Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Reflections

June Accomplishments:

This months' Bible Reading (May 30-June 25)


  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Daniel
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James


  • Genesis 


  • James


  • Psalms


  • Psalm 1-41

Books I've reviewed this month:

Christian fiction:
  1. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. First Virtues for Toddlers. Mary Manz Simon. 2016. B&H. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. When Daddy Prays. Nikki Grimes. 2002. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. The Joy Project. Tony Reinke. 2015. Desiring God. 122 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace. John Piper. 2013. 94 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Breaking the Islam Code. J.D. Greear. 2010. Harvest House. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Five Love Languages of Children. Gary Chapman, D. Ross Campbell. 1995/2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5.  Exalting Jesus in Philippians. Tony Merida and Francis Chan. 2016. B&H. 209 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life. Ray Comfort. 2010. Living Waters. 128 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  7. How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible. Keith Ferrin. 2015. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Seasons of Waiting. Betsy Childs Howard. 2016. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Reading The Word of God In the Presence of God. Vern S. Poythress. 2016. Crossway. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quotes from the Cloud #23

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.
Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt; this is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ. They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place. ~ Charles Spurgeon
People will never set their faces decidedly towards heaven, and live like pilgrims, until they really feel that they are in danger of hell. Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments, and show the length and breadth, and depth, and height of their requirements. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. We cannot do better than follow His plan. We may depend on it, men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they know why they are to come, and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without a thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season, but they will soon fall away and return to the world. ~ J.C. Ryle

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June's Scripture Chain

  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10
  • In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:10-12
  • We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
  • Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
  • For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11
  • For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
Inspiration: Amazing Grace
Translation Used: ESV

Book Review: How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible

How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible. Keith Ferrin. 2015. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]

Author's stated goal: My goal is simple: to help you enjoy the Bible. That’s it. If you enjoy it, you will read it more. If you enjoy it, you will talk about it. If you enjoy it, you will be more consistent in your time with God. If you enjoy it, you will apply it. When it comes to the Bible, God never intended you to stop at believing it is true. He also wants you to enjoy it. I do too.

Premise/plot: In How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible Keith Ferrin shares with readers ten tips on how to ENJOY reading your Bible. At the end of each chapter, there is a study guide that helps to adapt it--if you will--to a group bible study format.

  • Introduction
  • Tip 1: Remember Why You Are Doing This
  • Tip 2: Set Your Expectations Really High
  • Tip 3: Have a Strategy
  • Tip 4: Watch the Whole Movie
  • Tip 5: Learn From Your Shampoo
  • Tip 6: Raise Your Voice
  • Tip 7: Read Alone
  • Tip 8: Don't Read Alone
  • Tip 9: Go on a 60 Day Adventure
  • Tip 10: Take Two Four Month Challenges
  • How These 10 Tips Have Changed Everything
  • Appendix A: A Small Group Study of Ephesians
  • Appendix B: A Chronological Reading Plan

My thoughts: I would definitely recommend this one. I feel the author and I are kindred spirits in some ways. In particular, we both love to read CHUNKS of Scripture. And by chunks I mean large quantities of the Bible in one sitting as opposed to one or two chapters per day. Also he seems to be a fan of spending a month or two in the same book of the Bible. I'll be honest I've never spent 60 days in the same book of the Bible (tip 9). But I have spent 30 days in the same book of the Bible.

I thought each tip worthy of attention. Some will be more challenging (for me) to try to implement into my own reading. But I think his tips are definitely solid and good.

I thought I would include a quote from each tip:
Oh, how our time in the Bible would change if we kept the friendship front and center. If our time in God’s Word were primarily relational instead of informational, it would have a significantly higher probability of being transformational!
You can change your expectations. You don’t have to stay where you are. The Bible can be exciting and enjoyable for you. It is possible to have David’s words be your own: The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
Every time you and I sit down to read our Bibles, there is someone playing defense. Someone who is actively trying to make sure we don’t enjoy it. Someone who is throwing distractions our way. And the “defense” starts early. It starts before you even pick up your Bible.
When we read more of it, we easily get into it. When we read little bits, we don’t. It is as simple as that.
The context is story, but the process is repetition. We learn in the context of story by the process of repetition.
We remember some of what we see. We remember much more of what we see and hear. Even if what we are hearing is our own voice.
Read only the Bible. No devotional. No commentary. No questions. No videos. No lesson. Yes, read alone. Simply you, God, and His Word. That’s it.
When it comes to enjoying the Bible, few habits are more beneficial than having regular conversations with someone—or a small group of people—who is studying the same book of the Bible as you.
What would you say if I told you that sixty days from now you could understand and love a book of the Bible more than any you have studied before? Now, what if I told you that you would actually have huge chunks of it down word-for-word without even trying? That would be pretty cool, right? Well, you can.
Challenge One: The Bible Read Thru There are only three simple parameters: 1. Read the whole Bible in four months. 2. Read with a pen in your hand. 3. Talk about it. If you want to get the most out of your Bible Read Thru, this third parameter is not optional. You will be tempted to make it optional. It will seem easier to keep it between you and God. You will convince yourself that you don’t need the accountability to stick with it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Summer with John #5

Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. Newton's inspiration for this sermon series was the popularity of Handel's Messiah

Today's quotes will come from sermon six (Isaiah 40:9). For your listening pleasure: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion. (I must admit this is one of my favorites). 

Some of these quotes may prove unpopular and offensive in today's culture. I don't think any society at any time likes to be told that they are guilty sinners in the eyes of God. But this sermon seems to focus on the "T" of Total Depravity, one of the doctrines of grace. 
The deplorable state of fallen man by nature, is largely described both in the Old Testament and the New. It may suffice to take notice of two principal features, which characterize our whole species, and apply to every individual of the race of Adam, until the grace of God, which bringeth Salvation, affords relief. These are guilt, alienation of heart, and misery.
Guilt. All have sinned. We are the creatures of God. He made us, and He preserves us. Our life, faculties, and comforts are all from Him. He is therefore our great Lord, our supreme Benefactor. Of course we belong to Him. His we are, and not our own. It follows that dependence, gratitude, submission, and obedience, are incumbent on us, as they must be upon all intelligent creatures, from the very nature of things.
But we have evidently broken this law of our creation. We have violated the order of God's government. We have implicitly, if not formally, renounced our allegiance, disowned His right over us, and set up for ourselves.
It is possible, that had we been wholly left to ourselves, we should never have been aware, while in this world, of the just and inevitable consequences of our rebellion. Having lost all right thoughts of God, and conceiving of Him, as if He were altogether as ourselves, we might have felt neither fear nor remorse. But there is a revelation, by which we are informed of His determined purpose to avenge disobedience, and to vindicate the honour of His government; and we are assured, that He is not an indifferent spectator of our opposition to His established order. His justice and truth are engaged to punish transgressors, and our obnoxiousness to punishment, is what we mean by guilt. If the Scripture be true, there is no way of escape, unless He Himself be pleased to appoint one.
Think about that: If the Scripture be true, there is no way of escape, unless He Himself be pleased to appoint one. The problem is that today in and out of church some question Scripture.
Alienation of mind. Not only is it true that we have sinned against the Lord, but a principle of aversion from Him is deeply rooted in our hearts.
I do not assert that we hate God under that character, which, our vain imaginations form of Him. If we can persuade ourselves, in direct contradiction to the testimony of Scripture, that He is not strict to mark what is amiss; that He will dispense with the strictness of His law; that He will surely have mercy upon us, because we are not openly abandoned and profligate in our conduct; that He will accept of lip-worship in which the heart has no concern, reward us for actions in which we had no intention of pleasing Him, permit us to love and serve the world with all our mind, and soul, and strength, while we live, and make us happy in another world, when we can live in this no longer -- If we form such an image of God, it is too much like our own to provoke our enmity, for it is destitute of holiness, justice, and truth.
Misery. If we are guilty in the sight of God, and alienated from Him in our hearts, we must be miserable. Guilt entails a burden, and a foreboding of evil upon the conscience. And our alienation from the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13) , compels us (for we are insufficient in our own happiness) to seek our resources from broken cisterns, and pits which will hold no water. Farther, sin has filled the world with woe. The whole creation travails and groans; and natural evil is inseparable from moral, as the shadow from the body. Though the earth be filled with tokens of the goodness, patience, and forbearance of God, it likewise abounds with marks of His displeasure.
I think we have sufficient reason to attribute earthquakes, hurricanes, famine, and pestilence, to sin as their original cause. We can hardly conceive, that if mankind had continued in that happy state of love and obedience to God, in which our first parents were created, they would have been exposed to such calamities.
MESSIAH establishes a new, a spiritual Kingdom upon the earth, and His happy subjects are freed from the misery in which they were involved. They commit all their concerns to Him, and He manages for them. Their fears are removed, their irregular desires corrected, and all that is really good for them, is secured to them by His love, promise, and care. Afflictions still await them, but they are sanctified.
Does the language of my text cause joy to spring up in your hearts? or is it nothing to you? If you heard the Messiah [Oratorio], you were, perhaps, affected by the music of the passage; how much are you to be pitied, if you are hitherto unaffected by the sentiment! Yet once more, hear -- Thy God cometh! He did come in the fulness of time, according to the prophecy, and the Word of prophecy assures us, that He will come again. Behold He cometh in the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him (Revelation 1:7) -- Prepare to meet thy God! (Amos 4:12)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Review: Five Points

Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace. John Piper. 2013. 94 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Christians love God. He is our great Treasure, and nothing can compare with him.

Premise/plot: John Piper wants his readers to know God better, to taste and see for themselves how GOOD God is. His goal in writing is to have his readers ENJOY God more and more. "Enjoying God is the way to glorify God, because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
But to enjoy him we must know him. Seeing is savoring. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy..." He asserts in this short little book that the "most crucial kind of knowledge [for believers to know] is the knowledge of what God is like in salvation." He continues, "To experience God fully, we need to know not just how he acts in general, but specifically how he saves us—how did he save me?" And just one more, "To know him in his sovereignty is to become like an oak tree in the wind of adversity and confusion. And along with strength is sweetness and tenderness beyond imagination. The sovereign Lion of Judah is the sweet Lamb of God."

John Piper introduces readers to the doctrines of grace, the "five points" of Calvinism. While he stays with the TULIP acronym, he rearranges the book to suit his own purposes.
I have found, however, that people grasp these points more easily if we go in the order in which we ourselves often experience them when we become Christians.
1. We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
2. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
3. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
4. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
5. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.
The first chapter is essentially an introduction. The second chapter addresses the historical roots of the doctrines of grace and offers a basic summary of all five points. The eighth chapter is John Piper's testimony about what understanding the doctrines of grace have meant to him. The ninth chapter is more testimonies--these testimonies are all from the cloud of witnesses (Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, George Mueller, Charles Spurgeon). The tenth chapter includes two final appeals: quotes from Charles Spurgeon and J.I. Packer.

Chapters three through seven focus on the five points: Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace, Limited Atonement, Unconditional Election, and Perseverance of the Saints.

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I've read dozens of books on the five points of Calvinism or the doctrines of grace. Some I've liked better than others. Some are very weighty--theologically--and not practical to recommend. Keep in mind that a) not every believer likes to read to begin with, b) not every believer likes to read theology c) not every believer is equally familiar with Scripture, d) not every believer has been exposed to reformed theology, e) to someone who has never been exposed to reformed teaching and preaching, the doctrines of grace may prove so overwhelmingly contrary to everything they think they know that they shut down and become defensive.

I would recommend this one. Why? It is short. It is straightforward. It is logically organized. All the main points and insights are backed up clearly with Scripture. Sometimes Scripture passages are unpacked for readers in the text. Sometimes only Scripture references are provided. Skeptical readers can be like the Bereans and see for themselves if it is so. (Acts 17:11) It is passionately, zealously presented. Far from being dry and boring, this one illustrates how theology can energize your life. Piper also packs this one with quotes.

I agree with Piper (and nearly everyone else) that the place to begin sharing about the doctrines of grace is with the "T" of Total Depravity. If you can show someone that the Bible clearly, plainly teaches the total depravity of man, then it will be easier to persuade them of the truth of the other four points.
Man’s depravity is total in at least four senses.
1. Our rebellion against God is total.
2. In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.
3. Man’s inability to submit to God and do good is total.
4. Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.
The aim of this book is to deepen our experience of God’s grace. The aim is not to depress or to discourage or to paralyze. Knowing the seriousness of our disease will make us all the more amazed at the greatness of our Physician. Knowing the extent of our deep-seated rebellion will stun us at the long- suffering grace and patience of God toward us. The way we worship God and the way we treat other people, especially our enemies, are profoundly and wonderfully affected by knowing our depravity to the full.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A few observations...

Yesterday, I read Job in one sitting. Here are a few of the observations I wrote down in my journal after I finished.

It is easy to keep suffering an abstract theological subject far removed from the heart, from emotion. We should probably fight against this especially if we're trying to "help" someone who's grieving a loss in his or her life.

Sometimes what we don't know and what we can't possibly understand can fill a book (literally).

It is good and right to go to a grieving friend and stand beside them--or sit beside them--in support. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those that weep. Do any of us take Romans 12:15 seriously?

Knowing what is coming ahead in the rest of the book, the fact that Job's three friends stayed with him seven days and seven nights in silence is worth noting.

A string of half-truths--no matter how long the string--does not make for the whole truth.

The tongue can get us into trouble--BIG, BIG TROUBLE--because we are both quick to speak and quick to anger. We are very poor listeners. (See James 1:19)

Sometimes we are so in love with hearing ourselves talk that we want to ALWAYS win and turn everything into an argument that can be won or lost. This was no time for a boast battle.

There is a right time and place for theological discussions--but not every time and place is right. His friends were no longer a comfort, a support. Instead of uplifting or sustaining him, they were draining him emotionally and spiritually. He was now worse off for them being there.

His friends, who were so wise in their own eyes, were off in their theology and their conclusions about everything were a bit warped. Instead of being humble and open to correction, they were proud and confident that they knew all there was to know. They weren't at a loss for what to say. They were confident that they had all the answers.

Job spoke honestly and humbly. He did NOT have the answers. He was holding onto what he knew to be true of God. God is GOOD. God is JUST. He trusted in God's character to be steadfast even though nothing in his life was. He saw how much he did not know, how much he did not understand, and he was awed by the mysteries of God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Week in Progress: June 19-25


  • Genesis 26-50


  • Psalm 1-41


  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Hebrews 6-13
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: The Road to Paris

The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the prologue: Ask Paris if a phone call can be deadly. She'll tell you. She learned the truth of it last night.

From chapter one: The trouble with running away is you know what you're leaving behind, but not what's waiting up ahead. Paris Richmond learned that a year ago when she and her brother Malcolm ran away from a foster home in Queens.

Premise/plot: Malcolm and Paris have spent most of their lives in foster care. Their mother is living, but, unable and/or unwilling to keep them herself. Same with their grandmother. Some homes are okay, but, not really HOME. When they run away, they run to their grandmother. Why did they run in the first place? Child abuse. The grandmother ended up separating them. Malcolm went to a children's home, Paris went to another foster home. But it was the one foster home that felt like HOME. It was also the home where Paris met Jesus.

My thoughts: I've read this one three times now. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. I adore Paris' foster family. I love seeing Paris bloom in that home. I love her becoming attached to the other children in the home (one older sister, several brothers). I love witnessing her life at home and school...and church. This one feels so natural, so authentic, so RIGHT. In particular, the narrative and the characterization.

Favorite quotes:
Home was such a funny word. For most kids, home was where your mom and dad lived, where you felt safe, where the bogeyman was merely make-believe. Home was where you knew every square inch of the place by heart, where you could wake up in the middle of the night and know exactly where you were without even opening your eyes. Paris didn't have a place like that. She didn't even have an address she'd lived at long enough to memorize, no single place that felt familiar as all that. Except maybe the city itself. For Paris, home was more a person, and that person was Malcolm. (30)
The next evening, when Paris and David were alone in the dining room setting the table, David said out of the blue, "I used to be afraid of the dark. And of the bogeyman, and of spiders--all sorts of things."
"Really?" said Paris.
"What did you do?"
"I started keeping God in my pocket."
"It's something my mom told me once. To keep God in my pocket."
"I don't understand. How can God fit inside your pocket."
"No, that's not it. It just means to keep God close, you know, like he's right there, in your pocket, close enough to call on, or to talk to. That's what I do when I'm afraid." (41)
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone... Paris sang the words and they became true for her. She wasn't afraid anymore. Not of being beaten, or being locked in a closet. Not of the dark, or of never seeing Malcolm again, or of nobody wanting her. And she wasn't even afraid of sticking out on Easter. Paris could hardly recognize the fearless person she was turning into. Because I know he holds the future... She was learning to keep God in her pocket, and because she had him to talk to, she was beginning to have faith that she'd be all right. (103)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #22

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.
It is a great mistake to give a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The Law is what he needs. Do not offer the consolation of the gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the Law to take away all self-righteousness. I pity the man who preaches only one side of the truth--always the gospel, and never the Law. ~ D.L. Moody
Just as the world was not ready for the New Testament before it received the Old, just as the Jews were not prepared for the ministry of Christ until John the Baptist had gone before Him with his claimant call to repentance, so the unsaved are in no condition today for the Gospel till the Law be applied to their hearts, for "by the Law is the knowledge of sin." It is a waste of time to sow seed on ground which has never been ploughed or spaded! To present the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to those whose dominant passion to to take fill of sin, is to give that which is holy to the dogs. ~ A.W. Pink

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: First Virtues

First Virtues for Toddlers. Mary Manz Simon. 2016. B&H. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From Letter to Parents: In the middle of their busy days, parents might find themselves asking a lot of questions. How can I teach my toddler to share? How can I help my two year old learn to forgive? These questions aren't surprising. Research shows that parents care deeply about building character in their children. In today's world, outside influences can impact even a young child. As a result, parents must be intentional about teaching  core beliefs.

Premise/plot: First Virtues is a storybook collection with twelve virtue-teaching stories for toddlers and preschoolers. The twelve stories are: "Kitty Shows Kindness," "Piglet Tells The Truth," "Bunny Loves Others," "Duckling is Patient," "Tiger Forgives," "Puppy Makes Friends," "Squirrel Says Thank You," "Bear Obeys," "Lamb is Joyful," "Lion Can Share," "Panda is Polite," and "Koala Does His Best."

Each of the twelve stories, as I'm sure you've noticed, stars an animal. Each of the twelve stories begins with a similar refrain along the lines of "Kitty, Kitty, share today what the Bible has to say." Each of the stories defines and illustrates the chosen virtue in a simple, straightforward way. Each story is written in rhyme. Each of the stories concludes with a bible verse and a note to parents on how to further help teach or instruct their child.

Kindness means I am aware when someone needs help and care. (14)
Patience means that I am fine standing in a long, long line. (74)
To forgive means move on past. Don't let angry feelings last. (94)
My thoughts: My favorite of the twelve is probably Tiger Forgives. "If I friend does not play fair, I forgive to show I care. God forgives, so I can too. That is what I try to do. "I forgive," God says to you. Are those words that you say too?" (104-8).

My least favorite of the twelve is probably Lamb is Joyful. This concept be the most difficult to describe--not just for children but for adults as well. Is joy distinct from happiness? Is there a difference between the "joy" that comes from singing a praise song and eating a piece of candy? How does joy relate to one's circumstances? How closely connected is joy with thankfulness and contentment? I see a difference between joy and happiness. (Not all Christians do.) And to compare genuine joy in the Lord with "the joy" you get from blowing bubbles doesn't really do anyone any favors.

I can see some definite strengths. The author definitely connects each story to a particular bible verse. And many virtues are clearly taught in both Old and New Testaments. The focus of this book is on virtues and morals. On plainly teaching and instructing a set of virtues to young children. The book is not focused on the gospel, on teaching and instructing who Christ is and what Christ has done for us.

While this book clearly presents the Christian aspect of these virtues, there is nothing exclusively Christian about these virtues in general. These are twelve universal virtues that are routinely seen as being good for children to acquire. These type of lessons could just as easily be taught on shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Summer with John #4

John Newton
Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. Newton's inspiration for this sermon series was the popularity of Handel's Messiah

Today's quotes will come from sermon five. For your listening pleasure. (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)
True or false: 
We have but slight thoughts of His holiness, and therefore are but slightly affected by the evil of sin.
I think that statement is very true! I think even within the church--not to mention society at large--we have little idea of how great and evil our sin is.

Some more quotes about sin:
Whoever has a right sense of the nature and effects of that rebellion against the Most High, which the Scripture intends by the term Sin, will not need many arguments to convince him, that the Mediator between God and man, must be possessed of such dignity and power as cannot be attributed to a creature, without destroying the idea of a created and dependent being, by ascribing to him those perfections which are incommunicably divine.
A sinner, truly convinced of his obnoxiousness to the displeasure of God, must sink into despair, notwithstanding the intimation of a Saviour, if he were not assured by the Scripture that it was a divine person in the human nature who engaged for us.
In addition to talking about sin and our need for salvation, Newton focuses on the incarnation. How Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. 
Since the atoning blood is the blood of Immanuel, of Him who is God with us; the sinner who makes it his plea, builds his hope upon a rock which cannot be removed; and obtaining forgiveness in this way, he likewise obtains by it such a knowledge of the heinousness of sin, as disposes him from that hour to fear, hate, and forsake it.
True or false: 
But though forgiveness be an essential part of Salvation, it is not the whole. We cannot be happy, except the power of sin be likewise destroyed. A well-grounded hope in the mercy of God, is connected with a thirst for sanctification, and a conformity to His image.
This passage just made me want to shout AMEN, AMEN!

On why Jesus had to be divine:
Unless the Saviour of sinners be omnipresent, omniscient, unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and for ever , that is, unless He be God, how can He answer the prayers, satisfy the wants, and relieve the distresses of all who trust in Him in every age, and of all who in every place equally need His support at the same moment? Or how can He engage to give rest to every weary soul, to secure them from perishing, and to bestow upon them eternal life?
If we affirm that He who was born in a stable, and suffered as a malefactor upon Mount Golgotha, is the true God and eternal life, many will think it a hard saying. But it is the doctrine of Scripture, the very pillar and ground of truth; the only foundation of hope for an awakened conscience, the only standard by which we can properly estimate the evil of sin, the worth of soul, and the love of God. We do not however, say that the human nature of Christ, considered in itself, possesses the attributes of Deity, or is the proper object of worship; nor do we suppose that God should suffer, bleed, and die. But we say, with the Apostle, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Corinthians 5:19)
Behold then the character of MESSIAH in this prophecy! a man! a God! a Divine Person in the human nature! God manifested in the flesh! Immanuel, God with us.
Food for thought:
As fallen creatures, God is against us, and we are against Him. The alienation of our hearts is the great cause of our ignorance of Him. We are willingly ignorant. The thoughts of Him are unwelcome to us, and we do not like to retain Him in our knowledge. Guilt is the parent of atheism.
What a strong foundation does this doctrine afford for the faith and hope of those who indeed know MESSIAH, and have put their trust in Him. This truth is the rock upon which the Church is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If God be for us, who shall be against us? The difficulties of our warfare are great, the enemies of our peace are many. The world may frown, and Satan will rage, but Jesus has overcome the world, and is greater than all our foes. He will guide His people with His unerring wisdom, support them with His almighty arm, supply them out of the inexhaustible riches of His grace, revive them when fainting, heal them when wounded, plead for them above as their great High Priest, manage for them upon earth as their great Shepherd, and at last make them more than conquerors, and give them a crown of life!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: The Joy Project

The Joy Project. Tony Reinke. 2015. Desiring God. 122 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: How much of your life is driven by the desire for joy? Well, all of it. We know we need joy like we need food and water. How we get joy is something of a mystery, and most of us are content to leave that mystery unsolved. We simply want to experience the joy we desire. Joy is real, but joy is also elusive.

Premise/plot: Reinke introduces readers to the JOY PROJECT asserting that "someone else is more concerned for your joy than you could ever be." And that someone is GOD himself who "has been planning your joy since before you were born." Unlike man-made happiness projects or joy projects that depend on you--your lists, your plans, your ambition, your gumption, your whatever--the real path to joy is to be discovered in Scripture. Reinke writes, "The Joy Project is the heartbeat of Scripture. Neglect the Bible, and you neglect God’s Joy Project, and you neglect your own joy." So when he talks about the "JOY PROJECT" what is he talking about? He's talking about a little something called the DOCTRINES OF GRACE.

These doctrines of grace are not the deep space of Scripture; rather, they are its major constellations: bright, burning signs of God’s sovereign and saving activity. The story is so wonderful, so captivating, that it must be told and retold.

God has written our joy into a script and what he planned for us we can hardly imagine. The Joy Project is the boldest and subtlest story ever told. It will shock you, then it will bewilder you, and then it will plunge you into an ocean of divine love. It is a drama told in five acts.

He then introduces readers to TULIP. Each will get its own chapter.
TOTAL DEPRAVITY is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy. UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION is how God planned, before we existed, to complete our joy in Christ. LIMITED ATONEMENT is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of Jesus. IRRESISTIBLE GRACE is the sovereign commitment of God to make sure we hold on to superior delights instead of the false pleasures that will ultimately destroy us. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS is the almighty work of God to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forever.
My thoughts: I LOVE this little book. I really do. I think Reinke did a great job of speaking clearly and honestly. He makes some great points in each chapter. He challenges readers to think and reflect.

One point he made early on was asserting that,
"The greatest hazard we face is not intellectual atheism—denying that God exists. Our most desperate problem is affectional atheism—refusing to believe God is the object of our greatest and most enduring joy."
 I think it's a valid point and definitely food for thought. He continues, 
"Sin is not merely wrong doing; sin is essentially wrong adoring. Sin is the fastening of our hearts on any good, treasure, or security in life that replaces the good, treasure, and security of God. This is the chief question of life. This is the chief determination of our joy. This is the misstep that sends us down the rabbit hole, where we find ourselves lost atheists in the core of our being... Our root problem is not that we break commandments; our problem is that we ignore God. Ignoring the beauty of God is the essence of total depravity. It’s what makes the depravity so holistic— we cannot begin to imagine how any real sense of pleasure or joy can be found in our Creator! To us sinners, God is only a boring obstacle to our pleasure. This dynamic is what makes our depravity total."
 How many Christians really think of sin as wrong adoring?!
If our greatest problem— our total depravity— is our failure to treasure God, then our greatest need in life is to come alive to God’s beauty. This is the work of regeneration. Regeneration is the infusion of God’s life into my spiritual deadness so that I can now behold his resplendence. It’s exactly what we need for God’s Joy Project to take root in us. In sin, our reason loses its way because its compass is not pointed toward God. In sin, our will and desires go off course because they have no captain at the helm. Grace fixes the compass and sets our course, putting our reason, will, and desires on a fixed course toward God and toward genuine joy.
Another great point: "If we deceive ourselves, it is only inevitable that we will also deceive others."

Reinke also knows how to effectively quote others. This is a Tim Keller quote:
 “The doctrine of original sin is rude. It is the most incomprehensible of all the doctrines, and yet without it, we become incomprehensible to ourselves.” 
And here is a gem by John Piper, 
"If we want to go deeper in our experience of God’s grace, this is an ocean of love for us to enjoy. God does not mean for the bride of his Son to only feel loved with general, world-embracing love. He means for her to feel ravished with the specificity of his affection that he set on her before the world existed. He means for us to feel a focused: “I chose you. And I send my Son to die to have you.” This is what we offer the world. We don’t horde it for ourselves. And we don’t abandon it by saying, all we have to offer the world is God’s general love for all people. No, we offer this. We offer a full and complete and definite atonement. We offer Christ. We don’t say, come to a possibility. We say, come to Christ. Receive Christ. And what we promise them if they come is that they will be united to him and his bride. And all that he bought for his bride will be theirs. All that he secured with absolute certainty will be their portion forever." 
Not everyone he quotes is a believer, but, all quotes ultimately challenge readers to fully believe the truth.

Since many, many people struggle with the "L" of Tulip, I thought I would share this little list:
In all these ways (and others), joy springs from Christ’s blood for the elect. In its concentrated form, here’s what Christ’s joy looks like:
  • Jesus found exuberant delight in the Father’s plan to save the elect.
  • Jesus desired that his joy in the Father, through the Spirit, would overflow in the lives of God’s children.
  • Jesus died to redeem the elect, to become their High Priest, and to guarantee their eternal flourishing.
  • Jesus’s blood defeated every ultimate impediment to the joy of God’s chosen.
  • Jesus’s blood purchased for the elect the promised joys of the new covenant.
  • Jesus’s blood purchased the Holy Spirit, opening an eternal fountain of eternal joy in the life of the elect, which is the joy of Christ in them.
Understanding the depths of these concentrated truths will take an eternity of study, reflection, and worship.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week in Review: June 12-June 18


  • Psalm 73-150


  • Daniel
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Hebrews 1-5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Book Review: When Daddy Prays

When Daddy Prays. Nikki Grimes. 2002. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: May my children see beyond my muscles to your strength. May they find across my broad shoulders the imprint of your wings. May they feel your love in the hollow of my hand. May they hear your voice in the echo of my words.

Premise/plot: When Daddy Prays celebrates family life and PRAYER. This picture book is a collection of poems. Each poem either directly or indirectly concerns the father's prayer life both private and public. For example, the book opens with "A Father's Prayer." I would consider that an actual prayer. (See above). The next poem, "When Daddy Prays," is more of a son's poetic reflection of the effects of his father's prayers. In part, "When Daddy prays my fear of darkness disappears and angels tiptoe down the hall. I hear them through the door and wall. They whisper in a velvet husssshhh that floats me off to sleep when Daddy prays." The third poem, "Daddy Says," seems to be a child's prayer to God. It may just be my favorite of the whole book.
Daddy says
you rock him
in your arms
the way he
once rocked me.
That after he
tucks me in
and switches
off the light,
he whispers
secrets to you
through the night
exactly like
I whisper mine
to him.
But yesterday
I think
I heard him say
you're a better
My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I think it is a MARVELOUS celebration of family life, of a family's devotional life, of faith itself. What a WONDERFUL book celebrating Fathers as well.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review: Seasons of Waiting

Seasons of Waiting. Betsy Childs Howard. 2016. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: What does your heart long for? If you’ve picked up this book, there’s a good chance you didn’t have any difficulty answering that question. Most women are waiting for something, but some women are waiting acutely. The thing missing from their lives is in such sharp focus that they aren’t sure they’ll ever feel complete without it.

Premise/plot: In Seasons of Waiting, Betsy Childs Howard primarily encourages women who are frustrated and feel stuck waiting. The book addresses the general concept of waiting in several chapters (three to be exact), and it also addresses specific seasons of waiting. For example, some of the seasons of waiting are: a single woman waiting to find a husband and get married, a married woman waiting to conceive a child, a person waiting for healing, a person waiting to find a home, a person waiting for a prodigal (husband, child, grandchild).

She asserts in her book that "when we wait, God gives us the opportunity to live out a story that portrays the gospel and serves as a kingdom parable." As we wait we have the opportunity to glorify God and to be used by God ultimately to bring glory to His name. There is much to be learned in the school of waiting.
Your waiting is meant to be a witness not only to yourself, but to the watching world. Do you have ears to hear? Will you be a willing student in the school of waiting?
God wants me to learn how to wait so that I can wait well, even if my waiting continues for the rest of my life.
It’s wrong to make an idol of your dreams and refuse to be content unless they are fulfilled. But it is also wrong to stop praying for the fulfillment of your desires if they are God honoring. Sometimes it’s easier not to want and therefore stand no risk of disappointment, but God calls us out of our safety and tells us to entrust our hearts to his keeping.
My thoughts: I liked this one. Each chapter tells a few stories to serve as examples. This is nice especially since storytelling doesn't replace the scriptural focus. Each chapter may feature a couple of real-life stories, but each chapter is also rich in Scripture. She offers good insights to readers. I think this one could help a lot of readers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #21

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.
There is a war between you and God's Law. The Ten Commandments are against you. The First comes forward and says, "Let him be cursed, for he denies Me. He has another god beside Me. His god is his belly and he yields his homage to his lost." All the Ten Commandments, like ten great cannons, are pointed at you today. For you have broken all of God's statutes and lived in daily neglect of His Commandments. Soul, you will find it a hard thing to go at war with the Law. When the Law came in peace, Sinai was altogether on a smoke and even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake!" What will you do when the Law of God comes in terror; when the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you from your grave; when the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul; when the great books shall be opened and all your shame and sin shall be published? Can yu stand against an angry Law in that day? ~ Charles Spurgeon
The trouble with people who are not seeking for a Savior, and for salvation, is that they do not understand the nature of sin. It is the peculiar function of the Law to bring such an understanding to a man's mind and conscience. That is why great evangelical preachers 300 years ago in the time of the Puritans and 200 years ago in the time of Whitefield and others, always engaged in what they called a preliminary law work. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
There is no true evangelism without the doctrine of sin, and without an understanding of what sin is. I do not want to be unfair, but I say that a gospel which merely says 'Come to Jesus," and offers him as a Friend, and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism. The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the Law; and it is because the Law has not been preached that we have had so much superficial evangelism. True evangelism must always start by preaching the Law. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review: God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life

God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life. Ray Comfort. 2010. Living Waters. 128 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

I loved reading Ray Comfort's God Has A Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message. The subtitle says it all in my opinion. We live in a culture and society that plays around with the gospel message, with the purity of the gospel message. Sometimes the problem isn't so much on what is being said as it is what is being left unsaid.

In Comfort's book, he argues that sinners--and let's be up front, that is what all of us are (Romans 3:23)--don't need to hear the gospel message. I'll clarify. To start with the gospel message without first starting with the law is confusing and ineffective. The good news is only good news--to their ears, to their hearts and minds--if they feel the impact of the bad news. To talk of a Savior who saves people from their sins when they don't feel lost or in need of saving, when they haven't a clue the depth of their sin makes the good news irrelevant or optional.

What the world needs is the straight-forward, never changing law. The Spirit uses the law to open our eyes, open our hearts, and bring us to our knees. Only when we've been humbled by the law, brought to the realization that we are not good enough, that we will never be good enough through our trying and striving and working and pleading and wrestling, can we come to a place of putting faith and trust in Jesus, the one who says IT IS FINISHED. The law shows us our need, the gospel shows us God's provision for our need.

I read somewhere, and I know Comfort's quoted it in one of his books or sermons, that you've got to get people lost before you can get them saved. That's certainly the spirit of this book.

Comfort is critical of the message of the twenty-first century church. A church too focused perhaps on getting people into their doors and programs. A church too focused perhaps on getting people to be happy.

Comfort calls Christians to be completely honest and upfront about what Christianity is and isn't. Christianity is not about being happy and having an abundant, prosperous life. Christianity isn't about living the dream. It is about putting Christ first and loving HIM more than you love the world, more than you love yourself. It is about delighting in Him above all else. Making him your ONE THING.

So does knowing this make a difference in how you evangelize? Should it make a difference in how you evangelize? He argues that it should. He's passionately, zealously concerned about the world, about the unsaved.

Comfort talks of their being a 95% failure rate among the newly converted. The newly converted being those that the church counts as being saved through coming forward, saying a prayer, being baptized, etc. These are church accounts and not a true spiritual reckoning perhaps. But the point he makes is this. Out of all the thousands that may profess a belief in Christ, over 95 of them will have failed--will have vanished--within a few months or within a year. This notion of "trying on" or "experimenting" with Christianity is a big, big, flop.

These statistics remind me of all the diet books I've read. Diets fail. The diet industry knows--to a certain extent, how could they not--dieting doesn't work. But they write dozens if not hundreds of books each year to sell you on their brand of dieting; each one telling you that THEIR diet is different
from anything and everything you might have tried. Buy this book. Buy into this system. It is a business. A business with a lot of repeat customers. Is religion any different really? I'm not talking about true Christianity. I'm talking religion. I'm talking about what passes for Christianity in some circles. I'm talking about all the books being published about how to get people into your church, how to get people excited about this, that, or the other thing. Focused on improving your life in a certain number of easy steps. Books focused on things that aren't necessarily wrong, just not life-and-death important. People need to be saved. People need hard truths.

One section of the book asks the question, if you could talk to the people who were going to die on September 11, 2001, what would you tell them? What message would you try to sell them or preach to them. Would it be that God is the answer to their loneliness problem? That they need Jesus and not alcohol? Would you tell them that God can help their troubled marriage? Or would you get more to the point? In our quest to be as unoffensive as possible, are we playing hide and seek with the doctrine of heaven and hell?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Summer with John #3

John Newton
Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. Newton's inspiration for this sermon series was the popularity of Handel's Messiah

Today's quotes will come from the sermons three and four in the series. The Scriptures referenced are Haggai 2:6-7 and Malachi 3:1-3.

The third sermon is PACKED with great questions.
If we really believe that the Scriptures are true, that the prophecies were delivered by holy men, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and that they shall all be certainly fulfilled; how studious should we be to attain a right understanding of passages and events in which we are so nearly interested, that our hearts may be duly affected by them?
Is MESSIAH, the desire of all nations, the object of your chief desire? How much depends upon the answer! Do you wish to know your present state in the sight of God? If you are faithful to yourselves you may be satisfied, provided you will abide by the decision of the Scripture. God is well-pleased in his Son; if you are well pleased with Him, if He is precious to you, and the desire of your soul is supremely directed to Him, then you assuredly possess the beginning, the foretaste and the earnest of eternal life.
The great point which will determine your destiny for eternity, will be this, What think you of Christ? For it is written, If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha (I Corinthians 16:22) He must and will fall under the curse and condemnation of the law, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of His power. Today, therefore, while it is called today (for tomorrow is not ours) may you hear His voice, and flee for refuge to the hope set before you!
I hope you take the time to reflect on his questions and answer them. 

An observation or two from both sermons about Handel's Messiah. 
The music of the Messiah [Oratorio] is but an ornament of the words, which have a very weighty sense. This sense no music can explain, and when rightly understood, will have such an effect as no music can produce. That the music of the Messiah has a great effect in its own kind, I can easily believe.
The same great truths, divested of the music, when delivered from the pulpit, are heard by many admirers of the Oratorio with indifference, too often with contempt.
The fourth sermon is PACKED with insight.
This doctrine of God manifest in the flesh, is the pillar and ground of the truth: The only foundation on which a sinner, who knows the just desert of his sin, can build a solid hope of salvation, is, that Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life (I John 5:20). Unless this be admitted, the whole tenor, both of the Old and New Testament is unintelligible. To say that this doctrine approves itself to human reason in its present fallen depraved state, would be to contradict the Apostle, who asserts, that no man can say that Jesus Christ is LORD but by the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 12:3).
Though long foretold and long expected, and though the precise time of His Advent, and the accompanying signs, were accurately defined and described, yet when the season arrived He came suddenly, unlooked for and unknown. He came upon them in an hour that they thought not of, and in a manner of which they were not aware. When He stood in the midst of them, they knew not that it was He. How dreadful does sin harden and infatuate the hearts of men!
We likewise have the Scriptures, but how many who admit their authority in words, live willingly ignorant of their contents and act in direct contradiction to their tenor!
Wherever His Gospel is preached, the Lord is come. It is by the Gospel He rides forth prosperously, conquering and to conquer (Psalm 45:4) Thus He has promised to be present with His ministers, and wherever two or three are met in His name, to the end of the world. Thus He is come to us. And the effects are the same, as when He was personally upon earth.
His Gospel still discovers the thoughts of many hearts.
He comes to individuals by the power of His Spirit. This makes the Word of His Gospel effectual. For the Kingdom of God is not in word only, but in power. When He thus visits the hearts of sinners, His Word is like fire and soap; quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) Then they feel and tremble, and cry out with the Prophet, Woe is me, I am undone. But in this way their dross is consumed, their defilement removed. When He thus wounds, He likewise heals. He gives them faith; by faith they look unto Him, and are enlightened and saved.
We surely expect that He will come again. Not as He once came, in a state of humiliation. The Babe of Bethlehem, the Man of Sorrows, who hung, and bled, and died upon the cross for our sins, will return in glory. Behold He cometh in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him (Revelation 1:7) Concerning this day, emphatically called the day of the LORD , we may well say, Who may abide it? To those who have not been the subjects of His refining operations here, He will then be a consuming fire.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 13, 2016

History Has Its Eyes On You

"History Has Its Eyes On You" is one of the most thought-provoking (reflective) songs from the new musical Hamilton.

And while there is an advisory content warning on the album, this song and its companion, "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" are both free from profanity.

(Three other songs I'd recommend--easily recommend to one and all--are "Dear Theodosia," "Stay Alive Reprise," and "It's Quiet Uptown.")  If you want the song about the duel, it's "The World Was Wide Enough." (And it is also free from profanity.)

I think both phrases "who lives, who dies, who tells your story" and "history has its eyes on you" are central themes in the musical, and offer up much food for thought. These phrases prove both haunting and inspiring.

Haunting because it is a sobering thought that history has its eyes on you. That you matter, that the choices you make matter, that you are--for better or worse--influencing (impacting) others. Are you living life in a way that matches or lines up with how you want to be remembered? Character is formed by our actions and not only our words. We may have ideals of how we want to be remembered, ideals of what we believe. But how we'll be remembered by others is a matter of actions big and small. That's not to say words aren't important. But words need to be supported and not contradicted by our actions.

Inspiring because it is in many ways life affirming to know that you matter, that there is purpose and significance in living life.

It isn't just Alexander Hamilton or George Washington's lives that matter. Our lives matter. Every single person matters. Every single person has worth and value.

One can definitely walk away from the song with a few meaning-of-life questions. For example, what am I doing with my life? Am I wasting my life? How should I be living my life? I think questions like this could be a good thing, a good opportunity.

But here's a more sobering thought. It isn't history that has its eyes on you, it's God. And your life--every word, every thought, every action--is known by God and will be judged by God. Your life story is known and will be 'published' if you will on the day of judgment.

The time to think about these 'eternal' matters is here and now. Because it is only in the here and now--today--that we have the opportunity to seek God while He may be found.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Week in Review: June 5-11


  • 2 Chronicles 13-36
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon


  • Psalm 1-72


  • Genesis 9-25

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Review: Five Love Languages of Children

The Five Love Languages of Children. Gary Chapman, D. Ross Campbell. 1995/2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Completely unrelated to the book itself, but (practically) guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, I share with you There Are Many Ways to Say I Love YOU.

The Five Love Languages of Children is a parenting book that seeks to teach parents how to speak all five love languages to their children and also how to recognize which of the five love languages is the primary love language of their children. Each person--no matter their age--has one primary way of giving and receiving love.

The book definitely makes a distinction between being loved and feeling loved. A child can be loved--very loved by both parents--but have an empty love tank and feel unloved. Feeling unloved impacts children deeply, strongly. It may show up as misbehavior, emotional immaturity, social immaturity, poor grades, etc.

The book suggests that discipline is ineffective if a child doesn't feel loved. Discipline only works if the child is secure in your love, if your love is unconditional.

The five love languages are 1) physical touch 2) words of affirmation 3) quality time 4) gifts and 5) acts of service.

The first chapter serves as an introduction to the love-language concept. Readers also get a taste of the writing style. The book is packed with stories. Essentially in each and every chapter the following happens: at least one parent goes to a conference or emails the author, the parent learns about the five love languages, the parent implements the love languages, the parent gets back in touch with the author and sings the praises of the love language system. There are probably hundreds of success stories related throughout the book.

Chapters two through six focus on the five love languages. One by one the love languages are explained and illustrated. Each of these chapters ends with a long bullet list of suggestions for parents. IF your child's primary love language is…then these are ways you might speak their language.

Chapter seven talks about how to discover what your child's primary love language is. It's a very practical chapter.

Chapter eight talks about disciplining your children.

Chapter nine talks about your child's learning ability and how important it is for your child to feel loved.

Chapter ten talks about single-parent families.

For those looking for parenting books saturated in Scripture--in the Word of God--this one isn't it. That
doesn't mean the book lacks spiritual value or spiritual principles. It just means the focus is not on God or the Word of God but on the Love Language System developed by Gary Chapman and D. Ross Campbell.

The book definitely is thought-provoking. It makes you really think about a lot of things. For example, what your own primary love language is and which love languages you most naturally like to speak. (Some people like to receive in one language, and give in another). The book stresses that all five love languages are important. You need to be aware of the people in your life, and really make an effort to speak love in a way they can appreciate.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Operation Actually Celebrates Eight Years!

I started Operation Actually Read Bible on June 8, 2008. In the first post, I shared how I was "challenging myself to ACTUALLY read the Bible instead of just talking about how I need to start one day soon." Later that year--in December--I shared my goals for the blog, "To be both a bookish blog and a non-bookish blog. On the one hand it's a place for keeping track of my own Bible reading and my reading in Christian fiction and Christian nonfiction. But on the other hand, it's a place for me to journal, to be myself, to share my thoughts, ideas, etc. with others. I'd like to post every day. But if that isn't possible--isn't realistic--then I'm hoping for at least three or four posts a week. I'd like it to be consistent enough that I can build a readership here."

Ten Favorite Posts from June 9, 2015 - June 8, 2016

True or False with A.W. Tozer, June 28, 2015
Top Ten Knowing God Quotes, July 12, 2015
Book Review: Praying the Bible, September 12, 2015
The Happy Christian Playlist, October 25, 2015
DVD Review, Doctrines of Grace in the Gospel of John, November 23, 2015
Music Review: Glory to the Holy One, January 17, 2016
March's Scripture Chain Inspired By "BECAUSE HE LIVES" March 27, 2016
Welcome To Live Like You're Loved, April 1, 2016
Bible Review: Family Devotional Bible, April 18, 2016
On The First Year, OR, God's Providence, May 30, 2016

One thing I didn't realize until I started looking at my labels is this: if I've tagged everything correctly through the years--I've reviewed 905 books in 8 years!

Eight Authors I've Reviewed the Most:

A.W. Tozer (26)
John MacArthur (17)
J. Vernon McGee (10)
John Piper (9)
R.C. Sproul (8)
Erwin Lutzer (8)
Charles Spurgeon (8)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (7)

Publishers I've Reviewed the Most For*:

Crossway (135)
Bethany House (88)
Revell (82)
Zondervan (37)
David Cook (27)
Tyndale (23)
Thomas Nelson (42)
B&H (20)
P&R Publishing (14)
Moody Publishers (12)

This includes review copies, books I've bought myself, books I've received as gifts, books I've borrowed from the library and friends. It's not just review copies.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Summer with John #2

John Newton
Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. Newton's inspiration for this sermon series was the popularity of Handel's Messiah

Today's quotes will come from the first two sermons in the series. For your listening pleasure: Comfort Ye and Ev'ry Valley. And the Glory of the Lord.

Isaiah 40:1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

From the first sermon, "Consolation"
The first good work of the Holy Spirit, upon the heart of fallen man, is to convince of sin (John 16:9) He gives some due impressions of the majesty and holiness of the God with whom we have to do, of our dependence upon Him, as our obligations to Him as our Creator, Lawgiver, and Benefactor; then we begin to form our estimate of duty, of sin and its desert, not from the prevalent maxims and judgments of mankind, around us, but from the unerring standard of Scripture. He now feels himself under the law, it condemns him and he cannot reply, it commands him and he cannot obey. He has neither righteousness nor strength, and must sink into despair, were it not that he is now qualified to hearken to the Gospel with other ears, and read the Scriptures with other eyes (if I may so speak) than he once did. He now knows he is sick, and therefore knows his need of a physician. He wounds, and He heals in His own appointed moment. None that continue waiting upon Him, and seeking salvation in the means which He has directed, shall be finally disappointed. Sooner or later He gives them, according to His promise, beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3)
Afflictions are the fruit of sin, and because our sins have been many, our afflictions may be many. But where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded (Romans 5:20)
There is no situation in human life so deplorable, but a sense of the pardoning love of God can support and comfort the sufferer under it, compose his spirit, yea make him exceedingly joyful in all his tribulations; for he feels the power of the blood of Jesus cleansing his conscience from guilt, and giving him access by faith to the Throne of Grace, with liberty to say, Abba, Father; he knows that all his trials are under the direction of wisdom and love, are all working together for his good, and that the heaviest of them are light, and the longest momentary, in comparison of that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which is reserved for him in a better world (II Corinthians 4:16, 17)
When the Lord God who knows the human heart would speak comfort to it, He proposes one object, and only one, as the necessary and all-sufficient source of consolation. This is MESSIAH. Jesus in His person and offices, known and received by faith, affords a balm for every wound, a cordial [tonic] for every care.
A free pardon is a comfort to a malefactor, but it implies guilt; and therefore they who have no apprehension that they have broken the laws, would be rather offended, than comforted, by an offer of pardon. This is one principle cause of that neglect, yea contempt, which the Gospel of the grace of God meets with from the world. But it is to be feared, that for want of knowing themselves, and their real state in the sight of Him with whom they have to do, many persons who have received pleasure from the music of the Messiah [Oratorio], have neither found, nor expected, nor desired to find, any comfort from the words.
From the second sermon, "The Harbinger"
A valley is an emblem of a low condition. Such was the condition of most of our Lord's followers; but His notice and favour exalted them highly. He came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to fill the hungry with good things, to save the chief of sinners, to open a door of hope and salvation to persons of the vilest and most despicable characters in human estimation. And by living Himself in a state of poverty, and associating chiefly with poor people, He placed the vanity of the distinctions and affluence which mankind generally admire and envy, in the most striking and humiliating light. Such, likewise, was and will be the effect of the Gospel. When faithfully preached, it is found mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds, high thoughts, and every species of self-exaltation.
When the convincing Word touches the heart, it has an effect like the hand-writing which Belshazzar saw upon the wall (Daniel 5:6)
Those of you who have heard the Messiah [Oratorio] will do well to recollect, whether you were affected by such thoughts as these, while this passage was performed; or whether you were only fascinated by the music, and paid no more regard to the words than if they had no meaning. They are, however, the great truths of God. May they engage your serious attention, now they are thus set before you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible