Saturday, March 30, 2019

Week in Review: March 24-30

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes, Living Bible.
Am I keeping up with my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 73-89? How many times have I read it so far? Which translations? Living Bible. KJV. JPS 1917. NKJV. English Revised Version.
Have I started my next 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 90-118? How many times have I read it so far? Which translations? Yes. English Revised Version. KJV. MEV.
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. We finished Judges and Ruth.
Have I done any other Bible reading not related to one of those projects? Which books and which translation, if any? Yes. NASB Ephesians and Philippians. JPS 1917 (Jewish OT) Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges

Other Reading

Christian Fiction Read This Week:
A New Home for Lily (Adventures of Lily Lapp #2) Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2013. Revell. 266 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Christian Nonfiction Read This Week:
Cries From the Cross: A Journey Into the Heart of Jesus. Erwin Lutzer. 2002. Moody. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]
Final Word: Why We Need the Bible. John MacArthur. 2019. [June] Reformation Trust Publishing. 136 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Devotional Journaling #13

I'm not sure what to do with this "weekly feature" in the future. It looks like some weeks there will be very little--if anything--to share. I am also considering picking up other devotionals besides the two I've been doing. I may or may not push through and finish the ones I'm currently reading.

Living Hope for the End of Days. This week's theme was Hear Christ's Message. It was an overview of Revelation 2 and 3. It begins by pointing out what may or may not be obvious--that the letters were written for all believers at all times. Yes, they had an original audience, but their message is still for us.

  • The seven most important letters in the Bible are usually overlooked—the seven authored by Jesus personally and sent to us individually.
  • The Bible is like many textbooks in school: all the answers are found at the end of the book. The end of the Bible is, of course, the Revelation of Jesus Christ that John recorded for us.

I did read Diamonds in the Dust this week. But I didn't find anything to share. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, March 29, 2019

Highlights from Psalm 73-89

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:21-28

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near;
Men declare Your wondrous works. Psalm 75:1

My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.
When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah.
You have held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I have considered the days of old,
The years of long ago.
I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders:
Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?
Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?
Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
You have by Your power redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. Psalm 77:1-15

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God. Psalm 78:1-8

Do not remember the iniquities of our forefathers against us;
Let Your compassion come quickly to meet us,
For we are brought very low. 
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name;
And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake. Psalm 79:8-9

So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever;
To all generations we will tell of Your praise. Psalm 79:13

How lovely are Your dwelling places,
Lord of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. Selah. Psalm 84:1-4

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You! Psalm 84:10-12

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.
Indeed, the Lord will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.
Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way. Psalm 85:9-13

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.
Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.
All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And they shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Your name forever.
For Your lovingkindness toward me is great,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. Psalm 86:3-13

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Cries from the Cross

Cries From the Cross: A Journey Into the Heart of Jesus. Erwin Lutzer. 2002. Moody. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Were you there when they crucified my Lord? As a child I wondered what those words could possibly mean. Obviously, the author of the hymn intended that we answer yes to the question. And yet, what could be clearer than the fact that I was not there when they crucified my Lord? 

Cries from the Cross is a wonderful book--whether you are reading it for the first time or treating yourself to a reread. In this one, Lutzer is examining Jesus' words spoken from the cross. There is a chapter for each of Jesus' seven statements or 'cries.' There's also a preface, introduction, and epilogue that help set the book into context. 

Do you know what Jesus' seven cries from the cross were? Have you considered how they can speak into your life--how they relate to you personally? If you haven't--or even if you have--it's worth pondering (again). I know that 'pondering' or 'meditating' or 'reflecting' takes time and that the average person prioritizes just about everything else over silence or quiet--but at what costs to our souls? 

Here they are in the order in which he writes about them:
  • A Cry for Pardon: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
  • A Cry of Assurance: "Today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
  • A Cry of Compassion: "Dear woman, here is your son...Here is your mother." (John 19:26-27)
  • A Cry of Anguish: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
  • A Cry of Suffering: "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
  • A Cry of Victory: "It is finished." (John 19:30)
  • A Cry of Submission: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

Lutzer clearly and passionately shares the gospel message--that old, old story--that gospel message that when empowered by the Spirit--through the Spirit--can transform lives and take people out of darkness and into the light.

I love, love, love, love, LOVE this one. It is a thrilling read. This was my second or perhaps third time to read it.


To stand at the foot fo the cross is to witness the purpose for which God created the world. Here we see the attributes of God on display; and if we look carefully, we will see ourselves, with all of our needs, sins, and self-deceptions. Thankfully, it is at the cross that God chose to remove His wrath from those who would humbly trust Christ as their sin-bearer. (11)
The cross properly understood exalts no one whom it first does not humble; it gives life only to those whom it first "puts to death." The cross exposes the futility of our self-righteousness; it reminds us that we are sinners, incapable of bringing about our own reconciliation with God. Before the cross we can only stand with bowed heads and a broken spirit. (16)
Unless we see ourselves as deserving of the verdict that Pilate gave to Jesus, unless we see ourselves as worthy of hell, we will never understand the Cross. Someone has said that it is difficult for us to embrace the cross in a day when personal enjoyment is king. Contrary to popular belief, the central message of Christianity is not the Sermon on the Mount or Jesus' parables about love toward one's neighbor. The message that changed the first-century world was that human beings are guilty, helplessly guilty of sins for which they cannot atone. The cross shatters all pride and undercuts the ultimate value of self-effort. The cross stands as proof of God's great love but also reveals our own ugliness. (17)
The church can only live and breathe at the cross; without it, there is no life and no reason to exist. Properly proclaimed, it is "the power of God unto salvation." (19)
Jesus' suffering was terrible for the simple reason that our sin is terrible. (20)
No one can experience the eternal favor of God if they bypass the cross. (25)
Christ was forsaken that we might not be; He experienced hell that we might experience heaven. (28)
Forgiveness sounds like a marvelous idea until you are the one who has to do it. (33)
Words of forgiveness came from His lips when the nails were being driven into His body, when the pain was fiercest, when the jolts of anguish were the sharpest; He prayed as the cross was lowered into the hole with a thud. It was then, when His nerves were yet the most tender, when the pain was the most unfathomable, He who was the victim of history's greatest crime prayed for the criminals. He could forgive because He was about His Father's business. (36-7)
God never lowers His standard of justice to the level of our ignorance. Sins committed in ignorance are still sins. The guilt of those who crucified Jesus was real and objective regardless of how much they understood or did not understand. (41)
We have no idea of the greatness of our sin because we do not understand the greatness of our God. But we have fewer excuses today than ever; we have no reason to turn away from the savior who left us powerful witnesses to His authenticity. (42)
The prayer was not for those who did not want to be forgiven, but for those who would seek it. (45)
Are some sins "unpardonable"? The answer is no, for if the murder of the Son of God was "forgivable" for those who sought forgiveness, then all sins can be forgiven. (46)
There is no unpardonable sin for those who come to Christ for forgiveness. For those who refuse Him, all sins are unpardonable. (46)
He who needed no forgiveness died for those of us who are condemned without it. (47)
Although God forgives us because of Christ, it is neither His job nor His obligation to do so. He forgives us because of undeserved mercy toward us whose just punishment is hell. The cross is the bridge of redeeming love; on it, we walk across the chasm to God, who graciously provided forgiveness for those who believe. If we do not understand this, we do not understand the gospel. (47)
At His birth He was surrounded by beasts, and, now in His death, with criminals. Let no one say God has stayed aloof from the brokenness of our fallen world. He descended that we might ascend with Him to newness of life. (54)
Helplessness is not a curse if it draws us to the only One who can help us. Indeed, if we are not helpless, we cannot be saved. (56)
Jesus was numbered with the transgressors so that you and I could be numbered with the redeemed. Though personally sinless, He was counted as a transgressor by both God and man. He got what He didn't deserve, namely, our sin; and we got what we didn't deserve, namely, His righteousness. (66)
Warren Wiersbe points out that this man was not saved at his last opportunity, but at his first opportunity. (68)
The thief's forgiveness reminds us that there is more grace in God's heart than sin in our past. (69)
If we had been there, how close would we have stood to the cross? Nearby or at a comfortable distance? Would we have been intimidated by the mob, or would we have gladly let the angry rabble-rousers know that we were followers of the Man hanging on the middle cross? Would we stand nearby even if the cross cost us as much as it cost Christ? (82)
Christ did not die to make the Father loving, for He loved us from the foundation of the world. (89)
The first purpose of the cross was not for us, but for God. Yes, Jesus shed His blood for us, but it is even more true to say that He shed His blood for the Father. When the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses in Egypt, it was put there for the benefit of the families, but it was also put there for God. Jehovah said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13). (100)
Let us remember that He was forsaken by God that we might be accepted by Him... Jesus went through darkness that we might have light. He was cursed that we might be blessed. He was condemned that we might be able to say, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). He suffered hell for us so that we can enjoy heaven with Him. (103)
Either Jesus bears our sin, or we do. If the Father turned His face away from His beloved Son when He was regarded as a sinner, we can be sure that the Father will turn away from every sinner who stands before the Judgement Bar on his own merits. We are either saved by His rejection, or we must bear our own rejection for all of eternity. If those who are in hell should cry, "Why have You forsaken me?" heaven shall remain silent, for they receive the just recompense for their deeds. (103-4)
As Matthew Henry put it, "The torments of hell are represented by a violent thirst, in the complaint of the rich man who begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue. To that everlasting thirst we had all been condemned, if Christ had not suffered on the cross." Hell is heightened desires with decreased satisfaction. Hell is the inflamed desires of the body, with no possibility of a drink. Hell is remembering the Living Water we could have enjoyed on earth that would have taken us to heaven. Hell is a lake of fire, a place of endless, unquenchable thirst. Thankfully, Jesus suffered parched lips that we might be able to drink from the wells of salvation. He endured the thirst of hell, so that its fires might be quenched for us. Of those in heaven we read, "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:16-17). (115)
Jesus drank from the cup of death that we might be able to drink from the cup of life. (116)
If your spirit does not go into the hands of God for sakekeeping, it will go into the hands of God for judgment. (146)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review: A New Home for Lily

A New Home for Lily (Adventures of Lily Lapp #2) Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2013. Revell. 266 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There was only one thing Lily Lapp liked about her new house in Pennsylvania. One thing.

Premise/plot: If the first book in the series reminded me of Little House on the Prairie (the books), the second book reminds me of the Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. The Lapp family has moved from New York to Pennsylvania. They have just been in their new home a day or two when Lily and her brother, Joseph, start school. The novel focuses on their lives and relationships.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one! Lily is such a dear of a character. Don't take that to mean that she's super-wholesome and sweet. She's very relatable. We're kindred spirits. I think my favorite scene in this one involves Lily's mishap with Jello. She's starting to take an interest in cooking, in learning to cook. Her mother has her make jello for a family get together. Lily either doesn't read the instructions or ignores the instructions. She adds A CUP of dry jello for every person coming. As you can imagine that would require mixing different flavors to get enough. By the time her mother realizes Lily's mistake, it's too late!

I also love the writing in this one. It's great.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Book Review: Final Word: Why We Need the Bible

Final Word: Why We Need the Bible. John MacArthur. 2019. [June] Reformation Trust Publishing. 136 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Elizabeth Charles, the hymn writer who gave us “Praise Ye the Triune God,” was also a novelist.

In Final Word, MacArthur argues that even within the church the Bible is under attack. Many people--people who call themselves believers, people who attend church--are unable to put up a defense of the Bible, unable to articulate why the Bible is (still) important and (still) relevant. Believers of all ages and stages need a refresher course on the place the Word should have in their lives.

MacArthur reminds readers that the Bible has been under attack since Eve spoke with the serpent in Genesis. Satan's tactics have not changed. We are still vulnerable to his tactics, his attacks. Sadly, most believers deny there is even a battle to be fought. Spiritual warfare is not something most prepare for. We tend to be especially weak when unprepared.

He writes,
"The battle for the truth is the battle for the Bible, and in this fight God’s people cannot flinch. Biblical truth is under relentless and endless assault. And like Luther and the heroes of the early Reformation, we must meet the enemy head-on and be willing to stand and fight for the truth, especially when others avoid or even abandon truth when it becomes controversial." 
Final Word is a short read; it has just SIX chapters. It may be short but it is super-satisfying. MacArthur is clear and straight-forward in this one. He defines terms that readers may be unfamiliar with. Every chapter relies on Scripture. Many chapters focus in on one or two specific passages of Scripture. MacArthur is an expositor even when he's writing. He will share Hebrew and/or Greek words and clarify the meaning of the text. He stays on task too.

  • Chapter One: The Bible is Under Attack
  • Chapter Two: The Bible is Truth
  • Chapter Three: The Bible is Authoritative 
  • Chapter Four: The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • Chapter Five: The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • Chapter Six: The Bible is Food for the Soul
I loved, loved, loved, LOVED John MacArthur's newest book, Final Word: Why We Need the Bible. This should come as no surprise to anyone. I love, love, love the Bible. Reading books written by people who also love, love, love the Bible is one of my favorite things.

It is the truth which is assailed in any age which tests our fidelity. It is to confess we are called, not merely to profess. If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point. ~ Elizabeth Charles
Every attack on the Bible is an attack on divine truth and God’s holy nature, no matter where the attack originates. ~ John MacArthur
There is a severe lack of noble Bereans, who faithfully tested everything they heard against the standard of Scripture (Acts 17:10–11). Today, countless men and women claim to hear fresh words from God—words that often contradict what His Word actually says, and despite the obvious fact that God wouldn’t be talking to those with bad theology and questionable behavior. ~ John MacArthur
Hermeneutic of humility is the notion that believers shouldn’t hold too tightly or dogmatically to an interpretation of God’s Word, especially not to the exclusion of other views and perspectives. ~ John MacArthur
The message of the church cannot be dictated by the whims and values of the culture. Sinners can’t be coddled into the kingdom. Rebellious unbelief demands confrontation at the point of unbelief. We must not skirt the offense of God’s Word if we mean to lead people to faith and repentance—it is exactly at the point where the gospel offends that sinners need to be confronted. ~ John MacArthur
True saving faith is impossible if sinners don’t yield to the guilt of their sin and submit to the authority of God’s Word concerning their condemnation and salvation. We need to be humble, tender, and loving in our evangelism. But we must not be confused into thinking that the goal is anything other than to smash deceptions and torch misunderstandings that nurture unbelief. ~ John MacArthur
A flippant approach to Scripture is just as dangerous as unabashed unbelief. ~ John MacArthur
True biblical Christianity requires a denial of every worldly value and behavior, and Christians must be willing to make a commitment to the Word of God, with a full understanding of the implications of doing so. Jesus plainly tells the disciples in John 15:19 that the world will hate them because they are not of this world. God has chosen believers out of the world, and the world hates them. ~ John MacArthur
Contempt for Scripture is not intellectual; it’s moral. As the Lord explained to Nicodemus, “Men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). ~ John MacArthur
Christians must embrace and exalt six truths about the Scripture: its objectivity, rationality, veracity, authority, incompatibility, and integrity. ~ John MacArthur
People may believe or disbelieve the Bible, but no one has the power or the prerogative to establish truth or to change it. It is fixed, once for all—the Word of God is settled forever in heaven. This is profoundly essential. God wrote a Book—just one Book—and He was able to say everything He wanted to say. He said it without error, without flaw, and without anything omitted or unnecessarily included. It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And God gave His Book to man through the means of inspiration, by which the Spirit of God moved in human writers who wrote down the very words that God wanted them to write. Man may discover, learn, understand, and apply it, but man has nothing to do with its origination. No human being has ever had in himself any idea, thought, or experience that determined any divine truth—it all comes from God. No human or angel has ever been, or will ever be, a source for establishing divine truth. It is God’s Word alone. ~ John MacArthur 
Truth cannot be subjective; there is no such thing as your truth or my truth. Truth is forever fixed. Authentic Christianity has always held that Scripture is absolute, objective truth. The Bible is God’s truth regardless of whether a person believes, understands, or likes it. It is permanent and universal truth, and therefore, is the same for everyone. ~ John MacArthur
If we want to know Him and understand what He has revealed in His Word, we must approach Scripture rationally, following the normal processes of logic and reason with sound hermeneutics to come to a true understanding of its meaning. ~ John MacArthur
The truth can be known only if the correct meaning of the text is known. Today, the church is overrun with false shepherds peddling faulty interpretations of Scripture that are not God’s Word. ~ John MacArthur
The purpose of God’s Word is to deposit life-transforming truth into the mind. We cannot know the truth of a passage until we understand the accurate interpretation of the passage. We need to be careful and thorough students of all Scripture, confident in its divine authorship and dependent on the Holy Spirit’s illuminating work in bringing us to a clear understanding of God’s revealed truth. ~ John MacArthur
The baffling reality is that churches today are filled with people who want to look anywhere but Scripture to find God. They want to identify Him allegorically in movies, on TV, and throughout pop culture, as if those instances can prick the conscience of the unsaved world in ways Scripture cannot. They think it sounds spiritual to ask, “What would Jesus do?” But they never open their Bibles to study who He is or what He did. ~ John MacArthur
Others reject the hard truths of the gospel that offend worldly sensibilities, preferring to twist Scripture into the therapeutic language of our culture. Some simply ignore portions of the Bible altogether, writing them off as outdated and irrelevant to modern readers. God’s people must not be so careless or capricious with His Word. ~ John MacArthur
Believers need to embrace and exalt the integrity of Scripture. God did not intend for His Word to be subdivided, excerpted, and wrenched out of context.  ~ John MacArthur
The Bible is regularly treated superficially and routinely taken out of context, resulting in a generation that has no expectation that the preacher would handle the Word of God accurately. Rather, people are trained to treat the Bible like a book that they are free to manipulate for their own ends, which ultimately both exposes and perpetuates their low view of Scripture. ~ John MacArthur
The Bible is frequently brutalized as people ride over the top of it and pluck off what they want. ~ John MacArthur 
The only One who has the right to speak to His people with authority is God. The Father called sinners out of the darkness of sin and fitted them for the work of His kingdom. Christ purchased the church with His own blood. He is the head of the church, and the head of the church mediates His authority through His Word. And through the Word, the Holy Spirit does His work of sanctification in every believer’s life. The Trinity speaks to the church, accomplishing the work of redemption through the Scripture. ~ John MacArthur 
God’s Word is the priority in spiritual growth. It’s the Holy Spirit’s tool and the believer’s food; therefore, it’s the means of sanctification. All the other means of grace flow to us out of Scripture. ~ John MacArthur
The more that God’s truth is removed from our lives, the more inhibited our spiritual progress becomes. Nothing else can do the work that the truth does. There is no sanctifying power in human wisdom, intuition, insight, or experience. It is only in the Word of God. ~ John MacArthur
We must soak our minds in the Scriptures, fueling the Spirit’s sanctifying work. ~ John MacArthur
Our lives are controlled by our convictions. As the truth of God’s Word begins to occupy our minds and shape our thoughts, it will produce principles that we desire not to violate. This is what sanctification is about—being inwardly compelled to obedience. ~ John MacArthur 
Much of the chaos and confusion in the church today is the direct result of pastors’ failing to carefully discharge their duty to teach sound doctrine and train people to be discerning, so as to guard the church from error. ~ John MacArthur
A good shepherd is not known by how gently he pets the sheep. A good shepherd is known by how well he protects them and feeds them. ~ John MacArthur
Most people treat the Bible very politely. They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound; they put a white pocket-handkerchief around it, and carry it to their places of worship; when they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this heavenly messenger. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers. ~ Charles Spurgeon
The deeper our understanding of Scripture goes, the more deeply we get to know God in the fullness of His revelation to us. Think of it this way: if you’re not growing in your love for God, there is good reason to believe that you are treating Scripture superficially. ~ John MacArthur

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Week in Review: March 17-23

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? NASB 1977.
Am I keeping up with my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 73-89? How many times have I read it so far? Which translations? Yes. NASB 1977, NIV 2011, KJV, ESV, Revised English Bible, Third Millennium Bible, HCSB.
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. We finished Joshua and started Judges.
Am I keeping up with the 90 Day Bible Reading Challenge (Knowable Word)? What have I read so far? I finished it today.
Have I done any other Bible reading not related to one of those projects? Which books and which translation, if any? Jewish OT 1917 (JPS 1917?) Exodus

Other Reading

Christian Fiction Read This Week:
Life with Lily (The Adventures of Lily Lapp #1) Mary Ann Kissinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2012. Revell. 280 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Christian Nonfiction Read This Week:
ESV Story of Redemption Bible. Crossway. 2018. 1920 pages. [Source: Gift]
The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Abridged. John Calvin. (1536) Edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne (1987). Baker Books. 272 pages. [Source: Bought] 
Praying the Bible. Donald S. Whitney. 2015. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
And There Was Evening, And There Was Morning. Ellen Kahan Zager. Illustrated by Harriet Cohen Helfand. 2018. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

The Scottish Psalter, Part One

The Scottish Psalter. General Assembly Free Church of Scotland. 1650. GLH Publishing. 497 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: That man hath perfect blessedness, who walketh not astray/ In counsels of ungodly men, nor stands in sinners' way,

I meant to buy this one earlier in the year. But it wasn't until mid-February that I got around to it. I began reading it in March. I've read Psalms 1-41 so far.

How am I liking it? Some psalms, some verses I just absolutely love. It is such a treat to read them in poetic verse or "meter." But I don't "love, love, love" all of them. There are a few that are so awkwardly worded I can't imagine trying to sing them--at least today--and having a congregation understand and enjoy them.

Here are a few of my favorites:

From Psalm 3
Yet thou my shield and glory art,
   th' uplifter of mine head.
I cried, and, from his holy hill,
   the Lord me answer made.
I laid me down and slept; I waked;
   for God sustained me.
I will not fear though thousands ten
   set round against me be.
Salvation doth appertain
   unto the Lord alone:
Thy blessing, Lord, for evermore
   thy people is upon.

From Psalm 4

But know, that for himself the Lord
   the godly man doth choose:
The Lord, when I on him do call,
   to hear will not refuse.
I will both lay me down in peace,
   and quiet sleep will take;
Because thou only me to dwell
   in safety, Lord, dost make.

From Psalm 5

Give ear unto my words, O Lord,
   my meditation weigh.
Hear my loud cry, my King, my God;
   for I to thee will pray.
Lord, thou shalt early hear my voice:
   I early will direct
My pray'r to thee; and, looking up,
   an answer will expect.
But I into thy house will come
   in thine abundant grace;
And I will worship in thy fear
   toward thy holy place.

From Psalm 7

According to his righteousness
   the Lord I'll magnify;
And will sing praise unto the name
   of God that is most high.

From Psalm 8

How excellent in all the earth,
   Lord, our Lord, is thy name!
Who hast thy glory far advanced
   above the starry frame.
Then say I, What is man, that he
   remembered is by thee?
Or what the son of man, that thou
   so kind to him should'st be?

From Psalm 9
Lord, thee I'll praise with all my heart,
   thy wonders all proclaim.
In thee, most High, I'll greatly joy,
   and sing unto thy name.
And they that know thy name, in thee
   their confidence will place:
For thou hast not forsaken them
   that truly seek thy face.

From Psalm 13

I will unto the Lord my God
   sing praises cheerfully,
Because he hath his bounty shown
   to me abundantly.

From Psalm 16

Unto me happily the lines
   in pleasant places fell;
Yea, the inheritance I got
   in beauty doth excellent.
I bless the Lord, because he doth
   by counsel me conduct;
And in the seasons of the night
   my reins do me instruct.
Before me still the Lord I set:
   since it is so that he
Doth ever stand at my right hand,
   I shall not moved be.
Because of this my heart is glad,
   and joy shall be expressed
Ev'n by my glory; and my flesh
   in confidence shall rest.
Thou wilt me show the path of life:
   of joys there is full store
Before thy face; at thy right hand
   are pleasures evermore.

From Psalm 17

Hold up my goings, Lord, me guide
    in those thy paths divine,
So that my footsteps may not slide
    out of those ways of thine.
But as for me, I thine own face
   in righteousness will see;
And with thy likeness, when I wake,
   I satisfied shall be.

From Psalm 18

Thee will I love, O Lord, my strength.
   My fortress is the Lord,
My rock, and he that doth to me
   deliverance afford.
My God, my strength, whom I will trust,
   a buckler unto me,
The horn of my salvation,
   and my high tow'r, is he.
Upon the Lord, who worthy is
   of praises, will I cry;
And then shall I preserved be
   safe from mine enemy.
In my distress I called on God,
   cry to my God did I;
He from his temple heard my voice,
   to his ears came my cry.
The Lord will light my candle so,
   that it shall shine full bright:
The Lord my God will also make
   my darkness to be light.
As for God, perfect is his way:
   the Lord his word is try'd;
He is a buckler to all those
   who do in him confide.

From Psalm 19

God's law is perfect, and converts
   the soul in sin that lies:
God's testimony is most sure,
   and makes the simple wise.
The statutes of the Lord are right,
   and do rejoice the heart:
The Lord's command is pure, and doth
   light to the eyes impart.
Unspotted is the fear of God,
   and doth endure for ever:
The judgments of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
They are more than gold, yea, much find gold,
   to be desired are:
Than honey, honey from the comb
   that droppeth, sweeter far.
Moreover, they thy servant warn
   how he his life should frame:
A great reward provided is
   for them that keep the same.
The words which from my mouth proceed,
   the thoughts sent from my heart,
Accept, O Lord, for thou my strength
   and my Redeemer art.

From Psalm 22

All day, my God, to thee I cry,
   yet am not heard by thee;
And in the season of the night
   I cannot silent be.
Be not far off, for grief is near,
   and none to help is found.
The meek shall eat, and shall be filled;
   they also praise shall give
Unto the Lord that do him seek:
   your heart shall ever live.

Psalm 23
The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want
   He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: he leadeth me
   the quiet waters by.
My soul he doth restore again;
   and me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
   ev'n for his own name's sake.
Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale,
   yet will I fear none ill:
For thou art with me; and thy rod
   and staff me comfort still.
My table thou hast furnished
   in presence of my foes;
My head thou dost with oil anoint,
   and my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life
   shall surely follow me:
And in God's house for evermore
   my dwelling-place shall be.

From Psalm 25

   To thee I lift my soul:
   O Lord, I trust in thee:
My God, let me not be ashamed,
   nor foes triumph o'er me.
   Let none that wait on thee
   be put to shame at all;
But those that without cause transgress,
   let shame upon them fall.
   Show me thy ways, O Lord;
   thy paths, O teach thou me:
And do thou lead me in thy truth,
   therein my teacher be:
   For thou art God that dost
   to me salvation, send,
And I upon thee all the day
   expecting do attend.
   Thy tender mercies, Lord,
   I pray thee to remember,
And loving-kindnesses; for they
   have been of old for ever.
   My sins and faults of youth
   do thou, O Lord, forget:
After thy mercy think on me,
   and for thy goodness great.
   God good and upright is:
   the way he'll sinners show.
The meek in judgment he will guide,
   and make his path to know.
   The whole paths of the Lord
   are truth and mercy sure,
To those that do his cov'nant keep,
   and testimonies pure.
   Now for thine own name's sake,
   O Lord, I thee entreat
To pardon mine iniquity;
   for it is great.
   What man is he that fears
   the Lord, and doth him serve?
Him shall he teach the way that he
   shall choose, and still observe.
   O do thou keep my soul,
   do thou deliver me:
And let me never be ashamed,
   because I trust in thee.

From Psalm 27

The Lord's my light and saving health,
   who shall make me dismayed?
My life's strength is the Lord, of whom
   then shall I be afraid?
One thing I of the Lord desired,
   and will seek to obtain,
That all days of my life I may
    within God's house remain;
That I the beauty of the Lord
   behold may and admire,
And that I in his holy place
   may rev'rently enquire.
O Lord, give ear unto my voice,
   when I do cry to thee;
Upon me also mercy have,
   and do thou answer me.
When thou didst say, seek ye my face,
   then unto thee reply
 Thus did my heart, above all things
   thy face, Lord, seek will I.
O Lord, instruct me in thy way,
   to me a leader be
In a plain path, because of those
   that hatred bear to me.
Wait on the Lord, and be thou strong,
   and he shall strength afford
Unto thine heart; yeah, do thou wait,
   I say, upon the Lord.

From Psalm 30
For but a moment lasts his wrath;
   life in his favor lies:
Weeping may for a night endure,
   at morn doth joy arise.
Hear, Lord, have mercy; help me, Lord:
   Thou turned hast my sadness
To dancing; yea, my sackcloth loosed,
   and girded me with gladness;

From Psalm 31

In thee, O Lord, I put my trust,
   shamed let me never be;
According to thy righteousness
   do thou deliver me.
Bow down thine ear to me, with speed
   send me deliverance:
To save me, my strong rock be thou,
   and my house of defense.
Because thou art my rock, and thee
   I for my fortress take;
Therefore do thou me lead and guide,
   ev'n for thine own name's sake.
Into thine hands I do commit
   my sp'rit: for thou art he,
O thou, Jehovah, God of truth,
   that has redeemed me.

From Psalm 32

O blessed is the man to whom
   is freely pardoned
All the transgression he hath done,
   whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord
   imputeth not his sin,
And in whose sp'rit there is no guile,
   nor fraud is found therein.
Thou art my hiding-place, thou shalt
   from trouble keep me free:
Thou with songs of deliverance
   about shalt compass me.
I will instruct thee, and thee teach
   the way that thou shalt go;
And, with mine eye upon thee set,
   I will direction show.

From Psalm 33

Ye righteous, in the Lord rejoice;
   it comely is and right,
That upright men, with thankful voice,
   should praise the Lord of might.
The heavens by the word of God
   did their beginning take;
And by the breathing of his mouth
   he all their hosts did make.
O but the counsel of the Lord
   doth stand for ever sure;
And of his heart the purposes
   from age to age endure.
Since in his holy name we trust,
   our heart shall joyful be.
Lord, let thy mercy be on us,
   as we do hope in thee.

From Psalm 34

Extol the Lord with me, let us
   exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, he heard, and did
   me from all fears deliver.
They looked to him, and lightened were:
   not shamed were their faces.
This poor man cried, God heard, and saved
   him from all his distresses.
O children, hither do ye come,
   and unto me give ear;
I shall teach you to understand
   how ye the Lord should fear.
Depart from ill, do good, seek peace,
   pursue it earnestly.
God's eyes are on the just; his ears
   are open to their cry.

From Psalm 37

Set thou thy trust upon the Lord,
   and be thou doing good;
And so thou in the land shalt dwell,
   and verily have food.
Delight thyself in God; he'll give
   thine heart's desire to thee.
Thy way to God commit, him trust,
   it bring to pass shall he.
And, like unto the light, he shall
   thy righteousness display;
And he thy judgment shall bring forth
   like noon-tide of the day.
Rest in the Lord, and patiently
   wait for him: do not fret
For him who, prosp'ring in his way,
   success in sin doth get.

From Psalm 40

I waited for the Lord my God,
   and patiently did bear;
At length to me he did incline
   my voice and cry to hear.
He took me from a fearful pit,
   and from the miry clay,
And on a rock he set my feet,
   establishing my way.
He put a new song in my mouth,
   our God to magnify:
Many shall see it, and shall fear,
   and on the Lord rely.
O blessed is the man whose trust
   upon the Lord relies;
Respecting not the proud, nor such
   as turn aside to lies.
O Lord my God, full many are
   the wonders thou hast done;
Thy gracious thoughts to us-ward far
   above all thoughts are gone:
In order none can reckon them
   to thee: if them declare,
And speak of them I would, they more
   than can be numbered are.
To do thy will I take delight,
   O thou my God that art;
Yea, that most holy law of thine
   I have within my heart.
Within the congregation great
   I righteousness did preach:
Lo, thou dost know, O Lord, that I
   refrained not my speech.
I never did within my heart
   conceal thy righteousness;
I thy salvation have declared,
   and shown thy faithfulness:
Thy kindness, which most loving is,
   concealed have not I,
Nor from the congregation great
   have hid thy verity.
Thy tender mercies, Lord, from me
   O do thou not restrain;
Thy loving-kindness, and thy truth,
   let them me still maintain.
In thee let all be glad, and joy,
   who seeking thee abide;
Who thy salvation love, say still,
   The Lord be magnified.
I'm poor and needy, yet the Lord
   of me a care doth take:
Thou art my help and savior,
   my God, no tarrying make.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Devotional Journaling #12

I am reading two devotionals this year. One is Living Hope for the End of Days: 365 Days of Devotions from the Book of the Revelation by John Samuel Barnett. The other is Joni Eareckson Tada's Diamonds in the Dust. 

To tell you the truth, I am getting tired of both of these devotionals. Living Hope for the End of Days is pure fluff about 98% of the time. Diamonds in the Dust has more substance compared to Living Hope for the End of Days. It does. At least it seems more biblically sound. But it's not very hearty either. I'm contemplating stopping both of these. 

The theme of the week for Living Hope for the End of Days was "See the Risen Christ at Work." The question essentially being WHAT IS JESUS DOING NOW? And their answer was he's doing now what he was doing when he was on earth. He is compassionate, omniscient, a priest, omnipotent, omnipresent, majestic, a helper. The things I ended up highlighting this week were things I found iffy at best. But I don't feel like an argumentative rant today.

Diamonds in the Dust.

  • When people find out that you are a Christian, they should already have an idea of who you are and what you are like simply because you bear such a precious name. (March 17)
  • Growth in a Christian doesn't just happen; we grow only when we exercise faith. (March 18)
  • Growing strong in Christ is like lifting very heavy barbells. The trouble is that no one likes to life them. (March 19)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Review: ESV Story of Redemption

ESV Story of Redemption Bible. Crossway. 2018. 1920 pages. [Source: Gift]

I received the ESV Story of Redemption Bible as a Christmas present in 2018. I wasn't planning on giving into temptation and buying a new Bible--at least not this Bible/this translation. A few things persuaded me that this one was "necessary."

I love the cream-colored paper. It was easy on the eyes. The color of the paper and perhaps the layout of the text made for less bleed-through. It would be an exaggeration to say that it eliminated it completely. But it was so much better than the average Bible that has been sold in the past ten to twelve years.

I love the fact that it is single column. Some people love, love, love double columns. I don't dislike double columns. But if given a choice, I lean towards single column text.

It is black letter and not red letter. Of course, most ESV Bibles are black letter. (That's one reason I have so very many ESV Bibles about.)

This Bible features light commentary. This commentary is distinct from the text of the Bible itself. It is inserted into the single column of the Bible text. (As opposed to notes or commentary being found at the bottom of the page or at the side of the page in boxes.)

It also features a chronological overview of the Bible. This is found as a table in the front of the Bible but also within the commentary.

1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings 1-4:34
Song of Solomon
1 Kings 5:1-end
2 Kings 1-17:13
2 Kings 17:14-33
2 Kings 17:34-19:37
2 Kings 20:1-22:2
2 Kings 22:3-24:20
2 Kings 25:1-end
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra 1-5:1
Ezra 5:2-6:22
Ezra 7:1-end

Acts 1-13:41
Acts 13:42-14:28
Acts 15:1-21
Acts 15:22-18:17
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
Acts 18:18-19:22
1 Corinthians
Acts 20:2-3
Acts 20:4-end
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
1 John
2 John
3 John

There are a handful of maps and illustrations. (But I don't pay any attention to this type of bonus material.)

If this particular Bible has weaknesses...

It would be the fact that the text is on the smaller side. The cream-colored paper helped my eye strain some. But I still would have preferred a larger font. Perhaps not huge, but at least slightly larger.

It would be the fact that this Bible is HEAVY. This is a weighty Bible to carry around. And its weight makes it harder to hold up. A larger font would have made it even longer and therefore heavier.

I used this one for the Bible in 90 Days project that I started on December 26, 2018.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Life With Lily

Life with Lily (The Adventures of Lily Lapp #1) Mary Ann Kissinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2012. Revell. 280 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was still dark outside. Lily tried to keep up with Papa's long strides as he carried little Joseph across the yard to where the horse and buggy were tied to the hitching post.

Life with Lily is a middle grade novel set in the Amish community in modern times. It is not a historical novel, though it may remind readers--particularly adult readers--of historical novels that have achieved classic status.

It covers a year--give or take a month or two--in the life of Lily, our heroine. (I believe she's six.) She is the oldest of three children.  She has two younger brothers: Joseph and Daniel. Daniel is just a wee little thing--in fact when the novel opens he's getting ready to make his entrance into the world.

Readers see Lily at home with her immediate family, visiting her family that lives close (her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins), attending church meetings, going to school, visiting neighbors (she delivers milk and eggs).

Lily is a curious child--and observant.

Though Lily may have her moments when she seems more like Mary than Laura, she is not a perfect child by any means. She struggles with temptations and sometimes disobeys her parents.

The book definitely reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods or even All-of-a-Kind Family. There is something wholesome about it. But not in a bad way. That almost seems silly to say--that if you call a book wholesome it carries negative connotations. Like if a book is wholesome then it must not be enjoyable. Or if a book is wholesome then it must be preachy. Or if a book is wholesome then it must not be relatable.

I definitely related to Lily. One of her least favorite things in the whole world is to have her hair brushed. I could also relate to her love of dolls and kittens.

I did not find it preachy. Yes, it is a Christian book. There are teachable moments throughout where Lily observes her parents living out the faith. But it isn't preachy-preachy.

I found it very enjoyable. I loved rereading it. In fact I think I loved it even more the second time around.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

True or False with John Calvin

From book one, "The Knowledge of God the Creator"

True or false. We can never really seek him in earnest until we begin to despair of ourselves. 

True or false. Man never arrives at true self-knowledge before he has looked into the face of God and then come away to look at himself. Men are never really convinced of their own insignificance until they contrast themselves with God's majesty.True or false.

True or false. Until people feel that they owe everything to God, that they are protected by his fatherly care and that he is the Author of all their blessings, so that nothing should be sought apart from him, they will never submit to him voluntarily. Unless they put their complete happiness in his hands, they will never truly have their lives under his control. 
True or false. The pious mind does not create its own god, but looks only to the one true God. Nor does it imagine any trait it likes for him, but is happy to have him as the character which he reveals, always on guard against disobeying his Law and wandering arrogantly from the right way. 
True or false. The pious mind holds on to God as the avenger of sin as much as the rewarder of good, because he realizes that both are part of his glory: he reserves punishment for one and eternal life for the other. 
True or false. This is pure and true religion: it is confidence in God coupled with genuine fear. This fear comprises willing reverence and true worship as God has commanded. 
True or false. Vanity and pride are always present when men seek for they do not think of God in his true character, but imagine him to be like their own random ideas. 
True or false. No religion is genuine that is not in accordance with truth.
True or false. Those whose inclinations oppose God's justice, fervently wish that his tribunal for the punishment of sin could be overthrown. In feeling like this, they are fighting God, because justice is one of his essential attributes. 
True or false. Hypocrites try, in various twisted ways, to make a show of being near God when they are in fact running away from him. 
True or false. Scripture crystallizes ideas about God which had been very confused, scatters the darkness and shows us the true God clearly. 
True or false. It is impossible for anyone to gain an atom of sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture. We take the first step towards true knowledge when we reverently take hold of the testimony God has graciously given about himself. 
True or false. If we sincerely long for true awareness of God we must look in God's Word where his character is described accurately and vividly. If we turn away from this, however fast we move, we shall never reach our goal because we are off course. 
True or false. These words will not be given acknowledgment in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inner witness of the Spirit. 
True or false. The Lord has intertwined the truth of his Word and his Spirit in such a way that we respect the Word when the Spirit illuminates it, enabling us to see God's face, and we welcome the Spirit with no risk of error, when we recognize him in his Word. These are the facts. God did not put his Word in front of men to make a sudden splash, intending to get rid of it the moment the Spirit arrived. He employed the same Spirit by whom He had given the Word, to complete his work by effectively confirming the Word. 
True or false. The work of the intellect is to make distinction between good and bad, and the function of the will is to choose and follow what the intellect says is good, rejecting what is bad.
True or false. Without reference to God's Providence we cannot understand the full force of what is meant by his being the Creator, however much we may seem to understand it with our minds and confess it with our mouths. 
True or false. The believers' comfort in trouble is that everything they endure is ordained and commanded by God and that they are in his hands. 
True or false. Everything is controlled by God's secret purpose, and nothing can happen except by his knowledge and will. 
True or false. When our lives are in turmoil so that we cannot think straight, we should still believe that God, in the pure light of his justice and wisdom, keeps our problems under his control and finds the right solution. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible