Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 2021 Reflections

Verses on my heart/mind: 
  • I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6
  • I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13
  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
2021 Bible Reading
  • In February I read Matthew 1-4 for 30 days.
  • In February I read Psalm 9-16 for 30 days.
  • In February I continued my Bible in 90 days plan with the 1560 Geneva Bible. (I am about three days away from finishing!!!)
  • In February I FINISHED the NASB 1973 Bible. It turned out not so much the Bible in 90 Days plan but the Bible in 82 day plan.
  • In February I used the ESV Bible app to the M'Cheyne reading plan.
  • In February I used Professor Horner's Bible reading plan in the NASB Giant Print Reference Bible. I am now reading multiple chapters per day in most of the ten sections--mainly in the OT sections excluding Proverbs of course). 
  • In February I received two new Bibles!!!! 

Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible (in February)

8. Rejoice and Tremble: The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord. Michael Reeves. 2021. [January] Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9. Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. D.L. Moody. 1898. 167 pages. [Source: Bought]
10. Found: God's Will. John F. MacArthur Jr. 1972. 60 pages. [Source: Bought]
11. Woven: Understanding the Bible as One Seamless Story. Angie Smith. 2021. [March] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
12. Tidewater Bride. Laura Frantz. 2021. [January] 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
13. Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands. Jen Wilkin. 2021. [March] 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible (in February)

1. New American Standard Reference Edition. 1973. God. 1899 pages. [Source: Bought] 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

13. Ten Words to Live By

Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands. Jen Wilkin. 2021. [March] 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is a book about the law of God in all of its life-giving beauty. In the church today there exists a great forgetfulness about the role of the law in the life of the believer. This book is an exercise in remembrance.

Jen Wilkin's newest book, Ten Words to Live By, focuses on the Ten Commandments. It might be easy to think, well, I don't need to read (more) about the Ten Commandments. I know the Ten Commandments. I know all I need to know about the Ten Commandments. And do the Ten Commandments even have any relevance for a believer's life?! (I'm supposing this last one). But Wilkin's book IS relevant and timeless. 

I read Ten Words to Live By devotionally--one chapter per day. Though I don't believer this one is being marketed as a "devotional" book, I think it makes an excellent one. Each chapter ends with verses for meditation, questions for reflection, and an invitation to prayer. 

Wilkin writes in a way to challenge believers to think, reflect, consider. This is obvious in the types of questions she asks readers at the end of each chapter! 

From chapter one:

1. Before reading this chapter, how would you have rated your obedience to the first commandment? After reading it, how would you rate yourself? What insight accounts for the change in your diagnosis? 
2. What idol are you most tempted to worship alongside God? What are you hoping to control or avoid by this dual allegiance? 
3. What current sinful behavior can you trace to worshiping something alongside God? How does forgetfulness of your costly deliverance factor into the way you respond to temptation? 
4. In the introduction, it was noted that laws help us live in community. How does the first word help the children of God to live in community with one another? How does doublemindedness harm Christian community?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

1. New American Standard (1973)

New American Standard Reference Edition. 1973. God. 1899 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

I bought the 1973 New American Standard Bible at a friends of the library book sale in either late February 2020 or early March 2020. (In other words, my last purchase--Bible or not--before the world turned upside down.) I only paid a few dollars--$2 at most. It was not in the best of shape. (I know of one previous owner, who wrote notes in large bubbly print as only the young and girlish can.) After a glue job, this one was ready to be read. Still, I don't know if it would hold up to a second, third, or fourth reading.

I started reading it in December 2020 for a Bible in 90 Days project. I failed the 90 days. It was more like Bible in 80 days. 

It is the first Bible I finished in 2021. 

The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

What do you need to know about it?

1) It's out of print and long out of print. Lockman is unlikely to reprint the 1971 or the 1973 editions of the New American Standard Bible. Though the 1977 can be found now and then newly published. IF you want to find the 1973, used is the only way to get it I'd imagine.
2) It is a REFERENCE edition. Cross references are found on the side--the outside side as opposed to the center column. Those that love side column references, this one is great!
3) It features at least 25 completely blank pages. I don't know what note-takers would consider generous (versus stingy) in terms of blank pages and space to write...but I thought it was generous all things considered. I don't know of any (non-note-taker, non-journaling) modern Bibles that offer so much room for writing.
4) It is verse by verse. I know some Bible readers would rejoice over this verse by verse format. New paragraphs are noted by a bold verse number.
5) It is black letter. It does NOT present the Words of Christ in red. (Again there was much least by some).
6) I don't have a font size; but if I had to guess I'd say somewhere between 8 and 9. That's a complete guess on my part. It's not overly large font but it wasn't hard to read. The paper wasn't amazing, but it wasn't horrible for bleed-through either. Nice in-between neither great nor horrible.
7) The 'bells and whistles' of this one: 

*Fourfold Aim of the Lockman Foundation
*Preface to the New American Standard Bible
*Explanation of General Format
*Old Testament Table of Contents
*New Testament Table of Contents
*Concordance (115 pages)
*16 color maps

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, February 21, 2021

12. Tidewater Bride

Tidewater Bride. Laura Frantz. 2021. [January] 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Alas, she was not a tobacco bride, but she had been given charge of them. A daunting task for a young woman of six and twenty, even if she was the cape merchant’s daughter.

Laura Frantz's newest historical romance is set in James Towne, Virginia Colony in 1634. Selah Hopewell, our heroine, has been placed in charge of the "tobacco brides" young, single women sent to marry colonists. Selah herself is single and still available, but marriage and future family isn't first on her list. The new arrivals will have plenty of colonists/settlers to choose from--and it wouldn't be surprising if more than one fell for the successful tobacco planter, Alexander Renick. But this widower (with a young son) isn't looking for a new bride--at least not from this group of arrivals. He's got plenty on his mind--things that are cause for concern--primarily the tense relationship between the (white) settlers and the Naturals. (Frantz uses the term Natural almost exclusively in place of Indian or Native or Native American. Occasionally she refers to a specific tribe. I am curious if this is a modern label or a historic one. I have not done any research to see what language, what words, what labels, the original Virginian settlers would have used. Not that she'd be bound to follow actual history necessarily.) 

Tidewater Bride is historical fiction with some Christian elements--the characters pray, for example, and topics like evangelism come up fairly regularly. 

There is a romantic element to the story--as you'd expect with the word BRIDE in the title. But it isn't exclusively a romance novel. There is plenty of history. For those wanting only a romance, the focus almost exclusively on the hero and heroine falling in love, facing obstacles and overcoming them, and ending with a happily ever after, this one may prove a slower read. It is very much grounded in history. I'd say a love of historical fiction--and American history--is a must.

I had not heard the term tobacco bride before reading this one. 

I enjoyed this one. I did. I love Laura Frantz's books typically. This one was a bit slower for me honestly. (Though I still enjoyed it.) But I think that has more to do with how I read it--stretched out over two or three weeks--then the book itself. I appreciated the fact that the obstacles facing the characters seemed authentic or legitimate to the time period and not the work of an author seeking drama, drama, and more drama. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 18, 2021

11. Woven

Woven: Understanding the Bible as One Seamless Story. Angie Smith. 2021. [March] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I was in my early twenties when a couple of new friends invited me to a Bible study.

Angie Smith's newest book, Woven, sets out to tell the big picture story of the Bible in a reader-friendly, super-accessible way. The intended audience she has in mind are those that are new--even completely new--to the Bible. To folks who might not know there is an Old Testament or a New Testament. To those who may not know that there are sixty-six books in the Bible. To those who may not know what chapters and verses are, who would be completely out of sorts if the pastor said turn your Bibles to John chapter three verse sixteen. It's important to keep HER intended audience in mind. Because I am sure there are folks out there who need such a book as this. 

The book is focused on telling the whole big picture story of the Bible--mostly chronologically. It doesn't fit in all the details from all the books and should not be viewed as a commentary. The most time is given to the foundational book of Genesis and the four gospels. 

I never got the sense that the book was trying to take the place of the Bible. (I do get that sense in some books about the Bible. Here, read this so you don't have to read the Bible.) 

I would recommend to those who are new to the Bible, curious about the Bible, new to the faith, or perhaps for those that are trying to think of ways to help children or grandchildren access the Bible for the first time. 

I didn't always love, love, love the narrative style. There were a few places here and there were the humor or presentation just wasn't my cup of tea. But I am not in the intended audience for which she's directly writing. One example that pops to mind is her presentation of Sarah--Abraham's wife (Sarai). Her presentation made it sound like Sarah didn't want to be a mother, to have a baby. Like she hadn't spent decades of her married life *longing* for a baby. Of course that is reading between the lines in both cases. The text doesn't explicitly state Sarah had been wanting a baby from the time she she was a young, new wife. Nor does it state that Sarah was happy, content, pleased with not having a child and would find a baby tiresome and too much too handle. But the way she presents that portion of text it was like THANKS A LOT GOD JUST WHAT I NEED AT MY AGE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, SURE THIS IS A BLESSING FOR ABRAHAM, HE DOESN'T HAVE TO GET UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. It just seemed a bit off. But still more often than not the narrative wasn't problematic for me. It was nice enough. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 11, 2021

10. Found God's Will

Found: God's Will. John F. MacArthur Jr. 1972. 60 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: As I travel around, one of the questions I am asked most often is, "How can a Christian know the will of God for his life?"

MacArthur argues that God's will is simple and easy to understand. There are five things that are God's will for every one. First, God wills everyone to be saved. If you are saved, if you are trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation, you are in God's will. Second, God wills everyone to be filled with the Spirit and to live in the Spirit. Third, God wills everyone to be sanctified. It isn't enough to profess your belief, one must live by it. Fourth, God wills everyone to be submissive. Every one has to submit to someone--authority is God-given authority unless submitting means violating God's direct commandments. Fifth, God wills everyone to suffer. To suffer?! Is suffering really God's will for believers?! Surely we're misreading this last one, right?! Nope. Read the Bible. It's there in black and white. (And perhaps red.) If you're saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering...then you are living in accordance with God's will and the rest is up to you.

  • The doctrine of salvation is unpopular because it includes the recognition of sin. Nobody likes to admit sin. And many people resist the idea that they need to be saved.
  • There is a world out there that needs Jesus Christ. God wants them to be saved, and you and I are the vehicles for the transportation of the gospel. That is God’s will.
  • When you were saved, the moment you received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live within you. There is no Christian who does not possess the Holy Spirit.
  • So many times we ask for what we already have! We pray for the Holy Spirit, and He is already here.
  • Let me share how I study the Bible and how the Bible has come alive to me. I began in 1 John. One day I sat down and read all five chapters straight through. It took me twenty minutes. Reading one book straight through was terrific. (The books of the Bible weren’t written as an assortment of good little individual verses. They were written with flow and context.) The next day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through again. The third day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through. The fourth day, straight through again. The fifth day, I sat down and read it again. I did this for thirty days. Do you know what happened at the end of the thirty days? I knew what was in 1 John. You might say, “My, are you smart!” No, I am not smart. I read it thirty times. Even I can get it then!
  • The more you study the Word of God, the more it saturates your mind and life. Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect.” She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
  • Some less important things in your life could stand some planned neglect so that you might give yourself to studying the Word of God.
  • The more you would study the Word of God, the more your mind would be saturated with it. It will be no problem then for you to think of Christ. You won’t be able to stop thinking of Him.
  • The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ is to saturate yourself with the Book that is all about Him.
  • Evangelism involves living a godly life in the face of an ungodly world.
  • And that will bring persecution, because the world does not like Jesus.
  • The Bible never sees a Christian at any time who doesn’t suffer—because anybody who lives a godly life in the world will get the flak that the world throws back.
  • One of the problems of evangelism today is that Christians are not willing to stand nose to nose with the world and tell it like it is concerning Jesus Christ.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

9. Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study

Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. D.L. Moody. 1898. 167 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence of the preface: It is always a pleasure to me to speak on the subject of this volume. I think I would rather preach about the Word of God than anything else except the Love of God; because I believe it is the best thing in this world.

First sentence of chapter one: A QUICKENING that will last must come through the Word of God. A man stood up in one of our meetings and said he hoped for enough out of the series of meetings to last him all his life. I told him he might as well try to eat enough breakfast at one time to last him his lifetime.

I first read this one in 2013. I loved, loved, loved it. Mainly because I love finding wonderful quotes from people who love, love, love reading the Bible just as much--if not more--than I do. It is a very quote-worthy book. It is just GOOD.

Here's one of the helpful lists of how to profit from Bible reading:

1. What persons have I read about, and what have I learned about them?

2. What places have I read about, and what have I read about them? If the place is not mentioned, can I find out where it is? Do I know its position on the map?

3. Does the passage refer to any particular time in the history of the children of Israel, or of some leading character?

4. Can I tell from memory what I have just been reading?

5. Are there any parallel passages or texts that throw light on this passage?

6. Have I read anything about God the Father? or about Jesus Christ? or about the Holy Spirit?

7. What have I read about myself? about man's sinful nature? about the spiritual new nature?

8. Is there any duty for me to observe? any example to follow? any promise to lay hold of? any exhortation for my guidance? any prayer that I may echo?

9. How is this Scripture profitable for doctrine? for reproof? for correction? for instruction in righteousness?

10. Does it contain the gospel in type or in evidence?

11. What is the key verse of the chapter or passage? Can I repeat it from memory?

It is very no-nonsense. Moody gives you tips on how to read and study the Bible. He can be opinionated. 
I don't always agree 100% with every little thing he said. But he's good at giving readers things to think about.

There are about sixteen chapters. For whatever reason the copy I read had two chapter sevens. 

From chapter one: 
  • The more you love the Scriptures, the firmer will be your faith. 
  • When I pray, I talk to God, but when I read the Bible, God is talking to to me; and it is really more important that God should speak to me than that I should speak to Him. 
  • I believe we should know better how to pray if we knew our Bibles better. 
  • What is an army good for if they don't know how to use their weapons? What is a young man starting out in the Christian work good for if he does not know how to use his Bible? A man isn't worth much in battle if he has any doubt about his weapon, and I have never found a man who has doubts about the Bible who has amounted to much in Christian work. 
  • Depend upon it, my friends, if you get tired of the Word of God, and it becomes wearisome to you, you are out of communion with Him. 
  • Bear in mind there is no situation in life for which you cannot find some word of consolation in Scripture. If you are in affliction', if you are in adversity and trial, there is a promise for you. In joy and sorrow, in health and in sickness, in poverty and in riches, in every condition of life, God has a promise stored up in His Word for you. In one way or another every case is met, and the truth is commended to every man's conscience. 
  • But if we have the peace of God, the world cannot take that from us. It cannot give it; it cannot destroy it. We must get it from above the world, it is the peace which Christ gives. 
  • Now, the Bible is a guidebook in the journey of life, and the only one that points the way to Heaven. 
From chapter two:
  • It is not our work to make men believe: that is the work of the Holy Spirit. 
  • A man once sat down to read it an hour each evening with his wife. In a few evenings he stopped in the midst of his reading and said: "Wife, if this Book is true, we are wrong." He read on, and before long, stopped again and said: "Wife, if this Book is true, we are lost." Riveted to the Book and deeply anxious, he still read on, and soon exclaimed: "Wife, if this Book is true, we may be saved." It was not many days before they were both converted. 
  • I thank God there is a height in that Book I do not know anything about, a depth I have never been able to fathom, and it makes the Book all the more fascinating. If I could take that Book up and read it as I can any other book and understand it at one reading, I should have lost faith in it years ago. It is one of the strongest proofs that that Book must have come from God. 
  • A man once said to an infidel: "The mysteries of the Bible don't bother me. I read the Bible as I eat fish. When I am eating fish and come across a bone, I don't try to swallow it, I lay it aside. And when I am reading the Bible and come across something I can't understand, I say, 'There is a bone,' and I pass it by. But I don't throw the fish away because of the bones in it; and I don't throw my Bible away because of a few passages I can't explain." 
  • Now, if I have a right to cut out a certain portion of the Bible, I don't know why one of my friends has not a right to cut out another, and another-friend to cut out another part, and so on. You would have a queer kind of Bible if everybody cut out what he wanted to. Every adulterer would cut out everything about adultery; every liar would cut out everything about lying; every drunkard would be cutting out what he didn't like. 
  • Once, a gentleman took his Bible around to his minister's and said, "That is your Bible." "Why do you call it my Bible?" said the minister. "Well," replied the gentleman, "I have been sitting under your preaching for five years, and when you said that a thing in the Bible was not authentic, I cut it out." He had about a third of the Bible cut out; all of Job, all of Ecclesiastes and Revelation, and a good deal besides. The minister wanted him to leave the Bible with him; he didn't want the rest of his congregation to see it. But the man said, " Oh, no! I have the covers left, and I will hold on to them." And off he went holding on to the covers. If you believed what some men preach, you would have nothing but the covers left in a few months. 
  • I have often said that if I am going to throw away the Bible, I will throw it all into the fire at once. There is no need of waiting five years to do what you can do as well at once. I have yet to find a man who begins to pick at the Bible that does not pick it all to pieces in a little while.
From chapter three: 
  • If the Old Testament Scriptures are not true, do you think Christ would have so often referred to them, and said the Scriptures must be fulfilled? 
  • May God deliver us from the one-sided Christian who reads only the New Testament and talks against the Old!
From chapter four: 
  • What we want to-day is men who believe in it from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet, who believe the whole of it, the things they understand and the things they do not understand. Talk about the things you understand, and leave the things you do not. I believe that is one reason why the English and the Scotch Christians have got ahead of us, because they study the whole Bible.
From chapter six:
  • Give the people the Word of God. Some men only use the Bible as a text book. They get a text and away they go. They go up in a balloon and talk about astronomy, and then go down and give you a little geology, and next Sunday they go on in the same way, and then they wonder why it is people do not read their Bibles.
From chapter seven:
  • MERELY reading the Bible is not what God wants. There is not a verse in Scripture where I am told to " read " the Bible, but again and again I am exhorted to " search." 
  • Read the Bible, my friends, as if you were seeking for something of value. It is a good deal better to take a single chapter, and spend a month on it, than to read the Bible at random for a month. 
  • I do not think there is a book in the world we neglect so much as the Bible.
From chapter eight:

  • SOMEONE has said that there are four things necessary in studying the Bible: Admit, submit, commit and transmit. First, admit its truth; second, submit to its teachings; third, commit it to memory; and fourth, transmit it. If the Christian life is a good thing for you, pass it on to some one else. 
  • The quicker you learn to feed yourself the better. I pity down deep in my heart any men or women who have been attending some church or chapel for, say five, ten, or twenty years, and yet have not learned to feed themselves. 
  • Many so-called Christians are living on the world's sawdust, instead of being nourished by the Bread that cometh down from heaven. Nothing can satisfy the longings of the soul but the Word of the living God. 
  • Read the Bible itself—do not spend all your time on commentaries and helps. If a man spent all his time reading up the chemical constituents of bread and milk, he would soon starve.
  • There are three books which I think every Christian ought to possess. The first, of course, is the Bible. I believe in getting a good Bible, with a good plain print. I have not much love for those little Bibles which you have to hold right under your nose in order to read the print; and if the church happens to be a little dark, you cannot see the print, but it becomes a mere jumble of words. Yes, but some one will say you cannot carry a big Bible in your pocket. Very well, then, carry it under your arm; and if you have to walk five miles, you will just be preaching a sermon five miles long. I have known a man convicted by seeing another carrying his Bible under his arm. If you get a good Bible you are likely to take better care of it. Suppose you pay ten dollars for a good Bible, the older you grow the more precious it will become to you. But be sure you do not get one so good that you will be afraid to mark it. I don't like gilt-edged Bibles that look as if they had never been used. Then next I would advise you to get a Cruden's Concordance. I was a Christian about five years before I ever heard of it. A skeptic in Boston got held of me. I didn't know anything about the Bible and I tried to defend the Bible and Christianity. He made a misquotation and I said it wasn't in the Bible. I hunted for days and days. If I had had a concordance I could have found it at once. It is a good thing for ministers once in a while to tell the people about a good book. You can find any portion or any verse in the Bible by just turning to this concordance.  Thirdly, a Topical Text Book. These books will help you to study the Word of God with profit. 
From chapter nine:
  • THERE are two opposite ways to study the Bible. One is to study it with a telescope, taking a grand sweep of a whole book and trying to find out God's plan in it; the other, with a microscope, taking up a verse at a time, dissecting it, analyzing it.
From chapter ten:

  • I KNOW some men who never sit down to read a book until they have time to read the whole of it. When they come to Leviticus or Numbers, or any of the other books, they read it right through at one sitting. They get the whole sweep, and then they begin to study it chapter by chapter. It is a good thing to take one  whole book at a time. 
  • How could you expect to understand a story or a scientific text-book if you read one chapter here and another there?
From chapter twelve:
  • I FIND some people now and then who boast that they have read the Bible through in so many months. Others read the Bible chapter by chapter,and get through it in a year; but I think it would be almost better to spend a year over one book. If I were going into a court of justice, and wanted to carry the jury with me, I should get every witness I could to testify to the one point on which I wanted to convince the jury. I would not get them to testify to everything, but just to that one thing. And so it should be with the Scriptures.
From chapter fourteen:
  • An old writer said that some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested. The Bible is one that you can never exhaust. It is like a bottomless well: you can always find fresh truths gushing forth from its pages. Hence the great fascination of constant and earnest Bible study. Hence also the necessity of marking your Bible. Unless you have an uncommon memory, you cannot retain the good things you hear. If you trust to your ear alone, they will escape you in a day or two; but if you mark your Bible and enlist the aid of your eye, you will never lose them. The same applies to what you read. 
  • Bible marking should be made the servant of the memory. If properly done, it sharpens the memory, rather than blunts it, because it gives prominence to certain things that catch the eye, which by constant reading you get to learn off by heart. 
  • It helps you to locate texts. 
  • It saves you the trouble of writing out notes of your addresses. Once in the margin, always ready. 
  • Get full of Scripture and then you can't help but say it. It says itself. Keep the world out of your heart by getting full of something else. 
  • Mark your Bible, and instead of its being dry and uninteresting, it will become a beautiful book to you. What you see makes a more lasting impression on your memory than what you hear. 
  • Do not buy a Bible that you are unwilling to mark and use.
From the last chapter:

1. Have for constant use a portable reference Bible, a Cruden's Concordance, and a Topical Text Book.

2. Always carry a Bible or Testament in your pocket, and do not be ashamed of people seeing you read it on trains, etc.

3. Do not be afraid of marking it, or of making marginal notes. Mark texts that contain promises, exhortations, warnings to sinners and to Christians, gospel invitations to the unconverted, and so on.

4. Set apart at least fifteen minutes a day for study and meditation. This little will have great results and will never be regretted.

5. Prepare your heart to know the law of the Lord, and to do it. Ezra 7:10.

6. Always ask God to open the eyes of your understanding that you may see the truth; and expect that He will answer your prayer.

7 Cast every burden of doubt upon the Lord. "He will never suffer the righteous to be moved." Do not be afraid to look for a reason for the hope that is in you.

8. Believe in the Bible as God's revelation to you, and act accordingly. Do not reject any portion because it contains the supernatural, or because you can not understand it. Reverence all Scripture. Remember God's own estimate of it: "Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy Name."

9. Learn at least one verse of Scripture each day. Verses committed to memory will be wonderfully useful in your daily life and walk. "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Some Christians can quote Shakespeare and Longfellow better than the Bible.

10. If you are a preacher or a Sunday school teacher, try at any cost to master your Bible. You ought to know it better than anyone in your congregation or class.

11. Strive to be exact in quoting Scripture.

12. Adopt some systematic plan of Bible study: either topical, or by subjects, like "The Blood," "Prayer," "Hope," etc.; or by books; or- by some other plan outlined in the preceding pages.

13. Study to know for what and to whom each book of the Bible was written. Combine the Old Testament with the New. Study Hebrews and Leviticus together, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, the Prophets and the historical books of the Old Testament.

14. Study how to use the Bible so as to "walk with God" in closer communion; also, so as to gain a working knowledge of Scripture for leading others to Christ. An old minister used to say that the cries of neglected texts were always sounding in his ears, asking why he did not show how important they were.

15. Do not be satisfied with simply reading a chapter daily. Study the meaning of at least one verse.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Thoughts on Bible Reading

Today's post isn't about reading the Bible. Not really. It's about the how or how long of Bible reading...and how quick we are to judge others AND how quick we are to get defensive. Instead of cheering on and applauding others, HOORAY FOR YOU THAT YOU ARE READING THE WORD OF GOD, it can turn into: you're reading too fast; you're reading too slow; you're reading too much; you're reading too little. If you don't meditate on each and every verse of the Bible--no matter the book--then you're doing it wrong. If you don't read in the morning, you're doing it wrong. If you don't read in the morning BEFORE BREAKFAST, you're doing it wrong. 

There are times I read a post--either on a blog or Facebook or an article from a Christian magazine--where I just want to shout STOP THE JUDGING. 

There isn't one right way to read the Bible. I'll clarify: There isn't one right *way* to *read* the Bible. There are right and wrong ways to interpret and apply what we read. But the truth is everyone has a reading pace--everyone. Some read fast. Some read slow. Most read somewhere in between. For some the pace varies greatly depending on a couple of things--fiction or nonfiction, new read or reread, and life circumstances. 

Expecting every single person to read at the same pace just because we're talking about the Bible is a bit silly and way harsh if judgment is attached. The person who spends eight minutes reading one chapter isn't *better* than the person who spends two minutes reading one chapter. The person who spends two minutes reading one chapter isn't *better* than the person who spends eight minutes reading one chapter. Neither the fast reader or the slow reader should feel guilty. 

The fast reader shouldn't have to apologize--or feel the need to justify--for reading the Bible through three or four times a year. The slow reader shouldn't have to apologize--or feel the need to justify--for taking five years to read the Bible. 

There isn't one right time frame for Bible reading. 90 Days. 1 year. 2 years. 3 years. The Bible isn't a generic "one size fits most" t-shirt that you buy at the drug store. 

There also seems to be judgment surrounding meditation or lack thereof. If you read the Bible at that fast pace, surely, then you're not reading it to savor, to taste and see, to absorb, to learn. If you read the Bible at that pace, then surely you're just reading it to say you've read it, to check it off your list. The text surely can't be ministering to you--and leading you to a place of worship--if you read it at that pace. 

And there's some judgment going the other way too. How can you see the big picture and connect anything to the bigger context if you've never read the whole Bible and aren't familiar with it? If you don't know the whole story of the Bible, then how can you accurately make sense of the context and interpret a verse rightly? 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

8. Rejoice and Tremble

Rejoice and Tremble: The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord. Michael Reeves. 2021. [January] Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It’s one of the first words we enjoy. As children, we loved to leap out on our friends and shout it. But at the same time, we were scared of the dark and the monsters under the bed. We were both fascinated and repelled by our fears. And not much changes when we grow up: adults love scary movies and thrills that bring us face-to-face with our worst fears.

In December, I read a wonderful little book called What Does It Mean to Fear the Lord? by Michael Reeves. That book mentioned it was a concise/condensed version of a longer book. Rejoice and Tremble is that longer book. 

Both books are about the fear of the Lord; both books are about clarifying what it means to fear the Lord. Both books make a distinction between good and beneficial fear AND a sinful, natural fear that does not lead to salvation, repentance, and service. 

So which book is the best fit for you? Rejoice and Tremble has more quotes, notes, and footnotes. You know how on math tests--or old school math tests at the very least--teachers always stressed the importance of showing your work. It wasn't just the answer they wanted--a number--they wanted to see how you got that number. This book does a lot of showing. Both books, if I remember rightly, DO use scripture first and foremost. But Rejoice and Tremble adds more secondary sources--quotes from theologians past and present. And often these quotes are several paragraphs long. All quotes are relevant to the topic--the fear of the Lord--but they aren't exactly concise. Secondary quotes in What Does It Mean to Fear the Lord are definitely shortened and more straight to the point.

I personally preferred the shorter book. I didn't regret reading the longer book. If I had not already read the shorter book, I probably would have LOVED this one. Because the truth is both books are insightful and relevant. The shorter book is about 80 pages in length. The longer book is about 190 pages. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible