Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week in Review: September 24-30

Living Bible

  • John 3-21
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

Revised English Bible (REB)

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Psalms 1-45
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • Acts 1-13
  • Romans
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 29, 2017

First impressions of the REB

Holy Bible: Revised English Bible. 1989/1996. Cambridge. 1264 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Revised English Bible is an update to the New English Bible (1970). While I had read here and there in the New English Bible in previous years, it wasn't until the start of this year--2017--that I read it cover to cover. I thought it would be great fun to try to finish the Revised English Bible this year as well.

One thing I've discovered is that I enjoy reading British Bible translations.

I would really love to find the New Testament on audio to physically borrow--not buy. It's narrated by Derek Jacobi. I'm debating if it's worth my trouble doing an interlibrary loan request when only four libraries in the United States own it.

For those of you who don't know, I read my Bible while drinking tea--mainly. It is a LOVELY combination.

So far I've read Genesis and Exodus from the Old Testament, in addition to a couple dozen psalms. In the New Testament, I've read Mark and Luke as well as a few letters: Romans, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Peter.

I am pickiest when it comes to Romans. I wasn't absolutely thrilled with the translation of Romans 3 or 8. I don't like "expiating" in Romans 3. And I'm not sure what's up with the "co-operating" of Romans 8. But I am not so picky as to let it stop me from continuing on with the project.
For all alike have sinned, and are deprived of the divine glory; and all are justified by God’s free grace alone, through his act of liberation in the person of Christ Jesus. For God designed him to be the means of expiating sin by his death, effective through faith. God meant by this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had overlooked the sins of the past—to demonstrate his justice now in the present, showing that he is himself just and also justifies anyone who puts his faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26
In the same way the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. We do not even know how we ought to pray, but through our inarticulate groans the Spirit himself is pleading for us, and God who searches our inmost being knows what the Spirit means, because he pleads for God’s people as God himself wills; and in everything, as we know, he co-operates for good with those who love God and are called according to his purpose. For those whom God knew before every they were, he also ordained to share the likeness of his Son, so that he might be the eldest among a large family of brothers; and those whom he foreordained, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:26-30
Here is a sampling of quotes from the book of Psalms:
Psalm 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them for ever shout for joy; shelter those who love your name, that they may exult in you. For you, LORD, will bless the righteous; you will surround them with favour as with a shield.
Psalm 12:6-8 The words of the LORD are unalloyed: silver refined in a crucible, gold purified seven times over. LORD, you are our protector and will for ever guard us from such people. The wicked parade about, and what is of little worth wins general esteem.
Psalm 19:7-12 The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul. The LORD’s instruction never fails; it makes the simple wise. The precepts of the LORD are right and give joy to the heart. The commandment of the LORD is pure and gives light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is unsullied; it abides for ever. The LORD’s judgements are true and righteous every one, more to be desired than gold, pure gold in plenty, sweeter than honey dripping from the comb. It is through them that your servant is warned; in obeying them is great reward. Who is aware of his unwitting sins? Cleanse me of any secret fault. 
Psalm 23:1-6 The LORD is my shepherd; I lack for nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me to water where I may rest; he revives my spirit; for his name’s sake he guides me in the right paths. Even were I to walk through a valley of deepest darkness I should fear no harm, for you are with me; your shepherd’s staff and crook afford me comfort. You spread a table for me in the presence of my enemies; you have richly anointed my head with oil, and my cup brims over. Goodness and love unfailing will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD throughout the years to come. 
Psalm 27:13 Well I know that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Book Review: The Gospel of Passion

Mark: The Gospel of Passion. Michael Card. 2012. IVP. 206 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When we listen to the text of Scripture with our heart and mind fully engaged, we should almost hear the tone of the author's voice. When I listen to the opening verse of Mark, I hear an enthusiastic young man who is almost out of breath.

Premise/plot: Mark: The Gospel of Passion is a commentary written by Michael Card. He does not go through the gospel verse by verse, but he does go through it chapter by chapter, essentially paragraph by paragraph. He approaches the gospel through the lens of biblical imagination. What is the biblical imagination? An intellectually informed imagination, a balanced engagement of the heart and mind. He writes, "when the imagination is surrendered along with the heart and mind, it becomes a unifying bridge that opens the Scriptures in new and exciting ways." Mark worked closely with Peter. And Mark is thought to be written based on stories Peter told him.

My thoughts: Michael Card has written a commentary on each of the four gospels. His commentary on Mark is the first that I've read. (I own the other three, and I do plan on reading them at some point.) Mark is the shortest gospel, and I must admit it's well-paced. But it's not my favorite of the four gospels. I thought the commentary was good. His approach definitely was thought-provoking at times. For example, I'd never thought why Mark might exclude the account of Peter walking on the water. Card poses two questions: Was it pride? Was Peter ashamed that he failed to walk on water and needed rescuing? Or was it humility? Did Peter want to avoid any attention to himself and keep the glory focused on Jesus. He doesn't definitively answer because the truth is we just do not know.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #2

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In October I hope to cover the next eight verses of the Psalm.

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law    and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,    and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;    and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise,    that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,    for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts;    in your righteousness give me life!

Sermon 37 (Psalm 119:34)

  • IN these words you have—(1.) A prayer, give me understanding. (2.) A promise, and I shall keep thy law. (3.) The promise amplified, by expressing the exactness and sincerity of that obedience, yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. The first point is— That there needeth a great deal of understanding to keep God’s law.
  • 1. That he may know his way, and understand what God commandeth and forbiddeth; for it is the wisdom of a man to understand his way, and to know the laws according to which he liveth: Col. 1:9, 10, Filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye may walk worthy of God unto all well-pleasing.’
  • We take it for granted that a man should comply with the will of him upon whom he dependeth. We have all and look for all from him; therefore we should walk worthy of God unto all well-pleasing, which we can never do without much knowledge and understanding; therefore we should search out the mind of God in everything.
  • To avoid the snares that are laid for us in the course of our duty to God. There is a crafty devil and a deceitful heart; so that a man that would walk with God had need have his eyes about him.
  • He that would keep God’s law had need be a very understanding man, that Satan entrap him not, and his own heart deceive him not, and so he smart for his folly: Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,’ Eph. 5:15.
  • Alas! the corruption of nature would teach us to do otherwise; we love ourselves more than our neighbour, and our neighbour more than God. Out of self-interest we comply with the lusts of men, and in complying with the lusts of men make bold with God. This wisdom every one that would keep God’s law must learn, that we are bound to none so much as to God, from whom we have life, and breath, and all things; that none can reward our obedience so surely, so largely, as God, who can bear us out when men fail; that none can punish our disobedience so much as God.
  • That heaven is to be preferred before earth, and the salvation of our souls before the interests and concernments of our bodies: Mat. 6:33, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ And whosoever fail in this point of wisdom are very fools: Luke 12:20, But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?’
  • That present affliction is to be chosen rather than future, and temporal rather than eternal.
  • That things of profit and pleasure must give place to things that belong to godliness, virtue, and honesty; for the bastard good must give place to the true, real good.
  • That a general good is to be chosen before a particular, and that which yieldeth all things rather than that which will yield a limited and particular comfort.
  • Understanding is necessary, that we may judge aright of time and place and manner of doing, that we may do not only things good but well, where to go, where to stand still; as it is said, they sought of God a right way, Isa. 8:21, and David behaved himself wisely in. all that he did, 1 Sam. 18:5.
  • Secondly, The next thing that I shall observe is this— That upon the supposition of this benefit he promiseth obedience, I shall keep thy law. Doct. They that have understanding given by God will keep his law. 1. That it is their duty, and they ought so to do, there is no question; for all knowledge is given us in order to practice, not to satisfy curiosity or feed pride, or to get a fame and reputation with men of knowledge and understanding persons, but to order our walk: Col. 1:9, 10, For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, cease not to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.’ 2. That they will do so is also clear upon a twofold account:— [1.] Because answerable to the discovery of good or evil in the understanding.
  • God’s grace. God doth never fully and spiritually convince the judgment, but he doth also work upon the will to accept, embrace, and prosecute those good things of which it is convinced. He teacheth and draweth; they are distinct works, but they go together; therefore the one is inferred out of the other. Drawn and taught of God, both are necessary; for as there is blindness and inadvertency in the mind, so obstinacy in the will, which is not to be cured by mere persuasion, but by a gracious quality infused, inclining the heart, which by the way freeth this doctrine from exception, as if all God’s works were mere moral suasion. The will is renewed and changed, but so as God doth it, by working according to the order of nature.
  • Use. By all means look after this divine illumination, whereby your judgment may be convinced of the truth and worth of spiritual things. It is not enough to have some general and floating notions about them, or slightly to hear of them, or talk of them; but they must be spiritually discerned and judged of; for if our judgments were thoroughly convinced, our pursuit of true happiness would be more earnest; you would see sin to be the greatest mischief, and grace the chiefest treasure, and accordingly act.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

September Operation Deepen Faith Check-In

I. Wonderful Words of Life

  • What have you been reading in the Bible?
  • What books have you finished?
  • What book are you currently in?
  • Do you know what your next book of the Bible will be?
  • Which translation are you using?
  • What have you learned about God lately?
  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • Any favorite verses?

II Christian Nonfiction

  • Have you finished any books for the challenge this month?
  • What book are you currently reading for the challenge?
  • Do you know what book you'll be reading next?
  • Any favorite quotes?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book review: Martin Luther

Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. Herman Selderhuis. 2017. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the introduction: Luther was a problem. Certainly for the pope and the emperor, but often he was also a problem for his fellow reformers. Prone to outbursts of rage and coarse language, Luther was frequently stubborn and undiplomatic, even with allies.

First sentence from chapter one: God, the Devil, and death were everyday topics in the world into which Martin Luther was born. As a child, Luther learned that God was a Judge more righteous than merciful. The Devil was out to snatch your soul and turn women into witches. Death was not the end of life, Luther was taught, but instead it was the moment you appear before God and enter purgatory. With these dour lessons firmly in his head, is it any surprise that years later Luther would say that every mention of God was “as a clap of thunder in [his] heart”? The god that Martin Luther was told to believe in as a child was a god who signaled his righteousness chiefly through punishment.

Premise/plot: Herman Selderhuis has written a spiritual biography of Martin Luther. He balances writing about Martin Luther's life with letting Martin Luther tell his own story by sharing quotes from his books, letters, sermons, pamphlets, etc. Even if you've read half a dozen books on Martin Luther in the past, I'd invite you to read this newly published biography. Selderhuis' narrative style is compelling.

My thoughts: I loved this book. I have read a handful of books on Martin Luther. Perhaps I should amend that to read, I've struggled my way through a handful of books on Martin Luther. I've almost always found them dull, intimidating, repetitive, or simplistic. Perhaps that isn't fair. Perhaps a fairer description would be not quite ideal in terms of reader appeal or approachability.

I loved Selderhuis' biography because it was packed with information, with detail, but the presentation was such that everything fit together and created a big picture context. It included plenty of information--some of it new to me--in a fascinating narrative. Nothing was dumbed down or made to be concise. The book was not yet another basic outline of his life. There's a passage in Ezekiel that I think applies here.

Ezekiel 37:1-10 reads,
"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." 
Other biographers have given readers the dry bones of Martin Luther. But it is Selderhuis' biography that has given Martin Luther flesh and skin in my opinion. 

I loved LEARNING. There were so many things I did NOT know about Luther even though I've read up on him. 

For example, did you know that Martin Luther once promised his wife fifty guilders if she would read the Bible cover to cover during the period of early October to Easter? (She was SUPER busy being a mom and wife) Selderhuis writes, "Apparently, Käthe accepted this arrangement because on October 28, Luther mentioned to a friend, “She is taking this seriously, because she has already reached Deuteronomy.” 

I was aware of Martin Luther's many stomach ailments. But I was NOT aware of the ringing in his ears. I found out I have something else in common with him!

OR did you know that on his deathbed Martin Luther kept quoting Psalm 31:6?

Favorite Selderhuis quotes:

  • The Middle Ages may not have been as dark as they have often been portrayed, but from a spiritual perspective, the world in which young Martin Luther grew up was more like a haunted house than a playground. 
  • Whoever reads the Bible must be very careful not to wander, Luther insisted. One can expand on the Scriptures, but this should never be directed by feeling. Instead, one must allow the Bible to lead back to the source, that is, to the cross of Christ.
  • Luther did not have an agenda, and he did not have a system of theology. He had a thesis: that God gives grace and does not require merit. The consequences of that thesis were so enormous that they ultimately led to a different Europe. 
  • In a sense, October 31, 1517, could be called the birthday of a new world, a world in which life looked different in every context for those who followed Luther’s lead. A society that was based on the conviction that people have to restore their relationship with God changed radically when a new foundational conviction emerged: that God in Christ accomplished everything.  
  • The Psalms for him were the key to a life with God. Those who want to obey the first commandment can do that best, Luther believed, by reading through the Psalms, to learn them and to pray them. 
  • Despite the constant medical issues, Luther was able to accomplish much work. In 1521, he was sick for seven months but still published thirty treatises, wrote a hundred letters, and preached seventy times. In 1530, he was sick for ten months but produced thirty treatises, one hundred seventy letters, and sixty sermons. In 1536, he was ill for eight months and produced ten treatises, ninety letters, and fifty sermons. In 1545, again sick for ten months, he nevertheless produced thirteen treatises, eighty letters, and thirty-five sermons.

Favorite Luther quotes:

  • This letter [Romans] is the most important chapter in the New Testament and is the purist gospel. It would be worth a Christian’s effort not only to memorize this letter word for word but also to work with it on a daily basis like daily bread for the soul. One can never read or reflect on it too often or too thoroughly. The more frequently you engage yourself with this letter, the more valuable and appetizing it becomes.
  • We are doing our best to translate the Prophets into German. God, what a huge and tiring task this is to force the Hebrew writers to speak German. They do not want to abandon their Hebrew singularity to follow the barbarian German.
  • From a book you will never learn to pray well. You can read in it and receive instruction how and in what way you should pray. And you can let it motivate you to pray, but the prayer should come from the heart, without all the words that have already been written, and you should use words that your heart desires
  •  “The letter to the Galatians is my little letter, and I am married to it. It is my Käthe von Bora.”
  • Every preacher must be so sure and should be so convinced that he has and that he preaches the Word of God that he would be willing to die for it, specifically because preaching concerns life.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #1

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In October I hope to cover the next eight verses of the Psalm.
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law    and observe it with my whole heart.35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    for I delight in it.36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,    and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;    and give me life in your ways.38 Confirm to your servant your promise,    that you may be feared.39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,    for your rules are good.40 Behold, I long for your precepts;    in your righteousness give me life!
Sermon 36 (Psalm 119:33)

  • THE man of God had promised to run the way of God’s commandments; but being conscious of many swervings, beggeth God further to teach him. In the words two things are observable:— 1. A prayer for grace. 2. A promise made upon supposition of obtaining the grace asked. He promiseth— [1.] Diligence and accuracy of practice, I will keep it. [2.] Perseverance, unto the end.
  • First, In the prayer for grace observe— 1. The person to whom he prays, O Lord. 2. The person for whom, teach me. 3. The grace for which he prayeth, to be taught. 4. The object of this teaching, the way of God’s statutes. The teaching which he beggeth is not speculative, but practical; to learn how to walk in the way of God.
  • Divine teaching is necessary for all those that would walk in the way of God’s statutes.
  • We have lost our way to true happiness. Adam lost it, and all mankind in him; ever since we have been wandering up and down: Ps. 14:3.
  • We can never find it of ourselves till God reveal it to us: He hath showed thee, man, what is good,’ Micah 6:8. It is well for man that he hath God for his teacher, who hath given him a stated rule by which good and evil may be determined.
  • As the book of the scriptures is necessary to expound the book of the creatures, so and much more is the light of the Spirit to expound the book of the scriptures. Others teach the ear, but God openeth the heart. The rule is one thing, and the guide is another. The means were never intended to take off our dependence upon God, but to engage it rather, that we may look up for his blessing: 1 Cor. 3:6, I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase;’ 2 Cor. 4:6, God, that commanded (ho eipon) light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’
  • The work of the Spirit is to take off the scales from our eyes, that we may see clearly what the scripture speaketh clearly.
  •  We have need of none to teach us to do evil—Vitia etiam sine magistro discuntur; we have that from nature; but in the way of God we must be taught and taught again; God must be our teacher and daily monitor.
  • It informs us that as to knowledge and direction there must be much done.
  • That some doctrine should be revealed by God, by which he might understand how God stood affected towards him, and he ought to be affected towards God.
  • That this doctrine being revealed by God, it should be kept safe and sound, free from oblivion and corruption, in some public and authentic record, especially in these last times, when not only the canon is enlarged, but the church propagated far and near, and ob noxious to so many calamities, and men are short-lived, and there are not such authentic witnesses to preserve the credit of a divine revelation.
  • That this writing and record be known to come from God’s own hand by some infallible proof, to the end that it may be entertained with the more reverence.
  • To own this authority, and discern God’s mind, we need a suitable faculty, or a heart disposed by the Holy Ghost to receive the proof which God offereth, namely, that we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and open our eyes.
  • It is not enough to own our rule, but we must be continually excited to study it, that we may come to a saving measure of the knowledge of God’s mind in the word.
  • After some knowledge our ignorance is apt to return upon us, unless the Holy Ghost do still enlighten us and warn us of our duty upon all occasions.
  • Use 2. In the sincerity of your hearts go to God for his teaching. God is pleased with the request:1. The way of God’s statutes is worthy to be found by all. 2. So hard to be found and kept by any. 3. It is so dangerous to miss it, that this should quicken us to be earnest with God. 1. It is so worthy to be found; it is the way to eternal life and to escape eternal death; and in matters of such a concernment no diligence can be too much: Prov. 15:24, The way of life is above to the wise, to depart from hell beneath.’ It is the way that leadeth to life and true happiness. 2. It is so hard to find and keep; it is a narrow way: Mat. 7:13, 14, Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ There is defect, here excess. A gracious spirit, that would keep with God in all things, is sensible of the difficulty; there are many ways that lead to hell, but one way to heaven. 3. It is so dangerous to miss it in whole or in part; in whole, you are undone for ever; in part, in every false religion such disadvantages, so little of God’s presence and the comforts of his Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:15, If any man’s work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.’ A man should look after the most clear and safe way to heaven.
  • Doct. 2. That divine teaching is earnestly desired by God’s children.
  • Do we look after spiritual knowledge, such as will not only store the head with notions, but enter upon the heart?
  • Doct. 3. All that teaching that we expect or get from God must still be directed to practice: Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end.’
  • 1. This is God’s intention in teaching, therefore should be our end in learning. The end of sound knowledge is obedience: Deut. 4:5, 6, Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it: keep therefore and do them, for this is thy wisdom.’ Others do little more than learn them by rote, when they know them only to talk of them, or fashion their notions and plausible opinions that they may hang together. 2. It is not the knowing, but obeying, will make us happy. We desire to know the way that we may come to the end of the journey; to inquire the way and sit still will not further us: Blessed are they that hear the word and keep it,’ Luke 11:28;’ He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction,’ Prov. 10:17. None but desire to be happy; walk in God’s way; he goeth on right that submitteth to the directions of the word. 3. All the comfort and sweetness is in keeping: Ps. 19:11, In keeping thy commandments there is a great reward;’ many sweet experiences. Notions breed a delectation when they are right, but nothing comparable to practice. 4. He that will do shall know: John 7:17, If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine whether it be of God.’ Such as truly fear God, and make conscience of every known duty in their practice, have God’s promise that they shall be able to discern and distinguish between doctrine and doctrine; others provoke God to withhold light from them. Not that the godly are infallible. Alas! the best men’s humours and fleshly passions do often mislead them, but this is the fruit of their careless walking.
  • Use 1. Is to reprove them that desire knowledge, but only to inform their judgments or satisfy their curiosity, not to govern their hearts in the fear of God, or to reform their practices.
  • Use 2. It directeth us in our desires of knowledge, what should be our scope. Come with a fixed resolution to obey, and refer all to practice. Knowledge is the means, doing is the end: Deut. 5:31, I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.’
  • Doct. 4. In this practice we must be sincere and constant. I will keep it’— 1. Having such a help as this continual direction. 2. Such an engagement as this condescension to direct and warn a poor creature. And to the end,’ that is to the end of my life; there is no other period to our obedience but death.
  • [1.] It is not enough to begin a good course, but we must go on in it, if we mean to reach the goal, else all our labour is lost; the end crowneth the work. [2.] God, that made us begin, doth also make us to continue to the end. Is the beginning from God, the end and perfection from us? This is to ascribe that which is less perfect to God, and that which is more perfect to us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bibles Read in 2017

December 2017

CSB Spurgeon Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers (B&H). 2017. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]

November 2017
The New Testament in the Language of the People. Charles B. Williams 1937. 572 pages. [Source: Bought]

October 2017

Holy Bible: Revised English Bible. 1989/1996. Cambridge. 1264 pages. [Source: Bought]

September 2017

The Living Bible. 1974. Tyndale. 1090 pages. [Source: Bought]
ESV Reformation Study Bible. 2015. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]

July 2017
RSV Bible. 1977. Oxford University Press. 1904 pages. [Source: Gift]

June 2017
Reformation Heritage Study Bible--KJV. Edited by  Joel R. Beeke, Gerald Bilkes, and Michael Barrett. 2014. Reformation Heritage Books. 2218 pages. [Source: Birthday Gift in 2014]

April 2017
Pursuit of God Bible -- NIV. 2013. 1587 pages. [Source: Gift]

March 2017
Holy Bible. 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Edited by William D. Prindle. 1888 pages. [Source: Bought]

January 2017
New English Bible. 1970/1990. Illustrated by Horace Knowles. 973 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Review: Living Bible

The Living Bible. 1974. Tyndale. 1090 pages. [Source: Bought]

Start date: February 4, 2017
End date: September 24, 2017

No doubt about it, I love the Living Bible. A few days after becoming a Christian, my parents--or should I say Santa--gifted me with the Living Bible. (It was nearly Christmas. This was 1986.) I loved it. I took it with me anywhere and everywhere. Including the doctor's office. I couldn't stop gushing about how WONDERFUL a Savior Jesus was. Fast forward ten years to the spring of 1997, I received my first study Bible, the Life Application Bible. It was a Living Bible. It was green. This was the very first Bible that I read cover-to-cover. In my first ten years as a Christian, I'd read the Bible in parts, in pieces. It wasn't until high school that I dared to go places like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Leviticus. But my freshman year in college, that was when I embraced the whole Word of God. I became absorbed once again in Scripture--finding it to be the very food I was craving. I think I read the whole Bible in about two months or so. I moved on to other translations after that. I bought other translations. NKJV. NASB. NIV. I eagerly embraced new translations and remember when they released: NLT, ESV, HCSB. The Living Bible did not remain my "main" translation for long. I put aside paraphrases and moved onto the battlefield of "thought for thought" versus "word for word."

This year I found a Living Bible at a charity shop. I paid $2 for this well-loved, far-from-pristine edition. I loved its small size. I thought it would be a GREAT Bible for tea-time. (It was.) I had committed to other projects when I bought it, but, I started reading it anyway. I read it "on the side" as I worked my way through other projects: the NIV Tozer Bible and the KJV Reformation Study Bible. I put it down completely for the next two projects: RSV, ESV Reformation Study Bible. But when I finished the ESV Reformation Study Bible, I knew it was time to finish the Living Bible. In many ways it was like coming home.

Hebrews 1:3, "God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven."

Hebrews 2:10, " And it was right and proper that God, who made everything for his own glory, should allow Jesus to suffer, for in doing this he was bringing vast multitudes of God’s people to heaven; for his suffering made Jesus a perfect Leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation."

Hebrews 2:14-18, "Since we, God’s children, are human beings—made of flesh and blood—he became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could he die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could he deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.
We all know he did not come as an angel but as a human being—yes, a Jew. And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God in dealing with the sins of the people. For since he himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us."

Hebrews 4:12-16, "For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be hidden from him to whom we must explain all that we have done. But Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need."

Hebrews 5: 14, "You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s Word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right."

Hebrews 7:19-20, "This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven, where Christ has gone ahead to plead for us from his position as our High Priest, with the honor and rank of Melchizedek."

Hebrews 7:25-26, "But Jesus lives forever and continues to be a Priest so that no one else is needed. He is able to save completely all who come to God through him. Since he will live forever, he will always be there to remind God that he has paid for their sins with his blood. He is, therefore, exactly the kind of High Priest we need; for he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin, undefiled by sinners, and to him has been given the place of honor in heaven."

Hebrews 9:24-28, "For Christ has entered into heaven itself to appear now before God as our Friend. It was not in the earthly place of worship that he did this, for that was merely a copy of the real temple in heaven. Nor has he offered himself again and again, as the high priest down here on earth offers animal blood in the Holy of Holies each year. If that had been necessary, then he would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But no! He came once for all, at the end of the age, to put away the power of sin forever by dying for us. And just as it is destined that men die only once, and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died only once as an offering for the sins of many people; and he will come again, but not to deal again with our sins. This time he will come bringing salvation to all those who are eagerly and patiently waiting for him."

Hebrews 11:1, "What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead."

Hebrews 12:1-4 , "Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God. If you want to keep from becoming fainthearted and weary, think about his patience as sinful men did such terrible things to him. After all, you have never yet struggled against sin and temptation until you sweat great drops of blood."

Philippians 4:13, "for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Week in Review: September 17-23

Living Bible

  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel 22-48
  • Daniel
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • John 1-2
  • Acts
  • Colossians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • 1 Peter 
  • 2 Peter

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Imagine

Imagine. John Lennon. Illustrated by Jean Jullien. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us, only sky. Imagine all the people living for today.

Premise/plot: This picture book shares the lyrics of John Lennon's song, "Imagine" with a new generation. The illustrations are by Jean Jullien. His illustrations feature birds flocking together in search of peace.

My thoughts: I'll be completely honest. I hate the song Imagine. I loathe it. If hell has an anthem, I bet it would be Imagine. (You might think hell's anthem would have to be punk or rock or something hard or harsh on the ears--something openly rebellious. But remember Satan is the father of lies and that there is no truth in him. John 8:44. Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The beautiful melody aids in the deception.) 

The premise of Imagine is theologically flawed and spiritually dangerous. That premise is that deep down man is GOOD. If man is "bad" it's because of "external" notions that he's brainwashed with by society. Notions such as good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust, truth and lies, mine and yours, us and them. Strip away these external notions of absolutes and what you're left with is a purer, cleaner, ultimately GOOD man.

Lennon's premise is at odds with the Bible Genesis to Revelation. I could list hundreds if not thousands of "proofs" that this is so. I won't. I'll limit it to two. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

Saying something is true, doesn't make it true in reality. Therein lies the danger. You can say 2+2=5 because I want it to be 5 and not 4. But that doesn't make it so. You can argue it many different ways. I feel oppressed by the idea that 2+2=4. I feel free and liberated when I say 2+2=3 or 2+2=5 or 2+2=18. I don't want anyone telling me that 2+2=4 is the only true answer. Why can't 2+2=7 be just as true as 2+2=4? Why isn't 7 just as good a number as 4? Who are you to say that 7 ISN'T as good as 4? You do math your way, I'll do math my way. After all what difference does it make?! Live and let live, right?!?!

When you mess around with absolutes, when you build your life on false truths, chances are that your mistakes will only multiply and escalate. It's rare to be wrong about just one little thing. (2+2=5) After all, if 2+2=5, then what does 2+3 equal? Your whole world can be built around false premises and false foundations.

I could pick apart just about any line in the lyric. But I'll focus on this one: Imagine all the people living for today. We don't have to imagine what that looks like. We don't. We can see that in Genesis. We can see that in Exodus. We can see that in Judges. We can see that in 1 and 2 Kings. We can see that in Old Testament and New. We can see that in the here and now. Open your eyes. Look around you. The world is full of people who live LIFE FOR TODAY. The struggle is do you see people NOT living life for today? Do you see people living life in light of eternity? It is rare to see someone really willing to live life with heaven in mind. How many are really anxious and excited about living holy lives that are pleasing to God? That is something that would take imagination. Everyone living as he or she sees fit in his or her own eyes--that takes zero imagination.

One more word. This song proclaims to be all about peace. But I challenge that notion of peace. There is no peace so long as we are at war with God. There is no peace apart from Christ. True peace can be found in no other--established in no other.

Imagine ultimately reminds me of the book of Jeremiah. In his day, there were prophets--even priests--saying PEACE, PEACE, ALL IS WELL, ALL IS GOOD. BLESSINGS FOR EVERYONE. But these false words of hope were condemned by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah 6:14 reads, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace."

Read Jeremiah 23, for example. Here is Jeremiah 23:17, "They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’"

Text: 0 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 3 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: Cherished Mercy

Cherished Mercy. (Heart of the Frontier #3) Tracie Peterson. 2017. Bethany House. 310 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Push, Hope. You have to push," Grace commanded. Mercy Flanagan wiped her sister's forehead as she labored to give birth to her baby. After ten hours of intense pain, Hope had clearly weakened.

Premise/plot: Cherished Mercy is the third book in Tracie Peterson's Heart of the Frontier series. Previous books in the series have focused on Grace and Hope, Mercy's two older sisters. In the novel, Mercy follows her heart and goes to help a friend in need even though there is some risk involved. Eletta is pregnant and her husband, Isaac, is very worried about her because the pregnancy is proving to be so difficult and dangerous.

The risk involved? Well, traveling throughout Oregon territory with the tension and unrest of the region. There are many--particularly in the army, particularly the government--who believe the Native Americans should be gotten out of the way. The nicest want the Indians kept on a reservation out of their way. The cruelest? Well, they subscribe to the notion that the only good Indian is a dead one. On her travels, Mercy meets some cruel men who are eager and excited at the idea of killing Indians.

Mercy moves in with Eletta, Isaac, their daughter Faith, and Adam (Isaac's brother). She comes to love them and their community. Isaac, Eletta, and Adam work very closely with one (maybe two) of the Native tribes. The ties of friendship are strong. But a series of worse case scenarios happens...leaving plenty of questions about what will happen next.

My thoughts: I've enjoyed the other books in the series. But I really loved, loved, loved Cherished Mercy. I think I loved Mercy the best of all the sisters. I love her compassionate spirit; I love her bravery. I love her honesty and genuineness. I also came to love Adam. The characterization is so good in this series. I almost hate for the series to end. I would definitely recommend the trilogy.          

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Goodreads Book Tag

Saw this meme at Smiling Shelves

What was the last book you marked as read? Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson
What are you currently reading? Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography by Herman Selderhuis
What was the last book you marked as to read? Enjoying God by R.C. Sproul
What book do you plan to read next? Reading Romans with Luther by R.J. Grunewald
Do you use the star rating system? YES
Are you doing a reading challenge? Yes. My 2017 goal is 500 books. As of September 21, 2017 I am at 495 books.
Do you have a wishlist? Yes. Always. Since I could write.
What book do you plan to buy next? I'm hoping that Grace Alone by Carl Truman will go on sale before Reformation Day.
Do you have any favorite quotes? According to GoodReads, I have over 300. I'm not going to go through that many to pick a favorite. How about, "Some books claiming to be exhaustive are only exhausting to read." ~ A.W. Tozer
Who are your favorite authors? According to Goodreads, my most read authors are: Georgette Heyer, Dr. Seuss, Agatha Christie, Orson Scott Card, Mo Willems, A.W. Tozer, Anthony Trollope, L.M. Montgomery, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Janette Oke. Are my most read authors my favorite authors? For the most part.
Have you joined any groups? Yes. VT Reading Challenge and The Classics Club
What do you think Goodreads could do better? STOP sending me emails telling me I've finished a book.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Psalm 119:1-32

Psalm 119

א Aleph

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
    but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me.

ב Beth

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.

ג Gimel

17 Be good to your servant while I live,
    that I may obey your word.
18 Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.
20 My soul is consumed with longing
    for your laws at all times.
21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
    those who stray from your commands.
22 Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
    for I keep your statutes.
23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,
    your servant will meditate on your decrees.
24 Your statutes are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

ד Daleth

25 I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

This summer I've shared twenty-eight posts focusing on Psalm 119. All are tagged "My Summer with Psalm 119."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Check in With The Cloud

  • What have you been reading? What are you currently reading?
  • Have you finished anything for the challenge?
  • Have you read any new-to-you authors yet?
  • Have you found any new favorites?
  • Are you writing down favorite quotes? Have any to share?
  • Have you learned anything that you'd like to share?
  • Would you be interested in reading a book together? If so, what month would be good for you?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible