Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Reflections

August Accomplishments

This month's Bible reading (July 31-August 27)


  • Isaiah 15-66
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Matthew
  • Mark


  • Psalm 1-72
  • 1 John
  • 2 John 
  • 3 John


  • Psalm 31-150
  • 1 Corinthians


  • John

Books I've reviewed this month:

Christian fiction:

  1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Where Hope Prevails (Return to the Canadian West #3). Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. 2016. Bethany House. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. To Follow Her Heart. Rebecca DeMarino. 2016. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. A Changed Agent. Tracey J. Lyons. 2016. 229 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. God Loves Me. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1961. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. God Is Good. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1955. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. My Little Golden Book About God. Jane Werner Watson. Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. 1956. 24 pages. [Source: Gift]

Christian nonfiction:

  1. Exalting Jesus in Leviticus. Allan Moseley. 2015. B&H. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. When Trouble Comes. Philip Graham Ryken. 2016. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Being There. Dave Furman. 2016. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Life We Never Expected. Andrew and Rachel Wilson. 2016. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes. Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin. 2016. B&H. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. "Free Grace" Theology. Wayne Grudem. 2016. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Messiah: Fifty Expository Discourses Preached in the Years 1784 and 1785. John Newton. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Stressed Out. Todd Friel. 2016. New Leaf Press. 205 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Year with Newton #1

John Newton
Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. I have completed John Newton's sermon series on Handel's Messiah. I am moving on to his LETTERS.

Today's letter comes from December 1776, "the Benefits of Affliction."

The premise of this letter: "The advantages of afflictions, when the Lord is pleased to employ them for the good of his people, are many and great."

The reasons why the premise is true:
Afflictions quicken us to prayer. It is a pity it should be so; but experience testifies, that a long course of ease and prosperity, without painful changes—has an unhappy tendency to make us cold and formal in our secret worship. But troubles rouse our spirits, and constrain us to call upon the Lord in good earnest—when we feel a need of that help which we only can have from his almighty arm.
Afflictions are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive in us—a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the present world, and all its enjoyments; to remind us that this world is not our rest, and to call our thoughts upwards, where our true treasure is, and where our heart ought to be.
A child of God cannot but greatly desire a more enlarged and experimental acquaintance with his holy Word; and this attainment is greatly promoted by our trials. The far greater part of the promises in Scripture, are made and suited to a state of affliction; and, though we may believe they are true, we cannot so well know their sweetness, power, and suitableness, unless we ourselves are in a state to which they refer!
Thus afflictions likewise give occasion of our knowing and noticing more of the Lord's wisdom, power, and goodness, in supporting and relieving us—than we would otherwise have known.
Afflictions evidence to ourselves, and manifest to others, the reality of grace.
Afflictions likewise strengthen us—by the exercise our graces.
Lastly, afflictions are honorable, as they advance our conformity to Jesus our Lord, who was a man of sorrows for our sake.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: A Changed Agent

A Changed Agent. Tracey J. Lyons. 2016. 229 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "My trunk!" Elsie Mitchell watched in horror as her trunk fell off the over packed porter's wagon, spilling its contents onto the platform at the Albany train station.

Premise/plot: Elsie Mitchell, our heroine, is a school teacher returning to her hometown after a vacation. Also making the journey by train, is our hero, William Benton. He's not alone: he brings with him two children: a niece (who's refusing to speak) and a nephew (who talks enough for two). He'll be working long hours, so he needs someone to watch after the kids when he's gone. As any reader could tell you, that someone will end up being Miss Mitchell. And it's not such a leap to guess that by the end of the book, these two will be properly wed and ready to raise these two children together.

My thoughts: What's wrong with being predictable so long as it is predictable and satisfying? I like romance stories with teachers. I like stories where a woman falls for a man with children. It seemed like a very good match for me. In this case, there's the added bonus of the guy being a secret agent for Pinkerton. I have no strong liking for secret-undercover-spy stories. But no strong disliking either!

I liked this one well enough. I did. I can't think of one thing I particularly disliked about it. But at the same time I can't really think of anything that I absolutely loved and adored. It's a good, solid like for me.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week in Review: August 21-27


  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Matthew
  • Mark


  • Psalm 42-150
  • 1 Corinthians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Review: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground.

Premise/plot: Molly and Kip are Irish orphans desperate for a new start. (Kip doesn't remember their parents death, and Molly is less than honest about why their parents aren't around.) They've been hired on as servants at a rundown, creepy estate. (The book is set in the Victorian era, by the way). The two soon understand why everyone warned them away from the job. There's something very, very wrong about the house, the family, and THE TREE. (It isn't too long after their arrival that Kip sees a mystery man wearing a top hat entering the house at the dead of night. And Molly, well, she sees his muddy footprints all throughout the house, and, even discovers his blown-away hat.) But desperate for work AND coming to love the little girl, Penny, she's reluctant to leave with no other place to go. And then she pieces together enough clues as to why the family stays…and their reason soon becomes her own…

My thoughts: I love this one. That would be a big understatement. I love, love, love, LOVE this one. It was published in 2014, I've already read it FOUR TIMES. 

I love the writing style, the atmospheric setting, the characterization, the symbolism, the layers of meaning. I notice something new every time I read it. It's such a wonderful, amazing book. One that every Christian should read!!!

Now is it officially a Christian book? No. Not really. Not at all. I'm sure there are plenty of readers who never "see" biblical truth in the pages of this middle grade fantasy. But I'm convinced it is there all the same. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, August 26, 2016

Book Review: Exalting Jesus in Leviticus

Exalting Jesus in Leviticus. Allan Moseley. 2015. B&H. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

Without a doubt the book of Leviticus is an under-appreciated book even among Christians, or perhaps especially among Christians. Truth be told, few would rank it a favorite even if you were to narrow it down to Old Testament books or the Pentateuch. Moseley's commentary on Leviticus may just help you better appreciate what you're probably only skimming.

Early on, he lists FIVE reasons why Leviticus is important:
  • Leviticus describes the entire religious system of ancient Israel. If we hope to understand how religion worked in Israel, we must understand the book of Leviticus.
  • Leviticus provides the theological foundation for the atoning work of Christ. The idea of a substitutionary sacrifice receives its fullest explication in the book of Leviticus.
  • Leviticus demonstrates how important holiness is to God. Holiness is the main theme of Leviticus—God’s holiness and the holiness God expects from His people. Holiness is still important to God, and God reminds His people of that crucial fact in the book of Leviticus.
  • Leviticus is important because it contains the very words of God in direct speech. 
  • The New Testament frequently alludes to the contents of Leviticus.
Though he lists five reasons, really only one is needed:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Each chapter of the book focuses on a chunk of Scripture. Sometimes a few verses--sometimes a few chapters. Each chapter is well-organized. Each begins with a main idea, follows an outline, and ends in reflection questions. 

I haven't always loved the book of Leviticus. But I have come to better appreciate it over the last seven or eight years. I have come to see it not as a boring book of rules but as a how-to book of worship. God's glory is very prominent in Leviticus and God's glory is a beautiful thing. Reading this book has deepened my appreciation for the book of Leviticus.

Some of my favorite quotes:
Atonement is a central theme in Leviticus. The root word translated “atone” or “atonement” occurs 53 times in Leviticus, and only 43 times elsewhere in the whole Old Testament. Thus, Leviticus says more about atonement than any other book in the Old Testament.
God is perfectly holy, and sin is not allowed in His presence. Therefore, for sinners to be in the presence of God their sin must be removed, and that is the purpose of atonement.
All of God’s Word teaches us that sin is serious. We may not like it, but sin is what is wrong with humanity; it’s what is wrong with us. The question is, What do we do with sin? Praise God, He not only tells us our problem, He also gives the solution to our problem!
Our fallen nature will always be prone to think that the fire we invent is better than the fire God commands.
To be free of sin they had to confess sin. So do we. The reason for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was our sin, and to be reconciled to God we confess our sin and our need for the salvation from sin Jesus offers.
The message of the Bible is that all of humanity is in a war, and a hand grenade landed next to all of us. That hand grenade is sin, and it will destroy our lives and send us to everlasting condemnation. Jesus, who is the best friend we could possibly have, has jumped on that hand grenade for us. When He died on the cross as our substitutionary sacrifice, He was dying in our place, taking our sin and its penalty on Himself so that we might live. He could have chosen to let us die for our own sin; we deserve it. Instead, He gave Himself as our sacrifice, even though it cost His life.
Our holiness arises from a relationship with God. The key to holiness is staying close to God.
God is perfectly holy and cannot abide where there is sin, and sin leads to death. So the question of the Bible is not How could a loving God possibly send people to hell? but How could the holy God who always judges sin possibly allow guilty sinners in heaven?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #27

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

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. ~ John Calvin
Before this period [when I came to prize the Bible alone as my standard of judgment] I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption (limited atonement), and final persevering grace. But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the Word of God. Being made willing to have no glory of my own in the conversion of sinners, but to consider myself merely an instrument; and being made willing to receive what the Scriptures said, I went to the Word, reading the New Testament from the beginning, with a particular reference to these truths. To my great astonishment I found that the passages which speak decidedly for election and persevering grace, were about four times as many as those which speak apparently against these truths; and even those few, shortly after, when I had examined and understood them, served to confirm me in the above doctrines.
As to the effect which my belief in these doctrines had on me, I am constrained to state for God’s glory, that though I am still exceedingly weak, and by no means so dead to the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as I might be, and as I ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have walked more closely with Him since that period. My life has not been so variable, and I may say that I have lived much more for God than before. ~ George Mueller
Remember one is given the strength to bear what happens to one, but not the 100 and 1 different things that might happen. ~ C.S. Lewis

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: When Trouble Comes

When Trouble Comes. Philip Graham Ryken. 2016. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

When Trouble Comes is a book about suffering. The book the journey takes us on is both personal (for the author, and most likely for us) and biblical. Ryken examines the lives of Isaiah, Elijah, Ruth, David, Jeremiah, Mary, Jesus, and Paul. The focus, of course, being on their 'dark' moments of pain and suffering--their "troubled" moments. The moments that perhaps they didn't plan for or "want." Nobody wants to suffer--physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. But trouble has a way of coming, not because God doesn't care, but because he cares so much.

When Trouble Comes is a strong, solid read. Each chapter is worth reading and contemplating. He asks tough questions of his readers. Questions such as: "What is the confession of your faith--not just the creed you recite in church, but the confidence you live by every day? In all your troubles, and in all the troubles of a fallen world, are you able to say that God with you like a mighty warrior?"

It's a weighty book because it's a weighty subject.

One of my favorite quotes:
Teach me to believe that if I would ever have any sin subdued I must not only labor to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and he must become more to me than the vile lust had been; that his sweetness, power, life may be there. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Summer with John #17

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 sermons twenty-four (Isaiah 53:8) and twenty-five (Psalm 16:10)

From twenty-four:
It may seem quite unnecessary to prove the innocence of Him, who in His human nature was absolutely perfect, and in whom, the presence and fulness of God dwelt. And it is, indeed, unnecessary to those who believe in His name. It is, however, a pleasing contemplation to them, and has an important influence upon their faith and hope. In this they triumph, that He who knew no sin Himself, was made sin, was treated as a sinner for them, that they might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
True Christians, when they suffer unjustly, may learn, from the example of their Lord, to suffer patiently. The Apostle presses this argument upon servants (I Peter 2:18-21) --who in those days were chiefly bond-servants, or slaves. He, therefore, evidently supposes that the knowledge of the Gospel was sufficient to qualify people, in the lowest situations of human life, with a fortitude and magnanimity of spirit of which philosophy could scarcely reach the conception.
From twenty-five:
Whatever was necessary on the behalf of sinners, to render their forgiveness consistent with the honour of the law, justice, truth, and government of God, was exacted of Him, and He performed, and paid, to the utmost. He made a full atonement for sin; and though He had power over His life, He hung hour after hour in agonies upon the cross, till He said, It is finished . Then, He resigned His spirit into the hands of His Heavenly Father. He was afterwards buried. But having finished His whole undertaking, destroyed death, and him that had the power of it, and opened the way to the Kingdom of Heaven, in favour of all who should believe in Him, it was not possible that He should be detained in the grave (Acts 2:24) He had power, likewise, to resume the life He had laid down for His sheep; and He arose the third day, to exercise all power and authority in heaven and in earth.
His resurrection, therefore, is the grand principal fact, upon which the truth and importance of Christianity rests.
What influence this truth has upon your hopes, your tempers, and your conduct? The powers of darkness know that Christ is risen. They believe, they feel, they tremble. I hope none of you will be content with such a faith as may be found in fallen angels. As surely as He is risen, He will at length return to judge the world. Behold He cometh in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him! They who are prepared to meet Him, and who long for His appearance, have reason to rejoice that He once died, and rose again!
As MESSIAH was delivered, that is delivered up, as a hostage to the demands of justice, for our offences, so they know that He was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25) By virtue of that union, which subsists between MESSIAH, as the Head of His Body the Church, and all His members; that is, all in the successive ages of the world, who believe in Him by a faith of divine operation: He is their legal representative; He and they are considered as one.
But justification is God's manner of pardoning sinners, according to the sovereignty and riches of His grace in the Son of His love. Those whom He pardons, he also justifies; and whom He justifies, He also glorifies.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead, is a pledge and specimen of that almighty power which is engaged on their behalf, to overcome all the obstacles, difficulties and enemies they are liable to meet with in their pilgrimage, which threaten to disappoint their hopes, and to prevent them from obtaining their heavenly inheritance.
His resurrection is the pledge and pattern of ours. As certainly as Christ the firstfruits is risen, so certainly shall they that are Christ's arise at His coming.
Flesh and blood, in its present state, cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The body, in this life, is a clog and a burden to those who place their chief happiness in the service of God, and in communion with Him. It is a vile body, defiled by sin, and it defiles their best desires and noblest efforts. Even the grace of the Holy Spirit, by which they live, though perfectly pure in itself, is debased when communicated to them, and exercised under the disadvantages of a sinful nature, as the best wine, will receive a taint, if poured into a foul vessel. The body, in another view, is a prison in which the soul, confined and pent up, is limited in its operations, and impeded in its perceptions of divine things.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes

Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes. Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin. 2016. B&H. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes is part of the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series published by B&H. This title is written by Daniel L. Akin and Jonathan Akin.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting read--especially in a text-only Bible. What are readers to make of it? No doubt it is relevant to our lives--and not just because it is in the Bible--but because we can relate to the feelings described by Solomon. For example, that every day is the same and there really isn't anything new under the sun. But as Christians, how are we to be influenced by the book of Ecclesiastes? Is it hopeful or depressing?

Here is the table of contents:

  • Everything is Meaningless without Jesus
  • The American Dream is Meaningless without Jesus
  • Time is Meaningless without Jesus
  • Politics and Justice are Meaningless without Jesus
  • Religion is Meaningless without Jesus
  • Money is Meaningless without Jesus
  • Wisdom in a Meaningless World
  • Death is Meaningless without Jesus
  • Aging is Meaningless without Jesus
  • The Preacher on Preaching

Each chapter focuses on a chunk of text. Each chapter gives a straightforward 'main idea' for interpreting or making sense of the text. This is followed by an outline. Each chapter ends with reflect and discuss questions. I love the organization of the series. This is how every book in the series is structured. Readers know exactly what to expect and how to use the book.

I love that the book focuses on EXALTING JESUS in the book of Ecclesiastes. I think Ecclesiastes without Christ would be a very different read. Solomon's "life is meaningless" message could easily be misinterpreted without Christ as teacher and guide. Early on in the book, the author writes: "Ecclesiastes wants to push us to faith and contentment in God." The author urges readers to consider the message of the book to be, "More will not satisfy us; only God can."

I love that the book is reader-friendly. I would never, ever, ever say the book is made more relevant by references to songs, movies, tv shows, etc. Ecclesiastes is relevant because it is an inspired book in the Word of God. It is relevant because it tells us something about God and it tells us something about ourselves. But I will say that the authors writing style resonated with me. And that I could relate to what the authors were saying. Which in my opinion makes it reader-friendly.

I love that the authors quote Alistair Begg a LOT. And not just Begg but other preachers I like as well. (Matt Chandler, Sinclair Ferguson, Tim Keller, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, Charles Spurgeon, etc.)

I like the length of the chapters. I like that the book is short and to the point. Again going back to reader-friendliness. A commentary does not have to be terribly lengthy and actually heavy to be worth reading.

I would definitely recommend this book in the series.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Week in Review: August 14-20


  • Ezekiel 23-48
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Amos 
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk 
  • Zephaniah


  • Psalm 32-41


  • John

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August's Scripture Chain

  • The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. (John 3:35)
  • For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
  • He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. John 1:10
  • No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 1:18
  • For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. John 3:34
  • God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
  • The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11
  • Make me to know your ways, O Lordteach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Inspiration: He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Translation: ESV

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book Review: God Loves Me

God Loves Me. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1961. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: How do I know God loves me? Let me think of the ways. I think of my mother and daddy. They love me and take care of me. God planned for mothers and daddies. That's how I know God loves me.

Premise/plot: A picture book for parents to share with little ones about God's love. The text is simple, straightforward, short, and sweet. The illustrations are by Elizabeth Webbe.

My thoughts: I think I like this one even more than God is Good. (Though I don't really have to have a favorite!)

My favorite quote: "I touch the Bible my teacher holds and listens as she reads to me: "God loves you. He cares about you." God plans for me to have the Bible. That's how I know God loves me.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #26

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
The heart is so constituted that the only way to dispossess it of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one. What you need to drive out an old passion is a new passion, a greater passion. What you need is an over-mastering positive passion. ~ Thomas Chalmers
If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. ~ Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Have you ever noticed that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself. ~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Free Grace Theology

"Free Grace" Theology. Wayne Grudem. 2016. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is with some reluctance that I write this book.

Wayne Grudem argues against "Free Grace" theology in his newest book. Wayne A. Grudem clearly defines what 'free grace' theology is. (At least as he understands it.) After having established what the phrase means, he then seeks to show how it differs from the historic Protestant position. He then proceeds to illustrate the weaknesses this theology can lead to in real life. In other words, why believing rightly matters in the first place. He makes a few strong statements in this one. First, he is NOT saying that those who hold to 'free grace theology' are unsaved heathens. He is NOT saying that they are false preachers in danger of hell. Second, he is NOT continuing the "lordship salvation" debate from several decades ago. This fact he INSISTS on. His book is different. (He sees that argument as going nowhere.) In particular, the "free grace" he's attacking is the position held by Zane Hodges and his followers.

Essentially he is writing the book because he feels that "free grace" theology is dangerous. It is dangerous for several reasons. First, because it reinterprets the "faith alone" of the Protestant Reformation to mean something completely opposite from how it was intended. Second, because it reinterprets, misinterprets many Scripture verses in trying to make its own case. Third, he feels that the "free grace" movement completely neglects repentance. Preachers and teachers--anyone and everyone who shares the gospel, formally or informally--need to agree with what the Bible says about repentance. Whether people neglect repentance because they are worried it will make them unpopular OR because they feel that it's completely unnecessary to a believer makes no difference in the end. Why does it matter? Well, that leads to an additional reason for concern: assurance and false assurance. If repentance is optional, AND, sanctification (holy living) is optional, then what your assurance is based on is often a one-time profession of faith. (Perhaps coming forward to an altar, perhaps being led in a prayer, perhaps being confirmed in a church, or even baptized). The "free grace" view, he argues, says "Don't worry, you're saved. Nothing matters but that one moment when you were justified."

Last (but not least), Grudem argues that "free grace" advocates emphasizes FACTS about Jesus and never Jesus himself. Believe this, this, this about Jesus and YOU ARE SAVED as opposed to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Grudem argues that repentance is a sign that you have the faith you profess to have. That without repentance, there is no outward, visible sign that you've been justified by God. Same with sanctification. To be saved is to be MADE (by God) into a NEW CREATION. To be saved is to PUT OFF THE OLD, and put on the new. To be saved is to LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, to WALK IN THE SPIRIT. It isn't that "justified" people never, ever, ever is that when we sin--not ever "if" we sin--we are grieved by that sin.

One thing that could have used slight clarification is his position on repentance and conversion. I believe that Scripture teaches that we are lost, blind, dead--unable and unwilling to repent. The Spirit converts the soul, "breathes life" where there was once death, makes us born again. After this conversion, after this new birth, then that is where repentance enters in. It is the Holy Spirit who shows us our sin, how ugly and grievous it is. Not just "sin" in general, but OUR sins specifically. Our need for a Savior becomes crushingly overwhelming in that moment. It brings us to our knees--literally or not. Grace is only properly seen when it's viewed in light of what we actually deserved and what we've been given instead. Until you feel like you've deserved hell, then grace will never be amazing. Repentance is not optional, in my opinion--or his. Because it is like a baby's first cry. Can a baby be born alive and never once cry????? No, that first repentance is just the first of many times when we will cry out our sins to God and ask for forgiveness.

Since so many people are confused about the order of things, perhaps thinking that repentance is the first step to being born again, I thought the book could have used this opportunity to clarify things. Repentance is impossible--at least true repentance--without the Spirit having acted on us first. (Like there's a difference between being genuinely sorry, and just sorry that you got caught and are having to deal with the messiness of being caught.)

I am also giving the author the benefit of the doubt in another area. Based on the arrangement of the chapters, one could wrongly assume that the author places equal weight--or authority--on the historic Protestant position as affirmed in the writings of Luther, Calvin, etc. as he does on Scripture. I do not believe this to be all. But he doesn't really give Scripture proper attention until later chapters.

Did I love this one? I'm not sure I did. I liked it and I definitely found it thought-provoking. I was unfamiliar with the "Free Grace" position before reading this book.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Summer with John #16

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 twenty-three (Lamentations 1:12)
The highest wonder ever exhibited to the world, to angels, and men, is the Son of God, suffering and dying for sinners. Next to this, hardly anything is more astonishing to an enlightened mind --than the gross and stupid insensibility with which the sufferings of the Saviour are treated, and the indifference with which this wonderful event is regarded by creatures who are so nearly concerned in it.
If they believe in Him, they will be healed by His wounds, and live by His death. If they finally reject Him, they must perish; and their guilt, and misery will be greatly aggravated by what they have heard of Him! But sin has so blinded our understandings, and hardened our hearts, that we have, naturally, no feeling, either for Him, or for ourselves.
Were His sufferings anything to you, is it possible that you would live in the practice of those sins, for which no atonement could suffice, but His blood? Were you duly affected by the thought of His crucifixion, is it possible that you could crucify Him afresh, and put Him to open shame, by bearing the name of a Christian, and yet living in a course unsuitable to the spirit and precepts of His Gospel? But if you are indifferent to His grief, is it nothing to you on your own account? What! is it nothing to you whether you are saved or perish? whether you are found at His right, or His left hand, in the great Day of His appearance? or whether He shall then say to you, Come ye blessed, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you; or, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire? (Matthew 25:34, 41)
In the greatest of our sufferings, in those which bear the strongest marks of the Lord's displeasure, there is always some mitigation, some mixture of mercy. At the worst, we have still reason to acknowledge that, He hath not dealt with us after our own sins, nor according to the full desert of our iniquities (Psalm 103:10) If we are in pain, we do not feel every kind of pain at once, yet, we can give no sufficient reason why we should not. If we are exercised with poverty and losses, yet something worth the keeping, and more than we can justly claim, is still left to us, at least our lives are spared, though forfeited by sin. If we are in distress of soul, tossed with tempest and not comforted, we are not quite out of the reach of hope.
Even if sickness, pain, loss, and despair, should all overtake us in the same moment, all is still less than we deserve. Our proper desert is hell, an exclusion from God, and confinement with Satan and his angels, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Everything short of this is a mercy. But Jesus, though He had no sin of His own, bore the sins of many. His sufferings were indeed, temporary, limited in their duration, but otherwise extreme. Witness the effects, His heaviness unto death, His consternation, His bloody sweat, His eclipse [His humiliating end] upon the cross, when deprived of that Presence, which was his only, and His exceeding, joy. On these accounts, no sorrow was like unto His sorrow!
The unknown sorrows of the Redeemer, are a continual source of support and consolation to His believing people. In His sufferings, they contemplate His atonement, His love, and His example, and they are animated by the bright and glorious issue: For He passed from death to life, from suffering to glory.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: The Life We Never Expected

The Life We Never Expected. Andrew and Rachel Wilson. 2016. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From the foreword: This book doesn't tell you to try harder or to be more heroic. The book shows you how to come to Jesus, just as you are, for everything you need.

The Life We Never Expected is a book about parenting special needs children. It is written by a husband and wife, Andrew and Rachel Wilson. They have an autistic son and an autistic daughter. They wrote this book with a) parents in mind, b) family and friends of those parents, c) anyone and everyone who is suffering and needs encouragement.

The book is divided into five cycles. Each cycle is broken down into the same sections: weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathe.

While the book contains plenty of personal stories, the focus is never: LOOK AT US, WE'VE GOT IT TOGETHER, WE HAVE THE ANSWERS. The focus remains constant, and, that focus is on JESUS CHRIST and his gospel. This book celebrates Jesus and elevates the Word of God. The personal stories are balanced perfectly by proper, close attention to Scripture itself. The book is practical as well as authentic.

I would definitely recommend this one. It is GOOD. Here are four of my favorite quotes:
"Celebrating the gospel is beautiful and is good for my soul, but it doesn't make me sleep more or cry less. Until God fixes everything, I'm still waiting."
"Up until I was about thirty, I couldn't fathom why so many of the psalms were about pain. Now I'm thirty-five, and I can't fathom why so many of them are about something else."
"I don't read Scripture in the morning primarily to study it academically or to get through my reading plan; I read it in search of joy, like a forty-niner looking for gold--even if I have only a few minutes while Zeke is watching TV at some ridiculous hour of the morning."
"So I have to remember: the story is not mine to save. The pressure to write a story that makes sense of what has happened to us, as acute as it can feel, must be resisted; God is the great storyteller, the divine happy-ending maker, and I'm not. I am a character in God's story, not the author of my own, and it is God's responsibility to redeem all things, to make all things work together for good, and, as Sam Gamgee puts it in The Lord of the Rings, to make everything that is sad come untrue."


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: God Is Good

God Is Good. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1955. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: God plans for many things to grow--

Premise/plot: A picture book for parents to share with young (very young) children. The text is simple and straightforward. This one contains three sections: "God plans for many things to grow," "God plans for many wondrous things," and "God plans for many loving people." Each section is SHORT. Not a bad thing, because attention spans of toddlers and preschoolers can vary from say ten minutes to two minutes...or less.

My thoughts: Liked the text. I did. But I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: August 7-13


  • Jeremiah 23-52
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel 1-22


  • Psalms 28-72

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Summer with Johnny #4

In July, I began listening to Johnny Cash. He has quite a lot of gospel songs. I thought I would spend some weeks in August sharing some of my favorites with you. The third song I'd like to share with you is, "Ain't No Grave."

There ain't no grave can hold my body down
There ain't no grave can hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound I'm gonna rise right out of the ground
Ain't no grave can hold my body down

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: My Little Golden Book About God

My Little Golden Book About God. Jane Werner Watson. Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. 1956. 24 pages. [Source: Gift]

First sentence: GOD IS GREAT.

Premise/plot: Originally published in the 1950s, My Little Golden Book About God is a picture book for young children about GOD. The book is written is simple, yet detailed too. All in rhyme as well.

My thoughts: It is not theological in nature. But I'm not convinced it has to be or needs to be. It is not a gospel presentation or tract. It is not a catechism. It is a story parents can share with their children, perhaps even as a bedtime story. I do think it is important for parents to talk about God, to talk with their children as if God was very real, very present with them. I think it is a good thing to encourage kids to think about God, to talk about God, to ask questions, etc.

God is presented as CREATOR and SUSTAINER of the world. He has planned everything; everything is under his control. God is always there.

Can you believe this book is turning SIXTY?

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #25

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

Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child, I shaped it;
Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion in its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on, I said
I shall be near, and while he leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not his;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms of My own love.
Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds.
Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;
I would embrace thy care so I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then;
But, loving Me, Lean Hard.” ~ Octavius Winslow

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Review: Where Hope Prevails

Where Hope Prevails (Return to the Canadian West #3). Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. 2016. Bethany House. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It wasn't just that there were far fewer potholes--the road through the thick woods leading to Coal Valley had clearly been graded in Beth's absence over the summer--but something else seemed strange.

Premise/plot: Where Hope Prevails is the third book in the Return to the Canadian West series by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. The series is set in the early twentieth century. (Beth does a lot of traveling back and forth by automobile.) Beth Thatcher, our heroine, teaches in the town of Coal Valley. She's in love with a Canadian Mountie, Jarrick Thornton, who is stationed in the region--but not in Coal Valley itself. He works from a much larger town, Lethbridge.

The book opens with her return to Coal Valley at the beginning of a new school year. A few things have changed this second year. First, she'll no longer be boarding with Molly. She'll have her own place, and, she's not excited about it. Second, there is another teacher in town, Robert Harris Hughes, and they'll have to work out between them how to best teach the children. He wants to divide up subjects between them. She wants to divide the children up by age. These two are as opposite as can be. And they seem destined to argue. If Jack wasn't such a huge part of the story, one might fear that these two who love to argue might stereotypically fall in love by the end of the book.

Much of the book focuses on WEDDING PLANS. Some might say that a lot happens--that there is always something happening--but whether that "something happening" is exciting or not might be up for question. How exciting is it to read about characters making fabric flowers and tulle bows and lamenting the lack of an arch? That's not fair to the book. It isn't. It really isn't. Readers see Beth interacting with the folk of Coal Valley--Molly and Frank and Marnie, mainly. Some town politics also come into it. There is an election for mayor in the middle of the book. But a large part of the "something happening" is Beth struggling with things emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I would still say that it is character-driven.

My thoughts: Since it feels like it has been ages since I've read the first two books in the series, and, since it hasn't been that many months since I've seen the seasons of the television show, I felt a bit out of sorts. What does the book have in common with the television show? How about just the character names? And the fact that Beth is a teacher and that Jack is a Mountie? I would say that the books have very, very, very little in common with the television show. I think one can argue that that is a definite strength. But also that it can prove frustrating...if you let it.

I like the series well enough. I do. I definitely like book Julie a bit better perhaps. And the book is not like a soap opera at all. (The tv show very much IS a soap opera.)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Summer with John #15

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 twenty-one and twenty-two (Psalm 22:7-8; Psalm 69:20)

From sermon twenty-one:
The Chief Priests, Elders, and Rulers of the people. When these, who were held in ignorant admiration by the multitude, set the example, we do not wonder that it was generally followed. They had been His most avowed and determined enemies, they had long conspired to take away His life, and in the appointed hour their plots were permitted to succeed.
They now rejoiced in their success. By their office as teachers and expounders of the law, they ought to have pointed Him out to the people as the object of their reverence and hope; but having rejected Him themselves, they employed all the authority and influence to make Him the object of general contempt. And lest the extremity of His torments should awaken sentiments of commiseration in the multitude, they were the first, and the loudest, in reviling Him, as He hung upon the cross.
The populace, though no less ignorant, were less malicious than their leaders. At different times, when they heard His public discourses, and saw His wonderful works, they had been staggered and constrained to say, Is not this the Son of David? and not many days before, the popular cry had been strongly in His favour (Matthew 21:10, 11) ; though quickly after, it was, Crucify Him, crucify Him (Luke 23:21) As the sea, though sometimes smooth, is always disposed to obey the impulse of the wind, so the common people, though easily roused to oppose the truth, would, perhaps, be quiet, if they were left to themselves;
The priests by degrees, wrought the populace up, first to reject MESSIAH, and then, to join their leaders, in mocking and deriding Him.
They showed their scorn in the most pointed and cruel manner. Not only they, who had clamoured for His death, derided Him, but others, who were only passing by upon their ordinary occasions, could not pass on till they had stopped a while to insult Him, wagging their heads, and reminding Him of what He had formerly said, and charging Him with the supposed folly and arrogance of His claims.
The bulk of the people bore their part in this tragedy, through precipitation and ignorance. In His prayer for their forgiveness (a prayer which was signally answered after His ascension) He mentioned the only extenuation their wickedness could possibly admit, They knew not what they did. It was otherwise, with those who were principally concerned in procuring His death.
His Gospel represents His personal ministry, declares His character, reveals His love, produces the same effects in those who receive it, and they who oppose it, are considered as opposing Him, and are influenced, by the same spirit, which instigated the unbelieving Jews. It is to be hoped that many reject and scorn it through ignorance, as the multitude did of old; and that the intercession of Him, who prayed for those that knew not what they did, will prevail for their conversion.
From sermon twenty-two:
My text expresses, so far as human words and ideas can reach, His exquisite distress, when He bore our sins in His own body, upon the tree. Reproach broke His heart, and when He looked for pity and comfort He found none.
Now a sinner is, deservedly, the greatest object of contempt in the universe, and, indeed, the only object of deserved contempt. Thus He incurred the reproach of the law and justice of God. The Holy Father, viewing the Son of His love in this light, as charged with the sins of His people, forsook Him.
God infinitely hates sin, and will have no fellowship with it; and of this He gave the most awful proof, by forsaking His beloved Son; when He took upon Him to answer for the sins of men. Then the sword of the Almighty awoke against Him, and He spared Him not (Zechariah 13:7)
Let broken-hearted sinners look, by faith, upon a broken-hearted Saviour. The phrase denotes woe and dejection inconceivable, with a failure of all resource. Anything may be borne while the spirit, the heart, remains firm; but if the heart itself be broken, who can endure? A wounded spirit, who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)
The most emphatic words are used, to describe His sensation of the bitter conflict of His soul, in the garden of Gethsemane, when as yet the hand of man had not touched Him. He began to be amazed [ ekthambeo ], or astonished. This word properly signifies, to be struck with terror and surprise, by some supernatural power, such as Belshazzar felt, when he suddenly saw the hand-writing against him upon the wall (Daniel 5:6)
And to be very heavy [ademoneo --the strongest of the three words used in the New Testament for depression] , sated with grief, full, so as to be incapable of more.
He said, I am exceeding sorrowful -- surrounded, encompassed with sorrows [perilypos - encompassed with grief - Matthew 26:38] . It is added, He was in an agony [agonia - severe mental struggle and emotions, anguish - Luke 22:44] --a consternation of mind, such as arises from the prospect of some impending, unavoidable evil ; like the suspense of mariners upon the point of shipwreck, who tremble, equally at the view of the raging waves behind them, and the rocky shore before their eyes, on which they expect, in a few moments, to be dashed.
It rather becomes us to adore in humble silence, the manifestation of the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11:22) , in the Redeemer's sufferings, than to indulge in conjecture and the flights of imagination. What is expressly revealed we may assert, contemplate, and admire. His soul was made an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10) We know but little of the extreme malignity of sin, because we have but faint views of the majesty, holiness, and goodness of God, against whom it is committed.
Adam had sinned but once, when he lost all comfort and confidence in God, and sought to hide himself.
We have but slight thoughts of the extent of sin. Not only positive disobedience, but want of conformity to the law of God, is sinful. Every rising thought which does not comport with that reverence, dependence, and love, which is due to God, from creatures constituted, furnished, and indebted, as we are, is sinful.
The sins of one person, in thought, word, and deed, sins of omission, and commission, are innumerable. What then is contained in the collective idea, in what the Scripture calls, the sin of the world ? What then must be the atonement, the consideration, on the account of which the great God is no less righteous than merciful, in forgiving the sins, which His inviolable truth, and the honour of His government engage Him to punish.
And they are punished, though forgiven. They were charged upon Jesus, they exposed Him to a rebuke which broke His heart. They filled Him with heaviness. When therefore, we are assured that the justice of God is satisfied, with respect to every sinner of the race of mankind, who, in obedience to the divine command, makes the sufferings of the Saviour his plea for pardon, and trusts in Him for salvation; and that upon this one ground they are freed from all condemnation, and accepted as children; when we are told, that the glory of the divine perfections is displayed in the highest, by this method of saving millions, who deserved to perish;
We safely infer the greatness of the cause, from the greatness of the effect. The sufferings of Christ, which free a multitude of sinners from the guilt of innumerable sins, must have been inconceivably great indeed!
They, who have never tasted that the Lord is good, not having known the difference, can have no conception of this subject. Their minds are, at present, occupied with earthly things; and while they are thus engaged with trifles, they cannot believe, though they are repeatedly told it, that to an immortal spirit, a separation from the favour of God involves in it the very essence of misery.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Summer With Johnny #3

In July, I began listening to Johnny Cash. He has quite a lot of gospel songs. I thought I would spend some weeks in August sharing some of my favorites with you. The third song I'd like to share with you is, "Here Was A Man." Is it a song? Yes and no. It's more of a reading with background music. But is it good? Yes!!! 

Here was a man, a man
Who was born in a small village
The son of a peasant woman
He grew up in another small village
Until he reached the age of thirty
He worked as a carpenter
Then for three years he was a traveling minister
But he never traveled more than two hundred miles
From where he was born
And where he did go, he usually walked...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Review: Messiah

John Newton
Messiah: Fifty Expository Discourses Preached in the Years 1784 and 1785. John Newton. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]

John Newton preached a (relatively) long sermon series inspired by Handel's Messiah. These sermons--in whole or in part perhaps--were then subsequently published. Though inspired by Handel's Messiah, the subject is very much the MESSIAH, the SON OF GOD, the LORD AND SAVIOR. The focus isn't so much on the light and frivolous, but, on the weighty matter of life and death. Each sermon finds a way to clearly, persistently point the way to Jesus Christ as the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. No matter where the sermon starts out--a particular scripture from the Old Testament or New Testament--it ends out with a passionate appeal to the audience to choose life, to respond to God's mercy with repentance and faith.

The first volume is twenty-five sermons. Throughout the summer, I have shared quotes from these twenty-five sermons. The second volume is also twenty-five sermons. I've decided since summer is nearly over not to continue sharing quotes from each sermon. I will share some of my favorite quotes from those twenty-five sermons down below.

Essentially, John Newton used the Scripture references from each song in Handel's Messiah as a starting point to preach the gospel to one and all. His point was never to work up the crowds to go and listen to the Messiah. Rather his point was don't let your love for popular music stand in the way of you taking the MESSIAH HIMSELF seriously. This is a matter of life and death. His sermon series may have been inspired by pop culture, but he never once compromises the gospel message, the weightiness of it.

I only wish that preachers today when "inspired" by pop culture would pay more reverence to God's Holy Word. And perhaps make their messages more about Him and less about us.

Favorite quotes:
However, if there be any doctrine fundamental and necessary to be rightly understood, what the Scripture teaches concerning the person of MESSIAH the Redeemer, must be eminently so. Mistakes upon this point, must necessarily be dangerous. It cannot be a question of mere speculation, whether the Saviour be God, or creature.
The gracious design of God in affording us His holy Scripture, is to make us wise unto salvation (II Timothy 3:15) His manner of teaching is therefore accommodated to our circumstances. He instructs in heavenly things by earthly. And to engage our confidence, to excite our gratitude, to animate us to our duty by the most affecting motives; and that the reverence we owe to His great and glorious Majesty, as our Creator and our Legislator, may be combined with love and cheerful dependence; He is pleased to reveal Himself by those names which express the nearest relation and endearment amongst ourselves.
Our Lord, in His conference with Nicodemus, was pleased to say, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son , etc. (John 3:16) . It was undoubtedly His design, by this expression, to give to Nicodemus, and to us the highest idea possible of the love of God to sinners. He so loved the world beyond description or comparison, that He gave His only begotten Son. Surely, then, the gift spoken of must not be limited to the human nature only. This was not all that He gave. The human nature was the medium of the acts and sufferings of MESSIAH; but He who assumed it was the Word, who was before all, and by whom all things were made. It is true the human nature was given , supernaturally formed by divine power, and born of a virgin. But He who was in the beginning God with God, was given to appear, obey, and suffer in the nature of man, for us and for our salvation. And to Him are ascribed the perfections and attributes of Deity; of which the highest angels are no more capable, than the worms which creep upon the earth.
The God-man, the whole person of Christ, was sent, came forth from the Father. The manhood was the offering, but the Word of God, possessed of the perfections of Deity, was the altar necessary to sanctify the gift, and to give a value and efficacy to the atonement.
If you believe that you shall exist hereafter, do you not desire heaven? But such a heaven as the Word of God describes could not afford you happiness, unless your mind be previously changed and disposed to relish it. Neither the employment nor the company of heaven would be pleasing to you. It is a state where all the inhabitants unite in admiring and adoring Him who died upon the cross. If this subject is displeasing to you here, it would be much more so there. Heaven itself would be a hell to an un-humbled, and unholy soul. Consider this seriously, while there is time to seek His face; and tremble at the thoughts of being cut off by death in your present state, insensible as you are of who He is, and what He has done for sinners. May He enlighten your understanding, and enable you to see things pertaining to your true peace, before they are forever hidden from your eyes.
God formed man originally for Himself, and gave him an answerable capacity, so that no inferior good can satisfy and fill his mind. Man was likewise, by the constitution and will of his Maker, immortal, provided he persevered in obedience. But sin degraded and ruined him, shut the gates of Paradise, and the gates of Heaven against him. Man destroyed himself; but wisdom and mercy interposed for his recovery. A promise was given of the seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent's head, defeat his policy, destroy his power, and repair the mischiefs he had introduced by sin. MESSIAH fulfilled this promise. And when He had finished all that was appointed for Him on earth, as the second Adam, the Head and Representative of His people, He ascended on high, and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. As an illustrious proof to the universe, that God is reconciled: that there is forgiveness with Him for sinners who implore His mercy: one in our nature, and in our behalf, has taken possession of the Kingdom.
Take heed how you hear. If the Gospel is not made to you a savour of life, it will be a savour of death. It will aggravate your guilt and condemnation, and leave you utterly hopeless and inexcusable. If you continue impenitent and obstinate, the hour is coming when you will wish you had never heard the name of Jesus. It had been better for you never to have been born, or to have lived and died among the savage Indians; or to have been an idiot or a lunatic to the end of your days, than to have lived where the doctrine of salvation was published in your hearing, if you finally reject the counsel of God against yourselves!
He visited us in person, for us He lived a Sufferer, and died that we might live.
But do the professed lovers of sacred music in this enlightened age, generally live, as if they really believed that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth? Rather, do not the greater part of them live, as they might do, if they were sure of the contrary? as if they were satisfied to a demonstration, that either there is no God, or that His Providence is not concerned with human affairs? I appeal to conscience; I appeal to fact.
There is no name of MESSIAH more significant, comprehensive, or endearing, than the name REDEEMER . The name Saviour' expresses what He does for sinners. He saves them from guilt and wrath, from sin, from the present evil world, from the powers of darkness, and from all their enemies. He saves them with an everlasting salvation. But the word Redeemer' intimates, likewise, the manner in which He saves them. For it is not merely by the word of His power, as He saved His disciples when in jeopardy upon the lake, by saying to the winds and seas, Peace, be still: and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39) ; but by price, by paying a ransom for them, and pouring out the blood of His heart, as an atonement for their sins.
Alas! I have but very slight perception of the evil of sin, of the deceitfulness of my own heart, of the force and subtlety of my spiritual enemies, of the strictness and spirituality of the holy law, or the awful majesty and holiness of the great God, with whom I have to do. If in the moment, while I am speaking to you, He should be pleased to impress these solemn realities to my mind, with a conviction and evidence, tenfold greater than I have ever known hitherto (which I conceive would still be vastly short of the truth) unless my faith was also strengthened, by a tenfold clearer and more powerful discovery of the grace and glory of the Saviour, you would probably see my countenance change and my speech falter. The Lord, in compassion to our weakness, shows us these things by little and little, as we are able to bear them; and if, as we advance in the knowledge of ourselves, and of our dangers, our knowledge of the unsearchable riches of Christ advances equally, we may rejoice in hope, we may even possess an assured hope. But let not him who has put on his harness, boast as though he had put it off (I Kings 20:11) . We are yet in an enemy's land, and know not what changes we may meet with, before our warfare is finished.
If it be true that without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) , it must likewise be true that without holiness no man can have a Scriptural and well-founded hope of seeing Him.
To love God with all our heart and strength, to depend upon Him, to conform to every intimation of His will, was the duty of man from the first moment of his existence; was the law of his nature, written originally in his heart. The republication of it, as it stands in the Bible, by precepts and prohibitions, would not have been necessary, had he continued in that state of rectitude in which he was created.

The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God: and they who thankfully receive it as His Book, will not trifle with it by substituting bold conjectural alterations, which, though they may deem them to be amendments, may possibly disguise or alter the genuine sense of the passage.
Too many persons, ignorant of their own state as sinners, and of the awful majesty and holiness of the Most High, presume to think of Him, to speak of Him, and, in their way, to speak to Him, without being aware of the necessity of a Mediator.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Week in Review: July 31 - August 6


  • Isaiah 15-66
  • Jeremiah 1-22


  • Psalms 1-27
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Review: Being There

Being There. Dave Furman. 2016. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Dave Furman shares his experiences--his family's experiences--with readers in this very personal approach to pain and suffering.

Being There is a book written specifically for caregivers but not exclusively for caregivers. To quote from the introduction, "It's a book for everyone who knows people who suffer from pain and loss and wants to see the Rock of Ages underneath their feet. I think it's safe to say that this is a book for all of us."

The first two chapters deal specifically with the experiences of the (primary) caregiver. The first chapter focuses on acknowledging your emotions--your grief and pain--as opposed to theirs. The second chapter stresses the importance of walking with Christ--always, always, always. He is the source of all strength and comfort. The remaining chapters share practical--and personal--tips on what to do and what not to do. For example, in chapter eight Dave Furman has a firm list of TEN things to never do (or say) to someone who's hurting or suffering.

Table of Contents

1. Grieving Your Loss in Another's Pain
2. Walking with God
3. Faithful Friendship
4. Be a Hope Dealer
5. Serve Like Jesus
6. The Power of God in Prayer
7. Hope for the Hard Conversations
8. Whatever You Do, Don't Do These Things
9. The Church's Gracious Pursuit of the Hurting

While the first two chapters really do primarily concern immediate family, the other chapters open things up a bit. How you can serve the suffering in your church, in your community, etc.

I think this is a good book, a useful book. I'm not sure I agree 100% with every single paragraph. But it's good. For example, one of the things you're never, ever, ever supposed to do is give advice to a hurting friend. (You are supposed to point out sins, and be brutally honest in spiritual matters. But refrain from giving any and all 'medical' advice.) Essentially he writes, your friend has a doctor who is way smarter than you ever could be. I suppose this could be a case by case thing--every hurting person being different. Perhaps all desire for research and knowledge should come from the hurting person, but, I still say--be as knowledgeable as possible, do a lot of research, never stop looking for answers, read books, read articles, etc. Don't put your hope in miracle cures and easy answers. But don't brush off the need to stay involved by the belief that--well, the doctor knows best after all.

Now I admit a weakness. I have health issues of my own. Issues that have caused me to do a lot of reading on gluten. And while I would never, ever stop a complete stranger on the street to tell them about "the evils of gluten" and suggest that they would be healthier and happier if they cut out all gluten. If you were my friend, and, I knew you were having health problems--and that the health problems you're having are ones that I've discovered have been linked to gluten. I'd probably break one of the author's 'ten commandments' and say have you considered giving up gluten? I just could not help myself. I don't think it's the great, great, great, great evil he makes it out to be.

Favorite quotes:
Grief is work, and sometimes it's very hard work.
The gospel is true and trustworthy, and it must affect our lives. The good news of God's saving grace in the gospel never gets old. And realizing we don't deserve it always leads us to worship. That's why we don't move on to a better message. There is no better news. The good new of this gospel is balm for our weary souls every day. 
There is a kind of ministry that is without words. It is simply being there. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible