Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Reflections

The books I read this month:

  1. Phoebe Deane. Grace Livingston Hill. 1909. 224 pages.
  2.  Comforts From The Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day At A Time. Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. 2009. Crossway. 152 pages. 
  3. Love's Long Journey. Janette Oke. 1982. Bethany House. 240 pages. 
  4. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. 2012. (September 2012). Crown and Covenant. 150 pages. 
  5. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Steven J. Lawson. 2012. Reformation Publishers. 145 pages.  
  6. Gods at War: Defeating the Idols That Battle for Your Heart. 2013. Zondervan. 240 pages. 
  7. Thru the Bible Commentary: Jeremiah and Lamentations. J. Vernon McGee. 1997. Thomas Nelson. 216 pages. 
  8. The Child's Story Bible. Catherine F. Vos. (1938, 1949, 1958,) 1969. Eerdman's Publishing Company. 733 pages.   
  9. Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself. Joe Thorn. Foreword by Sam Storms. 2011. Crossway Books. 144 pages.
  10. Moonlight Masquerade. Ruth Axtell. 2013. Revell. 352 pages.  
  11. All of Grace. Charles Spurgeon. 142 pages.
  12. Revelation 1-5. (Thru the Bible Commentary Series) J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 152 pages. 
  13. Thru the Bible Commentary Series: Revelation 6-13. J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson. 192 pages. 
  14. Taking God Seriously. J.I. Packer. 2013. Crossway. 160 pages. 


This month I was able to listen to The Gospels Come To Life (2003). This eight-disc production features Michael W. Smith reading all four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The narration is LOVELY. The best narration I've EVER heard in an audio bible. (I really, really have strong opinions on narrators.) The narration is natural and pleasant. There is light piano accompaniment on some of it, but it's not a distraction in the least. I would have loved it if Thomas Nelson had continued this narration project with the rest of the New Testament. They didn't. So the only audio bible I can happily listen to is the gospels.

John MacArthur sermons

Twin Truths: God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility (John 3:11-21)
The Blueprint for Being Born Again (John 3:3)
Simply Believe (John 3:11-14)
Belief, Judgment, and Eternal Life (John 3:15-21)

Other sermons

The Foolishness of Preaching, Albert Mohler (March 12, 2013)

Foundations, R.C. Sproul. I was able to listen to four messages:
  • Knowledge of God
  • One in Essence
  • Three In Persons
  • Incommunicable Attributes
I watched Gospel of John and Hero! A Rock Opera

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Celebrating through song

A few versions of "Because He Lives"






 © Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

He is Risen Indeed!

I am a Christian not because I think that I can walk in Jesus's footsteps but because he is the only one who can carry me. I am not the gospel; Jesus Christ alone is the gospel. His story saves me, not only by bringing me justification but by baptizing me into his resurrection life. (Michael Horton, Christless Christianity, 117)
True religion is supernatural at its beginning, supernatural in its continuance, and supernatural in its close. It is the work of God from first to last. (Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace)
In all of human history, there has been only One who concluded--at every point, and in every way--that God's way is always best and God's call is always right. Because of him, every human problem will someday come to an end. (Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace, 34)
When you were saved, you got a new nature, and that nature belongs with God; but you were not taken to God, because you were not ready. He is getting you ready now. You are being prepared as a Bride, as a purified people; you are getting ready. Do not let anybody talk you out of that. (A.W. Tozer, Preparing For Jesus' Return, 52)
How long should a person thank God for forgiving his sins? Is life long enough? Is time long enough? Is eternity long enough? How long should a man thank God for saving him from going down to hell? Would fifty years suffice? Oh, no, that would never do; the blessing is too great to all be sung of in a millennium. (Charles Spurgeon, Power in the Blood, 69)
Sanctification consists of the daily realization that in Christ we have died and in Christ we have been raised. Life change happens as the heart daily grasps death and life. Daily reformation is the fruit of daily resurrection. (Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian Tchividjian, 117)
The victorious life is not our life. It is His life. (J. Vernon McGee, Romans Chapters 1-8, 163)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Something to consider...

From The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken:

Chapter twenty, "The Genealogy of Faith"
I heard more stories in Russia. For example, I was told about an incident that happened in the early 1950's when three charismatic pastors were organizing house churches... They came up with a very bold idea. They planned and organized a youth congress in Moscow and invited all of the young, unmarried members of their various house churches--from eighteen to thirty years of age--to meet and encourage one another... What some people judged to be "foolish" about the idea was thinking that a week-long meeting of almost seven hundred young believers in Russia during the early 1950's could possibly escape the notice of the communist government. Sure enough, the authorities did take notice. When the event was over, all three organizing pastors were arrested and sentenced to prison for three years each... The primary purpose in bringing the young people together was to gather the scattered parts of the Body of Christ in one place. The goal was to hear what God was doing with other people and to simply enjoy the experience of Christian community. At the beginning of the conference--evidently without much forethought or planning--the young people were given an interesting challenge. None of them had owned a Bible. They had never had hymnbooks or songbooks or recordings of religious music. So, in an off-handed way, the three pastors decided to determine how much Bible truth was present in that group of young people. They said, "This will be like a game. Every day this week, we want you to gather in small groups. And we want to see how much of the four New Testament gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--you know and have memorized. In your groups, see how much of the gospels you can recreate. And then do the same thing with songs and hymns. Let's see how much of that can be reproduced by memory." At the end of the conference, when they compared and combined the efforts of all the different small groups, the young people had recreated all of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with only a half-dozen mistakes. They had also recreated the lyrics of more than twelve hundred songs, choruses, and hymns of the faith from memory. (163, 164, 165)
Ripken writes, "it became clear to me in an instant why and how the Christian faith had survived and often thrived under decades of communist oppression in the Soviet Union. I also understood what had enabled so many Russian believers to remain strong and faithful... Under communism... Scripture and holy song was its lifeblood. Now, in a much freer day for the church, Scripture and holy song did not seem nearly as important."

Isn't this an amazing story?! Think about it. None of them had owned a Bible. They had never had hymnbooks or songbooks or recordings of religious music. And yet. The young people had recreated all of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with only a half-dozen mistakes. They had also recreated the lyrics of more than twelve hundred songs, choruses, and hymns of the faith from memory. This is vibrant, living faith. This is the faith of those who LOVE AND ADORE their Savior and Lord. What an example of Deuteronomy 6:4-9!And Psalm 119:11! Because Jesus was everything, they risked all to pass this LIFE, this LOVE, to their children. Christ was ALL. What a testimony! What a challenge! What a contrast!

It saddens me that most believers don't read the Bible. It's heartbreaking to know that there are believers who have access to the Word--access in abundance--yet don't value the Bible as the Word of God. There are people who identify themselves as Christians who choose not to read God's revelation. Perhaps not realizing that in these words are LIFE. Some have good intentions to read it at some point. They wish they could find time to squeeze it in just in case it's still relevant. But their excuses outweigh their good intentions. The Bible is taken for granted.

I'm reminded of a J. Vernon McGee quote in his commentary on Jeremiah:
I am not impressed that the Bible is still the best seller of all books. Who is actually reading the Bible today? Ignoring the Bible is really no different from throwing it into the fire as Jehoiakim did. (149)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quarterly Bible Reading Check-In




Translations I read in from January through March:

  • Revised Standard Version (RSV)
  • Third Millennium Bible (TMB)
  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • American Standard Version 1901 (ASV)
  • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
  • King James Version (KJV)
  • New King James Version (NKJV)
  • New American Standard (NASB)
  • Revised Version 1885, (RV85)
  • 1599 Geneva Bible (1599 Gen)
  • New International Version (NIV)
  • Living
  • New Living Translation (NLT)
  • Common English Bible (CEB)

Written by Moses

1. Genesis (RSV)
2. Exodus (TMB)
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy

OT Narratives

6. Joshua (RSV)
7. Judges (RSV)
8. Ruth (TMB)
9. 1 Samuel (TMB)
10. 2 Samuel (HCSB)
11. 1 Kings
12. 2 Kings
13. 1 Chronicles
14. 2 Chronicles
15. Ezra
16. Nehemiah
17. Esther

Wisdom Literature

18. Job (Living)
19. Psalms (RSV, TMB, ASV)
20. Proverbs (RSV, TMB) 
21. Ecclesiastes (TMB) 
22. Song of Songs (TMB)

Major Prophets

23. Isaiah (RSV)
24. Jeremiah (TMB)
25. Lamentations (TMB)
26. Ezekiel (Living)
27. Daniel (Living)

Minor Prophets

28. Hosea (RSV)
29. Joel (RSV)
30. Amos (RSV)
31. Obadiah (RSV)
32. Jonah (RSV)
33. Micah (TMB)
34. Nahum (TMB)
35. Habakkuk (TMB)
36. Zephaniah
37. Haggai
38. Zechariah
39. Malachi

NT Narratives

40. Matthew (NKJV, RSV, TMB) 
41. Mark (NKJV, RSV, TMB)
42. Luke (NKJV, RSV, TMB)
43. John (NKJV, RSV, TMB, 1599 Gen)
44. Acts (RSV, TMB, Living,  HCSB) 

Epistles by Paul

45. Romans (RSV, ESV, RV85, HCSB, NASB, NKJV, CEB, TMB, NLT, KJV, Living, NIV, ASV) 
46. 1 Corinthians (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
47. 2 Corinthians (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
48. Galatians (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
49. Ephesians (RSV,  TMB, Living, ESV, HCSB, NKJV, NIV, ASV, NASB, RV85, 1599GEN, NIV, Phillips) 
50. Philippians (RSV, TMB, ASV, HCSB) 
51. Colossians (NKJV, RSV, TMB,  ASV,  HCSB) 
52. 1 Thessalonians (RSV, TMB, ASV)
53. 2 Thessalonians (RSV, TMB, ASV)
54. 1 Timothy (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
55. 2 Timothy (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
56. Titus (RSV, Living,  ASV) 
57. Philemon (RSV, TMB, ASV)

General Epistles

58. Hebrews (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
59. James (RSV, TMB, ASV) 
60. 1 Peter (RSV, ASV, ESV)
61. 2 Peter (RSV, ASV, ESV)
62. 1 John (RSV, Living, ASV, ESV) 
63. 2 John (RSV, Living, ASV, ESV)
64. 3 John (RSV, Living, ASV, ESV)
65. Jude (RSV, Living, ASV, ESV)

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

66. Revelation (RSV, Living, ASV)



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week In Review (March 24-30)

This week I read

ESV

  • Leviticus 1-7
  • 1 Kings 1-11
  • Proverbs 1-17
  • Isaiah 1-7
  • Matthew 1-23
  • Romans
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude

ASV

  • Psalm 90-150

Living

  • Psalm 119


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

30 Days of Psalm 119


March 29-March 30

1. ASV
2. Living

March 31-April 6

3. KJV
4. HCSB
5. 1599 Geneva Bible
6. NASB
7. ESV
8. KJV
9. ESV
10. KJV
11. KJV
12. Revised English Bible (REB)
13. KJV
14 ESV
15. NLT
16 NIV

April 7-13

17. KJV
18. NLT
19. KJV
20. KJV
21. NKJV
22. NASB
23. HCSB
24. KJV
25. KJV

April 14-20

26. NASB
27. KJV
28. ESV
29. NLT
30. HCSB
31. NIV
32. NKJV

April 21-27

33. RV1885
34. ESV
35. ESV
36. HCSB
37. ESV
38. ESV
39. NKJV
40. ESV
41. NLT
42. NASB

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday


From The Toddler's Bible. V. Gilbert Beers.
Some men are nailing Jesus to a big wooden cross. He has not hurt them. But look what they are doing. Jesus died that day on the cross. He came to earth to do this. That's because He loves us so much. Jesus wants to help us live with God in heaven. When we sin, we can't go there. But Jesus died to take away our sin. He wants to be our Saviour. He will if we ask. Will you ask Him? (368-371)

From God is Great: A Toddler's Bible Storybook
Jesus died on the cross.
Some bad people put him there.
Jesus let them do it because he loves all people.
He took our punishment for the bad things we do.
Jesus' friends buried him.
But the story wasn't over.
God brought Jesus back to life!
God is more powerful than anything else, even death!
God has victory over death!

From My Story Bible by Jan Godfrey
On a lonely hill one day, Jesus was killed. He was hung on a cross between two other crosses. There were three crosses--one for a thief, one for a robber, and between them, one for Jesus, God's Son. Jesus had never done anything wrong. He had given the blind their sight and given the deaf their hearing. He loved people, helped them, and made them well. Jesus asked his Father to forgive the people who had put him on the cross. Then there was an earthquake. There was darkness in the middle of the day. The curtain in the Temple was torn in half. The sun went down and Jesus died. It was the saddest day there had ever, ever been. (Luke 23:32-49)

From The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
And so on a small hill outside the city of Jerusalem, Jesus was nailed to a cross and died. Darkness fell upon the land. Jesus was dead. He was buried in a tomb. A big stone was rolled in front of the entrance. And the people all went home. For Jesus' followers that dark day was followed by a long night. The hours passed very slowly. Jesus' friends cried. They had thought he was the king. But now their hearts were filled with sorrow and their minds were filled with fear. "What happened?" "Why did Jesus have to die?" "Wasn't Jesus God's forever king?" The questions kept coming until the next day turned into night. As Jesus' followers tried to sleep, they thought, We will be sad forever. Will God ever rescue his people from sin? Will we ever have our place with him? Will God ever bring again his blessings on all peoples of the earth? 

From The Child's Story Bible. Catherine F. Vos.
It is very painful to you and me to see our beloved Lord hanging there on the cross, with His blood dripping down. But even though it is painful, we need to look, for He hangs there because of what we have done. His blood is being shed to pay for our sins. He loved us so much that He chose to die in our place.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Last Supper


From My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 
Jesus was eating a special meal with his friends when he took some bread, thanked God, broke it in pieces, and handed it around. "This is my body," he said. "I give it for you." Then he took a cup of wine, thanked God, and passed it around. "Drink this," he said. "I will die for many people because God has promised to forgive them." (214-15)

From Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book. Written by Starr Meade. 
As the disciples sat in the upper room with Jesus, enjoying the Passover meal, they savored the lamb and munched hungrily on the bread. No doubt their minds were flooded by memories of Passover meals they had eaten while growing up. At some point during the meal, though, Jesus did something different. He introduced something new. Jesus picked up a small loaf of bread from the table, thanked God for it, broke it into pieces, and passed it around. "This is my body, which is given for you," he said, "Do this in remembrance of me." His disciples did as he said, not really understanding at the time the importance of what was happening. Then he picked up a cup of wine. "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." The disciples understood the idea of a covenant, and they understood that a covenant always involved the blood of a sacrifice. But what was this about Jesus making a new covenant, and what was this about his blood? That night turned out to be a busy, stressful one, and the disciples did not have time then to think through what Jesus had just done and said. Later, however, once Jesus had died and risen again, the disciples remembered that last Passover meal they had eaten with Jesus. They knew then that Jesus had died for them. His body had been broken for them, as bread is broken before it is eaten, and his death had brought them all the blessings they needed from God. Jesus' blood had been poured out on the cross, as he had established the new covenant God had promised through the prophets. Once Jesus had died and risen, the disciples realized that he had accomplished a rescue much greater than the Jews' deliverance from Egypt. Jesus had rescued his people from slavery to sin and from God's wrath. (233-4)

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Deluxe Edition. Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Then Jesus picked up some bread and broke it. He gave it to his friends. He picked up a cup of wine and thanked God for it. He poured it out and shared it."My body is like this bread. It will break," Jesus told them. "This cup of wine is like my blood. It will pour out." "But this is how God will rescue the whole world. My life will break and God's broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart--and your hearts will heal. Just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you. My blood will wash away all of your sins. And you'll be clean on the inside--in your hearts." "So whenever you eat and drink, remember," Jesus said, "I've rescued you!" Jesus knew it was nearly time for him to leave the world and to go back to God. "I won't be with you long," he said. "You are going to be very sad. But God's Helper will come. And then you'll be filled up with a Forever Happiness that won't ever leave. So don't be afraid. You are my friends and I love you." Then they sang their favorite song. And walked up to their favorite place, an olive garden. (292)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: One Perfect Life

One Perfect Life. John MacArthur. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 520 pages.

I first reviewed One Perfect Life (New King James Version) in February. I was EXCITED. I rushed through the book in a weekend. It was an experience: majestic, powerful, a bit overwhelming but in a good way, in a I want to read more, know more NOW way. But at the time, I also knew that I would begin rereading it slowly and thoughtfully, bit by bit. I knew I needed to absorb and explore more. I needed to go beyond getting swept up in the passionate story of an indescribable love. 

I started rereading One Perfect Life the very next day. It has taken me over a month to reread this one. This time I went slower, I read the notes for each entry. I deliberately slowed the pace and focused more. 


  • Part 1: "Anticipating the Lord Jesus Christ"
  • Part 2: "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ"
  • Part 3: "The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry"
  • Part 4: "From Passover AD 27 to Passover AD 28"
  • Part 5: "From Passover AD 28 to Passover AD 29"
  • Part 6: "From Passover AD to Passover AD 30"
  • Part 7: "The Final Journey to Jerusalem for Passover AD 30"
  • Part 8: "The Passion Week of the Messiah AD 30"
  • Part 9: "The Upper Room on the Night Before His Death"
  • Part 10: "The Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension"
  • Part 11: "New Testament Reflections on the Gospel of Jesus Christ"
Instead of sharing quotes this time, I thought I would make a few suggestions on how you might choose to use the book.

For example, you might use it as a devotional or bible study Advent through Easter. For Advent, focusing on parts one and two (the first 66 pages). Continuing in January on through Ash Wednesday, the focus could be on parts three through seven (bringing the reader up to page 347). For Lent, the focus could be on parts eight through eleven (bringing you to page 516). Though the readings wouldn't necessarily be even in length throughout the months, the passages themselves would be timely. 

To read the entire book in forty days, you'd need to read five to six entries a day. (Some days this would be manageable. Other days it would prove challenging.) 

To read the entire book in ninety days, you'd need to read two to three entries a day. (This would definitely be more manageable!)

To read the entire book in nine months (a typical school year), you'd need to read twenty-four entries a month. 

To read the entire book in a year, you'd need to read to read four entries PER WEEK. That gives you four reading days--if you read one entry per day--and three days of grace. 

One Perfect Life would be great for individual use, of course. But it would also be great for use in group. It could be used for family devotions, reading daily entries aloud for the whole family to reflect and discuss. It could be used in small groups or Sunday school classes as well. 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon, week #12

More Spurgeon quotes about the Bible!
Whence comes it that the word of God is living? Is it not, first, because it is pure truth? Error is death, truth is life. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
The word of God is living, because it is the utterance of an immutable, self-existing God. God doth not speak today what He meant not yesterday, neither will He tomorrow blot out what He records today. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
The living Christ is in the book; you behold His face almost in every page; and, consequently, it is a book that can talk. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
I have remarked that the work of the Spirit of God in men's hearts is rather in connection with the texts we quote than with our explanations of them. "Depend upon it," says a deeply spiritual writer, "it is God's word, not man's comment on it, which saves souls." God does save souls by our comment, by still it is true that the majority of conversions have been wrought by the agency of a text of Scripture. It is the word of God that is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. There must be life in it, for by it men are born again. As for believers, the Holy Spirit often sets the word on a blaze while they are studying it. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
If we grow in grace, or if we backslide, in either case Scripture still talks with us. Whatever our position before the eternal God, the book seems to be written on purpose to meet that position. It talks to you as you are, not only as you should be, or as others have been, but with you, with you personally, about your present condition. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
Have you not often wondered at the human utterances of the divine word: it thunders like God and yet weeps like man. It seems impossible that anything should be too little for the word of God to notice, or too bitter, or even too sinful for that book to overlook. It touches humanity at all points. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years. It is true, it cannot really grow, for it is perfect; but it does so to our apprehension. The deeper you dig into Scripture, the more you find that it is a great abyss of truth. The beginner learns four or five points of orthodoxy, and says, "I understand the gospel, I have grasped all the Bible." Wait a bit, and when his soul grows and knows more of Christ, he will confess, "Thy commandment is exceeding broad, I have only begun to understand it." ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
Give thyself up to the Bible, and the Bible will give itself up to thee. Be candid with it, and honest with thy soul, and the Scripture will take down its golden key, and open one door after another, and show to thy astonished gaze ingots of silver which thou couldst not weigh, and heaps of gold which thou couldst not measure. Happy is that man who, in talking with the Bible, tells it all his heart, and learns the secret of the Lord which is with them that fear Him. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
Whenever my creed does not square with God's word, I think it is time to mould my creed into another form. As for God's words, they must not be touched with hammer or axe. Oh, the chiselling, and cutting, and hammering in certain commentaries to make God's Bible orthodox and systematic! How much better to leave it alone! The word is right, and we are wrong, wherein we agree not with it. The teachings of God's word are infallible, and must be reverenced as such. Now, when you love it so well that you would not touch a single line of it, and prize it so much that you would even die for the defence of one of its truths, then, as it is dear to you, you will be dear to it, and it will grasp you and unfold itself to you as it does not to the world. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book
You cannot expect to grow in grace if you do not read the Scriptures. If you are not familiar with the word, you cannot expect to become like Him that spake it. Our experience is, as it were, the potter's wheel on which we revolve; and the hand of God is in the Scriptures to mould us after the fashion and image which He intends to bring us to. Oh, be much with the holy word of God, and you will be holy. Be much with the silly novels of the day, and the foolish trifles of the hour, and you will degenerate into vapid wasters of your time; but be much with the solid teaching of God's word, and you will become solid and substantial men and women: drink them in, and feed upon them, and they shall produce in you a Christ-likeness, at which the world shall stand astonished. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Talking Book

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Phoebe Deane (1909)

Phoebe Deane. Grace Livingston Hill. 1909. 224 pages.

Did I enjoy reading Phoebe Deane? Yes and no. Grace Livingston Hill manages to get me worried about the fate of the characters, manages to keep me reading. But. Part of me knows that a happy ending is always assured. Part of me feels silly to "worry" about what is going to happen next!

In Phoebe Deane, readers meet a young orphaned woman, Phoebe Deane, who is living with her half-brother and his family. (Her sister-in-law is AWFUL; so awful I can't find one positive thing to say about her! Because Phoebe is always being put down and insulted by this woman, Emmaline, the children know they can get away with it too.) So long as Phoebe accepts her calling to serve and submit without hesitation or complaint, the sister-in-law is content to "allow" her to exist in the same house. She has a plan for Phoebe. She wants Phoebe to marry Hiram Green, a neighboring widower. Hiram Green is OBSESSED with Phoebe. His obsession isn't healthy--for himself, for his children, for Phoebe. He follows her everywhere. He goes to the post office and asks for her mail. He takes some of her mail and opens it before destroying it. He's a despicable villain. He just can't understand why Phoebe isn't saying yes. He's determined that she WILL say yes. He will scheme and manipulate until she has no other option. How far will he go?

There is a hero in Phoebe Deane. Phoebe is walking on her birthday when she meets a man in the woods. His name is Nathaniel Graham....

Unfortunately, he is only visiting so readers don't get a chance to really know him as well as we might like. But. He is interested--very interested--in Phoebe. And he wants to write her! So there is great potential that this will turn into happily ever after...

Phoebe's best friend and ALLY is Miranda a character first introduced in Marcia Schuyler.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Week in Review: March 17-23

This week I read

HCSB

  • 2 Samuel
  • Acts
  • Ephesians (5)
  • Philippians
  • Colossians

ASV

  • Psalms 51-89
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Ephesians (4)


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mount TBR: March Checkpoint


I've read seven out of twenty-four books on my list.

1. Preparing for Jesus' Return. A.W. Tozer
2. How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity with God. Erwin Lutzer. 
3. One Minute After You Die. Erwin Lutzer. 
4. Your Eternal Reward. Erwin Lutzer. 
5. Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Tullian Tchividjian. 2011. Crossway. 220 pages.
6. Desiring God. John Piper. 
7. All of Grace. Charles Spurgeon.

I've enjoyed almost all of what I've read with one big exception. As for having a favorite, favorite that would be between Preparing for Jesus' Return by A.W. Tozer and Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian. 

I was SURPRISED by how quickly Desiring God went. The first two or three times I attempted this one, I was INTIMIDATED by it and quit a few chapters in. This time through, I treasured the first half of the book and managed the last half. While it didn't AMAZE me like I was hoping, it was still quite good! 

The book that has been on my pile the longest was probably Desiring God or Your Eternal Reward--about ten years! 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. 2012. (September 2012). Crown and Covenant. 150 pages.

First sentence: How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck? Truth be told, it felt like a little of both. 

I'd heard wonderful things about the memoir The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and I was not disappointed. In many ways, it is just a gush-worthy read. Honest, emotional, intense, thought-provoking, and challenging. I appreciated the author's narrative voice: always honest, always bold.

How many non-believers read the Bible? How many non-believers read the Bible obsessively, for five or so hours a day? How many non-believers read the Bible in different translations and try to teach themselves Greek? How many non-believers become friends with pastors and seek to understand what the Bible says. One could even ask HOW MANY BELIEVERS read the Bible? How many believers have read the Bible that voraciously, cover to cover, again and again? Rosaria Champagne Butterfield came to the Bible with a need, a mission. She was out to "understand" her enemy, the Christian Right. She sought an intellectual understanding of her greatest opponents so she could do battle with them--in print at least. To understand the opposing position, to make sense of their arguments and worldview, she needed to know what the Bible said, she needed to know who the Bible said God was, who this Jesus Christ was.

At the time, she was hostile to the Christian faith. She was a liberal, lesbian, post-modern, feminist professor specializing in women's studies and queer theory. She knew or thought she knew plenty about Christians--all the stereotypical things about Christianity: the hateful signs and slogans, the protests, the rhetoric of hate and prejudice. But she didn't exactly know any Christians personally. But. All that changed with a letter, a phone call, and a dinner conversation. To her own surprise, she found herself on friendly terms with a Christian pastor! She found herself in a trusting, thoughtful relationship with a Christian built over several years.
Before I ever stepped foot in a church, I spent two years meeting with Ken and Floy and on and off "studying" scripture and my heart. If Ken and Floy had invited me to church at that first meal I would have careened like a skateboard on a cliff, and would have never come back. Ken, of course, knows the power of the word preached but it seemed to me he also knew at that time that I couldn't come to church--it would have been too threatening, too weird, too much. So, Ken was willing to bring the church to me. This gave me the room and the safety that I needed to match Ken and Floy's vulnerability and transparency. And so I opened up to them. I let them know who I was and what I valued. I invited them into my home and into my world. They met my friends, came to my dinner parties, saw me function in my real life. They made themselves safe enough for me to do this. At the beginning of any project, I read and re-read the book that I am trying to understand. At this point, I read and re-read the Bible. I read it voraciously and compulsively--as I do all books. I spent about five hours each day reading the Bible. I read every translation I could acquire...I still thought I was doing research for a book on the religious Right. Ken and Floy, during those two years asked me questions about my reading and my observations, but didn't pressure me or push me or interfere in my life. They were just there. 
Though she didn't accept his invitation to talk to her students (undergraduate students, I believe) about The Bible as literature, she told him she'd love to hear his prepared lecture.
I was both intrigued and infuriated. The more he talked, the more infuriated I became. If what this guy said was true, then everything that I believed--every jot and tittle--was false!
Though she wasn't ready--overnight--to accept the authority of the Bible as being THE WORD OF GOD. She began spending more of her time contemplating big questions, hard questions--questions that demanded answers.
Walking in the cold dark I thought about how peaceful life would be if I really believed that there was a knowable, dependable, sturdy and comprehensive idea of truth and a man-God who so loved his people that he endured the wrath of God the Father for the sins that I had committed and those I would go on to commit. But even this train of thought was not comforting to me. After all, what would I do with my past?...
I wondered about these Christians. Surely some of them had pasts. What did they do? How did they let go of their past without losing their identity?...
Still, I wondered about this God who died for the sins of his people. It sounded too good to be true. I allowed myself to wonder if it could possibly be true. This self-question gave me a frightening pause. Was I losing myself? Was I losing my mind?
This ongoing struggle or journey wasn't quick and simple. Here is her powerful testimony:
That night, I prayed, and asked God if the gospel message was for someone like me, too. I viscerally felt the living presence of God as I prayed. Jesus seemed present and alive. I knew that I was not alone in my room. I prayed that if Jesus was truly a real and risen God, that he would change my heart. And if he was real and if I was his, I prayed that he would give me the strength of mind to follow him and the character to become a godly woman. I prayed for the strength of character to repent for a sin that at that time didn't feel like sin at all--it felt like life, plain and simple. I prayed that if my life was actually his life, that he would take it back and make it what he wanted it to be. I asked him to take it all...
Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert is a powerful, compelling memoir of a woman's journey to faith, to the Reformed faith. The book goes beyond her initial conversion. Readers learn how her life was transformed by God, how her life was turned upside down by her new faith, how she came to be a pastor's wife, lead her own Bible studies, came to adopt four biracial children in addition to taking in foster children, how she came to homeschool her children. In addition to her deep thoughts on conversion (also philosophy and/or worldview), readers learn the author's thoughts on worship and worship style, and marriage. She spends most of a chapter discussing what marriage is and what it means--and how hard this was to figure out coming from her feminist background. Adoption is a subject that means a great deal to her as well, and her thoughts on her experiences were fascinating!

Favorite quotes:
Answers come after questions, not before. Answers answer questions in specific and pointed ways, not in sweeping generalizations. 
A life outside of Christ is both hard and frightening; a life in Christ has hard edges and dark valleys, but it is purposeful even when painful.
There is a core difference between sharing the gospel with the lost and imposing a specific moral standard on the unconverted. 
Good teachers make it possible for people to change their positions without shame.
I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sin. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.
Wanting to understand is a theoretical statement; willing to do his will takes action.
I learned that we must obey in faith before we feel better or different. At this time, though, obeying in faith, to me, felt like throwing myself off a cliff. Faith that endures is heroic, not sentimental.
If the Lord calls us to be a bridge, we have to learn to bear in his strength the weight. And it hurts. And it's good. And the Lord equips.
Biblical orthodoxy can offer real compassion, because in our struggle against sin, we cannot undermine God's power to change lives. 
I think that churches would be places of greater intimacy and growth in Christ if people stopped lying about what we need, what we fear, where we fail, and how we sin.
The world's eyes register what a life in Christ takes away, but how do I communicate all that it gives?
I wondered: If my life was the only evidence that Christ was alive, would anyone be convinced?
Living according to God's standards is an acquired taste.
God calls for us to be merciful to others for our own good as well as for the good of our community. 
There is a pit of false hope in placing our faith in our words rather than in God's compassion to receive sinners to himself. 
The saving grace of salvation is located in a holy and electing God, and a sacrificing, suffering, and obedient Savior. Stakes this high can never rest on my sincerity. 
The integrity of our relationships matters more than the boldness of our words.
The more God-centered our worship practice, the more mercy-centered our life. Worship is our rehearsal for how to live today and how to glorify God in heaven.
Jesus is an equal opportunity Prophet, Priest and King: He equips, strengthens, forgives, comforts, and brings into fruition the reality of sanctification. Jesus can equip anyone--no matter how lost or broken--for godly living.
Mercy ministry always comes down to this: you can help, but only Jesus can heal. 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, March 22, 2013

Adam and Eve

I thought it would be interesting to see how the story of Adam and Eve is told in different bible story book collections.


From The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm
The Bible is God's story, and it begins with these big words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Do you know how God created everything? Simply by speaking words. Imagine, making the world with words! Strong words. Powerful words. With words God created everything! He made the stars, the sun, and the moon. He made the animals, the fish, the trees, and flowers too. Everything! And then after all these things, God created... People!
Can you see Adam and Eve? God put his people in the Garden of Eden. They were made in the image of God. They were to be the rulers of God's place.
Adam and Eve were very special to God. Did you know that you are also very special to God? You are special because you are made in his image too! Being created in the image of God must have made Adam and Eve very, very happy. God was happy too. He was pleased with his world and his people because he saw that they were very good. Nothing was wrong. Nothing was bad. Nobody disobeyed God. In the very beginning, everything and everyone knew how good God was. God gave Adam and Eve good words to obey. He told them not to eat from a special tree. You see, God was teaching Adam and Eve that he was their king, that people were to obey God's word. God also said that if Adam and Eve disobeyed his word, they would surely die. So God's people, Adam and Eve, lived in God's place, the Garden of Eden. And they ruled God's world by obeying his good word. Do you know what happened next?

From Bible Stories for Girls:
In the beginning of the world,
When the whole earth was new,
God saw that Adam was lonely
And knew just what to do!
God put him in a deep, deep sleep,
And took a rib from his side.
He made Adam a brand-new friend,
The first woman, his bride.
Adam and Even and their children,
The world's first family,
Were created in God's likeness--
And so were you and me!

From My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff.
The fruit on the forbidden tree looked delicious. "Why not try it?" the snake asked. "But God said we would die," said Eve. "Don't listen to God," the snake whispered. So Eve picked some and shared it with Adam. God was sad that they had disobeyed him. Now Adam and Eve had to leave God's garden. (14-15)

From The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski.
This was a very sad day. God sent the first two people out of the garden he had made for them and placed an angel on guard to keep them out. But in the midst of the sadness, God gave them a great hope. When God was cursing the serpent, he said that someday the woman would have children and one of her children would crush the serpent's head! Satan would be defeated. When Adam heard that promise and understood that they would live to have children, he gave his wife the name Eve. This name meant that she would be the mother of everyone who would ever live. Did you know that God gave Adam and Eve some clothes made of animal skins to cover their nakedness? There was a secret promise in those first clothes. To make them, God had to sacrifice an animal. That pointed to the day in the future when Jesus, God's only Son, would be born into the world. He would come as a son in the family of Adam--a far, far off great-grandchild of Adam and Eve. Jesus would die on the cross and be punished for the sin of Adam and those who would trust in him, so they could once be in relationship with God. And Jesus would be the one to defeat Satan, just as God said. (7)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Lord's Prayer

I thought it would be fun to compare how four different bible story books present The Lord's Prayer. Which of the four is your favorite?


From My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories by Jan Godfrey.

"Our father in heaven, your name is great and holy.
We want to do what is right so that your love will spread all over the world.
Please give everyone enough to eat each day, and help us to be kind to each other always.
Keep us safe from harm and from doing wrong things.
For you are true and wonderful and glorious and your Kingdom will last forever and ever. Amen." (72-73)


From My First Read Aloud-Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 
Our Father in heaven, may everyone know and love you. Come and be our King. Give us today the food we need. Forgive the bad things we do. Help us to forgive others too. When we want to do something bad, help us choose to do good instead. (187)


From the Child's Story Bible. Catherine Vos.
What does this prayer mean? Our Father means that God, the great creator and ruler of the world, loves us as a father loves his children. Hallowed be Thy name means "May everyone in the whole world worship God." Thy kingdom come means "May the time come when all the people in the world will love God." Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven means "May the people on earth do what God wants them to, just as the angels in heaven do God's will." Give us this day our daily bread asks God to take care of us, and give us food and whatever else we need. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors means "May the heavenly Father forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Lead us not into temptation means "Guide us so that we may be kept from doing wrong."

From the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones:
Hello Daddy!
We want to know you.
And be close to you.
Please show us how.
Make everything in the world right again.
And in our hearts, too.
Do what is best--just like you do in heaven.
And please do it down here, too.
Please give us everything we need today.
Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you.
Forgive us just as we forgive other people
when they hurt us.
Rescue us! We need you.
We don't want to keep running away and hiding from you.
Keep us safe from our enemies.
You're strong, God.
You can do whatever you want.
You are in charge.
Now and forever and for always!
We think you're great!
Amen!
Yes we do! (226)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quoting A.W. Pink #1

I am currently reading A.W. Pink's book, The Satisfaction of Christ, which is a book about the atonement. Here are a few quotes I'd like to share with you:
The source of the Atonement or Satisfaction of Christ is God. This of necessity, for only God can produce that which satisfies Himself. Men can no more provide that which will meet the requirements of God's holiness and justice against their sins than they can create a universe... ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
A perfect law can only be kept by a perfect creature. One who has been rendered impotent by sin is "without strength" (Rom. 5:6) to do anything that is good; therefore deliverance must come from without himself: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8:3,4). ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
"In the beginning, God" (Gen. 1:1). Such words at the commencement of Holy Writ are worthy of their Divine Author. God is both the Alpha and Omega. He is the Beginning and the End of everything, for "of him, and through him, and to him, are all things" (Rom. 11:36). Nothing can exist apart from God. In creation, in providence, and in redemption, God is the Beginning. But for God, not a creature would have had being. But for God, not a creature could continue for a moment, for "in Him we live, and move, and have our being." But for God's direct permission, sin could not have entered the world; and but for His will in determining, His grace in providing, His power in securing, His Spirit in applying, there [has] been no satisfaction made for the failed responsibilities of His people. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
No doctrine of Redemption that in any way casts the slightest shadow over the high mountain of Divine Sovereignty can be tolerated for a moment. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
God Himself is the ultimate and absolute standard of righteousness. Man is commanded to recognize a standard of righteousness outside of and above himself, and his will and conduct must conform thereto. That standard of righteousness is the revealed will of God. But shall we reason from this that God also recognizes a standard of righteousness to which His will must be conformed, a standard which makes right right, and right being made right, He wills it because it is right? No, indeed. The truth is, that we best discover what the nature of God requires Him to do, by noting what He, by His will, actually does. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
We fail to trace anything to its original source unless we track it right back to the sovereign will of God. This is true alike of creation, of providence, and of redemption. God was not obliged to have created this world; He did so simply because it so pleased Him (Rev. 4:10). ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
That the atoning death of Christ had its source in the will of God, is plainly declared in Acts 2:23, "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Though accomplished in the fullness of time, it was resolved upon before time, decreed and enacted in heaven by the Eternal Three. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
God is "light" (1 John 1:5), as well as love; and because He is such, sin cannot be ignored, its heinousness minimized, nor its guilt cancelled. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
As we trace the path which was trod by Him who was rich yet for our sake became poor, we cannot but feel that we are entering the realm of mystery; the more so when we learn that every step in His path had been ordered in the eternal counsels of the Godhead. Yet, when we find that path entailing for the One in whom the Father was well pleased, immeasurable sorrow, unutterable anguish, ceaseless ignominy, bitterest hatred, relentless persecution, both from men and Satan, we are made to marvel. And, when we find that path leading to Calvary, and there behold the Holy One nailed to the Cross, our wonderment deepens. But, when Scripture itself declares that God not only delivered up Christ into the hands of earth's vilest wretches to be reviled and blasphemed, that God Himself was not merely a spectator of that awful scene, that He not only beheld the sufferings of Heaven's Darling, but that HE also smote Him, scourged Him with the rod of His indignation, and called upon the sword to smite His "Fellow" (Zech. 13:7), we are moved to reverently inquire into the needs-be for such an unparalleled event. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
Christ is the Divine answer to the Devil's overthrow of our first parents. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
And in Christ, and by Christ, every attribute of God has been glorified and every requirement of His law satisfied. Through the incarnation, life and death, of His blessed Son, God has shown to all created intelligences what a terrible thing sin is, what a dreadful breach it had made between Himself and His creatures, how impartial is His justice, what an ocean of love is in His heart to promote the happiness of His people, and above all, He has secured and advanced His own manifestative glory by the honoring of all His attributes. Through the Atonement God has been vindicated. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
The Son of God became the Son of man in order that sons of men might become sons of God. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
Sin has produced a tremendous gulf between the thrice holy God and the rebellious children of Adam. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ
The more lightly sin be regarded, the less will appear the need for such a stupendous undertaking as that which the Son of God entered upon and triumphantly carried through. Sin is an evil of infinite magnitude, for it is committed against an infinitePerson, unto whom every creature is under infinite obligations of rendering unceasing and joyful obedience. This is why God's punishment of sin unatoned for will be eternal: necessarily so, for nothing less will fit the case, nothing less will satisfy Divine justice. ~ A.W. Pink, The Satisfaction of Christ