Thursday, May 30, 2019

Book Review: My First Read-Aloud Bible

My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Making Our World

Long ago, when God
began to make
everything, the earth
was dark and empty.

God said, "Earth needs light."
And light appeared. God 
made the sun to shine by
day and the moon and stars
to light the night.

God was pleased with what he had done.

I believe that Christian families need many Bible story book collections to read with little ones as they grow. Perhaps because it's hard to find a perfectly, perfect book that meets all the needs--and continues to meet all the needs--of a growing child. There are books that focus more on building solid doctrine and are theology-driven. There are books that focus more on narrative writing--embellishing stories at times. There are books that focus more on interaction: narrators directly speaking to readers, asking questions, drawing conclusions, etc. There are books that are written exclusively in rhyming verse. Some are written intentionally with a limited vocabulary. There are books that are written exclusively "for boys" or "for girls." Some story collections are short--a handful of stories from each testament. Some story collections are long--many, many stories from both testaments.

My First Read-Aloud Bible is not theology-driven. The narrative isn't directly concerned with shaping morals or values or building a solid theology in the hearts and minds of the readers. The emphasis is not on mankind's sin or God's grace. If you're looking for a text to lead you step by step to faith in Christ, this isn't that book. There are plenty of dots, but it is up to readers to play connect-the-dot. The narrator isn't going to do that for you.

My First Read-Aloud Bible does not speak directly to readers. It doesn't seek to be an interactive read-aloud. Readers aren't asked questions about how characters might have felt or what they might have done if they were in that situation. The text isn't written to tell you how to feel or how to respond to the story. (For example, aren't you thankful that God gave us rainbows to remind us of His goodness?) Readers also aren't asked to find rabbits or donkeys or lambs or anything like that in the illustrations.

My First Read-Aloud Bible is NOT written in rhyming verse. I, for one, am relieved. Rhyme is so very difficult to get right. It is just sad, sad, super-sad when good stories from the Bible are turned into mediocre verse.

My First Read-Aloud Bible does not seek to be super-creative in its narrative. It isn't about embellishing details and making stories "come alive." It isn't trying to turn bible stories into fairy tales, fables, or nursery tales. The language is not fanciful and prose-y. Instead the text is straight forward, factual, informational. It isn't that it communicates ALL the details of a given story. It doesn't give readers everything they need for placing the story into context. But what is there in the text is factual.

My First Read-Aloud Bible offers a VARIETY of stories told in CHRONOLOGICAL order from both testaments. It isn't comprehensive and thorough. It doesn't boast that it contains every single story or that it covers events from every single book of the Bible. But it's a good variety. I do believe that reading this one cover to cover would give readers a good idea of what the Bible is all about. Perhaps not the whys of the Bible. (Again, it isn't theology-driven. It isn't written with the purpose to lead your child to Christ, to bring them to their knees and praying for forgiveness.)

I think this would be a great addition for Christian families. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that this one book is the only book you'll ever need.

Here are how the Ten Commandments are presented:
God said to Moses, "These rules will help my people every day: Put me first and love me best. Don't worship anyone but me. Don't use my name carelessly. Keep one day each week as a resting day with me. Obey your father and mother. Don't hurt others. Keep love between a husband and wife special. Don't take what isn't yours. Don't tell lies about other people. Don't be jealous of other people and want what they have." (54-55)
And here is the Lord's Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, may everyone know and love you. Come and be our King. Give us today the food we need. Forgive the bad things we do. Help us to forgive others too. When we want to do something bad, help us choose to do good instead. (187)
Each story is on a two-page spread. With colorful illustrations. Some stories are more interconnected than others. For example, David has five stories. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Psalm 119:111, Various Translations

  • Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. KJV
  • Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart. KJ21
  • Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, For they are the rejoicing of my heart. NKJV
  • Thy testimonies have I taken asan heritage forever: for they are the joy of mine heart. 1599 Geneva
  • I have taken thy testimonies as a heritage for ever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. Jubilee Bible
  • Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. ERV
  • Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever; For they are the rejoicing of my heart. ASV
  • I have inherited Thy testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart. NASB 1977
  • I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart. NASB 1995
  • Your testimonies are my inheritance forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart. MEV
  • I have taken Your testimonies as a heritage forever, For they are the joy of my heart. AMP
  • I have your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart. CSB
  • I have Your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart. HCSB
  • Your laws are my possession forever because they are my heart’s joy. CEB
  • I take your instruction as a permanent heritage, because it is the joy of my heart. Complete Jewish Bible
  • I have inherited your testimonies forever.
  • Yes, they are the joy of my heart. EHV 
  • Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. ESV
  • Your commandments are my eternal possession; they are the joy of my heart. GNT
  • Your laws are my joyous treasure forever. Living Bible
  • Your laws are my treasure; they are my heart’s delight. NLT
  • Your decrees are my eternal heritage, they are the joy of my heart. Jerusalem Bible
  • Thy instruction is my everlasting inheritance; it is the joy of my heart. NEB
  • Your instruction is my everlasting heritage; it is the joy of my heart. REB
  • Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. NIV 1984
  • Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. NIV 2011
  • Thy testimonies are my heritage for ever; yea, they are the joy of my heart. RSV
  • Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. NRSV
  • I claim your rules as my permanent possession, for they give me joy.  NET
  • Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever; For they are the rejoicing of my heart. JPS Tanakh 1917

Monday, May 27, 2019

Book Review: The Big Picture Story Bible

The Big Picture Story Bible. David R. Helm. Illustrated by Gail Schoonmaker. 2004. Crossway Books. 451 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

First sentence from the Old Testament section: The Bible is God's story, and it begins with these big words: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Do you know how God created everything? Simply by speaking words. Imagine, making the world with words! Strong words. Powerful words. With words God created everything!

First sentence from the New Testament section: Years passed without a single word from God. And the years turned into many years, and the many years turned into hundreds of years. And the great promises of God seemed to fade away. Israel became less important in the world. Other nations became great--strong nations, powerful nations, whose kings ruled over God's people. One such king...was Caesar Augustus.

The Big Picture Story Bible is one of my favorite bible story books. Why? Because it presents the Bible not as a series of entertaining, informational, educational, inspirational stories but as a unified story. The Bible does in fact have a big picture. If you miss the big picture, you miss the point. By understanding--grasping, appreciating--the big picture, you are enabling yourself to appreciate the smaller as well because you can see how everything fits, everything belongs.

The Big Picture Story Bible has twenty-six illustrated stories. Together they tell one big story. These stories build upon one another. They are interconnected. Everything is building up to the big climax--the appearance of Jesus Christ. The first eleven stories cover the Old Testament. The remaining fifteen stories cover the New Testament.

The Bible is for believers young and old. The story it tells is grand, glorious, but above all TRUE and TRUSTWORTHY. Yet people of all ages can struggle to read the Word for themselves. Perhaps because it seems so strange and otherworldly. Perhaps because it is intimidating. Perhaps because they don't know where to begin. A familiarity with the BIG PICTURE of the Bible could be the very boost one needs to begin to ACTUALLY read the Bible.

The Big Picture Story Bible gives readers of all ages the orientation they need to grasp not only the story but the theology behind the story. It covers the basics of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. It is not so thorough and comprehensive that it would ever--could ever--take the place of the Word itself. That would be silly. But by showing you the structure of the Word, how everything fits together, how every story belongs to the whole, it can be a considerable help.

I think this one is for readers of all ages. I definitely think parents with children should have this one in their homes. (Christian parents and grandparents). Parents have an awesome responsibility to teach and instruct their children in the faith. It isn't anyone else's responsibility to do so for you. It is a great task, but it isn't an impossible one. It's never too early. It's never too late. You might feel overwhelmed, but you can learn alongside your children. You can go on this glorious, wonderful journey together.

But I also think adults without children could benefit from this one as well. There are a million excuses why believers don't read the Bible. Grasping the big picture and holding onto the big picture could be a great stepping stone into actually reading the Bible and tasting for yourself the sweetness of the Lord.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Week in Review: May 19-25

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. KJV

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 119? Which translations have I read this week? Yes. KJV. HCSB. CSB. KJV. KJV.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. Lots of Psalms.

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?

ESV Prayer Bible -- 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel
KJV Life Application Bible -- Jonah

What have I read in the New Testament this week?

CSB Rainbow Study Bible -- Mark
NASB 1977 -- Romans
KJV Life Application Bible -- Mark 1-7

Other Reading

The Pink Bonnet (True Colors #2) Liz Tolsma. 2019. Barbour. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Labor With Hope. Gospel Meditations on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. Gloria Furman and Jesse Scheumann. 2019. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Talk the Walk: How To Be Right Without Being Insufferable. Steve Brown. 2019. New Growth Press. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Talk the Walk

Talk the Walk: How To Be Right Without Being Insufferable. Steve Brown. 2019. New Growth Press. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence (from the introduction): The modern world says that it is impossible for a thinking person to have a metanarrative—an interpretation that accounts for all reality... At the risk of sounding arrogant and offensive, let me say here that there is, in fact, a true metanarrative. It is called the Christian faith. It is a stable, clear, and profound metanarrative.

It is near impossible to read Steve Brown without hearing Steve Brown's voice in your head. Now that the obvious has been said, I'll skip to the review.

Talk The Walk is an engaging, challenging read. I found myself strongly agreeing and strongly disagreeing with the text--sometimes within the same paragraph. (Is Steve Brown just playing devil's advocate or does he really believe this outrageously?) At the very least it is a thought-provoking read. Do I agree? disagree? why is he right? why is he wrong? does the Bible really mean this? and say that? am I guilty of what he's describing?
has my mind been changed about this or that?

The premise of Talk the Walk is startling and a bit outrageous. He asserts that Christians are dangerous when they're right. The more Biblically sound and doctrinally correct we are, the more likely we are to value TRUTH and devalue love and compassion. In other words, if we know we are right and others are wrong, we are less likely to be kind, compassionate, and gracious. Christians who know they are right may perhaps talk about love, mercy, and grace. But they display it infrequently--if at all. Correct orthodoxy can fail to lead to correct orthopraxy. Brown believes that orthopraxy is just as important if not more important than orthodoxy. Orothopraxy is about how we put into practice our beliefs, how we live out the faith in the day to day.

Brown does not seem to be advocating throwing out the truth. "As someone has said, once you see truth you cannot simply unsee it." He is not one of those that redefines the virtue of humility as introducing doubt, embracing uncertainty, and throwing assurance out the window. Where the Bible is clear, plain, obvious, assertive, believers should have confidence and certainty. To not trust in God's promises is not a virtue.

What Brown does seem to be advocating is selectively sharing the truths we believe. Brown seems to be saying that just because you know something to be true or something to be false does not mean you have to share that. You can remain silent and perhaps should remain silent in many situations. Sometimes speaking up or standing up for the truth you hold so dear makes the situation worse not better. You may feel satisfied that you defended God's truth, but the person on the other end, the other side, now has even more reason to distrust or despise Christians.

He discusses this in-depthly in chapter three, "The Sound of Silence." He opens it with this sentence, "Christian truth is about as welcome in today’s culture as a wet shaggy dog shaking himself at the Miss America Pageant. Truth does not matter, but intolerance does. If the subject is salvation, Christian truth suggests that there are those who are saved and those who are not. If the truth is about sin, then some things are right and others are wrong. If it is about hell and heaven, it means that one place is hot and the other is not. If it is about forgiveness, then some are forgiven and others are not." While we are called to speak gospel truths in love and rely on God's power, he says, "The truth we have is precious, dangerous, and explosively powerful in the way it can heal or hurt. There are times when silence really is golden."

Here are some quotes from this chapter. I give you food for thought:
  • Silence, for instance, is better than saying too much that would be confusing and unduly irritating.
  • Answering questions that are not asked, defining issues that are not raised, and going places that are not presently important is offensive and a waste of time. It is better that Christians remain silent.
  • Silence is also appropriate when a Christian has not been given permission to speak. Christians should not shilly-shally about who they are, and should at least give an indication of what they believe. But more information requires permission, and that permission is often given in the questions that are asked. If there are no questions and if no interest is expressed, it is wise to remain silent.
  • Permission opens the door to speaking truth. If permission is not given, silence is a good practice. Silence is also a wise practice when spoken truth is spoken for the wrong reasons.
  • If you are reading this book because you feel guilty about not speaking truth, let me suggest that you continue not speaking truth. Guilt makes communication phony and shallow, and often causes people to use a cannon when a BB gun would do.
  • Guilty people make others feel guilty. Free people make people feel free. Because of those truths, if people have not experienced the freedom of unconditional forgiveness that is at the heart of the Christian faith, remaining silent is best.
  • Some Christians are looking for power over others by being right, and speaking truth is the way to get it.
  • Silence is also golden when we speak with an agenda of self-interest.
  • There are others who try to bring their witness of truth to the people they know, yet are simply not very informed about the nature of the truth they speak. When that happens, it is better to remain silent than to keep talking.
  • Ultimately, nobody will misunderstand the truth because Christians did not say it right, and nobody will be lost for eternity because Christians were unfaithful. God is bigger than our mistakes and misstatements. It’s the Spirit who draws people to God.
  • Sometimes it is best to be silent and to let love, freedom, and joy do the talking. There are some things Christians cannot say without words, but there are other matters that are only confused by words.
  • What if we remained silent by not defending ourselves? What if we remained silent when others are condemning those whose lifestyle, politics, or religious views are deemed unacceptable? What if we remained silent and refused to be the social, political, and religious critic of every opinion that wasn’t our own? What if we remained silent in the face of rejection? What if we refused to share the secrets we’ve been told or tell the stories we’ve overheard? What if we remained silent and overlooked the foibles of others? What if we looked at the pain of our neighbor and just loved him or her, instead trying to fix the unfixable? What if our response to confusion, fear, and guilt was simply, “I know”? There is a powerful witness in that kind of silence.
And in chapter four, he again addresses selective truth-sharing.
  • If time is limited (and it is), and there are some who want to hear and some who do not want to hear (and there are), then Christians need to walk away from those who do not want to hear and go to those who do.
  • Christians need to first check and see if unbelievers want to go further; but once it is clear that they have drawn a line, for God’s sake, do not cross it.
Brown is most concerned with the ATTITUDE of Christians who are doctrinally right or correct. These are people who believe rightly about God and hold to the truths of the Christian faith. You can have a correct faith but hold a wrong attitude.

I offer more food for thought:

  • The problem with us Christians who have truth to share is that, when we talk about love, we either make it insipid and shallow, or we add a kicker to it (e.g., “God loves you, but don’t let it go to your head!” “God loves you, but there is more to it than that” or maybe, “Now the ball is in your court, and that ball requires that you respond with goodness, obedience, and submission”).
  • But watered-down love or conditional love are not the Christian faith, or the truth God gave us. God loved us with love that is hard as nails, driven into hands and feet, and without a kicker. It simply says, “I love you. Is that okay?”
  • Jesus is often counterintuitive about what he says, what he does, and whom he loves. Masters do not wash a slave’s feet, religious leaders do not hang out with prostitutes, and religious teachers do not contradict the very tenets of the discipline in which they teach. But Jesus does, and almost everything that one would expect from a messiah is exactly what Jesus refuses to do. So if we are followers of Jesus, it is incumbent on us to let him do the defining—not our religion, our preconceived notions, or our personal proclivities.
  • Jesus gets to decide and define who, what, when, and where. His story, love, and presence precede and define every Christian message believers speak.
  • Believers are not responsible for anybody else’s salvation, and they are not responsible for anybody being lost for eternity. 
  • Effectively speaking and living truth to people who do not want to hear or see is mostly a matter of attitude—not knowledge, planning, training, and technique.
  • Jesus knew that being right could make people mean. If the Pharisees were not so close to God’s truth, Jesus would have left them alone.
  • Orthopraxy recognizes sin and calls it what it is, but it also recognizes the pain of the sinner, the failed efforts at obedience, and the power of temptation. Orthodoxy speaks the name of a holy God whose law is perfect. But Christian orthopraxy also speaks the name of the God, Jesus, a God of redemption and mercy.
  • God and people can put up with almost anything except self-righteousness. Well, God does put up with it, but it is because of Jesus. Still, I suspect, self-righteousness is irritating to him, and it is certainly irritating to everybody else.
  • God is never shocked when people are not righteous. God never says, “I had such high hopes for you.” God does not have perspiration on his forehead over people’s failing struggle to get better. He knows and has always known all of that. Instead, God sent his Son to die for all of that, so believers could be justified in his presence. 
  • Self-righteousness is maybe the only sin that, by its very nature, denies the reality of its own existence. Self-righteousness often wears the mask of piety, compassion, concern, and love. It is the emperor-has-no-clothes sin that requires that others point it out (which, by the way, is hard to do without being self-righteous). Self-righteous people hardly ever know they are self-righteous, and good people rarely ever know they are good.
  • On occasion God allows believers to see their growth so they will not be discouraged, but he knows that it will go to their head if they take that growth too seriously. On the other hand, because he loves them, he allows believers to see the glass house in which they live, makes knowledge of their sin a gift, and regularly puts them in embarrassingly uncomfortable places where they can see who they really are—sinners saved by faith alone, Christ alone, and grace alone.
  • The least hypocritical Christian is probably the worst person around who is not overly concerned that people know it. That is a demonstration of truth, not a violation of it. The pretending is the problem.
  • “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” ~ Martin Luther
  • Someone has suggested that a good practice for Christians is to read the passages in Scripture that they did not underline. Believers have a tendency to underline only what feeds their own proclivities, affirms their righteousness, and confirms their theological particulars. Jesus referenced this problem in John 5 when he said that the religious folks spent a lot of time searching the Scriptures for eternal life but had missed him. Selectively communicating truth can be dangerous.
  • I have a friend who says that you often hear fat preachers yelling at gay people, but rarely hear gay people yelling at fat preachers. That has some truth to it, because you and I both know that in some circles sexual sin is condemned while the sin of gluttony gets a pass. However, that is not to assume that the gay community does not do their selective yelling, too. People have their most favorite sins and their least favorite sins, and we are all willing to condemn others on the basis of that understanding.
  • Christians have to speak truth about what is and what is not sin. However, people will stop listening (and rightly so) when they see how selective their list is. Racists who do not smoke pot, misogynists who do not gossip, and liars who do not cheat, must speak quietly about pot, gossip, and cheating.
  • Having the mind of Christ is an attitude of identification with Christ and with those who are outsiders, in the same way Christ identified with his Father and with outsiders.
  • Believers are sent to sympathize with others’ weaknesses because we have been tempted just as they are and have yielded to the temptations in the same way others have. Jesus identified with weaknesses from his strength. A Christian’s identification is from weakness with weakness.
  • If Christians want to speak and live truth to those who do not want to see it and hear it, the first place of identification is with their sin and weakness. That sounds like a violation of everything the Christian faith teaches, but it is not. It is at the heart of the only witness believers have.
  • The Scripture says, “Let love be genuine” (Romans 12:9). What this means is that there is a kind of love that is not genuine. It is so very important that love be the real thing, or the attitude will become just another cliché that nobody understands and therefore nobody experiences.
  • Telling unloving people that they should love is the equivalent of telling people who are drowning that if they would just swim, they would be fine. If they could swim, they would not be drowning. Love is like that. There are a lot of sermons on love (I have preached them on occasion) that suggest that if people are not loving, they should stop being unloving and just love. I wish sermons like that were powerful, but they are not. No one can talk anyone into loving or tell them to manufacture it. Love just happens.
  • Christians have been trying way too hard to love, and the harder they try, the less they love. The more people chase love, the more it recedes. Try to define, manufacture, control, earn, or use love, and love will not be found. But if people give up trying to look for love in all the wrong places, love finds them. And that love will become the key to their efforts to speak and live the truth we’ve been given. The reason God did not send a book to express his love, but instead sent his Son, was because of the nature of love. Love is not a concept, an action, or a doctrine. Love is an experience, both when it is received and when it is given.
  • Let Jesus love you. I am not even sure what that means but it feels like forgiveness, acceptance, and delight. Go back and read 1 Corinthians 13. Instead of reading it as a condemnation of the love you do not have or a definition of what you want, change the words “love is” to “Jesus’s love for me is.” It does not matter that you are not worthy (and I’m talking to Christians in general here, and to myself in particular), that you have sinned, or that you have a lot of doubts. It does not matter where you have been, what you have done, what you have been smoking or drinking, the shameful secrets you cannot share with anyone, the people you have hurt, the anger you feel, the unfairness you have experienced, the piled-up failures you have, or what people who do not know you think about you. In fact, the most important part of the Christian faith is not church or doing religious things or witnessing or being good. It is simply hanging out with Jesus and experiencing his unconditional and relentless love for you.
  • Love is never manifested by ignoring truth.
  • If you have an agenda for someone else, stop it. There are few things more irritating and more of a hindrance to real communication than trying to be someone’s mother.
  • Christians mother each other with subtle hints and outright criticisms, when they simply have not earned the right to be heard.
  • The condemnation, correction, and admonishments are not helpful. The message should be, “Jesus loves you, and I’m trying. I don’t care what your sexual proclivity is, whom you voted for, who you hate and who you love, or where you hang out, and Jesus doesn’t either. Run to him and you might be surprised.” If unbelievers heard that message (as antinomian as it sounds), the gospel would once again be attractive to the world.
  • What would happen if Christians were less critical and more affirming? Would you be willing to rein in your political and even moral views if you knew that people would come to Christ because you did?
  • God’s sovereignty relieves me of a great responsibility—the responsibility of assuming the role of God. No matter what I do, say, or think, no matter if I succeed or fail, no matter if I do it right or wrong, God is still in charge, things are under his control, and in the end, “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10).
  • Another truth that flows from God’s sovereignty is that Christians do not have anything to protect or lose. When Paul said in Romans that we should consider/reckon ourselves dead (Romans 6:11), it sounds like bad news. Actually, it is good news and points to what should and should not be important to dead people: not much.
  • I get reminded often that I do not have to protect or defend the church, my Christian faith, or my commitments. I really do not, and you do not have to either.
  • The church has been around a long time and has buried most of its critics. It still does. Not only that, there is hardly anything negative that one can say about the church that is not at least partially true, and there is hardly anything positive that one can say about the church that is not at least partially true. Christians are a bad bunch (the Bible is clear on that), and when someone points that out, a proper response should be “duh!”
  • The problem with secular culture is not so much the bad things that are promulgated, but that Christians have either hidden or fled to more comfortable places. That is true of almost all of pop culture. Christians have run and then thrown rocks back at those places.
  • We believers really do not have to be as irritating as we often are. We do not have to defend secondary truth. We are often wrong in our political, theological, and social views. We should be sensitive to the culture in which we have been placed. And we should model the important truths of forgiveness and love everywhere. In other words, there are biblical attitudes and beliefs that should keep us from being insufferable—sometimes.
  • We Christians have been loved without reservation or exception, and now we have found that we can love without reservation or exception. Truth and love are a pretty scary combination for Christians who want to be safe and never to offend.
  • God calls believers to love people, love God, and speak truth. That sounds so simple and easy, but it is not. Just the opposite—it is really hard.
  • Luther said that Christians need to preach the gospel to each other, lest they become discouraged. He was right. In fact, Christians need to be reminded more than they need to be taught.
  • If you continue to remind yourself about who you are—and allow God’s Spirit and your Christian family to remind you—much of this book will be irrelevant. You are the son or daughter of the King. You are loved, accepted, and forgiven, without reservation or exception. Your Father, the King, will never let you go, never leave you alone in the dark, and never ask you to go anywhere or do anything where he will not stand with you. Actually, he always thinks that a party without you is not even a party.
  • As is often said, if all you have is a hammer in your toolbox, everything starts looking like a nail. Once we believers demonize “them” and fail to remember their sleepless nights, the guilt that haunts them, and the pain they experience, the hammer becomes our weapon of choice.
  • Remember that they need what you needed. The only difference between you and them is Jesus. We had very little to do with that. We still do not.
  • You will find that there are divine appointments happening all the time. All you have to do is to speak truth, and do it in a kind and loving way.
  • It is helpful to remember that when you speak truth, you do not stand alone either. All kinds of supernatural forces stand with you. No matter how poorly you speak that truth, no matter how horribly you live it, and no matter how little you know it, when you stand, angels stand with you, Jesus prays for you, and God directs it all.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Book Review: Labor with Hope

Labor With Hope. Gospel Meditations on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. Gloria Furman and Jesse Scheumann. 2019. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Even the midwives were charmed.

Labor with Hope is a devotional book; it offers readers twenty-five devotions. It isn't your typical devotional book. First, it offers much more than just a simple page or two with a Scripture nugget as a jumping off point. (The chapters are longer than that.) Second, it is geared specifically to women who are new mothers or soon-to-be new mothers. Third, the focus isn't me-me-me or you-you-you. The focus remains clearly and substantially on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

The goal of Labor with Hope is clearly stated in the introduction,
"In Labor with Hope we will see how Jesus has everything to do with everything, including our spiritual nourishment in pregnancy and childbirth. We will walk together and examine the treasures we find in God's Word concerning many related topics--pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, birth pain, new physical life--and how these common experiences point us to eternal realities."

She concludes,
"Worship was my goal in writing this devotional book, and it remains my hope and prayer for readers."
I love how saturated Labor with Hope is with the Bible itself. It is packed with Scripture itself and also informed by Scripture. The writers truly point readers to the Word and illustrate the fact that, "the Bible is a buffet with plenty of soul food for those who are eating for two."

Though to state the obvious, the good news of the gospel as unpacked in Labor With Hope does not just apply to moms-to-be. Far from it, the good news is for every one regardless of age, gender, or fertility. Whether believers are pregnant, planning to adopt, or have recently welcomed a new member to the family...or not...daily refreshment in the gospel is a necessity.


  • Childbirth--new physical life--is evidence of God's ongoing mercy to sinful humanity. Everyone who has ever been born has tasted this mercy. 
  • If what C.S. Lewis says is right--that pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world--then women experiencing birth pain might be the most spiritually attentive people in the world. 
  • We all need hope and help for our labors in parenting. We need to know there is a resolution to our suffering. We all need to see how our pain as mothers points us to a man who hung on a cross for our sin and three days later walked out of the grave for our justification.
  • It is a hard truth to accept, but a solid one to stand on: we cannot deliver ourselves. May God's rich kindness to us lead us to repentance. 
  • If we do not have Jesus then we cannot expect rescue from God but only his righteous judgment for our sin. 
  • Oh, how we need eyes to see that God is the center of the universe. As dizzying as the pain we experience in raising children can be, we need to have the wherewithal to remember how it points us to God himself. Our fertility complications are not about us. Our pregnancy pains are not about us. Our labor in building our family is not about us. In eternity past the triune God ordained that the crucifixion of the Son of God would be the means of our salvation. 
  • Pretending we are able to deliver ourselves from our sin cannot confirm our dignity as women or mothers.
  • No doubt you're noticing a pattern: every aspect of motherhood serves to fuel our worship of Jesus. We take our eyes off ourselves and look through the shadows to the substance, who is Christ. Birth is not about us, but about God. 
  • Fake hope is like using toothpaste to spackle a hole in the wall. It's a poor filler for that cavity, and all you get in the end is a colony of ants with minty breath.
  • Let's be obsessed with what we're going to be obsessed with thirty zillion years from now: the glory of Jesus. 
  • We should ask God for help: "Help me, Father. My feelings don't match your Word. I want to love your Word and follow you more than I want to follow my feelings. Please change my feelings." 
  • Our childbirth and fertility is not about us, but about God. He is not like us or made in our image, but we are like him, made in his image.
  • It is remarkable how Scripture uses this scenario--when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to bring them forth--to describe our helplessness to save ourselves and God's ability to deliver us. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 20, 2019

Book Review: The Pink Bonnet

The Pink Bonnet (True Colors #2) Liz Tolsma. 2019. Barbour. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Momma, Momma, watch me."

Premise/plot: Love true crime stories? Love historical fiction? Enjoy Christian fiction? The Pink Bonnet is the second book in the True Colors series published by Barbour Books. Each book in the series focuses on an American crime. The Pink Bonnet focuses on the case of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society.

Cecile Dowd is a widow struggling to raise her three year old daughter, Millie. But even on the hardest days, Cecile would never, ever, ever consent to give up her daughter for adoption. Why would she? Though their home may not be fancy and their food abundant--it is the Depression after all--she does provide a good home for her daughter. And she loves Millie with all her heart.

When a neighbor offers to babysit Millie so that Cecile can go on a job interview, Cecile says YES, thank you. When she returns, her daughter is gone. Her neighbor signed the consent forms for Millie to be put up for adoption. Is this a matter of misunderstanding? Can Cecile go to the Tennessee Children's Home and ask for her daughter back? Can she convince the authorities that her daughter was kidnapped, that she never consented to give her daughter away? If it was this would be a short story. But though she doesn't convince anyone at the Home of the mistake, she does convince the man who took her child into custody--Percy Vance. Together they set out to find Millie and set things right. They do this at great risks to their lives.

My thoughts: Suspenseful and action-packed, that's how I'd describe Liz Tolsma's The Pink Bonnet. Only two or three characters of this novel were real, almost all of them were fictional. This is important to keep in mind, in my opinion.

I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, it is so intense (perhaps to the point of being emotionally draining) that it is almost by necessity compelling. It kept me turning pages. On the other hand, the melodrama is high with this one. Is there such a thing as too much? Perhaps. Is the characterization of the villains realistic or pushed to extremes? I can't answer this. I don't know the specifics well enough. Is the romance natural or forced? I personally felt that it was a little much to make this historical drama into historical romance.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Week in Review: May 12-18

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? YES. RSV.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 119? Which translations have I read this week?
RSV. NASB. NIV 1984. ESV. REB. Living. Jerusalem Bible.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. Still in Psalms and 1 Chronicles

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?
ESV Prayer Bible: Numbers 22-36, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
Mark 1-4 in the Rainbow Study Bible, CSB

Other Reading

Job (Holman Old Testament Commentary #10) Steven J. Lawson. 2005. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Refuge. Ann H. Gabhart. 2019. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Billy Sunday, Baseball Preacher. Fern Neal Stocker. 1985. Moody. 143 pages. [Source: Bought]

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Review: The Refuge

The Refuge. Ann H. Gabhart. 2019. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: You can't cheat death. We thought we could. At least we hoped we could. That was why I was in a blue Shaker dress, staring across a narrow table at Eldress Maria in her like garb as she told me about Walter.

Premise/plot: Walter and Darcie Goodwin joined the Shaker community hoping to escape a cholera outbreak. It was meant to be temporary. Neither Walter nor Darcie wanted to give up traditional marriage in favor of the Shaker lifestyle of celibacy. (As is evident by the fact that Darcie is with child when the novel opens.) But Walter is killed in an accident leaving Darcie little choice but to remain--again temporarily--with the Shakers. Darcie fears that she will be "trapped" there forever and ultimately lose her child. (Parents are not allowed to raise their own children. This is done communally.) Will she find a way out?

Flynn Keller is still mourning the loss of his wife. He struggles at times to take care of his young daughter, Leatrice. He has NO intentions of leaving his daughter with the Shakers permanently. Far from it. But he is seriously considering leaving her there for a few months so that she can attend their school. That would give him time to make some much needed repairs on his new home and make it fit for them both to live.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. The plot is much more complex than I shared in the above summary. (I didn't want to give too many details away after all.) I really liked getting to know the hero and heroine of this one. Their encounters with one another were necessarily brief and infrequent. In some ways, there isn't much "romance" to this one. It is a very good thing that I love historical fiction just as much as historical romance.

What I liked best about this one were the relationships between the women. Sister Darcie lives with the Shaker women for months--perhaps even a year or a little more. During this time she becomes close with several other women. Some of them have chosen the Shaker lifestyle wholeheartedly. Others are there because of limited options for women. I came to care for quite a few of these women and children.

A note on the cover...I do find it intriguing that the first sentence says the Shakers all dress in BLUE and there is a woman with a RED dress on the cover. But I didn't even notice this discrepancy until I'd finished the book and began writing my review.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book Review: Job, Holman Old Testament Commentary #10

Job (Holman Old Testament Commentary #10) Steven J. Lawson. 2005. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The story of Job is one of the best known in the entire Bible yet, strangely enough, one of the least understood.

If you've ever read Job and found it puzzling, then Steven Lawson's commentary was written with you (yes, you) in mind.

Lawson admits Job can often be confusing in the introduction when he quotes Churchill and applies it to Job. "Job is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." But is it worth reading? Lawson argues YES, YES IT IS.

There are many reasons why it's important for believers to read and study Job.
Addressed in this puzzling book are such confounding issues as: Why do the righteous suffer? Where is God when tragedy strikes? If God is all-loving, how can he allow human suffering? Does he not care? Is God worthy of worship in tough times? Or must he buy worshippers with blessings?...As you study the trials of Job, you will gain new insight into life's oldest enigmas—those dealing with sovereignty, Satan, and suffering.
Ultimately, he concludes that, "More than being a book about Job, it is, actually, a book about God. This is the primary lesson learned by Job as taught in this book. God is God. He will do as he pleases, when he pleases, with whom he pleases, without consulting his creatures, and he will do so for his own glory and the ultimate good of his people."

The commentary takes readers through the book chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Each chapter focuses on one chapter of Job. Each chapter has an introduction, the commentary, a conclusion or summary, application points, prayer, word studies, and a teaching outline. Everything is organized and clear.

I found the book to be insightful, relevant, and practical. For example, the application points for Job 2 are about handling temptation.
Every temptation is an opportunity to demonstrate our faith in God. How do we react to temptation? 1. Expect it. Each Christian should expect that Satan will launch his offensives against us. 2. Detect it. Every believer must sharpen his powers of discernment in spiritual warfare. 3. Reject it. Once the advance of the devil is detected, it must be firmly rejected.
From Job 3, the application points are for handling discouragement:
How do we deal with this discouragement? 1. Remember that even the strongest believer can become discouraged. 2. Believers can suffer deeply on many levels at one time. 3. Discouragement can cause God's people to lose perspective.
From Job 7, the focus is on God's glory and our suffering:
How can we go through tough experiences without losing focus on the “big picture” of God's glory?
1. Read the Bible. The Scripture is an anchor for the soul, a harbor and refuge for the storm-tossed life. There is no peace like the mind that is fixed on God through his Word. The soul is made strong when it is resting in God's truth. 2. Read Christian biographies. Read the biographies of great Christians who sacrificed their all for God. 3. Read the Puritans. The English Puritans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had a strong faith and a way of communicating essential spiritual truths in a way that transcends time.
From Job 9, the application is on how to find comfort in times of suffering:
When hurting deeply, what are some practical steps believers can take to find comfort for their aching hearts? 1. Memorize and meditate on Scripture. The Word of God is always a soothing balm to a sorrowful heart. Scripture in the heart is the greatest healer of a troubled life. 2. Stay plugged in to Christian fellowship. Believers need the strength that other Christians can provide. 3. Have a prayer partner. 4. Minister to someone else. Take your focus off yourself and place it on others. 5. Listen to good Christian music. The psalmist says that God inhabits the praises of his people. 6. Maintain physical exercise. Walk, jog, ride a bike, plant a garden, or take up a new hobby.
From Job 23, the focus is on finding God.
Where can we find God? Several spiritual truths need to be kept in mind. 1. God is found in his Word. God primarily makes himself known in the pages of Scripture. The written Word of God is the chief place in which he has chosen to reveal himself to man. 2. God is represented by his Son. There is only one way to come before God, who is revealed in his Word, and that is through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. God is revealed by his Spirit. All spiritual truth about God must be revealed by his Spirit. 


  • At the core of a healthy, vital relationship with God is a trembling heart that stands in awe of his majesty.
  • When answers are not forthcoming and trials overwhelm us, it is in these difficult times that the greatest worship is offered to God. Believers must respond as Job did in these dark hours by worshipping God.
  • If you are to remain strong in your faith, you must be vigilant in your spiritual life and remain firmly anchored to God.
  • “God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me—still He knows what He is about.” ~ John Henry Newman
  • Believers must purpose to look to God, or they will be overwhelmed by feelings of despair.
  • Trusting God does not mean God's people do not experience pain. But it does mean they believe that God is at work through their adversity for their ultimate good. 
  • God is both a God of judgment and a God of love. But one without the other is not God.
  • C. S. Lewis quipped, “If Satan's arsenal of weapons were restricted to a single one, it would be discouragement.”
  • No matter how great our trial or suffering may be, God remains greater still.
  • Never will God deviate from his eternal purpose.
  • It is when discouragement threatens to overwhelm us that God's grace is multiplied in lives that are yielded to him.
  • We live for the glory of God; we suffer for the glory of God; we endure for the glory of God.
  • As believers, one way we honor God is by the way we go through our trials.
  • Half of the truth is no truth, and no truth is a lie. Thus Job had been listening to the devil's voice in the voice of Bildad.
  • Wrong thoughts about God inevitably lead to wrong thoughts about ourselves.
  • God will not take us home until we have fulfilled our purpose. While we have life and opportunity, we need to do what God has called us to do. 
  • If we are to truly know him, we must enter into the fellowship of his suffering. Human pain identifies us with Christ, who knew adversity in this world. He lived with the cross before him and suffered under the most grueling death imaginable.
  • Robert Murray McCheyne once stated, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”
  • As Martin Luther once said, “I can only bring God's Word to the ear but can go no further. The Holy Spirit must take the Word from the ear to the heart.”
  • God's sovereignty over all heaven and earth should evoke awe in the hearts of all people.
  • True worship of God is fueled by a deepened knowledge of God. Head knowledge that does not lead to heart worship is worthless and leads only to pride. But when our knowledge of God is growing in depth and fervor, our worship will also grow in depth and fervor. Is your worship fueled by your knowledge of God?
  • “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.” D. L. Moody

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 13, 2019

Book Review: Billy Sunday, Baseball Preacher

Billy Sunday, Baseball Preacher. Fern Neal Stocker. 1985. Moody. 143 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: "Ma, I want to go swimming!" said Willie one hot June day in 1873.

Premise/plot: This is a children's biography of Billy Sunday a baseball player turned evangelist. It reads almost as a novel--for better or worse. On the one hand, it's the size of a paperback novel, the chapters read quickly, and include plenty of dialogue. On the other hand, it does not include photographs, source notes, or a bibliography.

My thoughts: I found this one to be a quick and interesting read. Billy Sunday's life was not easy. His mother struggled to raise him and his brother after her husband's death. When she remarried her new husband did NOT want the children from her first marriage around. The boys were sent to their grandparents. When their grandmother died, it was decided that the boys must go to an orphanage. Their new mother had a baby and her new husband had abandoned her. At one point, the grandfather sent for one boy but not the other. Both came. But Billy knew he wasn't wanted. It became evident that he'd need to be independent and hardworking if he wanted anything out of life. He excelled at baseball...and that was his salvation, in a way. People were more willing to have him around and give him jobs after they saw him play. The book also focuses on his testimony: how he came to Christ and how he eventually decided to dedicate his life to the Lord as an evangelist.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Week in Review: May 5-11

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. Wycliffe New Testament.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 119? Which translations have I read this week? Yes. ESV. ASV. NASB 1977. NASB 1977. NKJV. NIV 2011. CSB. HCSB. KJV.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. We're still in Psalms and 2 Samuel/1 Chronicles. Still in the HCSB.

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?
ESV Prayer Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers 1-21

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
NASB 1977: Mark, 1 Peter, 2 Peter

Other Reading

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Review: On Earth As It Is In Heaven

On Earth As It Is In Heaven: How the Lord's Prayer Teaches Us To Pray Effectively. Warren Wiersbe. 2010. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: We should always begin with the basics, the fundamentals.

This is both a book about a specific prayer--The Lord's Prayer--and  prayer in general. Wiersbe seeks to encourage believers to actually pray and pray effectively. The Lord's Prayer is his teaching tool. He breaks the Lord's Prayer down phrase by phrase. As he's teaching believers, he's challenging them to think, to reflect, to meditate. He asks some tough questions that are worth our time to try to answer.

I would definitely recommend this one. I enjoyed his narrative style. He knows how to tell a good story, yet he never strays far from Scripture. (There was one sentence that had me scratching my head and questioning his theology--but only one. That's not bad. Here is that sentence: "In short, all of us as God's children need to allow the Holy Spirit to use this prayer in our lives so that we might please the Father, become more like the Son, and be used of the Holy Spirit to make a difference in this world.")


  • Martin Luther said that "the ancients ably defined prayer an Ascensus mentis ad Deum, a climbing up of the heart unto God."'
  • Prayer is a miracle, and the sooner you realize this fact, the sooner prayer ceases to be a dull routine or a religious burden.
  • Prayer isn't an option; it's an obligation and an opportunity for us to glorify God's name and receive his blessing.
  • Are the priorities of our churches and of our individual lives the same as those of our great God? If not, what should we do about it?
  • Not only does prayer connect us with a great God, but the very privilege of prayer is ours at a great price. Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and to pray (Heb. 10:19-25). When he finished his redemptive work on earth, Jesus arose from the dead, ascended to the Father in heaven, and began his work of intercession on our behalf. To neglect prayer is to cheapen everything Jesus accomplished for us at Calvary and is doing for us now in glory.
  • God answers prayer, not just to meet the needs of his burdened children but to bring glory to his name through the answers. That's one reason why God permits difficulties in our lives, so that his ministry to us will reveal his power and glory to those who are watching.
  • The prayer asks the Father to forgive the sins of the past, to provide what we need for the present day (both physical and spiritual), and to guide us in the future as we anticipate the coming of Christ's kingdom.
  • The Lord's Prayer is not only a family prayer, it's a balanced prayer. In it you find requests that relate to the past ("forgive us our debts"), the present ("Give us today our daily bread"), and the future ("your kingdom come").
  • We glorify our Father in heaven by being what Jesus told us to be: salt in a decaying world and light in a dark world (Matt. 5:13-16).
  • We are pilgrims and strangers on earth because we are citizens of heaven where our Savior is enthroned, and one day he will come to take us home (Phil. 3:20-21).
  • The people of this world look at heaven from earth's point of view, but God's people look at this world from heaven's point of view.
  • What does it mean to walk by faith? It means to obey God's Word in spite of the feelings within us, the circumstances around us, and the consequences before us.
  • The phrase "our Father" speaks of God's nearness to us, while the phrase "in heaven" speaks of his distance and difference from us, and both truths are important in the Christian life and must be kept in balance.
  • We all need margins; otherwise, even the people we love may rob us of the room we need for thinking, praying, and growing. But solitude is only one side of the coin. We also need connections, relationships with people who can challenge us, teach us, and encourage us, even if occasionally they irritate us. We have no right to "do our own thing" at the expense of society.
  • The words "Our Father" remind us not to pray selfishly for anything that would hurt or harm another believer or another church.
  • Humble prayers build bridges, but selfish prayers tear them down and build barbed wire fences.
  • The glorifying of God's name, the coming of God's kingdom, and the accomplishing of God's will on earth are the Lord's "prayer priorities" that we must prioritize as well.
  • While we live in this world, one of our responsibilities is to magnify the name of the Lord. If we truly reverence Jesus in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15), we will ask God to use us to magnify him before an unbelieving world.
  • To most people, Jesus seems very far away, so we should be like telescopes that bring him closer so people can see him in us.
  • Death did not take him; he willed his own death and in that death defeated death forever.
  • But how can the church advertise the virtues of Christ if the church is imitating the world?
  • We have been called to shine as lights, not to reflect as mirrors. We don't belong to this world system (John 17:14-19) but to a heavenly counterculture that is hated by the same world system that hated Jesus and crucified him.
  • If we pray "your kingdom come" while at the same time compromising with the world, we are hypocrites and our prayers will not be answered. Our lives must be different from the lives of the lost people and the careless Christians around us.
  • Praying "your kingdom come" involves more than simply uttering three words. It demands the devotion and dedication of our entire being to Jesus as we eagerly anticipate seeing him!
  • He bridged the gulf between heaven and earth by sending three gifts to our rebellious planet: his inspired Word, his beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • Our Lord gave three invitations: come, take, and learn. If they came to him, he would give them rest in their hearts because their sins would be forgiven. If they took his yoke, he would walk with them and help them carry their burdens. And if they learned from him, they would find a deeper rest in his grace and love. The unconverted person wears a heavy yoke of sin that grows heavier each day. The outwardly religious person wears a yoke of rules and rituals that bring no relief. But the children of God are united to Christ and wear a yoke that is easy ("fitted"). They carry a burden that is light, because "his commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
  • I'm not personally responsible that the whole earth obey the will of God, but I am responsible to pray this prayer and see to it that I obey his will joyfully from my heart (Eph. 6:6).
  • We see God's grace in what God gives us as well as in the way God gives it, and we must use these gifts for the good of others and the glory of God.
  • When God forgives us, he pulls the nails out of the board but he does not remove the holes.
  • We don't fight for victory but from victory, the victory Christ won for us on the cross.
  • Have you ever considered the Lord's Prayer from Satan's point of view? To him the words "Our Father in heaven" are a declaration of war, not a declaration of faith.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, May 6, 2019

Bible Review: My Creative Bible

My Creative Bible KJV (Pink Hardcover) Illustrated by Brad Miedema and Allison Sowers. 1611/2016. Christian Art Publishers. 1410 pages. [Source: Review copy provided by KJV]

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

King James Version. The text of the King James Version is beautiful, lyrical, dignified. 

Chances are you have an opinion of the King James Version already. You may love, love, love it. Or you may find it super-intimidating and not-for-you. How do I feel about the King James Version? I absolutely love it. It is in my top three. (In no particular order my top three are KJV, NASB, and ESV.) I will say this--if you've never tried reading it as an adult, you should give it a try. You might find it more to your liking than you think. 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Once you've fallen in love with the King James Version, it is hard to go back to modern, contemporary translations: 
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name's sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff--they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live. 
Though this HCSB translation is far superior to say The Message. 

The concept is creative journaling. There are lined margins on most--if not all--pages. There are elements to color in as well. Chances are you have an opinion on Christian coloring books. This is not a coloring book--it's a Bible. But there are pages that encourage you to color in your Bible. I have mixed feelings on coloring books in general. Some pages are easier than others. Sometimes the details you're supposed to be coloring in are so super-tiny that it is absolutely impossible to do neatly. I like markers better than colored pencils. I'm not sure markers would work in the  My Creative Bible. Bible pages are so much thinner than coloring pages. (And even coloring in pages have some bleed through with markers.) I have no doubt that there are products that would probably work (well) for those interested in creative journaling.

Bleed-through. This is an issue for all Bibles, not just creative journaling Bibles. It is nearly impossible to find a Bible that doesn't have some bleed-through. Bible pages are never thick enough to suit--in my opinion. I've taken photographs of some of the pages so you can judge for yourself what this one is like to read.

Illustration that goes with Genesis; you can see bleed-through from the other side reading 'Old Testament'

First page of Genesis

Genesis 2 and 3; you can see bleed-through from the illustration showing the seven days of creation

Genesis 2

Opening pages of Matthew

Matthew 5, You can see some bleed-through of the Beatitudes  illustration

Matthew 6

The Lord's Prayer illustration

Matthew 7

Matthew 17, the pages with just lines for journaling read much easier! 

Opening pages of Colossians
Legacy. The publisher mentions this would be a good legacy to leave behind for your children and grandchildren. This is food for thought. I would have loved to read a Bible with notes (writing, underlining, etc.) from a grandparent. It would be a wonderfully bittersweet keepsake. Sweet in the connection, and joyous in the knowledge that one day you will see them again. Bitter in the achy way that you want to talk to them here and now.

Single column. I personally love that this Bible is single column instead of double-column. The color of the paper is CREAM. I really loved that.

Verse-by-verse. This one is not in paragraphs but is arranged verse by verse.

It is not--I repeat NOT--broken down into syllables. I really do not like it when editions of the King James Version does this.

Black-letter. The Words of Christ appear in BLACK and not red. Every reader has their preference. This I know. But I love, love, love, love, love black letter Bibles. It's really hard for me to enjoy red letter Bibles because they are difficult for my eyes. I am always looking--and I do mean always--for King James Bibles that are black letter.

Font size. The font size is 8.65. In a perfect, perfect, perfect world the font size would have been 9 point. Just a teeny tiny smidge bigger would have made it a little easier on my eyes. That being said, I found it readable. It is certainly no smaller than your average/typical Bible in print in this day and age.

The cover. I found it tactilely pleasing. I also love the elastic band closure. I don't know that I'd want this on every single Bible I own--but it's a nice treat for a change.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible