew God themselves, and consequently never prayed for me, and never taught me anything concerning heaven.” Well, young man, go home to your friends. If they are ever so bad they are your friends. I sometimes meet with young men wishing to join the church, who say, when I ask them about their father, “Oh, sir, I am parted from my father.” Then I say, “Young man, you may just go and see your father before I have anything to do with you; if you are at ill-will with your father and mother I will not receive you into the church; if they are ever so bad they are your parents.” Go I home to them, and tell them, not to make them glad, for they will very likely be angry with you, but tell them for their soul’s salvation. I hope, when you are telling the story of what God did for you, that they will be led by the Spirit to desire the same mercy themselves.
But there is a third point, upon which we must be very brief. HOW IS THIS STORY TO BE TOLD?
First, tell it truthfully. Do not tell more than you know; do not tell John Bunyan’s experience, when you ought to tell your own.
In the next place, tell it very humbly. I have said that before. Do not intrude yourselves upon those who are older, and know more, but tell your story humbly; not as a preacher, but as a friend and as a son.
Next, tell it very earnestly. Let them see you mean it. Do not talk about religion flippantly; you will do no good if you do.
And then, tell it very devoutly. Do not try to tell your tale to man till you have told it first to God. When you are at home on Christmas-day, let no one see your face till God has seen it. Be up in the morning, wrestle with God; and if your friends are not converted, wrestle with God for them, and then you will find it easy work to wrestle with them for God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible