Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 2012 Bible Reading Records

This month, all books were read in the King James Version of the Bible. My reading plan this month was to use a modified version of Professor Horner's Reading Plan. His plan has readers read ten chapters per day from ten different books in the Bible. With the exception of Acts and Proverbs, I chose to read more than one chapter a day. He also strongly recommends that you choose one Bible and make it your own. One translation, one Bible that you always, always use. That would probably be the most difficult rule for me to follow if I were to use it beyond a one month experiment. I like reading in a variety of translations.

Written by Moses

1. Genesis
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy

OT Narratives

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

Wisdom Literature

18. Job
19. Psalms
20. Proverbs
21. Ecclesiastes
22. Song of Songs

Major Prophets

23. Isaiah
24. Jeremiah
25. Lamentations
26. Ezekiel
27. Daniel

Minor Prophets

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

NT Narratives

40. Matthew (read this one twice)
41. Mark
42. Luke
43. John
44. Acts

Epistles by Paul

45. Romans (read this one twice)
46. 1 Corinthians (read this one twice)
47. 2 Corinthians (read this one twice)
48. Galatians (read this one twice)
49. Ephesians (read this one twice)
50. Philippians (read this one twice)
51. Colossians
52. 1 Thessalonians (read this one twice)
53. 2 Thessalonians (read this one twice)
54. 1 Timothy (read this one twice)
55. 2 Timothy (read this one twice)
56. Titus (read this one twice)
57. Philemon (read this one twice)

General Epistles

58. Hebrews
59. James (read this one twice)
60. 1 Peter (read this one twice)
61. 2 Peter (read this one twice)
62. 1 John (read this one twice)
63. 2 John (read this one twice)
64. 3 John (read this one twice)
65. Jude (read this one twice)

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

66. Revelation (read this one twice)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Professor Horner Update #4 (January 22-27)

This is my fourth (and final) week using Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. When I next use a system like this, I will be making some modifications to it. I don't think I'll start it in February, but perhaps by March, I'll be ready for the intensity of this commitment again. I really loved hearing from Soozie4Him last week! I would love to hear from more of you about how reading the Bible is going for you, which plans you're using or NOT using. I agree that probably the best thing about this plan is that there are no dates attached to it. So you're never really behind where you're supposed to be. Wherever you are, is where you're meant to be.

This week I read:

  • Leviticus in the KJV
  • Numbers in the KJV
  • Deuteronomy in the KJV
  • 2 Samuel in the KJV
  • 1 Kings in the KJV
  • 2 Kings in the KJV
  • Ezra in the KJV
  • Nehemiah in the KJV
  • Esther in the KJV
  • Psalms in the KJV
  • Proverbs in the KJV
  • Ecclesiastes in the KJV
  • Song of Songs in the KJV
  • Ezekiel in the KJV
  • Matthew in the KJV
  • Acts in the KJV
  • 1 Corinthians in the KJV
  • 2 Corinthians in the KJV
  • Galatians in the KJV
  • Ephesians in the KJV
  • Philippians in the KJV
  • 2 Peter in the KJV
  • 1 John in the KJV
  • 2 John in the KJV
  • 3 John in the KJV
  • Jude in the KJV
  • Revelation in the KJV

Key Verses

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. (Psalms 130:3:6)

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. (Psalms 143:8)
Songs on my mind this week:

My Hope Is In You, Aaron Shust

Fingertips and Noses, Newsong

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Professor Horner Update #3 (January 15-21)

This is my third week using Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. If you're using this system I'd love to hear from you! I'd like to know what you like or don't like about it! I have definitely modified it some, and may need to make additional modifications in the coming week. I just haven't decided exactly how much needs to change. Except for Acts--I'm sticking to the one chapter per day--I've finished the New Testament. And I'm well on my way to completing the NT letters a second time. I would love to find a way to get to the OT minor prophets quicker--without having to wait until I've finished the longer ones like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea. So many of these could be read in one sitting.

This week I completed:

  • Exodus in KJV
  • Ruth in KJV
  • 1 Samuel in KJV
  • Jeremiah in KJV
  • Lamentations in KJV
  • Luke in KJV
  • John in KJV
  • Romans in KJV
  • Colossians in KJV
  • 1 Thessalonians in KJV
  • 2 Thessalonians in KJV
  • 1 Timothy in KJV
  • 2 Timothy in KJV
  • Titus in KJV
  • Philemon in KJV
  • Hebrews in KJV
  • James in KJV
  • 1 Peter in KJV

This week I read:

  • 1 Corinthians 1-4
  • Ecclesiastes 4-10
  • Psalms 81-120
  • Proverbs 15-21
  • Acts 15-21

Key Verses this week:
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. (Psalm 103:1-19)

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. (Psalm 84:10-12)

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou has delivered my soul from the lowest hell. (Psalm 86:11-13)

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95:1-7)

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100)

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14)

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy. and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established (Proverbs 16:3)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30)

Songs on my mind this week:

Never Been a Greater Love, Aaron Shust

Greater is He, Aaron Shust

Sing of My Redeemer, Aaron Shust

Jesus, Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Christless Christianity

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. Michael Horton. 2008. Baker Publishing. 272 pages.

What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio, Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, "Yes, sir" and "No, ma'am," and the churches would be full every Sunday...where Christ is not preached. 
It is easy to become distracted from Christ as the only hope for sinners. Where everything is measured by our happiness rather than by God's holiness, the sense of our being sinners becomes secondary, if not offensive. If we are good people who have lost our way but with the proper instructions and motivation can become a better person, we need only a life coach, not a redeemer. (15-16)

In Christless Christianity Michael Horton argues that many American churches--many American denominations--have lost sight of the most important thing, they've taken their eyes off Jesus Christ. Instead of reflecting on Christ--who He is, what He has done, what He has accomplished already--they are reflecting on what they need to do, how they should act and behave. They've become distracted by works-righteousness, though they may not admit that is what they're doing. But they've shifted their messages from the works and person of Jesus Christ, to focus instead on being relevant and practical. By giving their followers, their listeners, lists of things to do to have a better life now, to be happy, to be successful now. In some cases, major doctrines have been set aside. But in other cases, the changes have been so small, so slight, that you'd think they just wouldn't make that big of a difference. But. Horton argues that anything you add to Christ is not only unnecessary, not only unwise, but dangerous. There is nothing more we need to say or do to gain salvation. Jesus paid it all. We are saved through Jesus. We are saved through his life; we are saved through his death; we are saved through his resurrection. Need a perfect life of obedience to get into heaven? Jesus has done it. For you. For me. For all who believe. He has taken our sin and given us his righteousness. We do not need to piece together fig leaves for ourselves. Christ has clothed us himself. We don't need to add to what he has done. We don't. We need to worship God. We need to keep Christ the center of our faith. We don't need to worry about what we're doing or not doing right. We don't need to worry that we're not doing enough. We don't need to be proud that we're doing so well. Our faith shouldn't be showing off all the things we've done. We need to love more, but we don't love more by trying to love more, by trying to make ourselves more loving, more caring, more compassionate. We love more when we're so focused on Christ that Christ's love spills over into our lives. The more we know him--the more we love him. The more we reflect on Christ, the more we can reflect him to others.

Christless Christianity was an amazing read. I'd definitely recommend it!

My favorite quotes:

I am a Christian not because I think that I can walk in Jesus's footsteps but because he is the only one who can carry me. I am not the gospel; Jesus Christ alone is the gospel. His story saves me, not only by bringing me justification but by baptizing me into his resurrection life. (117)

I think that the church in America today is so obsessed with being practical, relevant, helpful, successful, and perhaps even well-liked that it nearly mirrors the world itself. (16)

Is the Word of God a resource for what we have already decided we want and need, or is it God's living and active criticism of our religion, morality, and pious experience? In other words, is the Bible God's story, centering on Christ's redeeming work, that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our stories a little more exciting and interesting? (24)

Does Christ come to boost our ego or to crucify our ego and raise us up as new creatures with our identity in him? (33)

"How can I, a sinner, be right before a holy God?" is simply off the radar in a therapeutic mind-set. Once the self is enthroned as the source, judge, and goal of all of life, the gospel need not be denied because it's beside the point. But people need to see--for their own good--that self-realization, self-fulfillment, and self-help are all contemporary twists on an old heresy, which Paul identified as works-righteousness. (40)

If we are not explicitly and regularly taught out of it, we will always turn the message of God's rescue operation into a message of self-help. (42)

As much as we might talk about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, there doesn't actually seem to be much of a relationship at all, except with the self. (43)

Original sin, as G.K. Chesterton observes, is 'the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved'. (63)

"Smooth talk and flattery" is part of the staple-diet of successful American religion today. And it is almost always advertised simply as more effective mission and relevance. (66)

When even good, holy, and proper things become confused with the gospel, it is only a matter of time before we end up with Christless Christianity: a story about us instead of a story about the Triune God that sweeps us into the unfolding drama. (109)

The worst thing that can happen to the church is to confuse law and gospel. When we soften the law, we never give up on our own attempts to offer our rags of "righteousness" to God. When we turn the gospel into demands, it is no longer the saving Word of redemption in Jesus Christ alone. (122)

The gospel is for Christians too. We need to be evangelized every week. It is not by following Christ's example but by actually being inserted into Christ, clothed with Christ, united to Christ--as the Spirit creates faith through the gospel--that we are not only justified but sanctified as well. (125)

The church exists in order to change the subject from us and our deeds to God and his deeds of salvation, from our various missions to save the world to Christ's mission that has already accomplished redemption. He sends us into the world, to be sure, but not to save it. Rather, he sends us into the world to witness to Christ as the only Savior and to love and serve our neighbor in our secular vocations. Evil lies not outside us but inside; it is salvation that comes from outside ourselves. Nothing the church does extends, completes, or fulfills Christ's all-sufficient, once-and-for-all, completed work of living, dying, and rising for sinners. So enough about us! (141)

If the message the church proclaims makes sense without conversion, if it does not offend even lifelong believers from time to time so that they too need to die more to themselves and live more to Christ, then it is not the gospel. When Christ is talked about, a lot of things can happen, none of which necessarily have any lasting impact. When Christ is proclaimed in his saving office, the church becomes a theater of death and resurrection. (141)

Isn't it amazing that, according to Jesus, the whole Bible is about him and Peter says that the angels long to understand the Good News that is (or should be) brought weekly by heralds, but we decide that someone or something else should be the focus of our sermon and worship this week? (143)

It is just as easy to lose Christ by distraction as it is by denial. (143)

However frequently his name is invoked, a religion that turns on "What Would Jesus Do?" is not the Christian faith. (146)

When people ask for more practical preaching, for a more relevant message than Christ and him crucified, what they are falling back on is law rather than gospel. (146)

The gospel changes lives; it is not our changed life. (156)

Where Christ is not King, he is neither Prophet nor Priest. Christ rules his church--instituting its structure and methods--precisely so that he can effectively deliver his good gifts to the world. (205)
Read Christless Christianity

  • If you're a believer looking for a good nonfiction read
  • If you're a believer wanting to grow in Christ
  • If you're looking for the answers--what is the gospel? what is sin? how can I be saved? 
  • If you're looking for a critique of Joel Osteen, the emerging church movement--particularly Brian McLaren, Charles Finney, pelagianism and/or semi-pelagianism, and gnosticism. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 16, 2012

Music Review: David Crowder Band's Give Us Rest

The full title of David Crowder's Band final release is Give Us Rest, Or, A Requiem Mass in C (The Happiest of All Keys). This album is quite long, an hour and forty minutes; it has two discs with a total of thirty-four songs. (True, eighteen of these are under three minutes, but, depending on the song in question, that's not a bad thing.)

This album definitely is a concept album. The theme is death. But before you conclude that the songs are dreary and lifeless, consider just how much of the Bible concerns the believer's FUTURE GLORY, and just how many verses, how many passages, give believers assurance--hope--that heaven is indeed a wonderful place.

Are some of the songs dreary and lifeless? Are some of the songs just a little too weird for my taste? Yes and yes. I personally find the seven piece sequence more annoying than pleasing. (The songs are Sequence 1, Sequence 2, Sequence 3, etc.)

Here is an example of the 'concept' of the album:

The song, "A Burial"

The song, "Sequence 2"

The song, "The Great Amen,"

The song, Why Me?

But there are MANY, MANY great songs on this album.

The song, Oh Great God, Give Us Rest

The song, After All (Holy)

The song, Come Find Me

The song, Fall On Your Knees

The song, Because He Lives

The song, Oh Great Love of God 

The song, There Is A Sound

I would say that there are at least a dozen great songs on this album. While I doubt you'll love each and every song on the entire album, I think you'll probably find some to enjoy, some to love.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: Not a Fan

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Kyle Idleman. 2011. Zondervan. 224 pages.

Are you a follower of Jesus?
I would say the chances are pretty good that you just skipped over that question. You may have read it, but I doubt it carried much weight or had any real impact. But would you let me ask you this question again? It's the most important question you will ever answer.
Are you a follower of Jesus?

Kyle Idleman urges believers to be followers of Jesus Christ, not just fans of Jesus. Most of the book is spent defining and illustrating the differences between those who are fans and those who are followers. Fans follow on their terms. Followers follow on Christ's terms. They're willing to put Christ first, and give Christ all. They're willing to deny themselves and carry a cross daily. Fans follow when it's convenient to them, they follow for the benefits it might bring them. But when it comes to the hard sayings of Jesus, when it comes down to some of the harder teachings, the ones that make you squirm, the ones that you wish you didn't really understand because you don't want to have to live by them, they turn away, they don't listen or obey. Fans follow superficially. Followers are committed no matter what.

Not a Fan was very readable. Idleman's style is very reader-friendly. As a narrator, he is easy to relate to. He can make you smile with some of his illustrations. But he wins you over, wins your respect, with his biblical illustrations. He uses the Bible to illustrate his points time and time again. The focus on the Bible, the focus on what Jesus' teaching, makes this one a must-read. While it is readable, while it is entertaining, it is also thought-provoking. This book asks you to decide for yourself. It challenges you to reflect on your own life, to reflect about what it is you truly believe, what you truly love, what you truly need to have Jesus be Lord of your life.

I would definitely recommend this one. You don't have to be a scholar or a pastor. This book is for everyone.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Accidental Bride

The Accidental Bride. Denise Hunter. 2012. January 2012. Thomas Nelson. 304 pages.

The bell above the diner's door jingled and--despite her most valiant effort--Shay Brandenberger's eyes darted toward the entry. An unfamiliar couple entered, tourists. She could tell by their khaki Eddie Bauer vests and spanking new hiking boots. Look out, Yellowstone.

The Accidental Bride is a contemporary Christian romance set in Wyoming. The heroine, Shay, has been chosen to portray one of the town's founders in a re-enactment of a wedding ceremony. (This is an annual event.) The man chosen--at the last minute--to play the groom is Shay's former fiance, Travis McCoy. The two were supposed to marry, but he jilted her the day of the wedding. There are some in this small community of Moose Creek that would love to see these two reunite, and they may get their wish. For this fake marriage ceremony becomes all too real, their marriage license filled out all those years ago all too valid.

How does the couple feel about this surprise? Well, the groom is excited. He has regretted hurting Shay for close to fourteen years now. The only thing stopping him from trying to win her back was her marriage to someone else--but now that he is out of the picture, now that 'fate' has thrown them together again, well, he WANTS her to be his wife. And the bride, well, she is shocked and confused and angry. She has never forgiven him. But now she needs help save her ranch, to help her take care of her daughter.

So can this 'accidental' marriage work out for the best?

The Accidental Bride is predictable, as you might expect. Readers know that Travis and Shay will get their happily ever after. But predictability isn't a bad thing when it comes to Christian romance--or romance in general. There can be something comforting and satisfying about these kinds of reads.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. Marty Machowski. 2011. Illustrated by A.E. Macha. New Growth Press. 328 pages.

While I can't say I absolutely loved this storybook Bible, I can say that it has many strengths. There were a few things about this one that--for me--count as weaknesses. I'll just mention those briefly. First, the layout or style of this one just didn't thrill me. The colored pages WERE colorful. And bold, bright colors are for some people a positive. But each two-page spread is a different color, and the font color varies based on the background color of the page. Some of these color combinations were hard on my eyes. (Granted, they may not be hard on your eyes. Because of my headaches, I'm sensitive to things others aren't.) I'm old-fashioned in a way. I'm just as happy with black font on a white page and illustrations on one side or another. This more artistic approach may please many readers, but, for me, less is more. Second, the glossiness of the pages reflected the light horribly. Again, I think this is something that will only bother people with light-sensitivity. (I don't like the pages of any book to glare at me!) Third, I found the illustrations ugly too taste specific. The illustrations are just different.

I do feel the book has definite strengths. It's a BIG story collection. There are a wide variety of stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Most story collections have weaknesses. They may offer a dozen (or so) stories from Genesis, and most are good for stories about Moses and David and Jonah. But many collections just don't offer enough from all the other books in the Old Testament. Not many, for example, include Elijah and Elisha. And with the New Testament, many focus exclusively on the gospels. They don't offer much of anything to share with young readers about the epistles in the New Testament. Perhaps feeling that theology doesn't lend well to storytelling. But this story collection seems to include many things that other collections have chosen not to include. So it was refreshing to see these included.

  • 78 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the Old Testament.
  • 78 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the New Testament.
  • 26 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Genesis.
  • 16 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Exodus and Numbers
  • 36 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are about the nation/kingdom of Israel, full circle (entering and conquering the land, the times of the judges, the establishing of kings, the division of the kingdom, the rise of prophets, the judgment and exile, the restoration)
  • 43 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
  • 35 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Acts and other New Testament books (the epistles)

Each story is a two-page spread. The Scripture reference for the story is included. In just a few paragraphs, the heart of the passage is retold. The last paragraph (or two) always includes some theology. A few sentences to help readers connect the story with the big picture. To tie in that one story to the gospel and to Christ.

The publisher of The Gospel Story Bible has also created a three year curriculum for three different age groups: preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary. I believe the Old Testament curriculum is available now, and the New Testament will be published in January 2013. There are two devotional books available for families as well. Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotionals to Dray Your Family to God (Old Testament) and Old Story New: Ten Minute Devotionals to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament). (Again, I think the Old Testament is available before the New Testament). These devotionals complement the curriculum. The storybook Bible, I'm assuming, complements them both.

Professor Horner Update #2 (January 8-14)

This is my second week using Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. I have modified it some--as I mentioned last week. It has been a GREAT week. All of my daily readings seem to be connecting and pointing to just a handful of themes. By reading in so very many places at once, these connections just pop out at you. It's wonderful!

This week I completed:

  • Genesis in KJV
  • Judges in KJV
  • Job in KJV
  • Isaiah in KJV
  • Mark in KJV
  • 1 Corinthians in KJV
  • 2 Corinthians in KJV
  • Galatians in KJV
  • Ephesians in KJV
  • Philippians in KJV
  • 1 Peter in KJV
  • 2 Peter in KJV
  • 1 John in KJV
  • 2 John in KJV
  • 3 John in KJV
  • Jude in KJV
  • Revelation in KJV

This week, I read

  • Luke 1-8
  • Ecclesiastes 1-3
  • Psalms 36-80
  • Proverbs 8-14
  • Jeremiah 1-10
  • Acts 8-14

Key Verses:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.  (Jeremiah 9:24)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:6-11)

The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planing, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:19-21)

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)

But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:17)

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:8-14)

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:1-7)

Ephesians 1:2-23
Ephesians 3:16-21

Songs on my mind this week:

I Saw the Light, David Crowder Band

More by Andrew Peterson

After the Last Tear Falls, Andrew Peterson

The Reckoning, (How Long), Andrew Peterson

Because He Lives, David Crowder Band

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Review: The Healer's Apprentice

The Healer's Apprentice. Melanie Dickerson. 2010. Zondervan. 272 pages.

The townspeople of Hagenheim craned their necks as they peered down the cobblestone street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Duke of Hagenheim's two handsome sons. The top-heavy, half-timbered houses hovered above the crowd as if they too were eager to get a peek at Lord Hamlin and Lord Rupert.

Melanie Dickerson may just be a new favorite of mine. In December, I reviewed The Merchant's Daughter, a fairy tale retelling of Beauty and The Beast set in the fourteenth century. Now I've had the chance to read her first novel, The Healer's Apprentice, a fairy tale retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Are either books true retellings? Well. The 'beast' is just a scarred man, and Rose, the heroine of The Healer's Apprentice never falls into an enchanted sleep. But. I think both books capture the spirit of the original fairy tales.

In The Healer's Apprentice, readers meet a young woman named Rose. She does not want to be forced into a marriage of her mother's choosing, so she is very thankful that the village's healer has chosen her to be her apprentice. She'll be living with the healer, living within the castle. It's an exciting time in her life, and it only seems to be getting better. Rose even captures the attention of both the older son, Lord Hamlin (Wilhelm is his first name) and the younger son, Lord Rupert, who's 'destined' for the church since his older brother will inherit everything when their father dies. At first, she's confused by the attention. Why would any of the nobility pay attention to her?! She's just a woodcutter's daughter. She may be beautiful, but she could never hope to marry someone that above her station, her class.

The Healer's Apprentice is narrated by Rose and Wilhelm. Wilhelm is a good man, a kind man. And he wants to do the right thing, he wants to do his duty. He's been betrothed practically forever to a young woman he's never met. He doesn't even know where she is--just that her life is in danger from someone. He's supposed to be seeking out the threat and protecting her. And that is his plan, his intention, but he keeps noticing how wonderful Rose is. He's so drawn to her. He knows it's wrong to fall in love with anyone but his betrothed, he knows it's not fair to anyone. But. He just can't help feeling what he feels....

I liked this one. I really, really, really liked this one. I think I loved The Merchant's Daughter a little bit more. But I would still recommend this one!!!

Read The Healer's Apprentice

  • If you like fairy tale retellings
  • If you like historical novels set in the fourteenth century
  • If you like clean romance
  • If you like inspirational/Christian romances
  • If you are looking for a great Christian YA novel

and here is the trailer for The Merchant's Daughter:

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: His Steadfast Love

His Steadfast Love. Golden Keyes Parson. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 336 pages.

The sweet, gooey peach pie filling had overflowed its crust and dribbled down the side of the plate.

His Steadfast Love is set in Texas during the Civil War. The heroine of His Steadfast Love is a young woman named Amanda. Before the war, Amanda meets a young soldier, Captain Kent Littlefield. He's attracted to her despite their different backgrounds--he's from the North, from Pennsylvania; she's from the South, from Texas. He doesn't 'like' the fact that her father owns slaves. And Amanda's father doesn't really see him as a good match for his daughter, he wants a Southerner, a Southern gentleman. So even before war is declared this courtship is problematic...

Most of this novel is rushed. Readers see all the years of the Civil War. Readers see it from Amanda's side. As a concerned sister with a brother in the Confederate army. And as a sweetheart. She knows that she loves Kent. He has told her that he loves her and that he wants to marry her...after the war...with or without her father's or brother's approval. Readers also see it from Kent's perspective and Daniel's perspective. (Daniel is the brother.) Though mainly it's focused on Amanda and Kent. 

I liked this one. But I didn't exactly love it. I never really came to care strongly about the characters. It was a quick read, an enjoyable one. I just didn't find it to be amazing or wonderful.

Read His Steadfast Love
  • If you're a fan of Christian historical romance. In my opinion this is stronger as historical than romance, but that could just be me.
  • If you're a fan of historical fiction set during the Civil War
  • If you're a fan of fiction set in Texas

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Professor Horner Update #1 (January 1-January 7)

For the month of January, I have committed to trying Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. I first learned about this system on my friend's blog, A Well-Watered Garden.

I thought I would share my experiences with you as I try this new-to-me system.

I am using the King James Version of the Bible. I'm not sure I'll stick with this translation throughout the year--though he does recommend picking just one Bible to read. But for January, this is what I'm using.

The system has you reading in ten different books of the Bible at a time.

1) The Gospels
2) Books of Moses
3) Longer Epistles (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews)
4) Shorter Epistles & Revelation (1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, Jude, Revelation)
5) Books of Wisdom minus Psalms and Proverbs
6) Psalms
7) Proverbs
8) Books of History (Joshua-Esther)
9) Major and Minor Prophets (Isaiah-Malachi)
10) Acts

He has you reading one chapter from each of the ten books--for a total of 10 chapters per day.

I knew if I was going to stick with this system, I'd have to make it my own. So here are the changes I've far.

  • First. With the exception of Proverbs and Acts, I'm going to be reading more than one chapter per book.
  • I am definitely going to be reading five psalms a day. To read Psalms once a month, all you need to do is read five a day. Why make plans to read Proverbs twelve times a year and not Psalms?! After all, Psalms is much more to my liking!!!! 
  • At least with the shorter epistles (those with six or so chapters), I am going to read the whole book at once. For longer epistles (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Hebrews) I will take a few days more. 
  • I am going to try to read several chapters at least in the gospel reading. I'm not sure if it will be possible to read one gospel per week, but I'm going to try my best to read all four gospels each month. 
  • The reading I am going to struggle the very most with is List 5. Because, to be honest, I don't 'like' any of these books. And I really, really, really don't like Song of Songs. The thought of having to read it multiple times in a year doesn't thrill me. So I don't want to go too quickly through these books--or else I'll be reading these books too much. 

This week, I completed:

  • Joshua in KJV
  • Matthew in KJV
  • Romans in KJV
  • 1 Thessalonians in KJV
  • 2 Thessalonians in KJV
  • 1 Timothy in KJV
  • 2 Timothy in KJV
  • Titus in KJV
  • Philemon in KJV
  • James in KJV

This week, I read

  • Genesis 1-25
  • 1 Corinthians 1-8
  • Job 1-21
  • Psalms 1-35
  • Proverbs 1-7
  • Isaiah 1-35
  • Acts 1-7

Key Verses this week:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:8-12) 

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:1-10) 
Songs on my mind this week:

Nothin' by Chris Rice

And this little medley by Carman

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall. Julie Klassen. 2012. Bethany House. 416 pages.

August 1815
He is reading my letters now too...
Margaret Elinor Macy sat at her dressing table, heart pounding. Her face in the looking glass shone pale beneath curly dark hair, her light blue eyes anxious. She glanced from her reflection to the letter in her hand. The seal had been pried open and unsuccessfully re-pressed. Her mother's new husband had obviously begun checking her post--perhaps fearful the next invitation she received would not be to a ball but rather to take refuge in another house, out of reach and out from under his power. 

Did I love it? Yes. I'm not sure I would say that I loved, loved, loved it. But I definitely loved it. It was a good, clean historical romance set during one of my favorite, favorite time periods--the regency. The heroine, Margaret Macy, is determined to escape her new stepfather's influence. He wants her to marry his nephew. They're both after her inheritance which she'll receive on her next birthday. The nephew is determined to do whatever it takes to get her to marry him. So she flees her home--with her maid, Joan. (Joan was fired for 'stealing.' She was innocent.) Determined to find a hiding place, a place she can be safe from harassment until her birthday, she becomes a maid. She just happens to become a maid at the home of one of her former suitors. She didn't marry Nathaniel Upchurch--the former suitor--because she was more attracted to his older brother, Lewis. (Lewis did flirt with her, but then again, he'll flirt with just about any girl once or twice. It never means what the woman thinks it means.) She is wearing a disguise, and she does barely have contact with the family. But. Still she's curious. Will either brother recognize her now? Now that she's emptying chamber pots and such?! And if they do recognize her, will they help her?

I enjoyed this one. I did. I really thought it was great fun. A good, light romance with interesting characters. (There's even a poet pirate.)

Read The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
  • If you're a fan of Julie Klassen. If you enjoyed--or loved--any of her previous novels--Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse--then chances are good The Maid of Fairbourne Hall will NOT disappoint.
  • If you're a fan of Regency romances (like Georgette Heyer, etc.)
  • If you're a fan of clean historical romances
  • If you're a fan of inspirational and/or Christian romances (of the historical variety)
  • If you enjoy romances where the heroine wears a disguise

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012's New Testament In A Week

In April, I'll be hosting a special event. I'm asking you to join me in reading the New Testament the week before Easter. I'm asking you to set aside time during the week of April 1-8 to read the New Testament.

Does it have to be the whole New Testament?

My goal is to read the entire New Testament this week. But that does NOT have to be your goal. You can set your own goals. Your goal might be to read one gospel and a letter or two. Read 27 books, read 3 books. Just read something.

  • You may read from any translation of the Bible.
  • You may switch translations throughout the week, if you want.
  • You may use a text-only Bible, or a study Bible.
  • You may use an audio bible, an e-Bible, or an online Bible.
  • You may read the books in ANY order.
  • If you would like to follow an exact plan, you may. Here is one I found to do the New Testament in a week.
  • You may reread certain books if you would like to take some time to meditate on what you're reading.
  • If you finish reading the New Testament early, consider reading Psalm 119, Psalm 22, Psalms 113-118, Exodus 12, Isaiah 40-66.
  • No blog is required, but you may blog your progress if you like.

I wanted to announce this early so you'd have time to think about it, to plan for it. If you are interested leave a comment. You can sign up now if you like. But you don't have to commit just yet.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1:1 is such a familiar passage, one that often gets translated the same way in many, many translations.

Here are the translations that change it up a bit:

The Amplified Bible: In the beginning God (prepared, formed, fashioned, and) created the heavens and the earth.
Common English Bible: When God began to create the heavens and the earth--
Young's Literal Translation: In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth--
The Basic Bible 1949 Samuel Hooke: At the first God made the heaven and the earth.
The Message: First this: God created the Heavens and the Earth--all you see, all you don't see.
New English Bible: In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth,
Revised English Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Expanded Bible: In the beginning [or In the beginning when] God created [this Hebrew verb is used only when God is the one creating] the sky [heavens] and the earth.
Living: When God began creating the heavens and the earth,
NRSV: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
New Century: In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.
God's Word: In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
Good News Translation: In the beginning, when God created the universe,

Here are the translations that don't.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

(NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, KJV, ASV, Darby, ERV, Webster's Bible Translation, World English Bible, CEV, HCSB, NKJV, Complete Jewish Bible, RSV, TNIV)

Do you have a favorite or least favorite?

If you want to see what the Hebrews words used in this verse are, you can always look it up at

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible