Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Question of the Week #26

Welcome to the twenty-sixth edition of the Question of the Week. We're about at the halfway point of the year. So my question this week is a reflective one. Use this as a springboard for discussing whatever you'd like. You don't have to stick to these questions specifically.

How is your Bible reading going? Are you meeting the goals you set earlier in the year? If you chose to go with a Bible reading plan, how is that going for you? Are you sticking with it? Have you experienced any setbacks along the way? Have you made Bible-reading a habit, a discipline? What have you learned along the way? Do you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share?
My answers----------------

I note my Bible reading progress every Sunday in my Sunday Salon/Week In Review post. I also have progress-posts (see above) for each Bible. (For example, ESV Study Bible) I have completed the Wycliffe New Testament and the Tyndale New Testament. And I've read Genesis through Ruth in the ESV Study Bible (also Job).

That's sidestepping the question a teeny bit perhaps. I have incorporated Bible-reading into my daily life. It's become a natural part of my life now--part of my routine. So on the one hand, it's not something that I brush aside and make excuses for anymore. I don't have time. I'm too busy. Missing one day won't matter. I'm too stressed. I'll just double up tomorrow. I'll catch up on the weekend. Excuses are so easy to make. And I think it's human nature to make excuses.

So I'm pleased I've been able to make a lifestyle change. Believe me, a year ago, was not a pretty picture. Two years ago was tragic. Three years ago, I don't even want to think about. But it's a God thing, a grace thing. I don't take credit for it. Grace is so central to daily life. It keeps you grounded and keeps you alive.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: Love's Pursuit

Mitchell, Siri. 2009. Love's Pursuit. Bethany House. 329 pages.

Poor Puritans. They hardly ever get a good rep in fiction. In Love's Pursuit, readers meet a community of Puritans (Stoneybrooke Towne) living in Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1640s. More specifically we meet two sisters, Susannah and Mary Phillips. We also meet a woman who wears a cloak of invisibility. (Well, she wears her shame and humiliation as a cloak of invisibility.) Susannah is in love with a man, John Prescotte. But he hasn't proposed yet. And he may never get the chance.

Susannah is a beautiful young woman, and there are other men in town--including a visiting Captain (Daniel Holcombe)--that have noticed just how beautiful and wonderful she is. One of her would-be suitors is Simeon Wright a well-respected man in Stoneybrooke. A man who could have his pick of many of the young ladies in town. They all think he's swoon-worthy. Take for example Susannah's own sister, Mary. Mary thinks that Simeon Wright would make a fine husband...for herself. But when Simeon proposes to Susannah instead, then things begin to crumble for Susannah. She does not love Simeon. She loves John. She doesn't appreciate the fact that Mary is angry with her because he proposed to the 'wrong' sister. Susannah doesn't want to wear any blame there. She didn't "steal" him from her because she doesn't want him!

Despite the fact that her father did NOT consent to his proposal--accepting on his daughter's behalf--the Wrights have the banns published in church. An unfortunate event since John had just days before proposed to Susannah with the blessings of both families. But with the announcement that she's to marry Simeon being read publicly in the church assembly, John Prescotte withdraws his offer of marriage and shuns her. Since John is now refusing to marry her, what choice does Susannah have but to marry Simeon? Other than every bone in her body telling her that Simeon is the wrong man for her, that he is not a good man, period, she has no "logical" reason to refuse her father's request to marry Simeon. The captain sure has a few ideas of how to fix the matter. But will she listen to him? There are a few in town who could warn Susannah about Simeon. A few who could tell her that he is not what he seems. That beneath the surface, he's hiding some cruel tendencies. It's looking like they'll never be a happily ever after for Susannah...no matter what she decides.

I'm not sure I "liked" this one. The narration was first person. But here's the odd bit, it had multiple narrators. Each narrator spoke in the first person. And there was no clear separation marking who was speaking. I think if this had been indicated somehow (it is possible, I've seen other books do it) it would have been an easier read. Readers just have to piece together for themselves the narration the best they can. I do think it gets easier as it goes on. But those first few chapters are a bit rough because things are just beginning to unfold.


I do think the book was a little harsh with the Puritan angle. Using the equation that Puritans are bad and evil meant that for our heroine to have any chance to be happy, she has to be outcast and shunned and cut off from her community.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Salon (Week in Review (June 21-27)

In the ESV Study Bible, I read all of Judges and all of Ruth.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Question of the Week #25

Welcome to the twenty-fifth edition of the Question of the Week! Please consider sending me your ideas for future questions :) I am SO VERY THANKFUL for the people who have done so!

Do you like to talk about the Bible with other people? Do you like to have biblical discussions? debates? arguments? passionate ramblings?
----------My answers------------

Yes and no. I can talk the Bible morning, noon, and night with my mom. These conversations are rarely planned, and are always enjoyable. (And no, we don't always agree.) And I enjoy talking about the Bible with a few other people in my life. But it's rare for me to do this with non-family members. Maybe because I'm shy (in person). Maybe I'm afraid of being misunderstood. Maybe because I know a lot of stubborn people. Maybe because I like to know where the other person is coming from. Maybe because I'm not one to confront anyone about anything. I'm opinionated. Always opinionated. But I'm not one to argue--calmly or not-so-calmly with "outsiders." Like if I disagree (often quite strongly) with my pastor's sermons (which is almost always the case) then I'm not one to approach, confront, or argue. I tend to think that putting someone on the defensive isn't the way to go about it. I'm not one to start a debate. (There are some exceptions to the rule. I might email the preacher privately if I feel righteously indignant and brave. But 98% of the time, I let it go.)

One new-to-me game that you might want to try for yourself is a Bible-focused game of Twenty Questions. When the electricity went out a few weeks ago, mom, dad, and I played this game for about two hours. (We were left without power a little over fifteen hours.) One person would think of something from the Bible (a person, a place, an object or "thing", an animal, etc.) and the others would ask questions. The questions have to be something with yes/no answers. And whoever guessed right got to pick next. Some took a lot more than twenty questions, but we weren't counting :) This game gave everyone a chance to be clever. One of mom's was "peacock." And that one had us guessing forever. And dad was clever and did "furnace" once. Anyway, it was a fun game considering.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Revisiting Goals (Blog Improvement Project)

Original goals listed in the first task of the Blog Improvement Project

The twelfth assignment for the Blog Improvement Project is to revisit your original goals and do a mid-year review.

So what has happened since January 5, 2009? Well. I've done some redesigning. New header. New background. Some color changes on the columns. Set up a twitter account. De-cluttered my sidebars. Celebrated my one year blogoversary. Joined some challenges. (Finished a few as well.)

The original listed goals for the blog (January 5, 2009)
I want this blog to be a reflection of me, an extension of myself. That doesn't mean it's a me-me-me blog. But it does mean that it is okay if a post isn't explicitly bookish. I want to capture my life--the books I read, the music I listen to, the sermons and podcasts I listen to, the movies I watch--particularly if they're clean/Christian.

The books I read. I want to read the Bible. That's obvious I know. But true. This blog is primarily there to motivate me to actually read the Bible.

This means that every week I need to write a post with my progress reading the Bible. This isn't about me bragging saying look I was "good" this week. It's about me being accountable to someone. Even if that someone is an online stranger who has stumbled across my blog.

It's also about slow encouragement. For days when I feel like I haven't done anything. I can look back on where I've been, what I was feeling. It's easy for days, weeks, months, years to blend together. And when you're having a desert experience it's hard to remember that you've ever ever been anywhere else. That you've ever felt that mountain-top high.

I want the blog to be a reminder to keep things in the moment. That way I have all these moments to piece together somewhere down the road.

I also want the blog to have reviews of the Christian books I read--all ages. Fiction. Nonfiction. I want to read more Christian books in 2009.

My goal is to read TWO Christian books per week. This is in addition to reading the Bible.

So that automatically is three posts a week I've committed to. But I'd like to at least try to have a few more per week--whether it be a reflection/journal type post, a poem, a song, a meme, a music review, whatever.

I've joined several challenges here on the blog to encourage me to read Christian books.

I'd love to connect with readers. I haven't really done much (if any) exploring in the Christian blogging community and/or the Christian book-blogging community. I'd like to be a part of a community of some sorts. This means that I'd read other blogs--that I'd seek out new blogs, new friendships, etc. But that I'd also hopefully build a readership for this blog too. That people would find my blog and enjoy it for what it is. So I suppose this means: comments, memes, participation in community events when I find them.
Assessing those goals:

I do think the blog is a reflection of me. Usually when I stop posting, it reflects the chaos in my life.

I have read the Bible. I am continuing to read the Bible. I don't always read the same Bible. When I was sick, I switched Bibles to "protect" it (my leather one) from getting germified. And there was one night when I didn't have electricity so I didn't have enough light to read. But generally speaking, I've made Bible-reading a daily habit in my life.

I have continued to write my Bible-reading progress in each week's Sunday Salon posts.

I have read more Christian books in 2009 than I did in 2007 and 2008. But I'm still not where I wanted to be. Were my goals too high to be realistic? Am I just undisciplined? I had wanted to read two books per week. I wanted to read 100 Christian books in 2009. We're twenty-five weeks into the year, and I've only read 36 books. I have 64 books to read from now until December 31 to meet my goal. Does that sound very likely? I didn't think so! To look at the glass-half-full side of things, in 2007 and 2008 combined, I don't think I read 36 Christian books. So it's still an improvement over previous years.

I've failed miserably at seeking out other Christian blogs. Other than the participants of the Operation Actually Read Bible challenge, I've not gone out of my way to find new and new-to-me blogs of the Christian persuasion.

I think part of the reason my goals have been unattainable is because they aren't concrete enough. They've declared my intent. But they've not been measurable.

New goals:
  • To keep on keeping on in my Bible reading
  • To stay more focused in my reading of Christian books.
  • To strive for the 'impossible dream' of finishing 100 books in 2009
  • To be more consistent in my posts
  • To schedule a few more posts in advance
  • To consider ways to become more balanced as a blogger/reader. Perhaps to focus on ways to relax more and worry less about doing it all.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Week In Review (June 14-20)

This week I read Joshua in the ESV Study Bible. I didn't get a chance to read any in Psalms or continue reading in Luke. Which is just sad. I made a challenge to read and study a gospel, so naturally, now I'm craving to read in the Old Testament. Oh well. I hope to get to Luke soon.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009 Completed

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman
Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent
Fixing Abraham by Chris Tiegreen
No Woman So Fair by Gilbert Morris
Tyndale New Testament

Did you finish reading all the books on your spring reading list? If not, why not?

No, I listed 22 books, and finished 7. I had hopes of reading two Christian books per week. But I was too ambitious. I just don't have the discipline to read that much.

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?

I read a few books that weren't on the list. I didn't list them for this challenge. I know I probably could have. But I wanted to stick to the original list.

What was your favorite book that you read this spring? Least favorite? Why?

I love, love, loved Fireflies in December. I highly recommend that one!!! Least favorite? Probably Gilbert Morris. I just didn't feel the connection with that one as much as I did with the others on the list. It's not that it was a bad book by any means. I just didn't love it as much as I loved the others.

Did you discover a new author or genre this spring? Did you love them? Not love them?

All of these authors were new to me. It was my first time reading Julie Lessman, and she is just as great as My Friend Amy always says she is. :)

Did you learn something new because of Spring Reading Thing 2009 — something about reading, or yourself, or a topic you read about?

I really enjoyed the Tyndale New Testament. Reading the New Testament in this translation really helped me see a few things in a new light.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

I loved the motivation to keep reading!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: Eyes Wide Open

Wilhite, Jud. 2009. Eyes Wide Open.

I was a bit skeptical about this one. It's not unusual for me to approach new or new-to-me-authors with skepticism. With a subtitle like "See and Live The Real You" it's easy to see how this could go either way.

What did I think about the book? I think this book will suit some readers better than others. And I think I'm a picky reader when it comes to Christian nonfiction. Some readers love devotional type books. Books that focus on stories and making connections. Books that are light. Other readers love theology. To use a really poor analogy, there are a few varieties of Christian Nonfiction books. The denser, fiber-rich theological books and the lighter, sometimes deemed tastier white bread ("wonder bread") type of books which include many devotional books and a good many Christian living books.

Eyes Wide Open is inspired by scripture. Each chapter ties into several verses or chapters. And the concepts "truths" presented in the book are based on scripture. I didn't find anything un-scriptural. But. For me, it was a little too focused on stories. A little too focused on making connections to modern pop-culture. And I think some readers will appreciate this. Maybe some readers need those references to feel the bible is relevant to their lives. Maybe some readers need those stories to feel connected with the book and with the message. So on the one hand, I found the book included key concepts, important truths taken from the scripture. But on the other hand, there was more time spent in each chapter relating the scripture back to the readers through stories. Sometimes these stories were personal. Sometimes these stories were about real people living life. Other times these connections had more to do with modern pop culture, society, and celebrity.

It's all personal preference. The book is written in an informal, conversational style. It was easy to read. It is reader-friendly, no doubt. And in a way it reminds me of the more-modern preaching style, it's not unusal for preachers these days to focus on stories, focus on anecdotes, focus on using examples and illustrations to showcase scriptural truths.

There's nothing "wrong" with that approach at all. Many are receptive to it. Many prefer it.

I liked this one in parts. Each chapter contained a paragraph or two that summed it all up. And I would find myself enjoying these nuggets. And these truths were significant ones, valuable ones. There were a few that really spoke to me and where I am in my life. So for those I am extremely grateful. I think I realized a few things about myself while reading this one. So this book wasn't a waste of my time--and I don't think it would be a waste of your time either. But I wish it focused even more on the bible and less time naming names.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Question of the Week #24

Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition of the Question of the Week! Please consider sending me your ideas for future questions :) I am SO VERY THANKFUL for the people who have done so! This week's question...this week's question comes from Worthwhile Books.

At what age did you earnestly start to read the Scriptures? What motivated you?

My answer ---------------

I have several answers--don't I always?!--I became interested in reading the more friendly parts of the Bible--let's say the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, around the age of eight. Around ten or eleven, I ventured into parts of the Old Testament--Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings. Around fourteen or fifteen I ventured into some of the more intimidating (to me) books like Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, Jeremiah, etc. But there were a few books like Leviticus and Ezekiel that I didn't brave until I was eighteen or nineteen! I read the bible through for the first time around my freshman year in college. And I've been reading it all ever since.

As to what motivated me, it was passion, obsession, and curiosity. I loved reading bible story books as a child. Loved spending time with my mom. I went to a christian school, and in elementary school, bible time was one of my favorite parts of the day. In early grades, teachers had these huge picture cards--and there was text they'd read along and ever-so-often they'd change pictures. Anyway, the whole affair had me a bit mesmerized. But I really and truly got swept away in third grade. I had a teacher who drew stick-figure bible stories on the chalk board. I can't remember where we started. But I know we were doing history books in the Old Testament. The stories I loved best were about Elijah and Elisha.

And at home we had "The Book for Children" with its flashy red cover. These were short little snippets--not actual verses or anything--that told stories from the Old Testament and the New Testament. But even more importantly, my mom and I would read the bible together side by side. I'll save the story of my first bible for another day. But needless to say, there was a passion and desire to read the Bible early on...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Disappearance of God

The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by R. Albert Mohler Jr. 2009. Multnomah. 194 pages.

I liked this one. (I loved some chapters though.) The book addresses a handful of issues including the emergent church (seeker-friendly) movement and the newish trend of "open" theology. Of course, these two topics are just a few of the things discussed in Mohler's newest book. (Others include the doctrines of sin and hell, postmodernism, and post-post-modernism, etc.) Essentially, he's asking readers to be smart about their beliefs, to become biblically grounded in the faith, in the essentials, and to stand firm in those beliefs. If you accept that the Bible is the Word of God, that it is inspired and God-breathed...that it is infallible and absolute, then you'll have no trouble discerning truth from lies when it comes to popular and "new" preachings and teachings. Mohler doesn't hide the fact that there is a lot of false teaching and preaching, a lot of false theology in our modern-day culture. In a way, this isn't new. Not at all, every generation faces false teachers. False teachers generally peddling the same old thing as the newest and greatest next big thing. But it can spread faster these days. And with people lacking a grounding in the Word, it is easier for people to be deceived. And it is harder to make a stand, in a way. I think it has always been hard to take a stand. (Today, we may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. That is a lot different than feeling like you're life was in danger.) He does argue that it is important for Christians to be able to know what is essential to the faith, and what isn't. He preaches that it is important to recognize danger signs. If a preacher never, ever, ever preaches about sin and hell. If they never let listeners know that they need to be saved, that they're in desperate need of a Savior, if they just preach happy storys about how to live happy little lives in their happy little worlds, then that's a clue that something is off. He argues that preachers should not be acting as pyschologists and therapists, they should be preaching from the Word of God. And as such, they need to preach from all of it--the good news along with the bad news. After all, the "good news" isn't "good" unless you have the whole story, the whole message. Without the contrast, there's nothing to make it vital and life-changing. There must be bad news before there is good news. Going along with this, he argues that universalism is dangerous. If I had to sum it up, I would say that this book argues for the God of the Bible and warns against people making and creating a God of their own choosing and making. You can't pick and choose what God is and isn't. You're not the boss, God is.

Dreamybee asks, "How is Spiritual Openness defined and what are some of the dangerous beliefs that it encourages?" Open theology simply put asserts that God is not sovereign and omniscient. God has limited knowledge, limited control, limited power. God is helpless in what he can do. And he's waiting around--like all of us--to see how it all plays out. God is finding things out minute by minute, day by day. The God of open theology can't know the future because the future is ever-changing. The God of open theology is slave to humanity. On the one hand, this "God" can't be blamed for suffering and evil. Because he's subject to it too. He's powerless to act, he's passively watching things play out and hoping for the best. Essentially this makes every statement about the God of the Bible null and void. It calls everything God is into question and creates a new rule book of what God can and can't do, and who God is. It's dangerous because people are creating a God according to their whims and playing around with things they have no business with. They're fooling themselves and trying to fool others into following them.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

A Bride in the Bargain

Gist, Deeanne. 2009. A Bride in the Bargain. Bethany House. 365 pages.

I loved almost everything about this one. To keep all of his land, Joe Denton needs a wife. If he doesn't have a wife--or proof of his first wife's death--by a certain date, he loses half of his claim. Denton is a lumber-man. He lives near Seattle in the Washington Territory in the late 1860s. Women, quite naturally, are scarce. But one man, Asa Mercer, has a plan. A plan to bring women into the territory. For a fee--several hundred dollars, men can buy wives--sight unseen of course. He's selling wives faster than women are volunteering to be quite honest. But he's hoping with the civil war turning everything--North and South--all topsy-turvy, that there will be plenty of widows and orphans and women down on their luck who are looking for new starts. Women who might have lost brothers, husbands, fathers. Women who might have lost their homes. But can he persuade enough of them to come with him? Is he on the up and up?

Anna Ivey thinks she's going west to be a cook. In return for paying her passage, she'll be working off her debt to Mr. Joe Denton, by cooking for him and his lumberjack crew. But when Denton makes a stop at the church, Anna realizes that she's in for more than she bargained for! She has no trouble working for her keep--knowing that she is in fact in debt to this man. But to be his wife?! She didn't sign up for that. She's still grieving the loss of her mother, father, and brother. Everyone she's loved has died. And she's convinced that she's bad luck. To give her heart to anyone means that they'll up and die on her just like her family. So she thinks.

Can Joe Denton persuade the beautifully misguided and oh-so-stubborn Miss Anna to become his wife before time runs out and he loses his land? The attraction is instant. Yes, he needs her to say 'I do.' But the thought of having her as his wife makes him a happy man indeed. And she is drawn to him. Though she's not one to admit it right off. She wants proof that he loves her, that he wants her.

Louise asked, "How well, do you think, that the historical information about Washington State anno 1870's is described? Had this book given you any insights into life in Western USA at that time in history?" I'm not an expert by any means. I'd read books where people are traveling West (usually by wagon) to the Washington area. But I'd not read any where men were ordering wives. It reminded me of a movie I saw as a kid called "Westward the Women." Of course, in that movie, the women were heading to California by wagon...and in this book we have women traveling by ship to Washington. But the premise--men ordering wives from the East--is the same. There was an Asa Mercer. And this book did make me curious.

Puss Reboots, this one is my favorite. I can't promise that every reader will love it. It's a historical novel. It's a romance. It's a clean romance. It's by a Christian publisher. But it's not preachy-and-sappy. Yes, there are a couple of scenes where our main character gains some spiritual insight. But it's not over-the-top or anything. I think for readers that are drawn to historical fiction, you'll be pleased with this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Salon (Week in Review (June 7 - June 13)

What I've read this week:

Finished John (19-21) in Tyndale New Testament
Finished Deuteronomy in ESV Study Bible (11-34)
Psalms 81-125 in 1599 Geneva Bible
Luke 1 KJV

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Catching UP on reviews

This is the first week that I am participating in weekly geeks, this week's theme is catching up on book reviews.

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you hope to finish this week. (Be sure to leave a link to this post either in the comments of this post, or in the Mister Linky below.)

2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. (Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it.)

3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s).

4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!

Here are the books needing to be reviewed:

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by Albert Mohler Jr.
Eyes Wide Open: See and Live The Real You by Jud Wilhite
God's Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh
God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant
Circle of Friends: Lori by L. Diane Wolfe*
Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell*
Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart by Chuck Black*

* Books begun not finished, but likely will be finished soon and therefore I appreciate questions :)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Question of the Week #23

Welcome to the twenty-third edition of the Question of the Week! Please consider sending me your ideas for future questions :) I am SO VERY THANKFUL for the people who have done so!

This week's question...

What are your goals for the summer? These can be general goals or reading goals or whatever :)

------------------my answer------------

My reading goals:

to find a greater balance in my reading
a) to try to read more Christian fiction
b) to try to read more Christian nonfiction

to find time to read during the day (in addition to my time at night) so I can get more books read

My blogging goals:

to blog more consistently here at Operation Actually and Young Readers
to visit participant blogs more than I have been
to discover new Christian blogs/Christian bloggers

My life goals:

to spend time with my family
a) to maybe just maybe have a few buddy reads with my mom
b) to spend time with my sister (if she'll have me)
c) to spend time Star Treking and Star Gating with my dad

to eat healthy and be more aware of my choices

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blogoversary Today!

Today, I am celebrating the blogoversary of Operation Actually Read Bible. If you're a new (or newish) visitor, these details (below) let you know a little bit more about me. If you're a regular reader, I want to thank you for your support. I also want to thank all the participants of the Operation Actually challenge. I am so excited you wanted to take part in my little project. I also want to thank every one who has left me a comment and/or followed this little old blog. Your comments mean so much to me!

Last year, on my very first post, I wrote:
"I know--rationally speaking--that I NEED to read the Bible...that I NEED to study and read and pray. But it's not a part of my daily routine. Hence why I'm challenging myself to ACTUALLY read the Bible instead of just talking about how I need to start one day soon."
In December of 2008, in my very first Sunday Salon post, I wrote about why I named the blog "Operation Actually..."

If you're anything like me--and if you're a believer--you might have more intentions for reading the bible than actual follow-through. I talk about how I need to read this or that...or do this or that...or whatever. But when it comes down to it, I make one excuse after another to put it off another day and another day and another day. Hence the start of OPERATION ACTUALLY read Bible. Not just talk about it...not just make plans to do it...but to actually do it, to act on my 'good' intentions, to commit to living a more disciplined life.

When I started my blog, I didn't think of it as a challenge...but as the weeks went on...I came to see it as something that would be/could be a perpetual challenge that others could join in on. This isn't your typical challenge-blog, however. I didn't start the blog with the challenge in mind. I started the blog as my project, my baby. It just happened to grow into a challenge that others became interested in. If you'd like to join, visit this post and leave a comment.
And in my "About Me" post, I write,

I want this blog to be a reflection of me, an extension of myself. That doesn't mean it's a me-me-me blog. But it does mean that it is okay if a post isn't explicitly bookish. I want to capture my life--the books I read, the music I listen to, the sermons and podcasts I listen to, the movies I watch--particularly if they're clean/Christian.

The books I read. I want to read the Bible. That's obvious I know. But true. This blog is primarily there to motivate me to actually read the Bible.

This means that every week I need to write a post with my progress reading the Bible. This isn't about me bragging saying look I was "good" this week. It's about me being accountable to someone. Even if that someone is an online stranger who has stumbled across my blog.

I also want the blog to have reviews of the Christian books I read--all ages. Fiction. Nonfiction.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tyndale's New Testament

Tyndale's New Testament. Translated by William Tyndale. A Modern Spelling Edition of the 1534 Translation With An Introduction By David Daniell.

I would guess that most people today wouldn't bother with seeking out and reading this "1534" translation of the Bible. Most people prefer to keep it modern and up-to-date. A translation for today's people. A translation that is easy to understand, easy to relate to. I can't argue with that logic. Personally, I'm not a Message kinda girl. (Not much on the TNIV either or the CEV or the NCV. Not that I'm telling you what to think. If you love those translations, then I'm all for you reading them!)

William Tyndale wanted a translation of the Bible that was for the people. For common, ordinary, often-busy, well-meaning people. A translation that was easy for people to understand, to grasp. A translation that would bring the New Testament into the homes and hearts of the people.

From the introduction:

Many people have heard of Tyndale: very few have read him. Yet no other Englishman -- not even Shakespeare -- has reached so many...
With modernized spelling, and no other changes at all, that translation is here uncovered to show it as the modern book it once was...
Much of the New Testament in the 1611 Authorised Version (King James Version) came directly from Tyndale, as a glance at Luke 2 or most of Colossians or Revelation 21 will show. Some was subtly changed...
Throughout the New Testament where the Authorised Version is direct, simple, and strong, what it prints is pure Tyndale. Yet Tyndale's name is never mentioned...
The story of Tyndale is part of that of the revival of learning. His exceptional strengths were twofold. First was his good Greek and Hebrew, when such knowledge was not at all common...
The second of Tyndale's strengths is his power with the English language. He has an extraordinary ability to reach off the page and seize the reader's interest, both in his own theological writing and in his Biblical translations. This alertness comes from a conscious use of everyday words without inversions, a neutral word-order, and a wonderful ear... Tyndale understood how to ...make an even flow that pulls the reader along...
Tyndale felt passionately about the value of English...
Tyndale's everyday immediancy can be startling...
I loved reading this New Testament. I loved getting to know Tyndale. He was surprising easy (in some places) to understand. True, Tyndale's "everyday English" is not our "everyday English." But there is still much to appreciate.

Is it for every reader? Probably not. No translation is right for every reader. You've got to find the one that works for you best. But should you be intimidated by Tyndale? Not really. Tyndale wasn't trying to be grandiose and mighty. (Or pompous) He was hoping to be effective in reaching readers, in providing the bible in a translation that would meet the needs of the people. Using words and phrases that they'd understand. But in a way that was accurate to the Greek and Hebrew originals. For those interested in different translations, for those interested in the history of bible translation, or in the history of how the bible has effected society and culture, then this one satisfies.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The House In Grosvenor Square

Burkard, Linore Rose. 2009. The House in Grosvenor Square. Harvest House. 346 pages.

Christian regency romance. The sequel to Before the Season Ends. Ariana Forsythe, our heroine, is engaged to wed Phillip Mornay, a wealthy man, a ton favorite. Only a few weeks remain until the big "I do" and Mornay is a worried man. No, he's not worried he's making a mistake in marrying her. No, he's not worried his bride is going to redecorate his home from fabulous to frightful (though I might be!). No, he's worried that if he spends time with her, he'll want to be with her. Afraid that his newfound faith can't withstand temptations of the flesh, he's convinced to keep her at a safe distance. But when somewhat-unbelievable threats appear conveniently as a plot device, he decides her safety must come first. He is the one, the only one who can protect her. So he insists that she moves into his home. And before a suitable chaperone can be arranged! Cardboard villains abound in The House in Grosvenor Square. Providing ample opportunity for our hero and heroine to shine. The good news? I still loved Ariana and Phillip. The bad news? The villains weren't all that believable. And one of the plot devices felt like it got stuck on repeat. (Once is exciting drama, provides nice action and change of pace. Twice is pushing it. Three times is a bit too much.)

It may sound like I didn't like this one. That's not the case. It felt a bit predictable. But in its predictablity it felt comfortable. That's not an insult, I promise. You'll just have to trust me on that. I'm a soap opera addict. There's something satisfying about predictable. As long as you like the characters, there's not much to complain about. And I do like these characters. I enjoyed Before The Season Ends more. But I still am glad to have read this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday Salon: Week in Review (May 31 - June 6)

John 5-18 in the Tyndale New Testament
Psalms 70-80 in the 1599 Geneva Bible

I meant to finish John this past week. And I just lack three chapters. But those are easily accomplished tonight. So look for a review of the Tyndale New Testament early this week!

I do want to invite you to join me in a mini-challenge this summer. The mini-challenge is to choose one of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) to study over the summer months. All are welcome to join in. You don't have to be a participant in Operation Actually Read Bible. You don't have to have a blog.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Operation Actually: Summer Studies Mini-Challenge

Operation Actually: Summer Studies Mini-Challenge

Host: Operation Actually Read Bible

Duration of the Challenge: June 1, 2009 - September 7, 2009

Description of the Challenge: Participants will choose one gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) to study for the summer. Study could mean reading it multiple times (once a month for June, July, August). Or it could mean reading the gospel and reading books about that gospel (commentaries, study helps, etc.). Or it could mean reading the gospel, listening to the gospel, watching a video drama of the gospel, listening to sermon series preached from that gospel, or participating in a Bible Study or Sunday School class discussion of that gospel. It might mean memorization of passages.

You do not have to have a blog to participate. You can keep track of your progress on the mini-challenge by commenting on this site. (If you want. No one is going to make you share what you learn or anything! But sharing does build community among participants, so it is encouraged!

If you have a blog and would like to 'journal' your studies, feel free to do so. But it's not required.

You do NOT have to be a participant in the perpetual challenge Operation Actually Read Bible.

To sign up for the challenge, please leave a comment.

You can sign up without knowing which gospel you'd like to choose for the challenge.
But if you'd like to share that information when you sign up, it might be interesting.
Maybe folks reading the same gospel could participate in discussions together and encourage one another all summer long.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Question of the Week #22

Welcome to the twenty-second edition of the Question of the Week! Please consider sending me your ideas for future questions :) I am SO VERY THANKFUL for the people who have done so!

What are you thankful for this week? Have you taken time to count your blessings lately?
-----my answers----

I need to take more time to be thankful. I'm thankful for my family. My mom especially for taking care of me. She's a great support to me. And I'd be lost without her. I'm thankful that my sister is having a wee one. And I'm thankful that my brother-in-law got a job over the weekend! I'm thankful for good preaching. I think I've mentioned this before, but I am so very thankful that preachers and teachers think to take their ministries online. My life has been so blessed by listening to these sermons and podcasts. While an online ministry can never take the place of an actual church family--as far as support goes, no hugging over the internet after all--the teaching is a blessing, a gift that goes on giving. A gift that is best shared. Right now, I'm loving me some Alistair Begg. (Truth for Life, Free Downloads). Through his email newsletter, I learned of a new project of interest to me (and perhaps you) called Bible Mesh. (A site that will be launched fully in the Fall of 2009. Though a preview is available now.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible