Monday, May 28, 2012

A Summer Idea

Well, this time of year is dangerous for me. I seem within a week or two have a dozen or so ideas of things I want to do in the summer, or need to do in the summer. At the time, of course, I know that I'll never be able to do every little thing I want. But it doesn't stop me from daydreaming and planning. One idea I had, and if you'd like to give feedback I'd appreciate it, is to spend some time focusing on music albums. At first I thought I'd have a target number and these would be my favorite-and-best, I knew I wouldn't try to put them in any order. But now I'm not sure that I have to have an exact number in mind, that I don't have to have it all planned. I do know that the albums won't all be new or even mostly new. I thought I would talk about what albums meant something to me, which albums have made an impression on me.

For example, today I thought I'd write about the album, Rich Young Ruler. Have you ever heard of the group Rich Young Ruler? I'm not sure many people have which is just one reason why I'm highlighting the album today. It was released in 2000, and as far as I know, it was the bands only release. Though the CD is no longer available new (used copies start at a penny), the album is available as an mp3 download.

The songs:

  • Take It Anywhere
  • Magic Nowheres (Run Around)
  • Wearing Me Out
  • The Ride
  • Smile
  • Who's Gonna Make You Happy
  • All These Sorrows
  • Anyways
  • Feeling This Way
  • If I Could Hold You
  • In Touch
  • She Runs, She Hides
  • Every Time You Reach For Me
  • You've Got The Right Words

The songs work together well, blend together well, making for a very satisfying listening experience. It is one of those rare cases where I don't have a particular favorite song, because each song is part of a whole, almost. It's just great when an album has one or two songs that you just love, love, love absolutely. But, for me, those songs are often found on albums that aren't so satisfying as a whole. Yes, there are good songs, but there are songs you'd just as well not listen to, if you know what I mean. This album is the reverse. Each song does it share to make the whole album in its entirety a joy to listen to.

Rich Young Ruler has a very mellow, very retro, very oldies feel to it. Think of the goodness that is Herman's Hermits, The Lovin' Spoonful, and to some extent The Turtles. One Amazon reviewer compared it to the music in That Thing You Do, and I think that is true too. It just has a very sixties feel to it. Which I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I mean maybe it's not for everybody. Christian comparisons may be harder to come by, but, The Elms "All The While Having Fun," comes close. Unfortunately, that's the only Elms' song I ever got into. The only other comparison that comes to mind is PFR. Though I don't think you'd have to like Pray For Rain to enjoy this one. (PFR is hit and miss with me; their are individual songs that I've enjoyed, even really enjoyed, but none that I've LOVED.)

Rich Young Ruler - Take It Anywhere from 2nafish on GodTube.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Becky's Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge List

Here is the post where I'll keep track of what I read for my "Cloud of Witnesses" reading challenge on Operation Actually Read Bible.
  1. Grace God's Unmerited Favor. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 175 pages.
  2. The Practice of Praise: How To Develop the Habit of Abundant, Continual Praise In Your Daily Life by Charles Spurgeon. 1995. Whitaker House. 170 pages.
  3. Power in the Blood. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 190 pages.
  4. Being God's Friend. Charles Spurgeon. 1997. Whitaker House. 175 pages.
  5. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages.
  6. Jesus, Our Man in Glory: 12 Messages from the Book of Hebrews. A.W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith. 1987. Christian Publications. 136 pages.
  7. Lord, Teach Us To Pray. Alexander Whyte. 1922/1998. Regent College Publishing. 292 pages.
  8. Holy Spirit Power. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 170 pages.
  9. The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 186 pages.
  10. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. A.W. Tozer 1948/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 70 pages
  11. Nature of God (Formerly published as Gleanings in the Godhead). Arthur W. Pink. 1975/1999. Moody Publishers. 347 pages.
  12. Letters To A Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine. Dorothy Sayers. 2004. Thomas Nelson. 280 pages.
  13. Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal (Gospel Light) 224 pages.
  14. God's Pursuit of Man. A.W. Tozer. 1950/2007. Wingspread. 140 pages.
The authors that I've read:

  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cloud of Witnesses Reading Challenge

I'm happy to announce that I'll be hosting a reading challenge! The title of this reading challenge comes from Hebrews 12:1-2, which reads "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." (KJV) If the KJV isn't quite for you,
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NASB)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)
For an author to qualify for this reading challenge, they must be among "the cloud of witnesses".... in other words, they must be dead. I think it isn't always easy for readers to pick up Christian classics. Perhaps because it isn't always easy to know exactly where to start. Perhaps because people think that they will be difficult to understand--that the language will be too difficult, the style too complicated. Perhaps because people question if a book will still be relevant. I believe that there are some AMAZING, GREAT, WONDERFUL, MUST-MUST-MUST reads out there waiting to be discovered.

Examples of qualifying authors:

  • John Stott (1921-2011)
  • D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)
  • James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
  • Loraine Boettner (1901-1990)
  • Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
  • Watchman Nee (1903-1972)
  • C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
  • Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)
  • A.W. Pink (1886-1952)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • R.A. Torrey (1856-1928)
  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
  • A.B. Simpson (1843-1919)
  • Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
  • E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
  • Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
  • Alexander Whyte (1836-1921)
  • J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878)
  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770)
  • John Wesley (1703-1791)
  • William Law (1686-1761)
  • John Owen (1616-1683)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
  • Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Brother Lawrence (1605-1691)
  • Thomas Manton (1620-1677)
  • Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
  • Saint Augustine (354-430)
So what "counts" for this challenge? Well, the goal is to get you acquainted with new-to-you authors. So any reading material will count: no matter the length. It can be an article of a few pages; an individual sermon or a collection of sermons; it can be a book of quotes by that person; it can be a biography or autobiography about the person; you might find full-length books available online, or individual sermons online. And of course it doesn't matter if it's a book-book, e-book, or audiobook.

So how many books are required? Well, I have a love-hate relationship with the word required. On the one hand, some structure can help everyone. The answer decide-for-yourself will make some happy, perhaps, but for those that want a definite goal, an answer, it won't. I see this more of a personal challenge assessing growth than a challenge about counting book totals. After all, what matters most is if you are engaging or connecting with a book, an author, and benefiting personally (learning from it, growing by it, thinking more and more about spiritual things, etc.) from the experience or challenge. It is all about finding gems, finding treasure, LEARNING and growing, challenging yourself to think and consider and reflect.

What I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see is for people to share quotes from what they're reading. I'd love to see readers recommend books to one another. So while I'd never, ever require participants to write book reviews, if you have a blog, I'd love for you to share quotes occasionally with your readers and let me know about it. If you don't have a blog, you could always leave quotes in the comments here. (Trust me, I'd welcome some relief from spam comments.)

The length or duration of the challenge, well, how about the rest of the year?! If there is interest, then, I'd probably make this a repeat challenge for all of 2013. Any qualifying book you've read in 2012 can be counted.

Sign up for the challenge by leaving a comment on the blog. If you want you can suggest an author that I've left off the list.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Lord is My Shepherd. (Psalm 23 Mysteries) Debbie Viguie. 2010. Abingdon Press. 320 pages.

More than anything, Cindy Preston hated Mondays. 

I was skeptical about this book, I'll be honest. I had no idea if it would be something I'd like. But I like to challenge myself to take risks...occasionally. And I am definitely glad I took a chance on Debbie Viguie's The Lord Is My Shepherd. This one is mystery-suspense-thriller. Cindy Preston, the heroine, is a church secretary who discovers--literally stumbles upon--a dead body in the sanctuary of the church one Monday morning. But it isn't just any Monday, no it's Holy Week, it's the Monday of Easter week. Her screams draw the attention of the Rabbi next door, Jeremiah Silverman. Together they meet the police detective...and so it begins.

I really, really, really enjoyed this one!!! It was so hard to put this one down. I definitely liked the heroine, Cindy Preston. I thought she was a good balance. On the one hand, she's terrified and in shock, on the other hand she's strong and strong-willed. She may be afraid--and she may have good reason to be afraid--but she isn't going to be ruled or enslaved by that fear. Not that she's careless. And as for Jeremiah Silverman, well, I loved him!!! I did. I just loved him!!!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 2012 Bible-Reading Records

This accounting is from April 29 through May 25th 2012.

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 (KJV)
17. Esther (KJV)

Wisdom Literature

18. Job
19. Psalms (NASB)
20. Proverbs (KJV, NASB)
21. Ecclesiastes
22. Song of Songs

Major Prophets

23. Isaiah (KJV)
24. Jeremiah
25. Lamentations
26. Ezekiel
27. Daniel

Minor Prophets

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

NT Narratives

40. Matthew (HCSB, TMB, ERV)
41. Mark (HCSB, NASB, TMB, ERV)
42. Luke (HCSB, TMB)
43. John (HCSB, NASB, TMB) 
44. Acts (HCSB, KJV, TMB)

Epistles by Paul

45. Romans (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
46. 1 Corinthians (HCSB, TMB)
47. 2 Corinthians (HCSB, TMB)
48. Galatians (HCSB, TMB)
49. Ephesians (HCSB, TMB)
50. Philippians (HCSB, TMB) 
51. Colossians (HCSB, TMB) 
52. 1 Thessalonians (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
53. 2 Thessalonians (HCSB,  NASB, TMB)
54. 1 Timothy (HCSB, KJV, NASB, TMB)
55. 2 Timothy (HCSB, KJV,  NASB, TMB)
56. Titus (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
57. Philemon (HCSB, NASB, TMB)

General Epistles

58. Hebrews (HCSB, NASB, TMB) 
59. James (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
60. 1 Peter (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
61. 2 Peter (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
62. 1 John (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
63. 2 John (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
64. 3 John (HCSB, NASB, TMB)
65. Jude (HCSB, TMB)

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

66. Revelation (HCSB, NASB, TMB)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: May 19-25

From the TMB (Third Millennium Bible, or, the New Authorized Version)

  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

From the A.W. Tozer Bible (KJV)

  • Exodus 12-15
  • 1 Samuel 5-8
  • Job 8-13
  • Daniel 3-5
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

From the English Revised Version (1885?)

  • Matthew
  • Mark 

From the NASB

  • Luke 1-4

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible

Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible. Edited by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, Thomas R. Schreiner. Contributors: Vern S. Poythress, C. John Collins, Gordon Wenham, David Howard, David Reimer, Paul House, J. Julius Scott, Jr., David Chapman, John Delhousaye, Thomas R. Schreiner, Darrell Bock, Dennis Johnson. 2012. Crossway. 160 pages.

I hate to say this, but, I think this is a book about the Bible that requires you to bring your own passion, enthusiasm, and motivation to it. I have always found the Bible to be exciting; a book that engages your heart, mind, and soul. The individual stories are anything but boring. And collectively, the story they tell as a whole is exciting, thrilling, DRAMATIC. How much more dramatic does it get than God sending his very own Son, Jesus, to save a world full of sinners?! From cover to cover, the Bible is about Jesus. And it's a story, or message, that matters. When you really, truly get it, you'll never be bored with the Bible again. (Okay, I make no promises about Leviticus.) But still. This is a book of God's revelation to us. It is how he has chosen to reveal himself to us. This is how he speaks to us. So as a Bible enthusiast, as someone who is passionate about the Word, I was disappointed by how very dry and tedious the text was. Yes, the facts themselves are there. The basics, the essentials, things that you'd be likely to find in any serious study Bible like the John MacArthur Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible are there. Here's the table of contents to show you what to expect:

  • An Overview of the Bible's Storyline
  • The Theology of the Old Testament
  • Introduction to the Pentateuch
  • Introduction to the Historical Books
  • Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Literature
  • Introduction to the Prophetic Books
  • The Time Between the Testaments
  • The Roman Empire and the Greco-Roman World at the Time of the New Testament
  • Jewish Groups at the Time of the New Testament
  • The Theology of the New Testament
  • Reading the Gospels and Acts
  • Reading the Epistles
  • Reading Revelation
  • Old Testament Time Line: An Overview 
  • Intertestamental Events Time Line
  • New Testament Time Line

I found the chapters to be a little dry, a little too technical: sharing too much at times, above and beyond what you'd actually need to know to understand the Bible. Reading this one is about as exciting as reading a text book. It just wasn't reader-friendly. Yes, readers could benefit from this one if they dig into it and actually don't mind motivating themselves to read and study. But for anyone who already has a good study Bible (John MacArthur Study Bible in NASB, NKJV, ESV; ESV Study Bible; HCSB Study Bible; etc.) then reading your book introductions and/or study notes and/or articles included within the Bible will do just as good a job. I think the information could be presented in a way that is inviting--still challenging, perhaps, requiring readers to focus--and engaging, encouraging people to connect with their Bibles and see the glorious wonder of it all.

There are three children's storybook Bibles that I'd recommend to adults looking for the "big picture" of the Bible. (Two are published by Crossway, the third is not.) Of course, I'd recommend them to parents to read with children too. But I think adults could benefit greatly from reading these. Because like it or not, it's not safe to assume that people, that believers, are Bible literate.

Sally Lloyd Jones' The Jesus Storybook Bible published by Zondervan.

David Helm's The Big Picture Story Bible published by Crossway.

Starr Meade's Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book published by Crossway.

Adult books about the Bible that I'd gladly recommend include:

On the Old Testament by Mark Driscoll
On the New Testament by Mark Driscoll
Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God's Word by Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach
How To Find God in the Bible: A Personal Plan for the Encounter of Your Life by Woodrow Kroll
Read Your Bible One Book At A Time: A Refreshing Way to Read God's Word by Woodrow Kroll
Knowing the Bible 101: A Guide to God's Word in Plain Language by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz
Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul
How To Get the Most from God's Word by John MacArthur

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review: Kisses From Katie

Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption. Katie Davis. 2011. October 2011. Howard Books. 288 pages.

Dare I say it? This is one of the best, best, best, best books I've ever read, at least in its genre. While Kisses From Katie may not be a theological book, a book about doctrines that unite and/or divide, a book strictly about the gospel--what it is, what it isn't--it is a book that celebrates and illustrates the gospel. It is a book that celebrates and honors Jesus Christ. Kisses From Katie is a memoir or a biography, I suppose. It tells the story of a young woman, a young teen when the book first begins, who felt led by God to go on a mission trip. After spending three weeks or so in Uganda, she wasn't content to let that be enough. She wanted more, needed more. As crazy as it probably sounded to everyone in her life, she fell in love with a country, with a people. She felt sure, felt convicted, felt blessed, to make Uganda hers. At first, perhaps to please her parents, please her boyfriend, she committed to one year, just one year, of serving in Uganda. Of living and loving a community, of working as a teacher, of working with orphans and other children who needed her, who welcomed her. But within months, she had a new family. Literally. For she felt called to adopt, what began with one or two or three within the course of a year or two became fourteen. But her welcome, her care, her love and support, didn't just stay small. It grew and grew and grew and grew. She started a non-profit organization, started widening her ministry. A ministry that kept Jesus at its center, but a very, very practical ministry as well. One that saw to feeding and clothing and providing medical care and attention, one that met every need possible. The book is about her life. In a way, a small way, I suppose you could argue it was about her beliefs as well. But. I would say that it was more about how her beliefs led her to live the life she lives. How her beliefs have defined and shaped her. What's the difference? Well, a person can argue or reason doctrine; a person can state a creed, recite a creed. Not every person who does so actually lives out that doctrine on a day-to-day basis. In a way that marks them, in a way that clearly, undeniably speaks of Christ. Not that Katie ever claimed to be the most perfect person in the world, she doesn't ever make the claim that she's better than anyone else. I didn't get the impression even once that she was showing off or boasting about her good works. What I got from the book was love, love, love, this is all about love. It was inspiring, challenging, encouraging, convicting all at the same time.

I would encourage everyone to read this one!!! It was just WONDERFUL. I think I will definitely want to read and reread this one because I think it is so good!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week in Review: May 12-18

This week I read in three different Bibles. The NASB Wide Margin Bible, which I'm not exactly loving, by the way. Will there ever be an edition of this Bible translation that is perfect for me? The A.W. Tozer KJV Bible, which I do love though I'm not loving the Old Testament in the KJV as much as the New Testament. And the Third Millennium Bible which is a light updating of the King James Version (think along the lines of KJ21 but with the Apocrypha). I am just LOVING this one. I am just so very, very, very THRILLED to have found this one!!!! It has everything that I absolutely love about the KJV but it updates some of the names. (Isaiah instead of Esaias, for example; Or Hosea for Osee; Or Timothy for Timotheus.) It also is NOT red letter. (The Words of Christ are emphasized by being in a slightly larger font size, also italicized and slightly indented.)


  • Psalms 73-150
  • Proverbs
  • Mark
  • Romans
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter

A.W. Tozer, KJV

  • Exodus 9-11
  • 1 Samuel 1-4
  • Job 1-7
  • Daniel 1-2
  • Haggai

Third Millennium Bible (TMB)

  • "Rest of" Esther
  • Prayer of Manasseh
  • Matthew
  • Romans
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • James
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: God's Pursuit of Man

God's Pursuit of Man. A.W. Tozer. 1950/2007. Wingspread. 140 pages.

The unconditioned priority of God in His universe is a truth celebrated both in the Old Testament and in the New. 

This is the first A.W. Tozer book that I've hesitated to say I love. I think my expectations were a bit off which influenced my reading of it.  I expected this to be a book either about election or predestination OR a book about God's sovereignty, a book highlighting how God chooses, calls, draws, elects, predestines, whatever you want to call it. But that really wasn't what this book was about, not really. Some of you may be relieved to learn that! What is this one about? Well, I think this book is truly about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Which does relate to regeneration, being born again, being justified, being sanctified, being saved, whatever you want to call the all-encompassing act that brings us into a forever-relationship with God. But even this description doesn't truly describe what this one is about. Yes, it's about the Holy Spirit. Yes, it's about how the Spirit is necessary for the Christian life. Yes, it's about how the Holy Spirit is God, has the nature/substance of God. Yes, it's about how Christians can be intimidated, scared, or neglectful of the Holy Spirit. Yes, it's about how the church is weakened because people calling themselves believers lack the power of the Spirit. Yes, it's about the necessity of being filled with the Spirit, of dwelling in the Spirit, of how the Spirit of God dwells and abides in believers securing and empowering them. But this book doesn't flow as well as some of Tozer's other books. It reads more like a collection of essays or sermons about the Holy Spirit. Which is not a bad thing at all. There are some GREAT, GREAT gems to be found in Tozer's book.

Favorite quotes:

We cannot think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there, and there first. (3)

The man who would know God must give time to Him. He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance. (5)

We who experience God in this day may rejoice that we have in Him all that Abraham or David or Paul could have; indeed the very angels before the throne can have no more than we, for they can have no more God and can want nothing apart from Him. And all that He is and all that He has done is for us and for all who share the common salvation. With full consciousness of our own demerit we may yet take our place in the love of God, and the poorest and weakest of us may without offense claim for ourselves all the riches of the Godhead in mercy given. I have every right to claim all for myself, knowing that an infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. (13)

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy. The holy heart alone can be the habitation of the Holy Ghost. (103)

The difficulty we modern Christians face is not misunderstanding the Bible, but persuading our untamed hearts to accept its plain instructions. Our problem is to get the consent of our world-loving minds to make Jesus Lord in fact as well as in word. (120)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Surprised by Grace

Surprised by Grace. Tullian Tchividjian. 2010. Crossway. 192 pages.

For good reason, Christian people love the word gospel. Tragically, however, multitudes of Christians fail to grasp what the gospel fully is. In fact, I'm convinced there's just as much confusion inside the church as there is outside it regarding the gospel's true meaning--sometimes even in churches where the gospel is regularly preached and taught. To get a better grip on the gospel, maybe what we need most is to be startled...surprised...even shocked by it. 

The full title of this one is Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. I thought this title would be similar to Jesus + Nothing = Everything which I read and reviewed last fall. (I still feel I didn't do a proper job of reviewing it.) And, in a way, I suppose it was to a certain degree. Both books being about grace: how God saves those who don't deserve to be saved. But Surprised by Grace is an in-depth study of the book of Jonah. It goes through all four chapters of this minor prophet. He discusses the text in a practical, meaningful, oh-so-relevant way. Not that he makes it all about you.  It's easy to find yourself in the book of Jonah. Because we all like Jonah have a tendency to run away from God, to be stubborn and resistant, to talk back to God, to dismiss His way as being inferior to our own way. Jonah was good at throwing fits or temper tantrums. He liked to stomp his feet and yell no, no, no.

Anyway, Tchividjian's argument is that by studying the book of Jonah we learn a lot about God, a lot about ourselves, and a lot about grace and mercy.

I loved this one. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it as much as Jesus + Nothing = Everything. But I definitely LOVED it.

Favorite quotes:

A friend once told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means we can't really move forward unless we learn more thoroughly the gospel's content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel, which is the good news that even though we're more defective and lost than we ever imagined, we can be more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope, because Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again for sinners just like you and me. God intends this reality to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It should define the way we think, feel, and live. (16)

We learn about the danger we experience when we run from God's will, the deliverance we experience when we submit to God's will, the deliverance others experience when we fulfill God's will, and the depression we experience when we question God's will. (25)

In all of human history, there has been only One who concluded--at every point, and in every way--that God's way is always best and God's call is always right. Because of him, every human problem will someday come to an end. (34)

The supreme example of this massive mercy is Jesus. The incarnation of Christ tells us most emphatically how God spares nothing in going after those who run away. God's becoming man is anything but a quiet and subtle response from God to our running from him. It's a huge and loud statement. It shouts to us that God confronts human flight in the most outspoken, powerful way. (52)

When we understand that our significance and identity are in Christ, we don't have to win--we're free to lose. The gospel frees us from the pressure to generate our own significance  and meaning. In Christ, our identity and significance are secure, which frees us up to give everything we have, because in Christ we have everything we need. (104)

Christians need the gospel because our hearts are always prone to wander; we're always tempted to run from God. It takes the power of the gospel to direct us back to our first love. (155)

If you're a Christian, you're forever, unchangeably accepted by God, the only one who matters. When we grasp this, we realize that all those other things where we've searched for acceptance ultimately don't matter. (158)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week in Review: May 5 - May 11

This week I read in two Bibles: the A.W. Tozer (KJV) Bible and the NASB Wide Margin Bible. I was able to meet one of this month's goals: to complete the New Testament in the Tozer Bible!

A.W. Tozer Bible

  • Exodus 4-8
  • Nehemiah
  • Proverbs 20-31
  • Isaiah 58-66
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Acts 7-28
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy


  • Psalms 1-72
  • John 6-21
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Revelation

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Olivia Newport. 2012. Revell. 304 pages.

A week from Tuesday. Is that possible?

For those that absolutely love historical fiction/historical romance, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning may prove irresistible. Especially if you judge books by their covers.

I didn't love this one. I barely liked it.

It's set in Chicago in 1892-1893 as the city prepares for the World's Fair. The heroine, Lucy Banning, is a stubborn young woman determined to show her independence one tiny step at a time. Fearful of her parents and her fiance, Daniel, Lucy Banning decides that lying is the best way to further her education. By saying that she's volunteering at a local orphanage, she gets the chance to leave the house three days a week. Does she feel guilty about lying to almost everyone in her life? Not really. She doesn't really care what Daniel thinks because she doesn't really care about Daniel. So what if he objects? As for her parents, she tells herself that she's not really hurting them by deceiving them because what they don't know can't hurt them right? And if she told them, well, she might have to listen to them. She doesn't give them a chance to say yes or no. (As it turns out, when she is honest with them, that they don't care, they don't mind at all).

I get the idea that readers are supposed to be on Lucy's side in everything. We're supposed to applaud her stubbornness, her independence, her quest for further education, her quest to be more than just a dutiful, obedient daughter. Lucy wants to be the boss of Lucy. End of story. Personally, I found Lucy to be selfish, deceptive, manipulative. Not that Lucy doesn't have a few good traits. She does. She does genuinely care for orphans--one day a week, at least. And she does like being different from others. She has compassion on the less fortunate, the least of these. She sees the needs of the world around her, the weak, the poor, the needy, the helpless. She knows she's compassionate, and likes feeling that she "gets" what Christianity is all about more than others. But still. She sees them as human beings. And we do see her relationship develop with one unfortunate maid, Charlotte. So readers are shown what Lucy's compassion looks like. Which isn't a bad thing at all.

We also get Charlotte's point of view at several times throughout this story. She's a young woman with a mysterious past. She shows up with a BIG secret. She's hiding a baby in a carpet bag in a closet on the third floor. The baby is only a few weeks old, still sleeps almost all the time, and she's trained her newborn son to feed only at night and sleep through the day without making a sound. (Believe that anyone?) The treatment of this son just bothered me. As if being hidden in a closet in a bag wasn't bad enough, he's "hidden" in a heap of fabric--covered up by several yards of several different fabrics--and carried outside of the house to his new home.

And then there's the romance....

I think the big problem for me was the characterization. It wasn't dreadful. It wasn't even flat or one-dimensional (if you don't count the parents and the brother). It was just slightly unpredictable. Meaning I felt the characters kept surprising the author as the story was written by going in their own directions? Of course, that's just a guess on my part. I am not saying it's bad that this one was more unpredictable than predictable--in a way. I could just as easily be dismissing a book for being too predictable, too formulaic, too generic.

My favorite character would probably be Will. The character I understood least (because every time he was in a scene he acted different) is Daniel. The character I sympathized most with was Charlotte. I would have liked to know more about her--how she came to be in her situation--alone and with a newborn child. Where were her parents? Did she have any family to turn to? Was she kicked out of the house? Who was the father of the baby? Was he married? Did he manipulate her? Was she in love with him? In love with him still? What does the future hold for her? Will she find a way to be with her son again? Will she find someone who loves and accepts her?

I did enjoy some elements of this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Experiencing the Presence of God

Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal (Gospel Light) 224 pages.

From chapter one: In the deep recesses of man's soul lies an overwhelming yearning toward the Creator. This is a common thread through all humanity, created in the image of God. Unless and until that desire is fully met, the human soul remains restless, constantly striving for that which is ultimately unattainable. 

While I'm not sure that this book is my favorite, favorite, favorite Tozer, I can definitely say that I LOVED this one. I read it for many reasons: a) the subject (this one is ALL about how Christians should seek to experience God daily in their lives. How they should be living in communion with God, and having an intimate relationship with their Lord and Savior) b) the author (I am just in a very Tozer mood at the moment!) c) the key references (I don't know about you, but I find Hebrews a bit intimidating. It can be a LOT to try to understand and absorb. There's a richness to it, but it is a richness wrapped in mystery and more mystery. I think this is especially true for contemporary readers. To fully understand this one, we need to LEARN the background of the Old Testament, learn all the details--great and small--about the Jewish religion. We have to learn the images, the concepts, we have to grasp their significance.)

There are fifteen chapters (or sermons) from his teachings from the book of Hebrews:

  • Striving Toward God's Presence
  • Hindrances on the Pathway to God's Presence
  • Man is Naturally Drawn Toward God's Presence
  • Our Personal Guide Into God's Presence
  • Man's Revolt Against God's Presence
  • The Nature of God's Presence Among Men
  • Finding True Freedom in God's Presence
  • Paving the Way Into God's Presence
  • Enjoying the Manifest, Conscious Presence of God
  • The "Sanctum Sanctorum" of God's Presence
  • The Dimension of God's Presence
  • Our Mutual Fellowship in God's Presence
  • The Threat to Our Delighting in God's Presence
  • Maintaining Our Spiritual Confidence in God's Presence
  • The Daily Practice of God's Presence

Each chapter concludes with a poem/hymn.

Purpose of the book: "This book is a small attempt to fan the flame of holy desire toward God. I hope you will catch the passion and press forward to delight in the conscious, manifest presence of God." (26)

Favorite quotes:

The most important thing we can devote ourselves to is giving attention to the things of God to save our soul. This must be an active, persistent and deliberate intent on our part, regardless of the difficulties that lie in our path. (30)

The great labor of the Church has always been to get people to give serious attention to spiritual matters. A great many pastors and preachers do not worry about this at all, because they do not expect anything and, therefore, they do not get it. But a man of God, with the burden of the Holy Spirit on him, will want to stir the people to serious attention. Until serious attention has been given to the claims of Christ, it is for us as if the Bible had never been written. (33)

Any religion that ignores the truth that man is fallen and separated from God is a sham religion. (57)

Redemption is wrought by God and not by man. There is not any place in the head of a man or in the fingers of a man, however skilled or brilliant, for redemptive plans or purposes. God purposed redemption in Christ Jesus before the world began, and it does not need any editing on my part or on the part of any living man. (97)

We have today what is called the relativity of morals. When you come to the things of God, open your Bible and put away this woozy idea of relativity, this floating standard of morals. (98)

God's words are not for me to edit and tinker with, but to believe and obey. (99)

Regarding God's Word, let us love it and live in it and eat it and drink it and lie down on it and walk on it and stand on it and swear by it and live by it and rest in it. (105)

Mark Twain famously said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." It is very important that we get hold of the right words and know exactly what they mean. There has been a big effort in recent times to colloquialize Christianity. By that, I mean to get rid of all the old standard words we have used ever since English was spoken and put in their places words more familiar. When that happens, we lose the meaning when we lose the word that contains the meaning. (149)

Christian writers today are busy writing down to the people and making morons out of us. Have enough gumption and intellectual verve to learn the simple language of the Bible, that when the Word says "repent" it means a certain thing; and when it says "born again," it means a certain thing. Find out what it means. It would not take you a minute and half, and from that time on, until you die, you will know exactly what you mean when using that language. (151)

There is not a Christian alive but has to die, and die daily, to thoughts of self-importance. (209)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Explicit Gospel

The Explicit Gospel. Matt Chandler. 2012. Crossway Books. 240 pages.

From chapter one: The work of God in the cross of Christ strikes us as awe-inspiring only after we have first been awed by the glory of God. Therefore, if we're going to talk about the scope of the cross, we need to first talk about who God is. What is he like? How big is he? How deep and wide is his power? The cross provides our access to relate to God, but we must always relate to him in light of who he is, not just who we think or hope him to be. 

I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book! What is the book about? Well, it's about the need for the EXPLICIT gospel. Telling the truth, the whole truth, of the gospel message. Not leaving out any of the details, not changing any of the details, and most importantly NOT ASSUMING that the gospel is already known in all its fullness, or known in any degree in some circumstances. I think we've all been a little guilty of assuming that the good news, the gospel, is known by one and all. Assuming that people know just what it is that they are accepting OR assuming that people know just what it is that they are rejecting. So even when we talk about the gospel among ourselves, we assume that we're all on the same page, that we know everything there is to know. But that's just not the case. The gospel is and ever-will-be amazing and life-changing. The gospel is something we need every day of our walk with Christ. It is a message that we need to hear every day, to rejoice in every day. The gospel is not something we can forget without loss, and it is not something that we should take for granted.

The Explicit Gospel is divided into three sections. The book begins by discussing "the gospel on the ground." In this section, we see the personal, life-changing, redeeming-and-transforming gospel. This section includes four chapters: "God," "Man," "Christ," and "Response." The book then shifts focus slightly. The focus shifts from being all-about-me to being about the-whole-wide-world. He calls this "gospel in the air." This section is ALL about the big, big, big picture where God is the center. God's glory is the star of this section. Chapters include, "Creation," "Fall," "Reconciliation," and "Consummation." The third and final section talks about the strengths and weaknesses of focusing on one over the other. "Gospel on the ground" vs. "Gospel in the Air." It isn't a matter of which one is the "true" gospel message. Both are true. Both are presented in the Bible. In this section, he discusses spiritual disciplines, church life, missions, evangelism, etc.

I couldn't begin to share all the quotes I want. So I'll just select a few:

Knowledge of and belief in hell--as important as they are--are unable to create worshipers. Yet misunderstanding this reality is historically how the doctrine of hell has been abused and misused by so many men in the name of God. You cannot scare anyone into heaven. Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it's a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can't do it. You can scare them into moral acts of goodness. But that's not salvation. It's not even Christian. (49)
You can't understand the cross of Christ without understanding the weight of the glory of God and the offense of belittling his name and what the due punishment is for that offense. What Christ did on the cross will not be revelatory in transforming love until we see that the cross is revelatory also in the depth of the offense of sin. Thomas Watson puts it this way: "Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." God's love--of which so many hell deniers are such cheerleaders--fails to carry the weight of eternal glory when we don't believe it saves us from much. (49-50)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 2012 Goals

I plan to continue using my new system for reading the Bible.

As for which Bibles, which translations, I'm planning to focus on in the month of May, I'm not exactly sure. I *do* want to finish reading the New Testament in the A.W. Tozer Bible. This goal would involve me reading Acts, 1 Timothy, and 2 Timothy. And I probably will keep reading the Old Testament in this one even if I don't begin the New Testament again.

I definitely want to read the New Testament in Reading God's Story, HCSB Chronological Daily Bible.

I probably will try to read the New Testament in another translation as well. I'm not sure if this will be in the New American Standard Bible or in another translation. I've already read the NT in the New King James, King James, ESV, and NIV. So it would be nice to finish it in the New American Standard Bible.

I also want to read these books:

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport, Blog Tour in May
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
Experiencing the Presence of God by A.W. Tozer

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week In Review: April 29 - May 4

This week I challenged myself to finish the Reading God's Story HCSB Chronological Bible! And it was such a WONDERFUL experience!!!! I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this Bible, I do. It would be a great introduction to this translation of the Bible--the Holman Christian Standard Bible--if you're not familiar with it. I read the Old Testament in November and December of 2011.

HCSB -- Reading God's Story: A Chronological Daily Bible

  • Matthew 
  • Mark 
  • Luke 
  • John
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

I also read *some* in the A.W. Tozer Bible (KJV). I did not make this Bible my focus this week since I wanted to read the New Testament.

  • Exodus 1-4
  • Esther
  • Proverbs 9-19
  • Isaiah 52-57
  • Nahum
  • Acts 1-6

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Retro-Christianity

Retro-Christianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith. Michael J. Svigel. 2012. Crossway Books. 320 pages.

As a whole--and in many of its parts--evangelicalism today has lost its way. Having moved the ancient landmarks that had long pointed out the safe path (Proverbs 22:28), evangelicals have wandered into a deep forest of forgetfulness. 

If you are looking for a book about church history, a book that stresses the importance of KNOWING church history, a book that emphasizes the importance of having orthodox doctrines or traditions, then Retro-Christianity might just be the book for you. It is a book that, in some ways, traces the church from the first century to the present day. Though it isn't strictly speaking a history book--not as you'd traditionally think of a history book at any rate. The author briefly traces the history of the church emphasizing the strengths and weaknesses of each time period in church history. Here are the things this generation--this century, this time period, etc--got right. Here are a few things we should consider adapting to fit this generation's needs. It doesn't idealize the past OR the present. If there are problems OR weaknesses, Svigel addresses the issue(s). The book is very organized. And Svigel does make a point of defining (and redefining in some instances) everything he's discussing or presenting. So he does try his very best to be understandable by readers.

Part One: The Case for RetroChristianity
1. How Did It Come To This
2. Going Retro Without Going Wrong
3. What is RetroChristianity
Part Two: RetroOrthodoxy: Preserving the Faith for the Future
4. The First Canon of RetroOrthodoxy: Some Things Never Change and Never Should
5. The Second Canon of RetroOrthodoxy: Some Things Have Never Been the Same and Never Will Be
6. The Third Canon of RetroOrothodoxy: Some Things Grow Clear Through Trial and Error
Part Three: RetroClesiology: Beyond the Preference-Driven Church
7. Church Classic: Four Common Myths and Four Classic Marks
8. The Essential Marks of a Local Church
9. The Essential Works of a Local Church
Part Four: RetroSpirituality: Living the Forgotten Faith Today
10. From "Me" to "We": Growing Together in Christ
11. From "We" to "Me": Nurturing Personal Christian Identity
12. Where Do We Go From Here? From Retrospect to Prospects

For those readers who are considering leaving their local church to switch to another local church, or to switch from one denomination to another, then I think Michael J. Svigel has something to say to you specifically. His chapters on going beyond a "preference-driven" church were great. He definitely has opinions on church hopping and church shopping! And his message that it isn't all about you and what you like is probably a needed message in the contemporary church.

The strongest chapters in RetroChristianity are probably "The Essentials Marks of a Local Church," "The Essential Works of a Local Church." Though his three canons of RetroOrthodoxy were important too. Especially his definition of orthodoxy as being core beliefs held "Everywhere. Always. By All."

While the book does have definite strengths, I'll be honest, Retro-Christianity wasn't always the easiest of reads. There were chapters that seemed too technical to be fascinating. Then again, there were chapters that are very straightforward, very basic, very relevant. This is more a book about your relationship with the church than a book about your relationship with Jesus. Though, of course, one of the main messages is that the church is lost if her center is not on Jesus Christ, if the church tries to add other things to the center foundation. It can't be Jesus + Me. Or Jesus + Us. Or Jesus + Psychology. Jesus + Culture. Jesus + Awesome Worship Band. Jesus + Family-Friendly Programs.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Books Read in 2012

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: "Gabrielle lisante" and "Liseuse a la Venus"

  1. The Healer's Apprentice. Melanie Dickerson. 2010. Zondervan. 272 pages.
  2. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. Michael Horton. 2008. Baker Publishing. 272 pages.
  3. Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Kyle Idleman. 2011. Zondervan. 224 pages.
  4. His Steadfast Love. Golden Keyes Parson. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 336 pages.
  5. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall. Julie Klassen. 2012. Bethany House. 416 pages. 
  6. The Accidental Bride. Denise Hunter. 2012. January 2012. Thomas Nelson. 304 pages.
  7. 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. 


  1. The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World. Michael Horton. 2009. Baker Books. 272 pages.
  2. Loving the Way Jesus Loves. Phil Ryken. 2012. Crossway. 224 pages.
  3. Grace God's Unmerited Favor. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 175 pages.
  4. The Practice of Praise: How To Develop the Habit of Abundant, Continual Praise In Your Daily Life by Charles Spurgeon. 1995. Whitaker House. 170 pages.
  5. Power in the Blood. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 190 pages.
  6. Being God's Friend. Charles Spurgeon. 1997. Whitaker House. 175 pages.
  7. A Suitor for Jenny. Margaret Brownley. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 315 pages.
  8. The Toddler's Bible. V. Gilbert Beers. 1992/2012. The 2012 edition is illustrated by Claudine Gevry. The 1992 edition is illustrated by Carole Boerke. David C. Cook. 432 pages.


  1. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages.
  2. Jesus, Our Man in Glory: 12 Messages from the Book of Hebrews. A.W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith. 1987. Christian Publications. 136 pages.
  3. The ESV and the English Bible Legacy. Leland Ryken. 2011. Crossway. 183 pages.
  4. Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. Leland Ryken. 2009. Crossway Books. 208 pages.
  5. 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to The Essential Spiritual Classics. Renovare*. 2011. HarperCollins. 416 pages.
  6. Lord, Teach Us To Pray. Alexander Whyte. 1922/1998. Regent College Publishing. 292 pages.
  7. Holy Spirit Power. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 170 pages.
  8. Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross. Nancy Guthrie, editor. 2009. Crossway. 160 pages.
  9. The Joy of Calvinism. Greg Forster. 2012. Crossway Books. 208 pages.
  10. Gospel Centered Discipleship. Jonathan K. Dodson. Foreword by Matt Chandler. 2012. Crossway Books. 176 pages.
  11. Sarai. Jill Eileen Smith. 2012. Revell. 320 pages.
  12. Head in the Clouds. Karen Witemeyer. 2010. Bethany House. 366 pages.


  1. The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 186 pages.
  2. The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine. A.W. Tozer 1948/2006. WingSpread Publishers. 70 pages
  3. Nature of God (Formerly published as Gleanings in the Godhead). Arthur W. Pink. 1975/1999. Moody Publishers. 347 pages.
  4. Letters To A Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine. Dorothy Sayers. 2004. Thomas Nelson. 280 pages.
  5. It is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement. Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence. 2010. Crossway. 224 pages.
  6. Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ. Edited by Richard D. Phillips. 2009. Crossway Books. 240 pages


  1. The Explicit Gospel. Matt Chandler. 2012. Crossway Books. 240 pages.
  2. Surprised by Grace. Tullian Tchividjian. 2010. Crossway. 192 pages.
  3. Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible. Edited by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins, Thomas R. Schreiner. Contributors: Vern S. Poythress, C. John Collins, Gordon Wenham, David Howard, David Reimer, Paul House, J. Julius Scott, Jr., David Chapman, John Delhousaye, Thomas R. Schreiner, Darrell Bock, Dennis Johnson. 2012. Crossway. 160 pages.
  4. Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption. Katie Davis. 2011. October 2011. Howard Books. 288 pages.
  5. Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal (Gospel Light) 224 pages.
  6. God's Pursuit of Man. A.W. Tozer. 1950/2007. Wingspread. 140 pages.
  7. The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Olivia Newport. 2012. Revell. 304 pages.
  8. Retro-Christianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith. Michael J. Svigel. 2012. Crossway Books. 320 pages.
  9. The Lord is My Shepherd. (Psalm 23 Mysteries) Debbie Viguie. 2010. Abingdon Press. 320 pages.


  1. Jesus Is Victor: A Fresh Perspective on the Book of Revelation. A.W. Tozer. Compiled and Edited by Gerald B. Smith. 1989/2007. WingSpread Publishers. 143 pages.
  2. Short-Straw Bride. Karen Witemeyer. 2012. Bethany House. 368 pages.
  3. Mary Magdalene. Diana Wallis Taylor. 2012. Revell. 304 pages.
  4. The Tozer Pulpit*. Volume 1. A.W. Tozer. 140 pages.
  5. The Gift. (Chiveis Trilogy #2) Bryan Litfin. 2011. Crossway. 416 pages.


  1. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots. J.C. Ryle. (1816-1900). 280 pages.
  2. Finding God When You Need Him Most. Chip Ingram. 2002/2007. Baker Books. 209 pages. 
  3. The Kingdom. Bryan Litfin. 2012. Crossway. 448 pages.
  4. Then Sings My Soul. Robert J. Morgan. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. 
  5. Charity and Its Fruits: Living In the Light of God's Love. Jonathan Edwards. Edited by Kyle Strobel. 2012. Crossway. 350 pages. 
  6. When You Need A Miracle: How To Ask God for The Impossible. Linda Evans Shepherd. 2012. Revell. 207 pages.
  7. The Last Hunger Season. Roger Thurow. 2012. PublicAffairs. 304 pages.
  8. Joy in Christ's Presence. Charles Spurgeon. Whitaker House. 208 pages. 


  1. For Such a Time As This. Ginny Aiken. 2012. FaithWords. 384 pages.
  2. To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. Sandra Byrd. 2011. Howard Books. 332 pages.
  3. Putting the Amazing Back Into Grace. Michael Horton. 1994/2011. Baker Books. 272 pages.
  4. God is Good...All the Time. Dr. Margi McCombs. Illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov. 2012. Scholastic. 20 pages.
  5. Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace. Michael S. Beates. 2012. Crossway. 192 pages.
  6. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Maria Augusta Trapp. 1949/2001. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
  7. Almost Amish. Kathryn Cushman. 2012. Bethany House. 336 pages.
  8. Story: Our Journey of Heartache and Grace fro Eden to Evermore by Steven James. 2006/2012. Revell. 208 pages. 


  1. Life with Lily. Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2012. Revell. 288 pages.
  2. Love's Reckoning. Laura Frantz. 2012. Revell. 432 pages. 
  3. With Every Letter. Sarah Sundin. 2012. Revell. 432 pages. 
  4. A Memory Between Us. Sarah Sundin. 2010. Revell. 450 pages. 
  5. Blue Skies Tomorrow. Sarah Sundin. 2011. Revell. 434 pages.
  6. The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek. Jane Myers Perrine. 2012. FaithWords. 384 pages.
  7. The Secret Keeper. Sandra Byrd. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 352 pages.
  8. Worship: The Ultimate Priority. John MacArthur. 1983/2012. Moody. 192 pages.
  9. The Hole In Our Holiness. Kevin DeYoung. 2012. Crossway. 160 pages. 
  10. Valley of Dreams. Lauraine Snelling. 2011. Bethany House. 342 pages.
  11. A Faith To Grow On. John MacArthur. 2000/2004. Thomas Nelson. 192 pages.
  12. Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace. James Montgomery Boice. 2001/2009. Crossway. 224 pages.

  1. A Promise to Love. Serena B. Miller. 2012. Revell. 332 pages.
  2. Twice Promised. Maggie Brendan. 2012. Revell. 332 pages.
  3. Wondrous Works of God. Starr Meade. 2012. Crossway. 288 pages.
  4. Whispers in the Wind. (Wild West Wind #2) Lauraine Snelling. 2012. Bethany House. 352 pages.
  5. All Things New. Lynn Austin. 2012. Bethany House. 416 pages.
  6. My First Handy Bible: Timeless Bible Stories for Toddlers. Cecilie Olesen. Illustrated by Gustavo Mazali. Scandinavia Publishing House. 64 pages.  


  1. Jesus, Author of Our Faith. A.W. Tozer. 1988. Christian Publications. 150 pages.
  2. Grace Transforming: Phil Ryken. 2012. Crossway. 120 pages.
  3. Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible And What He Wants To Do With You. John MacArthur. 2012. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages.
  4. Practical Religion. J.C. Ryle. 1878. 336 pages.
  5. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. 2008. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 192 pages.
  6. Christmas Roses. Amanda Cabot. 2012. Revell. 174 pages.
  7. The Christmas Pony. Melody Carlson. 2012. Revell. 170 pages.
  8. Designed for Devotion: a 365 Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation. Dianne Neal Matthews. 2012. Baker Books. 372 pages.
  9. Joy: A Godly Woman's Adornment. Lydia Brownback. 2010. Crossway Books. 104 pages.
  10. Trust. Lydia Brownback. 2008. Crossway Books. 124 pages.
  11. The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship. A.W. Tozer. Compiled and Edited by James L. Snyder. 2009. Regal. 188 pages.
  12. The Good News From North Haven. Michael L. Lindvall. 1991. 176 pages.


  1. God Loves You: He Always Has, He Always Will. Dr. David Jeremiah. 2012. FaithWords. 320 pages.
  2. Grace, Gold, & Glory. Gabrielle Douglas with Michelle Burford. 2012. Zondervan. 222 pages.
  3. Walking with Bilbo. Sarah Arthur. 2005. Tyndale. 224 pages.
  4. Gentleman of Her Dreams. Jen Turano. 2012. Bethany House. 68 pages.
  5. A Lancaster County Christmas. Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2011. Revell. 198 pages.
  6. Where God Finds You: 40 Devotions Bringing Bible Characters to Life. Anita Higman. 2012. Standard Publishing. 240 pages.
  7. Marriage Carol. Chris Fabry. 2011. Moody. 128 pages.
  8. Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul. John Piper. 2003. Multnomah. 140 pages.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible