Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Reflections

I read twelve books this January. I read six nonfiction titles and six fiction titles.

Brentwood. Grace Livingstone Hill. 1937. 315 pages.
God on the Streets of Gotham. Paul Asay. 2012. Tyndale. 240 pages.
The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Bruce A. Ware. 2012. Crossway. 156 pages.
Spring for Susannah. Catherine Richmond. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 352 pages.
Love Comes Softly. Janette Oke. 1979. 240 pages.
Preparing for Jesus' Return. A.W. Tozer, James Snyder, ed. 2012. Regal. 211 pages.
The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Olivia Newport. 2013. Revell. 320 pages.
To Win Her Heart. Karen Witemeyer. 2011. Bethany House. 347 pages.
How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity with God. Erwin Lutzer. 1996. Moody. 159 pages.
Found God's Will: Find the Direction and Purpose God Wants for Your Life. John MacArthur. David C. Cook. 80 pages.
And the Lamb Wins: Why The End of the World Is Really Good News. Simon Ponsonby. 2008. David C. Cook. 322 pages.
Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie #1) Martha Rogers. 2009. 304 pages.

I met my goal of listening/watching to the first eight messages of R.C. Sproul's Foundation series. I definitely recommend watching the DVD over just listening to the messages.

  • What is Theology?
  • Scope and Purpose of Theology
  • General Revelation and Natural Theology
  • Special Revelation
  • Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
  • Infallibility and Inerrancy
  • Canonicity
  • Scripture and Authority

Though I had hoped to read ten Spurgeon sermons this month, I only managed seven. Still, I am pleased to have those seven. I don't want to rush through a sermon just so I can say that I've "read" it after all.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Planned Neglect?

I love the John MacArthur quote about planned neglect:
The more you study the Word of God, the more it saturates your mind and life. Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York's Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by "planned neglect." She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal. Some less important things in your life could stand some planned neglect so that you might give yourself to studying the Word of God... The more you would study the Word of God, the more your mind would be saturated with it. It will be no problem then for you to think of Christ. You won't be able to stop thinking of Him. ~ John MacArthur, Found: God's Will
Is Bible reading an important goal in your life? Does reading the Bible mean something to you? What are some "less important" things that you could start neglecting in order to give your time--your heart and mind--to reading and studying God's word? 
The key to spirituality is the development of little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer. In putting one foot in front of the other day after day, we become the kind of person who grows and endures rather than withers and dies. ~ Randy Alcorn, "Finishing With Few Regrets," O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, 57
We will never love God purely--wholeheartedly--apart from immersing ourselves in God's Word because it is only in Scripture that we learn what God is like. To know him is to love him, and we always desire more of what we love most. ~ Lydia Brownback, Purity, 23
If you wanted to read one book of the Bible--the whole book, beginning to end--which ones could you read during the same time it takes to watch It's a Wonderful Life? Hold on to your hat. You could read any book of the Bible except twelve. Only a dozen books of the Bible take longer to read than watching that classic Christmas movie. Nearly forty books of the Bible can be read in an hour or less. Half the books of the Bible can be read in less than thirty minutes. And twenty-six books can be read in fifteen minutes or less. That's pretty amazing for a book that many people think is too massive to read. When you think about it, time really isn't the problem when it comes to reading the Bible. It's a good excuse, but not good enough. How much we read of the only book God ever wrote depends mostly on how much of it we want to read. Reading God's Word is less dependent on our schedule and more dependent on our desire and discipline. ~ Woodrow Kroll, Read Your Bible One Book at a Time, 12-13

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Year With Spurgeon, Week 4

This week's quotes:
In all places whithersoever we go, He has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 23
Trouble is often the means whereby God delivers us. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 24
The first thing for our soul's health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 24
We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God's glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. Our incarnate God is to be worshipped as "the Wonderful." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 26
It is somewhat singular, but just as they say fish go bad at the head first, so modern divines generally go bad first upon the head and main doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ. Nearly all our modern errors, I might say all of them, begin with mistakes about Christ... If they are not sound about the purpose of the cross, they are rotten everywhere. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
The doctrine of the atonement is very simple. It just consists in the substitution of Christ in the place of the sinner; Christ being treated as if he were the sinner, and then the transgressors being treated as if he were the righteous one. It is a change of persons; Christ becomes sinner; he stands in the sinner's place and stead; he was numbered with the transgressors; the sinner becomes righteous; he stands in Christ's place and stead, and is numbered with the righteous ones. Christ has no sin of his own, but he takes human guilt, and is punished for human folly. We have no righteousness of our own, but we take the divine righteousness; we are rewarded for it, and stand accepted before God as though that righteousness had been wrought out by ourselves. "In due time Christ died for the ungodly," that he might take away their sins. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
When a man is awakened and his conscience stings him, when the Spirit of God has shown him his sin and his guilt, there is nothing but the blood of Christ that can ever give him peace. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
There is a mysterious softening and melting power in the story of the sacrifice of Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
Alas for those that deny the atonement! They take the very sting out of Christ's sufferings; and then, in taking out the sting, they take out the point with which sufferings of Christ pierce, and probe, and penetrate the heart. It is because Christ suffered for my sin, because he was condemned that I might to acquitted and not be damned as the result of my guilt: it is this that makes his sufferings such a cordial to my heart. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
The sure and certain effect of a true faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ is the purging out of the old leaven, the dedication of the soul to him who bought it with his blood, and the vowing to have revenge against those sins which nailed Jesus to the tree. ~ Charles Spurgeon, "The Old, Old Story"
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: Becoming Lucy (2009)

Becoming Lucy (Winds Across the Prairie #1) Martha Rogers. 2009. 304 pages.

I enjoyed Martha Rogers' Becoming Lucy. While I didn't "love" it, I enjoyed spending time with the heroine, Lucinda, as she adapts to her new life in Oklahoma Territory. I enjoyed getting to know Lucy's family (aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.), and the romance was nice. I thought the book's focus on friendship was good. In some ways we see Lucy interacting more with her friends than with her love interest, Jake. But her feelings for the hero can't be denied.

I didn't exactly like the one dimensional villain in the story. If a villain isn't worthy of being an actual character with substance beyond a one sentence description supplying the alleged motive, then they might as well not be there. I thought the hero's past added enough conflict to this one, Lucy's life didn't need to be in danger from cover to cover.

It was a quick read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week in Review: January 20-26

This is what I read in the RSV:

  • Genesis 24-50
  • Judges 6-21
  • Proverbs
  • Isaiah 40-66
  • Jonah
  • Acts 4-28
  • 1 Timothy 
  • 2 Timothy
  • Hebrews 
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude
  • Revelation

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book Review: And the Lamb Wins (2008)

And the Lamb Wins: Why The End of the World Is Really Good News. Simon Ponsonby. 2008. David C. Cook. 322 pages.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed A.W. Tozer's Preparing for Jesus' Return. In the introduction to Preparing for Jesus' Return, James Snyder, the editor, writes:
 "Right up front, Tozer points out the difference between the evangelical mystic and the evangelical rationalist when it comes to the book of Revelation. Here is where some will probably find occasion to pause and wonder which side they are going to be on. Tozer explains, "The evangelical mystic, like John, stands in the presence of the awesome God and cries 'holy, holy, holy' and falls down at His feet as dead. But the evangelical rationalist figures it all out and says, 'We can understand it, we know how it is,' then writes a long book about it, telling exactly what it is like." As you might well know, Tozer aligned himself with the evangelical mystic. This is how he approached Bible prophecy--not to fit in every little piece and person, but rather to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ as coming again." (6)
While Ponsonby isn't exactly an "evangelical rationalist", his book on Revelation reads the exact opposite of Tozer's worshipful, inspirational, zeal-driven work.

The chapter titles:

  • Christianity is Hope
  • The Kingdom Rule of God
  • Death and Life
  • The Millennium Maze
  • Signs of the End Times
  • Antichrists, Beasts, and the Man of Lawlessness
  • Israel--Past, Present, or Future?
  • Tribulation and Rapture
  • Armageddon
  • The Return of the King
  • Resurrection and Last Judgment
  • Heaven or Hell
  • A Bride Prepared

Ponsonby's focus is on the details of the end times, the detailed portions of prophecy we find in Scripture particularly in the book of Revelation (but not exclusive to just that one book). He might discuss the portion of Scripture and then organize his argument or discussion around it. Often he focuses on how that verse or chapter has been interpreted by different theological schools through the centuries since it was first written. He'll quote a handful of theologians to illustrate. But he isn't only interested in how it's been interpreted in the past, he examines how various theologians treat the text today, the past hundred years. If there is more than one way to interpret a passage, to "understand" and comprehend it, he attempts to present multiple view points. However, he does NOT present multiple view points without bias. He is very opinionated. VERY. And the way he talks about differing views and their interpretations of the end can be extremely subjective. So subjective that it's a weakness. There are some paragraphs where he's so determined that his view is the only right view that when he talks about opposing view points, it is in a negative, belittling way.

The book is well-organized; it is arranged topically. The presentation within each chapter is organized. Some of his chapters conclude with a summary, a list of conclusions. These were very helpful. Ponsonby did a good job of showing what we can know, what we can be certain about. Even if interpretations differ, there are certain beliefs and statements that every Christian can hold in common.

I did not always agree with the author. Sometimes I strongly disagreed with his opinions. Some chapters I liked more than others.

Scripture is the story of the victory of the Lord who loves. (12)
Hope cannot be contained, it must be communicated. (37)
It is no mean feat to try to make sense of two thousand years of church reflection on the vast New Testament material and the often opposing interpretations that have been put forward. But it is essential we attempt to systemize and summarize what we have learned. (55)
For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ's first advent, there are eight that look forward to his second! Its importance is second only to the saving work of Christ. (214)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Found: God's Will

Found God's Will: Find the Direction and Purpose God Wants for Your Life. John MacArthur. David C. Cook. 80 pages.

Found: God's Will may be a short book, but it's a relevant book with substance. The premise is a simple one,
"Let's begin with a simple assumption. Since God has a will for us, He must want us to know it. If so, then we could expect Him to communicate it to us in the most obvious way. And how would that be? Through the Bible, His revelation. Therefore, I believe that what anyone needs to know about the will of God is clearly revealed in the pages of His Word. God's will is, in fact, very explicit in Scripture."
The chapter titles: "Is God a Cosmic Killjoy?", "The Crucial First Step," "The Fizzies Principle," "The Priority of Purity," "Silencing the Critics," "Facing the Flak," and "You're It."

MacArthur discusses five essentials clearly taught in Scripture as being part of God's will for every believer. These are the basics, these lay the foundation for the Christian life. He reveals these a chapter at a time, discussing each in depth and providing the Scriptural basis for each. These five elements build upon one another as well. In the last chapter, he summarizes: "God's will is that you be saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering."

Favorite quotes:
The doctrine of salvation is unpopular because it includes the recognition of sin. Nobody likes to admit sin. And many people resist the idea that they need to be saved. 
But God's will is that people be saved! And basic to salvation is the recognition of sin. This lays it right at your feet. Either you are not saved from your sin and you need to come to Christ because that is God's will, or you are saved and need to reach others with the message of salvation. There is a world out there that needs Jesus Christ. God wants them to be saved, and you and I are the vehicles for the transportation of the gospel. That is God's will. You say you do not know what God's will is, but I'll tell you what it is. Above all it is that you know Christ and then that your neighbors hear about Christ. 
When you were saved, the moment you received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came to live within you. There is no Christian who does not possess the Holy Spirit.
Do you know what the Spirit-filled life is? It is living every moment as though you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ!
Let me share how I study the Bible and how the Bible has come alive to me. I began in 1 John. One day I sat down and read all five chapters straight through. It took me twenty minutes. Reading one book straight through was terrific. (The books of the Bible weren't written as an assortment of good little individual verses. They were written with flow and context.) The next day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through again. The third day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through. The fourth day, straight through again. The fifth day, I sat down and read it again. I did this for thirty days. Do you know what happened at the end of thirty days? I knew what was in 1 John... You might say, "My are you smart!" No I am not smart. I read it thirty times. Even I can get it then!
The more you study the Word of God, the more it saturates your mind and life. Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York's Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by "planned neglect." She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal. Some less important things in your life could stand some planned neglect so that you might give yourself to studying the Word of God... The more you would study the Word of God, the more your mind would be saturated with it. It will be no problem then for you to think of Christ. You won't be able to stop thinking of Him. 
Evangelism involves living a godly life in the face of an ungodly world. 
One of the problems of evangelism today is that Christians are not willing to stand nose to nose with the world and tell it like it is concerning Jesus Christ.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God

How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity with God. Erwin Lutzer. 1996. Moody. 159 pages.
Five minutes after you die you will either have had your first glimpse of heaven with its euphoria and bliss or your first genuine experience of unrelenting horror and regret. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. In those moments, you will be more alive than you ever have been. 
This may be one of the most important books you ever read. It's a straight-forward presentation of gospel, discussing issues of faith, justification, sanctification, and assurance. It's a book that celebrates grace, mercy, and love. It urges readers to act, to know with certainty what they believe and why they believe or even if they believe. It urges them to take JESUS seriously, to take their souls seriously. It's a bold book, a book proclaiming that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. That all religious roads do not lead to God, and that it does matter what you believe OR perhaps WHO you believe. It's an accessible book as well. There's nothing dry, boring, or exhaustively scholarly about it. It expresses complex doctrines in a very easy to understand way. 

Favorite quotes:
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Or, to put it differently, what we believe is more important than the fervency of our belief. (13)
There are many wrong paths to God, but only one right one. (19)
C.S. Lewis said, 'The safest road to hell is the gradual one; the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without sign posts.' (26)
Spiritually speaking, we are dead toward God; and unless He gives us the miracle of life, we will stay dead. (33)
We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. (35)
Sin is nothing more than putting myself first, serving myself as best I can. Sin is not first and foremost committing adultery, stealing, or even becoming involved in a crime. The first commandment is that we love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 6:5). It follows that when we love ourselves more than God, we are committing what might be the greatest sin. Sin is choosing to do what I want without doing it in submission to God's will and plan. (35)
Grace has to be amazing or we are lost. (36)
If the grace of God is to come to our rescue, it has to be powerful enough and merciful enough to meet us where we are and bring us into the presence of God. (36)
Grace means God's undeserved favor. It is a gift that sets aside all human merit. It does not simply give us a hand, it gives us a resurrection. Grace is all one-sided. (37)
Sin always takes you further than you intended to go, keeps you longer than you intended to stay, and costs you more than you intended to pay. (38)
The issue is never the greatness of the sin, but the willingness of the sinner to be saved. And even this willingness, this desire to accept what Christ has done for us, is given to us by God's grace: "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44). Those are Christ's words, not mine! (40)
Let me be clear. When you come to Christ, you do not come to give, you come to receive. You do not come to try your best, you come to trust. You do not come just to be helped, but to be rescued. You do not come to be made better (although that does happen), you come to be made alive! ... You do not come to Christ to make a promise; you come to depend on His promise. It is the faithfulness of God and not your own that gives the gift of grace. (45)
Christ's righteousness is the exact kind of righteousness God requires--obviously so, for it is His very own! With it, a man can stand before God. (55)
This is known as "justification by faith," which can be defined as God's decision to declare us to be as righteous as He Himself is. The penalty for our sin has been paid by Christ, who met requirements that were infinitely beyond us. (55)
So there are two incredible transactions that happened when Jesus died on the cross. Christ was regarded as a sinner when He bore our sin; we are regarded as saints when we receive His righteousness. (56)
Sometimes justification has been defined as "just as if I'd never sinned." But that is only half the story. It is not just that our slate is clean, wonderful though that is. It is also that God looks at us as if we have lived lives of perfect obedience. He sees us as being loving, submissive, pure. He sees us as having done everything Christ has done. (57)
Justification happens outside of us; it is God's declaration in heaven that we are as righteous as Christ. The new birth happens inside of us. We are given spiritual life and are connected to God. (74)
When God regenerates, He is acting through the Word and the Spirit. The new birth is a direct act of omnipotence. (76)
God makes us conscious of our need for Christ; God gives us the ability to believe. Salvation is His work from start to finish. (77)
God has many children, but no grandchildren. (80)
Those who have the desire to receive the gift of God's grace do so because that desire has been implanted there by God. But by nature, we do not seek God. God seeks us. (82)
Although the need to believe is urgent, we cannot put pressure on people to be converted until they are ready. We must present the gospel and let God do what we cannot. Luther, with perhaps a bit of exaggeration, said that we must descend into hell before we can ascend into heaven. That was his way of saying that we should not get people saved until we get them lost. (83)
The work of God in the human heart is both miraculous and irreversible. Salvation, as we have learned, is God's mighty work. Our decision to accept Christ is rooted in His sovereign plans and intentions. (92)
The gospel is not primarily Christ in my heart (although it is that) but Christ as my sin-bearer. (129)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: To Win Her Heart (2011)

To Win Her Heart. Karen Witemeyer. 2011. Bethany House. 347 pages.

Although I didn't care for A Tailor-Made Bride, I must admit that I have come to LOVE Karen Witemeyer's historical romances. Last year I read Head in the Clouds and Short-Straw Bride. (Short-Straw Bride being one of my FAVORITE books of the entire year.)

Eden Spencer is the town librarian in Spencer, Texas. She loves her books, loves reading, loves reading to the town's children. (Her current read to them being BLACK BEAUTY.) She's at peace with being a spinster, for the most part; she was jilted practically at the altar a few years previous. But if she's so at peace with being single, why can't she stop thinking about the new oh-so-tall, oh-so-strong blacksmith in town?

Levi Grant has a past. He's a newly released convict. He was a prize fighting boxer with a manslaughter conviction, having thrown one punch too many in one of his fights. But he found Jesus in prison, and now he's a new man, a new creation. He's not eager to tell everyone the truth about his past when he first arrives in town, excepting the preacher and his wife, of course, who helped him get the job. But. He knows that after he gets settled, once he begins to make friends and find a place in the community he will be more willing to share his past. He is given the opportunity to prove himself time and time again: showing everyone his true character, his true convictions. (For example, saving a young woman--a cook--from the saloon, etc.)

Eden and Levi are attracted to one another, and their relationship is partly built through a series of letters they exchange through the books he checks out from the library. As their relationship strengthens, of course, the more they want to share with each other face to face...

I really loved this one. I enjoyed spending time with Eden and Levi. I liked these two main characters and there were interesting minor characters as well. I thought the story was well done...

I also really liked the lessons and insights of this one as well. It was very well done, felt natural too.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon, Week 3

These are the Spurgeon quotes I'm sharing this week:
Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in Him. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 16
It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah's death was the salvation of His church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom He gave His life a ransom? ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 16
It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of His presence; thou shalt dwell with Him for ever. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 17
O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson! ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 18
Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find Him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find Him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, "Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there." So look for Christ where you lost Him, for He has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 19

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (2013)

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Olivia Newport. 2013. Revell. 320 pages.

"Kiss Henry for me."
Momentarily startled by hearing the words aloud, Charlotte Farrow glanced around, seeking assurance the moment was private. 

Readers first met Charlotte Farrow in Olivia Newport's The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. In this second novel, Charlotte's story is told. The novel opens with Lucy and Will preparing to leave for their honeymoon. Charlotte, who is a maid in the Banning household, will miss her friend, but she will have plenty to do since she'll be training or helping to train a new maid, Sarah. Lucy has especially asked Charlotte to help Sarah keep her position until she returns that winter. It won't be an easy task for Sarah hasn't the inclination to be in service to others. Life becomes complicated when Charlotte's secret son, Henry, is left at the Banning house. The woman Lucy has been paying to keep her maid's son has had a family emergency. She can't take the baby with her and she has no idea when she'll be back in Chicago. Charlotte allows the other servants to think the baby is an abandoned baby. This is tough for Charlotte, of course, especially since Sarah the newest maid is appointed to be nanny. Charlotte has to watch a mindless seemingly heartless woman care for her son, or NOT care for her son as the case may be. Charlotte's life is not only emotionally complicated but physically exhausting: it seems she's to do the work of three maids now. (Her own tasks, the tasks Sarah would have done, and being a lady's maid to the Banning's house guest Emmaline.) And when she does have a moment to herself, well, Archie is there trying to woo her. But though she loves the wooing, she's worried that it will just be too hurtful in the end.

I definitely enjoyed The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. I really liked Archie and Charlotte. I pitied Emmaline. I loathed Sarah. I would be interested in Emmaline's story or possibly Sarah's story. Can the author redeem Sarah and make me feel sympathetic towards her?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Week in Review: January 13-19

This week I read in the RSV:

  • Genesis 15-23
  • Joshua 20-24
  • Judges 1-5
  • Psalms 73-150
  • Isaiah 34-39
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Luke 11-24
  • John
  • Acts 1-3
  • Ephesians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Music Review: Chris Tomlin's Burning Lights

I am absolutely loving Chris Tomlin's newest album, Burning Lights.

After the instrumental "Burning Lights," the album begins with Awake My Soul. I love this one! I do. I love the message. (The chorus: "Awake, awake, awake my soul, God resurrect these bones From death to life, through you alone Awake my soul") And I love Lecrae's part in this one. Ezekiel's dry bones prophesy has always been one of my favorite chapters. I love the imagery of regeneration, of new birth.

The next song is Whom Shall I Fear. I love this one because it is so scriptural. Think Psalm 91:1-16, Romans 8:31-39, Proverbs 18:10, Psalm 27:1, etc. I have several favorite lines: "My strength is in Your name For You alone can save You will deliver me Yours is the victory" and "The one who reigns forever He is a friend of mine" and "And nothing formed against me shall stand You hold the whole world in Your hands I'm holding on to Your promises." Isn't this the kind of song we need every day?

Lay Me Down has to be one of my favorites. (Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 37:4, Philippians 1:21) I love the whole song, I do. But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bridge: It will be my joy to say Your will Your way It will be my joy to say Your will Your way It will be my joy to say Your will Your way always. Wouldn't we all be better if we could passionately say that and mean it!

God's Great Dance Floor is a loud, happy dance song. The message: "You'll never stop loving us No matter how far we run You'll never give up on us."

White Flag is a song I love, love, love. My favorite part: "Here on this Holy ground You made a way for peace Laying your body down You took our rightful place This freedom song is marching on." We have been set free from our sins, and we are Christ's. "We raise our white flag The war is over Love has come Your love has won." Good news indeed.

Crown Him (Majesty) is a beautiful song, truly beautiful. You'll probably recognize some of this from the hymn; I really love this adaptation. Again I find myself loving the bridge: "All hail, Redeemer, hail For he has died for me His praise and glory shall not fail Throughout eternity."

Jesus, Son of God. Oh, how I LOVE this song. I absolutely love the lyrics. These are words with substance, providing listeners with something to meditate on. (Philippians 2:5-11, 1 John 4:9-11, Romans 5:6-11, etc.) The chorus: "On the altar of our praise Let there be no higher name Jesus Son of God You laid down Your perfect life You are the sacrifice Jesus Son of God You are Jesus Son of God."

Sovereign. I love this song!!! I do!!! "In your never failing love You work everything for good God whatever comes my way I will trust you."

Countless Wonders. A good companion to dozens of Psalms! It's a beautiful song. (Psalm 77:14, Psalm 89:5, etc.)

Thank You God For Saving Me is such a honest, heartfelt song.

The last song is Shepherd Boy. The title of the album comes from this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 Books I want...NOW!

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer. June 2013.

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.
For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

It Happened at the Fair. Deeanne Gist. April 2013. 

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.
The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

Unrivaled. Siri Mitchell. March 2013. 
Lucy Kendall always assumed she'd help her father in his candy-making business, creating recipes and aiding him in their shared passion. But after a year traveling in Europe, Lucy returns to 1910 St. Louis to find her father unwell and her mother planning to sell the struggling candy company. Determined to help, Lucy vows to create a candy that will reverse their fortunes.
St. Louis newcomer Charlie Clarke is determined to help his father dominate the nation's candy industry. Compromise is not an option when the prize is a father's approval, and falling in love with a business rival is a recipe for disaster when only one company can win. Will these two star-crossed lovers let a competition that turns less than friendly sour their dreams?
On Distant Shores. Sarah Sundin. July 2013.
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin pens another exciting tale in her series featuring WWII flight nurses. Fans new and old will find in On Distant Shores the perfect combination of emotion, action, and romance.

The Tutor's Daughter. Julie Klassen. January 2013
Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?
The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor's Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast--a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions--where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley. January 2013

A Place to Belong by Lauraine Snelling. April 2013. 
As winter settles over the ranch, the Engstrom brothers are much on the mind of Cassie Lockwood. The way Lucas smiles at her should set her heart to tripping. But it doesn't. Shouldn't there be some attraction to him if they are going to be married? His vow to make her love him does not seem to be working, no matter how considerate and charming he is.
Ransom Engstrom is another matter. After Cassie's train trip to a shooting competition, she realizes she misses Ransom more than Lucas. And then there's the look she caught Lucas sending Betsy Hudson at church one Sunday. Are she and Lucas drifting apart?
Meanwhile, Ransom has discovered that he cares for Cassie but can't bring himself to express his true feelings to her. When she leaves to join a Wild West show for the summer, will Ransom summon the courage to go after her?

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox. June 2013.
Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he's not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he's worked for. He's determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands.
The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn't want her to marry up with any of them. He's drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.
But someone doesn't want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps--and the man obviously didn't die from natural causes--things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb's business--and romance--survive the trouble that's about to come their way?

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell. March 2013
Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need--or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess's butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London's West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham's spell. Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, will he do the right thing?
Ruth Axtell deftly creates a world where black and white burst into a confusion of colors and no one is who they seem. Readers will be hooked from the very first scene to the final page.

Love At Any Cost by Julie Lessman. April 2013. 
Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?
With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.

When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad. May 2013.
Hannah Gregory is good at many things, but that list doesn't include following rules. So when she is forced to apply for a job as a telephone switchboard operator to support her two sisters, she knows it won't be easy. "Hello Girls" must conduct themselves according to strict--and often bewildering--rules. No talking to the other girls. No chatting with callers. No blowing your nose without first raising your hand. And absolutely no consorting with gentlemen while in training.
Meanwhile, young lawyer Lincoln Cole finds himself in the unfortunate position of having to enforce the bank's eviction of the three Gregory girls from their parents' home. He tries to soften the blow by supporting them in small ways as they settle into another home. But fiery Hannah refuses his overtures and insists on paying back every cent of his charity.
When one of Hannah's friends finds himself on the wrong side of a jail cell, Hannah is forced to look to Lincoln for help. Will it be her chance to return to her dreams of studying law? And could she be falling in love?
With historic details that bring to life the exciting first decade of the twentieth century, Lorna Seilstad weaves a charming tale of camaraderie and companionship that blossoms into love. Readers will get lost in this sweet romance and will eagerly look forward to championing each sister's dreams.
The Fairest Beauty. Melanie Dickerson. January 2013.
A daring rescue. A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother's jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie's one chance at freedom---but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl's inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible---she is his brother's future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else---he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.
When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help---but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them---they must also protect their hearts.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review: Pollyanna

Pollyanna. Eleanor H. Porter. 1913. 304 pages.

This was my first time to read the novel Pollyanna, and I just loved it. True, Pollyanna doesn't really come close to matching Anne of Green Gables in my affections. But. Perhaps given enough rereads, Pollyanna could do quite well! Pollyanna is a nearly flawless character, unlike Anne, thanks in part to her always playing the glad game. She's an orphan; she's traveled across the country to live with an aunt who is merely doing her duty, yet, Pollyanna finds reasons to rejoice for that is what the Lord would have us do at all times. It is what her Father taught her. Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice!

As Pollyanna meets Nancy, Aunt Polly, Mrs. Snow, Jimmy Bean, and plenty of other characters including "the Man" (Mr. Pendleton) and a charming doctor (Dr. Chilton), she slowly but surely starts changing lives for the better. For her merry spirit is contagious and she soon has everyone--almost everyone--playing the glad game too. Readers get various examples of the glad game, my particular favorite being the occasion where Nancy learns to appreciate her name and to be glad that it isn't Hephzibah!
"Well, anyhow," she chuckled, "you can be glad it isn't 'Hephzibah.'"
"Yes. Mrs. White's name is that. Her husband calls her 'Hep,' and she doesn't like it. She says when he calls out 'Hep—Hep!' she feels just as if the next minute he was going to yell 'Hurrah!' And she doesn't like to be hurrahed at."
Nancy's gloomy face relaxed into a broad smile.
"Well, if you don't beat the Dutch! Say, do you know?—I sha'n't never hear 'Nancy' now that I don't think o' that 'Hep—Hep!' and giggle. My, I guess I AM glad—" She stopped short and turned amazed eyes on the little girl. "Say, Miss Pollyanna, do you mean—was you playin' that 'ere game THEN—about my bein' glad I wa'n't named Hephzibah'?"
Pollyanna frowned; then she laughed.
"Why, Nancy, that's so! I WAS playing the game—but that's one of the times I just did it without thinking, I reckon. You see, you DO, lots of times; you get so used to it—looking for something to be glad about, you know. And most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it."
"Well, m-maybe," granted Nancy, with open doubt.
 I did enjoy the character of Pollyanna. I enjoyed her point of view. I loved some of her insights, especially her insights on living...
"Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to—to live."
"To live, child! What do you mean? As if you weren't living all the time!"
"Oh, of course I'd be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading (to myself, of course), climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the perfectly lovely streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!"
"Well, as near as I can judge, there are a good many things you 'love' to do—eh?" he added, as they drove briskly away.
Pollyanna laughed.
"Why, I don't know. I reckon perhaps there are," she admitted. "I like to do 'most everything that's LIVING. Of course I don't like the other things very well—sewing, and reading out loud, and all that. But THEY aren't LIVING."
"No? What are they, then?"
"Aunt Polly says they're 'learning to live,'" sighed Pollyanna, with a rueful smile.
The doctor smiled now—a little queerly.
"Does she? Well, I should think she might say—just that."
"Yes," responded Pollyanna. "But I don't see it that way at all. I don't think you have to LEARN how to live. I didn't, anyhow."
The doctor drew a long sigh.
"After all, I'm afraid some of us—do have to, little girl," he said.
School, in some ways, was a surprise to Pollyanna; and Pollyanna, certainly, in many ways, was very much of a surprise to school. They were soon on the best of terms, however, and to her aunt Pollyanna confessed that going to school WAS living, after all—though she had had her doubts before.  
And I did enjoy the moral message of this one:
 “Oh, yes," nodded Pollyanna, emphatically. He [her father] said he felt better right away, that first day he thought to count 'em. He said if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times [in the Bible] to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it - SOME.”
What I loved most about this one is that it was not like the (Disney) movie at all. The characters may have the same names, but, the characters, the stories, are so much better in the book! The details were just off, in my opinion, in the movie. And HOW she becomes paralyzed is very, very different. Jimmy Bean is also, to my relief, very different. (He's not the most annoying person ever.)

I didn't think I'd love the writing and the characters as much as I did. I would definitely recommend this one!

Eleanor H. Porter also wrote one sequel to Pollyanna, Pollyanna Grows Up. (Other authors later wrote sequels to this novel including: Harriet Lummis Smith, Elizabeth Borton, Margaret Piper Chalmers, Virginia May Moffitt, etc.) She also is the author of Just David. 

Have you read Pollyanna? What did you think? Do you have a favorite character? a favorite scene?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Heidi

Heidi. Johanna Spyri. 1880/2009. Puffin Classics/Penguin.  320 pages.

The pretty little Swiss town of Mayenfeld lies at the foot of a mountain range, whose grim rugged peaks tower high above the valley below.

If the cover to Heidi had looked this pretty, this inviting, this appealing, when I was a kid, there's a good chance I wouldn't have spent most of my life avoiding it. (It didn't help that the cover of the Heidi we had was AWFUL.) What I discovered was that Heidi is a nice, satisfying read. One that may just improve upon a reread. I can easily see why Eva Ibbotson, who wrote the introduction to this edition, described reading this one as feeling like you're coming home. There's just something cozy-and-comfortable about it.

So Heidi is an orphan, she's been one since the age of one. She has spent the next four years with her Aunt Detie. But at the start of the novel, at age five, she's being "given" to her grandfather. Detie has decided that enough is enough. She's not the only relative this kid has, and, well, she wants to live her own life without being a mother to her dead sister's kid. If my description is blunt and ugly, it's because Detie is. The way she speaks of the child--of Heidi--well it made me take an instant disliking to her. (And nothing in the book makes me change my opinion of her.) So Heidi and Detie are on their way up the mountain. The grandfather has a moment or two of doubt, but, Heidi erases his fears early on. He takes an instant liking to his granddaughter. And he notices how bright and wonderful she really is. Readers see this bond grow and grow as the two spend time together. No one could love grandfather more than Heidi, and no one could love Heidi more than her grandfather. Heidi has found her a home at last. And all seems right with the world. Heidi loves her grandfather, loves her new home, loves the mountains, loves the flowers, loves the goats, loves the goat herder, Peter, loves Peter's Grannie. Here is a girl that has a love of life, who doesn't want for anything.

But. All that changes with (boo, hiss) the arrival of Aunt Detie who seems to think that Heidi will be better off away from her grandfather. It has been arranged for Heidi to become the companion of a sickly little girl, Clara. Heidi has no choice in the matter. And is told that she can't have an opinion about it--essentially. Now, Heidi does like Clara well enough. It's not like she HATES Clara. I'm not sure it's in Heidi's nature to HATE anybody. But Heidi is definitely upset that she's been taken from everybody she loves, the home she loves, etc. And city life just isn't the same. Heidi doesn't feel like she belongs there.

The highlight of her time in the city may just be when Clara's grandmother comes to visit. This grandmother takes the time to get to know Heidi. She comes to love Heidi and care deeply about her. She encourages Heidi and gives her attention. She says you can learn to read and write. You are smart, you are capable, you can do it. Which is just the message this little girl needs to hear! When Heidi does learn to read, she is given a lovely picture book by this grandmother. But perhaps even more important than that gift is the gift of faith. For this grandmother--Mrs. Sesemann--talks to Heidi of God and prayer. She encourages the young girl to pray to God, to seek Him. She teaches Heidi that when God doesn't answer prayers right away--in the way we expect, in the time period we expect--that doesn't mean God hasn't heard. It's just that God knows what is best for us, he knows what we need, and when we need it. God may seem to be delaying his promises, or slow to working his promises, but God is a God who makes all things beautiful in HIS time.

So does Heidi get to return to her grandfather? What do you think?! Would it be so satisfying and happy-making if she didn't?

While I'm not quite sure that Heidi herself is flawed--she seems to represent everything pure and innocent and good in the world--the rest of the characters within the novel are flawed. And many--though not all--are lovable. Two of my favorites are Heidi's Grandfather (Uncle Alp) and Dr. Classen.

One of my favorite scenes with Dr. Classen:
"When you can do no more yourself," said Heidi confidently, "tell God."
"Those are good words, my dear," said the doctor, "but suppose it was God Himself who sent the sorrow."
Heidi sat pondering for a while. She was sure God could always help, but was trying to find the answer out of her own experiences. "I think you have to wait," she said at last, "and keep on thinking that God has something good which He's going to give you out of the sad thing, but you have to be patient. You see, when something's awfully bad, you don't know about the good bit coming, and you think it's going on for ever."
"I hope you will always feel like that, Heidi," he said, and fell silent, drinking in the scene before him.  (202)
And my favorite scene with the Grandfather--well, there are many, many scenes that I love between these two--is when she reads him the story of the prodigal son from her picture story book. The quote comes from an online edition of Heidi, not the exact same translation as the Puffin classic. (And I liked the Puffin classic better. In the book this comes from pages 172-175.)
"If God had let me come at once, as I prayed, then everything would have been different, I should only have had a little bread to bring to grandmother, and I should not have been able to read, which is such a comfort to her; but God has arranged it all so much better than I knew how to; everything has happened just as the other grandmother said it would. Oh, how glad I am that God did not let me have at once all I prayed and wept for! And now I shall always pray to God as she told me, and always thank Him, and when He does not do anything I ask for I shall think to myself, It's just like it was in Frankfurt: God, I am sure, is going to do something better still. So we will pray every day, won't we, grandfather, and never forget Him again, or else He may forget us."
"And supposing one does forget Him?" said the grandfather in a low voice.
"Then everything goes wrong, for God lets us then go where we like, and when we get poor and miserable and begin to cry about it no one pities us, but they say, You ran away from God, and so God, who could have helped you, left you to yourself."
"That is true, Heidi; where did you learn that?"
"From grandmamma; she explained it all to me."
The grandfather walked on for a little while without speaking, then he said, as if following his own train of thought: "And if it once is so, it is so always; no one can go back, and he whom God has forgotten, is forgotten for ever."
"Oh, no, grandfather, we can go back, for grandmamma told me so, and so it was in the beautiful tale in my book--but you have not heard that yet; but we shall be home directly now, and then I will read it you, and you will see how beautiful it is." And in her eagerness Heidi struggled faster and faster up the steep ascent, and they were no sooner at the top than she let go her grandfather's hand and ran into the hut. The grandfather slung the basket off his shoulders in which he had brought up a part of the contents of the trunk which was too heavy to carry up as it was. Then he sat down on his seat and began thinking.
Heidi soon came running out with her book under her arm. "That's right, grandfather," she exclaimed as she saw he had already taken his seat, and in a second she was beside him and had her book open at the particular tale, for she had read it so often that the leaves fell open at it of their own accord. And now in a sympathetic voice Heidi began to read of the son when he was happily at home, and went out into the fields with his father's flocks, and was dressed in a fine cloak, and stood leaning on his shepherd's staff watching as the sun went down, just as he was to be seen in the picture. But then all at once he wanted to have his own goods and money and to be his own master, and so he asked his father to give him his portion, and he left his home and went and wasted all his substance. And when he had nothing left he hired himself out to a master who had no flocks and fields like his father, but only swine to keep; and so he was obliged to watch these, and he only had rags to wear and a few husks to eat such as the swine fed upon. And then he thought of his old happy life at home and of how kindly his father had treated him and how ungrateful he had been, and he wept for sorrow and longing. And he thought to himself, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I am not worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.'" And when he was yet a great way off his father saw him . . . Here Heidi paused in her reading. "What do you think happens now, grandfather?" she said. "Do you think the father is still angry and will say to him, 'I told you so!' Well, listen now to what comes next." His father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." But the father said to his servants, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf and kill it; and let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." And they began to be merry.
"Isn't that a beautiful tale, grandfather," said Heidi, as the latter continued to sit without speaking, for she had expected him to express pleasure and astonishment.
"You are right, Heidi; it is a beautiful tale," he replied, but he looked so grave as he said it that Heidi grew silent herself and sat looking quietly at her pictures. Presently she pushed her book gently in front of him and said, "See how happy he is there," and she pointed with her finger to the figure of the returned prodigal, who was standing by his father clad in fresh raiment as one of his own sons again.
A few hours later, as Heidi lay fast asleep in her bed, the grandfather went up the ladder and put his lamp down near her bed so that the light fell on the sleeping child. Her hands were still folded as if she had fallen asleep saying her prayers, an expression of peace and trust lay on the little face, and something in it seemed to appeal to the grandfather, for he stood a long time gazing down at her without speaking. At last he too folded his hands, and with bowed head said in a low voice, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee and am not worthy to be called thy son." And two large tears rolled down the old man's cheeks.
Early the next morning he stood in front of his hut and gazed quietly around him. The fresh bright morning sun lay on mountain and valley. The sound of a few early bells rang up from the valley, and the birds were singing their morning song in the fir trees. He stepped back into the hut and called up, "Come along, Heidi! the sun is up! Put on your best frock, for we are going to church together!"
Not that Heidi is free from some oddities! I read somewhere that Johanna Spyri didn't really "like" school. And perhaps that shows in Heidi and Peter's reluctance to go to school and learn to read. Peter especially seems angry about it. Heidi, well, initially hers was thinking that she was too stupid to ever learn anything. So when Heidi does return to the mountain, to her grandfather, to Peter, she wants to help him learn to read. But as a modern reader, I can't really say I *like* her method of teaching the alphabet! Was this little rhyme something she learned from Clara's tutor? Perhaps. But maybe she should have recalled how it was the kind, encouraging, you-can-do-it words of Clara's grandmother that inspired her the most in her own learning.
If A B C you do not know
Before the judge you'll have to go

If D E F you cannot say
Bad luck is sure to come your way

If you forget your H J K
You'll have misfortune all the day

If L and M you can't say clear
You'll have to pay a fine, I fear.

Trouble will be in store for you
If you can't say N O P Q

If you get stuck at R S T
A dunce's cap your lot will be

If you confuse a V with U,
You'll find yourself in Timbuctoo

If over W you fall,
Beware the rod upon the wall

If letter X you can't recall,
You'll get no food today at all

If you find Y is hard to say,
They'll laugh at you at school today.

If Z should tie you up in knots
They'll send you to the Hottentots.
Heidi seems to be an optimistic hope-filled novel about brokenness. There were some very touching moments--very human moments--and then there were the purely satisfying sweet moments. And I definitely enjoyed it!!!  

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quoting Andrew Murray

Faith in God is nothing less than the full opening of the heart to receive everything from God. ~ Andrew Murray, Divine Healing
Sin consists in nothing but this, that man determined to be something and would not allow God to be everything; and the redemption of Jesus has no other aim than that should again become everything in our heart and life. ~ Andrew Murray, The Fullness of the Spirit
The all of God is what we must seek. There should be no use of our time, no word on our lips, no motivation of our heart, no satisfying of the needs of our physical life that is not the expression of the will, the glory, and the power of God. God must not be merely something to us or even a lot, but all. ~ Andrew Murray, The Fullness of the Spirit
In Christ is a summary of what redemption has done and of the inconceivably blessed life in which the child of God is permitted to dwell. In Christ is the one lesson we have to study on earth, God's one answer to all our needs and prayers and the guarantee and foretaste of eternal glory. ~ Andrew Murray, The Path to Holiness

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Year with Spurgeon, week 2

These are the Spurgeon quotes I'm sharing this week:
The capacity of our wishes who can measure? but the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning January 9
"I will be their God." If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights--thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, "I will be their God"? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with His love. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning January 9
Reader, let us put this question--do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening January 9
I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, "I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God's finger is on the latch of my door, and I am ready for Him to enter." "But," said one, "are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?" "Nay," said he, "nay; there is one crown in heaven which the angel Gabriel could not wear, it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven which Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it." O Christian, what a joyous thought! thy portion is secure; "there remaineth a rest." "But cannot I forfeit it?" No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it. It is mine as securely as if I were there. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 10
How encouraging is the thought of the Redeemer's never- ceasing intercession for us. When we pray, He pleads for us; and when we arenot praying, He is advocating our cause, and by His supplications shielding us from unseen dangers. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 11
"Ye are Christ's." You are His by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; His by His bloody purchase, for He counted down the price for your redemption; His by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to Him; His by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of His brethren and joint-heirs. Labour practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Jesus. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 12
Christ's might doth not lie in making a believer and then leaving him to shift for himself; but He who begins the good work carries it on; He who imparts the first germ of life in the dead soul, prolongs the divine existence, and strengthens it until it bursts asunder every bond of sin, and the soul leaps from earth, perfected in glory. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning, January 14
When we can do nothing Jesus can do all things; let us enlist His powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well. ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 14
The common fault with the most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving hither and thither, and we make little progress towards our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together, but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner, if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly? ~ Charles Spurgeon, Evening, January 15
No prayer which Jesus urges can ever be dismissed unheard, that case is safe for which he is advocate. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Ascension of Christ
The Holy Spirit is the particular benediction of the ascension, and the Holy Spirit is in measure given to all truly regenerated persons. You have all, my brethren, some measure of the Holy Spirit; some more; some less but whatever you have of the Holy Spirit comes to you, because Christ, when he ascended up on high, received gifts for men, that the Lord God might dwell among them. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Ascension of Christ
Give earnest heed to every single word of what God has sent as his own epistle to your hearts. Value the Scriptures. Luther said that "he would not be in paradise, if he might, without the Word of the Lord; but with the Word he could live in hell itself." He said at another time that "he would not take all the world for one leaf of the Bible." The Scriptures are everything to the Christian—his meat and his drink. The saint can say, "O how I love thy law!" If we cannot say so, something is wrong with us. If we have lost our relish for Holy Scripture, we are out of condition, and need to pray for spiritual health. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessing of Full Assurance
Full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction. May you get—may you get it at once; at any rate may you never be satisfied to live without it. You may have full assurance. You may have it without personal revelations: it is wrought in us by the Word of God. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessings of Full Assurance
If I love him, I know it is because he first loved me. Love to God in us is always the work of God's love towards us. Jesus loved us, and gave himself for us, and therefore we love him in return. Love to Jesus is an effect which proves the existence of its cause. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessings of Full Assurance
The life of God in the soul is not transient, but abiding; not temporary but eternal. Some think that the life of God in the believer's soul may die out; but how, then, could it be eternal? If it die it is not eternal life. If it be eternal life it cannot die. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessings of Full Assurance
Let us believe all that God has revealed, for every truth is precious and practically useful. Perhaps your doctrinal belief has been poor and thin. Oh that the Lord would turn the water into wine! Many of you live upon milk, and yet your years qualify you to feed on meat. Why keep the babes' diet? You that believe are exhorted to "go in and out, and find pasture"; range throughout the whole revelation of God. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessings of Full Assurance
Many of you only skim the pools of truth. Blessed is the wing which brushes the surface of the river of life; but infinitely more blessed is it to plunge into the depths of it. ~ Charles Spurgeon, The Blessings of Full Assurance