Friday, February 23, 2018

Book Review: When Tides Turn

When Tides Turn. (Waves of Freedom #3) Sarah Sundin. 2017. Revell. 285 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: A touch of kindness and enthusiasm could transform a person's spirit, and Quintessa Beaumont delighted in participating in the process.

Premise/plot: When Tides Turn is the third book in the Waves of Freedom trilogy. Tess--Quintessa--is the heroine. The book series is set in Boston during the Second World War. In this one, Tess decides to join the WAVES and do her part for the war effort. After training, she is stationed back in Boston--to her surprise--and her job is to supervise the other WAVES and to be in charge of the war bond drives there in Boston. Her new job has her working closely with her crush, Dan Avery.

Dan Avery has always resisted the idea of love and romance because he wants to stay focused on his career. But being around Tess and getting the chance to know her better is beginning to influence him. Maybe a family life is just as important as a professional career. But will the war allow them to have their happily ever after?

My thoughts: I love, love, love Sarah Sundin. I find her books to be enjoyable and satisfying. I've enjoyed spending time with all the young women and men who have starred in the series. I like the fact that the books are in a series and that you really never have to say goodbye to the characters you've become attached to.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, February 22, 2018

True or False with Richard Sibbes #1

TRUE OR FALSE. True peace arises from knowing the worst first, and then our freedom from it. It is a miserable peace that riseth from ignorance of evil. It is Christ’s manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings.

TRUE OR FALSE. Religion indeed brings crosses with it, but then it brings comforts above those crosses.

TRUE OR FALSE. We are prone to cast down ourselves, we are accessory to our own trouble, and weave the web of our own sorrow, and hamper ourselves in the cords of our own twining. God neither loves nor wills that we should be too much cast down. He was troubled himself that we should not be troubled. The ground, therefore, of our disquiet is chiefly from ourselves, though Satan will have a hand in it.

TRUE OR FALSE. Grief is like lead to the soul, heavy and cold; it sinks downwards, and carries the soul with it.

TRUE OR FALSE. We must not only be ready to give an account of our faith, upon what grounds we believe; but of all our actions, upon what grounds we do what we do; and of our passions, upon what grounds we are passionate; as in a well-governed state, uproar and sedition is never stirred, but account must be given.

TRUE OR FALSE. Satan could not deceive us, unless we deceived ourselves first, and are willingly deceived.

TRUE OR FALSE. First or last, self-denial and victory over ourselves is absolutely necessary; otherwise faith, which is a grace that requireth self-denial, will never be brought into the soul, and bear rule there.

TRUE OR FALSE. God hath made the soul for a communion with himself, which communion is especially placed in the affections, which are the springs of all spiritual worship. Then the affections are well ordered, when we are fit to have communion with God, to love, joy, trust, to delight in him above all things.

TRUE OR FALSE. Affections are as it were the wind of the soul, and then the soul is carried as it should be, when it is neither so becalmed that it moves not when it should, nor yet tossed with tempests to move disorderly; when it is so well balanced that it is neither lift up nor cast down too much, but keepeth a steady course. Our affections must not rise to become unruly passions, for then as a river that overfloweth the banks, they carry much slime and soil with them.

TRUE OR FALSE. Those that love too much will always grieve too much. It is the greatness of our affections which causeth the sharpness of our afflictions.

TRUE OR FALSE. He that is much in heaven in his thoughts is free from being tossed with tempests here below.

TRUE OR FALSE. If we can not prevent wicked thoughts, yet we may deny them lodging in our hearts. It is our giving willing entertainment to sinful motions that increaseth guilt, and hindereth our peace. It is that which moveth God to give us up to a further degree of evil affections. Therefore what we are afraid to do before men, we should be afraid to think before God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: The Soul's Conflict Within Itself

The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself By Faith. Richard Sibbes. 1635. 328 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence from the introduction:
There be two sorts of people always in the visible Church; one that Satan keeps under with false peace, whose life is nothing but a diversion to present contentments, and a running away from God and their own hearts, which they know can speak no good unto them, these speak peace to themselves, but God speaks none. Such have nothing to do with this scripture; the way for these men to enjoy comfort, is to be soundly troubled. True peace arises from knowing the worst first, and then our freedom from it. It is a miserable peace that ariseth from ignorance of evil. The angel troubled the waters, John 5, and then cured those that stepped in. It is Christ's manner to trouble our souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings. But there is another sort of people, who being drawn out of Satan's kingdom and within the covenant of grace, whom Satan labors to unsettle and disquiet: being the god of the world, he is vexed to see men in the world, walk above the world. Since he cannot hinder their estate, he will trouble their peace, and damp their spirits, and cut asunder the sinew of all their endeavors. These should take themselves to task as David doth here, and labour to maintain their portion, and the glory of a Christian profession.
First sentence from chapter one: The Psalms are, as it were, the anatomy of a holy man, which lay inside of a truly devout man outward to the view of others. If the Scriptures be compared to a body, the Psalms may well be the heart, they are so full of sweet affections, and passions. For in other portions of Scripture God speaks to us; but in the Psalms holy men speak to God as in their own hearts. 

Premise/plot: The Soul's Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself by Faith is a collection of sermons by Richard Sibbes largely about David's psalm 42. The subject is in some ways simple and practical: how is a Christian to live and walk in this life in order to best prepare for the next; OR: how does Christian sanctification come about?!?! No doubt the Christian continues to struggle with sin, but how does the Christian handle sin in his or her life?!?! The subject is in some ways complex and quite theological. It is one thing to grasp intellectually certain doctrines and principles. It is quite another to live out the faith and "work out your salvation."

My thoughts: This one is PACKED with rich, insightful truths. It is a substantive, meaty read. But I found it to be well worth the effort. Some of the sentences were long--I won't lie. And the style itself is not modern or contemporary. Richard Sibbes was a Puritan who lived 1577-1635. This one wasn't just "good" it was FANTASTIC and WONDERFUL. The truths proclaimed within this one need to be heard, read, ABSORBED. Sibbes is still relevant because the Christian struggles are the same no matter the century.
1. To consider the greatness and goodness of Almighty God and his love to us in Christ. 2. The joys of heaven and the torments of hell. 3. The last and strict day of account. 4. The vanity of all earthly things. 5. The uncertainty of our lives, etc. From the meditation of these truths the soul will be prepared to have right conceits of things, and discourse upon true grounds of them, and think with itself that if these things be so indeed, then I must frame my life suitable to these principles. Hence arise true affections in the soul, true fear of God, true love and desire after the best things, etc.
The way to expel wind out of our bodies is to take some wholesome nourishment, and the way to expel windy fancies from the soul is to feed upon serious truths.
In Christ, God’s nature becomes lovely to us, and ours to God; otherwise there is an utter enmity betwixt his pure and our impure nature. Christ hath made up the vast gulf between God and us.
God is the cause why things are not, as well as why they are.
Nothing should displease us that pleaseth God: neither should anything be pleasing to us that displeaseth him. This conformity is the ground of comfort.
That we should not call God’s love into question, he not only gives us, (1) his word, but a binding word, his promise; and not only (2) a naked promise, but hath (3) entered into a covenant with us, founded upon full satisfaction by the blood of Christ, and unto this covenant sealed by the blood of the Lord Jesus, he hath (4) added the seals of sacraments, and unto this he hath added (5) his oath, that there might be no place left of doubting to the distrustful heart of man.
By the bare word of God it is that the heavens continue, and the earth, without any other foundation, hangs in the midst of the world; therefore well may the soul stay itself on that, even when it hath nothing else in sight to rely upon.
All our misery is either in having a false foundation, or else in loose building upon a true.
Trust is never sound but upon a spiritual conviction of the truth and goodness we rely upon, for the effecting of which the Spirit of God must likewise subdue the rebellion and malice of our trill, that so it may be suitable and level to divine things, and relish them as they are. We must apprehend the love of God, and the fruits of it, as better than life itself, and then choosing and cleaving to the same will soon follow; for as there is a fitness in divine truths to all the necessities of the soul, so the soul must be fitted by them to savour and apply them to itself; and then from an harmony between the soul and that which it applies itself unto there will follow, not only peace in the soul, but joy and delight surpassing any contentment in the world besides.
Our trusting in God should follow God’s order in promising. The first promise is of forgiveness of sin to repentant believers; next, 2, of healing and sanctifying grace; then, 3, the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven to them that are sanctified; 4, and then the promises of all things needful in our way to the kingdom, etc.
Faith is an establishing grace, by faith we stand, and stand fast, and are able to withstand whatsoever opposeth us. For what can stand against God, upon whose truth and power faith relies?
Conceive of God’s mercy as no ordinary mercy, and Christ’s obedience as no ordinary obedience. 
Corruptions be strong, but stronger is be that is in us than that corruption that is in us. When we are weak in our own sense, then are we strong in him who perfecteth strength in our weakness, felt and acknowledged. 
In all kind of troubles, it is not the ingredients that God puts into the cup so much afflicts us, as the ingredients of our distempered passions mingled with them.
But the greatest trial of trust is in our last encounter with death, wherein we shall find not only a deprivation of all comforts in this life, but a confluence of all ill at once; but we must know, God will be the God of his unto death, and not only unto death, but in death. We may trust God the Father with our bodies and souls which he hath created; and God the Son with the bodies and souls which he hath redeemed; and the Holy Spirit with those bodies and souls that he hath sanctified.
We complain of the times, but let us take heed we be not a part of the misery of the times: that they be not the worse for us. 
Christ himself is nothing else but salvation clothed in our flesh. When we embrace Christ in the arms of our faith, we embrace nothing but salvation. He makes up that sweet name given him by his Father, and brought from heaven by an angel to the full, Luke 2:14; a name in the faith of which it is impossible for any believing soul to sink.

I will be sharing quotes from this book throughout the next few weeks. I will do so in a bite-size manner in the hopes that you will take the time to absorb some of the richness for yourself and benefit from it in your own life.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology: How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel. Nick Roark and Robert Cline. Crossway. 2018. [March] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: When I (Nick) was in elementary school, one of my classmates gave a book report about a story written by C. S. Lewis featuring four children, a lion king, a white witch, and a hidden magical land accessed through a wardrobe. I was mesmerized. So I purchased The Chronicles of Narnia for myself and read them with pleasure. But years later, after my conversion to Christ, I realized I had been missing the author’s obvious intentions to point his readers to Jesus.

What is biblical theology? Why is it important? These questions--and others like it--are addressed and answered in one of the newest books in the 9Marks series published by Crossway.

The book begins by stressing the need for biblical theology. What are the dangers we--as the church, or even as individuals--face if our theology is unbiblical?! Does right theology matter in our day to day lives? What impact should our doctrine be having on our lives? The authors list at least four reasons WHY having biblical theology matters.
1)  Biblical theology helps clarify the Bible’s main purpose. Some people approach God’s Word as if it were a collection of independent stories, or an assortment of advice and counsel, or even a universal cookbook with recipes for “the good life” scattered across its sixty-six books. But these approaches fail to bring to light the central purpose of Scripture. Simply put, you won’t understand the story of the Bible unless you see that it’s all about Jesus! From Genesis to Revelation, Jesus is the Hero and the point of the story.
2) Biblical theology helps guard and guide the church. Reading Scripture rightly means knowing where each book fits into its overarching narrative. And knowing the overarching narrative helps us read and understand accurately each event, character, or lesson that’s been given to us as part of God’s progressively revealed Word.
3) Biblical theology helps us in our evangelistic outreach. Sharing the good news with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity requires explaining much more than “four spiritual laws” or the “Romans road.” People first need to grasp that the Christian worldview accompanies a total transformation of mind-set.
4) Biblical theology helps us read, understand, and teach the Bible the way Jesus said we should. Jesus himself says in Luke 24 that he is Scripture’s interpretive key. So if we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible, and as a result we will teach others to commit the same error.
The book then defines what biblical theology IS. They write,
"Biblical theology is a way of reading the Bible as one story by one divine author that culminates in who Jesus Christ is and what he has done, so that every part of Scripture is understood in relation to him. Biblical theology helps us understand the Bible as one big book with lots of little books that tell one big story. The Hero and centerpiece of that story, from cover to cover, is Jesus Christ. Biblical theology is for the church, begins with the Bible, and ends with King Jesus and his church."
There are two chapters on the big picture of the Bible. These chapters provide summary that could prove quite useful to those new to the Bible or new to the faith. They provide an outline for understanding what you read. The book seems to be written in part for pastors. Each section includes preaching and teaching tips.

The next chapter focuses on understanding and studying the Bible. It is packed with tips or "tools" on how to read and study the Bible.

The final chapter is on the mission of the church. This chapter ties back in with the first which stated that, "missing the point of the Bible’s story produces false gospels and false churches." The authors give four examples: the prosperity gospel church, the civic gospel church, the soup-kitchen church, and the immorality-affirming church.

The book is a quick, practical read. I think the main audience is pastors and teachers, but, I think it can be a beneficial read to any believer whether they "teach" the faith officially or not. Doctrine matters for every one of us. Nobody should allow another person to think for them and do all the work.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Week in Review: February 11-17


  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Luke

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #7

Today I'll be sharing quotes from J.C. Ryle and Charles Spurgeon. The Ryle sermon I read was, "Election," and it was FANTASTIC.
When we read this passage (2 Samuel 15:1-6) we must learn not to judge our own times too harshly. The evils that we see are neither peculiar nor new.
In handling the subject of Election, there are only two things which I propose to do. Firstly, I will state the doctrine of Election, and show what it is. Secondly, I will fence the subject with cautions, and guard it against abuse.
I have firstly to state the doctrine of Election. What is it? What does it mean? Accurate statements on this point are of great importance. No doctrine of Scripture perhaps has suffered so much damage from the erroneous conceptions of foes, and the incorrect descriptions of friends, as that which is now before us. The true doctrine of Election I believe to be as follows. God has been pleased from all eternity to choose certain men and women out of mankind, whom by His counsel secret to us, He has decreed to save by Jesus Christ.
None are finally saved except those who are thus chosen. Hence the Scripture gives to God's people in several places the names of "God's Elect," and the choice or appointment of them to eternal life is called "God's election." Those men and women whom God has been pleased to choose from all eternity, He calls in time, by His Spirit working in due season. He convinces them of sin. He leads them to Christ. He works in them repentance and faith. He converts, renews, and sanctifies them. He keeps them by His grace from falling away entirely, and finally brings them safe to glory. In short God's eternal Election is the first link in that chain of a sinner's salvation of which heavenly glory is the end. None ever repent, believe, and are born again, except the Elect. The primary and original cause of salvation, is God's eternal election.
No part of the Christian religion has been so much disputed, rejected, and reviled as this. None has called forth so much of that enmity against God, which is the grand mark of the carnal mind. Thousands of so-called Christians profess to believe the Atonement, salvation by grace, and justification by faith, and yet refuse to look at the doctrine of Election.
Is the doctrine of Election plainly stated in Scripture? This is the whole question which an honest Christian has to do with. If it is not in the Book of God, let it be forever discarded, refused, and rejected by man, no matter who propounds it. If it is there, let us receive it with reverence, as a part of Divine revelation, and humbly believe, even where we are not able to understand completely or explain fully. 
(Matt. 24:22; Mark 13:22; Mark 24:31; Luke 18:7; Romans 8:29-30; Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10) I place these eleven texts before my readers, and I ask them to consider them well. If words have any meaning at all, they appear to me to teach most plainly the doctrine of personal Election.
Once admit that we are all naturally dead in trespasses and sins, and have no power to turn to God. Once admit that all spiritual life in the heart of man must begin with God. Once admit that He who created the world by saying, "Let there be light," must shine into man's heart, and create light within him. Once admit that God does not enlighten all professing Christians in this manner but only some, and that He acts in this matter entirely as a Sovereign, giving no account of His mattersonce admit all this, and then see where you are. Whether you know it or not, you admit the whole doctrine of Election!
Right views of God's nature and character, as revealed in the Bible, appear to me to bring us to the same position. Do we believe that God knows all things from all eternity that He governs all things by His providence, and that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without Him? Do we believe that He works all His works by a plan, like an architect of perfect knowledge, and that nothing concerning His saints, as His choicest and most excellent work, is left to chance, accident, and luck? Well, if we believe all this, we believe the whole doctrine which this paper is meant to support. This is the doctrine of Election. 
The next thing that I wish to do is to fence the doctrine of Election with cautions, and to guard it against abuse.
For one thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to destroy man's responsibility for the state of his own soul. The Bible everywhere addresses people as free agents, as beings accountable to God, and not as mere logs, and bricks, and stones.Everywhere in Scripture it is a leading principle that man can lose his own soul, that if he is lost at last it will be his own fault, and his blood will be on his own head. The same inspired Bible which reveals this doctrine of Election is the Bible which contains the words, "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" "You will not come unto Me that you might have life." "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (Ezek. 18:31; John 5:40; 3:19.)
The doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite everyone to come in.
We know not who are God's Elect, and whom He means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, "God loves you, and Christ has died for you."
Election was never intended to prevent people making a diligent use of all means of grace. On the contrary, the neglect of means is a most suspicious symptom, and should make us very doubtful about the state of a man's soul. 
Those whom the Holy Spirit draws He always draws to the written Word of God and to prayer. When there is the real grace of God in a heart, there will always be love to the means of grace.
If people begin rejecting a truth of Scripture merely because they do not like it, they are on slippery ground. There is no saying how far they may fall.
 A work that was planned before the foundation of the world, by an Architect of almighty power and perfect wisdom, is a work which will never be allowed to fail and be overthrown.
From Charles Spurgeons' Morning and Evening:
If we were what we profess to be—and what we should be—we would be pictures of Christ!
Was He self-denying, never looking to His own interest? Be the same. Was He devout? Be fervent in your prayers. Had He deference to His Father’s will? So submit yourselves to Him. Was He patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as He did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them—for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven.
A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. 
If we have enough for each day as the days arrive—we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day—is all that we can enjoy.
Enough is not only as good as a feast—but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect—a craving for more than this is ungrateful.
Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. 
Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus.
Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man—as weeds are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and weeds; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. Just so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.
Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated, as it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone which can produce contentment, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful, that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. 
The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”
If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there”; where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good—our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, February 16, 2018

True or False with Steven Lawson

TRUE OR FALSE. The rejection of the truth is where sin began, and it continues to this day. Whenever the truth of God is suppressed, it always leads to believing a lie.

TRUE OR FALSE. The supreme sin today, it seems, is not the committing of moral wickedness. Rather, it is making an exclusive claim of absolute truth. The unpardonable sin in this generation is to affirm moral absolutes. The abomination of the hour is to assert that the Bible is the authoritative standard of truth and to maintain that all that is contrary to the truth is a lie. Such is an anathema in the truth-rejecting world of the twenty-first century.

TRUE OR FALSE. No one can possess true faith in Jesus Christ and yet not believe the Bible itself. To abandon the Bible is to abandon God.

TRUE OR FALSE. Christianity is not a cause to join or a code to follow, but a Christ to follow.

TRUE OR FALSE.  The true gospel is always offensive to the world.

TRUE OR FALSE. God has not stuttered or muttered in His Word. Neither has He edited His own truth. On the contrary, He has affirmed, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8). Yet this is the precise point at which Satan launches his attack. He tempts people to doubt the veracity of the Word of God.

TRUE OR FALSE. As worshipers, we are to give to God every part of our bodies. Nothing must be held back. We are to give Him our minds, including our thoughts, beliefs, dreams, and ambitions. We are to give Him our eyes—what we see, look upon, and focus upon. We are to give Him our ears—what we hear and listen to throughout the day. We are to give Him our mouths—what we say and what we teach. We are to give Him our hands—what we do and what we lay hold of. We are to give Him our feet—where we go and what we pursue. This is God’s design for all believers. This is not reserved for the so-called spiritual elites, but for every true believer.

TRUE OR FALSE. Either we are influencing the world, or the world is influencing us. Either the world is the mission field or we are the mission field. The devil never sleeps. The forces of hell are aggressive, and we are subject to the relentless temptations, snares, and schemes of the evil one.

TRUE OR FALSE. The battle for the Christian mind is the battle for the Christian life.

TRUE OR FALSE. Understand this—salvation is by grace, and judgment is by works. Each sinner will be strictly judged by the Lord Jesus Christ according to what he did.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible