Sunday, August 20, 2017

Check-In With The Cloud

  • What have you been reading? What are you currently reading?
  • Have you finished anything for the challenge?
  • Have you read any new-to-you authors yet?
  • Have you found any new favorites?
  • Are you writing down favorite quotes? Have any to share?
  • Have you learned anything that you'd like to share?
  • Would you be interested in reading a book together? If so, what month would be good for you?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week in Review: August 13-19

ESV Reformation Study Bible

  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • Psalm 90-150
  • Proverbs 

CSB Study Bible

  • Genesis 6-26

MEV

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: The Return

The Return. (Amish Beginnings #3) Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: As Betsy climbed up from the creek carrying two buckets of water, she heard the sound of her brothers' laughter, and then a man's deeper laugh.

The Return is the third book in the Amish Beginnings series by Suzanne Woods Fisher. The first two in the series are Anna's Crossing and The Newcomer. Several decades have passed and this novel mainly focuses on the next generation. One of the heroines, for example, is Tessa Bauer the daughter of Bairn and Anna. The other heroine is Betsy Zook.

Tensions are HIGH between the white settlers and the Native Americans. While many of the Amish are happy to be at peace--stay at peace--there are a few men in the community that are hotheaded and lack common sense and decency. John Elder, for example, is one advocating the philosophy that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. Anna and Bairn think differently, as do most of the characters in the novel. But HANS (the foster brother of Felix and Bairn) goes a bit nuts when Betsy Zook, the supposed love of his life is kidnapped. Tessa sees Betsy's kidnapping by Indians as an opportunity to win Hans affection and attention.

The narrative shifts between Betsy and Tessa--mostly. Betsy meets Caleb, a "half-breed" with a Mennonite mother and an Indian father. The two become super-super close. And if I'm honest Caleb is without a doubt my favorite character in the book. In fact I HATED Hans. (I probably shouldn't say that.)

I definitely liked the book. I loved some characters; I liked some characters; and then there was Hans!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #14

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 16 (Psalm 119:15)

  • Our thoughts follow our affections. It is tedious and irksome to the flesh to meditate, but delight will carry us out. The smallest actions, when we have no delight in them, seem tedious and burdensome.
  • Delight will set the mind a-work, for we are apt to muse and pause upon that which is pleasing to us. Why are not holy thoughts as natural and as kindly to us as carnal? The defect is in the heart: I have rejoiced in thy testimonies,’ saith David, and therefore I will meditate in thy statutes.’
  • Meditation is not a flourishing of the wit, that we may please the fancy by playing with divine truths (sense is diseased that must be fed with quails), but a serious inculcation of them upon the heart, that we may urge it to practice. Nor yet an acquainting ourselves with the word that we may speak of it in company: conference is for others, meditation for ourselves when we are alone.
  • To respect God’s ways is to take heed that we do not turn out of them, to regard them and ourselves: Observe to do them,’ Josh.1:8; and it is called elsewhere, pondering our path: Prov. 4:26, Ponder the path of thy feet,’ that we may not mistake our way, nor wander out of it. Respect to God’s word was opened ver. 6 and 9. The main point is this— That one great duty of the saints is meditating on the word of God, and such matters as are contained therein.
  • Meditation is— 1. Occasional. 2. Set and solemn. 
  • There is a reflective meditation, which is nothing but a solemn parley between a man and his own heart:
  • What can be more against self-love and carnal ease than for a man to be his own accuser and judge? All our shifts are to avoid our own company, and to run away from ourselves.
  • There is a meditation which is more direct, when we exercise our minds in the word of God and the matters contained therein. This is twofold:—
  • Dogmatical, or the searching out of a truth in order to know ledge: Proving what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ Rom. 12:2. This is study, and differeth from meditation in the object, and supposeth the matter we search after to be unknown, either in whole or in part; whereas practical meditation is the inculcation or whetting of a known truth upon the soul: and it differs in the end; the end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter sun, that shineth, but warmeth not; but meditation is like blowing up the fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation, to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners, that take in wine to store themselves for sale; in meditation, like those that buy wine for their own use and comfort.
  • Thoughts are the eldest and noblest offspring of the soul, and it is fit they should be consecrated to converse with God.
  • Faith is lean unless it be fed with meditation on the promises.
  • The mind of man is restless, and cannot lie idle; therefore it is good to employ it with good thoughts, and set it a-work on holy things; for then there will be no time and heart for vanity, the mind being prepossessed and seasoned already; but when the heart is left to run loose, vanity increaseth upon us.
  • We meditate of God that we may love him and fear him; of sin, that we may abhor it; of hell, that we may avoid it; of heaven, that we may pursue it. Still the end is practical, to quicken us to greater diligence and care in the heavenly life.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: Exploring the Bible

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. David Murray. Illustrated by Scotty Reifsnyder. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Perhaps sometimes you feel lost and confused when reading the Bible.

This book is for families primarily although churches might find it to be beneficial as well. Essentially it guides children through the Bible--Genesis to Revelation--in one year. The goal isn't for the child to read each and every verse of the Bible. The focus is on comprehending the big picture of the Bible, on seeing how all the books connect together to tell one story--the story of a God who loves and redeems us.

Each week the reader is invited to go on an expedition. There is something for the child to do each and every day of the week. A few goals are weekly, but many are daily. For example, there is only one place during the week to write down prayer requests and the memory verse, but, there are suggested/required readings for each day of the week. Sunday is a special day. Children are encouraged to write down what they learned from that day's sermon, and what scripture the preacher taught from, etc.

There are twenty-four expeditions in the Old Testament. They are arranged in the order they appear in most Bibles. They are not arranged chronologically. The rest of the expeditions are in the New Testament. Most expeditions come from Matthew through Acts. The last seven focus on the New Testament letters.

The book is definitely structured. This is a book that is designed to be written in and OWNED. For that reason, I'm not sure why it's available as an e-book, but it is. I'd encourage parents to buy the physical book. And I think this book would best be used by families together. Parents and children both engaging in a journey through the Bible.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #13

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 15 (Psalm 119:14)


  • A gracious heart finds more true joy in the way of God’s word than in all worldly things whatsoever.
  • There is a sweetness in the study of God’s word, or when we give up ourselves to attain the knowledge of it. The very speculation and study produces a delightful taste.
  • Scriptural truths are more sublime than other truths, and do en noble reason with the knowledge of them: Because these truths are suitable to our necessities. To every man that hath a conscience, it cannot but be very pleasing to hear of a way how he may come to the pardon of sins, and sound peace of conscience, solid perfection, and eternal glory.
  • There is a sweetness found in the way of God’s testimonies which ariseth from the conscience of practical obedience, not from contemplation only; and it is best to be found when we come to practise and perform what we know.
  • Now, it is the word of God believed and obeyed which yieldeth us the greatest profit and the greatest pleasure. You have both in one verse: Ps. 19:10, More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb.’ Because of the profit it is compared to gold, and because of the sweetness and pleasure we have by it, it is compared to honey.
  • The word of God will truly enrich a man and make us happy. The difference between God’s people and others doth not lie in this, that the one seeketh after riches, the other not; they both seek to enrich themselves; only the one seeketh after false, and the other true riches, as they are called, Luke 16:11.
  • The word of God is able to enrich a man more than all the riches of the world, because it is able to bring a man to an everlasting kingdom.
  • Spiritual delight in spiritual objects far exceedeth all the joy that we can take in worldly things.
  • The way of God’s commandments is your way home.
  • You are going home to rest. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Certainly you will think no labour too great to get thither, whither the word directs you.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review: Godless

Godless. (Fatherless #3) James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2014. 416 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Veronica's eyes flew open as she felt the rising sun warm her face. Panic forced her upright. "Where are we?" No response. Louder. "Mommy?"

Premise/plot: Godless is the third and final book in the trilogy by James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. (The first two in the series are Fatherless and Childless. The third novel opens in 2044, so two years have passed since the first novel began.)

What would society be like if it was truly godless? The entire series has shown a terrifying future where nothing is wrong because everything is right. It's a world in economic crisis for one thing.

The novel asks: What happens to a society, a civilization, when there are more old people than young people? Who gets what? How are resources shared and divided? In this fictional series, the author imagines that the elderly are manipulated and urged to make the best decision for everyone: to end their lives so that their grown children and grandchildren can benefit financially. Be a blessing for your loved ones: die today! Don't weigh down your loved ones lives with your continued existence! Make one last contribution to society! Be patriotic! Do good for your country, do good for your family!

The result is that medical care is being denied to the elderly. Children are pressuring their parents to transition--to die and leave them everything. Churches are pressuring older members to transition so that the church can have their money and thereby extend their gospel outreach. Politicians are definitely supporting the transition industry and building their campaigns around it.

Imagine this: You're 60+, at home waiting for results from the doctor, someone shows up at your door with the results. But they just don't give you the news, they're there to sell you a solution. Your health is bad. You're being denied coverage or treatment. But there's good news in all of this: you can take control of your diagnosis. Schedule your day to die! Sign up right here, right now and we'll set up your appointment to "transition." You can transition at home even if you'd prefer.

Or imagine this: You're 60+ and have a college-aged grandchild who wants to go to college. Your grandchild "needs" this educational opportunity if they are to succeed in life. The only thing standing in the way of their success, their future...is YOU. If you really love your grandchild, don't you want them to have the best in life even if you're not there to see it?

Godless has many characters. Most of the characters were introduced in the first two books in the series. But this one also focuses in on one pastor and his family as they struggle to do the right thing and stand up against a church board that is pro-transition.

My thoughts: The series has reminded me of Frank Peretti's novels. The ideas are truly terrifying. It isn't just the lack of respect for human life and dignity in regards to how the elderly are treated. (I imagine that the disabled would also be pressured to transition. If you can't work and contribute to society, go ahead and die.)

The breakdown of the family is complete. Adults never marry, never enter monogamous relationships, never learn to love others unconditionally and sacrificially, never have children, never have need to be selfless. The novels do show the other side, however. The "breeder" class where values have not disintegrated and human life is still seen as being in the image of God.

My favorite character was Alex, the pastor of a Colorado church. My least favorite character was Matthew. These two have several conversations throughout the book. Matthew is a tortured soul, chained to his bad decisions past and present. He comes as "Frank" seeking answers to his questions. Not that he's always open to the answers he receives from Alex. But Alex isn't his only counselor.
 
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible