Saturday, June 15, 2019

Week in Review: June 9-15

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. NKJV.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 120-150? Which translations have I read this week? Yes. NKJV. NASB 1977. NIV 1984. ESV. NASB 1995. KJV. NKJV.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. 

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?

NASB 1977

  • Job
  • Psalm 1-41
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon

ESV Prayer Bible

  • Psalm 1-54

KJV Life Application

  • Joel

What have I read in the New Testament this week?

KJV Life Application

  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude

NASB 1977

  • Luke 4-9

Other Reading

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Berean Playlist #8 Never Once

See my blog post: On Being Berean, Part 2 for context on this series. It's been almost eight months since my last "Berean" post. This week's song is Matt Redman's "Never Once." You can listen to it on his official YouTube channel here

Standing on this mountain top
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are, You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Here are the Scripture verses/passages that I've chosen that fit with the lyrics and verses of this song. 

  • And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
  • You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4
  • He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
  • Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
  • I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28
  • You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
  • Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. Psalm 138:7
  • The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8
  • But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
  • O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all your works. Isaiah 26:12
  • The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
  • But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73:28
  • We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. Psalm 75:1
  • But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true. Psalm 119:151
  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18
  • Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
  • Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8
  • The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6
  • O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1
  • It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isaiah 25:9
  • My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
  • Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. Psalm 107:2
  • Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. Psalm 31:5
  • Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 36:5
  • He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness. Psalm 57:3
  • But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Psalm 69:13
  • Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10
  • He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Isaiah 42:2-4
  • In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. Psalm 120:1
  • The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:8
  • The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. Psalm 121:5
  • My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2
  • He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6
  • I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
  • On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. Psalm 138:3
  • I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:5-6
  • One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. Psalm 145:4-7
  • I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2
  • And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3
  • What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
  • But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Psalm 3:3-4

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review: Because of Winn Dixie

Because of Winn Dixie. Kate DiCamillo. 2000. Candlewick. 182 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

First sentence: My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.

Because of Winn Dixie is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. I love, love, love this one! Opal Buloni, our young heroine, has recently moved with her father, a preacher, to a small town in Florida. He is the new preacher at a small church, a church held in an old convenient store building, a church with no pews but lawn chairs. The novel is set during the summer. Opal, when the novel opens, is still adjusting. She misses her mother tremendously. Her mother's leaving is not recent, but, as Opal grows up, she is beginning to realize more and more how much she misses her mother. (Opal is now ten). Her curiosity and longing has changed. She feels her father ignores her, not because he doesn't love her, not because he doesn't want her or need her, but simply because he's always busy and quiet. Opal needs friends. Find friends she will and all because of Winn Dixie, the dog she finds at the grocery store. Winn Dixie, the dog with an irresistible smile, needs Opal just as much as she needs him. And with a little love from Opal and her Dad, Winn Dixie sets out to charm EVERYONE in town, even people who don't "like" dogs.

I love, love, love the characters in this one. I love Opal. I do. I love her dad. I love that he listens to his daughter and shares with her ten things about her mother. I love Gloria Dump, Miss Franny, Otis, and Sweetie Pie. And, of course, I love Winn Dixie. I also love Opal coming up with a ten things list for Winn Dixie.

I love the writing. This is one of those novels that is just so easy to quote!!!

Favorite quotes:
“Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be.”
“You can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”
“Do you think everybody misses somebody? Like I miss my mama?” “Mmmm-hmmm,” said Gloria. She closed her eyes. “I believe, sometimes, that the whole world has an aching heart.” 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Soaring Through the Bible

Soaring Through the Bible: A Travel Guide from Genesis to Revelation for Kids. Skip Heitzig. 2019. Harvest House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Do you know how special the Bible is? It’s the only book in the world that tells us who God really is and how we can know Him. There’s no other book like it!

Soaring Through the Bible is an overview of the whole Bible written specifically for (older) children or teens. I believe families could read it together--go through it together--as part of their family devotionals. It is NOT a bible story book. It blends summaries of books of the Bible with faith-and-doctrine instruction.

This one is well-organized. There are features that are to be found in each and every chapter. There are features that pop up now and again throughout the book. Not every chapter features a "tour guide" for example. Not every chapter focuses on exploring specific words and what they mean and how they are used in Scripture. Many chapters do include a "where's the Gospel?" feature to point readers to Christ.

Where's The Gospel? in NUMBERS
The bronze snake on a pole is a symbol of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [Jesus] must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus was lifted up off the ground on the cross. And whoever looks to Him and believes in Him will be saved from the bite of sin and death.

Learn the Language in Ruth
Redeem is an important word in the Bible. It means to buy something back that used to belong to you. Boaz bought back land that used to belong to Naomi’s family so they could have a home (Ruth 4:4-12). Jesus bought you back from being a slave to sin, so you could have a home with Him.

Pack Smart in Jeremiah
Jeremiah’s life reminds us that we need to tell others what God says in His Word, the Bible—no matter how hard it is. In fact, we should expect it to be hard. Many people don’t like to hear about God’s truth, but when you rely on God for help, you can do anything He tells you to do! So stand up for the truth. God has got your back.

I definitely liked this one. I liked the focus on the gospel, on Jesus Christ. I liked that it was written simply--but it wasn't dumbed down theology.

One of my favorite quotes is from the chapter on 2 John.

Christians should be known for the way we love. But your love needs boundaries, like a fence around your yard. Having boundaries means you have to speak up when you see sin in someone’s life. You need to find the kindest, gentlest way to do it, but you should still do it. The world usually believes that loving someone means you never speak out against their choices or beliefs. But sometimes you have to, especially as a Christian! If you don’t, then that person might never learn the truth of the gospel. Love and truth should always go hand in hand. In this letter, John was worried that some Christians weren’t sticking to the truth. If they weren’t, false teachers could sneak into the church and teach whatever they wanted. So John said that if a preacher didn’t preach the truth of Christ, believers shouldn’t welcome him. They needed to keep false teachers from spreading their lies.
Where’s the Gospel? Jesus loved everyone, but He also told everyone the truth. A lot of people didn’t like that. He laid down His life in love so that we could be saved from our sin. But that sacrifice was necessary in the first place because we are sinful beings! So there are two sides to the gospel, truth and love: (1) The truth is that we sin and need to be saved, and (2) Jesus loved us enough to die for our sins and save us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Week in Review: June 2-8

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? NIV 2011.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 120-150? Which translations have I read this week?

Yes. NIV 2011. MEV. ERV. NLT. New English Bible. Revised English Bible. Third Millennium Bible.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. Some history and some wisdom books

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?
ESV Prayer Bible-- 2 Kings 14-25, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
NASB 1977 -- Galatians, Ephesians, Luke 1-3

Other Reading

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Turning Eleven!

Eleven years ago today I started Operation Actually Read Bible. My first post was called THE MISSION.

My goal--obvious as it may be--is to actually read the Bible. You might think that I've not read it. But that wouldn't be the case. I've read it a dozen or so times over the past twenty years. However, I've not been in the habit of reading it lately. For the past three or four years, my reading of the Bible has been pitiful to nil. I know--rationally speaking--that I NEED to read the Bible...that I NEED to study and read and pray. But it's not a part of my daily routine. Hence why I'm challenging myself to ACTUALLY read the Bible instead of just talking about how I need to start one day soon.

Most years--if not all--I "celebrate" the occasion by choosing some of my favorite posts from the past year.

Ten favorite posts from June 9, 2018 to June 8, 2019.

Psalm 146:2, Thoughts and Psalm 104:33-34
Observations on the Early Chapters of Job
Words on Unity
On Humility and Pride
On Being Berean part one, On Being Berean part two
Berean Playlist #1 Trading My Sorrows, #2 Awesome God, #3 I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, #4 Happy Song, #5 We Need Jesus, #6 Blessed Be Your Name, #7 Gracefully Broken,
Vain Imaginations 
"Not a Plan" Bible Reading Plan 
Book Review: A Book of Comfort and For Those In Sickness 
Book Review: Together: United Methodists of Temple, Tabernacle and Table PLUS Additional thoughts on Together.
Bible review: My Creative Bible 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Food for Thought, Psalm 145:18

He will hear and help us, (1.) If we fear him,if we worship and serve him with a holy awe of him; for otherwise how can we expect that he should accept us? (2.) If we call upon him in truth;for he desires truth in the inward part. We must be faithful to God, and sincere in our professions of dependence on him, and devotedness to him. In all devotions inward impressions must be answerable to the outward expressions, else they are not performed in truth. ~ Matthew Henry

The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him. Not only near by his omnipresence, but to sympathize and favour. He does not leave praying men, and men who confess his name, to battle with the world alone, but he is ever at their side. This favour is not for a few of those who invoke him; but for each one of the pious company. "All" who place themselves beneath the shield of his glorious name by calling themselves by it, and by calling upon it in supplication, shall find him to be a very present help in trouble. "To all that call upon him in truth": for there are many whose formal prayers and false professions will never bring them into communion with the Lord. To pray in truth, we must have a true heart, and the truth in our heart; and then we must be humble, for pride is a falsehood; and be earnest, or else prayer is a lie. A God of truth cannot be nigh to the spirit of hypocrisy; this he knows and hates; neither can he be far removed from a sincere spirit, since it is his work, and he forsakes not the work of his own hands. ~ Charles Spurgeon

To call upon the name of the Lord implies right faith, to call upon him as he is; right trust in him, leaning upon him, right devotion, calling upon him as he has appointed; right life, ourselves who call upon him being, or becoming by his grace, what he wills. They "call" not "upon the Lord", but upon some idol of their own imagining, who call upon him as other than he has revealed himself, or remaining themselves other than those whom he has declared that he will hear. For such deny the very primary attribute of God, his truth. Their God is not a God of truth. --Edward Bouverie Pusey, 1800-1882. 

To all that call upon him in truth. Because there is a counterfeit and false sort of worshipping, and calling upon God, which is debarred from the benefit of this promise, to wit, when the party suppliant is not reconciled, nor seeking reconciliation through Christ the Mediator, or is seeking something not promised, or something for a carnal end, that he may bestow it on his lusts; therefore he who hath right unto this promise must be a worshipper of God in faith, and sincere intention; and to such the Lord will show himself "nigh". --David Dickson. 

To call upon God in truth is, first, to repose an implicit confidence in the faithfulness of his promise, and to look for unlimited answers to prayer from the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus. But it is also, in the next place, to feel our own urgent need of the things for which we supplicate, and to realize an earnest and unfeigned concern to obtain them. "What things ye desire when ye pray", said the Lord, "believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them"; and hence we gather, that the hearty desire, arising out of the consciousness of need, is an integral and inseparable part of genuine and effectual prayer. --Thomas Dale, 1853. 

"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him; he will fulfil their desire, he will hear their cry", etc. That God who prepares his people's heart to pray, prepares also his own ear to hear; and he that promises to hear before we call, will never deny to hearken when we cry unto him. As Calvin saith: "Oppressions and afflictions make man cry, and cries and supplications make God hear." --F. E., in "The Saint's Ebenezer", 1667. 

He is not only nigh unto them in relation, being their near kinsman, brother, father, husband, and head, but with respect to place and presence; not in a general way, as he is the omnipresent God, and so nigh to all, and from whose presence there is no fleeing; but in a special way, he is so nigh to them as he is not unto others, ( Deuteronomy 4:7) . He is in their hearts, and dwells there by faith, and they dwell in him; his blood is sprinkled in their consciences, and his righteousness is unto them and upon them; his salvation is brought near to them, to their very hearts, and they are nearer that than when they first believed; he is nigh to them that call upon him, for Christ is equally called upon as the Father; see ( 1 Corinthians 1:2) ( Acts 7:57) ( 22:16) ; so as to give them what they ask of him, and to help them in all their times of need; to all that call upon him in truth; in faith and with fervency, constantly and importunely, and in the sincerity and uprightness of their hearts; with true hearts, cordially and affectionately; their hearts and mouths agreeing together. ~ John Gill

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Psalm 145:18, Various Translations

  • The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. KJV
  • The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. NKJV
  • The Lord is near to all those who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. MEV
  • The Lord is near unto all that call upon him, yea, to all that call upon him in truth. 1599 GENEVA
  • The LORD is near unto all those that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. Jubilee Bible
  • Near [is] Jehovah to all those calling Him, To all who call Him in truth. Young's Literal Translation
  • The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. English Revised Version
  • Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him, To all that call upon him in truth. ASV
  • The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. NASB 1977
  • The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. NASB 1995
  • Jehovah is nigh unto all that call upon him, unto all that call upon him in truth. Darby Bible Translation
  • The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, To all that call upon Him in truth. JPS Tanakh 1917
  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. NIV 1984
  • The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. NIV 2011
  • The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. RSV
  • The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. NRSV
  • The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. ESV
  • He is close to all who call on him sincerely. Living Bible
  • The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth. NLT
  • The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. HCSB
  • The Lord is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity. CSB
  • Adonai is close to all who call on him, to all who sincerely call on him. CJB
  • The Lord is near to all who call on Him, To all who call on Him in truth (without guile). AMP
  • Very near is the LORD to those who call to him, who call to him in singleness of heart. NEB
  • The LORD is near to all who call to him, to all who call to him in sincerity. REB
  • Standing close to all who invoke him, close to all who invoke Yahweh faithfully. Jerusalem Bible
  • God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. Message

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Book Review: Taking Back the Good Book

Taking Back the Good Book: How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters To You. Woodrow Kroll. 2007. Crossway Books. 222 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the preface: Do you remember your first Bible? I remember mine. It was red--the color; it was also read--the verb.

First sentence from chapter one: There's no book like the Bible.

I have been meaning to reread Woodrow Kroll's Taking Back the Good Book for more than a few years now. What is it about?
This book is about you, your family, and your Bible. It's about the dust on your Bible. It's about taking a reality check with regard to how deeply the plague of Bible illiteracy has wormed its way into the churches and homes of America. (13)
His premise is that the American church is in a state of crisis. His call is that American Christians should wake up from their slumber and get serious about spiritual warfare. The problem--as he sees it--is that Christians are NOT reading their Bibles, that Christians have little to no knowledge of what is actually in the Bible, that because Christians have little knowledge of the genuine that they are falling in masses for counterfeits. In other words their minds are OPEN--too open--and they are completely vulnerable to the lies of the world, the lies of Satan. They are spiritually vulnerable because they are unprepared and inexperienced.

If the book was updated today would Kroll push things even further? I think he would. His main argument is that the Bible is dusty because it's primarily neglected. Christians are not in the habit and not likely in the habit of reading the Bible for themselves. Christians may or may not feel guilty about finding the Bible boring or finding the Bible irrelevant. But this lack of knowledge is by accident and not by intent. Kroll argues that no Christian intentionally declares that the Bible is unimportant or a waste of time. They may give absolutely no priority to actually reading the Bible. But they still feel tied to the book--the link between the Christian faith and the Bible has not been broken altogether.
Is this still the case? I'm not sure it is.

Kroll doesn't miss the point of Bible reading. Though one could possibly misread his intent. On the surface Kroll may appear to be focusing on numbers--polls, surveys, questionnaires, quizzes. If people had more head-knowledge, then they'd be better at being Christian. But it doesn't take much digging to see that Kroll's point is not that at all. Yes, the Bible was foundational to the men and women who founded the United States of America. Yes, the Bible was key to the nation's leaders and lawmakers. Yes, the Bible was decidedly a part of the American education system. Yes, if you want to better appreciate our nation's history and literature, it would help to have a knowledge of the Bible.
But Christians should not read the Bible because they want to be better citizens, because they want to be better humans, because they want answers to the questions the news is asking, because they want to win this or that argument.

Christians should read the Bible because GOD WROTE IT. It is GOD'S REVELATION. One reads the Bible because one wants to KNOW GOD. One reads the Bible because it is God SPEAKING. It records God's Words and God's Actions. It is all about the one we claim to love and worship. Things are desperate indeed if Christians have no interest in coming to know the God they claim to profess.

One can have head-knowledge and not worship. Head knowledge can fail to penetrate our hearts. Head knowledge can leave us cold and stony-hearted. But can one really and truly WORSHIP an unknown God? Knowledge is not optional, not if you truly want to worship the one, true God. The God that IS.

  • The sum of thy word is truth. Psalm 119:160
  • The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. Psalm 145:18
  • Teach me thy way, O LORD, that I may walk in thy truth. Psalm 86:11
  • Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me. Psalm 43:3
  • Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long. Psalm 25:5
  • God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24
  • Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. John 17:17
  • No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth. 3 John 1:4
  • Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
  • How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
  • O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8
  • Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. Psalm 73:25

I believe it was John Calvin who wrote that the human heart was an idol-maker. This is as true today as it ever was. The idols we create today in our hearts often go by the name of "God" or "Jesus Christ." Idol-makers love the personal pronoun MY. My God...My God....My God. My God is a God of Love. My God would never condemn a person to hell. My God would never hate sin or hate a sinner. My God would never be offended by this or that. My God made me like this. My God loves me just as I am. My God would never ask me to change. My God would never ask me to make self-sacrifices.

One crisis, I believe, facing the church is a DISMISSAL of the Bible as the Word of God. This isn't every church in every denomination in every city in every state. But I think the move--the downward slide--is more and more trending this way. THE GOD OF THE BIBLE MAY SAY THIS OR THAT....BUT...don't you worry your little old head. We've got answers, excuses for why it "clearly" and "obviously" doesn't mean what it says there in black and white.

  • The Bible is a human book. The human authors got it wrong. The human authors thought God was saying this and meant this...but it was really the human authors being influenced and impacted by their own cultures. 
  • God's revelation is always ongoing and in process. What God said thousands of years ago is NOT what he is saying today. God is a God of the here and now. It doesn't matter what God said then to this or that people, this or that culture. The important thing is what is the Spirit saying to us today in the here and now. 
  • God's Spirit is doing a new thing. We are not to be led by a dusty old book! Don't be ridiculous. We are to be LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. The Spirit indwells each person, and the Spirit leads each person. Listen to what the Spirit is leading you to do and don't worry about a book of stuffy old commands.
  • God DID NOT LEAVE US A BOOK. HE LEFT US THE SPIRIT. Trust the Spirit and not the Book.
  • People who read the Bible, who love the Bible, are WORSHIPPING THE BOOK AND NOT THE SAVIOR. We are not called to worship a book, we are called to LOVE THE LORD GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY. Don't risk worshiping a book and falling into idolatry. NO, the Bible is too dangerous. 

This is not a subject really addressed in this one at all, though other books have gone there. But I think it is perhaps interconnected. If one is not familiar with the true, the genuine, the pure, then one falls for any and every message no matter how false or counterfeit. Sermons must be held up to the Word of God. Sermons must be filtered through a reading and studying of the Word of God. Any book, any article, any podcast, any sermon, any teaching must be tested.

Quotes from the book:

What is Bible Illiteracy? 
Bible illiteracy has more to do with inattention than inability. For our purposes here when I talk about Bible illiteracy in America, the definition relates to a lack of familiarity with the Bible, not to a lack of ability to read it. Bible illiteracy is not the unfortunate, unintentional inability to read and understand Scripture; it is the unfortunate, intentional neglect of Scripture.(58)

So how does Kroll define Bible literacy? 
Reading [the Bible] is fundamental, but it isn't enough. You have to read the Bible and then interpret it and apply it to your life. Those are the initial steps in Bible literacy. They are also the first steps toward spiritual maturity. (58)

Biblical illiteracy is causing many problems within and without the church and evangelical community, but it isn't too late. Kroll outlines some important steps that everyone can take to reverse the situation. It all starts with you. It involves your time and your discipline. But it can be done. It should be done.

A huge disconnect exists between owning a Bible and reading it. Simply put, the number of people who claim to read the Bible isn't supported by their knowledge of the Bible (66).

Some people choose not to read the Bible because they're afraid it will contradict what they've already made up their mind to do. But the Bible isn't a dialogue between God and us. It's a revelation from him to us. The Bible should be our guide to life, not a sometimes-support for our pre-existing belief system. (71)

The Bible is read by people who choose to read it. Bible reading is neglected by people who choose to neglect it. It's just that simple. No excuses. Just honesty. (77)

When you win the battle for Bible literacy in your own life, you not only discover the joy of God, you are the joy of God. He delights in our getting to know him, and the most direct way to make that happen is by reading what he has revealed about himself in his Word (145).

If you don't take the Book in your life and read it consistently, you are saying to its Author, "I don't care enough about you or your Book to read it." That's what Bible literacy means to God. It means you love him, and you show it. It means you worship him, and you show it. It means you thirst for him, and you show it. Isn't it time we did some serious thinking about just how Bible-literate we are? Isn't it time for you to do some thinking?(151)

The most common excuse for not reading the Bible is our busy lives. We don't seem to have time to do the things we need to do. There's work and school, running to the store, soccer practice, dinner--life is just a bit harried. Who has time to sit and read?
You do. Here's why: time is a set quantity. It's not elastic. We all have sixty seconds in every minute, sixty minutes in every hour, twenty-four hours in every day. Time may fly, but it doesn't change. You have 1,440 golden minutes in every day and so do I.
The issue is never about time; it's always about what we choose to do get done in the time we have. Is reading God's Word, meditating and benefiting from it, something you wish to take the time to do or not? If not, the convenient but pathetic excuse is to say, "I don't have time."
A couple of years ago, I took a stopwatch with me everywhere I flew. I would read my Bible while in flight and time how long it took to read each book of the Bible. Once when I was returning from Frankfurt on a flight to Chicago, a flight attendant saw the stopwatch and asked, "Are you timing our service?" I chuckled and said, "No, I'm timing how long it takes me to read my Bible." Puzzled, she asked why someone would want to do that. I said, "Because everybody tells me they would read their Bible but they don't have time. I want to know how much time they don't have."
Did you know that you can read half the books of the Bible in less than thirty minutes each? You can read twenty-six of them in less than fifteen minutes. The whole Bible, cover to cover, can be read by an average reader in less than seventy-two hours.
Maybe it's time we rethink our reasons for not reading the Bible and just call them what they are--excuses. Take another look at these "Top Ten." How many of them have you used with God as an excuse for not reading his Word? If you can see through the excuses so quickly, imagine how easily he can see through them.
The Bible is read by people who choose to read it. Bible reading is neglected by people who choose to neglect it. It's just that simple. No excuses. Just honesty. (76-77)
We typically think of tithing in monetary terms, but have you ever thought about tithing your time? Suppose you spent 10 percent of your day with God? What would that mean? Mathematically, there are twenty-four hours in a day, which equals 1440 minutes. If you gave the Lord 10 percent of that time, he would receive 144 minutes every day. That's over two hours. Is that how much time you spend in reading the Word and in prayer now? Probably not. But let's be fair. You have to work and sleep each for eight hours. You can't really tithe that time. So we're really talking about tithing in terms of your third eight-hour period in the day. That's 480 minutes, and a tithe of 480 minutes is forty-eight minutes daily. If you gave God forty-eight minutes daily, you'd be giving him one-tenth of one-third of your day. Does that sound reasonable? But how are you going to find forty-eight minutes in a day? You start here: instead of tacking God onto your schedule where you can, instead of watching your third reality show of the night, turn off the television, shut out everything else, and spend forty-eight quality minutes with God. If you do that, you could actually read the Bible through four times in one year--pretty amazing! (160)
Who's to say what's theologically correct? You? Me? Our peers? None of the above? How about God? He is. If the Bible is what it claims to be--a revelation of the mind of God to the minds of men--then God alone is in a position to determine what is truthful with regard to his character, his plans, and his purposes. (115)

Perhaps the greatest hindrance to knowledge is a failure to know what you don't know. I fear this is true in the evangelical church. We don't have a clue how little we known about the Bible. (187)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 3, 2019

Book Review: A Christian Manifesto

A Christian Manifesto. Francis A. Schaeffer. 1981/2005. Crossway. 157 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.

Worldview. Every single person has one, whether or not they know the scholarly name for their particular worldview or not. What is your worldview? Can you distinguish between the Christian worldview and the other worldviews that are battling it out for dominance? Can you distinguish between the genuine and the counterfeit? (This book, in particular, is all about the HUMANIST world view.) When you watch the news, read a book, read an article, listen to the radio, talk with friends, can you discern ideas, principles, agendas? Do you recognize bias? Do you blend worldviews? Are you standing on solid ground or sinking sand? Are you good at seeing the big picture, the total picture? Are you able to see where ideas lead? All ideas have consequences--some good, some bad.

Was A Christian Manifesto needed in 1981? I'm going to guess that yes, yes it was. Is it needed in 2019? A qualified yes. Yes, the thematic messages--the central points--are still very much relevant. In fact, I don't think you'd be out of line if you argued that today more than any other, the heart of this message needs to be proclaimed everywhere--time and time and time and time again. Because believers can be slow to hear, slow to understand, slow to respond.

It's like this: react too strongly and you're accused of being a Chicken Little. You watch the news, read an article, hear a snippet of video...rush out and proclaim THIS IS IT! CHRISTIANITY IS IN DANGER! THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS! I'M NOT FOOLING AROUND, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT IS GOING TO BE OVER! The other extreme is to be so slow to react, so slow to respond, that the so-called battle is in the history books before you've even gotten out of your easy chair to look for your spiritual armor.

To live the Christian life is to be awake, be aware, to see that there aren't two realms--the secular one and the spiritual one--but one realm. The gospel should impact, inform, effect ALL of one's life. Living for Christ means living all of life for Christ--in Christ. We are not called to sleep, to slumber our way through the days--last days or not.

Some sections are quite timeless, others are very much dated to a specific time and place. The focus in specifics is on politics and law.


  • True spirituality covers all of reality...The Lordship of Christ covers all of life and all of life equally... There is nothing concerning reality that is not spiritual. (19)
  • Christianity is not just a series of truths but Truth--Truth about all of reality. (20)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Highlights from Psalm 119

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways! Psalm 119:2-3

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to thy word. Psalm 119:9

With my whole heart I seek thee;
let me not wander from thy commandments!
I have laid up thy word in my heart,
that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:10-11

In the way of thy testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on thy precepts,
and fix my eyes on thy ways.
I will delight in thy statutes;
I will not forget thy word. Psalm 119:14-16
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18

My soul is consumed with longing
for thy ordinances at all times. Psalm 119:20
Thy testimonies are my delight,
they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24

My soul cleaves to the dust;
revive me according to thy word! Psalm 119:25
My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to thy word! Psalm 119:28
Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law
and observe it with my whole heart. Psalm 119:34
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
and give me life in thy ways. Psalm 119:37
Let thy steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
thy salvation according to thy promise; Psalm 119:41

Remember thy word to thy servant,
in which thou hast made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction
that thy promise gives me life. Psalm 119:49-50
Thy statutes have been my songs
in the house of my pilgrimage. Psalm 119:54

Thou art good and doest good;
teach me thy statutes. Psalm 119:68

The law of thy mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:72
Thy hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn thy commandments. Psalm 119:73
I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.
Let thy steadfast love be ready to comfort me
according to thy promise to thy servant. Psalm 119:75-76
My soul languishes for thy salvation;
I hope in thy word. Psalm 119:81
For ever, O Lord, thy word
is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119:89
Thy faithfulness endures to all generations;
thou hast established the earth, and it stands fast.
By thy appointment they stand this day;
for all things are thy servants. Psalm 119:90-91
I will never forget thy precepts;
for by them thou hast given me life. Psalm 119:93
How sweet are thy words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
Through thy precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:104
Thy word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I am sorely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to thy word! Psalm 119:107
Thy testimonies are my heritage for ever;
yea, they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111
Thou art my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in thy word. Psalm 119:114
The unfolding of thy words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
Keep steady my steps according to thy promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Psalm 119:133

Righteous art thou, O Lord,
and right are thy judgments.
Thou hast appointed thy testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness. Psalm 119:138-139
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in thy words. Psalm 119:147
But thou art near, O Lord,
and all thy commandments are true. Psalm 119:151
Long have I known from thy testimonies
that thou hast founded them for ever. Psalm 119:152
The sum of thy word is truth;
and every one of thy righteous ordinances endures for ever. Psalm 119:160
I rejoice at thy word
like one who finds great spoil. Psalm 119:162
Let my cry come before thee, O Lord;
give me understanding according to thy word! Psalm 119:169

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Week in Review: May 26-June 1

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. CSB.

Have I finished my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 119? Which translations have I read this week? YES. It is done. CSB.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 120-150? Which translations have I read this week?
Yes. CSB. NKJV. ASV. NASB 1977. Living.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. Read Proverbs 1-20, I believe.

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?
ESV Prayer Bible 1 Kings, 2 Kings 1-13

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
CSB Mark 4-16, James,
KJV Life Application: Mark 8-16, Romans, James
NASB 1977 -- 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians

Other Reading
My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Big Picture Story Bible. David R. Helm. Illustrated by Gail Schoonmaker. 2004. Crossway Books. 451 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible