Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: January 23-29

This week I...

finished 1 Kings in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
finished 2 Kings in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
finished 1 Chronicles in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
read 2 Chronicles 1-8 in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: A Million Ways To Die: The Only Way To Live

A Million Ways To Die: The Only Way to Live. Rick James. 2010. October 2010. David C. Cook. 336 pages.

As the story goes, in 1972, a young Egyptian businessman lost his wristwatch, valued at roughly $11,000. That's some wristwatch. It's amazing that anyone who found it in the rough-and-tumble city of Cairo would have attempted to return it, and it's shocking who did. 

I loved this one. I just LOVED it. You may have noticed--if you keep up with my reviews on the blog--that I love to share quotes from the books I read. I love to share the passages that mean something to me. Passages that reveal truth, that provoke me to think or re-think things, that challenge me, that provide encouragement and hope. In the case of A Million Ways to Die, it would prove nearly impossible. The book is just that good.

The premise of this one is simple, "In picking up our crosses and following Jesus, we walk a path of death, not a path to death. The path itself is one of death, but it leads to life--a life we care about and want" (26). In other words, "It certainly makes sense to me why an unbeliever would run from death. But for an unbeliever, to run from death is, in reality, to run from life. This is why we embrace death and consider it pure joy in whatever form we encounter it. Death is no longer a dead end or detour to life; it's a fuel stop. Death, like gasoline, is combusted and converted into mileage, enabling us to get to our destination--the light and life of the great city glowing over the horizon" (26). To experience--to fully experience Christ's resurrection power in our lives--in our daily lives--we need "little deaths", we need cross-bearing experiences. The book discusses trials, sorrows, and evangelism. It discusses humiliation, courage, faith, and love.

What did I love about this one? How it is Bible-based. How reliant it is on Scripture. The detailed focus on certain bible passages. James also effectively quotes others--preachers, teachers, theologians. Everything is relevant in this one. Whether the focus is on Lazarus, Jesus, Peter, Esther, or C.S. Lewis. James relates everything to how you and I should be living.

I also appreciated the honesty. James was honest in ways he didn't have to be honest. Revealing in ways he didn't have to be. Showing how human he is--how human all Christians are.

Though it's subject matter is death--it is all about LIVING. Living for Christ. I would definitely recommend this one!
As it would have been natural for the twelve disciples to think the cross was only for Jesus, it's natural for us to think the cross-bearing Jesus spoke of was only for the twelve disciples. But there's no I in team, and there's no "other guy" in discipleship. "That guy" with the speck in his eye, "that guy" carrying the cross--we are "that guy." (41)

There are a million ways for Christ's resurrected life to shine through us. (72)

Without the motivation of resurrection and the empowerment of the resurrected Christ, we are incapable of carrying the cross. We cannot submit to death without the power of the resurrection in us and the promise of resurrection before us. (73)

Lazarus is dead because some lessons can only be taught using a cadaver. (76)

The battle of faith is often fought while waiting for the battle to begin. (85)

It is during the waiting that the battle of faith is fought and won. If faith is victorious it does not simply survive the wait but emerges stronger. (86)

What we share in common as believers, we also share with Lazarus: We were all raised from the dead. The resurrection of our own salvation was no less staggering--indeed more so--than the physical raising of Lazarus. (99)

The growth of faith is not learning something new, but living out in the day-to-day what we have already experienced, and what we already know to be true, every day. Maturity in the Christian life is the wisdom of the aged coupled to the faith of a child. The Christian life is learning more and more about Christ while unlearning self-sufficiency.(99)

How does the church grow? A kernel of wheat falls to the ground. What is the secret of evangelism? A kernel of wheat must be willing to fall to the ground. What is the power of evangelism? When that kernel of wheat falls to the ground. What will keep the gospel from spreading? When the kernel of wheat refuses to fall to the ground. And here we find ourselves once again, in our willingness to die. In our little deaths, spiritual power and life is unleashed. (129)

Humility, brokenness, love, and grace are what God's spiritual in-crowd are wearing this year and every year. (137)

Pride is this journey from humanity to deity, and our mental narrative is the corruptible vehicle that transports us. Humility is the voyage back to the truth about who and what we really are. (231)

Jesus is truth, and He relates to us in truth. We do not relate to Him with any intimacy in our mental story, the one that pits us as the hero and sees the world orbiting around us. The "us" of our vain imaginings is fictional, and Jesus does not relate to fictional people. It is only when we humble ourselves that we experience Him and taste His presence. Jesus relates to us as we are, not as we imagine ourselves to be. (264)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Stars Collide

Stars Collide. Janice Thompson. 2011. [January 2011] Revell. 324 pages.

"You want me to kiss him...where?" I stared at my director, hoping I'd somehow misunderstood his last-minute change to the script. 
A look of exasperation crossed his face. "On the lips, of course. This is a family show, Kat. Remember?"
"Of course." I nodded and fought to keep my breathing even as I rephrased the question. "I mean, where in the scene? Beginning, middle, or end? What's my cue?"

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy star in Janice Thompson's Stars Collide, a light-hearted romance novel set on and off set in Beverly Hills. Kat's grandmother, Lenora Worth, was somebody...once. A glamorous movie star. However, when readers meet her, she has lost touch almost completely with reality.

Her granddaughter helps her grandmother stay in her fantasy world, when it suits her, which is most of the time. If her grandmother is stuck in the fifties and sixties, it's fine with her. If her grandmother thinks that the characters in television shows are real, are her friends, it's fine with her. But Kat is about to start caring when her grandmother begins confusing KK's fictional love life (on TV) with reality. Scott Murphy is Jack--in her mind, in her heart, though that is just the role he plays on the family-friendly sitcom. When Lenora Worth starts talking to the paparazzi, however, Kat realizes how embarrassing, how damaging this fantasy world could be.

For Kat's "secret love" is no secret anymore. Though Kat and Scott have been single for the three seasons they've been filming the show, they're only now taking (baby) steps to reveal to one another how they really feel. Angie and Jack's first kiss, is Scott and Kat's first kiss, and their romance is all-too-real. Sweet, gentle, tender. And embarrassing. For with Lenore's mind being what it is--it's going to be moving quickly. Scott and his family are understanding--perhaps a little too understanding under the circumstances.

I'll be honest. This novel was a little too cute, too sweet, too something for me. As a romance, it didn't quite work for me. (Though I think it would have worked if I'd been ten or twelve. Just like Angie and Jack's relationship is written to make the kids of the show all silly, all giddy.) Kat and Scott's "real" romance felt too rushed, a bit underdeveloped, and their on-stage romance felt too gimmicky, too forced. It felt believable--as a bad sitcom.

As a family drama, the novel worked a bit better. We get a glimpse of Kat's reaction to her grandmother's declining mental health. But just a glimpse. It's more selfish than concerned, in my opinion. My grandmother is embarrassing me; my grandmother could be jeopardizing my relationship with Scott. Perhaps, that response is authentic. But. I think feeling overwhelmed or worried would have been more honest. A wow, my grandmother is really losing the ability to function, to reason. Her memory loss is dramatically worsening week by week. If it continues deteriorating...what will happen. Now, Kat could authentically be in denial. Refusing to admit how serious this is. And denial might be completely valid in this situation. And if that is what Thompson was trying to show, then it worked well, I suppose. I just felt there were things that Kat was not being honest with herself about.

I did enjoy the movie references of the grandmother. How much Lenora loved Doris Day and "Secret Love." The references to Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and other glamorous movie stars of the day, etc.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Book Review: Jesus in the Present Tense

Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ. Warren W. Wiersbe. 2011. January 2011. David C. Cook. 208 pages.
When Helen Keller was nineteen months old, she contracted an illness that left her blind and deaf for life. It was not until she was ten years old that she began to have meaningful communication with those around her. It occurred when her gifted teacher Anne Sullivan taught her to say "water" as Anne spelled "water" on the palm of her hand. From that pivotal experience, Helen Keller entered the wonderful world of words and names, and it transformed her life. 
Once Helen was accustomed to this new system of communication with others, her parents arranged for her to receive religious instruction from the eminent Boston clergyman Phillips Brooks. One day during her lesson, Helen said these remarkable words to Brooks, "I knew about God before you told me, only I didn't know his name." (13-14)
I enjoyed Jesus In the Present Tense. I especially enjoyed the opening chapters of Jesus in the Present Tense. I loved the illustration with Helen Keller. I did. I loved it. And it was nice to begin the book with such a strong, favorable impression. (This was my first time reading Warren W. Wiersbe, and I'm always a bit skeptical when reading someone new.) After briefly discussing God's revelation--his name, his character--in the Old Testament and through the testimony of John the Baptist and Christ's earliest disciples, the book focuses on Jesus' I Am statements. Seven, of these "I Am" statements you may be familiar with. They are all found in the Gospel of John. (I Am The Bread of Life. I Am The Light of the World. I Am The Door. I Am The Good Shepherd. I Am The Resurrection and the Life. I Am The Way, The Truth, and the Life. I Am The True Vine.) But Wiersbe includes two other "I Am" occurrences. One occurring on the cross when Jesus recites Psalm 22--I am a worm. The second occurring during Saul's conversion experience as told in Acts.

The chapters weren't always what I expected. Not that that is a bad thing. Not necessarily. It's just that given the subject matter, I expected the focus to be a little different. I wasn't expecting so many Old Testament illustrations, for example. Using Abraham and Joseph to discuss Jesus' I Am the Resurrection statement, for example. I'd not thought of the concept of the "resurrection" in quite that way. In God working and moving in the personal lives--again and again and again. (I can see God's providence throughout both testaments. And I do believe--very strongly--in God's Providence, his Sovereignty. That God has purposed everything and that he is using people to accomplish his will, his design. And I do believe in regeneration, in being born again, in the spiritually dead being awakened to the truth by the Spirit.) Some of these illustrations made more sense than others. (There were a few cases, where I wasn't quite persuaded that his argument was thoroughly sound. The way he shifted back and forth through the OT and NT. He moved a little too fast for me in a few places. It would require more study, more thought, more meditation for me to decide one way or another. I'm all about context, context, context. And to piece together verses here, there, everywhere--to make a statement, well, I'd need to study each verse on its own to see what it was saying, who it was addressed to, the specific meaning, etc. To see how they connect--if they connect--to say if they're saying exactly what Wiersbe says they're saying. I'm not one to assume that any Old Testament promise about God's blessings can be applied to believers today.

Still, there were places I just loved it. There were places I found truth.

Jesus says "I Am" and not "I will be whatever you want Me to be." One person wants Jesus only as a religious teacher but not as Lord and Savior, while others want Him to give them business success so they can become wealthy. But we must accept Him just as He is, and not receive Him in bits and pieces. If we don't accept Him as He is, we don't receive Him at all. (33)

I try to be tolerant of other people's opinions, but not when they deny absolutes. Plastic words and plastic ideas that can be molded to please everybody are very dangerous, and I will not accept them. (70)

If all of God's sheep would reproduce, and if all the lambs would mature and the flock would obey the Shepherd, how different churches would be! (90)

People "come alive" to that which excites, delights, and satisfies them, that which is at the heart of their very being; and Christians should come alive to anything that relates to Jesus Christ. (97)

Christianity is not just another religion with a statement of faith. Christianity is Christ! (103)

Christianity is not a creed, an organization, or a religious system. It is the life of God in humans, making us more like Jesus Christ. (120)

God's Word is a gift we have received from God, and we must accept it and thank Him for it. Christians who are not thankful for the Bible will not spend much time with the Bible. (120)

The beautiful thing about growing in our knowledge of the Lord is that the Holy Spirit takes that knowledge and uses it to make us more like Jesus. The goal of our salvation is likeness to Christ, not just knowledge of the Bible. (148)

God knows us thoroughly. In the Scriptures He tells us what we are, and we had better agree with Him. But what we are in ourselves isn't important; it's what we are in Christ that really counts. (157)

Every Christian minister, teacher, and musician must carefully examine each sermon, lesson, and song, and ask, "Where is Jesus? Where is the gospel?" We are not ministering to display our talents or exalt ourselves but to glorify Jesus Christ. (173)

Believers who are living in the present tense should be sensitive to the needs of others and take time to show concern, to listen, and to encourage. (185)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: January 16-22

This week I finished...

Joshua in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
Judges in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
Ruth in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
1 Samuel in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible
2 Samuel in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review: January 9-15

This week I finished Numbers and Deuteronomy in the NLT Large print Slimline Bible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Review: Slave

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages.
"I am a Christian."
The young man said nothing else as he stood before the Roman governor, his life hanging in the balance. His accusers pressed him again, hoping to trip him up or force him to recant. But once more he answered with the same short phrase. "I am a Christian."
It was the middle of the second century, during the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius. Christianity was illegal, and believers throughout the Roman Empire faced the threat of imprisonment, torture, or death. 
I loved this one. I just LOVED it. I found it insightful and fascinating. I found it reliant on Scripture--as it should be--and I found it relevant. The premise of this one is simple but profound. MacArthur argues that the word usually translated servant in the New Testament--in most English translations--should be translated slave. (According to MacArthur, only one translation gets the word consistently right--the Holman Christian Standard Bible.) For that is what the Greek word truly means. Slave. A word naturally heavy in connotations. The imagery used throughout the New Testament supports this argument. To be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ. Christ redeems us, saves us from our slavery to sin. But we then become His. We are His slaves. We've traded one master for another. And that changes everything. In this life and the next.

MacArthur explores what slavery meant in the Old Testament and the New Testament. He discusses the Old Testament exodus. How God--through Moses and Aaron--delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. Highlighting the fact that the Hebrews then were slaves to God. They were to serve and obey Him and Him alone. They were saved from slavery so they could serve Him with all their hearts, their souls, their minds. They were saved to worship and obey and live holy lives.

He explores what slavery meant in different ancient cultures--particularly in Greco-Roman society. He spends several chapters highlighting what it meant to be a Roman slave. And how it was this image of slavery that Christ had in mind in the New Testament.

It discusses how Christ is Lord and Savior. How you must accept Jesus as Lord if you are to accept Him at all. He discusses how we, as believers, are both slaves and adopted sons and daughters. And that this dual imagery was NOT unusual for the times. Several chapters focus on adoption.

It also examines the doctrines of grace. (Particularly on the "T" of Total Depravity.) I would definitely recommend this one!
We don't hear about that concept much in churches today. In contemporary Christianity the language is anything but slave terminology. It is about success, health, wealth, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness. We often hear that God loves people unconditionally and wants them to be all they want to be. He wants to fulfill every desire, hope, and dream. Personal ambition, personal fulfillment, personal gratification--these have all become a part of the language of evangelical Christianity--and part of what it means to have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Instead of teaching the New Testament gospel--where sinners are called to submit to Christ--the contemporary message is exactly the opposite: Jesus is here to fulfill all your wishes. Likening him to a personal assistant or a personal trainer, many churchgoers speak of a personal Savior who is eager to do their bidding and help them in their quest for self-satisfaction or individual accomplishment.
The New Testament understanding of the believer's relationship to Christ could not be more opposite. He is the Master and Owner. We are His possession. He is the King, the Lord, and the Son of God. We are His subjects and His subordinates. In a word, we are His slaves. (14-15)
The Bible's emphasis on slavery to God is missing from the pages of most English translations. But that which is hidden in our modern versions was a central truth for the apostles and the generations of believers who came after them. (19)
True Christianity is not about adding Jesus to my life. Instead, it is about devoting myself completely to Him--submitting wholly to His will and seeking to please Him above all else. It demands dying to self and following the Master, no matter the cost. In other words, to be a Christian is to be Christ's slave. (22)

Submission to the lordship of Christ--a heart attitude that works itself out in obedience to Him--is the defining mark of those who are genuinely converted. (46)

As slaves, believers have no intrinsic glory in themselves. But as members of the Lord's household, we are distinguished simply by our connection to Him. To be His doulos is an incomparable honor. (97)

Though the doctrine of total depravity is often the most attacked and minimized of the doctrines of grace, it is the most distinctly Christian doctrine because it is foundational to a right understanding of the gospel (in which God initiates everything and receives all the glory). The neglect of this doctrine within American evangelicalism has resulted in all kinds of errors, including both the watered-down gospel and the seeker-driven pragmatism of the church growth movement. But the Scripture is clear: unless the Spirit of God gives spiritual life, all sinners are completely unable to change their fallen nature or to rescue themselves from sin and divine judgment. They can neither initiate nor accomplish any aspect of that redemption. Even the supposed "good things" that unbelievers do are like filthy rags before a Holy God (Isa. 64:6). Contrast that with every other religious system, in which people are told that through their won efforts they can achieve some level of righteousness, thereby contributing to their salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. (121-2)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: Courting Miss Amsel

Courting Miss Amsel. Kim Vogel Sawyer. 2011. Bethany House. 346 pages.

This certainly isn't the way I imagined it.

Set in Walnut Hill, Nebraska, in 1882, Courting Miss Amsel is about the story of a young woman's first teaching job. When the year begins, Miss Amsel--Miss Edythe Amsel--is so enthusiastic, so passionate, about her new job. She's thrilled to have this opportunity. But. The job isn't without its challenges--as you can imagine.

Chances are if you've read a "teacher" book in the past--in the historical fiction genre--you know what to expect. You probably expect a single man (either an uncle or a widower) raising children on his own (usually boys, though not always) to fall head over heels with the new school teacher. How wonderful that this beautiful woman has such a big heart, that she has already taken a liking to his children. How great it would be if she could mother them full-time. But. The path to love--even in these types of books--rarely comes easily. You probably expect there to be one student-an older boy--who just doesn't get it, who thinks his job is to bully the new teacher out of town. Add in a few uncooperative parents and there you have it.

Courting Miss Amsel does not disappoint. I, for one, don't mind predictability. Not when it means another chance for a satisfying read. If I love a formula--really love a formula--then I don't mind reading it again and again and again.

While I didn't love Miss Amsel--a bit too stubborn for me--I did enjoy her story--her romance. I liked the romantic hero, Joel Townsend. I liked his two nephews, Robert and Johnny. I liked Mrs. Kinley, Miss Amsel's landlady. I liked many of the people in town--though not all of them. Courting Miss Amsel may not be for every reader, but I certainly enjoyed it!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Review: Serendipity

Serendipity. Cathy Marie Hake. 2011. Bethany House. 352 pages.

"Hoo-oo-ie, she's het up!"
Margaret Rose shook a spatula at the men in her kitchen.
"If you plan to eat supper, you'll not be egging him on."
All three bearded jaws dropped.
"I mean it." Never once had she made that threat. In her five years of cooking and caring for a baker's dozen ragtag of old men, Maggie managed to tolerate plenty. Love made it easy to dote on them and overlook blunders. Most often, her "uncles" showered her with affection, appreciation, and endless amusement. Today, however, was different. 
Why is Margaret Rose so bothered? Well, the subject of marriage has come up. One of her "uncles" wants her to know that when her "groom" shows up, it's okay for her to leave them behind. To make a new life for herself, to have a home of her own. Fact is, she's the only girl, the only woman, in her (small) community of Carver's Holler. And it's her "job" to take care of everyone. She doesn't believe that any potential "groom" will appear at her door, that they'll come a handsome stranger ready to propose marriage. But chapter two holds a few surprises.

A man, Todd Valmer, is on his way back home to his ranch in Gooding, Texas, with his mother when she gets sick. Margaret Rose is his mother's best chance--as unlikely as that seems--she is able to see that the woman has had a stroke. And she agrees to nurse her until the next train goes through. During that week, Todd sees just how amazing Margaret Rose is. And she has a chance to see just how swoon-worthy he is. But can he convince her that he's worth marrying in such a short amount of time? Will the potential of love, of happily ever after, be enough to convince Margaret Rose to leave her home, her family, her friends, to take a chance on a struggling rancher?

I liked this one. I liked this couple. I liked the struggles these two have with one another after their married. Among other things sharing a one-room house with the mother--the partially paralyzed, understandably bitter mother. She may be thankful (in her own way) for the temporary nursing of a stranger. But. She does not think that Margaret Rose is good enough for her son. She is angry, bitter, and scared. And if Margaret Rose can keep her temper when she's provoked time and time again, it might just be a miracle. But while caring for his mother--in such a small home--may be one big issue, it's not the only issue. The truth is Todd doesn't know Margaret that well. And she doesn't know him. And this getting-to-know-you business can be a little tricky. There are so many opportunities to be misunderstood. I liked the commitment these two made to one another. I liked how this romance focused on the marriage itself.

The novel is set in Arkansas and Texas in 1893. It's narrated by Todd, Margaret, and Helga (the mother).

© 2011 Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: January 2-8

This week I...

finished Genesis in the NLT Large Print Slimline Bible
finished Exodus in the NLT Large Print Slimline Bible
finished Leviticus in the NLT Large Print Slimline Bible
finished Mark in the NASB MacArthur Bible
finished 1 Peter in the NASB MacArthur Bible
finished 2 Peter in the NASB MacArthur Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review: The Girl in the Gatehouse

The Girl in the Gatehouse. Julie Klassen. 2011. [January 2011]. Bethany House. 400 pages.

The end of the only life I've known, thought Mariah Aubrey, looking back through the carriage window at the shrinking figures of her mother and sister.

Our heroine, Mariah Aubrey, has a ruined reputation. For the sake of her family, for the sake of her younger sister, she has been kicked out of her home. Taking Dixon, her former nurse, she has taken refuge in the gatehouse on her Aunt Fran's estate. Mrs. Prin-Hallsey isn't so welcoming as to include her fallen niece into her company, into her society, but she has given her a place to stay. The two do come to an understanding, however, before her aunt's death. Her aunt has entrusted her with a chest to 'hide' in the attic of the gatehouse.

Hugh Prin-Hallsey, the step-son of her aunt, is NOT happy with the arrangement, with the charity being shown to Miss Aubrey. He determines that if she is to remain, she must pay rent--high rent at that. For, he desperately needs money. He even leases the estate for several months to a naval officer, Captain Matthew Bryant. (Captain Bryant would LOVE to buy the estate. He hopes that by proving his wealth, his worth, he can win the love of a beautiful young woman, Isabella.)

So what's a young woman to do when she needs to earn some money? Well, if you're as creative as Miss Aubrey, you decide to try to publish the novel you've secretly been writing. You decide that writing novels may be just the thing for your new life, your new beginning. But will it be easy to keep her writing a secret from those around her--from Mr. Prin-Hallsey, from Captain Bryant? What would they think of her if they knew the truth?

I enjoyed The Girl in the Gatehouse. I enjoyed the characters. I particularly liked Dixon and Martin. (Martin is the servant of her aunt; though he's one-handed, his worth cannot be measured.) If I had to pick a favorite character--besides the heroine, of course--it would be Martin for he truly surprised me. I wasn't thrilled with Captain Bryant as a romantic hero--he was no Captain Wentworth--but I liked him well enough. (After all, few naval officers could hope to compete with Wentworth!)

I have read and reviewed several Julie Klassen novels: The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, Lady of Milkweed Manor. (My favorite was Lady of Milkweed Manor.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Book Review: The Attributes of God

The Attributes of God. Arthur W. Pink. [This edition 1975/2000] Family Christian Press. 96 pages.

In the preface, Pink wrote, "The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be in a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped. In this book an effort has been made to set forth some of the principal perfections of the Divine character." He concludes, "Something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority, and regulate all the details of lives by His holy precepts and commandments."

I'm almost at a loss of words with this one. Not because this is a bad book--far from it. But because, I marked almost every page--or every other page. The chapters within The Attributes of God speak for themselves: The Solitariness of God, The Decrees of God, The Knowledge of God, The Foreknowledge of God, The Supremacy of God, The Sovereignty of God, The Immutability of God, The Holiness of God, The Power of God, The Faithfulness of God, The Goodness of God, The Patience of God, The Grace of God, The Mercy of God, The Love of God, The Wrath of God, The Contemplation of God. Each chapter is rich in depth. Each chapter relies heavily on Scripture--as it should be. Each chapter is short and concise. I think the fact that it is so short will be beneficial to readers.

Which would you be more likely to pick up: a book under 100 pages or a book over a 1000 pages? (I'm speaking of Stephen Charnock's The Existence and Attributes of God. I do plan on attempting that one this year. Why mention it at all? Well, Pink is fond of quoting Charnock, which is probably why I picked up that theological chunkster a few years ago.)

Some of my favorite quotes:

Nothing has ever come to pass, or ever will, merely because God knew it. The cause of all things is the will of God. (20)

False theology makes God's foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas God's election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect. (23)

God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be. (26)

God did not elect any sinner because He foresaw that he would believe, for the simple but sufficient reason that no sinner ever does believe until God gives him faith; just as no man sees until God gives him sight. Sight is God's gift, seeing is the consequence of my using His gift. So faith is God's gift, believing is the consequence of my using His gift. (26)

However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed. His will is stable. His word is sure....The permanence of God's character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises. (39)

The unregenerate do not really believe in the holiness of God. Their conception of His character is altogether one-sided. They fondly hope that His mercy will override everything else. (44)

We cannot have a right conception of God unless we think of Him as all-powerful, as well as all-wise. He who cannot do what he will and perform all his pleasure cannot be God. As God hath a will to resolve what He deems good, so has He power to execute His will. (46)

The better we are acquainted with His love--its character, fulness, blessedness--the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him. (77)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: December 26-January 1

This week I...

read Genesis 1-17 in the NLT Large Print Thinline Bible
read Mark 1-13 in the NASB MacArthur Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Did you participate in Operation Actually Read Bible last year? How did you do? Did you incorporate reading the bible into your daily life? If you'd like to share your experience with me--with others--feel free to do so in the comments. I see a few of you have posted about this on your own blogs. You can leave links to those posts, if you like! Regardless of if you read the whole bible, or just a part of the Bible, I hope that you benefited from what you read. That you've learned to love the bible, to cherish your time in the Word.

I would also like to invite you to join me next year. This 'challenge' is a perpetual one. You don't have to make any specific commitments--to read the whole bible in a year, for example. Just a 'simple' commitment that you will try to spend more time reading and studying the Bible in the upcoming year. This might be different for each one of you. For some, it might be ten minutes a day, for others it might be thirty minutes a day.

You can read the Bible in any translation. (You'll have no pressure from me as to which translation is "best.") You can even listen to the bible if you'd like! If you do choose an audio bible, I'd be curious to know which one you're using and if you'd recommend it. You can follow a reading plan if you like--for 90 days, for a year, for two or three years. But you don't have to follow a reading plan.

You might even be interested in joining Mom's Toolbox's READ THE BIBLE IN 90 DAYS. It starts January 3rd, ends April 2nd. Essentially, you read twelve or so pages a day for eighty-eight days.

I hope you have a great new year! That you may grow stronger in your faith and deeper in your love.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Bible Reading in 2010

I was able to finish the Bible this year. There were a few books I read twice: Genesis, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Luke, John, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Titus, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation. There were a few books I read three times: Romans, Colossians. There was one book I read FIVE times: Matthew. (I'm not sure how that happened exactly!)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible