Sunday, January 31, 2021

January 2021 Reflections

Verses on my heart/mind

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent. Psalm 4:4

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. Psalm 5:4-5

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-22

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:15-16

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Romans 12:18-19

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval...Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:1-5. (The verse I skipped was Romans 13:4 if you want to read it.)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

2021 Bible Reading

  • In January I read 1 Thessalonians 1-5 for 30 days. 
  • In January I read Psalm 1-8 for 30 days.
  • In January I continued my Bible in 90 days plan with the 1560 Geneva Bible.
  • In January I continued my Bible in 90 days plan with the NASB 1973 Bible
  • In January I used the ESV Bible app to do the M'Cheyne reading plan.
  • In January I used Professor Horner's Bible reading plan in the NASB Giant Print Reference Bible. 
At first I wasn't in love with Professor Horner's system. I thought it was strange. I even wrote a blog post about it. But I gave it more time, and now I'm seeing that while incomplete on its own, working within a larger system, it is a great thing.

2021 Books

1. A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness. Philip Bennett Power. 1876/2018. Banner of Truth. 97 pages. [Source: Bought] (five stars)
2. The Quick-Read Bible: Understanding God's Word From Beginning to End in 365 Daily Readings. Harvest House Publishers. 272 pages. 2021 [March] [Source: Review copy]
3. Foxe's Book of Martyrs. John Foxe. 1563/2001. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe. 1719/2019. AmazonClassics. 571 pages. [Source: Bought]
5. Come, Sweet Day: Thoughts and Poems from Hard Times to Hope: A Writer's Journey. Julianne Donaldson. 2021. [April] 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
6. Practicing Thankfulness: Cultivating A Grateful Heart in All Circumstances. Sam Crabtree. 2021. [February] Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7. The Stone Wall. Beverly Lewis. 2020. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

7. The Stone Wall

The Stone Wall. Beverly Lewis. 2020. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: ’Tis a waste of time to look back with regret,” Mammi Eliza Slaubaugh once told me. “Though we might fret and stew, the past simply can’t be changed,” she’d added, leaning closer, as if to share a secret. “Besides, if we could change our past, Anna, would we want to?” Mammi’s last question so ferhoodled me, I was unable to grasp her meaning.

Anna Beachy, our heroine, is looking to the Lord for guidance in how (and when) to change her life; she's feeling a bit restless and out of sorts. (Not that she wants to act outside the will of the Lord.) When a distant cousin (an Old Order Amish distant cousin) mentions a job opportunity that may suit, she jumps at the chance. The job is to be a tour guide--to take tourists on tours around the Amish community. What begins as a simple visit--for the job interview--soon becomes a new life. Will Anna remain Beachy Amish or will her attraction to a Mennonite (a fellow tour guide) or a horse rancher (Old Order) change her life's path? 

The novel also contains flashbacks--if that's the right word--of her grandmother's visit to this same community. Her grandmother, Mammi Eliza (who is now suffering with Alzheimer's), visited Old Amish relatives for the summer and fell in love... Their love was forbidden...

I liked this one. Would I have loved it more without the flashback scenes? Maybe. Maybe not. Who can really tell? My job is not to review a book that might have been or even should have been--but to review the book in front of me. I enjoyed both story lines. I did. I almost, almost wish that they'd been separate books--if that makes sense so that the grandmother's story could have been more fleshed out. Or as equally fleshed out as the contemporary story.

I am not the biggest fan of love triangles especially when only two of the three within the triangle are fleshed out and the ending predictable. The heroine is never going to end up with the flat, not-fleshed-out, barely present character. Never. He exists as a shadow in the background. Is he truly necessary?

I did like the hero and heroine. (Yes, I know his name, but I don't want to spoil the novel.) I really enjoyed their journey together.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Voice of Truth Playlist

This (Spotify) playlist is titled Voice of Truth. The theme is Christ esteem--not to be confused with self-esteem. I wanted to create an encouraging, building-up playlist that focuses on who we are in Christ. I think it is easy to be discouraged/get discouraged and forget that simple truth--to forget who we are in Christ and what He has DONE. Yes, DONE. The Christian life isn't do, do, do, do, do, do, do to the point of exhaustion. It is DONE. Jesus paid it all. (Like all my spotify playlists, consider it a work in progress. I may add more songs in the coming weeks and months.)

I realize not everyone has a Spotify account (there is a free option), so I will choose a few of the songs and link to the YouTube video. 

Voice of TruthCasting Crowns
In Christ AloneNewsboys
Just As I Am Andrew Peterson
FlawlessMercy Me
Turn Your Eyes (Live)Sovereign Grace Music
My Worth Is Not In What I OwnKeith and Kristyn Getty
Who Am ICasting Crowns
Meant to BeSteven Curtis Chapman
Resting PlaceI Am They
Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)Casting Crowns
Live Like You're LovedHawk Nelson
Fix My EyesFor King and Country
Be Kind To YourselfAndrew Peterson
Jesus Paid it AllFernando Ortega
ScarsI Am They
Before There Was TimeCaedmon's Call
Chain BreakerZach Williams
WordsHawk Nelson
More Than ConquerorsSteven Curtis Chapman
Found My FreedomI Am They
GreaterMercy Me
ThriveCasting Crowns
DeliveredI Am They
MadeHawk Nelson
Who You Say We AreSteven Curtis Chapman
You Are My King (Amazing Love)Newsboys
East to West Casting Crowns
Drops in the OceanHawk Nelson
Fear Is A LiarZach Williams
Remind Me Who I AmJason Gray
All That Was LostMichael Card
From the DayI Am They
Christ Our Hope In Life and DeathKeith and Kristyn Getty
All I Have Is ChristSovereign Grace Music
Wedding DayCasting Crowns
You Hold It AllNewsboys
No Longer SlavesI Am They
Finish What He StartedSteven Curtis Chapman
Mystery of MercyAndrew Peterson
Only HopeCaedmon's Call
His Mercy Is MoreMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
Christ Is AllMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
How Rich a Treasure We PossessMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
My Savior's LoveMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
Magnificent, Marvelous, Matchless LoveMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
Christ the Sure and Steady AnchorMatt Boswell and Matt Papa
Christ Will Be My HideawaySovereign Grace Music
Rise Up (Lazarus)CAIN, Zach Williams

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 25, 2021

Translation Comparison Psalm 4:4

For the month of January, I am doing a 30 day read of PSALM 1-8. One thing that has stood out to me are the varied translations of one particular verse. It's a verse that probably never would have caught my eye if I'd not been reading it everyday for a month. Also JANUARY 2021 has had its chaotic moments so I've been given some thoughts to everything.

NASB 1995: Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
ESV: Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
KJV: Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
NKJV: Be angry, and do not sin.
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
RSV: Be angry, but sin not;
    commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
NRSV: When you are disturbed, do not sin;
    ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Jubilee Bible: Stand in awe, and sin not; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and desist. Selah.
NASB 2020: Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah
NLT: Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude
Living Bible: Stand before the Lord in awe, and do not sin against him. Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation. 
ASV: Stand in awe, and sin not:
Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah
1599 Geneva: Tremble and sin not: examine your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
HCSB: Be angry and do not sin;
on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.Selah
CSB: Be angry and do not sin;
reflect in your heart while on your bed and be silent. Selah
Evangelical Heritage Version: You may be upset, but do not sin.
When you are on your beds,
    speak to your heart, but remain silent. Interlude
Lexham English Bible: Be disturbed but do not sin.
Commune in your heart on your bed and be silent. Selah
NIV: Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
New English Translation: Tremble with fear and do not sin.
Meditate as you lie in bed, and repent of your ways. (Selah)
Modern English Version: Tremble in awe, and do not sin.
    Commune with your own heart on your bed,
    and be still. Selah
Message: Complain if you must, but don’t lash out.
Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking.
Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.
Amplified Bible: Tremble [with anger or fear], and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still [reflect on your sin and repent of your rebellion]. Selah.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Album Spotlight: Hymns

Michael Card
Available on Spotify or of course to buy

Michael Card released a second album of hymns in 2008. The title doesn't lie--you get HYMNS. 

Come, Thou Fount
Brethren, We Have Met To Worship
How Firm A Foundation
Jesus, What A Friend for Sinners
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
Softly and Tenderly
On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand
All That Was Lost
Look, Ye Saints
Praise to the Lord
Where Cross the Crowded Ways
Only His Wounds

I'm not sure when I first heard this album. If I discovered this one first and then Starkindler, or if I discovered Starkindler first and then this one. It doesn't matter. It doesn't. I am simply LOVING them both. 

I love the FLOW of the album. There may be a fancy word for this that I'm missing. But what I mean is how all the songs fit together and sound like they belong together. None of them sound out of place or thrown into the mix. It's a cohesive experience. 

I love the Celtic sound. IT's a great balance. The arrangements don't overpower the deep richness of the lyrics. (And the lyrics are quite theologically rich.) Yet the arrangements ADD so much. Everything is beautiful.

My top three would have to be Come, Thou Fount; How Firm a Foundation; and Jesus, What A Friend For Sinners. But the truth is these songs are simply WONDERFUL and MARVELOUS. And I've listened to them so often through the years that they feel like FRIENDS. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

6. Practicing Thankfulness

Practicing Thankfulness: Cultivating A Grateful Heart in All Circumstances. Sam Crabtree. 2021. [February] Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Thankfulness is neither trivial nor inconsequential. On this one quality pivots the difference between maturity and immaturity.

I loved this book. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. I loved it because it was convicting, challenging, relevant, insightful, timely, and above all else scriptural. It is subtitled CULTIVATING A GRATEFUL HEART IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Note the words GRATEFUL and ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. 

There are twelve chapters: 
  • The Rightness of Gratitude
  • The Wisdom of Gratitude
  • Portrait of a Grateful Heart
  • The Fruitfulness of Gratitude
  • Dangers of Ingratitude 
  • Thankfulness in Action
  • Thankfulness and Contentment
  • Thankfulness and Wonder
  • Thankfulness and Suffering
  • Hindrances to Thankfulness
  • Various Questions about Thankfulness
  • One Hundred Ways to Be Thankful
As a Christian, it is easy to *think* you know what thankfulness and gratitude are all about. Also it is easy to make a thousand plus excuses as to why you don't *have* to be thankful in *this* situation or *this* circumstance. Sure, it would be *nice* to live out that aspect of the Christian faith, but what difference could it really make?! Surely it's not essential-essential, right? You can be a Bible-believing Christian, a God-loving, heart-and-mind-renewed Christian without applying those *pesky* little verses about being thankful and rejoicing always?! If I fail in this aspect, surely it won't impact my witness, right? right?!?!

Practicing Thankfulness is a POWERFUL read. It led me to do a lot of thinking, reflecting, questioning. I think every Christian would benefit from reading this one! Crabtree says, "This book is for two kinds of people. It’s for those who have doubts about God’s goodness, and who therefore don’t often feel grateful. And it’s for those who believe God is good but want to grow in their faithful expression of appreciation for that goodness; they want to be more earnest and creative in thanking God as well as thanking those who are instruments in his hands. They’re dead serious about wanting to produce the fruit that gratefulness can produce. They’re hopeful."

  • Thankfulness is a powerful force. It wins or loses the war for your future. When practiced, it works toward beauty and produces fruit. When ignored, it works toward ugliness and chokes out life. At stake is the vitality of every human relationship, without exception.
  • The thankfulness of Ephesians 5:20 expands that of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 into something far bigger—not just in everything, but for everything.
  • A Hungarian proverb says, “When the bridge is gone, the narrowest plank becomes precious.” I suppose that’s one way to embrace a 1 Thessalonians 5:18 approach to life; in the collapse of the bridge, we express gratefulness for the part of the bridge that remains. But are we also thankful for the part that collapsed? From Ephesians 5, we’re instructed to give thanks when the mosquitoes are thick and also for the part of the bridge that collapsed. God is at work in both the presence and the absence of mosquitoes, and he’s at work not only in the bridge portion that survives but also in the collapse of the rest. He’s working all things for our good.
  • Oh, that gratitude would come as naturally to me as breathing! It’s not that we need more for which to be thankful. Rather, we should naturally be more thankful for what we already have.
  • Generally, feelings stem from thinking. Feeling grateful erupts from thinking rightly about God’s good provision. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Our problem is that in our human frailty and inability to see all things, we can sometimes be inclined to think that some of the circumstances coming to us from God are not good but bad—certainly not perfect. In fact, we sometimes consider all of them bad and none of them good. We err in thinking that way. And when our thoughts err in that way, our feelings follow. We don’t feel grateful.
  • Gratitude need not and must not hinge solely upon the presence or absence of certain circumstances (triumph versus trouble), but on the presence of God. Our God isn’t finished producing fruit through your circumstances, no matter how painful they may be. If Lazarus has died, God is not done. If your bridge has collapsed, he is not done. If the mosquitoes have swarmed, he is not done.
  • What is God doing now in your life to carry on to completion that which he has begun? In this very moment he is using your current set of circumstances as one link in the unbreakable chain of links forged by his unrelenting love and infinite wisdom to accomplish for you the unspeakably valuable privilege of being conformed to the image of his Son. Therefore we’re wise to be thankful not only for the promise that he’ll complete what he has begun—and not only for the chain of completion as a whole but also for every individual link in that chain.
  • Both thanking and pushing assume and require an object, a recipient of the thanking or the pushing. You don’t just push, you push something. And you don’t just thank, you thank someone.
  • It would be irrational to say that practicing gratefulness is just a feeling, without conveying any of that feeling to a benefactor—just as it would be irrational to say that pushing is a “feeling” when you aren’t actually pushing on something. “I feel pushy” means nothing unless you push something. Similarly, you can’t merely “honor”; you have to honor something or someone.
  • I’ve heard wellintentioned adults ask children, “What are you thankful for?” Failing to ask “To whom are you thankful?” places the emphasis on the what, not the who.
  • To what shall we compare an atheist at Thanksgiving? Imagine an Olympic gymnast on the balance beam who beautifully completes all her moves. After the performance, as she’s being interviewed, she tries to give the impression that no beam was ever actually there—that all her moves were performed in midair. She even refers to the event as simply “the balance,” trying hard to ignore what everyone intuits and plainly sees: the event is called the balance beam, and she could do no balancing whatsoever unless there was something to balance on.
  • God wills our thankfulness, and he wills it “in Christ.” He accomplishes our thankful hearts through the transformative work accomplished in our hearts by his word when it dwells in us: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:16–17)
  • In the doing of whatever we do, we’re to be full of gratitude. Our hearts pivot on the word of Christ. Either they swivel toward him in wonder and gratitude and affection, or they swivel away from him in stubborn, truth-suppressing pride or apathetic indifference. It’s through Christ and in the name of Christ that the grateful heart erupts with thankfulness to the Father for all things, especially the word of Christ that indwells the heart richly.
  • The degree to which I’m not thankful is the degree to which I should ask myself if I’m as rooted and built up in Christ as I may think I am.
  • One reason we find it unnatural and difficult to feel grateful when suffering is that we’ve tricked ourselves into a set of expectations that don’t match God’s. We think our expectations are perfectly understandable; that’s why we have them. We think our expectations are perfect. Oh, we would never come right out and claim that we’re always right, but at any given moment we think we’re right. In fact, at every given moment we think we’re right. If we discover we’re wrong, we change our minds, and then once more think we’re right. All of us do this, all the time. Our expectations are warranted—so  we think. Then when something doesn’t go according to what we think God should have done, we get bent out of shape, perhaps angry, or sullen, or vengeful, or bitter, or suicidal, or gender dysphoric. Actually, we don’t get bent out of shape; rather, we reveal the shape we’re already in: namely, God-dismissing. The task before us is to yield our expectations to God and to his actual agenda flowing out of his infinite unassailable wisdom. 
  • None of us live the life we would plan. We live the life God planned for us.
  • Ingratitude is rooted in our mistaken assumptions about our rights, our sense of entitlement.
  • All a person has to do in order to be ungrateful is: nothing. Thanklessness can creep up on us. We might even be good thanksgiving theoreticians, while remaining poor practitioners. We’ve fallen asleep perhaps.
  • Grateful hearts have to say so, because they very much want to. If we aren’t saying thanks, it says something about our thankless hearts.
  • Gratitude is the divinely given spiritual ability to see grace, and the corresponding desire to affirm it and its giver as good.
  • Do you love God? Even in the midst of God-appointed suffering, we can love the God who appointed the suffering when we have confidence that he’s using it to produce a weight of glory for us far beyond all comparison.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

5. Come, Sweet Day

Come, Sweet Day: Thoughts and Poems from Hard Times to Hope: A Writer's Journey. Julianne Donaldson. 2021. [April] 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I know every single person out there is dealing with a lot of hard things. But for those who are wondering if they’re alone in feeling weighed down by life, you’re not. I want you to know that you can be a good person and still have really heavy burdens in this life, and it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

Come, Sweet Day is a book of poetry and short prose pieces by Julianne Donaldson. Donaldson generally writes fiction, but this is a more intimate and personal book written from a place of faith, hope, and honesty. 

I have enjoyed her novels. I am not as open to "loving" poetry in general. But I liked this one. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was super amazing and life changing. But I liked it. I appreciate her honesty and insights. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 18, 2021

4. Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe. 1719/2019. AmazonClassics. 571 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull: he got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called, nay we call ourselves, and write our name Crusoe, and so my companions always called me.

Robinson Crusoe against the advice of his dear old mother and father leaves home to sail the world and find adventure. What he finds is misfortune--and fortune. I would say his fortune comes at a price--twenty something years deserted on an island that is sometimes visited by cannibals. He spends many of those years alone--unless you count goats, birds, turtles. He also spends much time in the Bible--I believe this is the only book he has with him on the island. He makes much of the Book and the Book makes much of him. While he's "waiting" for rescue, he's not idle. He's busy, busy, busy making his island work for him. Eventually he's aided by Friday, a native whom he rescues from the cannibals, and his first convert to the faith. 

AFTER HE LEAVES THE ISLAND that should have been the end of the story. THE END. THAT'S ALL FOLKS. But nope, Defoe gives us sequels. Pointless, needless sequels. Which is all well and good if you *know* ahead of time that the edition you are reading contains the sequels. I don't know if this AmazonClassics contains both sequels or just one. It felt like a HUNDRED.

We're briefly told he returns to England, marries a wife (who dies at some point, do we even learn her name or anything about her???), has a couple of children (again do we even learn a thing about them?), and decides to have MORE ADVENTURES. He's off to travel the WORLD. He starts off traveling with a nephew who's a captain on a ship. They have a couple of close calls, but, mainly avoid catastrophes. 

It felt like there were hundreds of pages focused on updating readers of what had been happening on the island after his rescue. (He'd left several sailors that had mutinied and I believe another group of sailors that had been shipwrecked on a nearby island. Friday's father was also now on this island.) IN MINUTE DETAIL we hear of every thing that occurred on this island no matter how insignificant or irrelevant to carrying any plot forward. Eventually we're brought back up to the current day--he's brought some women to be wives and other supplies. And a priest. So everyone can be properly married.

The only enjoyable part was when the nephew's crew THREATENED TO MUTINY if Robinson Crusoe was not put off the ship on shore somewhere--they were sailing in Asia by this point. Why???? Because he  talked religion night and day, day and night. Forever and ever, without respite. He had a one track mind and no one wanted to be near him. I was like I HEAR YOU. I WANT HIM TO BE QUIET TOO. 

The last bit of the novel has him traveling by ship and on land through Asia and then back overland to Europe. 

Did I mention that this AmazonClassic edition DID NOT HAVE CHAPTERS????  I think if I'd read an edition WITH CHAPTERS and that just contained the first book...I'd have enjoyed it a thousand times more. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

3. Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. John Foxe. 1563/2001. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The history of the church may almost be said to be a history of the trials and sufferings of its members, as experienced at the hands of wicked men.

I am thankful I read this one. I've owned it for years--if not a decade. It wasn't an easy read. Perhaps I tried to read it like it was any other book? Perhaps I gave up on trying to really absorb its contents halfway through? 

The book opens with the disciples and first generation believers. It closes in the nineteenth century. Obviously the martyrs of the later centuries have been added on or tacked onto this one. 

It has a wide scope--all continents perhaps with the exception of Antarctica. Some martyrs remain just a number--one among however many were murdered on any given day. Some have pages--if not whole chapters--written about them. It includes men and women of all ages and backgrounds. 

Regardless of how much or how little is said within this book, God knows ALL, and their lives mattered then and now.

Some chapters were more absorbing/fascinating than others. In other words, sometimes my attention drifted away, far, far away. And sometimes it didn't. Sometimes I stayed on task. I would like to reread this one at some point to see if it was a mood thing for me. If I'd find it all equally attention-worthy if I gave it another chance. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 8, 2021

First Impressions of the Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan

So the Bible reading plan that I am experimenting with this year is Professor Horner. It has readers reading from ten different books of the Bible--one chapter from each book, for a total of ten chapters. On the surface, it looks like this would be a great way to orient yourself to the Word of God. There are two books that you'll read twelve times--but every word of God gets read at least a couple of times. There are ten book marks and at the start of the plan they are in Genesis, Joshua, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Matthew, Acts, Romans, and 1 Thessalonians. 

But. I don't see myself sticking with this plan long if I stick with the original Horner system. Why??? Because the Bible isn't meant to be read like that. Okay, okay, that might sound super, super harsh. Like there is only one right way to read the Word of God and Horner's system is definitely not it. That's not what I'm saying--not really. I don't believe in a one size fits all Bible reading plan. I don't even believe in a one size fits most Bible reading plan.

But I do know a little something about reading in general....and a little something about the Bible.

Imagine if someone liked literature but set out on a quest to LOVE literature. Imagine telling that someone that the best way to become well read is to read ONE CHAPTER A DAY from ten different classics. Now this could be ten works by ten different authors. Or ten works by one author. 

But can you imagine a person sitting down every day reading David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Dombey and Son, and A Christmas Carol. (Christmas Carol would be read multiple times because it's so good.) Would the person benefit MORE from reading ALL of Dicken's greatest works ALL AT THE SAME TIME IN SHORT SNIPPETS,   OR would the person benefit MORE from reading Dickens one book at a time? It seems obvious. At least to me. You would get greater appreciation, greater comprehension, a better overall experience by reading each book on its own. Ten chapters read from the same book would lead to a better connection intellectually and emotionally than ten chapters from ten different books. True one might miss on seeing threads of Dickens themes that cross multiple books. But for the most part, one would be better off focusing on one book at a time. 

True this requires imagination and some allowances to be made. Chapters from the Bible are typically one to two pages. It would take a reader about twenty minutes to read ten chapters from the Bible. Reading Dickens would require a much bigger time commitment. I know it's a bit apples and oranges. 

But if we wouldn't recommend reading ten Shakespeare plays all at the same time, or ten novels by Dickens, or ten mystery novels by Christie (can you imagine trying to keep all the clues separate and distinct???) so that you can move quickly through a body of work--why would we do that with the BOOK OF BOOKS, the Ultimate Book, the very Word of God. 

Now I repeat I am not saying that this is a WRONG way to approach Bible reading. I am saying it may not be the best way. 

I DO believe in reading from more than one book in the Bible at a time. I believe that you could read from the Old Testament, Psalms and/or Proverbs, and the New Testament every single day of your life with great benefit. One would always stay grounded to the big picture of the Bible; one would cover the whole Bible cover to cover. One wouldn't be "stuck" in a difficult place. 

Are we reading the Bible to say we've read it? Or are we engaging with what we read? 

So how am I thinking of modifying Horner's plan? Well, I will either keep it as a background plan and emphasize other bulkier plans--right now I'm reading the Bible in 90 days and doing Horner. OR I might change it so that I read two or three chapters from each of the ten bookmarks so that I pick up some momentum and the chapters actually flow together. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Album Spotlight: Starkindler

Album name: Starkindler
Artist: Michael Card
Year: 1998

Starkindler, a "Celtic conversation throughtime" is a collection of hymns performed by Michael Card. 

It features ten songs:
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Starkindler (a Card original)
  • Morning Has Broken
  • I Will Arise
  • Let All Things Now Living
  • The King of Love My Shepherd Is
  • Jesus, Lover of My Soul
  • I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
  • Holy God We Praise Thy Name
  • Be Thou My Vision (reprise)
I absolutely love this album. I don't know that I appreciated it when I was younger. (I was in college when it came out in 1998). But now that I've experienced God's goodness and grace more and more with each passing year, I find myself living in hymns. 

This album features hymns that were mostly new to me. That is I didn't grow up singing The King of Love My Shepherd Is or Let All Things Now Living. (I had heard of Be Thou My Vision and Morning Has Broken). I loved getting to know these new-to-me but still traditional hymns. 

I love the FLOW of the album. There may be a fancy word for this that I'm missing. But what I mean is how all the songs fit together and sound like they belong together. None of them sound out of place or thrown into the mix. It's a cohesive experience. 

I love the Celtic sound. IT's a great balance. The arrangements don't overpower the deep richness of the lyrics. (And the lyrics are quite theologically rich.) Yet the arrangements ADD so much. Everything is beautiful.

One of my absolute favorite songs is Let All Things Now Living. According to Hymnary, it was written by Katherine Davis in 1939 and the tune is Ash Grove

Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
To God the creator triumphantly raise.
Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
Who guided us on to the end of our days.
His banners are o'er us, His light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night.
'Till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished
As forward we travel from light into light.
His law he enforces, the stars in their courses
And sun in its orbit obediently shine;
The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim him divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a song let us raise
'Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
"To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!"
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a song let us raise
Till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
"To God in the highest, Hosanna and praise!"

Another favorite is THE KING OF LOVE MY SHEPHERD IS inspired by Psalm 23 and written by H.W. Baker in 1868

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 4, 2021

2. The Quick-Read Bible

The Quick-Read Bible: Understanding God's Word From Beginning to End in 365 Daily Readings. Harvest House Publishers. 272 pages. 2021 [March] [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: “All of Scripture is inspired, but some parts are more inspiring than others.” This well-known quip is funny because it rings true for most of us! 

It may be a quick read, but it sure isn't a Bible! As best I can tell it is an adult book of Bible stories. There is a Bible story for each day of the year. 

There isn't a verse of Scripture to be found. And the introduction makes it seem like the Bible text itself is out of reach of the average adult believer. We know the Bible is hard, intimidating, tough, and uninspiring as we've chosen 365 chapters out of 1,189 to freshen up and spoon feed you.

That isn't quite true. Some stories summarize multiple chapters of the Bible. Some chapters of the Bible have multiple stories/entries.  They also left out the parts of Scripture that might require work to interpret, understand, and apply, but they gave plenty of stories that are easy to summarize.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

It doesn't say some scripture is given by inspiration of God and sometimes proves profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction.

For the record, I am not against Bible storybooks for families. I believe that Bible story books can be a great blessing to families. Bible story books are never, ever, ever, ever meant to take the place of the actual Word of God. This one does not say that it's meant to take the place of the Bible in a believer's life...but it sure does leave the impression that it'll serve the same role as the Bible as "inspiring" you to live an "inspired" life. 

The believer needs the whole word of God to be a whole believer. 

Again for the record, I am not against Bible HELPS. Resources that provide summaries or outlines or commentary or charts or maps or timelines, etc. to help guide readers through the whole Bible (all 1,189 chapters) or whole books of the Bible. This devotional book provides summaries for some of the contents of some of the chapters from some of the books of the Bible. It's full of holes. So it fails at even being a cliffs notes for the Bible. 

If the book hadn't tried to have just 365 readings, if it had summarized ALL the chapters of the Bible, then I would probably have less of an issue.

If the book had indicated that it was an introductory TOUR to give a brief overview and actively stressed that it was just the tippiest tip of the iceberg--that there was SO MUCH MORE to discover in the Word of God.

If the book had actively ENCOURAGED readers to pick up the Bible for themselves and to TASTE AND SEE THAT GOD IS GOOD. 

If the book had taken a more positive THE BIBLE CAN ACTUALLY BE READ BY ACTUAL PEOPLE AND ACTUALLY understood. IT ISN'T AS HARD AS YOU THINK approach.

If the book was written for children and had illustrations. 

But the summaries are hit or miss on if the writer of the summary actually *got* the main point, main theme, main significance of the chapter being summarized. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. The only theme the writer(s) seem to understand and sing is this, "the main theme of Scripture—that God loves people so much, he has made a way for them to live with him forever." But is that the main theme????? Is it really??? I know some creeds and confessions that would disagree. I know some pastors who would disagree. 

But even if there was nothing theologically iffy about the book--it is still missing the BEAUTY and SPLENDOR of the Bible. Imagine if someone decided that the Mona Lisa was too sophisticated for viewers today and promised to recreate it in a fresh new way and the end result was a stick figure. 

If you're looking for an introduction to the Word of God, I'd recommend instead Welcome To Your Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Resources for G4L 1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians  -- Truth for Life
An Encouraging Word 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4
The Story So Far 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5:28
X  Faith Hope Love 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
Loved by God 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
The Impact of the Gospel Part One 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
The Impact of the Gospel Part Two 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
_ The High Calling of God 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6; Acts 17:1-9
_ No Clever Tricks 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6
_ Truth and Love 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
_ Accepting God's Word 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
_ The Word of God, Not Men, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
_ Our Glory and Joy 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
_ Pastoral Care 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
_ Now We Really Live 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13
_ Purity (Southern) 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18
_ Sexual Purity, Part One 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
_ Sexual Purity, Part Two 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
_ Pleasing God 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
_ AIDS A Biblical View (from 1988) 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
_ Brotherly Love 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
_ About Times and Dates Part One 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
_ Christians Grieve Too! 1 Thessalonians 4:13
_ Those Who Have Hope 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
_ The Coming of the Lord, Part One 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
_ About Times and Dates, Part 2 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
_ The Coming of the Lord, Part Two, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
_ The Coming of the Lord, Part Three 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11
_ Pastors and People 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
_ Learning to Respect Our Leadership 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
_ Resolutions Worth Keeping 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18
_ Practicing Patience 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
_ Learning to Live in Peace 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
_ Cultivating Kindness 1 Thessalonians 5:15
_ Thankfulness a Mark of Grace 1 Thessalonians 5:18
_ Give Thanks 1 Thessalonians 5:18
_ Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit 1 Thessalonians 5:19
_ Listening to the Word of God 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22
_ Sanctification 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
_ The Faithfulness of God 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
_ Praying Properly 1 Thessalonians 5:25-26
_ The Priority of God's Word 1 Thessalonians 5:27-28

1 Thessalonians -- Grace To You

_ Identifying the Elect, Part 1 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2
_ Identifying the Elect, Part 2 1 Thessalonians 1:3
_ Identifying the Elect, Part 3 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
(for others on 1 Thessalonians 1, see here)
for sermons on chapter 2, see here
for sermons on chapter 3, see here 
for sermons on chapter 4 see here
for sermons on chapter 5, see here 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2021 Book Reading Goals

This isn't a post about EVERY single book I hope to read in 2021. I thought I would share a few specific titles that I hope to read through in 2021. Mostly these are either super-long or a bit intimidating. My goal is to make some progress every week--if not every day. 

The Christian's Only Comfort in Life and Death: An Exposition of The Heidelberg Catechism, 2 volumes. Theodore VanderGroe (1705-1784). 2016. Reformation Heritage Books. 707 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Treasury of David, Volumes 1-3 Charles H. Spurgeon. 5557 pages. [Source: Bought]

Institutes of the Christian Religion. John Calvin. Translated by Henry Beveridge. 652 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 1, 2021

1. A Book of Comfort in Sickness

A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness. Philip Bennett Power. 1876/2018. Banner of Truth. 97 pages. [Source: Bought]

From the introduction: AMONGST the many wonderful truths which are spoken of God in the Bible, one of the most wonderful and beautiful is that He is a ‘God of comfort.’

I first read A Book of Comfort For Those in Sickness in January 2019. I decided it would be a great way to end 2020 and welcome in 2021. If I had a book club--whose purpose would be to read Christian books--I would select this one and eagerly push it as a MUST READ. 

Because the truth is though we all don't suffer from chronic physical pain, we do all suffer in varying ways--mental, emotional, spiritual, and, yes, physical. And if you're one of the few that don't suffer yourself, you most likely know and love someone who does. So for growing empathy alone, it would still be a MUST READ. 

Have you read this one? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book!

There are twelve chapters in all. 

  • Is God a God of Comfort at All?
  • Hindrances to Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort
  • Helps to Our Believing That God is a God of Comfort
  • Comfort In Pain
  • Comfort as to Our Being Useless
  • Comfort in Felt Unworthiness
  • Comfort To Counter Envious Thoughts About Others
  • Comfort In Our Being a Trouble to Others
  • Comfort In Death That the Affliction Will Be Long
  • Comfort in the Thought That We Shall Have to Be Alone
  • Comfort In Our Fears that We Shall Dishonor God At the Last
  • Comfort in the Thought of Our Departure Hence

While a few chapters really stick out as being MARVELOUS AND all kinds of WONDERFUL. Each chapter is a gem. A few chapters would even be super-relevant even if you weren't enduring pain and suffering.

I have lived with chronic pain for over twenty years. Some days are more painful than others. Some days I am more functioning than others. But pain is a constant in my life. A pain-free day is something that just doesn't seem possible this side of eternity. If by pain-free you mean totally and completely free from pain everywhere. This pain has filled me with hope and longing--longing for more of Christ, longing for his Coming, longing for the days when there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering, no more trials, no more temptations.

From chapter one, "Is God a God of Comfort At All?"

  • Some people speak of God as though there is no comfort in Him at all; and that Jesus is to comfort us by enabling us to escape from God.
  • (1) Get firmly convinced that God, God Himself, God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father, is a God of comfort.
  • (2) Do not look anywhere else for your prime and first comfort. I do not deny that there is much comfort in friends, in happy feelings, in books, in many of the surrounding circumstances which prove alleviations in illness, but I want you to gather in your thoughts, and feel that the only sure comfort is with God.
  • (3) Expect comfort from God. Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action. We must first open our mouth, and then he will fill it.

From chapter two, "Hindrances To Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort"

  • The brighter any truth of God, the more does Satan endeavour to gather about it such mists as will obscure it, if indeed he cannot extinguish it altogether.
  • We must not be always suspecting God. If He says one thing to us, we must not think that He means another.
  • The past is dead and gone, and let the dead bury their dead. We cannot alter the bad and foolish past. It will always remain what it was. But what we are concerned with is that it should not carry itself on into the present, that it should not hurt us now, that it should be indeed ‘a past.’ Now, say to yourself: That is a bad old habit of mine, not looking to God. I must break with it altogether. Let Him now make all things new with me.
  • A discouraged man is always a weak man. This Satan knows very well, and therefore, he puts all sorts of discouragements in the way of our going to God for comfort.
  • I do not believe that God is well pleased with a man’s spending all his time in self-condemnation. 
  • I think God might well say to us, ‘What! all looking at self, and never a look at Me! What! look at Me, and never a bit of comfort out of it!
  • Are your sins of more importance than My grace? are they to occupy all the ground, and no room to be left for Me to act in comfort and blessing, the way in which I love to act?’
  • He will be more glorified by your being comforted than by your continually refusing to be comforted, or crying out that you are unworthy to be comforted.
  • Self-condemnation is very good in its place, but it is very bad out of its place; and it is out of its place, when we make it so big that it can blot out the comfort of God.
  • We may put a penny piece so close to our eyes as to hide out the sun itself; and we may put our little selves into such a position as to blot out God.

From chapter three, "Helps To Our Believing that God is a God of Comfort."

  • We must keep close to thoughts of God. We must meet Satan’s dark thoughts and suggestions about God with bright thoughts about Him.
  • I consider then God’s character as my great help to believing Him to be a God of comfort.
  • Bathe your thoughts then in God. Be rich in God – poor in yourselves, but rich in Him.

From chapter four, "A Comfort in Pain"

  • WE must not undervalue pain. It is a folly to say that we should be above being moved by it – that, as it is only for a time, we ought not to make anything of it.  So far from making nothing of pain, I make a great deal of it. I believe it to be a very real trouble, a very great trial, something which makes a great demand upon my faith and patience, and all my powers of body and mind too. I consider it an insult to anyone suffering pain to make light of his suffering.
  • Be persuaded, then, that God does not make light of your pain. I am comforted in my suffering in the thought that God knows all about it, and feels for it too.
  • Sympathy is a great balm; and you have the sympathy of God.
  • Therefore, be comforted in every pain with the thought that it has not escaped the observation of God, but has been noted by Him, has been felt for by Him. ‘My groaning is not hid from Thee.’
  • Pain is no vulgar thing when we bring it into connection with the sympathy of God.
  • Then, we come to the thought that Jesus suffered pain. Put that down as a second comfort; put it down as a great comfort.
  • Christ (God and man) in His human nature, made of nerves and flesh and blood, just like yours, every nerve the same, every muscle the same, actually felt great pain; probably greater than any you have ever felt. 
  • No doubt you have no pain but that He felt one like it, probably that very pain in its highest form upon the cross. I think it will help you to bear your pain, and will comfort you in it, if you come into fellowship with Christ in regard to it.
  • Another comfort in pain is the thought that all this shall have an end.
  • Every pain borne, is one pain less to bear.
  • And God would have us think of the end. He sets all the future blessedness before us, telling us of it before we attain to it, in order that it may cheer and encourage us on our way.
  • But no pain is aimless, if only we will see that it has a design. God means it to work blessing. He means that it should leave something behind it.
  • In pain, if properly borne, God can be pleased. But perhaps our pain may be so sharp, or may have worn us down so much that we cannot get the mind to work actively;
  • it is a comfort to think that God does not require us to think. He is no hard taskmaster. He only wills us to resign ourselves into His hands.
  • We may do that, and lean back in our chairs, or on our pillows, and feel that we are pleasing Him, though we can have no active thoughts about Him.

From chapter five, "A Comfort To Our Being Useless"

  • Many of the most pitiable forms of illness and suffering will be found not on beds at all, but on sofas, in arm-chairs. 
  • Yes! many of the sick ones who may claim this book as their own are even walking about, but they are hit sore, and can do nothing that looks worth much.
  • God has not taken away all opportunities of usefulness from you by setting you in a useless place.
  • God has something for you to do, and to be, in His kingdom.
  • Sometimes, we must look at things in relation to God and man; and sometimes to God alone.
  • Your patience, your resignation, your glorifying God in the fires, your word of good to others, all are useful, inestimably precious in the sphere of His kingdom in which He has now appointed you to act.
  • Sick man, you have a place of usefulness for God, not the old place, but His place – the place which is best in the eyes of the all-wise One.
  • Under any circumstances you may be of great use by being contented and cheerful in your trouble.
  • Those around you will see that God sustains you, and will bless Him and glorify Him, and perhaps learn to trust Him too.

From chapter six, "A Comfort in Felt Unworthiness"

  • ‘He is empty, then there is room for Me, and Mine – I will fill him.’
  • Christ will fill you with Himself, and when the Father sees the Son in you – all the Son – His own beloved Son, and not a bit of your own poor fallen self, and your own poor perishing things, He will be well pleased.
  • You shall never learn anything bad about yourself, without learning something correspondingly good about Christ.
  • Humble yourself – the lower the better; but always, with Christ before you. Humility without Christ will make you weak; with Him, it will make you strong. Our own unworthiness would crush us.

From chapter seven, "A Comfort to Counter Envious Thoughts..."

  • When I think how I am to be comforted under these circumstances, I ask myself, ‘Who has appointed me my present lot? Who has sent me my illness? Is God in this matter? Have I distinct views upon this subject?’
  • It is very unsafe to survey the lot of others, except in the light of God.
  • O my God, I will behold Thee in the sanctuary, not in the glass of my poor evil heart, where I would distort Thy image, but where Thou showest Thyself, and I believe that Thou art good, and good in the highest way to me. 
  • But that would not be enough. I must believe that infinite wisdom has been at work, to give me the thing best for me.
  • Why it is best for me I know not; enough that, if it come from God, it must be so.
  • I am comforted, because Thou who art all-wise and good hast settled my lot for me.
  • We stand before Him in our individuality; and He deals with us one by one. Therefore, if I believe in God, I comfort myself, in the assurance that I have the lot that is best for me. Why it should be best, as I have said, I cannot tell; that I must leave to God.
  • I comfort myself, O my God, with the belief that Thou appointest what is best for me – for me!
  • Very often, we have to hunt for our blessings to find them. They are none the worse for that;
  • In sickness, little mercies are as sweet and as really great to you, as very great things are to other people in health. 
  • Ask God to show you the good things incidental to your lot. Believe that there are some, and look for them.

From chapter eight, "A Comfort In Our Being a Trouble to Others"

  • Very often, our illness makes us sad on account of dear ones on whom we are made dependent, upon whom this illness must exercise some pressure.
  • To you, my sick friend, it may be a great burden even to hold up a book; it may tire you very much to walk a few steps; you cannot talk for five minutes at a time. But you must not measure your friends round about you by yourself. You and they are under different circumstances altogether;
  • Now, love makes no account of trouble; on the other hand, it rejoices in opportunities of showing itself, and counts many a thing which is troublesome in itself, no trouble at all because of the one for whom it is done.
  • God will reward those who minister to us, for what they do for His sake.
  • There is One who notes all they do, and who in His own time and way will reward them.
  • Faith is not always wanting to know.
  • God has appointed you to be the one to depend, even as He has appointed your kind friends to be the ones to be depended on.
From chapter nine, "A Comfort In Fear That The Affliction Will Be Long"

  • The first grand comfort will come from living by the day.
  • God meant us to live by the day. It was sin that brought in ‘trouble about the future,’ and distrust of God; and conjured up all sorts of fears and doubts and disbeliefs, to people the long weary time that it brings before the mind.
  • God has mercifully cut up life into short pieces, into days; if He had not done so, we must have been overwhelmed.
  • ‘God is often better to us than our fears,’
  • From the habit of being on the sofa, or in bed, or being confined to the house, all these trials will be far less than they would have been, if they came only at intervals, and for short periods.
  • It is also a comfort to think that, no matter how long our trial may be, it will never be too long for God’s intention.
  • Comfort yourself also with the assurance that the trial will not be too long for your blessing.
  • God will not send trial without the intention of blessing; therefore, where the trial is great, we may be sure that the blessing intended is great also.
  • Your trial cannot be longer than the lasting power of God’s faithfulness, and mercy, and patience, and power.
  • Believe that long afflictions have their peculiar meaning and blessing.
  • But come what may, my God will be faithful to me all through; and will hold me by my right hand, even to the end.

From chapter ten, "A Comfort in the Thought That We Shall Have To Be Alone"

  • Strengthen yourself in the honour of being in some small measure even as Christ was.
  • Human applause did not carry Jesus through anything; what He did, He did without it; and we may do the like.
  • Your circumstances are like His, He will make you, in your measure, like Himself.
  • Depend upon it, however little sympathy you may have, you have more than He had; however often you may be misunderstood, you are not misunderstood as often as He was.
  • Though we cannot enter into the depths of His suffering in any one form of it, still we can be in fellowship with it as regards ‘kind,’ and to be in fellowship with Him will brighten any lonely hour.
  • Encourage yourself in the thought of ‘a presence’, and that presence – your Father’s. And that presence you will never have without His voice speaking to you, and without your voice being drawn out to respond to His.
  • Our bodies, no doubt, are kept in the chamber of weakness; but our bodies are not ourselves.

From chapter eleven, "A Comfort In Our Fears That We Shall Fail and Dishonor God at the Last"

  • The unknown we almost always fear. And yet, with the unknown before us, we must always live.
  • There are two ways of meeting the unknown – either by not thinking about it at all, or by thinking and leaving it all to God.
  • God sees the future both of our weakness and of our temptation, and when they come, we shall find that He has come with them.
  • The Word of God is intended to be, not a fear-creating, but a fear-dispelling Word.
  • No doubt it warns us about ourselves – our own weakness, and nothingness, and entire liability to fall – but this is only to prevent our being set on the wrong basis of self and our own strength.
  • One of the uses of ‘the Word’ is to lift us out of self-strength, to put us on new standing-ground altogether, to take us out of the land of fears, and set our feet in the land of faith.
  • We must leave the future to God – our future must be a God-made, God-wrought one.

From chapter twelve, "A Comfort in the Thought Of Our Departure Hence"

  • One great comfort will be to believe that the best arrangement is made for everything connected with it. 
  • Not arrangement by ourselves, or any near and dear to us, but by the One who from the beginning has arranged all things.
  • He who is so active in all things connected with life, is equally active in all things connected with what we call Death.
  • We are going to our Father. We are provided for by our Father. Our Father is in all. We are going to a place, to friends, to life. A home, and not a grave, is the true ending of our earthly life; we depart not to be, as we say, ‘dead,’ but really to live.