Tuesday, October 31, 2017

2018 Reformation Reading Challenge

Reformation Reading Challenge
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up here)
Duration: October 31, 2017 - December 31, 2018
# of books: minimum of 1 book OR 1 sermon series

Any book BY a reformer, ABOUT a reformer, or ABOUT the reformation (history, theology, legacy) will count.

As will any teaching/preaching series about any reformer or the reformation. Any documentary or film about the Reformers or the Reformation.

This year I want to emphasize the LEGACY portion of the Reformation Reading Challenge. While you might could argue there is a "start date" to the Reformation, there is not an end date necessarily. The work of the Reformation lives on--should live on. So ANY book by any Reformed author counts under the "legacy" portion of the challenge.

I'd like to encourage you to read PURITANS. 

You do not need to have a blog--or a place where you post reviews online--in order to participate. If you do review what you read, you can share links either in this sign-up post, or, you can send me a tweet. (@operationbible)

The minimum requirement is one book or one sermon series. There is no maximum limit!

Sign up by leaving a comment. You don't have to commit to specifics.Though if you have decided, then feel free to share! But you don't have to have it all exactly planned out in order to join!

*The background image is a painting of Luther nailing the 95 theses done by Julius Hubner.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2017 Completed Challenge: Reformation Reading Challenge

Reformation Reading Challenge
Host: Me, Operation Actually Read Bible, sign up here
October 2016-October 2017

1) Why The Reformation Still Matters. Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. 2016. Crossway. 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) Beyond the 95 Theses. Stephen J. Nichols. 2016. P&R. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
4) Three Treatises. Martin Luther. 1970. Fortress Press. 316 pages. [Source: Gift] 
5) The Pilgrim's Progress. John Bunyan. 1678. 301 pages. [Source: Bought]
6) A Little Book on the Christian Life. John Calvin. Edited by Buck Parsons and Aaron Denlinger. 2017. Reformation Trust. 132 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7) God Alone. Teaching Series. (DVD) R.C. Sproul [Source: Gift?]
8) The Reformation: What You Need to Know and Why. Michael Reeves and John Stott. 2017. Hendrickson. 100 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9) Martin Luther In His Own Words. Jack D. Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer, editors. 2017. Baker Books. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
10) Here I Stand. A Life of Martin Luther. Roland H. Bainton. 1950. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]
11) Luther and the Reformation. R.C. Sproul. 2011. Ten 23 minute messages. [Source: Gift]
12) 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]
13) The English Reformation and the Puritans. Michael Reeves. 2014. Ligonier Ministries. Twelve 23 minute messages. [Source: Gift]
14) The Legacy of Luther. R.C. Sproul, editor. 2016. Reformation Trust. 308 pages. [Source: Review copy]
15) A Survey of Church History, Part Three: A.D. 1500-1620.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
16) A Survey of Church History, Part Four: A.D. 1600-1800.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
17) A Survey of Church History, Part Five: A.D. 1800-1900. W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
18) A Survey of Church History, Part Six: A.D. 1900-2000. W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
19) Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions. W. Robert Godfrey. 2003. 151 pages. [Source: Library]
20) Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. Herman Selderhuis. 2017. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
21) Godspeed: Voices of the Reformation. David Teems. 2017. Abingdon Press. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
22) ESV Reformation Study Bible. 2015. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]
23) Saints of Zion. Jeff Lippencott & R.C. Sproul. 2017. Ligonier. 67 minutes. [Source: Gift]
24) The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New. Marty Machowski. Illustrated by Andy McGuire. 2015. New Growth Press. 269 pages. [Source: Library]
25) Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World. Eric Metals. 2017. Viking. 416 pages. [Source: Borrowed from friend]
26) Sword of the Wicked. Richard Sibbes. 1577-1635. [Source: Bought]
27) A Description of Christ. Richard Sibbes. (1577-1635, Sibbes lifespan). 29 pages. [Source:Bought]

28) The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: The Gospel for Muslims

The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ With Confidence. Thabiti M. Anyabwile. 2018. [January 2018] Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This book is written to remind Christians of an important, basic truth: "As a Christian, you already know everything you need to know to effectively share the good news of Jesus Christ with Muslim people. The same message that saves us—the gospel—is the message that will eternally save our Muslim neighbors and friends. In my experience, Christians know the gospel. They simply lack confidence in its power. This book is a call to place our confidence in the message that contains God’s power to save all who believe (Rom. 1:16). We don’t need new techniques for sharing the faith. We need confidence in the gospel in our evangelism to Muslims."

The book serves as a refresher course on the gospel--what it is. And it also serves as a refresher course on evangelism--how to share the gospel.

In part one, key gospel topics are covered: God, humanity, Jesus, repentance, and faith. These topics are presented from a Christian and a Muslim perspective. The goal isn't just to show the contrasts between two faiths, but to help readers better explain the gospel in ways that are meaningful.

In part two, the focus shifts from the gospel to evangelism. The book isn't a theoretical discussion of abstract ideas. It's an appeal to readers to get out there and to evangelize. The book seeks to be practical and helpful. Several chapters focus on hospitality and how important it is for families and churches to be hospitable.

I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I found it a great read. It takes an intimidating subject and makes it less intimidating perhaps. This one is PACKED with information. And it's passionately written.

Favorite quotes:
When we draw lines, we should do so with love because we’re representing a loving God we wish to make known.
Boldness is not what people do when they are unafraid; boldness is what people do in the face of fear.  Boldness comes, in part, when we fear the appropriate person—when we seek to love, revere, and stand in awe of God rather than men who may oppose us. 
When we make our case from the Scripture, we implicitly signal its trustworthiness and authority. Sometimes Christians fear that defending the Scriptures will offend their Muslim and other non-Christian acquaintances. But in my experience, Muslims respect Christians more deeply when we stand firm in our belief in the Scripture as the Word of God. They like to think of themselves as having an unwavering faith in the Quran. So a supposedly faithful Christian who does not honor the sacred Scriptures appears weak and untrustworthy to many Muslims. We gain ground in our evangelism simply by refusing to be embarrassed about the Scriptures and trusting that the Bible is the Word of God.
There are five reasons to address suffering and evangelism, especially as we present the gospel to Muslim friends. First, knowing the Bible’s teaching on suffering can prepare us to rejoice rather than be surprised when it comes. Some Christians feel fear thinking of suffering. Others are surprised God would let them suffer. They should not be surprised, says Peter (1 Peter 4:12). But imagine—we can rejoice at suffering.  Second, knowing the Bible’s teaching on suffering can help us shun the convenience and carnal pleasure that otherwise could dominate our lives. Though we wish to live at peace with all men, it’s not peace at all costs. We are not willing to gain peace at the cost of righteousness, integrity, justice, and loyalty to Christ. Third, by knowing the Bible’s teaching on suffering , we need not be afraid of Muslims when we share the gospel. Jesus repeatedly instructs His disciples in Matthew 10 not to be afraid (vv. 26, 28, and 31). If we let fear drive us, we will wish to avoid all hardship and will fail to tell others the good news of God’s love through Christ. Fourth, knowing the Bible’s teaching on suffering will help us prepare Muslim converts to endure suffering. Most Muslims awakened to faith in Christ will probably face immediate persecution. That’s the way it was in the New Testament world, and that’s the way it is in most of the Muslim world. Fifth, having a right theology of suffering will bring more intimate fellowship with Christ. If we think suffering is to be avoided at all costs, we will miss the unique communion with Jesus that comes only by sharing in His afflictions.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #11

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 46 (Psalm 119:40)

  •  I COME now to a second use, and that is— Use 2. To press us to long after holiness and subjection to God.
  • A man that makes God his heart’s delight shall have his heart’s desire:
  • Better to be denied in mercy, than to have our requests granted in anger. But grace will do us no hurt; it will not increase our snares and temptations, as other things do; and therefore can never be given in anger, but always in love.
  • Fix your desires and enlarge them to the full.
  • Watch against the abatement of your desires, for they are of great use to you in the spiritual life.
  • When the desires are fixed, endeavours are engaged; our desires must be pursued resolutely. But what shall we do to awaken these earnest longings in our souls, and those desires after holiness?
  • Desire is but passionate will, or the will effectually and powerfully excited or stirred up to some absent good. Now the appetite is from God as well as the meat. Desire of grace is an affection above nature, and must be planted in us by the Spirit of God. God gives the desire, and he satisfies it. He draws,’ then we run after him,’ Cant. 1:4. He puts this desire in our hearts, then we are carried on with an earnest pursuit after grace.
  • Spiritual desires need a great deal of cultivating.
  • Renew your desires every time you come to God. When you come to the word, come with an appetite; prepare your stomachs always for God’s food.
  • It is not enough that the soul is once come to Christ, but it is the business of our lives; we must be always coming:
  • Consider what a fulness there is in Christ. This encouraged the prodigal, that in his father’s house there is bread enough. So should this encourage us, and awaken our desires; there is enough in Christ if I will but go and take it, and receive from this ever-flowing fountain of grace that God hath set up in our nature: John 1:16, Of his fulness have we all received.’
  • Christ is not spent for giving; he hath enough to comfort and quicken us; he needs not our fulness, but emptiness.
  • Doct. 2. Those that indeed long for holiness will see a need of new quickening. Here I shall inquire— 1. What is this quickening. 2. Why they that long for God’s precepts, and a more perfect and ready subjection to God, are thus earnest for quickening.
  • First, What is this quickening? I shall not speak at large, for it often occurs in this psalm. It is used in scripture for two things:— 1. For regeneration, or the first infusion of the life of grace, Eph. 2:1, 5. Then we have divine qualities put into us, that do incline and enable us to live unto God. 2. It is put for the vitality and the vigour of grace, when the spiritual life is in good plight. Deadness of heart is apt to creep upon us, therefore we need renewed excitations and quickenings, that we may serve our God with cheerfulness, liveliness, and zeal. Christians should not only be living but lively;
  • Without faith our notions of God, Christ, heaven, and hell are never practical and lively in operation; for this is the evidence of things not seen, and this convinceth us of all spiritual and unseen things, to make them have a force and operation upon the soul. We do but hear, read, and discourse literally until faith puts life into our apprehensions and thoughts of them;
  • Secondly, Why will they that long after God’s precepts see a need of quickening? 1. Because of the diseases incident to the renewed estate. There is a constant weakness by reason of indwelling corruption: The flesh lusteth against the spirit,’ Gal. 5:17; they cannot serve God with that purity and liberty they desire. Then there are frequent indispositions of soul; sometimes they feel a slowness and loathness and dulness in their souls.
  • The spirit is a tender thing. Every heinous sin is as a wound in the body, which lets out the life-blood, and so we contract a deadness upon ourselves.
  • No creature doth subsist and act of itself. All things live, move, and have their being in God. There is a concurrence necessary to all created things, much more to the new creature: partly because of the internal indisposition of the subject in which it is—alas! grace in the heart is but like fire in wet wood—partly by reason of external impediments; Satan is ready to cast a damp upon the soul, so that the Lord’s grace is still necessary for us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Week in Review: October 22-28

Revised English Bible

  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • Matthew 9-28
  • John
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • James
  • 1 John 
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation
Williams New Testament
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • Romans
  • Galatians
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Adam Bede

Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: With a single drop of ink for a mirror, the Egyptian sorcerer undertakes to reveal to any chance comer far-reaching visions of the past.

Premise/plot: Adam and Arthur both "love" Hetty Sorrel. Hetty Sorrel loves Arthur--not Adam. But when Arthur breaks Hetty's heart, Adam is there to mend it. But is his love enough? Dinah is there to remind Hetty that there is SOMEONE there ready and able to mend her brokenness. And his name isn't Arthur or Adam.
Hetty said, in a frightened whisper, "Who?" "Some one who has been with you through all your hours of sin and trouble—who has known every thought you have had—has seen where you went, where you lay down and rose up again, and all the deeds you have tried to hide in darkness. And on Monday, when I can't follow you—when my arms can't reach you—when death has parted us—He who is with us now, and knows all, will be with you then. It makes no difference—whether we live or die, we are in the presence of God."
For a fuller summary of the book, see my review at Becky's Book Reviews.

Adam Bede is the story of a "fallen woman." Hetty Sorrel is young, beautiful, and naive. She is a believer in fairy tales, happy endings, and knights in shining armor riding along and sweeping you up, up, and away. Arthur Donnithorne is heir to the squire; he's the current squire's grandson. He finds Hetty GORGEOUS and IRRESISTIBLE. He throws away whatever wisdom he had, and follows "his heart" into a dangerous love affair. Arthur has a conscience--although it is an admittedly weak conscience. He knows right from wrong. He can reason between the two.  He doesn't struggle and fight temptation. He places himself in opportunities to sin--and surprise, surprise SINS.

Adam catches Arthur and Hetty together--kissing. Adam confronts Arthur. Adam becomes, in a way, the embodiment of Arthur's own conscience. He does not confess ALL to Adam. But he does choose to stop the affair and write a letter to Hetty. He goes away leaving Hetty broken-hearted.

Adam knows that Hetty has loved Arthur. He knows that he will never be Hetty's first love. But he holds hope that he will be her true love. He holds hope that Hetty will be his wife; that Hetty will put aside her childish, naive love for Arthur and come to love and respect him. It never crosses his mind that Hetty and Arthur were more intimate than a few stolen kisses. It never crosses his mind that Hetty is a virgin no longer and that she in fact could be carrying Arthur's baby. Should it have?

Slowly but surely, as the summer turns to fall turns to winter, Adam and Hetty grow closer. By November, she's agreed to marry him that spring. Hetty appears to be happy to be getting married. But there are moments when Adam thinks she looks sad.

Hetty, to give some background, is an orphan being raised by her aunt and uncle. She helps around the farm. She helps with their many, many children. She isn't always cheerful and joyful in her domestic duties. In fact, sometimes she comes across as unhappy with her lot. Arthur--for two or three months--seems to lift her up out of the ordinary. She feels LOVED and CHERISHED. He gives her expensive gifts that are perhaps inappropriate for a man to give a woman not his wife. These are gifts she knows must remain completely secret for fear of what others would say if they knew. Part of her must understand that what she is doing with Arthur is wrong.

What does Hetty know? That's a good question. She believes that it's just a matter of time before she is MARRIED to her one true love. She equates Arthur's time and attention and lavish GIFTS as being as good as a proposal of marriage. She doesn't see the fact that they're from two very different social classes as being a problem--at all. (She's Cinderella; he's the Prince.)

The book is never explicit about the affair. Everything intimate between Arthur and Hetty occurs off the page, or "off screen." There is no open discussion about sex. Therefore it's hard to figure out how aware or unaware Hetty is. Did she think about the risks and dangers? Did it occur to her at all that she might get pregnant?

Arthur's goodbye letter includes a veiled reference to the possibility of her being pregnant. She's to write him if there's a PROBLEM. But either Hetty didn't understand what he meant by problem, or she was in denial about being pregnant.

One of the problems is lack of communication. One of many problems. Who could Hetty have talked to during the affair? after the affair? when she realized she was pregnant? Was there any person that would have proved a safe choice?

If she'd gone to her aunt and uncle--the response would have no doubt been complete rejection. They might have given her a little money and sent her away to have the baby. If she'd gone to Adam? He'd have broken the engagement. Chances are he'd ride fast and furious to find Arthur, confront him, perhaps knock him about. I think he would "urge" Arthur to do SOMETHING for Hetty. Would Adam go too far? Would his temper lead him into danger? Maybe. He would not be man enough to raise another's child as his own child. He would never marry Hetty knowing that she'd been intimate with another man. But he might have done something to lessen Hetty's humiliation. See that she went somewhere far, far away--where she was unknown--to have the baby. If she'd gone to Dinah? I think Dinah would have been her friend, listened to her, supported her, loved her. Dinah might have even found a Christian couple willing to adopt Hetty's child.

But Hetty talked to no one. She lied to her friends and family about where she was going--to visit cousin Dinah!--and disappeared.

Another problem was that society was only getting the Bible half right. Society was getting right the concept of sin. Sex outside of marriage is sin. Plain and straightforward fact from holy scripture. What society was getting wrong was...a lot. Sin can be forgiven. If sin can't be forgiven then it isn't just fallen women that are in danger--it's all of us. All of us are sinners. Some of us "wear" sin on the outside and are open to harsher judgment. Some of us wear sin on the inside and escape public judgment. But that doesn't mean judgment isn't coming--it's merely delayed. The gospel says: either you wear your own sin and receive God's wrath OR Jesus wears YOUR sin and receives God's wrath.  Trust in Jesus, you'll find God to be merciful. Not only does God forgive the sins of those in Christ, those who place their trust in Christ, he calls us to forgive others. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. We are to give forgiveness freely and lavishly. Because that is how we've been forgiven by God. We are not to be stingy and reluctant. Amazing grace has been shown to us, we're to extend that mercy, that grace, to others whether we think they're worthy of it or not.

Today, I fear that society has radically misunderstood the concept of SIN and remains as clueless as ever on the concept of grace.

Adam Bede could not really be updated to contemporary times. Hetty would be more empowered to know about sex, about her body, about pregnancy. She'd be able to talk about it with her family, her friends, a doctor, a counselor. She'd be able to receive an abortion if that is what she wanted. Shame would not be attached to her for having sex, for getting pregnant, for choosing to have an abortion. Whether she felt ashamed or not--society would not be the ones putting that shame on her and forcing her into situations where she felt helpless. If--and it's a big if--her family happened to kick her out of the house, she'd be able to find help in other places.

I fear that whether set in 1799 or 1999, the baby would end up dead. Does it make a difference if Hetty's baby was killed in the womb by an abortion OR if it was killed after it was born? Legally, yes. Morally? It's a question worth wrestling with.

Another thought that keeps running through my mind is Hetty's mental state. Was Hetty sane? Did she know what she was doing? When had she lost touch with reality? When had she lost her grasp on what was right and wrong? I think SOMETHING had to have broken in her mind that allowed Hetty to think it was okay to bury--or half bury--her child ALIVE. In a modern update, would Hetty plead legal insanity? Would doctors be able to explain away her actions? What would "justice" look like today?

Is there a Christ-figure in Adam Bede? If there is, my argument is that it is in the person of Dinah Morris and NOT Adam Bede. Dinah Morris is probably as excellent an example of how a Christian should love God and love others as any I've seen in literature. She does not compromise on sin. She doesn't deny that sin is sin. Yet she points the way to Christ, the one who can reconcile God and sinner. She extends love and grace--unconditionally because she has been the recipient of it herself at God's hand. She offers comfort and not judgment. Her words are wise not because she's puffed up with knowledge, but because she weeps with those that weep and rejoices with those that rejoice. She loves. She doesn't demand perfection. She doesn't give conditions. She doesn't reject when she's disappointed.

Favorite quotes:

  • "Ah, dear friends, we are in sad want of good news about God; and what does other good news signify if we haven't that? For everything else comes to an end, and when we die we leave it all. But God lasts when everything else is gone. What shall we do if he is not our friend?"
  • "But let us see a little more about what Jesus came on earth for. Another time he said, 'I came to seek and to save that which was lost'; and another time, 'I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.' "The LOST!...SINNERS!...Ah, dear friends, does that mean you and me?"
  • God didn't send me to you to make light of your sorrow, but to mourn with you, if you will let me. If you had a table spread for a feast, and was making merry with your friends, you would think it was kind to let me come and sit down and rejoice with you, because you'd think I should like to share those good things; but I should like better to share in your trouble and your labour, and it would seem harder to me if you denied me that. You won't send me away? You're not angry with me for coming?
  • Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult.
  • Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings—much harder than to say something fine about them which is NOT the exact truth.
  • Without this fellow-feeling, how are we to get enough patience and charity towards our stumbling, falling companions in the long and changeful journey?
  • Surely it is not true blessedness to be free from sorrow, while there is sorrow and sin in the world: sorrow is then a part of love, and love does not seek to throw it off. It is not the spirit only that tells me this—I see it in the whole work and word of the Gospel. Is there not pleading in heaven? Is not the Man of Sorrows there in that crucified body wherewith he ascended? And is He not one with the Infinite Love itself—as our love is one with our sorrow?
  • These thoughts have been much borne in on me of late, and I have seen with new clearness the meaning of those words, 'If any man love me, let him take up my cross.' I have heard this enlarged on as if it meant the troubles and persecutions we bring on ourselves by confessing Jesus. But surely that is a narrow thought. The true cross of the Redeemer was the sin and sorrow of this world—that was what lay heavy on his heart—and that is the cross we shall share with him, that is the cup we must drink of with him, if we would have any part in that Divine Love which is one with his sorrow.
  • You can't isolate yourself and say that the evil which is in you shall not spread. Men's lives are as thoroughly blended with each other as the air they breathe: evil spreads as necessarily as disease.
  • We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves. I used to be hard sometimes: I'll never be hard again.
  • God's love and mercy can overcome all things—our ignorance, and weakness, and all the burden of our past wickedness—all things but our wilful sin, sin that we cling to, and will not give up.
  • Let us rather be thankful that our sorrow lives in us as an indestructible force, only changing its form, as forces do, and passing from pain into sympathy—the one poor word which includes all our best insight and our best love.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

October 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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Book Review: The Ology

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New. Marty Machowski. Illustrated by Andy McGuire. 2015. New Growth Press. 269 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Exploring the centuries-old church in their neighborhood was proving to be an adventure that Carla and Timothy would not soon forget. They had come upon an unlocked cellar door and had ventured down the stone stairway into the musty dimness below. "Look!" Carla exclaimed as she lifted the corner of a thick rug. "A hidden door." "I wonder where it leads," Timothy said. "Does it open?" the children pulled back the rug and lifted the door. Timothy pointed his flashlight into the darkness revealing a stairway to a room beneath the church cellar.

Premise/plot: You might assume that The Ology is just another bible story book written for parents to share with their children. It is true that this one contains a few familiar bible stories: Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, etc. But The Ology is not a Bible story book. (Though it is biblical.) In seventy-one short chapters, The Ology presents a systematic theology appropriate for families with children of all ages.

The framework. The book opens and closes with Carla and Timothy. In the beginning, these two come across a book, The Ology, that has been hidden in the secret room underneath the cellar in an old church building. They begin to read the book together. At the end, Timothy and Carla decide to take the book home with them to reread it. The next time they read it, they will read it with the Bible as well.

The book consists of eleven parts: "The Ology of God," "The Ology of People," "The Ology of Sin," "The Ology of the Promise and the Law," "The Ology of Christ," "The Ology of the Holy Spirit," "The Ology of Adoption into God's Family," "The Ology of Change," "The Ology of the Church," "The Ology of the End Times," "The Ology of God's Word."

Some sections are really short. Some are much, much longer. The shortest section is "The Ology of People." Perhaps this section reads the most like a traditional Bible story book. Overall, there are twenty chapters on God when you combine the chapters on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

My thoughts: I am so thankful that my library was able to interlibrary loan this one. I've been meaning to read it since it first came out.

I definitely love the idea of loving this one. I think it is so important to teach and instruct children in the faith from a very early age. Christianity isn't just a feeling; there are truths that need to be taught, need to be learned. You don't learn biblical truths by accident. They need to be intentionally taught. Otherwise, you'll pick up "truths" as you go, as you watch people around you, as you float in and out of churches growing up. And sometimes the truths you pick up "by accident" are more half-truths than whole-truths.

Each theological truth has its own chapter. Each chapter has several scripture references to look up and read. The parents guide urges parents to choose a memory verse for their children to learn to go with each chapter. The illustrations are supposed to engage readers and provoke conversations and discussions about what it means. Each chapter has at least one analogy to make the theological concept easier to understand.

My favorite section was "The Ology of Adoption Into God's Family." The chapters: "Chosen," "Called," "Born Again," "Faith," "Jesus Paid it All," and "Adopted."

Imagine going to an ice cream parlor on a hot day to buy an ice cream cone. The hardest part is trying to decide which flavor to get.
Some people love chocolate and will only choose ice cream with chocolate in it. Others enjoy big, chewy chunks of candy in their ice cream. But what if you went into an ice cream shop and none of the flavors had any appeal. Imagine flavors like stinky sneaker, mildew swirl, and earthworm chunk? You would most likely leave the shop without getting anything.
We choose ice cream that tastes good. But when God chose us to be a part of his family, we were yucky, spoiled sinners--not one of us was good. God didn't choose us because he needed us or because we had some special quality, God chose us while we were still sinners, just because he decided to love us.
After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. We do the same thing when we sin--we try to hide from God and get as far away as we can. Without God's help, no one would turn to him. We are all like runaway trains, speeding away from God toward a terrible crash. But because of his love and not because of anything we have done, God chose to save some who ran away.
Even before creating the world, God chose his children. He knew Adam and Eve would sin, and he planned before creation to send his only Son to rescue his people from sin and death.
It's good news that God chooses us, because sadly, without the Spirit changing our minds, we would never choose him! the Bible even says that we were "dead" in our sin and the Spirit has to first make us alive before we believe! Apart from God, we are helpless to choose him. We don't even like God until he breathes life into us, opening our eyes to see him. Only then, alive in Christ, do we choose to follow God and live for him. 
Scripture references: Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5, 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13, 1 John 1:10, Ephesians 2:1-3, John 15:16a, Acts 13:48. 
I loved the content for the most part. I did. I didn't love the framework of this one. Part of me understands wanting to ease children into the book through a story--adventure story at that. But as an adult, it threw me out of the book more than drew me into the book. I don't need encouragement to read theology. And the idea of two children--without supervision--wondering around in a church building, exploring cellars and hidden rooms under cellars, etc--was a bit too much for my credibility. As were a few of the analogies within the book. But overall, I did love the theological content.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #10

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 45 (Psalm 119:40)

  • First, In the narrative he expresseth his sincere desire of conforming his heart and ways to the laws of God. Not to know them only, but to do them; not to satisfy curiosity, but to understand and obey the will of God, and to make it the rule of his life and actions. The sincerity of it; that is intimated in the word behold. There is ecce admirantis, the behold of admiration, and ecce demonstrantis, the behold of demonstration. This last is here to be understood.
  • Here is his request. There we have—(1.) The thing prayed for, quicken me; he prays for renewing, exciting grace. (2.) The ground of confidence, In thy righteousness.
  • Three points:— 1. To love and long for a holy and perfect and entire subjection to the will of God is a good frame of heart. 2. Those that do indeed long for holiness will see a need of new quickening. 3. Those that would have quickening must seek to God, who hath promised to satisfy them that desire grace to walk with him.
  • Doct. 1. To love and long for a holy and perfect and entire subjection to the will of God is a good frame of heart.
  • There is an instinct in every living thing which leads them towards the sustaining and perfecting of that nature which they have. That which is called inclination in the creatures without life, attraction of nourishment in plants, and appetite in the beasts, is in man desire. 
  • Desire it is an earnest reaching forth of the soul after good absent and not yet attained. The object of it is something good, and the more truly good it is the more is our desire justified.
  • But now in holiness there is no such snare: a man cannot be holy enough, nor like enough to God; and therefore here we may freely let out our affections to the full. When our desires are freely let out to other things, they are like a member out of joint, as when the arms hang backward; but here they are in their proper place; this is that which cannot be loved beyond what it doth deserve.
  • A Christian should set no manner of bounds to himself in holiness, for he is to be holy in all manner of conversation,’ 1 Peter 1:15, and to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect,’ Mat. 5:48. And then desire is not only after that which is good, but after a good absent. Desire ariseth from a sense of vacuity and emptiness. Emptiness is the cause of appetite, and therefore it is compared to hunger and thirst: Mat. 5:6, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.’ So it is in desiring holiness we have not yet attained, Phil. 3:13 There is an indigence and emptiness; we are not already perfect; we want more than we have, and our enjoyments are little in comparison of our expectations; and therefore we should make a swifter progress towards the mark, and with more earnestness of soul should press after that sinless estate we expect. That little we have doth but quicken us to inquire after more, not cloy but provoke the appetite. As a man hath a better stomach sometimes when he doth begin to eat, so when we begin with God, and have tasted of holiness, and tasted of comfort, being brought into a sense of obedience and subjection to God, we should desire more; for certainly he is not good that doth not desire to be better. So that David might well say, I have longed after thy precepts.’
  • The nearer we are to any good thing our hearts are set upon, the more impatient in the want of it;
  • So when the soul beats so strongly after God and holiness and larger measures of grace, it is a sign we are ripening apace for heaven.
  • Many desire happiness, but not holiness; comfort, without grace; they would be eased of their present smart, and freed from sin, but not subdued to God.
  • Mat. 6:33, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.’ By the kingdom of God’ is meant, the royal privileges and immunities of the gospel state; and by his righteousness’ is meant the subjection, the service God requires of us. Now it is good when we seek both, but we must not seek one without the other; God and the world would sooner agree. If God would bestow the privileges of his kingdom, and dispense with the duties, God might have customers enough for comfort, pardon, heaven, happiness. No man is so senseless as not to desire these things in some measure; but they will not come to God’s price, they do not desire these things upon God’s terms. The hearts of the saints are as earnestly after sanctification when they are acquainted with God, and brought under the power of grace, that holiness may be increased in them; as Rom. 7:24, Oh, that I were delivered from sin! Ps. 119:5, Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!’ Not only for the happy part of religion, but they are longing how they may please God, and comply with their manifold obligations to God, and brought to a more perfect conformity to God. Thus the hearts of the saints work.
  • Quest. What is the difference between a wish and a desire?
  • They that have only a wish for holiness, they love holiness in the abstract and in the general notion, which they hate in the effect; they do not know what is included in holiness and close-walking with God; as John 6:34, Evermore give us of this bread of life.’ But when Christ told them what it was to have this bread of life, then they were offended. So the Israelites, when they considered holiness and the service of God in the abstract, Oh! we will serve the Lord, say they, saith Joshua, You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a jealous God,’ Josh. 24:18, 19. Holiness in the abstract and notion is amiable, and is apprehended as a necessary thing; but now, when it comes to the point of entering in at the strait gate, walking in the narrow way of watching and striving against sin, of rowing against the stream of flesh and blood, of constant communion with God, and diligent attendance upon his holy worship, then they will do nothing. When they take up their duty by the lump, they are well pleased with it, and it is easy to give up to God in the general, but particulars we stick at. Therefore here is the fault in these wishes and velleities, that they do not sufficiently poise their duty.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bible Review: Revised English Bible (1989)

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

The Revised English Bible is a revision of the New English Bible. Since I read the New English Bible earlier this year--my first Bible to read, completed in January--I thought it would be only right to read the Revised English Bible this year also.

My overall impression is that I liked it; I definitely liked it. I didn't love, love, love it: primarily because word choices can be very telling in certain verses. And I wasn't always happy with the direction this translation went.

It is a British translation. And I really loved that about it: honour, splendour, marvellous, defence, offence, etc.

Gospel of John:
In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God’s presence, and what God was, the Word was. He was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; without him no created thing came into being. In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never mastered it. John 1:1-5
No one has gone up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, in order that everyone who has faith may in him have eternal life. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not perish but have eternal life. It was not to judge the world that God sent his Son into the world, but that through him the world might be saved. No one who puts his faith in him comes under judgment; but the unbeliever has already been judged because he has not put his trust in God’s only Son. This is the judgement: the light has come into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their deeds were evil. Wrongdoers hate the light and avoid it, for fear their misdeeds should be exposed. Those who live by the truth come to the light so that it may be clearly seen that God is in all they do. John 3:13-21
His word has found no home in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent. You study the scriptures diligently, supposing that in having them you have eternal life; their testimony points to me, yet you refuse to come to me to receive that life. John 5:38-40
My own sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my care. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s care. The Father and I are one. John 10:27-30
Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me. There are many dwelling-places in my Father’s house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3
  • He is the radiance of God’s glory, the stamp of God’s very being, and he sustains the universe by his word of power. When he had brought about purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of God’s Majesty on high, raised as far above the angels as the title he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:3-4
  • In bringing many sons to glory it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings; Hebrews 2:10
  • Because he himself has passed through the test of suffering, he is able to help those who are in the midst of their test. Hebrews 2:18
  • The word of God is alive and active. It cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword, piercing so deeply that it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it discriminates among the purposes and thoughts of the heart. Nothing in creation can hide form him; everything lies bare and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render account. Hebrews 4:12-13
  • Since therefore we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to the faith we profess. Ours is not a high priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in every way as we are, only without sinning. Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of grace, in order that we may receive mercy and find grace to give us timely help. Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Jesus holds a perpetual priesthood, because he remains for ever. That is why he is able to save completely those who approach God through him, since he is always alive to plead on their behalf. Hebrews 7:24-25
  • So now, my friends, the blood of Jesus makes us free to enter the sanctuary with confidence by the new and living way which he has opened for us through the curtain, the way of his flesh. We have a great priest set over the household of God; so let us make our approach in sincerity of heart and the full assurance of faith, inwardly cleansed from a guilty conscience, and outwardly washed with pure water. Let us be firm and unswerving in the confession of our hope, for the giver of the promise is to be trusted. Hebrews 10:19-23
  • Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
  • With this great cloud of witnesses around us, therefore, we too must throw off every encumbrance and the sin that all too readily restricts us, and run with resolution the race which lies ahead of us, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, ignoring its disgrace, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
  • Aim at peace with everyone and holy life, for without that no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
  • The kingdom we are given is unshakeable; let us therefore give thanks to God for it, and so worship God as he would be worshipped, with reverence and awe; for our God is a devouring fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
  • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. So do not be swept off your course by all sorts of outlandish teachings. Hebrews 13:8-9a
  • May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of an eternal covenant, make you perfect in all goodness so that you may do his will; and may he create in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21
Bless the LORD, my soul; with all my being I bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, my soul, and forget none of his benefits. He pardons all my wrongdoing and heals all my ills. He rescues me from death’s pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies me with all good in the prime of life, and my youth is renewed like an eagle’s. The LORD is righteous in all he does; he brings justice to all who have been wronged. Psalm 103:1-6
LORD, out of the depths I have called to you; hear my cry, Lord; let your ears be attentive to my supplication. If you, LORD, should keep account of sins, who could hold his ground? But with you is forgiveness, so that you may be revered. I wait for the LORD with longing; I put my hope in his word. My soul waits for the Lord more eagerly than watchmen for the morning. Like those who watch for the morning, let Israel look for the LORD, for in the LORD is love unfailing, and great is his power to deliver. He alone will set Israel free from all their sins. Psalm 130:1-8
I wish you joy in the Lord always. Again I say: all joy be yours. Philippians 4:4
Do not be anxious, but in everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and attractive, whatever is excellent and admirable—fill your thoughts with these things. Philippians 4:6-8
I am able to face anything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
For a child has been born to us, a son is given to us; he will bear the symbol of dominion on his shoulder, and his title will be: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty Hero, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, Wide will be the dominion and boundless the peace bestowed on David’s throne and on his kingdom to establish and support it with justice and righteousness from now on, for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Who could have believed what we have heard? To whom has the power of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before the LORD like a young plant whose roots are in parched ground; he had no beauty, no majesty to catch our eyes, no grace to attract us to him. He was despised, shunned by all, pain-racked and afflicted by disease; we despised him, we held him of no account, an object from which people turn away their eyes. Yet it was our afflictions he was bearing, our pain he endured, while we thought of him as smitten by God, struck down by disease and misery. But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement he bore restored us to health and by his wounds we are healed. We had all strayed like sheep, each of us going his own way, but the LORD laid on him the guilt of us all. He was maltreated, yet he was submissive and did not open his mouth; like a sheep led to the slaughter, like a ewe that is dumb before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was arrested and sentenced and taken away, and who gave a thought to his fate—how we was cut off from the world of the living, stricken to death for my people’s transgression? He was assigned a grave with the wicked, a burial place among felons, though he had done no violence, had spoken no word of treachery. Yet the LORD took thought for his oppressed servant and healed him who had given himself as a sacrifice for sin. He will enjoy long life and see his children’s children, and in his hand the LORD’s purpose will prosper. By his humiliation my servant will justify many; after his suffering he will see light and be satisfied; it is their guilt he bears. Therefore I shall allot him a portion with the great, and he will share the spoil with the mighty, because he exposed himself to death and was reckoned among transgressors, for he bore the sin of many and interceded for transgressors. Isaiah 53:1-12
Seek the LORD while he is present, call to him while he is close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their ways and the evil their thoughts: let them return to the LORD, who will take pity on them, and to our God, for he will freely forgive. Isaiah 55:6-7
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. This is the word of the LORD. But as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways high above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. As the rain and snow come down from the heavens and do not return there without watering the earth, making it produce grain to give seed for sowing and bread to eat, so it is with my word issuing from my mouth; it will not return to me empty without accomplishing my purpose and succeeding in the task for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:8-11

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #9

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 44 (Psalm 119:39)

  • IN these words you have— 1. A request, take away my reproach. 2. A reason to enforce it, for thy judgments are good. 
  • First, That they are usual. David often complains of it in this psalm, and mentions it as one great evil to God, ver. 22, Remove from me reproach and contempt, for I have kept thy testimonies;’ and again, ver. 42, So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me, for I trust in thy word;’ and ver. 69, The proud have forged a lie against me.’
  • Secondly, It is a grievous affliction; for the man of God, that was after God’s own heart, he saith, The reproach which I so feared.’ It is called persecution, Gal. 4:29; compare with Gen. 21:9, and you shall see it was mocking and reproach. The scourge of the tongue is one of the basest persecutions that the children of God are tried withal; and they are called cruel mockings,’ Heb. 11:36. There is as much cruelty and as deep a wound many times made by the tongue of reproach as by the fist of wickedness.
  • Reproach must needs be grievous, because it is against nature, and against grace. 1. It is against nature. Contempt is a heavy thing to bear, and as honour is more grateful to some persons, so reproach is more grievous than many ordinary crosses. 
  • The godly are not so mortified to their credit in the world many times, when they are mortified to other interests. And therefore God would try them in this way, and exercise them, that he may humble them, and fit them more for his own use. All that I have spoken is but to show it is a thing grievous to nature.
  • Grace teacheth us to value a good name, partly because it is God’s gift, a blessing adopted and taken into the covenant, as other such like blessings are. Promises are frequent, especially in the Old Testament, where heaven is sparingly mentioned.
  • First, Here is advice to the person reproached. O Christians! acknowledge God in the affliction, if this be your lot and portion. 
  • First, To humble thee.
  • 1. Pride. There is a twofold pride—pride in mind, which is called self-conceit, and pride in affections, which is called vainglory. We are very apt to be puffed up for our doing and suffering for God poor empty bladders are soon puffed up—and think ourselves somebody, if there be but a little self-denial; 
  • Pride is a sin that grows out of mortification of other sins; it lives in us while we live in the body;
  • It is the most inward and nearest to the soul, and out of the conquest of other sins there ariseth pride. Now, if we have been too self-conceited, the Lord will humble us, either by permitting us to fall into such scandals as may remember us of our frailty, and what unworthy weak creatures we are in ourselves; sometimes by taking off the restraints of his grace and of his Spirit, and permitting us to fall.
  • We must see the hand of God; for if we do not look to that we will be drawn to sin, into reviling for reviling, and exasperation for exasperation. Many times our graces do us as much hurt as our sins. Self-conceit the Lord will mortify one way or other.
  • For vainglory, the other sort of pride, valuing esteem too much, our credit in the world, and pleasing ourselves in the opinion others have of us. We would usurp God’s throne and reign in the hearts of men, therefore we are so touchy. Having set a high value upon ourselves, we are troubled when others will not come up to our price. Pride is one of the oldest enemies that ever God had; it was born in heaven in the breasts of the fallen angels, but God tumbled them presently out of heaven, as soon as pride got into the heart.
  • Another sin for which God humbles us is careless walking. When we are negligent, and do not take notice of the carnality that grows upon us, and the fleshly frame and temper of heart which breaks out into our lives, the Lord suffers others to reproach; then they gather up our filth, that we may see what cause we have to take our ways to heart. Every man that would live strictly had need either of faithful friends or watchful enemies; either faithful friends to admonish him, or watchful enemies to censure him; they show us the spots in our garments that are to be washed off.
  • Secondly, The Lord doth it, as to humble us, so to try us. 1. The first thing he will try in you by such a grievous affliction and such volleys of reproaches is your faith, when all the world is set to condemn you. What faith? Our faith in the great day of accounts, that is one great object of faith; and when the world is set to condemn us, our faith is tried, to see if we can rest with the vindication we shall have in the day of our Lord.
  • To try our faith in more particular promises.
  • And a Christian, when he gives up himself to God, gives up everything he hath to God in a way of consecration to God’s use. God is the guardian of my body and soul; I give up my estate and life that he may watch over me night and day, and I give up my name and credit: Ps. 31:20, Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues;’ that the Lord may take a charge of our names as well as our persons and estates. Now, the Lord requires a trust in us according to the extent of the covenant, that is to say, a waiting, a confidence, that our lives are not in man’s power, that he can turn the hearts of men, and give you favour in their eyes, when it is for his glory and your good: Ps. 37:5-7, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.’ There is the trust that is required.
  • God will try our faith in the eternal recompenses, whether we do so believe the glory of heaven, the glory which shall be revealed in us in the other world, that we can be contented to be humbled and prepared for it by the reproaches of the present world: Mat. 5:11, 12, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.’ Why? Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.’ Oh! it is enough we shall have glory hereafter. Your time is now to be tried with dishonour, reproach, contempt, but hereafter to be honoured. And the heirs of promise are described to be those who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.’
  • 2. God will try our mortification and deadness to worldly credit. The heart is never sincere with God until it be so. Hypocrites are proud, self-conceited, they must be honoured among men. Now this is such an evil spirit, that Christ makes it incapable of faith; for, John 5:44, How can ye believe, that seek for glory one of another?’ when we must have glory one from another, else our hearts are exceedingly troubled.
  • 3. Another thing God will try is our patience. We should prevent reproaches as much as we can, but by a holy conversation may bear them when we cannot avoid them:
  • 4. Another thing God would have to be tried is our uprightness, whether we can hold on our way, through good report and bad report, in honour and dishonour,’ as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. 6:8; still approve ourselves faithful servants of Christ. If you search into the records of time, you shall find many have been discouraged in Christianity because of reproaches that have been cast upon them, for the devil works much upon stomach and spleen.
  • Thirdly, The Lord doth it to do you good, to make you better. Reproaches are like soap, that seems to defile the linen, it cleanseth. There is nothing so bad but we may make a good use of it, and a Christian may gain some advantage by it.
  • Conscience is register, witness, and judge; and that which troubles our quiet are these heart-smitings and heart-reproaches. Let any other man in the world be your enemy rather than your own conscience be an enemy.
  • You have the greatest, best, and wisest on your side, if you have God on your side.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible