Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Accomplishments

December Accomplishments:

This month's Bible reading: November 27-December 31


  • Ezekiel 8-48
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • 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

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Psalms
  • Song of Songs
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians

Tyndale New Testament

  • Matthew


  • Genesis 1-5
  • Ezra 1-5
  • Matthew 1-5
  • Acts 1-5

Books reviewed in December:
Christian fiction:
  1. Everyman. Anonymous. 1485. 98 pages. [Source: Library; play; classic]
  2. Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Mary's Christmas Story. Teresa Olive. Illustrated by Nancy Munger. 1996. Concordia. 16 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Time of Christmas. Suzanne Richterkessing. 1999/2002. Concordia. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Song of the Stars. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by Alison Jay. 2011. Zondervan. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. Alive in the Spirit. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Barbarians Are Here. Michael Youssef. 2017. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Beyond the 95 Theses. Stephen J. Nichols. 2016. P&R. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. John Piper. 2013. 94 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. From Heaven: A 28 Day Advent Devotional. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. God the Son Incarnate. Stephen J. Wellum. 2016. Crossway. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Good News of Great Joy. John Piper. 2012. 70 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Help Heavenward: Guidance and Strength for the Christian's Life Journey. Octavius Winslow. Foreword by Joel R. Beeke. Banner of Truth. 195 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. Nancy Guthrie. 2010. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield. 1854. J.C. Ryle. 80 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  11. You Can Change. Tim Chester. 2010. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Zechariah. J. Vernon McGee. 1979/1997. Thomas Nelson. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week In Review: December 25-31

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi


  • Genesis 1-5
  • Ezra 1-5
  • Matthew 1-5
  • Acts 1-5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best Books of 2016

I read 151 Christian books last year--this includes both fiction and nonfiction. Here are my favorites!

Favorite Poetry:
  1. The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. George Herbert. 1633. 192 pages. [Source: Library] [poetry]
  2. Valley of Vision: A Collection of Prayers and Devotions. Arthur Bennett. 1975. Banner of Truth. 223 pages. [Source: Gift] DEVOTIONAL, POETRY, CHRISTIAN CLASSIC
Favorite audio book:
  1. C.S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. Tyndale. 2 Discs. [Source: Library]
Favorite Historical Fiction:
  1. The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2.  The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen. 2016. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. No Other Will Do. Karen Witemeyer. 2016. Bethany House. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Anchor in the Storm. Sarah Sundin. 2016. Revell. 400 pages. [Review copy]
  5. Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
Favorite Picture Books:
  1. Good Good Father. Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Miracle Man. John Hendrix. 2016. Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite Nonfiction:
  1. The Barbarians Are Here. Michael Youssef. 2017. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Baker Books. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ. Rondi Lauterbach. 2016. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Why The Reformation Still Matters. Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. 2016. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Overcoming Sin and Temptation. John Owen. Edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly M. Kapic. 2006/2015. Crossway. 462 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame. Heather Davis Nelson. 2016. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation. Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein. 2013. Reformation Heritage. 108 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering. Elizabeth A. Johnson. 2013. Ambassador International. 160 pages. [Source: Bought] [christian living, suffering, christian nonfiction]
  9. None Like Him. Jen Wilkin. 2016. Crossway. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Habits for Our Holiness. Philip Nation. 2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian living, spiritual disciplines, theology]

Favorite Rereads (Fiction and Nonfiction):
  1. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult fantasy]
  2. Heaven and the Afterlife. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2016. Moody Publishers. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] CHRISTIAN LIVING, THEOLOGY   
  4. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Books Read in 2017

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

Christian fiction:
  1. The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Moonbow Night. Laura Frantz. 2017. Revell. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Out of the Silent Planet. C.S. Lewis. 1938. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. 2017. Moody. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Character of the Church. Joe Thorn. 2017. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament. Alec Motyer. 2015/2016. Christian Focus. 144 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  4. The Heart of the Church: The Gospel's History, Message, and Meaning. Joe Thorn. 2017. Moody. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. My Heart. Julie Manning. 2017. B&H. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  6. No Little Women. Aimee Byrd. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. New English Bible. 1970/1990. Illustrated by Horace Knowles. 973 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Openness Unhindered. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. 2015. Crown & Covenant. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Psalms of David. Illustrated by James S. Freemantle. 1982. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Prevailing Prayer. D.L. Moody. Foreword by Erwin Lutzer. 1987/2016. Moody. 143 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. Thru the Bible: 1 and 2 Samuel. J. Vernon McGee. 1976/1997. Thomas Nelson. 308 pages. [Source: Bought]
  12. Three Treatises. Martin Luther. 1970. Fortress Press. 316 pages. [Source: Gift] 

Christian fiction:
  1. The Pilgrim's Progress. John Bunyan. 1678. 301 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. No One Hears But Him. Taylor Caldwell. 1966/2017. Open Road Media. 212 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. The Newcomer. Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Silent Songbird. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 296 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Your Sins and Mine. Taylor Caldwell. 1955/2017. Open Road Media. 105 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. The Warden. Anthony Trollope. 1855. Oxford World's Classics. 294 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1.  None Other. John MacArthur. 2017. Reformation Trust. 134 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus Into The Everyday Stuff of Life. Jeff Vanderstelt. 2017. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. 1 and 2 Kings. J. Vernon McGee. 1976/1996. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Parables of Jesus. James Montgomery Boice. 1983/2016. Moody. 232 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. The Good of Giving Up. Aaron Damiani. 2017. Moody. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth. John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, eds. 2017. Crossway. 1008 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. The Life of the Church: The Table, Pulpit, and Square. 2017. Moody. 128 pages. 
Christian fiction:
  1. A Stolen Heart. Amanda Cabot. 2017. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. And the Beagles and the Bunnies Shall Lie Down Together. Charles M. Schulz. 1984. 100ish pages. [Source: Gift]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. A Little Book on the Christian Life. John Calvin. Edited by Buck Parsons and Aaron Denlinger. 2017. Reformation Trust. 132 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Reading the Bible Supernaturally. John Piper. 2017. Crossway. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The New City Catechism Devotional. Collin Hansen, ed. Introduction by Timothy Keller. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Curious Christian. Barnabas Piper. 2017. B&H. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Jews Don't Need Jesus…and Other Misconceptions: Reflections of a Jewish Believer. Avi Snyder. 2017. Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Finding God in My Loneliness. Lydia Brownback. 2017. Crossway. 174 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7.  Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. David Murray. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Titanic's Last Hero: A Startling True Story That Can Change Your Life Forever. Moody Adams. 2012. 120 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. Through the Eyes of a Lion. Levi Lusko. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Holy Bible. 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Edited by William D. Prindle. 1888 pages. [Source: Bought]

Christian fiction:
  1. The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia #6) C.S. Lewis. 1955. 221 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction:  
  1. Surprised by Suffering. R.C. Sproul. 1994/2010. 214 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything. Gloria Furman. 2017. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue. R.C. Sproul. 1990/2010. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Joni: An Unforgettable Story. Joni Eareckson Tada. 1976. 205 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Here I Stand. A Life of Martin Luther. Roland H. Bainton. 1950. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Pursuit of God Bible -- NIV. 2013. 1587 pages. [Source: Gift]
  7. The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean For You. R.C. Sproul. 2012. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. The Cross of Jesus: What His Words From Calvary Mean for Us. Warren Wiersbe. 1997. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The God I Love. Joni Eareckson Tada. 2003. 368 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Unveiled Hope: Eternal Encouragement from the Book of Revelation. 1997. 244 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  11. Martin Luther In His Own Words. Jack D. Kilcrease and Erwin Lutzer, editors. 2017. Baker Books. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer. 2017. 347 pages. [Source: Library]

Christian fiction:
  1. Trusting Grace. Maggie Brendan. 2017. Revell. 326 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Horse and His Boy. (Chronicles of Narnia #5) C.S. Lewis. 1954. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Last Battle. C.S. Lewis. 1956. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. And It Was Good. Madeleine L'Engle. 1983/2017. Convergent Books. 213 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Stone for a Pillow. Madeleine L'Engle. 1986/2017. Convergent Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Sold Into Egypt: Journeys Into Human Being. Madeleine L'Engle. 1989/2017. Convergent Books. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. The Story of Reality. Gregory Koukl. 2017. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Give Them Truth: Teaching Eternal Truths to Young Minds. Starr Meade. 2015. P&R Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Hope: The Best of Things. Joni Eareckson Tada. 2008. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Imperfect Disciple. Jared C. Wilson. 2017. Baker Books. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Chasing Contentment. Erik Raymond. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God. Mark Jones. 2017. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Taking My Life Back. Rebekah Gregory and Anthony Flacco. 2017. Revell. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. The Reformation: What You Need to Know and Why. Michael Reeves and John Stott. 2017. Hendrickson. 100 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. The Good Book: 40 Chapters That Reveal the Bible's Biggest Ideas. Deron Spoo. 2017. David Cook. 397 pages.
  10. God's Story in 66 Verses. Stan Guthrie. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words. Chris Bruno. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian fiction:
  1. The Button Girl. Sally Apokedak. 2017. 394 pages. [Source: Review copy provided by author]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. Reformation Heritage Study Bible--KJV. Edited by  Joel R. Beeke, Gerald Bilkes, and Michael Barrett. 2014. Reformation Heritage Books. 2218 pages. [Source: Birthday Gift in 2014]
  2. The Cross: God's Way of Salvation. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 1986. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Conversion: How God Creates a People. Michael Lawrence. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  5. Fearless Living in Troubled Times: Finding Hope in the Promise of Christ's Return. Michael Youssef. 2017. [August] Harvest House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Meditations on the Trinity. A.W. Tozer. 2017. Moody. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. How To Read and Understand The Biblical Prophets. Peter J. Gentry. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. New Testament Words for Today. Warren Wiersbe. 2013. 207 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. Sins We Accept. Jerry Bridges. 2013. NavPress. 59 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Will of God is the Word of God. James MacDonald. 2017. B&H Books. 216 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia. John Dunlop, MD. 2017. Crossway. 208 pages.  [Source: Review copy]
  12. Basic Christianity. John Stott. 1958. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]
  13. DVD: The English Reformation and the Puritans. Michael Reeves. 2014. Ligonier Ministries. Twelve 23 minute messages. [Source: Gift] 
  14. DVD Luther and the Reformation. R.C. Sproul. 2011. Ten 23 minute messages. [Source: Gift]

Christian nonfiction:   
  1. Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering. Kelly M. Kapic. 2017. IVP. 197 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. How Does Sanctification Work. David Powlison. 2017. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and On Earth. Douglas Sean O'Donnell. 2013. Crossway. 1090 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Wisdom of God: Letting His Truth and Goodness Direct Your Steps. A.W. Tozer. Edited by James L. Snyder. 2017. Bethany House. 190 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. The Legacy of Luther. R.C. Sproul, editor. 2016. Reformation Trust. 308 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. A Description of Christ. Richard Sibbes. (1577-1635, Sibbes lifespan). 29 pages. [Source:Bought]
  7. Lifted: Experiencing the Resurrection Life. Sam Alberry. 2010/2012. P&R. 142 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  8. RSV Bible. 1977. Oxford University Press. 1904 pages. [Source: Gift]
  9. A Survey of Church History, Part One: A.D. 100-600.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
  10. A Survey of Church History, Part Two: A.D. 500-1500.  W. Robert Godfrey. Thirteen 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
  11. A Survey of Church History, Part Three: A.D. 1500-1620.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
  12. A Survey of Church History, Part Four: A.D. 1600-1800.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift] 
  13. A Survey of Church History, Part Five: A.D. 1800-1900.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]
  14. A Survey of Church History, Part Six: A.D. 1900-2000.  W. Robert Godfrey. Twelve 23-Minute Messages. [Source: Gift]

Christian fiction:
  1. The Return. (Amish Beginnings #3) Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Godless. (Fatherless #3) James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2014. 416 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Make & Play Nativity. Illustrated by Joey Chou. 2017. Candlewick Press. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  4. Treasured Grace (Heart of the Frontier #1) Tracie Peterson. 2017. Bethany House. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. 1984. George Orwell. 1949. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]

Christian nonfiction: 
  1.  Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Matthew S. Harmon. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. David Murray. Illustrated by Scotty Reifsnyder. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions. W. Robert Godfrey. 2003. 151 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]
  5. Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global. Andy Johnson. 2017. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. The Gospel According to Peanuts. Robert L. Short. Introduced by Martin E. Marty. 1965/2000. 130 pages. [Source: Library] 

Christian fiction:

  1. Cherished Mercy. (Heart of the Frontier #3) Tracie Peterson. 2017. Bethany House. 310 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Beloved Hope. (Heart of the Frontier #2) Tracie Peterson. 2017. Bethany House. 338 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Heart on the Line. (Ladies of Harper's Station #2) Karen Witemeyer. 2017. Bethany House. 329 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Christian nonfiction:  

  1. Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church. Keith and Kristyn Getty. 2017. B&H Books. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us To Live in Light of the End. David Gibson. 2017. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Mark: The Gospel of Passion. Michael Card. 2012. IVP. 206 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Learning to Love the Psalms. W. Robert Godfrey. 2017. Reformation Trust. 318 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography. Herman Selderhuis. 2017. Crossway. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth. Philip Ryken. 2017. Intervarsity Press. 150 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Godspeed: Voices of the Reformation. David Teems. 2017. Abingdon Press. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Living Bible. 1974. Tyndale. 1090 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. ESV Reformation Study Bible. 2015. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]  
  10. Saints of Zion. Jeff Lippencott & R.C. Sproul. 2017. Ligonier. 67 minutes. [Source: Gift]


Christian fiction:
  1. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night. Barbara J. Taylor. 2014. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  2.  Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Life. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ With Confidence. Thabiti M. Anyabwile. 2018. [January 2018] Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2.  Uncomfortable. Brett McCracken. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Sing a New Song: A Woman's Guide to the Psalms. Lydia Brownback. 2017. Crossway. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Come, Let Us Adore Him. Paul David Tripp. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Irena's Children: A True Story of Courage. Tilar J. Mazzeo. Adapted by Mary Cronk Farrell. 2016. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Creation. Cynthia Rylant. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Nativity. Cynthia Rylant. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Reading Between the Lines. Gene Edward Veith Jr. 1990. Crossway. 254 pages. [Source: Gift]
  9. Preaching to the Chickens. Jabari Asim. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World. Eric Metaxas. 2017. Viking. 416 pages. [Source: Borrowed from friend] 
  11. Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands. Shona and David Murray. 2017. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Holy Bible: Revised English Bible. 1989/1996. Cambridge. 1264 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  13. The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New. Marty Machowski. Illustrated by Andy McGuire. 2015. New Growth Press. 269 pages. [Source: Library]  
  14. Sword of the Wicked. Richard Sibbes. 1577-1635. [Source: Bought]
Christian fiction:

  1. The Austen Escape. Katherine Reay. 2017. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. On This Special Night. Claire Freedman. Illustrated by Simon Mendez. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Steal Away Home: Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson, Unlikely Friends on the Passage to Freedom. Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey. 2017. B&H. 273 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian nonfiction:

  1. A Reader's Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards. Edited by Nathan Finn and Jeremy Kimble. 2017. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  2. How Can I Be Right With God. R.C. Sproul. 2017. Reformation Trust. 71 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The New Testament in the Language of the People. Charles B. Williams 1937. 572 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions #1) R.C. Sproul. 1983/2010. Reformation Trust. 114 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Bible Matters: Meeting God In His Word. Tim Chester. 2017. InterVarsity Press. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  6. What Do Jesus' Parables Mean? (Crucial Questions #28) R.C. Sproul. 2017. Reformation Trust. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Parenting God's Way. Alistair Begg. 2017. Truth for Life. 44 pages. [Source: Gift] 
  8. Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas. Nancy Guthrie, editor. 2008. Crossway. 142 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. When Christ Appears: An Inspirational Experience Through Revelation. David Jeremiah. 2018. [January] 196 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. Pizza with Jesus (No Black Olives). P.J. Frick. 2017. CreateSpace. 158 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

Christian fiction:
  1. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. (Tales from Ivy Hill #2) Julie Klassen. 2017. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian nonfiction:   
  1. CSB Spurgeon Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers (B&H). 2017. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]
  2. True Feelings: God's Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions. Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol. Bob Welch. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. When Is It Right To Die? A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying. Joni Eareckson Tada. 1992/2018. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Everyone A Child Should Know. Clare Heath-Whyte. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Gift]  
  6. The Gathering Storm. R. Albert Mohler. Jr., 2017. 127 pages. [Source: Free download

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What's Your Ebenezer?

I've mentioned this several times before, but, I am loving my Beyond Suffering Bible. The Word from Joni found in 1 Samuel is "My Wheelchair is My Ebenezer." The letter goes on to read,
"From the beginning, God has always sealed special events with some kind of physical memorial. He gave Noah a rainbow as a reminder of his covenant with humanity (Gen 9:17). He gave the Passover festival as a memorial of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Exod 12:17). He gave Moses the Law on two stone tablets (Exod 24:12). In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus provided us with the regular, physical reminder of his sacrifice for us through the elements of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23-26).
We need these kinds of memorials in our present day, as well. For years now, I’ve looked at my wheelchair as my Ebenezer. It’s a visible, physical reminder; it’s my stone of remembrance to commemorate God’s grace in my life. It reminds me of how far the Lord has brought me, and everyone who sees me smile in this wheelchair knows that God is my help. Before the accident that landed me in my wheelchair, I was far from God and in real spiritual danger. But God rescued me through Christ, and now my wheelchair is a symbol of the grace that God has shown me. What are the memorials in your life? Do you have tangible reminders of God’s ever-present help? Maybe it’s a ring, a family Bible, a pair of crutches, or some memento from your journey—these things anchor the soul. When pain or sorrow become crushing, you can look at your memorial and pray, “Oh, God, thus far you have helped me, and I have every reason to believe you will continue to help me.” Then, rest your heart on the faithfulness of God and lift your Ebenezer high—no matter what the future brings."
The letter got me to thinking. It didn't take me long to conclude what MY ebenezer was. My ebenezer is a thirteen inch scar; a scar that to me speaks of LIFE, of hope, of faithfulness. God IS good. God IS faithful. God is ever-present. God does answer prayer. God is enough--more than sufficient for my every need. You don't have to convince me of God's Providence. I know God to be a provider of help and above all else a gracious, merciful life-giving God. To remember any of this, I just have to look down at my scar. Every day I see PROOF that God is good to me, that God's grace has covered me and upheld me. My scar to me is not ugly--despite what my sister says--it is beautiful. 

So my question is: What is your ebenezer? How has God helped you? What helps you to remember God's love and grace?
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:1-5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Quotes from the Cloud #44

This year, I hope share weekly posts of quotes. These quotes are from authors I'm reading and enjoying from the Clouds of Witnesses Reading Challenge

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love. ~ Isaac Watts

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Review: Everyman

Everyman. Anonymous. 1485. 98 pages. [Source: Library]


Premise/plot: Everyman is a morality play from 1485. This play has a single focus--what will happen when man comes face to face with God and his works are examined. The speaking roles include: Everyman, God: Adonai, Death, Messenger, Fellowship, Cousin, Kindred, Goods, Good-Deeds, Strength, Discretion, Five-Wits, Beauty, Knowledge, Confession, Angel, and Doctor.

The play opens with Messenger and God having their say. God is angry with mankind--a race of sinners who have one and all forgotten him and forsaken worshiping him. Death is sent--by God--to "collect" Everyman. Everyman argues with Death. He does not want to die. He is not ready to die. He needs/wants more time. It's not fair. Can he pay Death money in exchange for more time. However, instead of taking Everyman right then and there, he does allow Everyman a little time to try to find a companion to take with him to the grave. Surprise, surprise, he doesn't find many eager takers for that one-way journey. He does, however, find some.

My thoughts: The subject matter is a sobering one. And while I'm glad that today's world offers more variety--a lot more variety--in terms of entertainment, in some ways we've lost something vital. I do think that contemplating life, death, what comes next, should have some part in our thinking lives. (If we actually have "thinking lives" today.)

Everyman is definitely an allegory, and one that predates Pilgrim's Progress by a century or two! I am hosting a reading challenge to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Reading Everyman a thoroughly medieval Catholic play gave me some background and context. For these two reasons, I am glad I read this short little play.

I will add one last thing. Theologically, Everyman is a mess. The message of Everyman seems to be that Good Works (and Strength and Knowledge and Discretion, etc.) accompany him to the judgment seat of Christ, and, because Everyman had received all seven sacraments of the church, he ultimately had nothing to fear because God found him good enough and worthy of heaven. Let's just say I wanted to yell at this book. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Year with Newton #18

Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. I have completed John Newton's sermon series on Handel's Messiah. I am moving on to his LETTERS. 

Today I am sharing snippets from "Divine Guidance Question."
It is well for those who are duly sensible of their own weakness and fallibility, and of the difficulties with which they are surrounded in life, that the Lord has promised to guide his people with his eye, and to cause them to hear a word behind them, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when they are in danger of turning aside either to the right hand or to the left.
For this purpose, he has given us the written word to be a lamp to our feet, and encouraged us to pray for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, that we may rightly understand and apply it. It is, however, too often seen, that many widely deviate from the path of duty, and commit gross and perplexing mistakes, while they profess a sincere desire to know the will of God, and think they have His warrant and authority.
The Scripture cannot deceive us, if rightly understood; but it may, if perverted, prove the occasion of confirming us in a mistake.
The Holy Spirit cannot mislead those who are under his influence; but we may suppose that we are so, when we are not.
Others, when in doubt, have opened the Bible at a venture, and expected to find something to direct them in the first verse they should cast their eye upon. It is no small discredit to this practice, that the Heathens, who knew not the Bible, used some of their favorite books in the same way; and grounded their persuasions of what they ought to do, or of what should befall them, according to the passage they happened to open upon.
For if people will be governed by the occurrence of a single text of Scripture, without regarding the context, or duly comparing it with the general tenor of the word of God, and with their own circumstances, they may commit the greatest extravagances, expect the greatest impossibilities, and contradict the plainest dictates of common sense, while they think they have the word of God on their side.
A sudden strong impression of a text, that seems to have some resemblance to the concern upon the mind, has been accepted by many as an infallible token that they were right, and that things would go just as they would have them: or, on the other hand, if the passage bore a threatening aspect, it has filled them with fears and disquietudes, which they have afterwards found were groundless and unnecessary.
In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, who enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct.
Those who study the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching, are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them, and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their several situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Review: Alive in the Spirit

Alive in the Spirit. A.W. Tozer. 2016. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

From the introduction: The subject of this book, Alive in the Spirit, is a very crucial theme for the day in which we live. No other subject could be as controversial as dealing with the Holy Spirit.

If you've read my blog for any length of time--in the past four to five years that is--you'll have picked up on the fact that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE A.W. Tozer. I don't always agree 100% with him theologically. In fact, sometimes we are on opposing sides, disagreeing not just a little, but, a lot. But when all is said and done, I love him. I love him because he's a kindred spirit of sorts. He loved God. He loved the Bible. He believed that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He believed that this good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, changes EVERYTHING. He believed that Christians should pursue holiness and seek God always, always, always. Needing--wanting--MORE. He believed that we should never ever be content with where we are spiritually. We should desire God above all else. God's way, always. Our will should be brought into line with HIS will, and not the other way around!

So Alive in the Spirit is a book about the Holy Spirit. It opens with a chapter or two focusing on Tozer's conversion and testimony. This is unusual. He usually is so focused on the Word of God, and the truths of God, that he doesn't devote much time--if any--to stories from his personal life. But an exception is made in this one. For the Holy Spirit has to be experienced.

I share the table of contents with you.
  • My Experience With The Holy Spirit
  • My Perception of the Holy Spirit
  • My Warning to the Church
  • My Awareness of the Holy Spirit
  • The Threefold Foundation for Trusting the Holy Spirit
  • The Penetrating Voice of the Holy Spirit
  • The Dissimilarity The Holy Spirit Emphasizes
  • The Vitality of the Holy Spirit in the Church
  • A Portrait of the Spirit Filled Church
  • The Harmony of the Spirit Filled Church
  • The Holy Spirit: An Uncomfortable Presence
  • The Holy Spirit At Work in the Church
  • Standing in the Power of the Spirit-Filled Life
  • The Fruit of the Spirit Sustains the Church
  • Spiritual Gifts: The Function of the Local Church
  • The Gifts of the Spirit Are Essential to the Church Today
  • Our Personal Pursuit of the Holy Spirit
  • My Daily Walk with the Holy Spirit
It goes without saying--almost--that I recommend this one. I do. I would agree with Tozer that the Spirit is the neglected person of the Trinity. I would agree with Tozer that believers are missing out by not pursuing fellowship--a relationship. We are to walk with the Spirit, by the Spirit, in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit's job is NOT done after conversion, or the new birth. In fact, it's just beginning. The Spirit is not done with us this side of eternity. Count on that. This little book is PACKED with spiritual truths that could change the way you live.

Favorite quotes from the introduction:
The authority of the Holy Spirit must begin with the individual Christian and then flow over into the local congregation. The local church comprises individual Christians, and as those individual Christians go, so goes the local church. This was Tozer’s passion and it is shown here in this book. He bemoans the fact that the evangelical church has been so divided that it has lost its influence in the culture. Instead of the church influencing the culture, culture is not only influencing the church, it is taking over the church. Tozer declares that what we find in the world we also find in the local church. This ought not to be so.
It takes all the Bible to make the whole Bible.
Tozer is very careful not to attack individuals or even denominations, but he does attack errors of doctrine. As a man of God called to do the work of God, he felt an obligation to speak out against the spiritual errors of his day. The thing that is most amazing to me is that the sermons forming the basis of this book were preached in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I have to remind myself that Dr. Tozer died in 1963.
The problem Tozer had with entertainment is that it always promotes a person. Even though that person may mention Jesus or God and claim to be a Christian, the focus is really not on God but on the person and the performance. The same should be true of us today. Worship is critical, and for Tozer, worship could not be man-induced. Worship that does not start with the Holy Spirit is not true worship. Tozer suggests that our worship services today are man-centered and man-promoted as a result of neglecting the authority of the Holy Spirit in our congregations. As such, they cannot exalt Jesus Christ.
From the book:
Theology is simply the study of God, and I treasure nothing more in my life than the study of God. Sometimes, our study of God is merely technical and not personal. But if it is biblical truth, it has personal application to everyday living. We must do more than just believe the truth; we must allow the truth to transform us radically into new creatures in Christ.
Until my dying day, I want to surrender each day to the Holy Spirit to do that work in me that He wants to do. I will never dictate to the Holy Spirit or demand that He do this or that for me. Every day of my life, I want to surrender myself to Him and allow Him to set the agenda of my day.
God is not so much interested in coming into our world as He is in bringing us into His.
I am disturbed by the evangelical churches’ pulling aspects of the world into the church that are absolutely contrary to the Holy Spirit. Whatever is the latest trend out in the world soon finds its way into the church. I wonder how our Lord, who suffered on the cross for us, thinks about the levity that has come into our churches? If the only way we can get people is if we entertain them, the only way we can keep people is if we continue entertaining them with the newest and most popular form of entertainment.
My advice is to periodically take the time to go through these creeds. I am not sure what reading these does for you, but it is like a chicken dinner to my soul.
We are living in a lost world. By that I mean the inhabitants of the world are lost, not dramatically or poetically, but really and individually. But there is nothing poetic about being lost, as there is nothing poetic about having cancer. The worst part about our lostness is that it is inside of us. I am speaking of people born in the world who know trouble with the world and its lostness. A man lost in the forest knows he is lost and may find his way out. However, a man lost in the forest with amnesia who cannot remember his name or where he belongs is lost with a lostness that is not only external but also internal. Human beings are lost with an internal lostness making them insensible to the fact that they are lost. Or at least they scarcely know they are lost. It is a fact as real as gravity or mathematics or any other fact. The fact is the world is lost. But it is also a fact that though lost, it is not forsaken.
Nobody can repent until he knows the depth of his own sin, and nobody can know the depth of his own sin unless the Holy Spirit shows it to him.
The Holy Spirit is not just a doctrine we ascribe to. The Holy Spirit is not just part of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the One who is to come into our life and the life of our congregations and bring the power and authority of God himself. For the Holy Spirit to work in my life, I need to surrender all authority and all power to Him. For the Holy Spirit to work in our church life today, we need to surrender absolutely to the Holy Spirit.
When we deal with God, we must deal with Him on His terms, not ours.
The singing portion of church services—which some call worship—has spun out of control today. Our singing is on par with the world and the concerts the world puts on. As such, it fails to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who think singing a hymn is entertainment surely will not be happy in a Spirit-filled church. I have had people tell me that singing a hymn is a form of entertainment. If it is, I will sing no more hymns as long as I live. However, I know differently.
A false prophet who does not know Jehovah has no right to call anyone to Mount Carmel. Elijah was able to give them something better, and remember that is when the four hundred prophets of Baal were put to confusion and everybody cried, “Jehovah, he is God; Jehovah, he is God” (1 Kings 18:39 asv). The emphasis was not upon the destruction of Baal, but upon the discovery of Jehovah. No man has a right to break another man’s idol unless he has a true God. No man has any right to stand against something evil unless he has something good to put in its place. No person has any right to criticize someone who is going the wrong way unless they are going the right way themselves and are willing to witness to that.
We cannot walk together unless we can agree on which way we are walking. We cannot walk with the Holy Ghost unless we agree to walk the way He walks and go in the direction He is going. In order to walk together, we have to agree on the direction but also the destination.
No matter how much I know today, tomorrow will bring me something new about God, and I am anxious to discover the newness of God in my life every day. God’s mercies are new every day, and discovering the newness of God’s mercies is the great joy of my daily walk with God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Week in Review: December 18-24

NLT Beyond Suffering Bible

  • 2 Chronicles 22-36
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Song of Songs
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 24, 2016

December's Scripture Chain

  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Lamentations 3:22-27
  • The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. (John 3:35)
  • Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
  • Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. John 5:24-25
  • All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
  • But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28
  • Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek ye the LORD and his strength; Seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; His wonders, and the judgements of his mouth Psalm 105:3-5
  • Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11
  • I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1
  • I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. Psalm 104:33
  • Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

This month's inspiration: Choosing one promise from each monthly reflection
This month's translation: VARIOUS

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review: Newton and Polly

Newton and Polly. Jody Hedlund. 2016. Waterbrook. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "I fear that our wassailing has become a nuisance."

Premise/plot: Do you enjoy historical fiction or historical romance? Jody Hedlund's newest novel is a fictionalization of the romance between John Newton and Polly Catlett. It covers the years 1742-1750. Narration alternates between John and Polly. These two met when they were young--in their teens--he claims it was LOVE at first sight, for him. But at that stage of his life, was he worthy of her and capable of putting her first? Not really. The book chronicles his ups and downs--physically and spiritually--as well as her steady faithfulness.

My thoughts: John Newton wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace." Recently I've started reading his sermons and letters. I consider him a must read! So I certainly was interested in reading this novel! The story could have been so different, one of despair, if God had not been the author. God's grace was displayed in Newton's life, and grace is indeed amazing.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: Mary's Christmas Story

Mary's Christmas Story. Teresa Olive. Illustrated by Nancy Munger. 1996. Concordia. 16 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Young Mary lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was a girl who tried to serve the Lord most faithfully.

Premise/plot: Retells the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 1:26-56 and Luke 2:1-20 in rhyme for children.

My thoughts: I remember loving the ARCH BOOKS from my childhood. This one was not from my childhood years. So I was unfamiliar with it. I think I might have liked it better if the author had worried less about rhyming. That being said, it's not like every single poetic line was poorly done. It's just that while rhyming in and of itself isn't horribly difficult, writing rhyme with great rhythm is difficult. Rhymes should not distract readers from the story.

Mary did not understand. She asked, "How can this be?
I am still a virgin. I'm not married yet, you see."
Gabriel said, "God himself will cause you to conceive.
Nothing is impossible with God--you may believe!
Your relative, Elizabeth, who is old and worn,
Is finally a mother--her child will soon be born"
Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Time of Christmas

The Time of Christmas. Suzanne Richterkessing. 1999/2002. Concordia. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The cold fall wind sent the leaves skittering across the sidewalk.

Premise/plot: Smidge and Smudge are two mice who seek refuge in a big, warm-looking building that turns out to be the church. It isn't long before the two are listening to a voice explain a lot about the church and three seasons of the church: advent, Christmas, and epiphany.

My thoughts: It is just as instructional as I thought it might be. Readers learn along with mice--presumably--about advent wreathes, candles, chrismons, etc. The text is packed with information; it can get a little text-heavy at times. But it's a nice enough read.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Mortimer's Christmas Manger

Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In a big house lived a wee mouse named Mortimer. He dwelled in a dark hole under the stairs. Nobody ever noticed little Mortimer. And Mortimer liked it that way. But he didn't like his hole. "Too cold. Too cramped. Too creepy," squeaked Mortimer.

Premise/plot: Mortimer is in search of a new home, a better home. To his surprise, he finds such a home…easily. But it's a home filled with statues. There is even a statue of a baby of all things?! The baby is easily shoved OUT of the way. And Mortimer settles into a MOUSE-SIZE bed, happy at last. But will that happiness last? And why do the humans keep putting the statues back up day after day?!

My thoughts: When Mortimer encounters Jesus (Or "statue-baby-Jesus") for the first time, his response was quick: THERE'S NO ROOM FOR YOU HERE, OUT YOU GO. I think Mortimer's response is the natural human response to the actual Jesus. People may "have room" for baby Jesus a couple of days each December. Shoved in amongst other activities or festivities. But is there a place for Jesus in their actual lives, year round? Not just the baby Jesus, the harmless, inoffensive Jesus. But the born-to-die, Savior-Rescuer. (Jesus can't be squeezed into little corners, little pockets of our lives. He's the LORD of the universe.  But I digress.) 

Mortimer has a second encounter with Jesus. This time it's the Jesus of the Word. He overhears the family reading the Christmas story. He learns who Jesus is, he learns what Jesus came to do. This changes everything…for Mortimer. Jesus must come. He must go. They can't both sleep in the manger. And Mortimer surrenders what was never really "his" to Jesus. He also offers up a prayer. 

The story has a happy ending because the family has been busy making a gingerbread house. Of course Mortimer thinks it's a direct answer to his prayers! 

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible