Friday, October 18, 2019

Bible Review: NASB 1977

Giant Print Handy Size Reprint NASB 1977 Edition. 2011. AMG Publishers. 2304 pages.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I received the NASB 77 as a birthday present last year. I chose well! I wanted to love, love, love this translation of the Bible, and I do. I love both the NASB 77 and the NASB 95. (Actually, I love the NASB 71 too.) I believe I started reading it in May of this year.

I loved, loved, loved so much about this bible. I loved the size of the font. Giant print isn't as GIANT as you might imagine. It's slightly bigger than a regular size font you'd find in just about any Bible from the 80s or 90s. But it was super-comfortable on my eyes. Not too big. Not too small.

It is double-column. I don't mind double column, especially with a nice size font.

It is red-letter. But red-letter in a "giant" size font isn't all that bad. I'd still prefer black letter, but it's not bad at all.

I loved the size of this one. It isn't too heavy. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say you could hold it comfortably up in bed to read it, but it isn't too heavy for normal use. It is the perfect weight for daily reading and for taking to church as well.

I loved the translation itself.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 11, 2019

Book Review: Jesus Heals

Jesus Heals [Board book] Danielle Hitchen. Illustrated by Jessica Blanchard. 2020 [January] 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Great crowds came to Jesus, “and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” Matthew 15:30-31

Premise/plot: This board book is a concept book for Christian parents to read with their little ones. The concept is parts of the body—anatomy. The parts of the body are highlighted alongside scripture as stories of Jesus’ healings are shared. Time and time again Jesus heals.

My thoughts: I have honestly never thought of teaching the parts of the body by sharing scripture verses about Jesus’ healing ministry. I do like that it uses actual scripture verses. That’s one way to keep the text biblically sound. I liked the emphasis on Jesus’ ministry. I loved the lead up to the cross. The illustrations are nice.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Book Review: When Silence Sings

When Silence Sings. Sarah Loudin Thomas. 2019. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang.

Premise/plot: Colman Harpe desires to be preacher and leave the family feud far far behind. But the family feud isn’t just in the past. The McLeans are still out to get the Harpes. In fact, soon after the novel opens, Jake McLean murders Caleb Harpe, Colman‘s cousin. The Harpes vow vengeance—most of them at least. Serepta McLean’s message doesn’t cool things down either. Can Colman manage to stay out of the feud and avoid the drama on both sides? For the Harpes, to take no side in the feud is to be on the McLean’s side. If Colman actually follows his call, he’s risking his very life. God has called him not just to preach—a general call—but to preach to the McLean clan specifically. Will Colman run away like Jonah? Or will he learn to love his enemies with the love of Christ?

My thoughts: I really got swept up in the story. I believe it’s set in Tennessee circa 1930/31. At first all I was seeing were the parallels between this story and the book of Jonah—too many to be a mere coincidence. But then the story became so much more than that. The story alternates perspectives between Colman Harpe and Serepta McLean. That was a nice touch. It’s hard to see them as enemies when they’re humanized. I enjoyed every minute of this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Week in Review: September 15-28

Did I read Revelation? Yes. KJV and ASV 1901

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 did I read in the Old Testament?


  • Leviticus 
  • Numbers
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • Job
  • Psalms 126-150
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk

NASB 1977

  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

What did I read in the New Testament?


  • Mark
  • Romans
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 23, 2019

Book Review: Emblems of the Infinite King

Emblems of the Infinite King: Enter the Knowledge of the Living God. J. Ryan Lister and Anthony M. Benedetto. 2019. Crossway. 184 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: His strong and wise command cut through the empty silence as he reached out of the shadows to offer an ancient key. “I am the Key Keeper. I have come to show you the Way. But before you do anything . . . Heed this warning: Those who turn this key will never be the same. It will show your deepest guilt and display your darkest shame. You’ll see who you were made to be and what you’ve really become. But only if you turn the key will you find your story isn’t done, that the way ahead is the path that leads into the throne room of the Son, this one they call the Death Killer, who gives his life to pay your ransom. “If you so choose, pick up the key. Open the lock. “If you do, you will not be alone. I will walk with you and guide you. I will meet you on the other side.” Everything changed with the turn of a key.

This book is a great introduction of the gospel for children and teens to read either on their own or with their parents. The gospel presentation is structured around the thematic concept of keys. The Throne Room Key: The Doctrine of God. The Dust Key: The Doctrine of Humanity. The Serpent Key: The Doctrine of Sin. The Tomb Key: The Doctrine of Christ. The Spirit Key: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The Gavel Key: The Doctrine of Salvation. The Temple Key: The Doctrine of the Church. The Throne Key: The Doctrine of Last Things.

I earlier said 'gospel presentation' but it could also be seen as an introduction to systematic theology. If you are already a believer, the clear presentation will strengthen and inform your faith. Plenty of substance to chew on. If you are not a believer--perhaps you've been exposed here and there to the faith of others--then I think this will give you food for thought. Perhaps the Spirit will use the book to help clarify and explain the faith.

I think the intended audience is children ages eight and up. But I think adults could benefit as well from reading this one. I do think families could benefit from using this one together. Counting the introduction and conclusion there are ten chapters/sections to read.

It does directly address the reader. Not many books for adults do this--for better or worse. I liked the style of this one--especially in small doses.
We all want to be the main character in our own story. Everybody—in his own way—wants to be the center of his world. Everyone wants to be king of the mountain, the smartest kid in the class, the one with the biggest trophy case, or everybody’s best friend. It hurts when you aren’t and, after a while, it can even hurt when you are. This is why knowing the King is so important. Knowing him shows you that you can’t be the center of the world because he already is. That is a good thing. You weren’t made to be the center of the world; you can’t hold everything together. But God can. And when he is the center of the world, and the center of your story, you are free to be who you were made to be—who he made you to be.
If knowing the King is really the most important thing, then you need to know him correctly. This is where it gets really good: God doesn’t play hide-and-seek with you. He actually comes to you. The King wants you to know him, and, in his kind mercy, he has actually already spoken to you in many ways.
In both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture, God works with the words, lives, and qualities of human authors to give you his perfect words—not just to have them, but so that you may believe and obey them and find life in them. Because the King speaks through Scripture, you can trust it to be a perfect guide to knowing him. Every part of it is from God, which means it doesn’t have any errors. It means you can understand it, and it means that it already contains everything God wants you to know. It also means that God will use it to make sure that what he wants to happen will indeed happen.
Now this is too important to miss, so listen well: the only real reason you can know the King is because the King wants you to know him. He tells you everything you need to know about him. Now, he doesn’t tell you everything; but everything he does tell you is true and exactly what you need to know. The King wants you to hear his words because he wants you to know him rightly. People will try to tell you who God is but the truth is, God himself has already told you who he is. He’s given you his Word. The question is, will you hear and heed his Word?
I would definitely recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Review: The Joy of Missing Out

The Joy Of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less. Tonya Dalton. 2019. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the introduction: OVERWHELMED. It was a beautiful spring morning, but I was too busy to notice the trees beginning to bud or the clear blue sky.

First sentence from chapter one: Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe. OPRAH WINFREY

Premise/plot: Dalton hopes to connect with her readers who feel overwhelmed and stressed in her new book, The Joy of Missing Out. What does she mean by the phrase 'joy of missing out'?
Noun 1. The emotionally intelligent antidote to busy; intentionally choosing to live in the present moment by embracing open spaces of unrushed time 2. An intense feeling of delight and happiness caused by centering your life on what is truly important and letting go of the “shoulds” and “have to’s” in life. SYNONYMS: unhurried purpose, intentional, priority-centered ANTONYMS: busy, hustle, frazzled, knock stuff out, having a full plate
The book falls into the 'self-help' genre though it is published by a Christian publisher. It's a book about productivity, effectiveness, goal-setting, and priorities. It's a super-practical book packed with cultural wisdom. It guides readers step by step on discovering their own unique 'North Star' and discovering their own core values that will help shape their vision.
Productivity is not about doing more—it’s doing what’s most important. We need to stop trying to get more done and instead reset our focus on our own priorities. When we do that, our ideal life can become our real, everyday life.
When we treat everything as equal, it means nothing is a priority. It all gets jumbled together and we begin to lose sight of what really matters.
You have more time left in your life right now in this very minute than you will have an hour from now. There is not another point in your lifetime when you’ll have the luxury of the amount of time you have right this very second. If there’s something you really want to do, today is the day to start. It’s possible for your future to look brighter, for you to focus on the things that are important to you. But to do that, your priorities have to take priority.
While we may not be sailors, we still need a constant in our life to help guide us through the darkness. Here’s the hard fact: we don’t just find ourselves on a fulfilling, deeply satisfying path—we create it for ourselves. The clarity comes from within us.
My thoughts: If The Joy of Missing Out was NOT published by a Christian publisher, would I be surprised--even shocked--by its contents? Probably not. In fact, I know I wouldn't. This is exactly what I'd expect to find in any self-help section.

But the fact that it is in fact published by a Christian publisher, well, it shook me a bit. Why? Because the word "God" only appears once. The word "Bible" only appears once. I believe the words "church" and "Sunday School" appear once in the same story. And prayer might accidentally be mentioned two or three times even. Perhaps. But there is not one Scripture verse quoted or even alluded to. The book (the Bible) that is supposed to be the one and only authority in our lives is completely and totally missing. (As is all mention of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.) Oprah is mentioned more than God. Think about that. Think. About. That.

Priorities, goals, mission statements, core values, visions...all without any reference at all to God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit...without any reference to God's His the eternity. There is nothing remotely Christian about this one.

There are plenty of quotes to be found in this one. All contemporary. All cultural. But not one of them is from a Christian theologian, author, or preacher.

“It is our choices . . . that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J. K. ROWLING
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. COCO CHANEL
As Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” 
Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat. ELIZABETH GILBERT 
Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. LAURA VANDERKAM
What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while. GRETCHEN RUBIN
The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul. LYSA TERKEURST
Sometimes it helps me to wake up in the morning and tell myself, “Today, I’m going to believe that showing up is enough.” BRENÉ BROWN
The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself. BEYONCÉ
As Zen priest and Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax shared, “There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it’s easy to believe that we must exhale all the time without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale.”
Do your thing and don’t care if they like it. TINA FEY
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. MAYA ANGELOU
I am conflicted in some ways. On the one hand, I think she's lacking a solid foundation, and I question her questions. The questions and framework she wants us to work with--start from--are not based on anything solid and lasting. They are build on cultural wisdom and pragmatism. On the other hand, it is very true we don't need all the things. Some of the conclusions she arrives at seem true enough. We do fill our lives with things that just don't matter, with things that we don't really want. Sometimes we do not know how to say NO. I do believe in using your time wisely and valuing minutes. But her process...well...I'm just not sure it's biblical enough to build your own system around.

If you're looking for a book where you are encouraged and pleaded with to put yourself at the center always then this one might be for you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Week in Review: September 8-14

Did I read Revelation? Yes. KJV.

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. Ezekiel and Daniel.

What did I read in the Old Testament?


  • Exodus
  • Psalm 61-125
  • Isaiah
  • Joel
  • Amos

What did I read in the New Testament?


  • Acts
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Bible History ABC's

Bible History ABCs: God's Story from A to Z. Stephen J. Nichols. 2019. Crossway. 60 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A is for aardvarks, armadillos, an apple, and Adam.
Anchors aweigh. Let’s start our journey through the Bible from beginning to end, from A to Z.
In the beginning God made all things. He made alligators and asteroids, anteaters and antelopes, and also ants. Of all the creatures God made, he made only one in his image: Adam. God did not want Adam to be alone, so God made Eve. They lived in absolute Paradise and were to worship God alone. They ate avocados and all kinds of wonderful fruit. They were not allowed to eat one forbidden fruit.
Bible History ABCs tells the big picture of the whole Bible--a chronological narrative. The framework is the ABCs. This seems like it would be a super-daunting task. Not summarizing the Bible, not summarizing the gospel, not summarizing doctrines systematically in genearl--but doing so in the order of A to Z! One might argue that one doesn't exactly *need* it to be ordered A to Z. And you'd be right. You don't *need* it. But what a fun way to challenge yourself. I'm almost tempted to try it myself.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: My Heart Cries Out

My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life. Paul David Tripp. 2019. Crossway. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I am not a poet; I am a pilgrim. I am not attracted to formal, overly romantic Christian verse, but I think that we do not train our eyes to see enough, our hearts to consider enough, and our emotions to celebrate enough the glories of the grace that is showered down on us in a thousand ways every day.

My Heart Cries Out is a new devotional book by Paul David Tripp. The devotions are poems. But don't let the poetry scare you away. This book is far from intimidating--it's refreshing, honest, genuine. I enjoyed most--if not all--the entries. Which is saying a lot considering the fact that it's poetry. I am not a big reader of devotional books. I like books with weight, substance, heart--not light, fluffy, feathery nonsense. This book has substance. But again, it's not intimidating. Truth resonates.

I loved, loved, loved some of these:
My heart cries out, but I am not afraid, discouraged, panicked, forgotten, alone, dismayed, or doubtful because in the din of a million voices from every place in every situation young and old crying day and night in weakness, in alienation, in fear, and in distress, you are not overwhelmed, you are not distracted, you are not disgusted, you are not discouraged, you are not exhausted. But you listen, you hear, you attend to my cry in tenderness of mercy, in patience of spirit, and with generosity of love you listen to my plea and you never turn away. But with power and wisdom and the tender heart of a Savior, you do this amazing thing—you answer. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. (1 Pet. 3:12)
You are the sun that shines in darkness. You are the water that quenches thirst. You are the balm that heals the wounded. You are the master that calms the storm. You are the rose of brightest beauty. You are the chosen, perfect lamb. You are the king of a greater kingdom. You are the captain of battles won. You are the lion of chosen Judah. You are the dove of peace that’s come. You are the shelter for the homeless. You are the father to helpless orphans. You are the chosen, suffering son. You are my God, my Savior, my hope, my life, my forgiveness, my wisdom, my strength, my righteousness, my peace, my Father, my brother, and my friend. Because you are, I am what I am.
You are not a distant Lord, or a detached Master, moving the pawns on the board in an impersonal act of winning. Your lordship does not separate me from you as a serf would be separated from a king. No, you accomplished your sovereign plan by invading my dark and messy world in the person of your Son, giving yourself in radical grace to people who saw no value in your nearness. You are Master, and you are Immanuel. You are Lord, and you are Father. You are King, and you are Friend. You are Sovereign and you are Shepherd. Your rule is not from afar. No, your rule brings you near. I have hope today, because you are not distant. And I celebrate the amazing rest and strength to be found in the reality that your sovereignty has brought you near.
I was not designed to be on my own, to author my own story, to compose my own rules, to live with me in the center. I was not designed to question your goodness, to bring you to the court of my judgment, to be bitter in my assessment of the things you do. for owning my heart’s desires, for teaching me that my life is you. I was not designed to look for life outside of you, to treasure the creation, to love people, places, and things, more than you. I was not designed to let my heart fill with envy, to be constantly accounting, to be jealous and untrusting instead of resting in you. I was not designed to rely on my wisdom, to trust my imagination, to rely on my thoughts, to ignore your revelation. I was not designed to follow the paths of my craving, to be enslaved to my desires, to be ruled by my passions, more than I am by you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 9, 2019

Book Review: Lessons On Love

Lessons On Love: 4 Schoolteachers Find More than They Bargained For in Their Contracts. Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Carrie Fancett Pagels. 2019. Barbour. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Lessons on Love is a collection of historical romance novellas. It is a themed collection celebrating teachers—male and female. The novellas are as follows: Something Old, Something New by Kathleen Maher; Love in Any Language by Susanne Dietze; In Desperate Straits by Carrie Fancett Pagels; and A Song in the Night by Rita Gerlach.

The first novella features a Jewish heroine, Gilda. The family (her mother and sisters) have been financially struggling since her father’s death. She’s a teacher—a good one—but her job has been threatened. Joshua Blake, a Christian, could potentially take her position. Right now they are co-teaching. But though they seemingly come from different backgrounds and cultures, there is undeniably something there between them. Will these two make a match of it?!

Love in Any Language is a super sweet story about a young woman, a former teacher named Mary, who teaches an immigrant and his children English. She teaches immigrant children from several families, I believe, but only one catches her eye and captures her heart—Kristofer Nilsson.

In Desperate Straits is by far my least favorite novella in this collection—dare I say any collection?! It features Maggie Hadley and Jesse Huntington. Her family raises horses. His family buts them. She catches his eye. When his family goes from wealthy to dirt-poor, he seeks a teaching job. Maggie disguises herself as a young boy so she can get a job as a driver and send her wages back home. Her disguise doesn’t fool him...and love predictably follows.

A Song in the Night may just be my favorite. Maybe. Karien Wiles is a music teacher at a well-respected academy in Baltimore. But on the day she just happens to trip and fall in the snow—only to be “rescued“ by a dashing young man, Nathan Archer—she loses her job when the whole academy closes. Will she find another teaching job...or will she find a love worth settling down for. The main point of this one being that a woman couldn’t have both—a husband and a job.

The first story I would rate 5/5.
The second story I would rate 5/5.
The third story I would rate 1/5.
The fourth story I would rate 5/5.

It is interesting that I read the first novella in one sitting, same with the second and fourth. But that third story was dragging and flat. It took me about three weeks to make it through. I am not sure what it was about it—the cross dressing, the horses, the lack of school setting, the melodrama—that made it so not my cup of tea.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Week in Review: September 1-7

Did I read Revelation? Yes. NASB 1995.

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. Ezekiel...still.

What did I read in the Old Testament?


  • Genesis
  • Ruth
  • Psalm 1-60
  • Daniel
  • Hosea

What did I read in the New Testament?

NKJV Vines

  • 2 Corinthians


  • Luke
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 6, 2019

Book Review: Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat

Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat. Andrew Wilson. Illustrated by Helena P. Garcia. 2019. Crossway. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Sophie is crying. Her sister Michaela has broken her dollhouse, and nobody cares. To make matters worse, she’s pushed over her sister, then yelled at her parents, and stormed up the stairs.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book that will appeal to Reformed or Calvinist families; the picture book is oh-so-loosely inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism. It stars a naughty girl, Sophie, who follows a strange cat (named Grace, I believe) up on the roof to talk theology. And it’s all done in rhyme. The theme of this one is that we are all born with a sin nature and stand in need of a savior. Salvation is not earned or achieved but purely of grace. God graciously saves his elect.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the Heidelberg Catechism. I do. I am without a doubt Reformed in my theology. But. If parents really, truly want to teach theology to their children there has to be a better way then this—mediocre rhyme and a flimsy story. Why a talking cat? Why a rooftop? Why introduce fantasy elements into what could be a realistic story? Why not just directly talk to children about the gospel?

A few years ago an updated children’s Catechism inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism was released—also a few albums with songs to aid in memorizing the questions and answers. That approach actually makes sense.

Few writers can write in rhyme and actually get the concept of rhythm. Many try, no doubt about it. They give it their all and do manage to get published. But rhyming texts are so tricky to get right and easy to get wrong. Few achieve a natural, realistic, genuine, believable voice. That credibility is much more important if you want to engage with readers heart to heart.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Week in Review: August 25-31

Did I read Revelation? YES. 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. Lamentations and some Ezekiel.

What did I read in the Old Testament?

NKJV Vines

  • Judges
  • Ruth

NASB 1977

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk 
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai

What did I read in the New Testament?

NKJV Vines

  • 1 Corinthians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Week in Review: August 18-24

Did I read Revelation? YES. NASB (1995)

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. Finished up 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Finished Jeremiah and Obadiah.

What did I read in the Old Testament?
NASB 1995

  • Psalm 19-41

NKJV Vines

  • Joshua

KJV Life Application

  • 2 Samuel
  • Psalm 1-41

What did I read in the New Testament?

NASB 1995

  • Philippians

KJV Life Application

  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Week in Review: August 11-17

Did I read Revelation? YES. NASB (1995)

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. Jeremiah and two Psalms.

What have I read in the Old Testament?

NASB 1995

  • Psalm 1-18

NKJV Vines

  • Deuteronomy

NASB 1977

  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel

What have I read in the New Testament?

NKJV Vines

  • Luke 17-24
  • Acts

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Week in Review: August 4-10

Did I read Revelation? Yes. KJV Life Application

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. Habakkuk. Joel. Jeremiah, some.

What have I read in the Old Testament?

KJV Life Application

  • Ecclesiastes
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • Jeremiah 40-52

NKJV Vines

  • Numbers

What have I read in the New Testament?

NKJV Vines

  • Luke 1-16
  • Romans

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Week in Review: July 21 - August 3

Did I read Revelation? Yes. KJV and ESV.

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. Kings and Chronicles. Isaiah and Nahum.

What have I read in the Old Testament the past two weeks?

NASB 77 -- Isaiah 40-66
NKJV Vines Bible -- Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus;  Proverbs; Ecclesiastes
KJV Life Application -- Song of Solomon; Lamentations; Jeremiah 1-39;

What have I read in the New Testament the past two weeks? 

NKJV Vines Bible -- Mark; 1 Peter; 2 Peter; 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Review: The Whole Armor of God

The Whole Armor of God: How Christ's Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare. Iain M. Duguid. 2019. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Over recent years, there have been many television shows aimed at helping people get properly dressed.

The book is a study of Ephesians 6:10-18.

Who should read The Whole Armor of God?! One might as well ask who should not read The Whole Armor of God?! It is just that good. And I do love it when MUST-READ books happen to fall around the 125 page mark. It should be read by believers of all ages and stages. It should be read by all believers because all believers wear the armor. This book is not for "super-Christians." Duguid reminds readers, "the choice is not whether you will be a Christian soldier or a Christian civilian but whether you will be a prepared Christian soldier or an unprepared one. And an unprepared soldier of flesh and blood will not be able to stand against the scale of the spiritual forces ranged against him or her."

The first chapter, "Dressed for Battle," covers the introductory verses that serve as the preface to the armor of God. Duguid wants his readers to have a proper big-picture perspective for understanding and applying the armor. It is essential that believers understand the SCALE OF OUR NEED; it is essential that believers comprehend the VASTNESS OF GOD'S PROVISION; it is essential that believers take seriously the CALL TO STAND. If you fail to take into account any of these three, then your understanding of the armor of God might be a little warped. And a misunderstanding could lead to misapplication.

I love the example he gives: "What many of us hear in these words [Ephesians 6:13-17] is a call to triumphant action, as if it is completely up to us to take on the devil and withstand his schemes. If we would just put on the whole armor of God, we should therefore constantly be able to stand firm against all of Satan’s schemes. God has done his part perfectly in making the armor available; now it is up to us to choose whether to use it. Meanwhile, God appears helpless in heaven, waiting to see how it all turns out. When this wrong understanding holds sway, Christians get sorted into one of two camps. Some choose to be radical disciples of Jesus and live an epic life by putting on that armor. Others, by their neglect, become those “loser” Christians who are regularly tripped up by the devil’s schemes, falling into sin daily, leaving God perpetually disappointed. In reality, many of us find ourselves daily in the second category: we are often unwilling and unable even to think clearly about the armor, let alone put it on...If sanctification were as simple as some suggest (“Just try harder to put on the armor!”), we would not fail and fall in the Christian life nearly as much as we do." (Emphasis mine)

Isn't it easy--even when you KNOW better--to fall into this mindset?! To shift the focus from Christ's wearing of the armor to OUR WEARING OF THE ARMOR. I think this is fairly common as well. Duguid writes, "An inevitable result of this self-focused perspective on our spiritual growth is that we become proud of ourselves and judgmental of others if we think that we are doing well in our struggle against sin and Satan. After all, we chose to put on God’s armor while they made poor choices."

The BIGGIE insight of chapter one is, "Our sanctification rests first and foremost on the finished work of Christ in our place. As we shall see, the armor of God is quite literally God’s armor—armor designed for and worn by God first and foremost. The armor God gives us to defend and protect us against Satan’s onslaught is the armor that he has already worn in the decisive battle on our behalf. We fight and stand firm against Satan only in the strength that comes from the victory that Christ has already won for us. That is why each of the various pieces of armor points us to Christ. The belt of truth is the belt that girds the messianic king in Isaiah 11:5. The breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation come from the divine warrior’s arsenal in Isaiah 59:17. The feet shod with gospel readiness are the feet of those who proclaim the arrival of Messiah’s kingdom in Isaiah 52:7. God himself is the shield of faith, as he describes himself in Genesis 15. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is the weapon wielded by the promised servant of the Lord in Isaiah 49:2. What God clothes us with is nothing less than his own armor, the same armor that Christ has already worn on our behalf in his lifelong struggle with the mortal enemy of our souls, Satan himself. You are called to wear the armor of God not because that’s what Jesus would do if he found himself in a similar situation; you are called to wear God’s armor because that is what Jesus has already done, wearing God’s armor all the way to the cross."

This may just be the BIGGIE insight of the entire book. And it's a potential life-changer or game-changer. Hence why this book is a must-read in my opinion. Every believer needs to grasp these key truths about justification, sanctification, propitiation, and imputation. And these are the key doctrines being taught throughout the book AS Duguid unpacks Ephesians 6.

Every day believers can take joy from knowing that, "Your victory over sin belongs to Jesus, not you. Jesus’s struggle was the decisive one, not yours. His victory on the cross purchased your complete sanctification, your ultimate holiness before God. His Spirit is at work within you growing you at the rate that he intends toward his goal of your complete purity. Your sanctification is where he plans for it to be... Fight the good fight with all your might. Wrestle with all the energy that the Spirit gives you. But in the midst of that standing, fighting, and wrestling, don’t forget to rest in the finished victory of Christ and the assurance that the Spirit’s perfect sanctifying work in your life is what counts."

In the following chapters, "The Belt of Truth," "The Breastplate of Righteousness," "Gospel Boots," "The Shield of Faith," "The Helmet of Salvation," and "The Sword of the Spirit" Duguid unpacks spiritual truths one by one from the Ephesians passage. These chapters are packed with insight but also quite practical. I love that he teaches from the Old Testament and the New Testament, highlighting how Paul was using Old Testament texts and applying them in light of Christ. Believers not familiar with the Old Testament may not be aware of these connections and how they are among the OT passages that point to Christ.

The last chapter, "Praying Always," [Ephesians 6:18-20] focuses on prayer. "The armory needs to be under the control of the pilot; you and I need to be in close contact with God. And the means by which we stay in contact is prayer. Prayer is not so much another weapon that the Christian has been given as it is the means by which all of his or her weaponry is kept effective, under the control and guidance of God."

Favorite quotes:
  • Truth is essential to the Christian life; it is foundational to taking a stand against the devil. The Christian message unambiguously claims to be the truth, not just a truth.
  • Christianity claims loudly to be the truth. And the truth with which we are to be belted in order to face up to the devil is, first and foremost, the truth of what we believe: the gospel message of who God is, who we are, and what he requires of us as created human beings. This truth is revealed to us in the Word of God, the Scriptures.
  • Our hearts are leaky containers, constantly losing our hold on the truth. Day by day, we need to refill our mind with a fresh measure of God’s truth, revealed in the Scriptures, so that we will be equipped to stand against Satan’s lies.
  • What the Bible gives to us, however, is not simply little nuggets of truth—one truth over here, another truth over there—but rather a whole system of teaching, of doctrine. All the different parts of the Bible are related and interrelated, and when you put them together as a whole, they teach us what we must believe about God and what God requires of us. The idea of doctrine is not very popular in our day and age.
  • Foundational truth, belted around our waists, enables us to stand against Satan, even as it points us away from ourselves to Jesus Christ as the only one who can make us stand.
  • What Paul means by the “breastplate of righteousness,” however, is not a set of accomplishments that we create for ourselves; rather, it is something given to us to put on. This breastplate is not our workmanship; it is part of the armor that God provides for us, a righteousness that is not our own.
  • The trouble with the popular view of what makes someone a Christian, that what gets us into God’s good books are our own efforts to obey God, is that our righteousness can never be good enough. Even when I am trying to obey God, I regularly do, say, and think things that are either against what God tells me to do or not in line with what God tells me I ought to do, which is sin. What is more, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). That is, the reward that we deserve each and every time that we fail to obey God fully from our hearts is death, eternal separation from God. Yet we all sin many times each day.
  • Our own righteousness won’t protect us against God, let alone against the devil.
  • At the heart of the Christian message are two equal and opposite transformations. Each is dramatic; each would be unbelievable if we didn’t have God’s own Word on it. They are these: God took Jesus, the only perfect person who ever lived, the only one who could ever stand before God on the basis of his own goodness—God’s own beloved Son—and stripped off from Jesus these clean clothes of faithful obedience. The Father tore off Jesus’s righteous standing before him and treated him as if he were the guilty one. He made Jesus to be blackened with our sin, our iniquity, our transgression—all the filthy thoughts, abusive words, and vile actions that you and I have committed in the past or will commit in the future... And then, equally remarkably, having treated the innocent one as guilty, God treats the guilty ones as innocent. Paul puts it like this: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). Instead of counting our sins against us, God chooses to count for us Christ’s righteousness. As Isaiah had said, “Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). It is not just that God doesn’t count against us all the times that we have fallen short of his perfect standard; he also counts for us all the times Jesus faced a similar temptation and stood firm. His perfect righteousness and holy obedience are credited to our account. The robe of perfect obedience that God stripped off the back of his own Son, he now gives to clothe us (see Zechariah 3). In Christ, we have received a breastplate of righteousness that defends us forever against the wrath of God.
  • As we look back over today and yesterday and last week, we lose count of the multitude of times we have failed God through lust, pride, selfishness, lies, coveting, and so on. For people like us, the breastplate of God’s righteousness is really good news. It declares that no matter how bad you’ve been, the offer of God’s deliverance still stands. You can’t pile more evil onto Jesus than he can bear! If he can carry the weight of the sins of all his people—past, present and future—then he can certainly manage your personal collection.
  • This central truth of the imputed righteousness of Christ needs to dominate the lives of all Christians. On the one hand, it means that nothing I can do could ever stop God loving me. If God loved me enough to give himself for me when I was his sworn enemy, he will certainly love me enough to forgive me now that I am his adopted child. The righteousness that comes through the cross gives us assurance and security in God’s love. If I have been reconciled to God through Christ and am always clothed in his perfect righteousness, then even during the darkest nights of personal failure, when I slide right back into those sins that have the strongest grip on my heart, he will not cast me off. 
  • On the other hand, the righteousness that comes through the cross also means that I can never take my sin lightly and just shrug it off. I have been reconciled to God and made a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). God is now at work in me by his Holy Spirit, remaking me into the image of Christ. His purpose is to make me part of a holy people, created for good works in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10). Why, then, would I act as if I am still part of the kingdom of darkness and plunge back into my former way of life among the prostitutes and the pigs as if nothing had happened? The righteousness of Christ, painfully won for us at the cross, motivates us to strive hard toward an obedience that fits the new nature God is working in us.
  • If, when you are doing well, your mind is full of yourself, it is a sign that you are unduly enamored with your own armor. If, when you are failing, you are cast down with overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame, your problem is the same. Refocus your attention again on the gospel.
  • The task of being a herald is simple and twofold: to get the message right and to get the message out. 
  • To experience faith as a shield, you need to know not only that God is powerful but that this God is your friend. God’s sovereignty is not in the least comforting unless you know that this sovereign God is on your side.
  • Our feelings about whether God exists and who he is rise and fall like the tides, but God’s truth in the Bible endures forever. What is the Bible’s answer to the question about whether God is on our side? Strangely enough, it starts out by recognizing that God isn’t automatically on everybody’s side. God is not a great grandfather in the sky who exists to make every human life happy and fulfilled.
  • There is one more thing to say: even when I don’t believe with my whole heart that God is sovereign and good, which is often, that doesn’t change the truth. Our constant cry is, “I believe; Lord, help my unbelief!” And he does. Remember, it is not ultimately our faith that shields us but God himself. When the shield of our faith wavers and drops, the Lord’s strong and mighty shield is always in place, keeping us safe from Satan’s assaults. 
  • It is interesting to note that Paul begins and ends his listing of the armor of God with related ideas. He started with the belt of truth, the foundational garment that underlies all the rest. Now he concludes with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The knowledge and application of the truth as it is found in God’s Word are quite literally the beginning and end of the story in our struggle to stand firm in the battle for obedience. We may live in an age that declares itself “post-truth” and seems more interested in feelings and experiences than thoughtful analysis and discernment, but this is just one more way in which Christianity is countercultural in our context.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

On Migraines

So far the longest I've gone without a migraine this month is about forty to forty-four hours. Though I sometimes exaggerate (slightly) about how "horrible" a month has been in terms of number of migraines, no exaggerations this month.

I have never been one to have to know WHY, to demand to know WHY, to focus my energy on discovering WHY. Sometimes I've been tempted to cry out HOW LONG. Particularly when my rests between episodes/experiences are practically nonexistent.

I've about decided that the majority--if not the totality--of my spiritual warfare will stem from physical pain and suffering and the mental/spiritual impact of that. How can God be glorified in my pain? How can I honor God through my suffering? Where do I turn, where do I run? This isn't exactly suffering for Christ so much as suffering with Christ.

I can prepare for battle--prepare for suffering. The best weapon I have is Scripture. For it is in Scripture that I find hope, find peace, find joy, find strength.

Here are a few of my go-to verses that may help you out in your circumstances:

  • I lay down and slept; I awoke for the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5
  • I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
  • The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O LORD< is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Thy hands. Psalm 138:8
  • I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2
  • But Thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head. Psalm 3:3
  • This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me. Psalm 119:50
  • I am exceedingly afflicted; revive me O LORD, according to Thy word. Psalm 119:107
  • How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalm 119:103
  • I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed my mind instructs me in the night. Psalm 16:7
  • One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple. Psalm 27:4
  • When Thou didst say, "Seek my face," my heart said to Thee, "Thy face, O LORD, I shall seek. Psalm 27:8
  • Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
  • O LORD my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me. Psalm 30:2
  • I will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindess because Thou hast seen my affliction; Thou hast known the troubles of my soul. Psalm 31:7
  • I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1
  • O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
  • The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
  • Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
  • The LORD will command His lovingkindess in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night. A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8
  • Thou has taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book? Psalm 56:8
  • I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. Psalm 57:2
  • Because Thy lovingkindess is better than life, my lips will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name. Psalm 63:3-4
  • When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches, for Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I wing for joy. Psalm 63:6-7
  • Blessed be the LORD, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Psalm 68:19
  • But I am afflicted and in pain, may Thy salvation, O God, set me securely on high. Psalm 69:29
  • But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more. Psalm 71:14
  • With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:24-26
  • Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so. Psalm 107:1-2
  • And he has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly therefore I will rather boast about my weakness that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-10
  • I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
  • This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
  • Rejoice in the LORD always, again I will say rejoice! Philippians 4:4
  • Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthian 4:16
  • This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion" says my soul, "therefore I have hope in Him." The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25
  • Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
  • If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4
  • Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have many, many more. But this is enough to work through today.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Week in Review: July 14-20

Bible Reading

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

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

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?

Spurgeon Study Bible KJV

  • Genesis
  • Job

NASB 1977

  • Genesis
  • Isaiah 1-39

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
NKJV Vines Expository

  • Matthew
  • James

Other reading: 

Prayers for Little Hearts. Sandra Magsamen. 2019. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Not Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits Into God's Plan for the World. 2019. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How God Grows a Brave Boy: A Devotional. Matt Koceich. 2019. [October] Barbour. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
ESV Prayer Bible. 2019. Crossway Books. 1920 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible