Wednesday, August 26, 2020

65. Nothing Short of Wondrous

Nothing Short of Wondrous. (American Wonders Collection #2) Regina Scott. 2020. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: What was it about men and danger? Did they all want to die? Kate Tremaine leveled her rifle at the back of the stranger standing beside the rainbow-colored mud pots, a long, twisted branch in his hand. “Stop right there, mister. Drop the stick.” Broad shoulders stiffened in his navy cavalry coat. Normally she had the utmost respect for the military, especially after seeing how Captain Harris had worked to protect Yellowstone since arriving last month. But she’d caught more than one of the horse soldiers a mite too close to the boiling geysers and heated paint pots.

Premise/plot: Kate Tremaine is a widow raising a son in Yellowstone National Park. She's the keeper of the Geyser Gateway hotel. Her lease is up in the spring and she worries about the future...

Lt. Will Prescott has a trouble past but he is absolutely loving his new assignment at Yellowstone patrolling the park. He trades his handy skills for a personal tour guide of the region he'll be patrolling with his six men. It's a fair trade when all is said and done. And during this time, he becomes buddies with Danny, the widow's young son.

But both Kate and Will have reasons to be hesitant about acting on their mutual attraction for one another. Is he there for the long haul? Or is Yellowstone just a temporary assignment?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one!!! I thought it was a lovely historical romance. There were a few times I wanted to really yell at the book, because I guessed a plot point many, many chapters before the hero and heroine--but overall it was a good way to spend my time.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romances OR to those with a particular interest in Yellowstone. (I went in 89 a few weeks before the big fire.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

64. The Story Behind The Bible: The New Covenant

The Story Behind the Bible #3: The New Covenant. J. K. Alexander. 2017/2020. 254 pages. [Source: Review copy] [NOT Recommended under any circumstance ever.]

First sentence: This will be the final book in the Story Behind the Bible trilogy and it should be considerably different from the first two as we examine the manuscripts that re-emerged after nearly 450 years of prophetic silence.

I reviewed book one and book two in July. I took a bit of a breather before starting the third and final book in this atrocious trilogy.

Atrocious? Yes, atrocious. It's been a while--we've both had many, many sleeps--so I'll refresh your memory a bit.

Alexander's trilogy is not as innocent as you might expect based on the title. It is neither a) a story of how we got our Bible b) a story of how the Bible came to be written, canonized, etc. c) a summary of the big story of the Bible. Oh, it attempts a bit of summary here and there. But. Here's how I see it:

Either a) you've never read the Bible and his summarizing and speculating and (pulling stuff completely out of nowhere that makes no logical sense in any way) will confuse you more than not. It won't really serve you well if you want to know what the Bible is all about, what is going on, the big picture, how things fit into context, big themes, etc. If you've never read the Bible or sat under good, thorough teaching of the Word, you're likely to conclude that ALL Christians are absolutely illogical nuts without a speck of common sense. OR b) you've read the Bible for yourself; you've sat under good preaching; you know the truth because you know THE TRUTH. And so when you read Alexander's book you'll see that it is horrible, awful, no good, very bad.

Of course it's possible that for those that love crazy, wild, wacky, conspiracy theories, those that will believe just about anything if they're told that by so believing they will prove how clever they are that they are smarter than those that reject such illogical theories will eat this series up like candy.

If you had not read the first two books in the series, there's a chance that you might read a good chunk of this one without realizing the author's poor foundation of biblical truths. For better or worse. In other words, book three could be worse than it actually is. Not that it is good theology--not by a long shot--but it could be worse.

"But God wasn't on His throne at this time. He was being a mortal child in Bethlehem."

Is Alexander saying that God the Father was no longer on His throne, in heaven, or anywhere about because God the Father was now God the Son, Jesus Christ?! I mean God the Father was in heaven and Jesus the Son of God was being born to Mary. What's so confusing about that?

He has a whole essay-ish bit on the myth of Jesus' poverty. He asserts that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were quite wealthy and were never poor. Mary and Joseph were from wealthy families? Joseph of Arimathea was Mary's uncle? "Uncle" Joseph was the "First Swiss Bank of the Messiah" and the guardian of the family's wealth.

His speculation on John the Baptist was intriguing. He believes that his father, Zachariah, was murdered by someone within the priesthood in the inner court of the temple, and he was 'in hiding.' John rebuked the Pharisees because he knew one of them might very well by his father's murderer? I am not saying I am trusting Alexander's storytelling. But it did make me realize I'd never given any thought whatsoever to John the Baptist's private life and how he came to be who he was.

Alexander believes that the Lord Jesus ministered only one year and not three. The three year ministry of Christ is a myth propagated by the dogmatic old school.

"Satan's influence is still very much with us today. His ill will is carried out and spread abroad by many minions great and small, from the wickedly wise to the mean and clueless."

That I can believe. False teachers fit in there somewhere between wickedly wise and absolutely clueless.

The beatitudes are time-specific. I guess that would be a relief for those who take Alexander at his word.

"If mortal physicians could figure out how to accelerate the vibration of the electrons in a person's body, a very big IF, then their patient's bodies could heal themselves of any mortal ailment almost immediately. Just step into the acceleration chamber and your highly empowered body, now accelerating toward immortality, would purge and heal mortal afflictions effortlessly and instantly. Whether subatomic, just plain spiritual, or both, Jesus was able to heal with a touch or a command and He was able to share this incredible power with his closest disciples."

Alrighty then. Side-step. Side-step.

"The disciples' description of Jesus transfigured is virtually identical to how shaman masters describe the King of Paradise that often appears in the shaman nether world that the shamans refer to as paradise."

Alexander has whole theories on paradise and heaven and the after life in general. Believe none of them.

Alexander asserts that Jesus would never support communism or socialism. Good to know.

"All will be changed, and each person will be a young semi-immortal version of the mortal self. A man and his grandfather may become close friends in the millennium but they will not have the same grandfather/grandson relationship. They will be about the same age with similar memories, some shared, and will each have a new life, new goals, duties, and opportunities...."

He goes on for pages but essentially little worth considering.

He goes on a great deal--this is one of his key rambles in the three books--about how Cain was not Adam's son but the product of Eve and What-Would-Be-the-Serpent (a human gardener working for Adam who became possessed by Satan). And how Cain's descendants are the evil Kenites. Remember in Alexander's wacky theology, Adam and Eve weren't the only humans, just the only human priest and priestess. There were many lowly humans that served them.

He speculates on the first age of the earth and how "the angelic host of this world apparently spent the first thousand or more years of life as earth immortals learning physics and earth knowledge before being transformed into angelic beings suitable for the higher realm of Heaven. There was no devil, and all or most eventually fulfilled the time as earth immortals and were transformed for entry into Heaven. The Bible indicates that it was after most were transformed and adapted for the higher realm that iniquity was found in Lucifer and he began the seduction, deception, and rebellion that ultimately destroyed the first age..."

Again he rambles on and on...but he's not fooling anyone....I hope.

"Cain and Abel were born maternal twins but not paternal twins..."

"Much of the dark history of mankind is not a result of human nature but rather the influence of a congenital wickedness present in one of the primeval families of man."

If that helps you sleep better at, still too unbiblical. It's convenient that you can blame all the "evil" behavior of the world...that person must descend from Cain...but nope, nope, nope.

"A few things we do know about the disposition of souls. God can naturally create original souls, but also God and/or His divine science can relocate an existing individual into a new earth immortal or mortal vessel for a whole new journey through the mortal, physical world. This is, by and large, what is taking place as children are born each day. Scripture gives us clear evidence of this, confirming that God knew most of us before not just this age but several prior ages of this world ever dawned...."

See what I said about his ideas NOT being harmless?

"We are attempting to raise the bar a bit form outdated, less informed visions and ideas from the past."

Is that what all heretics say in general?

He has a long essay-ish bit about how Jesus--after the age of twelve--grew up in Britain. I'm just going to leave that there. But apparently that is why his hometown didn't remember him...again his theory includes good old Joseph of Arimathea.

When Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel to the Lost Tribes of Israel he was telling them to go to the British Isles.

Paul's letters were just letters not meant to be taken all that seriously by us non-recipients. I guess like the Beatitudes they are time specific?

In his "summary" of Romans, he urges readers not to try to understand Paul's writings on GRACE or the law and the gospel...just go to his section on grace in book two of the trilogy. He writes clearer than Paul. I'm not lying. He really does boast this.

Before Jesus was born to a virgin and named Jesus, he lived as the priest Melchizedek.

Paul also spent a good bit of time in Britain. There is a lost chapter in Acts. It was hidden by God's design because the world wasn't ready to know yet that the British and Scandinavian peoples are the lost tribes of Israel. But now the world is ready.

He apparently hates the book of James! "I will not fault James for misunderstanding Jesus and having problems with doctrine. Many do. I will merely advise readers that, in this writer's opinion, his letter is very thin and it seems for every two paragraphs that are quite well taken, there is one that is off the mark or misleading. I will leave it to the individual to decide which is which if they choose." I guess after his boasting that he was better at "clearly" teaching than Paul that this boast isn't a shock?

He has lots of opinions on Revelation--many do. But I'm tired of revisiting all my notes. This review is long enough, right?

But. Before I go, I've got good news. Revelation is place-specific (according to Alexander). Americans need never fear that they will have to endure any of the contents of Revelation for they will never be influenced by the Antichrist or taken in by the Beast and his prophet. America is the devil's blind spot. The whole book doesn't apply to us because we're super special--probably because we descend from the British folk. I don't even have words at this point.

One other wacky point before I really go. Apparently Jesus will spend eternity getting rebirthed just for the fun of it!!! After all, he is going to want to spend some time in a mortal body enjoying himself without having to suffer.

He leaves us with a hopeful benediction in which he addresses God as the Great and Ancient Falcon.

I hope I've persuaded you by now that this book is truly atrocious.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, August 17, 2020

63. The Love Note

The Love Note. Joanna Davidson Politano. 2020. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It always came to this, didn’t it? Amid the glittering swirl of music and gowns, I looked up into the handsome face of Lord Cumberland and forced a smile as if nothing at all were about to happen.

Premise/plot: Willa Duvall is a determined, strong-willed heroine who has one thing and one thing only on her mind: becoming a doctor. The problem? The year is 1859 and she hasn't found a medical school to accept her into any program. So she nurses and continues to pursue knowledge and provide the best possible care for patients. Another problem? (You didn't think they'd only be one problem to solve, did you???) Her father is determined that enough is enough is enough. It's time for his daughter to MARRY. And since she's turned down the last five--possibly four or six (since math isn't my subject) proposals, it's his turn to pick. The solution? Well, a trial of sorts. Willa gets her father to agree that she can keep on nursing--for a bit--and if she has one successful patient, she'll get to keep pursuing her dream of medicine. (But who determines what makes a case successful??? The patient living? The patient getting better? The family agreeing that you've helped a patient??? Reaching a point where your services are no longer necessary????) She chooses a case that will take her to Crestwicke. Her patient is Golda Gresham. She lives with her son, Gabe, and her stepchildren, Burke and his wife, Clara, and her spinster daughter, Celeste. Why did she choose Crestwicke, well, THE LOVE NOTE, of course. She discovers a letter from a secret admirer hidden within a secret compartment in her writing desk that mentions Crestwicke, I believe. Plus the writing desk originally came from there. The letter doesn't say WHO it is for or who it is FROM, but she's determined to find out because it is a mighty powerful letter.

My thoughts: I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. That being said, I wish it didn't include a jarring error: having the characters be familiar with Alice in Wonderland and discussing it like it was a beloved classic or even a new classic. NEWS FLASH: Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and the book opens in 1859 and the epilogue brings us to three years later. Still way too many years before its actual publication. What makes it even more cringe-worthy is the fact that they are specifically talking about the second book which was published in 1871.

“Oh, it is. Wonderfully so. Have you read Alice’s Adventures in the Looking Glass? It’s something like that, I believe. A person simply falls down this hole, completely against his will, and finds himself in this foreign yet completely enchanting world.” “Crestwicke doesn’t have those sorts of holes,” Celeste mused. “The people here all remain on solid ground, I’m afraid.”

Someone had fallen in love the way Alice fell into that rabbit hole. I would find them, and the letter would be delivered—it was merely a matter of time.

Now that negativity is behind, I will just say that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the storytelling, the writing, the relationships. Not just the potential romantic ones--but ALL of the relationships. The character development is strong in this one.

Highly recommend.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, August 14, 2020

62. Acts 15-28

Acts 15-28. (Thru the Bible #41) J. Vernon McGee. 1975? 194 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Chapter 15 Theme: The council at Jerusalem Now that the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas has been completed and the churches which they established in the Galatian country are 100 percent gentile, the church faces its first great crisis.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently Mark). 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 


  • Friend, the Lord Jesus should occupy the very center of our lives. We should think of Him constantly. We should not see a sunset without thinking of the One who made it. He should be brought into our daily living, into all situations of life, our tensions and our anxieties.
  • There is only one question God asks the lost world: “What do you do with My Son who died for you?” God doesn’t give us some little Sunday school lesson by saying, “I want you to be a good boy. I want you to join a church. I want you to go through this and that ritual.” That kind of teaching is only for an insipid religion. It does not come from God. God is saying, “My Son died for you. What will you do with Him?” The answer to that question will determine your eternal destiny.
  • How can a man be saved? By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Could he believe for someone else? No. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and if thy household believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall be saved also.
  • Friend, you will not find a message given in the Book of Acts either by Peter or by Paul in which the Resurrection is not the heart of the message. Today we find so often that the Resurrection just doesn’t seem to be the heart of the message. What we talk about today is the cross—even in fundamental circles. But, my friend, we have a living Christ today. Someone has put it this way: “There is a Man in the glory but the church has lost sight of Him.”
  • Is it meaningful to you that Christ died and that He rose again? Are you related today to that living Christ? How has this been meshed and geared into your life? Today we have conservatism in the church and we have liberalism in the church and, very candidly, neither group seems to be getting through to Him. Why not? Well, because every Sunday should be an Easter—on the first day of the week He came back from the dead!
  • Our country is a country filled with hypocrisy. We pretend that we are a Christian nation. We pretend that our leaders are Christian, that all the politicians are Christians, that everyone is a Christian. Friend, we are one of the most pagan nations this world has ever known. Christianity today is mostly a pretense. We need to recognize that we need to get back to the Word of God and to the living Christ. How important that is!
  • One of the troubles today is that the church is not being persecuted. In fact, the church is just taken for granted. The average Christian is just a person to be taken for granted. It wasn’t that way in the first century.
  • God has made one humanity. This verse is not talking about brotherhood. The only brotherhood which Scripture knows is the brotherhood of those who are in Christ Jesus. Perhaps I should amend that by saying there is a brotherhood of sin. We
  • Friend, the moment you trust Christ you are regenerated by the Spirit of God, you are indwelt by the Spirit of God, you are sealed by the Spirit of God, and you are baptized into the body of believers by the Spirit of God. This happens the moment you believe and trust Christ.
  • It’s not how long you make it but how you make it long. I believe in making it long; my scriptural authority for it is that Paul did it. He spoke until midnight. You can’t help but smile at that.
  • I have always believed that the important issue is to get out the entire Word of God.
  • The Devil wants to get into a church where the Bible has been taught. He would like to wreck a radio ministry that is teaching the Word of God. The Devil is not our friend; he is our enemy. He wants to stop the teaching of God’s Word.
  • I find that a great many Christians are diet faddists. It always amazes me to find how many there are. They are constantly telling me their advice about what this or that diet will do for me. May I say that the only difference a diet will make is in your physical body. A diet will not commend you to God. Under grace you can go on a diet or not go on a diet. It may have something to do with your health and your physical condition. It has nothing to do with your relationship to God. Oh, if God’s people could only learn that!
  • Friend, today your sins are either on you or they are on Christ. If your sins are on Christ, if you have put your trust in Him, then He paid the penalty for your sins over nineteen hundred years ago. They do not lie ahead of you for judgment in the future. But if your sins today are still on you, then there is yet a judgment to come. People don’t like to hear about judgment to come.
  • In our day, friend, there are many witnesses, especially ministers, who are so afraid that they won’t appear intellectual, but will be considered fanatical, that they do not declare the great truths of the gospel. Friend, we ought to be willing to take the place of madmen—but not act like them. We should present the gospel soberly as Paul did.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

61. Acts 1-14

Acts 1-14. (Thru the Bible #40) J. Vernon McGee. 1975? 170 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Book of Acts, sometimes called the fifth gospel, is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently Mark). 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 


  • The problem of the unbeliever today is not with the facts but with his own unbelief. The facts are available. I wonder whether anyone doubts that the Battle of Waterloo was an historical event. Very frankly, I believe that Napoleon lived, and I believe that he fought the Battle of Waterloo. But I have very little evidence for it. Actually there is ten thousand times more evidence for the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ than there is for the Battle of Waterloo, and yet there are people today who say they do not believe it. Where is the problem? The problem is in the heart, the unbelieving heart.
  • If you are an unbeliever, the problem is with you. The problem is not in the Word of God. He showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs.
  • If men will not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then they must have the baptism of fire—judgment. The baptism of fire is for those who have rejected Jesus Christ.
  • But there is no use in our arguing about who was responsible for His death back at that time. I’ll tell you who is responsible for His death. You are responsible, and I am responsible. It was for my sins and for your sins that He died.
  • Folk reading the Bible should bring to it the same common sense they use in reading other books. This is God’s Book. But it is not some “way out yonder” type of book. It deals with us right where we are, and it communicates so we can understand it.
  • You can preach Jesus, friend. You can make Him a nice, sweet individual, a sort of Casper Milquetoast, and you will not be in trouble. But you are in trouble if you preach Him as the mighty Savior who came down to this earth, denounced sin, died on the cross for the sins of men, and then rose again in mighty power. That is the hated message. When the apostles preached it, the Sadducees arrested them and brought them in to the Sanhedrin.
  • Jesus is the name of that Person who came down to this earth to save His people from their sins. When any person comes to Him in faith, that person is saved. There is no other place to turn for salvation.
  • Unbelief is not from a lack of facts; it is the condition of the human heart.
  • My friend, do not be bewitched by any man or his power. Even if a man is giving out the Word of God, do not look to the man. Look to the Word of God and check to see if he is presenting it accurately. Look to God. Turn to Him. When we get our eyes on man, we take our eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Persecution from the outside didn’t hurt the church. It scattered the believers and actually worked for the furtherance of the gospel. What hurt the church was that people got on the inside, professing to be believers when they were not believers. Always the church is hurt from the inside.
  • I believe that we ought to make it a matter of definite prayer before we talk to anyone. We should talk to the Lord about the individual before we talk to the individual about the Lord. It is not simply that we need the Holy Spirit to lead us. What we need is for the Spirit of God to go ahead of us and prepare the way, then to call us up to where He is. We want to go where the Spirit of God is moving. This is the first essential in a conversion.
  • The Holy Spirit will take the things of Christ and will reveal them to an individual. It is the Spirit of God using the Word of God.
  • The Spirit of God uses the man of God who delivers the Word of God to produce a son of God, one who is born again.
  • I do not believe that people can be converted by hearing a song. The song may affect a person emotionally and influence the will to make a decision for Christ. However, if the Word of God is not in it, there can be no true conversion. It requires the Word of God. How important that is!
  • I believe that God uses a human instrument in the conversion of every individual, although that individual may not be present at the moment of the conversion. That is the reason you and I should cast our influence for the Lord Jesus Christ at all times.
  • We remember that Saul had been one of those who had wasted the church in Jerusalem by his relentless persecution of them. How wonderful it is to see that by his own hands a transformed Saul now brings relief to that same church. That is Christianity in shoe leather, my friend. That is the way it ought to be.
  • But life and death are in the hands of a sovereign God. When you and I rebel against His decision, it is simply too bad for us. This is His universe, not ours. It is God’s church, not ours. The hand of a sovereign God moves in the church.
  • How could Simon Peter sleep between two soldiers? Remember that he went to sleep also in the Garden of Gethsemane. I would say that Simon Peter was not troubled with insomnia. He didn’t have any difficulty sleeping. It seems he could sleep just about any place and any time.
  • God expects us to use our common sense. Sometimes what looks like a tremendous faith in God is actually tempting God. Even after God has done some wonderful or miraculous thing for you and for me, He still expects us to use our common sense.
  • Today you and I are the beneficiaries of the fact that someone went down the road of this world to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. You and I ought to be in the business of taking the gospel down beyond where we are to some who have not heard.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

60. Her Secret Song

Her Secret Song (Brides of Hope Mountain) Mary Connealy. 2020. [October] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Wax Mosby was living a life that was going to kill him. Probably shot in the back by one of the men he worked with. If he wanted to live, he had to get away from here, and his time was running out. But before he could leave, he had to go up. His honor demanded he face the Wardens. And his gut told him they were at the top of the mountain.

Premise/plot: Jake "Wax" Mosby, used to be a gun for hire, but lately he's had a change of heart. Still he isn't quite sure how to go about living a reformed and transformed life. But he knows he owes amends to a few people--particularly the Wardens. Which is why he's heading up a dangerous mountain. Fortunately/unfortunately, life gets messy on the way up!

Ursula Nordegren is a recluse living by herself on a mountain top. Her two younger sisters have married--leaving her alone--and now she's being driven a bit nuts with the isolation and loneliness. She has been planning to go down the mountain for a while, but, fear has almost always held her back...until one day.

On her way down she stumbles across a near-dead man. It will take all the strength she has to help him...but in her caring of him she may just find some healing herself.

Plenty of action and adventure in this one.

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one! I have not read the other books in the series. But this one was able to stand alone. I imagine the other two stories are the love stories of her two sisters...which we do see plenty of in this one!

I liked the excitement of this one!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, August 6, 2020

59. The Mister Rogers Effect

The Mister Rogers Effect. Dr. Anita Knight Kuhnley. 2020. Baker Books. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I will never forget the day I had a discussion with my students that would send me on a transformative quest. It was quiet in the large, dark classroom filled with aspiring counselors. I flipped on the fluorescent lights and looked out into the sea of faces.

Though it is published by a Christian publishing company, Baker Publishing Group's Baker Books division, The Mister Rogers Effect isn't particularly Christian, religious, or spiritual.

This bothered me. A lot. It bothered me a lot. But I looked up BakerBook's mission statement (is that the right word?!?!) and this is what it said, "Baker Books has a vision for building up the body of Christ through books that are relevant, intelligent, and engaging. We publish titles for lay Christians on topics such as discipleship, apologetics, spirituality, relationships, marriage, parenting, and the intersection of Christianity and culture. We also publish books and ministry resources for pastors and church leaders, concentrating on topics such as preaching, worship, pastoral ministries, counseling, biblical reference, and leadership."

I suppose The Mister Rogers Effect falls under the "intelligent" and "engaging"? Or perhaps "the intersection of Christianity and culture." I won't lie.

The premise of The Mister Rogers Effect is simple: EVERY ONE SHOULD EMULATE (IMITATE) MISTER ROGERS. The world would be a better place if Mister Rogers could be duplicated a thousand-fold. Kuhnley offers readers the SEVEN SECRETS in how to be more like Mister Rogers.

Those secrets are:
Secret 1: Listen First: Listen with More than Your Ears  
Secret 2: Validate Feelings: Feelings are Mentionable and Manageable
Secret 3: Pause and Think: Take Time to Discover What Is Inside
Secret 4: Show Gratitude: Be Kind and Be Thankful
Secret 5: Develop Empathy: Be with People Where They Are
Secret 6: Practice Acceptance: Who You Are Right Now Is Acceptable
Secret 7: Establish Security: People Need to Know They Are Cared For

The chapters are written with a psychological approach. Everything is written with a psychological approach. This one is best for those with an interest in child development, sociology, or psychology. It is a technical book--but not technical in a theological sense. As I said the approach in this one leaves God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, the Christian faith, the Christian worldview out completely and totally. So when words like grace, gratitude, forgiveness, love, etc., are used they are not used in a biblical sense.

On the one hand, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Mister Rogers. I do. I felt loved, accepted, welcomed when watching the show. His songs spoke to me--and continue to speak to me.

On the other hand, I am not a disciple of Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers is not the center of my life. I have no need to channel Mister Rogers, to seek to be more like him, to ask what would Fred Rogers do in any situation. I do not think that Mister Rogers holds the answers and solutions for what is wrong with society. Even if people take away valuable lessons--moral and ethical lessons--that make them "better" people, this kind of reform cannot actually save. Now, I am not suggesting the author is suggesting this--that Mister Rogers has replaced the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. That we will be judged by God on judgment day based on how well we lived up to our vision of Mister Rogers.

The world has many, many, many problems. I think Christian publishers should be pointing people to the actual savior, Jesus Christ, and not directing them to copy Fred Rogers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

58. Mark

Mark. (Thru the Bible #36) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Gospel of Mark is chronologically the first gospel that was written. It was actually one of the first books written in the New Testament—not the first, but one of the first. It was probably written from Rome prior to A.D. 63.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read twelve or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on Matthew 1-13). Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. 

Mark isn't necessarily one of my favorite gospels. But reading McGee helped me appreciate it more. 
There probably is more content in this first chapter of Mark than any other chapter in the Bible (with the exception of Gen. 1). It covers the ministry of John the Baptist, after going back to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi.
There are three beginnings recorded in Scripture. Let us put them down in chronological order: 1. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). This goes back to a dateless beginning, a beginning before all time. Here the human mind can only grope. It is logical rather than chronological because in my thinking, I must put my peg somewhere in the past in order to take off. If I see an airplane in the air, I assume there is an airport somewhere. I may not know where it is, but I know the plane took off from some place. So when I look around at the universe, I know that it took off from somewhere and that somewhere there is a God. But I don’t know anything about that beginning. God comes out of eternity to meet us. I just have to put down the peg at the point where He does meet us, back as far as I can thinkJ and realize He was there before that. 2. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This is where we move out of eternity into time. However, although many people have been attempting to date this universe, no man so far knows. Man’s guesses have ranged from six thousand to three billions of years. We know so little but, when we come into His presence and begin to know even as we are known, then we will realize how we saw through a glass darkly. I’m sure we will marvel at our stupidity and our ignorance. Our God is a great God. He has plenty of time. 3. “The beginning of the gospel …” (v. 1) is the same as “That which was from the beginning …” (1 John 1:1). This is dated. It goes back to Jesus Christ at the precise moment He took upon Himself human flesh. Jesus Christ is the gospel! 
What we need in the church today is stretcher-bearers—men and women with that kind of faith to go out and bring in the unsaved so they can hear the gospel. There are many people today who are paralyzed with a palsy of sin, a palsy of indifference, or a palsy of prejudice. A great many people are not going to come into church where the gospel is preached unless you take a corner of the stretcher and bring them in. That’s what these men did. They had the faith to bring this poor man to hear the Lord Jesus deal with him personally and say, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Whether we like it or not, He does the choosing. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16). It is not irreverent to say that since He chose them and they did not choose Him, He’s responsible for them. That’s a real comfort to know. God has saved you, begun a good work in you, and He’s going to stick right with you, friend. He’s going to see you through. That is what this means. And when the Lord Jesus calls, they respond.
It is impossible to commit an unpardonable sin today—if by that you mean one can commit a sin today, come under conviction because of it tomorrow, come to God in repentance, and He would not forgive you. You see, Christ died for all sin, not just some sin. He didn’t die for all sin but one, the unpardonable sin. There is no such thing as being able to commit a sin today that He will not forgive. The attitude and state of the unbeliever is unpardonable—not the act. When a man blasphemes with his mouth, that is not the thing that condemns him; it is the attitude of his heart, which is a permanent condition—unless he stops resisting.
And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear [Mark 4:9]. He puts up a danger signal. It’s like the “Stop—Look—Listen” sign at a railroad crossing.
We sometimes use the expression—I know I say it rather carelessly—that you’ll be lost if you do not accept Christ as your Savior. That is not really the truth, friend. The truth is that you are already lost. The point that should be accurately stated is that you will continue to be lost if you do not receive Christ as your Savior.
Every chapter is the most important chapter when you are studying it! But this one is important because the Gospel of Mark is a gospel of action. There are more of the miracles given in this gospel than in any other, and in this chapter there are three outstanding miracles related. They could be performed only by the hand of Omnipotence. That is why I think this is a remarkable chapter.
The Word of God is the Bread of Life because the Word of God reveals Him. We are to feed on the Bible and to beware of false teaching. I think that ought to be clear to us here in the teaching that He gives.
By the way, that “Jesus Only” is a marvelous headline, is it not? “Jesus Only” is not only a headline in Mark’s gospel, but it ought to be a headline in the lives of believers today. In a brief way he states such great and weighty words—Jesus Only!
And the tragic thing about this hour is that the church is helpless in the presence of the world’s need. Right now, the organized church in desperation is reaching out, protesting and marching and getting involved in all kinds of things, and the world is actually criticizing the church because they feel it should get even more involved. But social matters are not our business! We ought to be able to help a poor demon-possessed boy today by presenting a Savior to him who will make him rational and who will bring him into a right relationship with God. Unfortunately, the same thing has to be said of the church, “They could not.” The disciples could not and we cannot.
Bring him unto Me! We are attempting to do everything except bring lost men to Jesus Christ.
Do you realize who it is here that is talking about hell? There are those today who say that He is the gentle Jesus. Friend, He is the only One who talked about hell. Paul never talked about it, but Jesus did. And since He did, it would be well for us to listen to Him.
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 [Mark 12:30]. By the way, do you keep this commandment, my friend? If you say that you don’t need Christ as a Savior, that you obey God, then I ask you this question, “Do you love God with all your heart and mind and soul?” If you don’t, then you are breaking His commandment and you need a Savior. I know I need a Savior. I don’t measure up here. I wish I did. I love Him but not as I should.
We find this is a constant warning—a warning against false Christs. Some may think that this is not a danger today. I think it is very pertinent right now. For example, the Christ of liberalism is an antichrist—he is not the real Christ! Some of you may think that they preach the Christ of the Bible. They do not.
My friend, may I say to you, none of us knows the depths of the human heart. Only the Word of God can let us see what sinners we are.
If we take the emphasis away from the Word of God, we can find that people get one problem solved with the help of the psychologist and come away with two more problems. Then the last estate of the man is worse than the first. Let’s be very clear. The only solution to a problem is the Lord. You don’t solve the problem so that you are enabled to go to the Lord. No, you go to the Lord and He is the chief and the great Physician. By the way, He is the great Psychologist and He alone knows us. In the final analysis, He is the only One.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible