Monday, July 27, 2020

57. Matthew 14-28

Matthew 14-28 (Thru the Bible #35) J. Vernon McGee. 1973. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Chapter 14 Theme: The forerunner, John the Baptist, is beheaded; Jesus withdraws but is followed by the multitude; He feeds the five thousand and sends His disciples over the sea into a storm, then walks on the water to them.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on Matthew 1-13). Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 
We fail to realize that the solutions today are not in government nor in human imaginations but in God.
Unbelief is sin. I am willing to make this confession: I wish that I believed Him more. He is worthy to be believed; I ought to believe Him fully, but the problem is with me. And I suspect that the problem is with you, also.
My friend, these are the two things that all of us have to be clear on in order to be Christians. We have to know who He is, and we have to know what He did. We need to know these things in order that we might exercise faith and be saved.
Only the Holy Spirit can make Christ known to any person. No man today can call Jesus “Lord” but by the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can take the things of Christ and reveal them to us.
We have a responsibility today to give out the gospel because it is the only thing that can save people. This is a tremendous revelation. Who is sufficient for these things? You and I have a responsibility that is awesome indeed!
It is satanic for anyone to deny the facts of the gospel which are that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead. It is satanic when a man in the pulpit will deny these truths. The substitutionary death of Christ is the only thing that can save us, my friend.Many people interpret this verse, “Let him deny himself ice cream” or “Let him deny himself some luxury down here.” What this verse says is “Let him deny himself!” You already know that the hardest person in the world to deny is yourself. To deny myself dessert is hard enough, but to deny myself is difficult indeed.
To deny myself is to put self out of the picture and to put Christ in the place of self. “And take up his cross, and follow me.” We are not to take up Christ’s cross but our own cross. There is a cross for you and a cross for me—that is, if we are going to follow Him.
Do you want a good motto for your life? I suggest these two words: Jesus only. He is the One who is the authority. I hope you will mark those two words, Jesus only, in your Bible.
I am afraid that our school systems are using our children as guinea pigs for humanistic philosophies. Young people are paying an awful price in the contemporary schoolroom. My friend, we have a tremendous responsibility before God in this area.
If God forgave our sins in the same way we forgive others, none of us would be forgiven. But after we have become children of God, because we have been forgiven, we are to forgive.
My friend, when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, you must tell Him your need. If you are coming to Him for salvation, you must tell Him that you are a sinner and need His salvation. If you don’t, you will not be saved. That’s the offense of the cross. Everybody would like to come to the cross if they could bring along the perfume of their self-righteousness and good deeds. But, my friend, you and I haven’t any goodness at all, none whatsoever, to present to God. You can no more sweeten human character with training and psychology and education than you can sweeten a pile of fertilizer out in the barnyard with Chanel No. 5. We have to come to Him as sinners and receive Him as our Savior.Many people have joined the church and are religious and think they are Christians, but they are not. They can perform their church rituals and give mental assent to the doctrines, but they are not genuine believers unless there has been a transformation in their lives.
Here we see the gentle Jesus using the harshest language that is in the entire Word of God. No prophet of the Old Testament denounced sin as the Lord Jesus denounces it. Here in Southern California this section was called to the attention of a liberal preacher. He didn’t even know it was in the Bible—he had never read the Bible! In our day there is a misunderstanding of who the Lord Jesus really is. Liberalism gives the impression that all He ever talked about was love. One of the banners that was carried about in a protest march in Berkeley a number of years ago bore the slogan “Jesus Yes, Church No.” A senator from Oregon made a great deal of that, maintaining that the church is giving the wrong impression, that this generation wants Jesus, but that they don’t want the church as it is. Well, I agree that the church in general is giving the wrong impression, but the main problem is that they have really misunderstood who Jesus is. He is not the “lovechild” that the liberal thinks He is. Certainly it is true that He loves sinners and died for sinners, but also He is going to judge sinners. We need to have a correct perspective of Him. Therefore, He is the One who is misunderstood in our day.
The Lord is speaking in harsh terms in these verses in Matthew. He is serving a cup of tea that is a little too strong for a great many of the liberal-minded folk of this present hour. Jesus Christ was no love child. He came to earth to die for your sins because He loved you, but if you reject Him, He becomes your Judge.
The arch of the gospel rests upon two great pillars: (1) the death of Christ, and (2) the resurrection of Christ.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

56. Matthew 1-13

Matthew 1-13 (Thru the Bible #34) J. Vernon McGee. 1973. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Gospel According to Matthew Introduction The Gospel of Matthew, although it is only twenty-eight chapters long, is a very important book. In fact, Genesis and Matthew are the two key books of the Bible.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

From the introduction:
My friend, there is a danger of just wanting the information and the knowledge from the Bible but failing to translate it into shoe leather, not letting it become part of our lives. Through study we can learn the basic facts of Scripture, and all the theological truth contained in it, without allowing the Word of God to take possession of our hearts. 
There is still a crying out today from a world that needs a Deliverer. The religious man needs Christ and not religion. The man of power needs a Savior who has the power to save him. The thinking man needs One who can meet all his mental and spiritual needs. And certainly the wretched man needs to know about a Savior who not only can save him but build him up so that he can live for God.
McGee on repentance:

“Repent” is an expression that always has been given to God’s people as a challenge to turn around. “Repent” in the original Greek is metanoia, meaning “to change your mind.” You are going in one direction; turn around and go in another direction. Repentance is primarily, I think, for saved people, that is, for God’s people in any age. They are the ones who, when they become cold and indifferent, are to turn. That was the message to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3, and it was the message of the Lord Jesus Himself. Someone may ask whether the unsaved man is supposed to repent. The unsaved man is told that he is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the message of Paul to the jailer at Philippi (see Acts 16:31). That old rascal needed to do some repenting; but when an unsaved man believes in Jesus, he is repenting. Faith means to turn to Christ, and when you turn to Christ, you must also turn from something. If you don’t turn from something, then you aren’t really turning to Christ. So repentance is really a part of believing, but the primary message that should be given to the lost today is that they should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We like to see folk come forward in a service to receive Christ or sign a card signifying that they have made that decision, but the important thing is to trust Christ as your Savior, and if you really turn to Him, you turn from something else.
McGee speaking truth about Matthew 4:
Why is it that many of us are having trouble living the Christian life? May I say this very kindly: It is ignorance of the Word of God. Notice that our Lord always answered by giving the Word of God. I believe that the Word of God has an answer for your particular problem. That doesn’t mean that I know the answer for your problem. It doesn’t mean that your psychologist or psychiatrist knows the answer for your problem. But God has an answer for your problem, and it is in His Word. That is the reason we should know the Book better than we do.
Every time His answer was, “It is written.” Oh, my friend, if only we were more adept at using the sword of the Spirit! It is our weapon in this day, and it is a very effective weapon.
The Devil was pretty good at quoting Scripture, but he wasn’t quite accurate. Shakespeare said that the Devil could quote Scripture for his purpose; but, actually, the Devil can misquote Scripture for his purpose.
McGee on the Sermon on the Mount:

There are two things I would like to say by way of introduction to this section. One is that the far right and the far left are not confined to politics, but among theologians who expound Scripture we also have the far left and the far right. This is vividly revealed in the understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. The liberal theologian is to the far left. He treats the Sermon on the Mount as the gospel, the Good News. He acts (even if he doesn’t say it) as if it were the only important part of Scripture.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” To say that this is all the Bible you need may sound good, but it is pious drivel. The question is not whether you feel that the Sermon on the Mount is your religion. The question is: Are you living it? That is the important thing, and we’ll have more to say about that later.

My friend, the gospel is not in the Sermon on the Mount, and that is the reason a great many people like to claim it as their religion. The preaching of that doctrine has made more hypocrites in the church than anything else. It is nothing in the world but verbiage for men to say, “I live by the Sermon on the Mount.” If a man is honest and will read the Sermon on the Mount, he will know that he is not living up to it. My friend, if the Sermon on the Mount is God’s standard (and it is) and you come short of it, what are you going to do? Do you have a Savior who can extend mercy to you? Do you know the One who can reach down in grace and save you when you put your faith in Him?

There is also the extreme right point of view. This group treats the Sermon on the Mount as if it were the bubonic plague. They have nothing to do with it.

It is true that there is no gospel in the Sermon on the Mount, and it is tragic indeed to give it to unregenerate man as a standard of conduct, and to tell him that if he tries to measure up to it, he is a Christian. The Sermon on the Mount is Law lifted to the nth degree. Man could not keep the Law in the Old Testament. So how in the world can he keep, in his own strength, the Sermon on the Mount which is elevated to an even higher degree?

What you have in the Sermon on the Mount is a marvelous electric light bulb, but you do not have the generator that produces the power that will make the light.

The Sermon on the Mount needs to be preached to bring conviction to the hearts of men. This document lets men know that they have sinned, and it reveals that none are righteous and that all have come short of God’s glory. The Christian can take the principles set down in the Sermon on the Mount and consider them in the light of other Scriptures. This will provide a wider view and a better understanding of the mind of Christ.

It is well to note that they are be-atitudes, not do-attitudes. They state what the subjects of the kingdom are—they are the type of person described in the Beatitudes.

We have no light within ourselves, but the Word of God is light. Being a light means giving out the Word of God in one way or another. This doesn’t mean that you should be quoting Scripture all the time, but it does mean that you are to share the light that God has given you.

The Sermon on the Mount ought to drive you to the cross of Christ where you cry out for mercy. To do that is to honor the Law, my friend. Don’t try to kid me into thinking that you are keeping it. I know you’re not—because you are just like I am.
We are commanded to love all believers, and we express our love to our enemies by getting the gospel to them, giving them the message of God’s saving grace that is able to bring them to heaven.
As someone has said, Today is the tomorrow that we worried about yesterday. How true that is for many of us!
To judge can mean “to decide, to distinguish, to condemn, to avenge,” and it actually can mean “to damn.” These verses do not mean that a child of God is forbidden to judge others, but it does mean that we are not to judge the inward motives of others in the sense of condemning them. We do not know or understand why a brother in Christ does a certain thing.
you and I need to recognize that we have nothing worthwhile to say unless it is with the authority of the Word of God and unless we believe it is the Word of God.
What we ask is not always the Lord’s will, friend. But if it is His will, He can do it. It is most important that the will of God comes first. It may be easy for you, but it is difficult for me to put the will of God first. I put it like this, “Lord, will You do this because I want You to do it?” But the leper says, “I know You can, but will You?” That is, is it according to Your will? This is a little different from what we hear folk pray today when they demand that the Lord do certain things. May I say to you, friend, let Him decide—and that’s the way it is going to be done anyway.
My friend, sin is too heavy for you to carry—you’ll really get a hernia if you try to carry your load of sin! The only place in the world to put that burden is at the cross of Christ. He bore it for you, and He invites you to come and bring your burden of sin to Him. He can forgive you because on the cross He bore the burden of your sin.
There is no sin committed yesterday that the Lord would not forgive today because He died for all sin. The Holy Spirit came into the world to make real the salvation of Christ to the hearts of men. If you resist the working of the Spirit of God when He speaks to you, my friend, there is no forgiveness, of course.
My friend, you can quit doing many things, but that won’t make you a Christian. If everyone in the world would quit sinning right now, there wouldn’t be any more Christians in the next minute or in the next day, because quitting sin doesn’t make Christians.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, July 17, 2020

2. Tyndale's New Testament

Tyndale's New Testament. William Tyndale. Edited by David Daniell. 1996. 466 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: This is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son also of Abraham.

This edition is a modern-spelling edition of the 1534 Translation. The translation of the New Testament into English from its original Greek was printed in Germany in 1534 and smuggled back into England. It was not the first translation of the New Testament into English. The Wycliffe New Testament was translated from the Latin Vulgate and not the Greek New Testament. Also the Wycliffe was not widely distributed and for everyone. (The Wycliffe New Testament was BEFORE the invention of the printing press.) The Tyndale--though forbidden and illegal--was meant to put the Word of God into the hands of everyone. Tyndale wanted the Word of God known by the people of God. Actually known, read, studied, interpreted. The invention of the printing press was providential in spreading the ideas of the Reformation and printing Bibles. 

I enjoyed reading Tyndale's New Testament. I did. I would definitely recommend this edition of the New Testament. 

You can really tell that Tyndale meant his translation to be read and understood by everyone. It is clearly and beautifully written.
And it fortuned while they were there, her time was come that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first begotten son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them within in the inn. And there were in the same region shepherds abiding in the field and watching their flock by night. And lo: the angel of the Lord stood hard by them, and the brightness of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. But the angel said unto them: Be not afraid. For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy that shall come to all the people: for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior which is Chris the Lord. And take this for a sign: ye shall find the child swaddled and laid in a manger. And straightway there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly soldiers, lauding God and saying: Glory to God on high, and peace on the earth: and unto men rejoicing. (Luke 2:1-14)
For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only son, that none that believe in him, should perish: but should have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world, to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him, shall not be condemned. But he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he believeth not in the name of the only son of God. And this is the condemnation: that light is come into the world, and the men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)
No man can come to me except the father which hath sent me, draw him. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, that they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the father cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the father, save he which is of God: the same hath seen the father. Verily verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh from heaven, that he which eateth of it, should also not die. I am that living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread that I will give, is my flesh, which I will give for the life of this world. (John 6:44-51)
And he said unto his disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me. In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you even unto myself, that where I am, there may ye be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas said unto him: Lord we know now whither thou goest. Also how is it possible for us to know the way? Jesus said unto him: I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man cometh unto the father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye had known my father also. And now ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:1-7)
As soon as Jesus had received of the vinegar, he said: It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30
When he saw the people, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came to him, and he opened his mouth, and taught them saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meal: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men revile you, and persecute you, and shall falsely say all manner of evil sayings against you for my sake. Rejoice, and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For so persecuted they the prophets which were before your days. (Matthew 5:12)
I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercifulness of God, that ye make your bodies a quick sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable serving of God. And fashion not yourselves like unto this world: But be ye changed in your shape, by the renewing of your wits that ye may feel what thing that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God is. (Romans 12:1-2)
This edition has modern spelling. It makes Tyndale's translation a comfortable choice. Here's a small taste of the original spelling:
I beseche you therfore brethre by ye mercyfulnes of God that ye make youre bodyes aquicke sacrifise holy and acceptable vnto God which is youre resonable seruynge of god. And fassion not youre selves lyke vnto this worlde: But be ye chaunged in youre shape by the renuynge of youre wittes that ye maye fele what thynge that good yt acceptable and perfaycte will of god is. (Romans 12:1-2)
For God so loveth the worlde yt he hath geven his only sonne that none that beleve in him shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe. (John 3:16)
And he sayd vnto his disciples: Let not youre hertes be troubled. Beleve in god and beleve in me. In my fathers housse are many mansions. If it were not so I wolde have tolde you. I go to prepare a place for you.And yf I go to prepare a place for you I will come agayne and receave you eve vnto my selfe yt where I am there maye ye be also. (John 14:1-3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

1. Wycliffe New Testament

Wycliffe New Testament 1388: An Edition in Modern Spelling, with An Introduction, The Original Prologues, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans. Anonymous Lollards. Edited by William R. Cooper. 2002. 528 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac. Isaac begat Jacob. Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Wycliffe New Testament. I believe this is the second time I've read it. I first became interested in it after Mom got a copy and started sharing portions of it with me aloud. I had a serious case of Bible envy! So I got my own copy.

I will try to share with you why I find it so charming and enjoyable.

Lo, the angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to. him and said, Joseph, the son of David, nil thou dread to take Mary, thy wife, for that thing that is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bear a son, and thou shall call his name Jesus, for He shall make His people safe from their sins. (Matthew 1)

Nil thou trump tofore thee as hypocrites do in synagogues and streets, that they may be worshipped of men... (Matthew 6)

Nil ye deem, that ye be not deemed. For in what doom ye deem, ye shall be deemed, and in what measure you mete, it shall be meted again to you. (Matthew 7)

All ye that travail and are charged, come to Me and I shall fulfil you. Take ye My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am mild and meek in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is soft, and My charge light. (Matthew 11)

For he that highs himself shall be meeked, and he that meeks himself shall be enhanced. (Matthew 23)

And shepherds were in the same country, waking and keeping the watches of the night on their flock. And lo, the angel of the Lord stood beside them, and the clearness of God shone about them, and they they dreaded with great dread. And the angel said to them, Nil ye dread, for lo, I preach to you a great joy that shall be to all people. For a Savior is born today to you that is Christ the Lord in the city of David. And this is a token to you, ye shall find a young child lapped in cloths and laid in a cratche. (Luke 2)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was at God, and God was the Word. This was in the beginning at God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing, that thing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darknesses, and darknesses comprehended it not. (John 1)

For God loved so the world that He gave His one begotten Son, that each man that believes in Him perish not, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His son into the world that He judge the world, but that the world be saved by Him. He that believes in Him is not deemed. But he that believes not, is now deemed, for he believes not in the name of the one begotten Son of God. And this is the doom, for light came into the world, and men loved more darknesses than light, for their works were evil. (John 3)

Truly, truly, I say to you that he that hears My Word and believes to Him that sent Me, has everlasting life. And he comes not into doom, but passes from death into life. (John 5)

All thing that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and I shall cast him out that comes to Me. For I came down from heaven not that I do My will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of the Father that sent Me, that all thing that the Father gave Me, I lose not of it, but again-raise it in the last day. And this is the will of My Father that sent Me, that each man that sees the Son and believes in Him, have everlasting life. And I shall again-raise him in that day. (John 6)

Therefore Jesus answered and said to them, Nil ye grouch together. No man may come to Me but if the Father that sent Me draw him, and I shall again-raise him in the last day. (John 6)

Jesus says to her, I am again-rising and life. He that believes in Me, yea, though he be dead, he shall live. And each that lives and believes in Me, shall not die without end. (John 11)

Be not your heart afeared, nor dread it. Ye believe in God, and believe ye in Me. In the house of My Father are many dwellings. If anything less, I had said to you, for I got to make ready to you a place. And if I go and make ready to you a place, eftsoons I come, and I shall take you to Myself, that where I am, ye are. (John 14)

In the world ye shall have disease. But trust ye, I have overcome the world. (John 16)

Hallow thou them in truth. Thy word is truth. (John 17)

Therefore when Jesus had taken the vinegar, He said, It is ended! And when His head was bowed down, He gave up the ghost. (John 19)

For all men sinned and have need to the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace, by the again-buying that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3)

And we wit that to men that love God, all things work together into good to them that after purpose are called saints. For the ilk that He knew before, He before ordained by grace to be made like to the image of His Son, that He be the first begotten among many brethren. And the ilk that He before ordained to bliss, them He called, and which He called, them He justified, and which He justified, and them He glorified. (Romans 8)

Oh, the highness of the richesses of the wisdom and of the kunning of God. How incomprehensible are His dooms, and His ways are unsearchable! For why, who knew the wit of the Lord, or who was His counsellor? Or who former gave to Him, and it shall be quit to him? For of Him and by Him and in Him are all things! To Him be glory into worlds. Amen! (Romans 11)

Nil ye be conformed to this world, but be ye reformed in newness of your wit, that ye prove which is the will of God, good and well-pleasing, and perfect. (Romans 12)

For when I am sick, then I am mighty. (2 Corinthians 12)

Therefore brethren, see ye how warily ye shall go, not as unwise men, but as wise men, again-buying time for the days are evil. Therefore, nil ye be made unwise, but understanding which is the will of God. (Ephesians 5)

Clothe you with the armour of God, that ye moun stand against aspyings of the devil. (Ephesians 6)

Joy ye in the Lord evermore, eft I say, joy ye. Be your patience known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be ye nothing busy, but in all prayer and beseeching with doing of thankings, be your askings known at God. And the peace of God that passes all wit, keep your hearts and understandings in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4)

For this thing, I say, that no man deceive you in height of words. (Colossians 2)

Therefore more plenteously it behoves us to keep those things that we have heard, lest peradventure we float away. (Hebrews 2)

For the word of God is quick and speedy in working, and more able to pierce than any twain-edged sword, and stretches forth to the departing of the soul and of the spirit, and of the jointures and marrows, and deemer of thoughts and of intents and hearts. And no creature is unvisible in the sight of God. For all things are naked and open to His eyes, to whom a word to us. (Hebrews 4)

Wherefore also He may save without end, coming nigh by Himself to God and evermore lives to pray for us. (Hebrews 7)

Therefore, we that have so great a cloud of witnesses put to, do we away all charge and sin standing about us. And by patience run we to the battle purposed to us, beholding into the Maker of faith and the perfect Ender, Jesus, which, when joy was purposed to Him, He suffered the cross and despised confusion, and sits on the right half of the seat of God. (Hebrews 12)

But ye are a chosen kin, a kingly priesthood, holy folk, a people of purchasing, that ye tell the virtues of Him that called you from darkness into His wonderful light, which sometime were not a people of God. But now ye are the people of God, which had not mercy, but now ye have mercy. (1 Peter 2)

But dread ye not the dread of them, that ye be not disturbled. But hallow ye the Lord Christ in your hearts, and evermore be ye ready to satisfaction to each man asking you reason of that faith and hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

55. The Story Behind the Bible: The Prophets (NOT Recommended)

The Story Behind the Bible: The Prophets. J.K. Alexander. 2015. 364 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Run far and fast from this junk]

First sentence: The journey now continues through The Story Behind the Bible as we move forward from the fundamentals and foundational books of Moses, the Torah, to the rest of the Tanakh, or Old Testament.

Last week I reviewed the first book in J.K. Alexander's trilogy, The Story Behind the Bible: The Torah. Long story short, I do NOT recommend these two. I review not because these books are great sources of information, but because they are sources of misinformation. Also because I'm stubborn.

I used a few analogies last week that still apply. I might add one of skating on thin ice. There are portions of this book--whole pages in a row--that appears to be a bit thicker, more solid to skate on. But thin ice (aka DANGEROUS theology) is always lurking. Don't be lured into a false sense of security just because he's written whole paragraphs, most of a chapter even without red alerts going off.

This book seems both more extreme and less extreme than the first. I'll try to explain. Less extreme in that he can come across as almost normal sounding for a couple of pages. More extreme in that when he goes wrong, he PLUMMETS.

So what is his goal for writing, that's a nice place to start off, "My hope is that this book, though somewhat extended by necessity, is nonetheless condensed and readable enough for readers to get a very good sense of the actual flow and formal of this large collection of ancient writings. There is a logic to it and readers will always have a good grasp of the canonization if they read straight through the chapters of this book from start to finish. I promise that the Bible is never misquoted and we will hit as many of the preeminent prophecies and concepts as possible along the way."

So long as he promises that the Bible is never misquoted....hmmm...we'll see if he lives up to that boast.

"True enthusiasts of the Bible are not typical but rather quite rare."

That, I'd believe of the general population. I think Bible teachers and preachers might be the exception--I'm thinking John Piper, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, R.C. Sproul, Robert Godfrey, etc. But it is rare, I think, to find people who daily read the Scriptures and read through all the Scriptures regularly and consistently.

Back to his stated goal in writing, "This is a designated as an intermediate study and was written primarily with the more motivated and open-minded seekers and better informed scholars in mind."

I get the impression he's trying to flatter his intended reader.

Here's where it gets a bit scary if you're a Berean, "One of my hopes is that current and future pastors and ministers will embrace and benefit greatly from the historical and biblical research contained herein, but those who are determined to hold to old time religion or even turn of the last century scholarship will likely not be greatly inspired by these pages. I would ask those already well studied in the Bible to keep a particularly open mind and reserve judgment on the less conventional concepts and biblical interpretations until they read to the end and see how the whole picture turns out. It is for the congregations I plead."

And just when you thought he couldn't get much scarier, "So set your Bible aside along with traditional points of view for just a few days, open your mind very wide, and take the plunge."

So part of this book is Alexander walking readers through the contents of Joshua through Malachi. This is done somewhat unevenly. For example, almost all of what he says about 1 Samuel focuses on Saul's encounter with Samuel's spirit and the witch/medium. Some books receive an almost chapter by chapter summary. Other books are lucky to get two or three paragraphs. But he has something to say about every book. It is also interesting that he spends about as much time theorizing on the contents of Jasher than some of the books in the canon. He has a whole section of Shamanism. A whole section. And the afterlife. His section on the Zoi was truly bizarre and just out there out there. (UFO stuff) And he ends with how law and grace are not really separate and distinct from each other. He hints that he's not on the same page as Paul. Or in other words, he is right and Paul has been misunderstood and misinterpreted wrongly since the minute he finished writing his texts.

  • Apparently, Rahab was not a harlot.
  • Apparently, Jesus (Yeshua) WAS Melchizedek.
  • Apparently, Yah (Alexander's primary term for God) spent a LOT of time in human form, possibly centuries posing as an Egyptian priest.
  • Apparently, "when you look at a modern map of North America, what you are seeing is the second United States of Israel located in North America and established by the long lost sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
  • Apparently, Esther was written by Esther and Nehemiah IS Mordecai. 
  • Apparently, The Song of Solomon was written by one of Solomon's wives.
  • Apparently, the lost tribes of Israel (the ten "lost" tribes) settled in Ireland, England, Scotland, Scandinavia. 
  • Apparently, many of the prophecies of the Bible are specifically about Ireland, Scotland, England, and NORTH America. Hosea, for example, is all about US those that inhabit the great nations of the western world. 
  • Apparently, the throne of David has never lacked a person on the throne because of Ireland, Scotland, and England. 
  • Apparently, Queen Elizabeth is fully aware that she is sitting on David's throne and continuing to fulfill ancient prophecy.
  • Apparently, those descended from the lost tribes (aka Caucasians with British, Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian blood) are blessed by God apart from belief in and assent to faith in Jesus Christ. He stresses again and again that we are not Gentiles. But true children of the promise descended from Judah. We should begin "acting, living, and thinking like the descendants of the chosen people, like Israelites, the sons of the living God, not like Christianized gentiles."

Here are some quotes:

The main underlying thread of the book of Judges is, in my opinion, largely misconstrued by some purveyors of religion. Many teach that this was a dark, dark time in Israel's history because there was no king in Israel, and the people did evil in the sight of the Lord. But worst of all, from the traditional point of view, God forbid, "Each man did that which was right in his own eyes." Unfortunately, I must strongly disagree with this interpretation." 

He continues, "Not a dark time. These were actually glory days, and this was the first and only small preview model of what God wanted Israel to be like in the future...The sense I get from the story is that God was actually enjoying the time of the judges, though not the people's backsliding, but that was never going to change anyway, as clearly foretold in the second song of Moses."

Here's a truly terrifying statement:

"What I'm trying to break to you gently is what Yeshua (Jesus) told His followers, and even they did not seem to fully understand. We are the gods. The entities that quicken the flesh and blood bodies of mortal man and woman are powerful, beautiful, angelic entities that have lived for eons, were created to inhabit and maintain the earth, and who sang for joy in the presence of God when the earth was first fully formed."


"Long ago, we lived angelic lives, learned, and prospered in the first age of this world until the fall of Lucifer and the falling away of those who followed him. Afterward, the angelic wars ensued and God had to directly intervene to stop the madness. God was and still is angry about this and, after brooding awhile, decided that an age of mortality, purification, maturation, and redemption were in order and would be conducted mainly in the relatively safe confines of the physical realm. We all were created by God untold ages ago and there is a divine requirement in this age to be born of woman and live a single mortal in order to glean all the unique experiences of mortal creatures and to hardwire those experiences and higher thoughts and insights they engender into our angelic minds. The hub around which that process revolves is the salvation through Yeshua the Christ. So that takes care of the biblical perspective on where we come from."

I am not making this stuff up. (Though he is.)

"We don't receive our final reward when we die. After mortal death, there is still a good way to go before we work back to angelic immortality. But remember this is God we are talking about in the Bible. Though this is training and redemption, the entire journey holds intrigue, adventures, pleasures, challenges, and rewards enough for many mortal lifetimes."

"So now with no mortal fear and a lot of traditionally messed up theology straightened out, we can go forward, hopefully, with our study of the prophets with a much clearer understanding and peace of mind about where we are headed. And when you look at your neighbor, you should understand that whether you consider him a godsend or are certain he is Satan's right hand man, both you and he are already on the right track and have done at least one huge thing according to God's will. You both are making the required mortal journey. And even if you or your neighbor were Lucifer's first lieutenant during the first age destruction, if you complete the mortal journey, become faithful to Yeshua, and learn the grace and peace of Christ, you and/or your neighbor will be singing and feasting with the sons and daughters of God in His future kingdom."

"He knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the belly because Jeremiah had an immortal existence prior to his mortal birth just as we all did and just as Jesus had an eternal prior existence. Evidently Jeremiah was a good, faithful, and powerful immortal in the first age of the world and God would use him for special purposes in this mortal life as well." 

"I am of the assumption that if the majority of people living in America, Britain, Scandinavia, etc. were awakened to the fact that they are not Gentiles but are in fact Israelites of Hebraic descent, they would embrace their rediscovered heritage and want to learn and experience their ancient culture. All or at least most of those peoples embrace their roots to the point of wanting to return to the land of their fathers regularly to observe and celebrate on a national scale the feasts of Yah'vah and His Sabbaths, the Passover, etc., and to tabernacle with Yah and their Jewish kindred awhile as often as possible."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, July 10, 2020

54. The Story Behind the Bible: The Torah (NOT Recommended)

The Story Behind the Bible: The Torah. J K Alexander 2013/2019. 204 pages. [Source: Review copy]

About the star rating: It doesn't even deserve a tenth of one star.

First sentence from the introduction: This book is a product of more than twenty-five years of private, biblical, philosophical, historical, and archeological study. The intended purpose of the book is to offer a quick, condensed read that can provide a rich, well-developed background, perspective, and understanding of the biblical scriptures. The hope is that the information herein will help biblical scholars of all levels read the Bible with a greater sense of reality, historicity, and relevance that will, in essence, make the biblical experience a bit more like really being there.

I have a couple of analogies I'd like to bring up right at the start. (Maybe imagery is the better word?)

The first involves clocks. A stopped clock is right twice a day. It is unintentional on the clock's part, for sure, but there you have it, right twice a day regardless of its brokenness. A clock that is running, however, that is set to the wrong time, is always wrong all the time. Sometimes there's a reason behind it. (For example, a clock that is difficult to set or hard to reach might not get switched when the time changes. It might be right half the year but off an hour the rest of the year.) At first I was hopeful that this might be a case of the stopped clock variety. A theology book that was off but still managed to get a few things right at least. That way it could at least earn one star fairly and accurately and not by default. But the more I read the more it seemed to go the clock that is only reliable in the fact that it's always wrong.

The second involves cartoon characters and a cliff. You know how a cartoon character runs--sometimes walks--off a cliff and is the absolute last to know?! The viewer sees it happening on the screen, but, the fall inevitably comes. I don't think the author-as-cartoon-character knows he's walked off the cliff and is due to plummet and crash.

The third involves the Twilight Zone. Theology books should not make readers feel like they're entering the Twilight Zone. Mystery novels, dystopias, horror--yes, the Twilight Zone feels aren't out of place and inappropriate. Often when I say a book reads like an episode of the Twilight Zone I mean it in a complementary, positive way. Not so this time.

So when I saw the book listed on Netgalley, my first impulse was yes, please. I didn't read a description. I didn't read previous reviews. I didn't do research on the author or the publisher. I thought Story. Bible. It will either be a) a summary of the big picture story of the Bible to help believers fit the books of the Bible into a picture so they can understand how things fit together or b) it will be a book about how the Bible came to be the Bible, how the canon was formed, how it was translated, how it was preserved. It was neither. Sadly. I am sincere when I say sadly. I don't take joy in finding bad theology.

This is the first book in the trilogy. At the time I'm writing this review, I've completely finished the first book on the Torah and I'm about a third of the way through the second book.

The book claims to be a "primer" or "introduction" to reading and studying the Bible, in the case of the first book, the first five books, The Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. There are chapters titled for each of these books of the Bible. One would guess that the chapters would seek to summarize or provide commentary on the actual Bible. And to be fair, he picks a handful of verses from a handful of chapters to dissect. But it's more commentary via The Twilight Zone than actual actual commentary.

His stated goal is, "to put the readers back into the story as if they are reading their own family history with memories, clear mental images, and a sense of historical authenticity to draw upon as they read and study."

There are no red alerts going off in the introduction. There are some faint and distant yellow alerts going off perhaps. He hints that the content will be controversial and that some might disagree with his opinions, interpretations, and perspectives.

The first hint of slight trouble is his embracing of the gap theory. Now he is not the first to suggest such a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. I have read some commentaries of Genesis that support such a gap theory though they leave the what happened and how long it was completely mysterious and off limits. It's like, there may be a gap of a million years or so, but we don't know what happened and why it happened and there's nothing more that can really be said. It's a theory. We just don't know and it's not that important. It's easy to say okay, let's move on. So long as the commentator goes on to present a biblical view of the creation of man, the fall of mankind, the rest of the book, then it's okay to say, I may not agree 100% with his interpretation of every single little verse, but for the most part it's sound enough and not dangerous. Alexander seems to make this time of the gap much more significant and relevant and everything than it has any right to be. It's almost like come get initiated into this secret gnostic group and be in the know about what happened. You will know something that 99% of all Christians throughout the millennium have missed out on.

It doesn't get less weird. It's like falling down a rabbit hole into wonderland and the author is coaxing readers to eat and drink.

  • Apparently, Jeremiah wrote of this gap. His vision (which I won't link chapter and verse) wasn't about the future but about the past.) 
  • Apparently, Adam and Eve weren't the first and only humans created, the parents of us all; just the priest and priestess; the others toiled the ground and kept the garden.
  • Apparently, the fall of mankind didn't happen for a hundred years after creation. (Like how does he know this and support it?)
  • Apparently, Cain wasn't the son of Adam. Jesus was in the know and gave a veiled hint in his teachings. (He promises a chapter about this in book three.)
  • Apparently Leviticus is the most important book in the Torah because of the hidden acrostics within.

At the end of his summary of Genesis, he writes, "I don't expect anyone to agree with all my science, theology, imagery, or historical perspective. The real goal is to get people to read and study the Scriptures themselves with an ability to stay on track, not lose the forest for the trees, and rightly divide what is written." 

(Does he get how that statement is so ironic given what follows?!?!?!)

So there are a couple of long passages later in the book that seem all red alert all the time...or should.
I would hope that all actual, genuine Bible-believing, Bible-reading, God-affirming believers would see the ideas and recognize them for what they are. RUN FAR, RUN FAST.
All you hear these days it sometimes seems is doom and gloom and how far we've strayed. The informed Judeo-Christian or Messianic Jew really can't be bothered too much by this because he or she knows that on some level God is having a great time and enjoying everything, more or less. How do we know this? Because the God of the Bible created all things for His pleasure, and God, Yah, the Almighty, is not one who does not get what he wants. A little setback here, a minor disappointment there doesn't worry or bother Him at all. He fully expects these and considers it equitable trade for the surprises, delights, victories, accomplishment, and, yes, the genuine love, faith, and reverence that sharing these things with us and the gift of free will engenders. God is having a great time, Scripture assures us, because that is what He does, so don't be downtrodden. Things aren't nearly as bad as the princes of this world would make them out. In fact, things are not bad at all. We are moving steadily and ever closer to exactly where Yah wants us to be. That should be an encouraging thought.
I would like to say here that the sections on God's nature are in no way meant to imply that I am closer to, have a better relationship with, or even a better understanding of God. I can only impart to you what the Scriptures say about Him if you know how to look....Is God Unchanging? The short answer to this question is is yes; however, though God can make even the most profound knowledge and concepts seem simple, nothing about God is simplistic. Yes, he is the same essence yesterday, today, and forever. What most people overlook is that possibly the most clearly defined aspect of God's eternal unchanging nature is that He loves perpetual change. This is abundantly clear in Scripture and throughout creation. And by the way, if you are reading Scripture but not reading nature, His creation, you're only reading half the book. You're going to miss key elements and possibly the entire alchemy...It is very frustrating to me when people, especially people of "faith," use God's unchanging essence as an excuse for rigidity, dogma, legalism, and other forms of stagnation and oppression. Scripture declares that God created all things for His pleasure and things that grow and change and are full of surprises that are infinitely more pleasing than things that are predictable, changeless, motionless, unyielding, and stagnant. So please don't ever even consider the erroneous notion that God is some eternally grim force trying to restrict all things to a predetermined definition of righteousness. Nothing could be more wrong. My friends, look around you. Read the other half of the book. God is the free Spirit of all free spirits. I assure you He can and does think a thousand times farther out of the box than the most secular Warhol-worshiping weirdo walking the planet.
The dominant and obvious thrust of the whole book is that all things being equal, He is totally flexible and much prefers that we make our own decisions and do our own thing. Yes, that the is preeminent lesson of the Torah.
Long, long ago, it seems God decided that far more important than righteousness is freedom. Freedom is everything to God, because without it there can be no genuine love, faith, joy, courage, or righteousness, all things that He wants around Him in abundance. And again, from God's point of view, every intervention and every controlled outcome chisels away at that most awesome of all His gifts, freedom. This is why it rains and shines on the just and the unjust alike. It is why some good men fall while the wicked prosper and innocent children have fatal accidents. There is a fine line between guidance and coercion, and God has established that line well on the side of freedom and non-interference so there can be no mistake that when a man chooses for good or ill, it is of his own free will. Naturally, God controls the broad stream of history and will bring our collective destiny to a successful fulfillment according to His will, but the Bible indicates that He will accomplish this by dealing with a few key players on the stage of history and a few miraculous interventions for all to see. But life will go on, and we will still have our homes, families, friends, and other responsibilities while God takes care of His. Keeping track of the minutia of our lives is just not His job.
According to the Bible, God has it covered but is not in direct control of our individual destiny. We are. That is His great gift to us. All this being said, the Scriptures do affirm that the Holy Spirit is sensitive to and able to touch us all in times of great need or times of great joy. And for those who are true men and women of faith, the Spirit is permanently attached and dwells within.
Have you been reading the quotes?!?! Prepare yourself.

What I am suggesting here is that we should stay to the God of Scripture and not make God up as we go along to suit our perceived needs and desires. Of one thing I am totally convinced. God is not a fictional character who only lives in the pages of the Bible.
If he hasn't been making up God to suit his own need and desire, what has he been doing?!?!?!?!

I haven't quoted much Scripture in this book, because this book is not about the text itself but the underlying themes.
So the themes of the Bible--the underlying themes aren't found in the Scripture itself. Interesting.

Overall, I would say that this book isn't helpful as a primer for learning the contents of the Bible, learning the themes, understanding how God and man relate to one another. In fact, I would say it is distinctly UNhelpful in that it will give readers all the wrong ideas about God's relationship with man and man's relationship with God. One of the big themes of the Torah, if you know actually actually read the text of the Sacred Scripture, is SIN and man's need for atonement and reconciliation. Most of the books, especially Exodus through Deuteronomy focus on a sacrificial mediation, man is NOT right with God, man is a sinning sinner that needs the blood of a sacrifice to be cleansed. From Genesis 3 on what readers find in the Bible is the undeniable fact of sin and God's displeasure with sin.

I would also say this book is illogical. What I mean is that you could take a paragraph of what he says in one place, skip ahead or turn back and find another paragraph that contradicts. Some of the ideas he holds if truly held to be equally true would cause one's head to explode. It's just not possible to believe every single thing he's said in this one to be true truth.

I also notice that he'll take a few grains of truth and then adulterate it mightily so that it's so jumbled and twisted and just all out wrong.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

53. Corona Crisis: Plagues, Pandemics, and The Coming Apocalypse

Corona Crisis: Plagues, Pandemics, and the Coming Apocalypse. Mark Hitchcock. 2020. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: On February 29, 2020, my wife, Cheryl, and I left our home in Edmond, Oklahoma, for a thirteen-day trip to Israel. We could never have imagined how drastically the world would change by the time we returned.

Is the Corona Virus (COVID 19) a sign of the end times? Is the end near? These questions (and more) are answered by Mark Hitchcock in his newest book.

He does several things in his book. (I list in no particular order).

He addresses the end times, theories about the second coming, signs of the times, the return of Christ, the coming judgement.

He addresses plagues and pandemics throughout history AND specifically the current crisis of Corona.

He addresses a greater crisis facing the world: SIN. Sin has an infection rate of 100%. He writes, "There’s another subject that most people avoid like the plague. It’s probably even more unpopular than a virus. What is it? Sin. Humans don’t like thinking about sin. Especially their own. I don’t, and you don’t. Spending too much time focused on sin can be downright depressing. Who wants to examine faults, failures, and flaws? We’d rather think of ourselves in a more positive light. Sin has never been a popular topic, and that couldn’t be more true today. Even many churches steer clear of ever mentioning the “S” word for fear of offending someone."

His approach is hesitation and caution when assuming that Corona is a huge, blaring sign of the end times. He writes, "we must shun a sensationalistic approach to current events and world headlines. Any time there’s a crisis or natural disaster such as COVID-19, a chorus of voices immediately begin to announce the advent of the Antichrist and imminent arrival of the Apocalypse. Wild speculation often spreads faster than the virus. Some prophecy teachers cry wolf about every event, no matter how insignificant, so often that thinking people turn off the noise and don’t listen to them anymore. For sensationalists, every earthquake, war, terrorist attack, disease, crime spree, famine, hurricane, or tsunami is a flashing neon sign pointing to the end. The problem with this kind of news headline exegesis is that if everything is a sign, then nothing is a sign. We can’t manufacture every current event into a sign of the times."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

6. American Standard Version Bible

American Standard Bible. 1901. Star Bible Publishers. 2037 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

I bought a reprint edition of the American Standard Bible (1901) several years ago--probably eight to ten years ago. It included a reprint of the Concise Bible Dictionary published by Thomas Nelson. I did NOT read the Bible dictionary. Though I find it quaint to see the black and white illustrations. There is something cozy and quaint about reading a reprint.

I enjoyed the ASV translation. Before committing to read it cover to cover--though not in cover-to-cover order--I had read bits and pieces here and there. I remember reading the New Testament and the book of Psalms the spring I first purchased the Bible. But I never got around to tackling the whole book.

The translation is a revision of a revision that would later be revised. That is it is a revision of the English Revised Version first published in 1885 which was a revision of the Authorized Version (aka King James Version). The New American Standard Version is a revision to this one. As is the Revised Standard Version (1952). Now the Revised Standard Version has two offspring: the New Revised Standard Version and the English Standard Version. So directly or indirectly the ASV made an impact.

I believe the World English Bible is another direct revision of the American Standard Version.

One of the big differences you'll notice is that the ASV uses the word "Jehovah" instead of "Lord."

Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever.

This translation is widely available in e-book editions. Though I think print editions are harder to come by.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

52. How To Pray in a Crisis

How to Pray in a Crisis. Daniel Dean Henderson. 2020. Moody Publishers. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If you are in a crisis of any kind right now, God has brought you to a divinely orchestrated crossroads. The higher path calls you to renewed trust and transformation. The lower one allures you to hide in the cocooned space of comfort, complacency, and self-protection.

How To Pray in a Crisis is a book encouraging believers guessed it...pray during a crisis. But it isn't necessarily individual prayer he's urging and encouraging. He believes that you best learn to pray--in a crisis or out of a crisis--by praying in community. He is a big, big believer that prayer is something "caught" not "taught." Better to learn to pray by participating in group community prayer and watching older and wiser prayer warriors at work than by reading a book. (Odd that this advice should come in a book? Perhaps.)

He shares with readers a four step guide to renewed prayer.


I have slight issues with the phrasing of the first step, I must admit. I don't believe we "let God" do anything. God is God is God is God is God. We are not. God is not waiting around for permission to do anything. If the new birth is accomplished without letting us let God, then certainly letting God birth fresh conviction in us is a bit ridiculous. But aside from the phrasing, I didn't have any huge issues with the theology.
Prayerlessness is my declaration of independence from God. Conversely, prayerfulness is my declaration of desperate dependence on God.

I think that offers food for thought right there. I would imagine most people don't reckon the relationship between the two that bluntly. By not praying, I am declaring my independence from God.

I do agree that crisis offers OPPORTUNITY for great growth spiritually.

I do agree that an open Bible is a great place to start with any prayer.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible