Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Accomplishments

November Accomplishments:

This month's Bible Reading: October 30-November 26

  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel 1-7
  • John
  • Acts

  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ezekiel
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Hebrews
  • James

Books Reviewed in November:

Christian fiction
  1.  The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen. 2016. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ. Rondi Lauterbach. 2016. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Baker Books. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing God. Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley. 2016. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Jesus. A.W. Tozer. 2017. Moody. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Culture. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age. Bob Cutillo, M.D. 2016. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Unlimited Grace. Bryan Chapell. 2016. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Prophet, Priest, and King. Richard P. Belcher Jr. 2016. P&R Publishing. 236 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Thru the Bible: Genesis 1-15. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. Thru the Bible: Genesis 16-33. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. Thru the Bible: Genesis 34-50. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 180 pages. [Source: Bought]
  12. The Book of Jesus. Calvin Miller, ed. B&H. 576 pages. [Source: Bought]
  13. Christmas is Coming! But Waiting is Hard! Karen Whiting. 2016. Abingdon Press. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  14. Hidden Christmas. Timothy Keller. 2016. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. The Believer's Walk With Christ. John MacArthur. 2017. Moody. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Believer's Walk with Christ

The Believer's Walk With Christ. John MacArthur. 2017. Moody. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Believer's Walk with Christ is a meaty, substantive book by John MacArthur. The theme of this one is WALKING WITH CHRIST. Each chapter studies a different Scripture text highlighting that theme. Texts studied and explored include: Ephesians 4:1-6; Ephesians 4:17-24; Romans 6:1-10; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 2:3-6, 1 John 1:6-7; Ephesians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10. Each chapter gives in-depth coverage of that Scripture passage.

This one is rich in insight, and weighty in importance. For that reason, I would recommend you to read the book very differently from how I read it. I read it in two or three days. I definitely regret rushing it. I do. So my advice: take your time, and, read intentionally, thoughtfully.

If you're familiar with John MacArthur's teaching, you may not need much convincing to pick this one up. You will be aware of the relevance of his work. You will be aware of his diligence to preach and truth the word of God. For those not familiar with his teaching, this one is a good representative. And probably a LOT less controversial than some of his other books.

TRUE OR FALSE: Too many Christians are glad to have the spiritual security, blessings, and promises of the gospel but have too little sense of responsibility in conforming to its standards and obeying its commands.

TRUE OR FALSE: The Lord expects us to act like the new persons we have become in Jesus Christ. He expects His standards to become our standards, His purposes our purposes, His desires our desires, His nature our nature. The Christian life is simply the process of becoming what you are.

TRUE OR FALSE: Right doctrine is essential to right living. It is impossible to live a faithful Christian life without knowing biblical doctrine. Doctrine simply means teaching, and there is no way that even the most sincere believer can live a life pleasing to God without knowing what God Himself is like and knowing the sort of life God wants him to live. Those who set biblical theology aside also set aside sound Christian living.

TRUE OR FALSE: God’s work cannot be served by the world’s ways. God’s call is to humility and His work is only accomplished through humility.

TRUE OR FALSE: The first sin was pride, and every sin after that has been in some way an extension of pride.

TRUE OR FALSE: A believer can no more sanctify himself than he could have saved himself in the first place. He cannot live the Christian life by his own resources any more than he could have saved himself by his own resources. In its most profound yet simple definition, the faithful Christian life is a life directed and empowered by the Spirit.

TRUE OR FALSE: Whatever God establishes, Satan will counterfeit. Where God establishes true love, Satan produces counterfeit love. Counterfeit love characterizes Satan’s children, those who are of the world, just as true love characterizes God’s children, those who are citizens of heaven.

I would definitely recommend this thought-provoking new book by John MacArthur.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Year with Newton #14

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 I'm sharing from a letter titled, "The Practical Influence of Faith."
Faith gives evidence and reality to things not seen, and realizes the great truths of the Gospel, so as that they become abiding and living principles of support and direction while we are passing through this wilderness. Thus, faith is as the eye and the hand, without which we cannot take one step with certainty, or attempt any service with success.
It is a believer's privilege to walk with God in the exercise of faith, and, by the power of his Spirit, to mortify the whole body of sin, to gain a growing victory over the world and self, and to make daily advances in conformity to the mind of Christ. And nothing that we profess to know, believe, or hope for, deserves the name of a privilege, farther than we are influenced by it to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.
Whoever is possessed of true faith, will not confine his inquiries to the single point of his acceptance with God, or be satisfied with the distant hope of heaven hereafter. He will be likewise solicitous how he may glorify God in the world, and enjoy such foretastes of heaven as are attainable while he is yet upon earth.
Faith, then, in its practical exercise, has for its object the whole word of God, and forms its estimate of all things with which the soul is at present concerned, according to the standard of Scripture.
When our Lord was upon earth, and conversed with his disciples, their eyes and hearts were fixed upon him. In danger he was their defender; their guide when in perplexity; and to him they looked for the solution of all their doubts, and the supply of all their needs. He is now withdrawn from our eyes; but faith sets him still before us, for the same purposes, and, according to its degree, with the same effects, as if we actually saw him! His spiritual presence, apprehended by faith, is a restraint from evil, an encouragement to every service, and affords a present refuge and help in every time of trouble.
As Jesus is his life, and righteousness, and strength—so he is his pattern. By faith he contemplates and studies this great Exemplar of philanthropy. With a holy ambition he treads in the footsteps of his Lord and Master, and learns of him to be meek and lowly, to requite injuries with kindness, and to overcome evil with good. From the same views, by faith he derives a benevolent spirit, and, according to his sphere and ability, he endeavors to promote the welfare of all around him. The law of love being thus written in his heart, and his soul set at liberty from the low and narrow dictates of a selfish spirit, his language will be truth, and his dealings equity. His promise may be depended on, without the interposition of oath, bond, or witness; and the feelings of his own heart, under the direction of an enlightened conscience and the precepts of Scripture, prompt him "to do unto others as he would desire they, in the like circumstances, should do unto him."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Favorite Quotes by C.S. Lewis For His Birthday

All I am doing is to ask people to face the facts--to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer. And they are very terrifying facts. I wish it was possible to say something more agreeable. But I must say what I think true. Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth--only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it. We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right. But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference, and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Make sure that some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
If you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones--bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected. ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is our-selves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That’s as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God’s hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his “religion,” his “service,” as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted—what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy—is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim.For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him. ~ C.S. Lewis, "The Weight of Glory"
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
It [The Bible] is, if you like to put it that way, not merely a sacred book but a book so remorselessly and continuously sacred that it does not invite, it excludes or repels, the merely aesthetic approach. You can read it as literature only by a tour de force. You are cutting the wood against the grain, using the tool for a purpose it was not intended to serve. It demands incessantly to be taken on its own terms: it will not continue to give literary delight very long except to those who go to it for something quite different. ~ C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays
The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory 
We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. “If one is a Christian,” I thought, “of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying.” But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not nearly so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don’t keep on polishing it up.We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own. ~ C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Hidden Christmas

Hidden Christmas. Timothy Keller. 2016. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence from the introduction: Christmas is the only Christian holy day that is also a major secular holiday--arguably our culture's biggest.

First sentence from chapter one: One of the first indications of the Christmas season is the appearance of lights.

Premise/plot: Keller writes to a wide audience in his newest book. He points out that to understand Christmas is to understand basic Christianity, or, the Gospel. But how many understand Christmas? The Hidden Christmas clearly and concisely presents the bad news and the good news that is worth celebrating every day of the year!

It answers the questions:
  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is the good news?
  • Why is the good news necessary to begin with? 
  • What is sin?
  • Is repentance necessary?
  • How does believing in Jesus change us?
My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one. It is very reader-friendly. That is not to say it lacks truth or substance. This is not a fluffy feel-good read reassuring you that you are the gift God treasures most out of all his creation. It is an invitation. An invitation to come as you are, how you are, to receive God's gift to you: His Son. To be joined by faith and grace to his son is everything and more. For he is the gift that will always, always prove more than enough--no matter what.

Favorite quotes:
Jesus became mortal and died because we are too morally ruined to be pardoned any other way. (2)
Jesus gave himself to us, and so we must give ourselves wholly to him. (2)
To understand Christmas is to understand basic Christianity, the gospel. (4)
Christmas contains many spiritual truths, but it will be hard to grasp the others unless we grasp this one first. That is, that the world is a dark place, and we will never find our way or see reality unless Jesus is our Light. (6)
The message of Christianity is "Things really are this bad, and we can't heal or save ourselves. Things really are this dark--nevertheless there is hope." (10)
If Jesus Christ is really Mighty God and Everlasting Father, you can't just like him. (13)
If Jesus is Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, you should want to serve him. (13)
If God has really been born in a manger, then we have something that no other religion even claims to have. It's a God who truly understands you, from the inside of your experience. (14)
These Gospel narratives are telling you not what you should do but what God has done. (22)
You don't save yourself. God has come to save you. (23)
There is no one, then, not even the greatest human being, who does not need the grace of Jesus Christ. And there is no one, not even the worst human being, who can fail to receive the grace of Jesus Christ if there is repentance and faith. (33)
The incarnation means that God suffered, and that Jesus triumphed through suffering. (52)
There are three ideas in "Immanuel": He is God, he is human, he is with us. (53)
This does not stun us as much as it should. Anytime anyone drew near to God it was completely terrifying. (53)
We create Gods of our liking to mask our own hostility to the real God, who reveals himself as our absolute King. (70)
If Christianity is something done for you, and to you, and in you, then there is a constant note of surprise and wonder. (89)
If you don't do both of these things--ponder and treasure the Word of God--you will not truly hear the message. (107)
Repentance is like antiseptic. You pour antiseptic onto a wound and it stings, but it heals. (125)
The incarnation, Christmas, means that God is not content to be a concept or just someone you know from a distance. Do what it takes to get close to him. Christmas is a challenge as well as a promise about fellowship with God. (136)
The Christian life begins not with high deeds and achievements but with the most simple and ordinary act of humble asking. (141)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2017 Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge (Sign Up)

This will be the FIFTH year I'll be hosting the Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge. I hope you'll join me! I welcome back former participants! And I hope to see some new participants as well this year!  I'd love to show you that reading "from the Cloud" isn't intimidating and scary. The dates for the challenge are January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

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

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

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

What I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share what they're reading. So I will be posting check-in posts every month on the 20th. Share what you're reading, what you've read, favorite quotes, favorite authors, favorite resources, talk to me, talk to others!

I will be sharing a LOT of quotes, more than likely, on twitter. If you want to follow me, I'm @operationbible. If you're also on twitter, you can tweet me quotes if you want, or let me know what you're reading!
I think it isn't always easy for readers to pick up Christian classics. Perhaps because it isn't always easy to know exactly where to start. Perhaps because people think that they will be difficult to understand--that the language will be too difficult, the style too complicated. Perhaps because people question if a book will still be relevant. 

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

I would be open to hosting read-alongs for Christian classics if you are interested let me know.
The following list is NOT comprehensive by any means. It is just a small sampling of authors that count towards the challenge. 

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

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

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

So how many books are required? 

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

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

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

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: November 20-26


  • Isaiah 42-66
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel 1-7
  • Acts

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • 2 Corinthians 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

November's Scripture Chain

  • So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
  • Is God’s comfort too little for you? Is his gentle word not enough? Job 15:11
  • Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope. Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. Psalm 119:49-50
  • Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. Psalm 33:22
  • Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4
  • When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19
  • Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Isaiah 49:13
  • God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
  • Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. Psalm 62:5
  • You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. Psalm 119:114
  • Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
  • The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. Lamentations 3:22-26
  • The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. Psalm 69:32
  • I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word. Psalm 119:28
  • I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. Psalm 130:5
  • Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:5
  • And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
  • We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
  • And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:4-5
  • Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4
  • Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15
  • You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:24-26
This month's inspiration: Wonderful Words of Life
This month's translation: NLT

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review: Genesis 34-50

Thru the Bible: Genesis 34-50. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 180 pages. [Source: Bought]

I have enjoyed reading a handful of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentaries. Genesis is broken down into three volumes. The third volume covers Genesis 34-50. Here readers spend a lot of time with God and Joseph, and some time with Jacob, Judah, and the other brothers.

If you're not familiar with his commentary series, I'll take a few minutes to explain his style. McGee is a very casual and conversational, very tell-it-like-it-is, very simple. He introduces the book of the Bible. He then goes through it practically verse by verse, chapter by chapter. The translation reprinted in the commentary, is, I believe, the King James Version. It is reprinted. Unlike some commentaries that provide Scripture references and outlines, this one does give you the Scripture text in the text itself. You don't have to have an open Bible in hand. (Which is very nice!) He likes to try to make connections between then and now, to point out ways that the text is relevant to you and me.

I would definitely recommend his books. You do have to be a discerning reader. But there are some good insights in his books.
Sin needs to be spelled out. There was a time when sin was sin, but now they've taken the "s" off of it, and you're in the "in" group if you're a sinner. But that's not the way God spells sin. He still spells it S-I-N. And you will notice that "I" is right in the middle of the word--that's where all of us are.
It is a wonderful thing to stand for the truth, and when you stand for it, then you don't have to compromise.
There is no one in Scripture who is more like Christ in his person and experiences than Joseph. Yet nowhere in the New Testament is Joseph given to us as a type of Christ.
I am firmly convinced that if God's people would give out His Word and live lives that would commend the gospel, He would make their witness effective.
God has never asked us to compromise. God does ask us to give out the Word of God--regardless of the size of our congregation.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: Jesus

Jesus. A.W. Tozer. 2017. Moody. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First, I just want to say that I really love the fact that Moody is publishing so many Tozer books. I love, love, love A.W. Tozer and "new" Tozer books are always welcome at my house. The theme of this collection--compilation--is JESUS. There are seventeen chapters. The chapters are logically arranged taking readers on quite a journey. It opens by establishing certain things about God. He is infinite and eternal--and he's three-in-one existing as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Readers briefly learn a tiny bit about what God was up to before "In the Beginning." The next step, being, of course, creation. Most of the chapters, however, focus on his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension. (All but four chapters).

This would be a WONDERFUL introduction to A.W. Tozer, in my opinion. Tozer is always passionate, always zealous, always opinionated. But when he talks of Jesus, he is even more so. For I think Jesus was the love of his life. And everything always came back to JESUS for Tozer. Tozer was always urging listeners--readers--to take Jesus seriously, to take our Christian lives seriously. He wanted the church to be THE CHURCH: standing strong in the truth, countering culture, reflecting transformed lives, offering hope to a broken world. An indifferent, luke-warm, compromising church INFURIATED him.

Tozer is very straightforward in his writing. He leaves no question as to what he means!

Favorite quotes:
Our chief business is not to argue with our generation, nor is it largely to persuade or prove. With our declaration, “Thus saith the Lord,” we make God responsible for the outcome.
God is not glorified until men and women think gloriously of Him. Yet it is not what people think of God that matters.
The eternal Son came to tell us what the silence never told us. He came to tell us what not even Moses could tell us. He came to tell us and to show us that God loves us and that He constantly cares for us. He came to tell us that God has a gracious plan and that He is carrying out that plan. Before it is all finished and consummated, there will be a multitude that no man can number, redeemed, out of every tongue and tribe and nation.
The incarnation remains forever a fact, for “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
When God justifies a sinner everything in God is on the sinner’s side. All the attributes of God are on the sinner’s side. It isn’t that mercy is pleading for the sinner and justice is trying to beat him to death, as we preachers sometimes make it sound.
Always, always, always God acts like God.
Let me warn you that many preachers and Bible teachers will answer to God some day for encouraging curious speculations about the return of Christ and failing to stress the necessity for “loving His appearing“! The Bible does not approve of this modern curiosity that plays with the Scriptures and that seeks only to impress credulous and gullible audiences with the “amazing” prophetic knowledge possessed by the brother who is preaching or teaching!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Quotes from the Cloud #39

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

Near him she stole, rank after rank;
She feared approach too loud;
She touched his garment's hem, and shrank
Back in the sheltering crowd.
A trembling joy goes through her frame:
Her twelve years' fainting prayer
Is heard at last; she is the same
As other women there.
She hears his voice; He looks about.
Ah! is it kind or good
To bring her secret sorrow out
Before that multitude?
With open love, not secret cure,
The Lord of hearts would bless;
With age-long gladness, deep and sure,
With wealth of tenderness.
Her shame can find no shelter meet;
Their eyes her soul appal:
Forward she sped, and at his feet
Fell down, and told Him all.
His presence made a holy place;
No alien eyes were there;
Her shamed-faced grief found godlike grace;
More sorrow, tenderer care.
"Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole;
Go, and be well, and glad."
Ah, Lord! if we had faith, our soul
Not often would be sad.
Thou knowest all our hidden grief
Which none but Thee can know;
Thy knowledge, Lord, is our relief;
Thy love destroys our woe. ~ George MacDonald

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Book Review: The Book of Jesus

The Book of Jesus. Calvin Miller, ed. B&H. 576 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Book of Jesus is a 'treasury of the greatest stories and writings about Christ' compiled by Calvin Miller. There are ten divisions in The Book of Jesus: Jesus: Who He Was; Jesus: His Birth; Jesus: His Friendship With Us All; Jesus: His Becoming One Of Us; Jesus: His Miracles; Jesus: His Teachings; Jesus: His Cross; Jesus: His Resurrection; Jesus: His Continuing Reign; Jesus His Second Coming.

The selections come from a LARGE VARIETY of sources. Some names will likely be familiar to you: Max Lucado, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, etc. Other names will probably be as new to you as they were to me: Elton Trueblood, John Baillie, Elijah P. Brown, Clarence Jordan, Lois A. Cheney, Herbert C. Gabhart, etc.

The treasury includes scripture itself (in various translations), poems, essays, stories, devotions, prayers. Not every author is evangelical; not every author is Christian.

There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Christianity is a rescue religion. ~ John R.W. Stott
The birth of Jesus is the sunrise of the Bible. ~Henry Van Dyke
The best way to deal with sin is not to attempt reform but to adore the Savior. ~ Calvin Miller
You cannot make your own cross, but unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making. You do not choose your own cross, but self-will would try to be your lord and master. Your cross is prepared and appointed by divine love. Accept it cheerfully. You are to carry your cross without raising trivial objections. ~ Charles Spurgeon
You can carry it because the Man of Sorrows knows its weight. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be in love with it. ~ Charles Spurgeon
To be a Christian is to be reborn, and free, and unafraid, and immortally young. ~ Joy Davidman
This Christ of Christmas is the Creator, mighty and strong. This Christ of Christmas is our Shepherd. He desires to lead us through paths of righteousness. This Christ of Christmas desires to set us apart to walk in holiness, because He is our God. This Christ of Christmas is our healer; body, soul, and spirit. This Christ of Christmas is more than enough to meet our needs in every situation. ~ Pam Whitley

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Year With Newton #13

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 I'm sharing snippets from "The Christian and The World" dated 1776.
It seems to me—that no person can adjust and draw the line exactly for another. There are so many particulars in every situation, of which a stranger cannot be a competent judge, and the best human advice is mixed with such defects, that it is not right to expect others to be absolutely guided by our rules, nor is it safe for us implicitly to adopt the decisions or practices of others.
But the Scripture undoubtedly furnishes sufficient and infallible rules for every person, however circumstance; and the throne of grace is appointed for us to wait upon the Lord for the best exposition of his precepts. By frequent prayer, and close acquaintance with the Scripture, and a habitual attention to the frame of our hearts, there is a certain delicacy of spiritual taste and discernment to be acquired, which renders a proper judgement concerning the nature and limits of the Adiaphora, (questionable things) as they are called, or how near we may go to the utmost bounds of what is right, without being wrong, quite unnecessary.
Love to Christ is the clearest and most persuasive factor; and when our love to the Lord is in lively exercise, and the rule of his Word is in our eye—we seldom make great mistakes!
There is a duty, and a charity likewise, which we owe to the world at large, as well as a faithfulness to God and his grace, in our necessary converse among them. This seems to require, that, though we should not be needlessly singular—yet, for their instruction, and for the honor of our Lord and Master, we should keep up a certain kind of singularity, and show ourselves called to be a separated people: that, though the providence of God has given us callings and relations to fill up (in which we cannot be too exact)—yet we are not of this world—but belong to another community, and act from other principles, by other rules, and to other ends, than the generality of those about us.
As our Lord Jesus is the great representative of his people in heaven, he does them the honor to continue a succession of them as his representatives upon earth. Happy are those who are favored with most of the holy unction, and best enabled to manifest to all around them, by their spirit, tempers, and conversation, what is the proper design and genuine effect of his Gospel upon the hearts of sinners.
That which is our cross—is not so likely to be our snare. But if that spirit, which we should always watch and pray against, infects and assimilates our minds to itself—then we are sure to suffer loss, and act below the dignity of our profession.
The value of time is to be taken into the account. Time is a precious talent, and our Christian profession opens a wide field for the due improvement of it.
Many things which custom pleads for, will not be suitable to a Christian, for this one reason—that they are not consistent with the simplest notion of the redemption of time.
And when everything of this sort in each person's situation is properly attended to, if the heart is in a right state—spiritual concerns will present themselves, as affording the noblest, sweetest, and most interesting relaxation from the cares and toils of life. On the other hand, secular work will be the best relaxation and unbending of the mind from pious exercises. Between the two, perhaps there ought to be but little mere leisure time. A life, in this sense divided between God and the world, is desirable, when one part of it is spent in retirement, seeking after and conversing with Him whom our souls love; and the other part of it employed in active services for the good of our family, friends, the church, and society, for His sake. Every hour which does not fall in with one or other of these views, I apprehend is lost time.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, November 21, 2016

2017 Operation Deepen Faith

I am changing things up from previous years. There will be only two parts. (Not eight like last year). Sign up for one or the other, or both! (A blog is not required. But if you do blog, do share a link.) To sign up 'officially,' leave a comment on this post. The challenge is from January 2017-December 2017.

I want the challenge to focus more on sharing and community-building. I will have check-in posts on the twenty-eighth of each month. Your checking in will be optional, of course. But I hope you do!  In addition to monthly check-in posts, I encourage you to follow me on twitter (@operationbible) and tweet me as often as you like regarding what you're reading and/or studying, what you're looking forward to reading, etc. One last thing, consider adding me and fellow participants to your blogroll, and cheer on other participants by reading reviews and leaving comments.

I. Wonderful Words of Life. Goal: Read the Bible. The goal isn't to read the Bible following a specific plan or by a certain date. The goal is to read the Bible. For some that might mean reading the Bible once a year. For others it might mean reading the Bible over two or three years. What matters is that you incorporate reading the Bible into your life. 

Looking for a plan? I've got a list:
  • Back to the Bible's 21 Day Bible Reading Challenge (John only)*
  • Back to the Bible's 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge (Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke only) (link to pdf file)*
  • Back to the Bible's 6 Month Bible Reading Challenge (Acts through Revelation, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes only) (link to pdf file)*
  • 5X5X5 Bible Reading Plan (New Testament Only, 5 Days A Week, 5 Minutes a Day) (link to pdf file)*
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (Book-at-a-Time) (25 readings per month) (link to pdf file)
  • (Whole) Bible in 90 Days Plan (link to pdf file)
  • John MacArthur's NT Plan (read a book 30 days in a row)
  • Woodrow Kroll's Plan (read whole books at a time; read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting)
  • Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • M'Cheyne Bible Reading Plan (link to pdf file)
  • 52 Week Bible Reading Plan, Different Genre Every Day (link to pdf file)
  • Legacy Reading Plan (No set daily readings, but, set monthly readings) (link to pdf file)
  • Back to the Bible's Chronological Plan (lists readings month by month, the link to January)

II. Christian Nonfiction. Don't be afraid to give it a try. Read some theology. You choose the number of books to aim for. A beginner might not feel comfortable committing to more than one book. And that's fine. I want to challenge you to start somewhere. This challenge is for everyone. Not just for people who want to commit to reading twenty!  

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Books about God (his attributes, his character, his names, the trinity)
  • Books about the birth, life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ; His person, his work. 
  • Books about the Bible (how to read the Bible, how to study the Bible, how it's translated, the history of translation, why it's reliable and trustworthy, why it's inerrant and infallible, etc.)
  • Commentaries on specific books of the Bible (Ezekiel, Gospel of John, Romans, etc.)
  • Books about Bible characters (Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah, Ruth, Mary, Peter, Paul, etc.)
  • Books about prayer and/or fasting
  • Books about worship, praise and thanksgiving, music in church, etc.
  • Books about church life, church growth, church leadership, church discipline, etc.
  • books about missions (evangelism, outreach, discipleship,  service, local and global)
  • sermon collections (book, ebook, websites of teaching ministries, etc.)
  • biographies/autobiographies of theologians, preachers, missionaries, other Christians 
  • books about pain, suffering, grief, and tough questions
  • books about apologetics 
  • books about other religions, specifically books about other religions written from a Christian point of view
  • topical books offering a Christian perspective on any subject (marriage, family life, parenting, finances (getting out of debt), dieting, starting a business, being single, fostering or adopting children, war, terrorism, politics, etc.
  • books about end times 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen. 2016. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: May 27, 1820 Ivy Hill, Wiltshire, England. Jane Fairmont Bell sat alone in the keeper's lodge she had once shared with her husband. There she began her solitary breakfast, delivered by a maid from the coaching inn across the drive. Her inn. She still struggled to credit it.

Premise/plot: Julie Klassen is beginning a Regency series, Tales from Ivy Hill. The first one is The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. It introduces us to the community of Ivy Hill, particularly the BELL family.

Our heroine is Jane Bell, a widow, who faces personal and financial struggles throughout. It's been one year since her husband died, one year since she found out that her husband left her the inn in his will. During that year, she's had little--if anything--to do with the inn herself. Perhaps that was a mistake, or, maybe she just wasn't ready yet. Thora Bell, Jane's mother-in-law, returns to the INN when she hears--through gossip--that the inn is facing RUIN. Thora isn't the only Bell with an interest in the inn. Patrick Bell, Jane's brother-in-law, is around to "help out" around the inn. But does he want to OWN the inn himself?!

Soon after the novel opens, Jane learns--along with Patrick and Thora--that Jane's husband, John, had taken out a loan from the local bank. The banker says the INN is in debt for 15,000 pounds. Three months to pay it back...or else they'll lose the inn.

My thoughts: Jane, may be the 'main' heroine, but she isn't really the only heroine. THORA, her mother-in-law and RACHEL, her former-best-friend also play big roles in this one. Rachel is a 'spinster' (well, spinster in Regency terms) facing losses of her own. Her father is dying, the estate is entailed, she'll lose her home when he dies. (There is some vague mystery about loves lost in the past and a broken friendship with Jane.) Thora is a widow. She's lost her husband and her son. But there are men around who think she is an ANGEL. Two men 'madly' in love with her. But will she marry again?!

What I loved most about this one was THE COMMUNITY and the potential for giddy-making romance in future books. There were several intriguing potential love interests for Jane and Rachel. (Thora's romance is concluded in this one). There were several flawed but swoon-worthy HEROES in this one. I'm not sure which I'd really, truly want Jane to end up with. But there are two or three I want to get to know better!!!

If you love BBC miniseries, I think this one is a must-read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week in Review: November 13-19


  • Psalm 90-150
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • Isaiah 1-41


  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians 1-5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Book Review: Genesis 16-33

Thru the Bible: Genesis 16-33. J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]

I have enjoyed reading a handful of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentaries. Genesis is broken down into three volumes. The second volume covers Genesis 16-33. The focus is mainly on God, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

If you're not familiar with his commentary series, I'll take a few minutes to explain his style. McGee is a very casual and conversational, very tell-it-like-it-is, very simple. He introduces the book of the Bible. He then goes through it practically verse by verse, chapter by chapter. The translation reprinted in the commentary, is, I believe, the King James Version. It is reprinted. Unlike some commentaries that provide Scripture references and outlines, this one does give you the Scripture text in the text itself. You don't have to have an open Bible in hand. (Which is very nice!) He likes to try to make connections between then and now, to point out ways that the text is relevant to you and me.

While I disagreed with a good deal of what McGee had to say about Genesis 1:2 and perhaps Genesis 6, this second volume was more in line with my own thinking. Mostly.
The idea seems to be that you can become a child of God and continue on in sin. God says that is impossible--you cannot do that and this city of Sodom is an example of that fact.
It is wonderful to be a new Christian with an appetite like that for the milk of the Word. But the day comes when you are ready to start growing up as a believer. Instead of just reading Psalm 23 and John 14--wonderful as they are--try reading through the entire Bible. Grow up. Don't be a babe all the time.
If you were to designate the ten greatest chapters of the Bible, you would almost have to include Genesis 22.
I believe that any person whom God calls, any person whom God saves, any person whom God uses is going to be tested.
Faith is not a leap in the dark. It must rest upon the word of God.
Faith is acting upon the Word of God. Faith rests upon something. God wants us to believe His Word and not just believe. It is pious nonsense to think that you can force God to do something, that God has to do it because you believe it.
I do not know what His will is, but whatever His will is, that is what I want done.
The Holy Spirit has come to speak of Another.
You can talk about the generation gap all you want, but there is no generation gap of sin. It just flows right from one generation to another.
I think that you will always have to pay a price if you are really going to study the Word of God. The devil will permit you to do anything except get into the Word of God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible