Monday, December 31, 2018

December Check-In

What Bible(s) did I read from this month?
How many books by J.C. Ryle did I read this month?
Favorite quote(s) by J.C. Ryle:
Am I keeping up with my Morning and Evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon?
Favorite quote(s) by Charles Spurgeon:
How many books by R.C. Sproul did I read this month?
Favorite quote(s) by R.C. Sproul:
Did I read any Puritans or Reformers this month:
Favorite quote(s):
Did I complete at least one book from the TBR Pile challenge? Which one?
Other Christian nonfiction books read this month:
Christian fiction books read this month:
How many "new" books did I read (published 2000-present)?
How many "old" books did I read (published before 2000)?
Which book was my overall favorite?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Year in Review

I read the Bible eleven times in 2018. Three of the eleven translations I read were the King James Version. I read both the 1971 and 1995 editions of the New American Standard Bible. I read both the 1984 and 2011 editions of the New International Version. I read the Revised Standard Version and the English Standard Version. I read the New Living Translation and the New English Bible.

This chart shows ALL of my reading for Operation Actually Read Bible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Year in Review: Christian Nonfiction

  1. Spurgeon On the Christian Life: Alive in Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life) Michael Reeves. 2018. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire. Jason Meyer. 2018. Crossway. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Discipleship: What It Truly Means to Be A Christian. A.W. Tozer. 2018. [May] Moody Publishers. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Quotable Tozer. A.W. Tozer. Compiled by James L. Snyder. 2018. Bethany House. 369 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. The Moment of Truth. Steven J. Lawson. 2018. Reformation Trust. 238 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6.  In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character. Jen Wilkin. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7.  God's Grace In Your Suffering. David A. Powlison. 2018. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2018. Moody Publishers. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Even Better Than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible's Story Changes Everything About Your Story. Nancy Guthrie. 2018. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. The Rule of Love: How the Local Church Should Reflect God's Love and Authority. Jonathan Leeman. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament. John F. MacArthur. 2018. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship. John Piper. 2018. Crossway. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  13. The Holiness of God. R.C. Sproul. 1985/2012. 226 pages. [Source: Bought]
  14. The Sovereignty of God. Arthur W. Pink. 1917. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
  15. Morning and Evening. Charles H. Spurgeon. 1866. 470 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Year in Review: Christian Fiction

  1. A Bound Heart. Laura Frantz. 2019. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Promise of Dawn. Lauraine Snelling. 2017. Bethany House. 386 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The Lacemaker. Laura Frantz. 2018. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4.  The Sea Before Us. (Sunrise at Normandy #1) Sarah Sundin. 2018. Revell. 375 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5.  The Love Knot. Karen Witemeyer. 2018. 140 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. More Than Meets the Eye. Karen Witemeyer. 2018. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. The Bride of Ivy Green. Julie Klassen. 2018. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. River to Redemption. Ann H. Gabhart. 2018. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Agnes Grey. Anne Bronte. 1847. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Watcher. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 2017. 42 pages. [Source: Library]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Reading Goals: KJV Spurgeon Study Bible

KJV Spurgeon Study Bible. Edited by Alistair Begg. 2018. Holman Bible Publishers. 1840 pages. [Source: Bought]

If you're looking to keep track here's a checklist for your convenience. Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. 

Written by Moses

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

OT Narratives

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

Wisdom Literature

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

Major Prophets

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

Minor Prophets

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

NT Narratives

_ 40. Matthew
_ 41. Mark
_ 42. Luke
_ 43. John
_ 44. Acts

Epistles by Paul

_ 45. Romans
_ 46. 1 Corinthians
_ 47. 2 Corinthians
_ 48. Galatians
_ 49. Ephesians
_ 50. Philippians
_ 51. Colossians
_ 52. 1 Thessalonians
_ 53. 2 Thessalonians
_ 54. 1 Timothy
_ 55. 2 Timothy
_ 56. Titus
_ 57. Philemon

General Epistles

_ 58. Hebrews
_ 59. James
_ 60. 1 Peter
_ 61. 2 Peter
_ 62. 1 John
_ 63. 2 John
_ 64. 3 John
_ 65. Jude

Apocalyptic Epistle by John

_ 66. Revelation

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Week in Review: December 23-29


  • John
  • Acts 6-28
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation

ESV Story of Redemption

  • Genesis 

1599 Geneva Bible

  • Genesis
  • Ruth
  • Job
  • Matthew
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, December 28, 2018

Book Review: Morning and Evening

Morning and Evening. Charles H. Spurgeon. 1866. 470 pages. [Source: Bought]

Morning and Evening is a classic devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon that was originally published in 1866.

There is a devotional for every morning and every evening.

Each devotional begins with a bite-sized portion of Scripture.

Spurgeon "feeds" his flock from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

He speaks directly to readers and addresses matters of great importance. His works are ever-relevant.

I've been sharing quotes from Morning and Evening since the first week of January when I began reading the devotional.

I'll share my top twenty or so with you now.

From December:

  • The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love—as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest! His love wraps the night as a cloak—but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarcely a disguise.
  • His presence will be most realized—by those who are most like Him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to Him.
  • Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance—He Himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar—but Jehovah will never forsake you.
  • Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, He brings war. Where the light comes, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abides, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot.

From November:
  • The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do tomorrow, as if that could recompense for the idleness of today. No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow.
  • Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it—or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of mere creed—are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the body.
  • Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God.
  • To have one foot on the land of truth, and another on the sea of falsehood, will end in a terrible fall and a total ruin. Christ will be all—or nothing.
From October:
  • “I will love them freely.” Hosea 14:4 This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning, is a theologian; and he who can dive into its fullness, is a true spiritual master. It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation, which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer. The meaning hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth—a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are. The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness, “I will love them freely.”
  • We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Hearing, reading, and learning—all require inward digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it.
  • When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon SIN—and another upon the CROSS! It will be better still—if we fix both our eyes upon Christ—and see our transgressions only in the light of His love.
  • Each believer must, when filled with a sense of Jesus’ love—be also overwhelmed with astonishment, that such divine love should be lavished on an object so utterly unworthy of it. Jesus must have found the cause of His love—in His own heart. He could not have found it in us—for it is not there! 
From September:
  • Wherever Jesus may lead us—He goes before us. If we know not where we go, we know with whom we go. With such a companion, who will dread the perils of the road? The journey may be long—but His everlasting arms will carry us to the end.
  • Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without price or hindrance. Come in faith and you are welcome to all covenant blessings. There is not a promise in the Word which shall be withheld.
  • A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week, without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions.
From August:
  • My Lord is more ready to pardon—than you to sin; more able to forgive—than you to transgress. My Master is more willing to supply your needs—than you are to ask for them!
  • Do you dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross! Do you fear death? He has been the death of death! Are you afraid of hell? He has barred it against the entrance of any of His children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition!
  • Let a Christian begin to boast, “I can do all things,” without adding “through Christ who strengthens me,” and before long he will have to groan, “I can do nothing,” and bemoan himself in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, and He is pleased to accept of our doings, let us lay our crown at His feet, and exclaim, “Not I—but the grace of God which was with me!”
From July:
  • It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.” He was “for us” before the worlds were made. He was “for us,” or He would not have given His well-beloved son. He was “for us” when He smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of His wrath upon Him—He was “for us,” though He was against Him. He was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall—He loved us notwithstanding all. He was “for us,” when we were rebels against Him, and with a high hand were bidding Him defiance. He was “for us,” or He would not have brought us humbly to seek His face. He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within—how could we have remained unharmed to this hour—if He had not been “for us”? He is “for us,” with all the infinity of His being; with all the omnipotence of His love; with all the infallibility of His wisdom; arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is “for us,” eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity!
  • Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer—but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering—but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck—but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, “Fear not, beloved!
From June:
  • “Help, Lord!” will suit us living and dying, suffering or laboring, rejoicing or sorrowing.
  • After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light—He is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us.
  • If you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus—you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you—but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you—bow yourself in lowliness at His feet.
  • The Scriptures reveal Jesus, “The Scriptures point to Me!” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this—he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Savior!
From May:
  • There is no need for God to create a new thing upon the earth in order to restore believers to joy; if they would prayerfully rake the ashes of the past, they would find light for the present; and if they would turn to the book of truth and the throne of grace, their candle would soon shine as aforetime.
  • Christian, what have you to do with sin? Has it not cost you enough already? Burnt child—will you play with the fire? What! when you have already been between the jaws of the lion—will you step a second time into his den? Have you not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all your veins once—and will you play upon the hole of the viper, and put your hand upon the cockatrice’s den a second time? Did sin ever yield you real pleasure? Did you find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to your old drudgery, and wear the chain again—if it delights you. But inasmuch as sin did never give you what it promised to bestow—but deluded you with lies—do not be snared a second time by the old fowler!
  • What a comfort to know that we have a great Physician who is both able and willing to heal us! Let us think of Him for a while tonight. His cures are very speedy—there is life in a look at Him. His cures are radical—He strikes at the center of the disease. And hence, His cures are sure and certain. He never fails, and the disease never returns. There is no relapse where Christ heals—there is no fear that His patients should be merely patched up for a season. He is well skilled in all diseases. Jesus Christ is thoroughly acquainted with the whole of human nature. He is as much at home with one sinner as with another, and never yet did He meet with an unusual case which was difficult to Him.
  • Oh, do not think, believer, that your sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it.
  • The gospel is a very bold gospel, it fearlessly proclaims the truth, whether men like it or not. We must be equally faithful and unflinching.
From April:
  • Banquet your faith upon God’s own Word, and whatever your fears or needs, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s hand-written note, saying, “Remember the Word unto Your servant—upon which You have caused me to hope.”

  • Let us fight as if it all depended upon us—but let us look up and know that all depends upon Him!
  • We are not far from home—a moment will bring us there.
  • Remember that the same Christ who tells us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” had first given us this petition, “Hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Let not your prayers be all concerning your own sins, your own needs, your own imperfections, your own trials—but let them climb the starry ladder, and get up to Christ Himself, and then, as you draw near to the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, offer this prayer continually, “Lord, extend the kingdom of Your dear Son!” Such a petition, fervently presented, will elevate the spirit of all your devotions. Mind that you prove the sincerity of your prayer by laboring to promote the Lord’s glory.

From March:
  • Great thoughts of your sin alone—will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ—will pilot you into the haven of peace. “My sins are many—but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt presses me down as a giant’s foot would crush a worm—but it is no more than a grain of dust to Him, because He has already borne its curse on the cruel tree. It will be but a small thing for Him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive.
  • There is no road between my soul and heaven—but faith.
  • Look upon all sin as that which crucified your Savior—and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”
From February:
  • “He has said” must be our daily resort.
  • We would be abler teachers of others, and less liable to be carried about by every wind of doctrine—if we sought to have a more intelligent understanding of the Word of God. As the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Scriptures is He who alone can enlighten us rightly to understand them, we should constantly ask His teaching, and His guidance into all truth.
  • A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow’s supplies; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet.
  • Christian, meditate much on heaven—it will help you to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This valley of tears is but the pathway to the better country! This present world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
From January:
  • 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.
  • Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent—but He is able to make men repent. He will carry those who believe those to heaven; but He is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness—love it; and to constrain the despiser of His name—to bend the knee before Him.
  • How different will be the state of the believer in heaven—from what it is here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness—but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known.
  • He who does not grow in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know Him is “life eternal,” and to advance in the knowledge of Him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ—knows nothing of Him yet.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Bible Review: RSV

RSV. Revised Standard Version. 1952/2002. Oxford University Press. 1248 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I think it's safe to say that this will be the last Bible I complete in 2018. I began reading this one the first week of December--around the 5th. I finished it December 26th.

This was my second time to read through the Revised Standard Version. There are things that I absolutely love, love, love about this translation. But then again there are things that I don't like about it too.

The RSV translation does an absolutely lovely job with the book of Psalms.

I was less pleased with their translation of Romans. I am disappointed in any translation that does not use the word propitiation. [Romans 3:25] That's a little pet peeve of mine, I suppose.

This translation is also known for translating Isaiah 7:14 with 'young woman' instead of 'virgin.'

Do you have translation pet peeves?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

McGee and Me #10 Joshua and Judges

Thru the Bible #10 Joshua and Judges. J. Vernon McGee. 228 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I plan on reading or in some cases rereading his commentaries. 

Joshua and Judges are covered in one commentary by J. Vernon McGee. This one reads much faster than you might expect. There are important insights to be shared on some of the chapters in these two books. He includes every word of Scripture. But some portions he does seem to be skimming over in terms of teaching and commentating. (I didn't mind this. He seems to skim the same chapters I do.) 

Joshua has some very exciting, action-packed sections. But it also has some tedious portions that aren't all that interesting. Same with Judges. I do think believers can pull some general principles from both books. All of God's Word is INSPIRED.

Quotes from his commentary on Joshua:

  • In the Book of Genesis Israel was born. In the Book of Exodus Israel was chosen. In the Book of Numbers the nation was proven. In the Book of Leviticus it was brought nigh by the blood. In Deuteronomy it was instructed. Now in the Book of Joshua it faces conflict and conquest. 
  • Exodus is the book of redemption out of Egypt; Joshua is the book of redemption into the Promised Land.
  • The Book of Joshua corresponds to the Epistle to the Ephesians in the New Testament where we see that the believer is blessed with all spiritual blessings.
  • The practical possession and experience of them depends upon conflict and conquest. These are never attained through the energy of the flesh, but through the power of the Holy Spirit in the yielded life of the believer.
  • Moses was not essential to lead the children of Israel into the land. In fact, he could not bring them into the Land of Promise. Moses represented the Law and the Law cannot save us.
  • The Law was never a savior. Moses could not lead Israel into the land because of his failure. The problem was not with the Law but with Moses just as the problem is with us. The Law reveals that we have fallen short of the glory of God.
  • My friend, if you are going to walk with Him and live for Him, you will need a daily filling of the Holy Spirit of God.
  • In fact, since you fill up the physical man three times a day, it would not be a bad idea to fill up the spiritual man three times a day.
  • We are identified with Christ in His death; and when He died, my friend, He died for us. His death was our death. When He arose from the dead, then we arose from the dead.
  • The worst enemy that you have is yourself.
  • He occupies the same skin that you occupy. He uses the same brain that you use in thinking his destructive thoughts. He uses the same hands that you use to perform his own deeds.
  • There are two factors that make dealing with this enemy doubly difficult. In the first place, we are reluctant to recognize and identify him. We are loath to label him as an enemy.
  • The fact of the matter is most of us rather like him. The second problem is that he is on the inside of us. If he would only come out and fight like a man, it would be different, but he will not.
  • As you recall, Jericho represents the world. How do you overcome the world? By faith. Ai represents the flesh. How do you overcome the flesh? Not by fighting it, but by recognizing your weakness, confessing to God, and letting the Spirit of God get the victory.
  • The more I know about Joshua, the better I like him. Through the years he has stood in the shadow of Moses so that we think he is a sort of miniature Moses.
  • But Joshua is a man of great stature. God made no mistake in choosing this man. Although Joshua is an average man, this book reveals that an average man dedicated to God can be mightily used.

Quotes from his commentary on Judges:

  • Backsliding and the amazing grace of God in recovering and restoring is the theme of Judges.
  • This is the Promised Land—God had given it to them! Yet not one tribe, apparently, was able to possess the land that God had given to it. How tragic!
  • All of the judges were “little men.” There was not a big one in the lot. These men were used of God because they were—and I have to say it—odd characters. Their very oddness caused God to use them.
  • God has a wonderful sense of humor. The Bible is a serious book, of course. It deals with a race that is in sin, and it concerns God’s salvation for that race. It reveals God as high and holy and lifted up. But God has a sense of humor and, if you miss that in the Bible, you will not find it nearly as interesting.
  • Today many of us are just rolling a hoop through this world. One day we are up, and the next day we are down. God never intended our spiritual lives to be that way.
  • [Jud. 12:11–12]. These two verses tell us all that we know about Elon. He did nothing—he didn’t even have a large family. Apparently all that he did was twiddle his thumbs.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, December 24, 2018

Book Review: A Bound Heart

A Bound Heart. Laura Frantz. 2019. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Isle of Kerrera, Scotland, 1752
As the sun slid from the sky, Lark pressed her back into the pockmarked cliff on the island's west shore. 
Laura Frantz's A Bound Heart is historical fiction set in the 1750s in Scotland, Virginia, and Jamaica. The hero and heroine find themselves far from their native land--and not by choice. Both are "transported" to the colonies, albeit different colonies to serve out their indentures.

Lark MacDougall, our heroine, is a joy to spend time with. She's a bee keeper and a keeper of the stillroom. Like her grandmother, she knows how to make elixirs and remedies for most of what ails you. Unfortunately, she hasn't found an elixir that can cure infertility which is what her mistress is demanding of her.

Magnus MacLeish, our hero, is also a joy. He's also a laird, and Lark's employer. (These two have known each other all their lives, grown up together.) His city wife isn't adapting well to Kerrera. It doesn't help that she's been unable to have a child, an heir. With every miscarriage, she loses the will to live a little more.

I won't spoil the novel by telling you the details his crime or her crime. That should probably be "crime." For the justice system is more an injustice system for these two Scots.

But I will add in a thousand loves. I loved, loved, LOVED this novel. It was giddy-making. I loved the characters. I loved their big hearts. I loved their strength and determination. Magnus is definitely a swoon-worthy hero. Lark was lovely. Lark and Magnus just belong together. I was cheering for them from the beginning. I loved the setting as well. Scotland. Virginia. These are two places my own ancestors lived. The novel swept me up, up, and away. It was just a delight to read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Week in Review: December 16-22


  • Psalms 42-150
  • Proverbs
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Matthew
  • Luke
  • Hebrews
  • James

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

My Victorian Year #47

I missed last week--I've had a cold and I gave myself a mini-holiday--but I've got two weeks worth of Spurgeon quotes.

From Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

  • The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him.
  • At this hour, we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power.
  • We rest in the doctrines of His Word, which are consolation itself. We rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight.
  • Peace and rest do not belong to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only.
  • If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory!
  • Lydia did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it. Paul did not do it. The Lord Himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our eternal peace.
  • He alone can put the key into the hole of the door, and open it, and get admittance for Himself. He is the heart’s master—as He is the heart’s maker.
  • Man’s ways are variable—but God’s ways are everlasting.
  • Believer, here is a sorrowful truth! You are the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on your way to heaven. Yet, “you have dealt treacherously” with God, your best friend; treacherously with Jesus, whose you are; treacherously with the Holy Spirit, by whom you have been quickened unto eternal life!
  • Prayer has oftentimes been slurred—it has been short—but not sweet; brief—but not fervent. Communion with Christ has been forgotten.
  • The LAW was a dispensation of terror, which drove men before it as with a scourge; the GOSPEL draws with bands of love. The LAW repels—the GOSPEL attracts. The law shows the distance which there is between God and man; the gospel bridges that awful chasm, and brings the sinner across it.
  • We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord—but He never ceases to remember us.
  • Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God Himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by Him, four choice privileges:
  • 1. He shall be saved. 2. He shall go in. 3. He shall go out. 4. He shall find pasture.
  • Justification has engrossed learned pens in all ages of the church, and will be the theme of admiration in eternity. God has indeed “skillfully wrought it.”

From Holiness by J.C. Ryle, "Lot--A Beacon"

  • His character [Lot's character] is put before us in one little word: “He lingered.”
  • Let us examine . . . the state of Lot himself, what the text says of him, why he lingered, what sort of fruit he brought forth, the whole while paying special attention as an instruction for holiness.
  • We must not follow the example of Lot — we must not linger.
  • Lot was a true believer, a converted person, a real child of God, a justified soul, a righteous man. We must not undervalue grace because it is accompanied by much corruption. Read on, and you will find that Lot paid dearly for his “lingering.”
  • He was . . . slow — when he should have been quick, backward — when he should have been forward, trifling — when he should have been hastening, loitering — when he should have been hurrying, cold — when he should have been hot.
  • They believe in Heaven — and yet seem faintly to long for it. They believe in Hell — and yet seem little to fear it. They love the Lord Jesus — but the work they do for Him is small. They hate the devil — but they often appear to tempt him to come to them. They know the time is short — but they live as if it were long. They know they have a battle to fight — yet one might think they were at peace. They know they have a race to run — yet they often look like people sitting still. They know the Judge is at the door, and there is wrath to come — and yet they appear half asleep!
  • Lingering is the sure destruction of a happy Christianity. A lingerer’s conscience forbids him to enjoy inward peace.
  • A true believer will certainly not be cast away, although he may linger. But if he does linger, it is vain to suppose that his religion will thrive.
  • call upon you and beseech you . . . to be a whole-hearted Christian, to follow after eminent holiness, to aim at a high degree of sanctification, to live a consecrated life, to present your body a “living sacrifice” unto God, to “walk in the Spirit” (Romans 12:1; Galatians 5:25). I charge you and exhort you, by all your hopes of Heaven and desires of glory — if you would be happy, if you would be useful, do not be a lingering soul.
  • Oh, let not one of us linger! Time does not, death does not, judgment does not, the devil does not, the world does not. Neither let the children of God linger.

From Holiness by J.C. Ryle, "A Woman To Be Remembered! Lot's Wife"

  • He [Jesus] singles out one whose soul was lost forever. He cries to us, “Remember Lot’s wife!” It is a solemn warning, when we consider the subject Jesus is upon.
  • The last days are on His mind when He says, “Remember Lot’s wife!”
  • The Lord Jesus is full of love, mercy and compassion; He is one who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.
  • He says, “Remember.” He speaks as if we were all in danger of forgetting the subject; He stirs up our lazy memories; He bids us keep the case before our minds. He cries, “Remember Lot’s wife!”
  • Let us consider now . . . the religious privileges Lot’s wife enjoyed, the particular sin she committed, and the judgment which God inflicted upon her.
  • The sum and substance of her transgression lies in these three words: “She looked back.”
  • Does the fault of Lot’s wife appear a trifling one — to be visited with such a punishment? This is the feeling, I dare say, that rises in some hearts.
  • Little things will often show the state of a man’s mind, even better than great ones; and little symptoms are often the signs of deadly and incurable diseases.
  • When God speaks plainly by His Word, or by His messengers, man’s duty is clear.
  • The moment a man begins to think he knows better than God, and that God does not mean anything when He threatens — his soul is in great danger.
  • Every age is said to have its own peculiar epidemic disease; the epidemic disease to which the souls of Christians are liable just now — is the love of the world. 
  • Be thorough, be real, be honest, be sound, be whole-hearted. If you have any religion at all — let your religion be real. See that you do not sin the sin of Lot’s wife!
  • I believe that the time has come, when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell.
  • A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us that God is too loving and merciful to punish souls forever; and that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly some of them may be — will sooner or later be saved. We are invited to leave the old paths of apostolic Christianity.
  • We are to embrace what is called a “kinder theology” — and treat Hell as a pagan fable or a bugbear to frighten children and fools.
  • Once let the old doctrine about Hell be overthrown, and the whole system of Christianity is unsettled, unscrewed, unpinned and thrown into disorder!
  • If words mean anything, there is such a place as Hell. If texts are to be interpreted fairly — there are those who will be cast into Hell. If language has any sense belonging to it — Hell is forever.
  • Settle it firmly in your mind, that the same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Christ to die for sinners, does also teach that God hates sin and must, from His very nature, punish all who cleave to sin, or refuse the salvation He has provided.
  • The very same chapter which declares, “God so loved the world,” declares also, that “the wrath of God abides” on the unbeliever (John 3:16, 36). 
  • Settle it firmly in your mind, that God has given us proof upon proof in the Bible that He will punish the hardened and unbelieving, and that He will take vengeance on His enemies — as well as show mercy on the penitent.
  • Settle it firmly in your mind, that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has spoken most plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell.
  • Settle it, lastly, in your mind that the comforting ideas which the Scripture gives us of Heaven are at an end — if we once deny the reality or eternity of Hell.
  • Once allow that Hell is not eternal, and you may as well say that God and Heaven are not eternal.
  • The only question we have to settle is this: “Is Hell Scriptural?” Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is so; and I maintain that professing Christians ought to be often reminded that they may be lost and go to Hell.
  • God forbid that I should ever keep back from mortal man that Scripture reveals a Hell as well as Heaven, and that the gospel teaches that men may be lost as well as saved.
  • Where is the charity of keeping back any portion of God’s truth? He is the kindest friend — who tells me the whole extent of my danger!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2019 Reading Challenges: Official TBR Pile

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
Host: Adam (Roof Beam Reader) (sign up here)
January - December 2019
# of books: 12 to 14

 On Social Media, please use #TBR2019RBR
Your complete and final list must be posted by January 15th, 2019.

My list:

  1. ✔ Knowing Christianity. J.I. Packer. 1995. 191 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. ✔ 31 Verses to Write On Your Heart. Liz Curtis Higgs. 2016. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. ✔ Tozer on Worship and Entertainment. A.W. Tozer. 2006. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. ✔ The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Abridged. John Calvin. Edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne. 272 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. ✔ A Garden in Paris. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2005. 285 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. ✔ A Hilltop in Tuscany. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2006. 301 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. _ The Practice of Godliness. Jerry Bridges. 1983/2016. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. ✔  The Joy of Fearing God. Jerry Bridges. 1998/2004. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. _ Called To Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God's Call. Vernon Whaley. 2000/2009. 361 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. _ What Jesus Demands From the World. John Piper. 2006. 400 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  11. _ Communion with the Triune God. John Owen. Edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor. 1657/2007. 445 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. _ Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. (Preaching the Word) 2012. 464 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  13. _ Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Lew Wallace. 1880. 620 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  14. _ The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation. Jewish Publication Society of America. 1917. 1270 pages. [Source: Bought]

A Garden in Paris. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2005. 285 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Joy of Fearing God. Jerry Bridges. 1998/2004. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Hilltop in Tuscany. (A Garden in Paris #2) Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2006. Bethany House. 301 pages. [Source: Bought]
Knowing Christianity. J.I. Packer. 1995. 191 pages. [Source: Bought] 
Tozer on Worship and Entertainment. A.W. Tozer. 1997/2006. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
31 Verses to Write On Your Heart. Liz Curtis Higgs. 2016. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] 
The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Abridged. John Calvin. (1536) Edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne (1987). Baker Books. 272 pages. [Source: Bought] 

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Bride of Ivy Green

The Bride of Ivy Green. Julie Klassen. 2018. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Mercy Grove could no longer put off the painful task.

If you enjoyed The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, you are definitely going to read the third book in the series, The Bride of ivy Green. The only complaint I have is that I think it should have been called the BRIDES of Ivy Hill instead.

This historical romance series by Julie Klassen is set in a small English village, Ivy Hill. The series follows the romantic adventures and misadventures of three women primarily: Jane, Rachel, and Mercy. Though really a dozen more characters are introduced and followed. One really gets a sense of time and place. (I believe this one is set in 1821; the others might be set a year or two earlier. The county is Wiltshire.)

Mercy Grove, the heroine, is a school teacher, or WAS a school teacher. Her brother returning with a wife has closed down--at least temporarily--her dreams and her means of independence. (The school was in her home.) She remains in his house, but make no mistake, she feels it is HIS house now. Her new sister-in-law soon has her living in the attic so that her former room can be a guest room. Mercy feels trapped--not trapped enough to regret turning down a loveless marriage offer--but trapped. So when Mr. James Drake mentions he's looking for a governess for his daughter, Alice, she volunteers for the job. (Alice was a former pupil, a beloved former pupil.)

Mercy, of course, is not the only woman adapting to big changes. Other women are as well. Rachel is loving getting to know her new sister-in-law, Justina. But her need to advocate for her may cause tension in her relationship with her mother-in-law. Justina is falling for someone....and her mother already has definite opinions on whom her daughter should marry. Jane is oh-so-close to getting her happily ever after. But someone from her past shows up, and difficult conversations must be had before she can be at peace with where she is in her life. There is also the matter of the brand new seamstress in town....there is something OFF about her. But what?!

I love, love, love this series. There is something COZY about this series. It is definitely character-driven. Don't expect much action or drama.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Week in Review: December 9-15


  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther 
  • Job
  • Psalms 1-41
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Daniel
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Malachi
  • Mark

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

McGee and Me #9 Deuteronomy

Thru the Bible #9: Deuteronomy. J. Vernon McGee. 202 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again)

Though Deuteronomy has thirty-four chapters, McGee tackles them all in one volume. This ninth volume will finish his commentary on the Pentateuch. 

Deuteronomy has always been one of my favorite books in the Old Testament to read. I have always found it to be an important foundation to understanding what follows. Grasping Deuteronomy helps with the history books, the wisdom books, and the prophetical books as well. Perhaps especially the prophetical books. Deuteronomy warns of God's judgment, the other books display God's judgment. If you read closely, you'll see Deuteronomy being fulfilled "before your eyes." 

McGee's commentary reprints the text of Scripture. He doesn't devote a great deal of time to each chapter. What he gives his readers, his friends, is a starting point, an overview. 


  • There are four Hebrew titles of Deuteronomy: (1) Debarim, meaning “The Words” or “These be the Words,” is derived from the opening expression, “These are the words which Moses spake.” (2) The Kith, or the Fifth of the Law. (3) The Book of Reproofs. (4) The Iteration of the Law.
  • The great theme is Love and Obey. You may not have realized that the love of God was mentioned that far back in the Bible, but the word love occurs twenty-two times.
  • Deuteronomy teaches that obedience is man’s response to God’s love. This is not the gospel, but the great principle of it is here.
  • Many times the Christian today finds himself confronted by giants in this life. I’m sure that as a child of God you have found yourself in giant country. Believe me, it is difficult to know how to handle a giant when you are just a pygmy yourself. God has given us the same promise that He is able to handle the giants for us. It is wonderful to know that.
  • It is not our circumstances on the outside which are our real problem. It is the circumstance on the inside of us, the unbelief in our hearts, which is the cause of our problems.
  • A great many of us today are not being blessed because we are spending too much time sitting down.
  • That is the wrong place to be if we want the blessing of God. We are to walk.
  • There is a great deal said in the Scriptures about the Christian’s walk and very little said about the Christian’s sitting down.
  • [Deut. 4:37]. This is the first time in the Bible that God tells anybody that He loves them.
  • God loves us today. But He does not save us by love; He saves us by grace. He couldn’t just open the back door of heaven and slip us in.
  • Here are the four important steps we are to take in relation to the Word of God. The first is to hear it. The second is to learn it, to become acquainted with what God is saying. The third is to keep it. That means to have the Word of God down in your heart. The fourth is to do it. Not only should the Word of God be in your head and in your heart, but it should get down there where your feet and hands are.
  • The Law is a mirror that is held up to the heart. It is a headlight on a car to show the way into the darkness and to reveal the curves ahead.
  • Man’s first sin was not to become an atheist; his sin was to become a polytheist.
  • There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who hate God and those who love Him.
  • Anything that you give yourself to, anything that stands between you and God, becomes your god.
  • The Law is a mirror held up to us. We are to look in it, and it will reveal to each of us that we are sinners. The mirror in the bathroom will show the smudge spot on the face, but the mirror won’t wash off that spot. The Law can show us our sin, but it cannot save us. In no way can the mirror remove the smudge spot.
  • The important thing is not whether you approve of the Ten Commandments or what you think of them; the important question, my friend is: Have you kept them? If you are honest, you know that you haven’t measured up. That means you need a Savior.
  • Today we live in a world, not so much of idolatry and polytheism, but of atheism.
  • The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
  • I have been saved. We already have eternal life. We already stand before God in all the righteousness and merit of our Savior. I am being saved. God is working in my life, shaping, guiding, molding me to conform me more and more to His own dear Son. I shall be saved. Don’t be discouraged with me, because God is not through with me yet. And I won’t be discouraged with you, because God is not through with you either.
  • The liberal today hates the God of the Old Testament. I heard one call God a bully.
  • Let us not have a false kind of pity for these nations. Rather, let us learn from these events. God is a God of mercy and of love in the Old Testament as well as He is in the New Testament.
  • Sometimes He puts us in the furnace and heaps it on very hot. Why? To test us and to humble us. Little man is proud, he’s cocky, he is self-confident, and, to be frank, he is an abomination!
  • Spiritual manna is the Word of God. It is a wonderful food. It will supply all your needs.
  • There is a lopsided notion that if you are a faithful Christian, God will prosper you in temporal things. My friend, that is not true.
  • He has promised us spiritual blessings. There is no verse in the New Testament which promises temporal blessing to the child of God today.
  • The hope of the child of God today is that Christ is coming to take us out of this world. The hope of Israel is in this world. That distinction is of utmost importance.
  • Too many so-called theologians use a blender. They put the whole Bible into a blender, and they really mix it up!
  • If you let the Bible stand as it is, you will see that God is very specific when He makes promises.
  • The only kind of people God is saving is bad people.
  • People can be more phony in religion than in anything else. It seems to be something that is characteristic of the human nature.
  • Moses knew that God hates sin. May I say to you that we today do not have the faintest conception of how God hates sin and how He intends to punish it.
  • The average Christian today does not seem to realize how God hates sin in his life. My friend, God never ignores a sin we commit. God will deal with sin in your life and in my life.
  • Moses also knew the mercy of God. Moses comes to God because he trusts in His mercy. God will punish sin, but, my friend, we do not comprehend how wonderful He is.
  • He is so gracious. He extends mercy to the sinner. He has extended His mercy to you, I am sure.
  • God did not hear the prayer of Moses because of who he was. God heard his prayer because He is merciful.
  • I am afraid there are many of us, even in conservative churches, who are not faithful to God for a single day. We boast that we are sound in the faith—sound all right—sound asleep!
  • Whether things come to us easily or with difficulty, He still is the Provider.
  • We are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, we grow by the grace of God. We are going to get to heaven by the grace of God. When we’ve been there ten thousand years, it will still be by the grace of God.
  • Believers do not meet in one place to worship God today; we meet around One Person and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The all-important question is this: do you meet around the person of Jesus Christ? Now, friends, if you don’t, that is idolatry, because then you are meeting around something that is replacing Christ.
  • Anything, anything that comes between our souls and God becomes an idol.
  • hope that I can learn more and more to hate what He hates and love what He loves.
  • There are too many Christians today who think that it is Christian to be silent. There are so many Christians who do not take a stand on important issues even when truth is at stake.
  • I thank God today that the Lord is not judging me on the basis of Law. He saves me by grace. If He were saving me by Law, I would be lost forever, because I could never, never measure up to the requirements of the Law.
  • Law is law—we have developed such a careless attitude about it today—but God enforces His Law. It was eye for eye, tooth for tooth.
  • How I thank God that Jesus Christ paid the penalty of the Law so that there is pardon for sinners.
  • I’m convinced that the men who originally drew up our constitution were men who were Bible-oriented. The problem today is that we have a society made up of people who are entirely ignorant of the Bible, and lawmakers who are actually stupid as far as the Word of God is concerned.
  • It is one thing to say that things are terrible, things are awful. It is another thing to go to God and say, “Oh, God, forgive us as a nation. God, forgive us for our sins today.”
  • We are to give out the Word of God—that is our business—but we are pilgrims and strangers here, just passing through.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible