Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Check-In

What Bible(s) did I read from this month? NASB Quick Study Bible

How many books by J.C. Ryle did I read this month? I didn't read any book-books. But I've been reading from a collection of sermons. I read at least three or four Ryle sermons.

Favorite quote(s) by J.C. Ryle:
  • Did God create man at the beginning to be unhappy? Most certainly not. Are human governments to blame because people are not happy? At most to a very slight extent. The fault lies far too deep to be reached by human laws. There is another cause, a cause which many unhappily refuse to see. THAT CAUSE IS SIN.
Am I keeping up with my Morning and Evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon? Yes. Barely.

Favorite quote(s) by Charles Spurgeon:
  • “He has said” must be our daily resort.
How many books by R.C. Sproul did I read this month? 1

Favorite quote(s) by R.C. Sproul:
Why does someone worship God? Why give to Him reverence and adoration that is different from any esteem that might be given to anything in the created world? It’s easy to love God, be grateful to Him, and worship Him because of the wonderful things He’s done in history, and in our own personal histories—but a Christian’s reverence for God doesn’t rise to true worship until that Christian worships God not for what He has done but for who He is in His transcendent majesty. 
Did I read any Puritans or Reformers this month: YES. I read Richard Sibbes!
Favorite quote(s):
It is our chief wisdom to know him, our holiness to love him, our happiness to enjoy him. There is in him to be had whatsoever can truly make us happy. We go to our treasure and our portion in all our wants; we live by it and value ourselves by it.
Did I complete at least one book from the TBR Pile challenge? Which one?
KJV Reader's Bible. 2016. Holman Bible Publishers. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]

Other Christian nonfiction books read this month:

Christian fiction books read this month:

How many "new" books did I read (published 2000-present)? 7

How many "old" books did I read (published before 2000)? 2

Which book was my overall favorite?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

True or False with Richard Sibbes #3

TRUE OR FALSE. If we would have faith ready to die by, we must exercise it well in living by it, and then it will no more fail us than the good things we lay hold on by it, until it hath brought us into heaven, where that office of it is laid aside.

TRUE OR FALSE. Our care must be to know our work, and then to do it; and so to do it as if it were unto God, with conscience of moderate diligence; for over-doing and over-working anything comes either from ostentation or distrust in God. Let us do our work, and leave God to do his own. Diligence and trust in him is only ours, the rest of the burden is his. Trust God and be doing, and let him alone with the rest. He stands upon his credit so much, that it shall appear we have not trusted him in vain, even when we see no appearance of doing any good.

TRUE OR FALSE. A heavenly soul is never satisfied, until it be as near God as is attainable. And the nearer a creature comes to God, the more it is emptied of itself, and all self-aims. Our happiness is more in him, than in ourselves.

TRUE OR FALSE. A sound-hearted Christian hath always a God to go to, a promise to go to, former experience to go to, besides some present experiences of God’s goodness which he enjoys. For the present he is a child of God, a member of Christ, an heir of heaven. He dwells in the love of God in the cross as well as out of it. Ho may be cast out of his happy condition in the world, but never out of God’s favour. If God’s children have cause to praise God in their worst condition, what difference is there betwixt their best estate and their worst?

TRUE OR FALSE. Our life is nothing but as it were a web woven with interminglings of wants and favours, crosses and!blessings, standings and fallings, combat and victory, therefore there should be a perpetual intercourse of praying and praising in our hearts.

TRUE OR FALSE. We ought not only to give thanks, but to be thankful, to meditate and study the praises of God. Our whole life should be nothing else but a continual blessing of his holy name, endeavouring to bring in all we have, and to lay it out for God and his people, to see where he hath any receivers.

TRUE OR FALSE. We live not to live. Our life is not the end of itself, but the praise of the giver. God hath joined his glory and our happiness together. It is fit that we should refer all that is good to his glory, that hath joined his glory to our best good, in being glorified in our salvation.

TRUE OR FALSE. What makes heaven but the presence of God? and what makes hell but the absence of God? Let God be in any condition, though never so ill, yet it is comfortable; and usually we find more of God in trouble than when we are out of trouble. The comforts of religion never come till others fail.

TRUE OR FALSE. It is our chief wisdom to know him, our holiness to love him, our happiness to enjoy him. There is in him to be had whatsoever can truly make us happy. We go to our treasure and our portion in all our wants; we live by it and value ourselves by it.

TRUE OR FALSE. God in his own time, which is best for thee, will be the salvation of thy countenance; he will compass thee about with songs of deliverance, and make it appear at last that he hath care of thee.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: God's Grace In Your Suffering

God's Grace In Your Suffering. David A. Powlison. 2018. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Job, his wife, and his three friends agreed on two things. Our lives are “few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1), and God’s hand is intimately mixed up in our troubles. But strife and perplexity set in among them when they tried to explain exactly how God and troubles connect. (12)

Premise/plot: Powlison's new book is about suffering. He walks his readers through the stanzas of the hymn "How Firm A Foundation." Through exploring the hymn AND the scriptures--mainly psalms--he seeks to help Christians find meaning in their pain and suffering.

Half of the book focuses on the God revealed in Scripture, general truths that provide a good, solid foundation for believers. The other half focuses on the personal. Powlison shares his experiences in each chapter; he invites his readers to do the same. He has thoughtful questions to ask his readers to answer in each and every chapter. These questions challenge readers to make the reading experience interactive. The book becomes more practical and less theoretical when readers are fully engaged. "We are not going to discuss the general topic of God and suffering. We will consider how God’s grace enters directly into your suffering" (20).

My thoughts: I LOVED the book. The book stands in real contrast to the false messages of the prosperity gospel which would have their followers believing that if they're in pain, if they're suffering, it's because they lacked enough faith; it's because their prayers weren't good enough. God never promises any believer a pain-free, problem-free existence. In fact, God specifically promises that there will be trouble, pain, hardship, suffering, loss. Having a right view of God helps one to have a right view of suffering.  "The purpose of this book is to anchor your experience more deeply in God’s goodness" (15).

IF there is one truth that is essential for believers to grasp, it is this one: "The wisdom to suffer well is like manna—you must receive nourishment every day. You can’t store it up, though you do become more familiar with how to go out and find what you need for today" (16). God provides grace for you daily. Grace to endure. Grace to strengthen. Grace to find hope. Grace to find peace. Grace to find joy. Grace to find wisdom. Grace to find love. Grace to find goodness. Grace to lean--and lean hard--on God's promises, on God himself. "God uses significant suffering to teach us to need him. And when we need him, we find him" (40).

Powlison on "How Firm a Foundation":
In “How Firm a Foundation,” you sing in an unusual voice. Only in the first stanza do you talk about the Lord and call each other to listen to what he has said. In the rest of the hymn, God is talking directly to you. Notice that each of the last five stanzas begins with a quotation mark. These are the Lord’s words. Though we sing these words, we are placed in the role of listeners—as in Psalm 50:5–23. God is talking to you. Ponder that. You sing this hymn by listening intently. What does the Lord talk about? Interestingly, he is speaking directly into your significant suffering. He tells you who he is, and what he is like, and what he is doing—not in general, but with respect to what you are going through. He breathes his purposes into your heartaches. He promises the very things you most need. Most hymns express our faith—to God, to each other, or to ourselves. This hymn is more elemental. God’s voice invites faith. He’s calling to you. (27)
Our hymn takes God’s simple “I will not” and says it ten times in a row: “I will never, no, never, no, never—never, no, never, no, never forsake you.” Far more than a mere doubling, this is a promise to the power of ten. It is pastoral wisdom, helping us to hear the fierceness and triumph of God’s lovingkindness. You will never be abandoned. You will never be alone. He will never give up on you. (113)
Another favorite quote:
Pain disrupts normal. It’s supposed to disrupt normal. It’s supposed to make you feel a need for help. Psalm 28 is not a placid “quiet time.” It’s noisy and needy. When you let life’s troubles get to you, it gets you to the only One who can help. (67)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: February 18-24


  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • Matthew 1-14
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 25, 2018

True or False with Richard Sibbes #2

TRUE OR FALSE. There is no condition but therein we may exercise some grace, and honour God in some measure.

TRUE OR FALSE. Men are not damned because they cannot do better, but because they will do no better; if there were no will, there would be no hell.

TRUE OR FALSE. Many out of a misconceit think that corruption is greatest when they feel it most, whereas indeed, the less we see it and lament it, the more it is. The more we see and grieve for pride, which is an immediate issue of our corrupted nature, the less it is, because we see it by a contrary grace; the more sight the more hatred, the more hatred of sin, the more love of grace, and the more love the more life, which the more lively it is, the more it is sensible of the contrary. Upon every discovery and conflict corruption loses some ground, and grace gains upon it.

TRUE OR FALSE. This imagination of ours is become the seat of vanity, and thereupon of vexation to us, because it apprehends a greater happiness in outward good things than there is, and a greater misery in outward evil things than indeed there is; and when experience shews us that there is not that good in those things which we imagine to be, but, contrarily, we find much evil in them which we never expected, hereupon the soul cannot but be troubled.

TRUE OR FALSE. It mars all in religion when we go about heavenly things with earthly affections, and seek not Christ in Christ, but the world.

TRUE OR FALSE. A good Christian begins his repentance where his sin begins, in his thoughts, which are the next issue of his heart.

TRUE OR FALSE. We cannot have too much care upon what we fix our thoughts.

TRUE OR FALSE. It is not so much the having of grace, as grace in exercise, that preserves the soul.

TRUE OR FALSE. And it is good to renew our resolutions again and again: for every new resolution brings the soul closer to God, and gets further in him, and brings fresh strength from him; which, if we neglect, our corruption joining with outward hindrances will carry us further and further backward, and this will double, yea multiply our trouble and grief to recover ourselves again.

TRUE OR FALSE. Trust or confidence is nothing else but the strength of hope. If the thing hoped for be deferred, then of necessity it enforces waiting, and waiting is nothing else but hope and trust lengthened.

TRUE OR FALSE. God only is the fit object of trust. He hath all the properties of that which should be trusted on. A man can be in no condition wherein God is at a loss and cannot help him. If comforts be wanting, he can create comforts, not only out of nothing, but out of discomforts.

TRUE OR FALSE. Only they that know God will trust in him; not that knowledge alone is sufficient, but because the sweetness of God’s love is let into the soul thereby, which draweth the whole soul to him. We are bidden to trust perfectly in God; therefore, seeing we have a God so full of perfection to trust in, we should labour to trust perfectly in him.

TRUE OR FALSE. He knows our souls best, and our souls know him best, in adversity.

TRUE OR FALSE. Sin makes us afraid of that which should be our greatest comfort; it puts a sting into every other evil. Upon the seizing of any evil, either of body, soul, or condition, the guilty soul is embittered and enraged; for from that which it feels, it fore-speaks to itself worse to come, it interprets all that befalls as the messengers of an angry God, sent in displeasure to take revenge upon it.

TRUE OR FALSE. When men will know us least, God will know us most. He knows our souls in adversity, and knows them so as to support and comfort them, and that from the spring-head of comfort, whereby the sweetest comforts are fetched.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Victorian Year #8

This week I'll be sharing a little from J.C. Ryle. (Probably a LOT) And also some from Charles Spurgeon.

Christ's Invitation by J.C. Ryle
Matthew 11:28

  • The text which heads this paper is one which deserves to be written in letters of gold. Few verses of Scripture have done more good to the souls of people than this old familiar invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us examine it carefully, and see what it contains.
  • There are four points in the text before us, to which I am going to ask attention. On each of these I have somewhat to say. First. Who is the Speaker of this invitation? Secondly. To whom is this invitation addressed? Thirdly. What does the Speaker ask us to do? Lastly. What does the Speaker offer to give?
  • The Speaker of the invitation before you is the greatest and best friend that man has ever had. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.
  • He is One who is ALMIGHTY. He is God the Father's fellow and equal. He is very God of very God. By Him were all things made. In His hand are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He has all power in heaven and earth. In Him all fullness dwells. He has the keys of death and hell.
  • He is One who is most LOVING. He loved us so that He left heaven for our sakes, and laid aside for a season the glory that He had with the Father. He loved us so that He was born of a woman for our sakes, and lived thirty-three years in this sinful world. He loved us so that He undertook to pay our mighty debt to God, and died upon the cross to make atonement for our sins.
  • He is One who knows the heart of man most thoroughly. He took on Him a body like our own, and was made like man in all things, sin only excepted. He knows by experience what man has to go through. He has tasted poverty, and weariness, and hunger, and thirst, and pain, and temptation. He is acquainted with all our condition upon earth.
  • He is One who never breaks His word. He always fulfills His promises. He never fails to do what He undertakes. He never disappoints the soul that trusts Him.
  • Where are the laboring and heavy-laden? They are everywhere. They are a multitude that man can scarcely number; they are to be found in every climate, and in every country under the sun.
  • Did God create man at the beginning to be unhappy? Most certainly not. Are human governments to blame because people are not happy? At most to a very slight extent. The fault lies far too deep to be reached by human laws. There is another cause, a cause which many unhappily refuse to see. THAT CAUSE IS SIN.
  • Sin and departure from God, are the true reasons why people are everywhere laboring and heavy-laden. Sin is the universal disease which infects the whole earth. Sin brought in thorns and thistles at the beginning, and obliged man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.
  • Sin is the cause of all the burdens which now press down mankind. Most people know it not, and weary themselves in vain to explain the state of things around them. But sin is the great root and foundation of all sorrow, whatever proud man may think. How much people ought to hate sin!
  • "Come unto Me." There is a grand simplicity about the three words now before you. Short and plain as the sentence seems, it contains a mine of deep truth and solid comfort. Weigh it look at it consider it ponder it well.
  • I believe that it is one half of saving Christianity to understand what Jesus means, when He says, "Come unto Me."
  • Take notice, that coming to Christ means something more than coming to church and chapel. You may fill your place regularly at a place of worship, and attend all outward means of grace, and yet not be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.
  • Take notice, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to the Lord's table. You may be a regular member and communicant; you may never be missing in the lists of those who eat that bread and drink that wine, which the Lord commanded to be received, and yet you may never be saved.
  • Take notice, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to ministers. You may be a constant hearer of some popular preacher, and a zealous partisan of all his opinions, and yet never be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.
  • Take notice, once more, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to the possession of head-knowledge about Him. You may know the whole system of evangelical doctrine, and be able to talk, argue, and dispute on every jot of it, and yet never be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.
  • Coming to Christ is coming to Him with the heart by simple FAITH. Believing on Christ is coming to Him, and coming to Christ is believing on Him. It is that act of the soul which takes place when a man, feeling his own sins, and despairing of all other hope, commits himself to Christ for salvation, ventures on Him, trusts Him, and casts himself wholly on Him.
  • When a man turns to Christ empty that he may be filled, sick that he may be healed, hungry that he may be satisfied, thirsty that he may be refreshed, needy that he may be enriched, dying that he may have life, lost that he may be saved, guilty that he may be pardoned, sin-defiled that he may be cleansed, confessing that Christ alone can supply his needthen he comes to Christ.
  • Do not suppose that you will ever get any good from Christ, unless you go straight, direct, thoroughly, and entirely to Christ Himself. Trust not in a little outward formality; do not content yourself with a regular use of outward means.
  • Dismiss from your mind forever all idea of worthiness, merit, and fitness in yourself. Throw away all notions of goodness, righteousness, and personal deservings. Think not that you can bring anything to recommend you, or to make you deserving of Christ's notice.
  • Rest is one of the principal offers which the Gospel makes to man. "Come to me," says the world, "and I will give you riches and pleasure." "Come with me," says the devil, "and I will give you greatness, power, and wisdom." "Come unto Me," says the Lord Jesus Christ," and I will give you rest."
  • The rest that Christ gives is an inward and spiritual thing. It is rest of heart, rest of conscience, rest of mind, rest of affection, rest of will. It is rest, from a comfortable sense of sins being all forgiven and guilt all put away. It is rest, from a solid hope of good things to come, laid up beyond the reach of disease, and death, and the grave.
  • Rest such as this the Lord Jesus gives to those who come to Him, by showing them His own finished work on the cross, by clothing them in His own perfect righteousness, and washing them in His own precious blood. When a man begins to see that the Son of God actually died for his sins, his soul begins to taste something of inward quiet and peace.
  • Rest such as this the Lord Jesus gives to those who come to Him, by revealing Himself as their ever-living High Priest in heaven, and God reconciled to them through Him. When a man begins to see that the Son of God actually lives to intercede for him, he will begin to feel something of inward quiet and peace.
  • Rest such as this the Lord Jesus gives to those who come to Him, by implanting His Spirit in their hearts, witnessing with their spirits that they are God's children, and that old things are passed away, and all things are become new. When a man begins to feel an inward drawing towards God as a Father, and a sense of being an adopted and forgiven child, his soul begins to feel something of quiet and peace.
  • Rest such as this the Lord Jesus gives to those who come to Him, by dwelling in their hearts as King, by putting all things within in order, and giving to each faculty its place and work. When a man begins to find order in his heart in place of rebellion and confusion, his soul begins to understand something of quiet and peace. There is no true inward happiness, until the true King is on the throne.
  • Faith, simple faith, is the one thing needful in order to possess Christ's rest. Faith in Christ is the grand secret of happiness. Neither poverty, nor ignorance, nor tribulation, nor distress can prevent men and women feeling rest of soul, if they will only come to Christ and believe.
  • The religion which gives a man no inward comfort, can never be a religion from God.

Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening:

  • There are some of your graces which would never be discovered if it were not for your trials.
  • There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit—and confessing sin as a child.
  • Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world, unheralded by supplication.
  • You may or you may not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality—but certainly you are called to see after your own family and friends.
  • You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents—but he finds Peter. Go you and do likewise.
  • If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armor, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour—to make us his prey. May the Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion, and the paw of the bear.
  • “He has said” must be our daily resort.
  • This teaches us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case—but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what “He has said.”
  • We would be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine—if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Scriptures is He who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask His teaching, and His guidance into all truth.
  • There is nothing that we can do—without the power of God.
  • If there were no covenant, then we would fail indeed; for all grace proceeds from it, as light and heat from the sun. No angels ascend or descend, except upon that ladder which Jacob saw, at the top of which stood a covenant God.
  • God’s rod of mercy is ever outstretched in His hands; His sword of justice is in its scabbard, held down by that pierced hand of love which bled for the sins of men.
  • “The Lord is slow to anger,” because He is GREAT IN POWER. That person is truly great in power—who has power over himself. When God’s power does restrain Himself, then it is power indeed: the power that binds omnipotence is omnipotence surpassed.
  • You have not the liberty of making of your own cross; although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making. Neither are you permitted to choose your own cross; although self-will would gladly be lord and master. Your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love—and you are cheerfully to accept it. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 23, 2018

Book Review: When Tides Turn

When Tides Turn. (Waves of Freedom #3) Sarah Sundin. 2017. Revell. 285 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: A touch of kindness and enthusiasm could transform a person's spirit, and Quintessa Beaumont delighted in participating in the process.

Premise/plot: When Tides Turn is the third book in the Waves of Freedom trilogy. Tess--Quintessa--is the heroine. The book series is set in Boston during the Second World War. In this one, Tess decides to join the WAVES and do her part for the war effort. After training, she is stationed back in Boston--to her surprise--and her job is to supervise the other WAVES and to be in charge of the war bond drives there in Boston. Her new job has her working closely with her crush, Dan Avery.

Dan Avery has always resisted the idea of love and romance because he wants to stay focused on his career. But being around Tess and getting the chance to know her better is beginning to influence him. Maybe a family life is just as important as a professional career. But will the war allow them to have their happily ever after?

My thoughts: I love, love, love Sarah Sundin. I find her books to be enjoyable and satisfying. I've enjoyed spending time with all the young women and men who have starred in the series. I like the fact that the books are in a series and that you really never have to say goodbye to the characters you've become attached to.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 22, 2018

True or False with Richard Sibbes #1

TRUE OR FALSE. True peace arises from knowing the worst first, and then our freedom from it. It is a miserable peace that riseth from ignorance of evil. It is Christ’s manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings.

TRUE OR FALSE. Religion indeed brings crosses with it, but then it brings comforts above those crosses.

TRUE OR FALSE. We are prone to cast down ourselves, we are accessory to our own trouble, and weave the web of our own sorrow, and hamper ourselves in the cords of our own twining. God neither loves nor wills that we should be too much cast down. He was troubled himself that we should not be troubled. The ground, therefore, of our disquiet is chiefly from ourselves, though Satan will have a hand in it.

TRUE OR FALSE. Grief is like lead to the soul, heavy and cold; it sinks downwards, and carries the soul with it.

TRUE OR FALSE. We must not only be ready to give an account of our faith, upon what grounds we believe; but of all our actions, upon what grounds we do what we do; and of our passions, upon what grounds we are passionate; as in a well-governed state, uproar and sedition is never stirred, but account must be given.

TRUE OR FALSE. Satan could not deceive us, unless we deceived ourselves first, and are willingly deceived.

TRUE OR FALSE. First or last, self-denial and victory over ourselves is absolutely necessary; otherwise faith, which is a grace that requireth self-denial, will never be brought into the soul, and bear rule there.

TRUE OR FALSE. God hath made the soul for a communion with himself, which communion is especially placed in the affections, which are the springs of all spiritual worship. Then the affections are well ordered, when we are fit to have communion with God, to love, joy, trust, to delight in him above all things.

TRUE OR FALSE. Affections are as it were the wind of the soul, and then the soul is carried as it should be, when it is neither so becalmed that it moves not when it should, nor yet tossed with tempests to move disorderly; when it is so well balanced that it is neither lift up nor cast down too much, but keepeth a steady course. Our affections must not rise to become unruly passions, for then as a river that overfloweth the banks, they carry much slime and soil with them.

TRUE OR FALSE. Those that love too much will always grieve too much. It is the greatness of our affections which causeth the sharpness of our afflictions.

TRUE OR FALSE. He that is much in heaven in his thoughts is free from being tossed with tempests here below.

TRUE OR FALSE. If we can not prevent wicked thoughts, yet we may deny them lodging in our hearts. It is our giving willing entertainment to sinful motions that increaseth guilt, and hindereth our peace. It is that which moveth God to give us up to a further degree of evil affections. Therefore what we are afraid to do before men, we should be afraid to think before God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: The Soul's Conflict Within Itself

The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself By Faith. Richard Sibbes. 1635. 328 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence from the introduction:
There be two sorts of people always in the visible Church; one that Satan keeps under with false peace, whose life is nothing but a diversion to present contentments, and a running away from God and their own hearts, which they know can speak no good unto them, these speak peace to themselves, but God speaks none. Such have nothing to do with this scripture; the way for these men to enjoy comfort, is to be soundly troubled. True peace arises from knowing the worst first, and then our freedom from it. It is a miserable peace that ariseth from ignorance of evil. The angel troubled the waters, John 5, and then cured those that stepped in. It is Christ's manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings. But there is another sort of people, who being drawn out of Satan's kingdom and within the covenant of grace, whom Satan labors to unsettle and disquiet: being the god of the world, he is vexed to see men in the world, walk above the world. Since he cannot hinder their estate, he will trouble their peace, and damp their spirits, and cut asunder the sinew of all their endeavors. These should take themselves to task as David doth here, and labour to maintain their portion, and the glory of a Christian profession.
First sentence from chapter one: The Psalms are, as it were, the anatomy of a holy man, which lay inside of a truly devout man outward to the view of others. If the Scriptures be compared to a body, the Psalms may well be the heart, they are so full of sweet affections, and passions. For in other portions of Scripture God speaks to us; but in the Psalms holy men speak to God as in their own hearts. 

Premise/plot: The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself by Faith is a collection of sermons by Richard Sibbes largely about David's psalm 42. The subject is in some ways simple and practical: how is a Christian to live and walk in this life in order to best prepare for the next; OR: how does Christian sanctification come about?!?! No doubt the Christian continues to struggle with sin, but how does the Christian handle sin in his or her life?!?! The subject is in some ways complex and quite theological. It is one thing to grasp intellectually certain doctrines and principles. It is quite another to live out the faith and "work out your salvation."

My thoughts: This one is PACKED with rich, insightful truths. It is a substantive, meaty read. But I found it to be well worth the effort. Some of the sentences were long--I won't lie. And the style itself is not modern or contemporary. Richard Sibbes was a Puritan who lived 1577-1635. This one wasn't just "good" it was FANTASTIC and WONDERFUL. The truths proclaimed within this one need to be heard, read, ABSORBED. Sibbes is still relevant because the Christian struggles are the same no matter the century.
1. To consider the greatness and goodness of Almighty God and his love to us in Christ. 2. The joys of heaven and the torments of hell. 3. The last and strict day of account. 4. The vanity of all earthly things. 5. The uncertainty of our lives, etc. From the meditation of these truths the soul will be prepared to have right conceits of things, and discourse upon true grounds of them, and think with itself that if these things be so indeed, then I must frame my life suitable to these principles. Hence arise true affections in the soul, true fear of God, true love and desire after the best things, etc.
The way to expel wind out of our bodies is to take some wholesome nourishment, and the way to expel windy fancies from the soul is to feed upon serious truths.
In Christ, God’s nature becomes lovely to us, and ours to God; otherwise there is an utter enmity betwixt his pure and our impure nature. Christ hath made up the vast gulf between God and us.
God is the cause why things are not, as well as why they are.
Nothing should displease us that pleaseth God: neither should anything be pleasing to us that displeaseth him. This conformity is the ground of comfort.
That we should not call God’s love into question, he not only gives us, (1) his word, but a binding word, his promise; and not only (2) a naked promise, but hath (3) entered into a covenant with us, founded upon full satisfaction by the blood of Christ, and unto this covenant sealed by the blood of the Lord Jesus, he hath (4) added the seals of sacraments, and unto this he hath added (5) his oath, that there might be no place left of doubting to the distrustful heart of man.
By the bare word of God it is that the heavens continue, and the earth, without any other foundation, hangs in the midst of the world; therefore well may the soul stay itself on that, even when it hath nothing else in sight to rely upon.
All our misery is either in having a false foundation, or else in loose building upon a true.
Trust is never sound but upon a spiritual conviction of the truth and goodness we rely upon, for the effecting of which the Spirit of God must likewise subdue the rebellion and malice of our trill, that so it may be suitable and level to divine things, and relish them as they are. We must apprehend the love of God, and the fruits of it, as better than life itself, and then choosing and cleaving to the same will soon follow; for as there is a fitness in divine truths to all the necessities of the soul, so the soul must be fitted by them to savour and apply them to itself; and then from an harmony between the soul and that which it applies itself unto there will follow, not only peace in the soul, but joy and delight surpassing any contentment in the world besides.
Our trusting in God should follow God’s order in promising. The first promise is of forgiveness of sin to repentant believers; next, 2, of healing and sanctifying grace; then, 3, the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven to them that are sanctified; 4, and then the promises of all things needful in our way to the kingdom, etc.
Faith is an establishing grace, by faith we stand, and stand fast, and are able to withstand whatsoever opposeth us. For what can stand against God, upon whose truth and power faith relies?
Conceive of God’s mercy as no ordinary mercy, and Christ’s obedience as no ordinary obedience. 
Corruptions be strong, but stronger is be that is in us than that corruption that is in us. When we are weak in our own sense, then are we strong in him who perfecteth strength in our weakness, felt and acknowledged. 
In all kind of troubles, it is not the ingredients that God puts into the cup so much afflicts us, as the ingredients of our distempered passions mingled with them.
But the greatest trial of trust is in our last encounter with death, wherein we shall find not only a deprivation of all comforts in this life, but a confluence of all ill at once; but we must know, God will be the God of his unto death, and not only unto death, but in death. We may trust God the Father with our bodies and souls which he hath created; and God the Son with the bodies and souls which he hath redeemed; and the Holy Spirit with those bodies and souls that he hath sanctified.
We complain of the times, but let us take heed we be not a part of the misery of the times: that they be not the worse for us. 
Christ himself is nothing else but salvation clothed in our flesh. When we embrace Christ in the arms of our faith, we embrace nothing but salvation. He makes up that sweet name given him by his Father, and brought from heaven by an angel to the full, Luke 2:14; a name in the faith of which it is impossible for any believing soul to sink.

I will be sharing quotes from this book throughout the next few weeks. I will do so in a bite-size manner in the hopes that you will take the time to absorb some of the richness for yourself and benefit from it in your own life.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology: How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel. Nick Roark and Robert Cline. Crossway. 2018. [March] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: When I (Nick) was in elementary school, one of my classmates gave a book report about a story written by C. S. Lewis featuring four children, a lion king, a white witch, and a hidden magical land accessed through a wardrobe. I was mesmerized. So I purchased The Chronicles of Narnia for myself and read them with pleasure. But years later, after my conversion to Christ, I realized I had been missing the author’s obvious intentions to point his readers to Jesus.

What is biblical theology? Why is it important? These questions--and others like it--are addressed and answered in one of the newest books in the 9Marks series published by Crossway.

The book begins by stressing the need for biblical theology. What are the dangers we--as the church, or even as individuals--face if our theology is unbiblical?! Does right theology matter in our day to day lives? What impact should our doctrine be having on our lives? The authors list at least four reasons WHY having biblical theology matters.
1)  Biblical theology helps clarify the Bible’s main purpose. Some people approach God’s Word as if it were a collection of independent stories, or an assortment of advice and counsel, or even a universal cookbook with recipes for “the good life” scattered across its sixty-six books. But these approaches fail to bring to light the central purpose of Scripture. Simply put, you won’t understand the story of the Bible unless you see that it’s all about Jesus! From Genesis to Revelation, Jesus is the Hero and the point of the story.
2) Biblical theology helps guard and guide the church. Reading Scripture rightly means knowing where each book fits into its overarching narrative. And knowing the overarching narrative helps us read and understand accurately each event, character, or lesson that’s been given to us as part of God’s progressively revealed Word.
3) Biblical theology helps us in our evangelistic outreach. Sharing the good news with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity requires explaining much more than “four spiritual laws” or the “Romans road.” People first need to grasp that the Christian worldview accompanies a total transformation of mind-set.
4) Biblical theology helps us read, understand, and teach the Bible the way Jesus said we should. Jesus himself says in Luke 24 that he is Scripture’s interpretive key. So if we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible, and as a result we will teach others to commit the same error.
The book then defines what biblical theology IS. They write,
"Biblical theology is a way of reading the Bible as one story by one divine author that culminates in who Jesus Christ is and what he has done, so that every part of Scripture is understood in relation to him. Biblical theology helps us understand the Bible as one big book with lots of little books that tell one big story. The Hero and centerpiece of that story, from cover to cover, is Jesus Christ. Biblical theology is for the church, begins with the Bible, and ends with King Jesus and his church."
There are two chapters on the big picture of the Bible. These chapters provide summary that could prove quite useful to those new to the Bible or new to the faith. They provide an outline for understanding what you read. The book seems to be written in part for pastors. Each section includes preaching and teaching tips.

The next chapter focuses on understanding and studying the Bible. It is packed with tips or "tools" on how to read and study the Bible.

The final chapter is on the mission of the church. This chapter ties back in with the first which stated that, "missing the point of the Bible’s story produces false gospels and false churches." The authors give four examples: the prosperity gospel church, the civic gospel church, the soup-kitchen church, and the immorality-affirming church.

The book is a quick, practical read. I think the main audience is pastors and teachers, but, I think it can be a beneficial read to any believer whether they "teach" the faith officially or not. Doctrine matters for every one of us. Nobody should allow another person to think for them and do all the work.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Week in Review: February 11-17


  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Luke

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #7

Today I'll be sharing quotes from J.C. Ryle and Charles Spurgeon. The Ryle sermon I read was, "Election," and it was FANTASTIC.
When we read this passage (2 Samuel 15:1-6) we must learn not to judge our own times too harshly. The evils that we see are neither peculiar nor new.
In handling the subject of Election, there are only two things which I propose to do. Firstly, I will state the doctrine of Election, and show what it is. Secondly, I will fence the subject with cautions, and guard it against abuse.
I have firstly to state the doctrine of Election. What is it? What does it mean? Accurate statements on this point are of great importance. No doctrine of Scripture perhaps has suffered so much damage from the erroneous conceptions of foes, and the incorrect descriptions of friends, as that which is now before us. The true doctrine of Election I believe to be as follows. God has been pleased from all eternity to choose certain men and women out of mankind, whom by His counsel secret to us, He has decreed to save by Jesus Christ.
None are finally saved except those who are thus chosen. Hence the Scripture gives to God's people in several places the names of "God's Elect," and the choice or appointment of them to eternal life is called "God's election." Those men and women whom God has been pleased to choose from all eternity, He calls in time, by His Spirit working in due season. He convinces them of sin. He leads them to Christ. He works in them repentance and faith. He converts, renews, and sanctifies them. He keeps them by His grace from falling away entirely, and finally brings them safe to glory. In short God's eternal Election is the first link in that chain of a sinner's salvation of which heavenly glory is the end. None ever repent, believe, and are born again, except the Elect. The primary and original cause of salvation, is God's eternal election.
No part of the Christian religion has been so much disputed, rejected, and reviled as this. None has called forth so much of that enmity against God, which is the grand mark of the carnal mind. Thousands of so-called Christians profess to believe the Atonement, salvation by grace, and justification by faith, and yet refuse to look at the doctrine of Election.
Is the doctrine of Election plainly stated in Scripture? This is the whole question which an honest Christian has to do with. If it is not in the Book of God, let it be forever discarded, refused, and rejected by man, no matter who propounds it. If it is there, let us receive it with reverence, as a part of Divine revelation, and humbly believe, even where we are not able to understand completely or explain fully. 
(Matt. 24:22; Mark 13:22; Mark 24:31; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10) I place these eleven texts before my readers, and I ask them to consider them well. If words have any meaning at all, they appear to me to teach most plainly the doctrine of personal Election.
Once admit that we are all naturally dead in trespasses and sins, and have no power to turn to God. Once admit that all spiritual life in the heart of man must begin with God. Once admit that He who created the world by saying, "Let there be light," must shine into man's heart, and create light within him. Once admit that God does not enlighten all professing Christians in this manner but only some, and that He acts in this matter entirely as a Sovereign, giving no account of His mattersonce admit all this, and then see where you are. Whether you know it or not, you admit the whole doctrine of Election!
Right views of God's nature and character, as revealed in the Bible, appear to me to bring us to the same position. Do we believe that God knows all things from all eternity that He governs all things by His providence, and that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without Him? Do we believe that He works all His works by a plan, like an architect of perfect knowledge, and that nothing concerning His saints, as His choicest and most excellent work, is left to chance, accident, and luck? Well, if we believe all this, we believe the whole doctrine which this paper is meant to support. This is the doctrine of Election. 
The next thing that I wish to do is to fence the doctrine of Election with cautions, and to guard it against abuse.
For one thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to destroy man's responsibility for the state of his own soul. The Bible everywhere addresses people as free agents, as beings accountable to God, and not as mere logs, and bricks, and stones.Everywhere in Scripture it is a leading principle that man can lose his own soul, that if he is lost at last it will be his own fault, and his blood will be on his own head. The same inspired Bible which reveals this doctrine of Election is the Bible which contains the words, "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" "You will not come unto Me that you might have life." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (Ezek. 18:31; John 5:40; 3:19.)
The doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite everyone to come in.
We know not who are God's Elect, and whom He means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, "God loves you, and Christ has died for you."
Election was never intended to prevent people making a diligent use of all means of grace. On the contrary, the neglect of means is a most suspicious symptom, and should make us very doubtful about the state of a man's soul. 
Those whom the Holy Spirit draws He always draws to the written Word of God and to prayer. When there is the real grace of God in a heart, there will always be love to the means of grace.
If people begin rejecting a truth of Scripture merely because they do not like it, they are on slippery ground. There is no saying how far they may fall.
 A work that was planned before the foundation of the world, by an Architect of almighty power and perfect wisdom, is a work which will never be allowed to fail and be overthrown.
From Charles Spurgeons' Morning and Evening:
If we were what we profess to be—and what we should be—we would be pictures of Christ!
Was He self-denying, never looking to His own interest? Be the same. Was He devout? Be fervent in your prayers. Had He deference to His Father’s will? So submit yourselves to Him. Was He patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as He did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them—for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven.
A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. 
If we have enough for each day as the days arrive—we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day—is all that we can enjoy.
Enough is not only as good as a feast—but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect—a craving for more than this is ungrateful.
Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. 
Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus.
Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man—as weeds are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and weeds; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. Just so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.
Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated, as it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone which can produce contentment, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful, that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. 
The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”
If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there”; where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good—our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 16, 2018

True or False with Steven Lawson

TRUE OR FALSE. The rejection of the truth is where sin began, and it continues to this day. Whenever the truth of God is suppressed, it always leads to believing a lie.

TRUE OR FALSE. The supreme sin today, it seems, is not the committing of moral wickedness. Rather, it is making an exclusive claim of absolute truth. The unpardonable sin in this generation is to affirm moral absolutes. The abomination of the hour is to assert that the Bible is the authoritative standard of truth and to maintain that all that is contrary to the truth is a lie. Such is an anathema in the truth-rejecting world of the twenty-first century.

TRUE OR FALSE. No one can possess true faith in Jesus Christ and yet not believe the Bible itself. To abandon the Bible is to abandon God.

TRUE OR FALSE. Christianity is not a cause to join or a code to follow, but a Christ to follow.

TRUE OR FALSE.  The true gospel is always offensive to the world.

TRUE OR FALSE. God has not stuttered or muttered in His Word. Neither has He edited His own truth. On the contrary, He has affirmed, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8). Yet this is the precise point at which Satan launches his attack. He tempts people to doubt the veracity of the Word of God.

TRUE OR FALSE. As worshipers, we are to give to God every part of our bodies. Nothing must be held back. We are to give Him our minds, including our thoughts, beliefs, dreams, and ambitions. We are to give Him our eyes—what we see, look upon, and focus upon. We are to give Him our ears—what we hear and listen to throughout the day. We are to give Him our mouths—what we say and what we teach. We are to give Him our hands—what we do and what we lay hold of. We are to give Him our feet—where we go and what we pursue. This is God’s design for all believers. This is not reserved for the so-called spiritual elites, but for every true believer.

TRUE OR FALSE. Either we are influencing the world, or the world is influencing us. Either the world is the mission field or we are the mission field. The devil never sleeps. The forces of hell are aggressive, and we are subject to the relentless temptations, snares, and schemes of the evil one.

TRUE OR FALSE. The battle for the Christian mind is the battle for the Christian life.

TRUE OR FALSE. Understand this—salvation is by grace, and judgment is by works. Each sinner will be strictly judged by the Lord Jesus Christ according to what he did.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Moment of Truth

The Moment of Truth. Steven J. Lawson. 2018. Reformation Trust. 238 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: “Does absolute truth exist?” The question is often asked by many today. We live in a generation that denies any such notion of truth. The only absolute seems to be there are no absolutes, and the only truth that there is no truth.

Steven Lawson's newest book, The Moment of Truth, is a wonderful read that I highly recommend. The topic is TRUTH and the fundamental importance of it in our lives. He begins by defining what truth is: " Truth is not how things may appear to be. Nor is it how we want things to be. Neither is it what opinion polls say something is. To the contrary, truth is the way things really are."

The book has three parts: "The Reality of Truth," "The Rejection of Truth," and "The Reign of Truth."

Lawson's book is clear, logical, practical, persuasive, compelling,  but most of all biblical. Every chapter is packed with Scripture and he seeks to unpack the meaning of the Word of God clearly and carefully for readers.

Each chapter is a gem. For example, in chapter one Lawson shares EIGHT reference points to help believers distinguish "true truth" from "pretenders to the truth." 1) Truth is divine. All truth originates with God. 2) Truth is absolute and reigns as the highest authority. " Truth has the first word and the final say in every matter." 3) Truth is objective. "Truth speaks with specific words that have a definite meaning. It is concrete, black and white, and narrowly defined. It never blurs the lines of distinction." 4) Truth is singular. "Truth is never true for one person, but not true for someone else. Truth is always truth for every individual." 5) Truth is unchanging. "What is truth today never becomes untrue tomorrow. Right is always right, and wrong is always wrong." 6) Truth is authoritative. "Truth has the right to make assertive demands upon our lives. Truth necessitates something from us. When the Bible speaks, God Himself speaks and summons us by His truth." 7) Truth is powerful. "Truth cuts to the bone. When we are pierced by the truth, it opens us up and allows us to see ourselves as God sees us. Truth is so powerful, that it alone can save us from the wrath to come. Truth can sanctify us into the image of Jesus Christ. Truth has the power to strengthen the weak. It encourages the downcast. It guides the lost. It challenges the sluggish. It comforts the discouraged. Truth does what only God can do because it is the truth of God Himself." 8) Truth is determinative. "Your relationship to the truth charts the course of your life in this world. Ultimately, truth will have the say on whether you spend eternity in heaven or in hell."

In Chapter five, Lawson examines Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind. He argues, "The war on the truth that began thousands of years ago in the garden of Eden continues to be carried out today against God Himself. First, the devil began this combat by casting doubt upon the Word of God. A careful study of Genesis 3 reveals a clear progression in Satan’s strategic attack against the truth in which the first attack was meant to create doubt in the mind of Eve."

Not only is every chapter a gem, the chapters just seem to get better and better. There isn't a weak link in the book. From cover to cover, this one is worth your time and effort. It should be read and reread.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: A Pilgrim's Progress

John Bunyan's A Pilgrim's Progress. Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. 1999/2005. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I had a dream last night. Like moonlight through the window of my cell it fell on me: not so big as to fall one night; large enough to fill the rest of my life.

Premise/plot: This is an adaptation--a retelling--of the classic allegorical novel, Pilgrim's Progress. Christian, in this version, is a young boy. Hopeful, Christian's companion along the way, is a young girl. The book has been completely rewritten as prose. And most--if not all the names--have been changed. For example, Obstinate and Pliable become Ob Stinate and Mr. Bendy.  Because Christian is a young boy--not a married man with a wife and children of his own--there is no room for the sequel. Also the order of events have been shuffled around a bit.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I can't say that I like it more than the original. But I'm not sure it was written to replace the original at all. I liked the writing, for the most part. I do like how it ended.
I cannot describe what Christian saw when he came face to face with the King, nor what Hopeful felt when all her hopes were fulfilled. I woke too soon. And besides, no one can dream the Unimaginable; I shall have to cross the River myself before I can say exactly what the City of Gold contains. I would not have chosen to wake. But I did. I am awake now. Time to get up then, I suppose, and continue the journey. I am on a pilgrimage, too, you see. Everyone is.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: The Sea Before Us

The Sea Before Us. (Sunrise at Normandy #1) Sarah Sundin. 2018. Revell. 375 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Wyatt Paxton never realized coming home could be as bittersweet as leaving.

Premise/plot: Sarah Sundin's newest historical series is set during World War II in England. Wyatt Paxton is a Texan with a shady past who finds himself falling in love with a WREN, Dorothy Fairfax. Dorothy--thinner but still as freckled as ever--is head over heels with her childhood crush, a friend of her brothers. Wyatt and Dorothy become close friends as they both work towards the goal of invading Normandy and advancing victory. This friendship is advanced, in part, because Wyatt and her father get along so well. And Dorothy needs people in her life who can help her with her difficult father. The two have never been close, but since the war started things have become even more strained.

My thoughts. I loved, loved, LOVED this one. Truth be told I've loved all of Sarah Sundin's novels. Some series I love more than others. But she is a true favorite author of mine. I do recommend her often to anyone and everyone with an interest in World War II or historical fiction in general. I really love how Christian her books are; Christian without being preaching. Dorothy struggles in this one. She feels that since the war, God has struck down everyone that she has ever loved or cared for. Her feelings are genuine, and Sundin addresses an age-old question in this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week in Review: February 4-10


  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Proverbs
  • Acts
  • Galatians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Victorian Year #6

This week I am sharing Spurgeon quotes. I hope to start a new book or new sermon by J.C. Ryle soon so that I can start including him again in these posts...but for now...I give you Spurgeon!
Sin will yield to nothing less potent—than the blood of Him whom God has set forth as an atoning sacrifice.
You are as deep in debt as you can be—to every attribute of God. To God you owe yourself, and all you have—yield yourself as a living sacrifice, it is but your reasonable service.
He is Alpha, and He shall be Omega also! He is first, and He shall be last. Therefore, remember, when you shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death—you need fear no evil, for He is with you! When you shall stand in the cold floods of Jordan, you need not fear, for death cannot separate you from His love!
He who knows the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit as he should know them—never sets one before another in his love; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary—all equally engaged in the work of salvation.
God has spoken to us, let us speak to God—either to set our seal that God is true and faithful to His promise, or to confess the sin of which the Spirit of God has convinced us, or to acknowledge the mercy which God’s providence has given, or to express assent to the great truths which God the Holy Spirit has opened to our understanding.
All the bread your soul has eaten—has come down from heaven; and all the water of which it has drank—has flowed from the living rock—Christ Jesus the Lord.
The journey of death may be dark—but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here—but we shall be going to our Father’s house—to our Father’s home, where Jesus is—to that royal “city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Christian, meditate much on heaven—it will help you to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This valley of tears is but the pathway to the better country! This present world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
We are not called down to the grave—but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air.
Many people, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, “Being saved from hell—and taken to heaven.” This is one result of salvation—but it is not one tenth of what is contained in that blessing. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all His people from the wrath to come; He saves them from the fearful condemnation which their sins had brought upon them; but His triumph is far more complete than this. He saves His people “from their sins.”
Where Christ works a saving work—He casts Satan from his throne, and will not let him be master any longer.
No man is a true Christian—if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us—it will never be utterly expelled, until the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion. 
Learn from David—to take no step without God. Christian, if you would know the path of duty, take God for your compass; if you would steer your ship through the dark billows, put the help into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to His sovereign will—to choose and to command.
The Puritan said, “As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he’ll cut his own fingers;” this is a great truth.
God had one Son without sin—but He has no son without temptation. The natural man is born to trouble—as the sparks fly upwards; and the Christian man is born to temptation, just as certainly.
Against the justified man—no sin remains, the great transaction of the cross has eternally removed His transgressions from him.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 9, 2018

True or False with A.W. Tozer

TRUE OR FALSE. The heart is adept at emotional tricks and is entirely capable of falling in love with imaginary objects or romantic religious ideas.

TRUE OR FALSE. Christ has become a project to be promoted or a cause to be served instead of a Lord to be obeyed. Thousands of mistaken persons seek to do for Christ whatever their fancy suggests should be done, and in whatever way they think best. The result is an army of men who run without being sent and speak without being commanded.

TRUE OR FALSE. Millions go through life unaffected by the presence of God in His world.

TRUE OR FALSE. It takes a work of God in a man to sour him on the world and to turn him against himself; yet until this has happened to him he is psychologically unable to repent and believe.

TRUE OR FALSE. Jesus was not in the business of offering human advice that people could take or leave as they wished. Instead, He always spoke with absolute, final authority.

TRUE OR FALSE. I do not believe it for one minute, for there are not a dozen “rights.” There is only one “right.” There is but one Jesus and one God and one Bible. He said what He meant. He meant what He said. He is the Eternal Word, and we must listen to Him if our discipleship is to be genuine and consistent.

TRUE OR FALSE. As Christian disciples, we should be whatever we are wherever we are. Like diamonds. A diamond does not adjust; it is always a diamond. Just so, Christians ought always to be Christians. We are not Christians if we have to wait for the right atmosphere to practice our religion.

TRUE OR FALSE. The person who wants to die a Christian must live a Christian. The person who wants the Advocate above to be a shelter for him or her in that hour must allow Him to be a shelter right now!

TRUE OR FALSE. Some teachers have tried to enshroud Jesus in a pink fog of sentimentality. But there is really no excuse for misunderstanding Him. He drew the line as taut as a violin string. He said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). “But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

TRUE OR FALSE. Truth is not a text. Truth is in the text, but it takes the text plus the Holy Spirit to bring truth to a human soul. A person can memorize a text, but the truth must come from the Holy Spirit through the text.

TRUE OR FALSE. The only solution that will loose us from our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ. He loved us and freed us—washed us—from our sins in His own blood.

TRUE OR FALSE.  Receiving Christ savingly is an act of the total personality. It is an act of the mind and of the will and of the affections. It is thus not only an act of the total personality, it is an aggressive act of the total personality.

TRUE OR FALSE. Our thoughts are the decorations inside the sanctuary where we live. If our thoughts are purified by the blood of Christ, we are living in a clean room, no matter if we are wearing overalls covered with grease. Our thoughts largely decide the mood and weather and climate within our beings, and God considers our thoughts as part of us. They should be thoughts of peace, thoughts of pity and mercy and kindness, thoughts of charity, thoughts of God and the Son of God—these are pure things, good things and high things. Therefore, if we would cultivate the Spirit’s acquaintance, we must have the control of our thoughts. Our mind ought not to be a wilderness in which every kind of unclean thought makes its own way

TRUE OR FALSE. God’s highest purpose in the redemption of sinful humanity was based in His hope that we would allow Him to reproduce the likeness of Jesus Christ in our once-sinful lives!

TRUE OR FALSE. How many Christians are there who pray every Sunday in church, “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done!” without ever realizing the spiritual implications of such intercession? What are we praying for? Should we edit that prayer so that it becomes a confrontation: “My kingdom go, Lord; let Thy kingdom come!”

TRUE OR FALSE. A strange thing under the sun is crossless Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a no-cross, an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of Christ is a place of death. Let each one be careful which cross he carries.

TRUE OR FALSE. We cannot love honesty without hating dishonesty. We cannot love purity without hating impurity. We cannot love truth without hating lying and deceitfulness. If we belong to Jesus Christ, we must hate evil even as He hated evil in every form. The ability of Jesus Christ to hate that which was against God and to love that which was full of God was the force that made Him able to receive the anointing—the oil of gladness—in complete measure.

TRUE OR FALSE. Who has ever given us the right or the privilege to look into the Bible and say, “I am willing to consider this matter and if I like it, I will buy it”—using the language of the day. There is something basically wrong with our Christianity and our spirituality if we can carelessly presume that if we do not like a biblical doctrine and choose not to “buy” it, there is no harm done.

TRUE OR FALSE. We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, “Lord, help me to carry my cross daily” than to pick up the cross and carry it; but since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words.

TRUE OR FALSE. It has become popular to preach a painless Christianity and automatic saintliness. It has become a part of our “instant” culture. “Just pour a little water on it, stir mildly, pick up a gospel tract, and you are on your Christian way.” Lo, we are told, this is Bible Christianity. It is nothing of the sort!

TRUE OR FALSE. The things that are closest to our hearts are the things we talk about, and if God is close to your heart, you will talk about Him!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: Discipleship

Discipleship: What It Truly Means to Be A Christian. A.W. Tozer. 2018. [May] Moody Publishers. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In the New Testament salvation and discipleship are so closely related as to be indivisible. They are not identical, but as with Siamese twins they are joined by a tie which can be severed only at the price of death. Yet they are being severed in evangelical circles today. In the working creed of the average Christian salvation is held to be immediate and automatic, while discipleship is thought to be something optional that the Christian may delay indefinitely or never accept at all.

Dare I say that Johnny Mac would approve this Tozer title?! Perhaps. (I think Todd Friel would as well.) The focus of this book is on the lordship question. Do people who profess faith in Christ as Savior, have to "accept" him as Lord as well and be obedient? Does being a Christian mean being a disciple and follower of Christ? Or does it just mean someone who prayed a prayer and walked up an aisle?

Tozer writes in part, "I believe we need to preach again a whole Christ to the world—a Christ who does not need our apologies, a Christ who will not be divided, a Christ who will either be Lord of all or who will not be Lord at all!" And later he writes, " I don’t think you can be a Christian without being a disciple. The idea that I can come to the Lord and by grace have all of my sins forgiven and have my name written in heaven, and have the carpenter go to work on a mansion in my Father’s house, and at the same time raise hell on my way to heaven is impossible and unscriptural. It cannot be found in the Bible."

Here's the table of contents for this one:

  • Marks of Discipleship
  • True and False Disciples
  • "Accepting" Christ
  • To All Who Received Him
  • Obedience Is Not An Option 
  • You Cannot Face Two Directions
  • Crucified with Christ
  • Take Up Your Cross
  • Loving Righteousness, Hating Evil
  • Be Holy
  • The Importance of Deeds
  • Preparing for Heaven
  • Go and Tell

I loved this one. I crazy-loved it cover to cover. I loved each chapter more than the last--and I didn't even think that was possible. Tozer was a passionate preacher, a zealous believer who was on a mission for God to wake up Christians or "Christians." He writes, "If I could stir Christians around me to love God and hate sin, even to the point of being a bit of a nuisance, I would rejoice."

You cannot read him without thinking, reflecting, contemplating. His words are straight-forward, no apologies, challenges to all of us. I find his honesty compelling and refreshing. But above all I find Tozer relevant. Perhaps his real mission was to reach us--"the future"--fifty years after his ministry "ended." Why is Tozer relevant or more relevant than you might expect? Because what he taught--what he wrote--was tied so closely to the Bible, to the study and application of the Word of God. Because Tozer breathed the Bible--his words have relevance to us today. Every biblical preacher with a written legacy--emphasis on biblical--can be relevant no matter the generation gap.

Here's what he has to say about the Bible, "Every problem that touches us is answered in the Book—stay by the Word! I want to preach the Word, love the Word and make the Word the most important element in my Christian life. Read it much, read it often, brood over it, think over it, meditate over it—meditate on the Word of God day and night. When you are awake at night, think of a helpful verse. When you get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, think of a verse and make the Word of God the important element in your day. The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in this Book, the Holy Ghost is in this Book, and if you want to find Him, go into this Book."

Favorite quotes:
The notion that just anybody, at any time, regardless of conditions, can start from religious scratch, without the Spirit’s help, and believe savingly on Christ by a sudden decision of the will, is wholly contrary to the teachings of the Bible. What we tend to overlook is that the word “whosoever” never stands by itself. Always its meaning is modified by the word “believe” or “will” or “come.” According to the teachings of Christ no man will or can come and believe unless there has been done within him a prevenient work of God enabling him so to do.
In the sixth chapter of John our Lord makes some statements that gospel Christians seem afraid to talk about. The average one of us manages to live with them by the simple trick of ignoring them. They are such as these: (1) Only they come to Christ who have been given to Him by the Father (John 6:37). (2) No one can come of himself; he must first be drawn by the Father (John 6:44). (3) The ability to come to Christ is a gift of the Father (John 6:65). (4) Everyone given to the Son by the Father will come to Him (John 6:37).
Where a hungry heart is found we may be sure that God was there first. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).
I have never considered it a very great compliment to the Christian church that we can generate enthusiasm on such short notice. The less there is in the kettle, the quicker it begins to boil. There are some who get converted on enthusiasm and backslide on principle! 
Long ago I came to the conclusion that if Jesus Christ is not controlling all of me, the chances are very good that He is not controlling any of me.  As for myself, I do not want to be a half disciple. I want my whole life—all of me—under the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was an old English preacher who used to say, “If Christ cannot be Lord of all, He will not be Lord at all!”
Have you ever heard of “chameleon” disciples? They can change color with the environment. There are even some preachers like that. They can talk the language of the crowd they happen to be with. If they are with liberal thinkers, behold, they begin to sound liberal. If they were with evangelicals, they sound evangelical. They are “adaptable,” they say. “We believe in adjustment.” They do not need adjustment; they need God! 
Now, the particular attitude revealed here about “accepting Christ” is wrong because it makes Christ stand hat-in-hand, somewhere outside the door, waiting on our human judgment. We know about His divine person, we know that He is the Lamb of God who suffered and died in our place. We know all about His credentials. Yet we let Him stand outside on the steps like some poor timid fellow who is hoping he can find a job. We look Him over, then read a few more devotional verses, and ask: “What do you think, Mabel? Do you think we ought to accept Him? I really wonder if we should accept Him.” And so, in this view, our poor Lord Christ stands hat-in-hand, shifting from one foot to another looking for a job, wondering whether He will be accepted. Meanwhile, there sits the proud Adamic sinner, rotten as the devil and filled with all manner of spiritual leprosy and cancer. But he is hesitating; he is judging whether or not he will accept Christ. The question ought not to be whether I will accept Him; the question ought to be whether He will accept me! But He does not make that a question. He has already told us that we do not have to worry or disturb our minds about that. “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). He has promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be. But the idea that we can make Him stand while we render the verdict of whether He is worthy of our acceptance is a frightful calumny—and we ought to get rid of it!
Strong’s concordance shows very definitely that the word accept is never used in the Bible in the sense of our accepting God or accepting Jesus as our Savior. It does seem strange that while we do not find its use anywhere in the Bible, the phrase, “Will you accept Christ?” or “Have you accepted Christ?” have become the catchwords throughout our soul-winning circles. The words accept and acceptance are used in the Scriptures in a number of ways, but never in connection with believing on Christ or receiving Christ for salvation or being saved.  
To accept Christ in anything like a saving relation is to have an attachment to the person of Christ that is revolutionary, complete, and exclusive.   
To accept the Lord means to accept His ways as our ways. We have taken His Word and His teachings as the guide in our lives. To accept Christ means that I accept His rejection as my rejection. When I accept Him I knowingly and willingly accept His cross as my cross. I accept His life as my life—back from the dead I come and up into a different kind of life. It means that I accept His future as my future. I am talking about the necessity of an exclusive attachment to His person—that is what it means to accept Christ. 
This is the situation of the people of God: the most intolerant book in all the wide world is the Bible, the inspired Word of God, and the most intolerant teacher that ever addressed Himself to an audience was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. On the other hand, Jesus Christ demonstrated the vast difference between being charitable and being tolerant. Jesus Christ was so charitable that in His great heart He took in all the people in the world and was willing to die even for those who hated Him. But even with that kind of love and charity crowning His being, Jesus was so intolerant that He taught: “If you are not on my side, you are against me. If you do not believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” He did not leave any middle ground to accommodate the neutral who preach tolerance.
“Follow me” is an invitation and a challenge and a promise. The cross has been the end of a life and the beginning of a life. The life that ended there was a life of sin and slavery; the life that began there is a life of holiness and spiritual freedom.
We can always be sure of the most important of all positives: God is God and God is right. He is in control. Because He is God He will never change! I repeat: God is right—always. That statement is the basis of all we are thinking about God.  

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible