Saturday, January 28, 2023

9. Come, Lord Jesus

Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ. John Piper. 2023. [January] 322 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The aim of this book is to help you love the second coming of Jesus Christ. The contents and title were inspired partly by the biblical prayers "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20) and "Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22). But mainly the book was inspired by the heart affection beneath these prayers which Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 4:8: There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. A crown of righteousness is promised to those who love the second coming of Christ. We pray for his appearing, because we love his appearing. 

Come, Lord Jesus is a weighty book. Perhaps I have misunderstood the word 'meditation' for most of my life--possible, for sure. I was expecting meaty devotions themed around the second coming, end times, last days, final judgment, heaven, new heaven and earth. I was not expecting a scholarly work packed--stuffed--with footnotes. I wasn't expecting Greek, Greek, and more Greek. There is a LOT for readers to unpack. This is no 5-minute-rice theology. 

The theme is right on target. I would say it covers--end times, signs of the the last days, final judgment, tribulation, second coming, rapture, new heaven and earth, etc. It spans the teachings of the New Testament (New Testament authors). It seeks to reconcile the teachings of Jesus and Paul, to name an example. 

I would say it challenges readers from the start. It asks much. And that's not a bad thing. To read without engaging this one would be a disservice. It asks you to think, to consider, to ponder, to wrestle with your own views and traditions. It holds the Bible in highest esteem. It lays out the Bible for you--chapter and verse. It unpacks all the angles. Piper has his views, but he is 'showing his work' if you will and not asking you to take his word for it on blind faith. 

I found it thought-provoking. Even when I wanted to stop thinking about it, I couldn't. The end times, like it or not, can make you squirm a bit, be a bit uncomfortable. There are some subjects where I tend to be a little like Scarlett O'Hara, I'll think about that tomorrow. For me, the end times is that subject I'm always pushing to tomorrow. I think because it is so easy to get confused and stay confused. Perhaps because it is a subject that can feel extra-heated. Sometimes people have very STRONG feelings on what they think will happen, how it all unfolds. Trigger warning: Piper doesn't hold to a separate rapture of believers occurring pre-tribulation (or mid-tribulation for that matter). He believes in ONE second coming--the verses that speak of believers meeting him in the air is the same second coming where he's coming to judge the world.

I can honestly say that I've never asked myself the question do I [actively] love the second coming of Christ. Passively sure I think many Christians fall into that camp. But actively--desiring, longing, hoping, loving--that's a BIG, bold statement. Piper, especially at the beginning and perhaps again towards the end, makes the argument that "the test of our love for the Christ who HAS appeared is our longing for the Christ who WILL appear." He argues that it is our LOVE for his appearing that enables us to ENDURE through anything/everything. It is our LOVE for his appearing, so Piper claims Paul writes, that protects our hearts and minds from loving this world too much, from becoming too entangled with worldly-world influences. It is our LOVE for his appearing that will encourage and promote holy living--sanctification. It is our LOVE for his appearing that will keep us gathering together as believers and encouraging one another. 

Piper further writes that it isn't enough to love certain things about his second coming [loving the gifts more than the giver] but our love for the second coming needs to fit into Christ's purpose for coming again. Here Piper does what Piper does best--talk about GLORY and delighting in the GLORY of the Lord. (Christian hedonism is Piper's default mode.) Here in this one it does make sense though.

He writes, "Absolutely crucial to God's ultimate purpose in the second coming is not only that the glory of Christ be revealed, but that it be loved. Rightly loved." 

I am glad I read this one. It may be worth revisiting again. For being a book about the end of times or "day of the Lord" it covers SO much theological territory. 

One of my favorite quotes:

Our hope is that the joy we have tasted in this life (1 Peter 2:3) will be given an injection of supernatural capacity beyond imagination. This is what Jesus prayed for. This is what will happen. God will pour his own love for Christ into us. We will enjoy Christ with the very enjoyment of God. It is true that our joy in Jesus even now is a work of God--God the Holy Spirit. Our joy in God and his Son is owing to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, creating the capacity to delight in God and Christ (Romans 14:17; 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6)... Jesus promises that he will go further: he will make God known in new and unimagined ways, with the result that God's own love for the Son will become more fully our own love for the Son, so that we will be able to enjoy Christ with the purity and intensity we ought. We will not be lamed by our present worldliness and remaining corruptions, and by the constrains of a fallen body.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 26, 2023

8. Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms

Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms. 1957/1991/2005. 172 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: There can be no doubt at all but that the greatest matter confronting every man and woman born into this world is that which is put before us by this statement in Psalm 14. [Psalm 14:1] Nothing surely, can be more important than this question of our relationship to God.

The book is a collection of nine sermons originally preached in 1957 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It was published in the UK in 1991 and the first American edition of this book was published in 2005. All nine sermons are expository sermons expositing verses and chapters from Psalms. Some chapters are linked closely together--same Psalm, different verses. Other chapters are more loosely connected. All have something vital/relevant to say to the church. 

These are *some* of the verses he discusses. I am missing one, sadly, and I thought I was doing such a good job of taking notes. Oh well. 

Psalm 14:1
Psalm 50:21 
Psalm 84:5-7
Psalm 78:41
Psalm 63:1-3
Psalm 63:1-3
Psalm 16:8
Psalm 27:1,3

Early chapters discuss what it is to be a fool, what makes one a fool, what is the greatest folly, etc. He surprised me a bit--in a good way--by then going on to say what is the SECOND greatest folly. That was a thought-provoking chapter. The answer--to spoil the surprise--is Christians who profess to believe but then live as if there were no God. In the past few decades--2005 or later--this wouldn't be a big surprise. This has been stated in various books. But in 1957, this might have been a jolt to those sitting in the pew. [I don't think this message would be preached from the pulpit these days--unless you are Paul Washer.] 

Quote: Is there any greater folly than the folly of saying there is no God? It is the folly of people who say they believe in God but who in the tenor of their lives and in the whole of their conduct daily forget God and live exactly as if He did not exist.

All of the chapters focus on man's relationship with God and God's relationship with man. 

I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I decided to read it now [it's been in my tbr pile probably for a decade] because Martyn Lloyd-Jones is quoted frequently in the ESV Church History Study Bible. 

Truth doesn't change. Absolute truth doesn't change. So these sermons are relevant and beneficial. Some of his observations and conclusions do seem a tiny bit dated. He argues, for example, that anyone who does not believe in God [aka unbeliever, the lost, unsaved] is lacking a worldview. He insists that they don't have "any path" or "a path" and that mentally they are just lacking a [systematic] way of viewing the world or making sense of the world. I would disagree with that. I think there are MANY, MANY, MANY worldviews prevalent today, actively being promoted today. There are a lot of "isms" if you will. 

Favorite quotes:

Some say, "It's unthinkable that God should ever show what the Bible calls the wrath of God. My whole conception of God excludes the very possibility of wrath. I could not believe in a God who shows this anger against sin and the sinner." So they cut it out, and they do that on the grounds that they cannot believe it, because to them it is unthinkable. So you see, it is their thought that determines everything: "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." They are making God in their own image. So they do not hesitate to lay down their ideas as to what God is like and what He ought to do and what He ought not to do. They give their ideas of the love of God, the wrath and the justice of God, and His righteousness. The whole thing is determined by their own thoughts. So they speak about these things, but their whole attitude toward God and toward religion has no basis and no authority whatsoever apart from their own postulates.

Ten times worse than being outside and saying, "There is no God at all" is going to God and to His house in a formal manner only, and indeed almost with the idea that we are conferring some benefit upon Him. How nice of us! How good of us to have gone to a place of worship! We preen and pride ourselves on it.

You will never make yourself feel that you are a sinner, because there is a mechanism in you as a result of sin that will always be defending you against every accusation. We are all on very good terms with ourselves, and we can always put up a good case for ourselves. Even if we try to make ourselves feel that we are sinners, we will never do it. There is only one way to know that we are sinners, and that is to have some dim, glimmering conception of God.

Christ came into the world and died. Why? To bring us to God. It is all about God. It is not some comfortable feeling that you and I have to strive for; it is not having your body healed or a thousand and one other things. The whole object of Christ and His death upon the cross, His burial, and His resurrection is to bring us to God. And the ultimate test of our profession of the Christian faith is our thoughts about God, our attitude in His presence, our reverence and godly fear because our God is a consuming fire.

There is nothing more awful and reprehensible than to talk about Him and then to forget all about Him, and to live as if He were not there at all. Are you calling upon God for salvation? Have you seen your desperate need of Him? Do you know that you will have to face Him in the Judgment?

Perhaps there will be, as it were, a tape-recording played back to you of all you have said about God and how you have spoken about Him and His laws and declared His statutes. And then it will be read out to you-the things that you have done, the life you have lived, your self-centeredness, your selfishness, the fact that your whole life was not surrendered to God and lived to His glory and to His praise.
It is a tremendous thing to say you believe in God, but look at the implications.

Christian truth is a kind of ellipse, and there is one focus-God; but there is also another focus-man. And if we are to enjoy the experience of this writer, we must be as right about man as we are about God.

Men and women must realize their need, and the only people who know what it is to enjoy the blessings of Christian salvation are those who have already discovered that need. The tragedy, ultimately, of so many, indeed of all outside Christ, is that they have never really seen their need. That is why they have never seen their need of Christ; that is why they do not fly to Him as Savior; they have never seen themselves as they really are.

There is no knowledge of God except in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He is the sacrifice that is placed upon the altar: He has made "his soul an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10). "I am the way, the truth, and the life," He says of Himself. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

We are God's people, and we are meant to show forth His praises, His excellencies, His virtues. So the question that we must ask ourselves is, are we doing that? Are we individually enjoying the blessings of the Christian life as we should? What do we find as we look back and review the past year?

If we are uncertain about our forgiveness, we are definitely limiting God, and we have no right to be like that. God is our Father, and a father never wants his children to be unhappy, to be uncertain about the relationship-such a thing is inconceivable. So we have this abundant teaching in the Bible to give us certainty and assurance. And if we do not have it, we are guilty of putting a limit upon what is possible.

So if you want to set the Lord always before you, spend much time in regular, daily reading of the Bible. And let it be systematic reading, not just picking it up at random and turning to a favorite psalm and then to somewhere in the Gospels. No; it must be Genesis to Revelation! Go through the Book year by year. I think any Christian should be ashamed who does not go through the entire Bible once a year. Go through it systematically.

God's Word speaks to you-listen to Him, and you will come into His presence. Set Him before you by reading the Bible. You can do this also in prayer-talking to God and listening to Him.

Set the Lord always before you-the Lord Himself, not merely activities in His kingdom-because if you do not do this, you will become very dry in all your activism. Your heart will become cold, and in the time of need and trouble and trial you will not know where you are, and you will be a poor witness to the faith and to the grace that you have received and that you hold.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

7. Stop Calling Me Beautiful

Stop Calling Me Beautiful: Finding Soul-Deep Strength in a Skin-Deep World. Phylicia Masonheimer. 2020. [February] Harvest House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I attended my first Bible study when I was 16 years old. I came into the house clutching my copy of Beth Moore’s Believing God and spent the next sixteen weeknights glued to my pastor’s TV screen.

ETA: While most of my review (below) will be reprinting my first review, I just have to add several things. I really loved this book the first time around. I am surprised (should I be???) that this is the review that consistently gets a lot of likes on GoodReads. So I've always meant to reread this one at some point. When I saw it was available at the library, I decided to give it another read. 

Original review: I have a confession to make. I may do a decent job of not judging a book by its cover. Most of the time. But. When it comes to christian books--especially nonfiction books--I tend to judge a book by its publisher. Stop Calling Me Beautiful is published by Harvest House. Yet the description of this one sounded GREAT. Like the author and I would get along well. For she too opposes "pink fluff" theology written by women, for women, that consists of little real substance.

She addresses three problems that she sees in typical women's ministries: 1) Christian women are being taught a message that is theologically deficient. Modern women’s ministry’s framework for presenting and understanding God contains pieces of truth, but these pieces do not present an accurate picture of God and the gospel. 2) The message we’re hearing is self-focused. Flawed theology always turns attention away from God and onto ourselves, and that’s exactly what has happened with women’s ministry today. 3) The message is superficial, watered-down.

She concludes, "Theological education—learning about God, the Bible, and how these truths apply to life—is not just for men or for those called to ministry. Women must be spiritually equipped with the knowledge of God through His Word so they can minister to the people around them...The true gospel is available to all of us through God’s Word. We must learn to study it. We must know it well enough to rightly divide the truth and check teachings against the Word of God as the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). In other words, we must cultivate a holy curiosity." I couldn't agree with her more!

The book doesn't focus, however, on how everyone else is doing it wrong. Far from it. Most of the book serves either as a first introduction or a refresher course on the Christian faith, on how to live the life and walk the walk daily.

I found myself highlighting passage after passage. I guess you could say I was nodding my head and going, YES.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Desire and delight become an endless circle in the presence of the living God. 
  • Our self-discovery is not God’s goal. We are meant to know God and make Him known. This is the great adventure for which our hearts long!
  • We don’t go deeper with God by reflecting more on ourselves, or even by reading God’s Word to look for insight about ourselves. Roots of spiritual growth develop as we seek God for who He is and allow Him to do the transforming work in our hearts that we can never do on our own. He is the one who plants the desire to seek Him. He is the one who meets us when we apply diligence in faith.
  • Bible study is as simple as actually reading the Bible. You don’t need to know everything up front to learn and appreciate what God says in His Word. But you do have to be willing to start. From that heart of willingness, you can add resources for deeper study. These will add depth to the places, people, and terms you read in the Bible, transforming what used to be drab and gray into the living color of God’s redemption story.
  • We need the full gospel—the gospel that began in Genesis and runs to Revelation like a “scarlet thread”, a continual story written in blood—in order to find a deeper spiritual life in this shallow world. Finding this life is not easy. It takes diligence. But diligence is what a student of any kind must cultivate in order to gain knowledge. And that’s what we, as believers, need to do.
  • God insists on our involvement in Christian community. We are called to vulnerability, transparency, and the sharing of our burdens. Without this, we cannot grow as believers.
  • We can’t draw near if we don’t open our Bibles and read them ourselves, if we don’t put ourselves into godly community, and if we don’t receive discipleship and accountability. We live abundantly when we regularly expose ourselves to the work and Spirit of God. When we do, the things that used to bore us take on the color of abundant life.
  • Your brokenness is real, but it is not your identity. It is not an excuse, and it is not your future.
  • The goal of time with God is worship of God.
  • God is the most valuable, worthy person we will ever know. Yet we often attribute more worth and value to sleep, social media, and friends than we do to Him. Our worship is naturally revealed through our daily habits and behaviors. The things we think, say, read, watch, and do reveal what we’re worshipping.
  • There is no quick fix for a soul-deep struggle. Though it’s not easy and certainly not quick, Jesus never makes a promise He won’t bring to fruition. 
  • Overcoming anxiety is the daily choice to come. When we feel weary, burdened, and overwhelmed, changing our schedules and habits will help, but these will not bring us lasting victory. Being present and letting go of perfectionism will help us make great strides, but these actions will not cut to the spiritual root of anxiety. Anxiety is overcome when we make the choice to trust God more than we trust our emotions.
  • Victory is not defined by never feeling anxious. 
  • You don’t have to like your circumstances to depend on God in the midst of them. 
  • Our grief is known and carried. Our loss is not pointless. 
  • You can’t love someone and condemn them at the same time! 
  • In one of life’s great dichotomies, we fear losing what we value most—even when the thing we value is destroying us.
  • Repentance does not entail rehearsing our unworthiness (to ourselves and others) over and over again for the purpose of glorifying God. We glorify God best when we turn from our sinful ways, embrace the worthiness He has given us in Christ, and live out that worthiness by the Holy Spirit’s power.
  • Without grounding ourselves in the Word of God we can’t live by the truth of God. Without living by the truth of God we can’t live out the freedom of God. An overcoming life is the product of consistent exposure to God through His Word. This isn’t another reminder to do your devotions. This is war! Abundant life doesn’t happen apart from God, and God has revealed Himself in Scripture.
  • We think in terms of the big picture, but our lives are actually lived in the mundane moments, and our legacy is less about the world at large and more about our immediate communities. But here’s the kicker: We can’t impact our communities if we’re constantly playing whack-a-mole with our sinfulness. And we can’t overcome our sinfulness—or the difficulties of this world—apart from Jesus. To truly make a difference in the world, we have to know the Creator and Redeemer of the world on an intimate level. We have to be women of spiritual depth.
  • We change our communities by letting Jesus change our lives in front of, alongside, and within our communities. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

1. ESV Large Print Thinline (Brown, Top Grain)

ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible. 2001/2016. God. 1232 pages. [Source: Gift] (ISBN: 9781433532788)

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

Truth For Life Ministries offered this Bible recently for $35. It is a "top grain leather" thinline reference bible. If you can still get this Bible for that price, I highly recommend it. 

I started this Bible on November 19, 2022 and finished it on January 24, 2023. 

I love, love, love, love, love, crazy love and adore this Bible. I love the raised Bible hubs. I love the happy brown cover. I love the feel of the leather. I love the floppiness of the cover. It is double column (as opposed to single column). It is black letter (as opposed to words of Christ in red). I love that the font size is 10.5. I love that the text is so dark/bold. (I am not saying it is technically all in "bold.") This Bible is easy on the eyes, for the most part. It is also relatively light weight (being a thinline Bible). 

I love reading text-only Bibles. This one does have cross references, though I've never used cross references in my own reading.

The ESV translation is definitely in my top five. (Somedays I'd say it is in my top three.) 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Sunday Salon #4

Current Bible plans and projects:

ESV Church History Bible (Daily Offices from the Book of Common Prayer). This week I read Psalm 75-106. Proverbs 15-21. Deuteronomy 1-34. Joshua 1-12. Romans 14-16. 1 Corinthians 1-16. 2 Corinthians 1-13. I am still loving the ESV Church History Bible. However, I am sad to have discovered page creases in 2 Corinthians that go through Ephesians. On one hand, any Bible I read is going to look used and loved eventually. You'll be able to spot on a glance "read" and "not read." On the other hand, page creases aren't quite natural looking either. No natural use of mine would lead to creases like that. Still, I'm going to try to relax about it. 

ESV Large Print Reference BibleI am (currently) reading this one alongside the Be Thou My Vision devotional. This week, I read Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Hebrews. James. Psalms 1-89. I am so close to finishing the Old Testament. I have Psalms and Proverbs. I am relatively close to finishing the New Testament too: John, 1 Peter through Revelation.

BSB M'CheyneUsing the BSB in the YouVersion app. This week I read Genesis 16-22. Nehemiah 5-11. Matthew 15-21. Acts 15-21. Nehemiah is interesting. I've found the chapters either to be amazingly interesting and FULL of things to ponder. Or extremely dull. 

BSB Audio -- I listened Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs this week. 

Growing 4 Life, January, Mark 1-4I have lost track of how many years I've participated in this Facebook group. I know I've been participating since 2020 at least. Anyway, it's now become habit to read portions of Scripture for thirty days in a row. This month--January 2023--is Mark 1-4. I read it seven times this week: 1611 KJV, ESV, NIV 78, NKJV, NASB 77, NIV 84, Coverdale 1535

I won't be keeping track here--probably won't anyway. But SINGING THE PSALMS just became a lot easier. Now, this wasn't anything I was planning on for 2023, but mom made this her goal. And in being a 'good daughter' I discovered this awesome, amazing website, Seedbed Psalter by Timothy and Julie Tennent. 

Current plans for other books:

I read two books this week! Both were library books. I am currently reading John Piper's Come, Lord Jesus and Alisa Childers' Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth In Response to Progressive Christianity. 


How many Christian books does your local library have? book-books? e-books? Is it a good selection or poor?

Have you ever sung Psalms? Have you ever considered it? What do you see as the pros or cons of being purposeful in singing Psalms?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 20, 2023

6. Piercing Heaven

Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans. Robert Elmer. 2019. 321 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: What does it take to pray like a Puritan? And why would we want to? 

Robert Elmer has collected 'prayers' from the works of over thirty Puritans for his prayer book, Piercing Heaven. These prayers seem to be arranged mostly topically. There are titled chapter headings: "Teach Me to Pray," "Help Me Ask for Help!," "Help Me Through My Doubts," "Help Me Through My Time of Sadness and Suffering," "Help Me Endure Temptation," "Help Me Rest in God's Love," "I Believe--Help My Unbelief!," "Prepare My Heart for the Lord's Day and the Lord's Table," "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated," "Help Me Give the Gospel to Others," "Forgive My Sins," "Help Me Praise and Thank the Lord," "Help Me Begin the Day," "Help Me Live the Day," "Help Me Close the Day," "Your Kingdom Come." Prayers vary from a few sentences--one paragraph--to a full page(s)--many, many paragraphs. Each prayer is attributed to a specific Puritan. (Brief biographies are included for all authors. And there's an index for each author.)

Perhaps you are seeking out Piercing Heaven because you love, love, love, love Valley of Vision. Confession, that is why I checked this one out from the library. I really crazy love and adore that poetry collection. So how do the two compare???

The [only] weakness of Valley of Vision is that it lacks all attribution of authors. Readers almost have to take it on faith that the author/editor Arthur Bennett is using the actual words of actual Puritans. Readers don't know how many Puritans are represented within Valley of Vision. Readers don't know how crafted/manipulated the original texts were to get them into poetic form. Readers certainly don't know which Puritan wrote which poem. Everything about Valley of Vision is a complete mystery. 

As I mentioned above, every author is attributed in Piercing Heaven. There are even author biographies and an author index. 

But is that enough to make it better than Valley of Vision????? 

I found Piercing Heaven to be a bit of a busy layout, a bit cluttered. Perhaps I am just too set in my ways. But the white space of Valley of Vision is super-helpful. It blocks out distractions. It aids meditation and prayer. 

While Piercing Heaven may be a true(r) representation of the Puritans' actual words/works, the Valley of Vision is a thing of BEAUTY in terms of language and literary style. 

Now, to be completely fair: I did not read Piercing Heaven the way it was intended. The fact that it was a library book with a definite due date didn't help matters. But also I was more curious than prayerful. I wanted to read it cover-to-cover in a week. I didn't have time (or opportunity) to use it as a topical prayer book...or even a legitimate prayer book. For those that do pray individual prayers--over weeks, months, years--that use this book as a devotional/spiritual aid, I'm sure it would prove more beneficial. 

I was reading with one thing in mind: do I love it enough to buy myself a copy of this to have on hand????? And the answer was, I can probably make do with the Valley of Vision for my Puritan needs. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

5. Rembrandt is In the Wind

Rembrandt Is In the Wind: Learning to Love Art Through the Eyes of Faith. Russ Ramsey. 2022. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Henri Nouwen wrote in The Return of the Prodigal Son, "Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it." Our wounds are not beautiful in themselves; the story behind their healing is. But how can we tell the story of our healing if we hide the wounds that need it? This book is about beauty. To get at it, the book is filled with stories of brokenness. 

Art history through a Christian perspective--that's how I'd sum up Rembrandt is in the Wind. Ramsey looks at art through the lens of goodness, truth, and beauty. He argues that beauty is the glue that holds the three together. And those three are communal (universal)--not only shared by all humans everywhere, but also shared by God. (For these three are attributes of God). 

Ramsey writes, "The pursuit of goodness, the pursuit of truth, and the pursuit of beauty are, in fact, foundational to the health of any community." He argues that beauty is essential and should actively be sought. 

He has selected a handful of artists--around nine or ten--and is sharing their stories through their works. (Not all their works, mind you, but selected works. He is choosing artists and stories (and works) to make his argument. I am sure these stories are just the tip of the iceberg. That there would be even more stories, more lessons, more wisdom if the book was longer.

My personal favorite chapter was chapter one, "Beautifying Eden: Why Pursuing Goodness, Truth, and Beauty Matters." I found all the chapters interesting to a certain degree. But some chapters were "extra" good for me. Other chapters were perhaps a little less so. 

Table of contents:

Beautifying Eden: Why Pursuing Goodness, Truth, and Beauty Matters
Pursuing Perfection: Michelangelo's David and Our Hunger for Glory
The Sacred and the Profane: Caravaggio and the Paradox of Corruption and Grace
Rembrandt is In the Wind: The Tragedy of Desecration and the Hope of Redemption
Borrowed Light: Johannes Vermeer and the Mystery of Creation
Creating in Community: Jean Frederic Bazille, the Impressionists, and the Importance of Belonging
The Striving Artist: Vincent Van Gogh's The Red Vineyard and the Elusive Nature of Contentment
Beyond Imagination: Henry O Tanner, Race, and the Humble Power of Curiosity
What Remains Unsaid: Edward Hopper, Loneliness and Our Longing for Connection
Measuring a Life: Lilias Trotter and the Joys and Sorrows of Sacrificial Obedience

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible