Bible Reading Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. CSB Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Some Isaiah. Some Kings and Chronicles. What have I ...

Week in Review: July 14-20 and more...


Week in Review: July 14-20

Bible Reading

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

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far?  Some Isaiah. Some Kings and Chronicles.

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?

Spurgeon Study Bible KJV

  • Genesis
  • Job


NASB 1977

  • Genesis
  • Isaiah 1-39


What have I read in the New Testament this week?
NKJV Vines Expository

  • Matthew
  • James

Other reading: 

Prayers for Little Hearts. Sandra Magsamen. 2019. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Not Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits Into God's Plan for the World. 2019. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How God Grows a Brave Boy: A Devotional. Matt Koceich. 2019. [October] Barbour. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
ESV Prayer Bible. 2019. Crossway Books. 1920 pages. [Source: Review copy]


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


Board book: Prayers for Little Hearts

Prayers for Little Hearts. Sandra Magsamen. 2019. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray that God will love and keep all the fish in all the seas and all the leaves on all the trees.

This board book includes five short prayers for parents to read with or read over their little ones.

I thought some of the poems--the prayers--were a bit clunky in terms of rhythm and/or rhyme. Not that all poems have to rhyme. They don't. And that's definitely the same of prayers as well.

The text font is over-the-top cutesy. Many of the capital letters are just oversized lower case letters. Including the "g" in God.

The illustrations and the text are both colorful.

I love the unusual size of this one: tall and skinny.



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


Book Review: Not Home Yet

Not Home Yet: How the Renewal of the Earth Fits Into God's Plan for the World. 2019. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Traveling is fun, but after a while we long for home.

Is heaven our home? For the believer should heaven be considered our home? Are we currently "not home yet"?

In Not Home Yet, Ian K. Smith argues that heaven is NOT our home. His point is technically a valid one. Heaven is not our final, ultimate HOME. After Jesus' return and the resurrection of our bodies, our final, ultimate home will be the NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH. Smith is correct in his conclusion that the Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, restored and recreated. The book celebrates the fact that the physical earth will not be destroyed or obliterated, that our final-and-forever home will be this earth. The book celebrates our future resurrection bodies.

A few weeks ago I saw a meme on Facebook. KNOWLEDGE is knowing that tomatoes are a fruit. WISDOM is knowing that tomatoes do not belong in fruit salad. I was reminded of this as I read this one. Smith seems so pleased with himself that he's discovered that heaven is NOT OUR HOME and that our eternal rest is not to be found in heaven that he just has to talk about it to anyone and everyone he meets. I think he definitely loves the shock value. I WILL RATTLE EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. DID YOU KNOW THAT HEAVEN IS NOT YOUR HOME?!?! EVERYTHING YOU EVER LEARNED ABOUT HEAVEN FROM YOUR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA IS WRONG.

Smith's argument is that Christians should spend less time thinking about "heaven" and "things above" and the "great glory" beyond and start focusing on the earth--for it is our present home and future home. Christians priorities can be unbalanced because they don't grasp the obvious truth that heaven is not our home.

He also wants to make sure that your hope is not in dying "and going to heaven to be with the Lord" but your hope is in the future resurrection after Christ's return. HEY, YOU, YOU SHOULDN'T LOOK FORWARD TO HEAVEN. That's just silly. The only thing worth looking forward to is OUR FUTURE RESURRECTION WHERE WE'LL LIVE ON THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH.

Here's the thing--if you read the Bible, if you read the Bible widely--Genesis to Revelation, if you read the Bible often, you already know that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. You may not have "chewed the cud" (aka meditated enough) to ponder if what we call heaven is actually heaven. But if you slow down, go step by step, stop and consider, you'll say YES, there will be a day; there will be a great day; a glorious day; I'll have a new body and a new home. I will live with the LORD and all my brothers and sisters ON THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH. You can reach a biblical conclusion without all the shock and awe, without turning your "foundations" topsy, turvy.

Would his other points have come across better--a bit smoother--if he hadn't been so busy trying to shock and awe us out of ignorance?

Smith' book is about God's downward movement. (The Bible is not about us going heavenward; but God coming earthward). Smith examines Eden, the tabernacle, the temple, the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the second coming. He also looks at the first cataclysmic destruction of the earth--the flood--in both the Old and New Testaments. He says that believers could learn a great deal about the future "destruction" of the earth by studying the first.

Sin does not ultimately change earth's beauty or the fact that God will renew, recreate, restored. We should not let sin stop us from appreciating the fact that earth is and will be our home.

John 14 is not about "heaven" (as we know it, as opposed to HEAVEN aka new earth) but about Christ's second coming and our future resurrection.

After reading most of the book, Smith finally "grants permission" to believers to think of "heaven" as a type of home. "After Christians have died, they are away from the body, which perishes in the grave, but at home with the Lord in some sort of bodiless existence. So in the light of this, it is appropriate to refer to heaven as "home" as long as we understand that it will not be our permanent home. We still await the new heavens and new earth."

Quote:

  • The resurrection is not a denial of the power of death but an affirmation of its defeat.
  • The Christian hope is firmly grounded in the resurrection of Jesus that assures us of the renewal of all creation at the return of Christ. 



© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    


Book Review: How God Grows a Brave Boy

How God Grows a Brave Boy: A Devotional. Matt Koceich. 2019. [October] Barbour. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: You are very, very special! God has created you to do great things for Him and His glory. The cool part is that He doesn't wait for you to become a grown-up. Right now God wants to grow you into a brave boy so that you can be a young man of integrity--that is a young man who lives by God's principles.

This children's devotional has one hundred and eighty readings. It's written with boys in mind. For the record, I'm not exactly sure why boys and girls need different devotionals. But apparently they do. Boys are to be brave and girls are to be courageous. Koceich falls into a pattern of defining bravery at the start of many of his devotionals. I'm not sure they help illumine the concept of bravery. I'll share a few below.

  • Being a brave young man means believing that Jesus is who He says He is and can do whatever He says He will do. 
  • Being brave means understanding God's grace. He loves you so much that He send Jesus to save you.
  • Being brave means deciding to make Jesus famous. Spend today thinking about Him and all the things He has done for you.
  • Becoming brave is becoming satisfied with the promises God gives you.
  • Being brave means seeing your Bible as much more than letters on a page or stories written so long ago that their meanings have been diluted by time.
  • Being brave means being grateful for everything God has done for you. 

If I had to describe this devotional, I would say it was written in the key of G: G for Generic, or to be precise Generic Boy. While the girls' devotional tended to mainly focus on the practical and concrete, this one seems to veer into abstracts and metaphors.

Taste the joy that comes from running after a life covered in His grace.
A broken heart isn't a sign of weakness. It is proof of God's presence. 
I will say this, Koceich's devotional book DOES delve into the ins and outs of the gospel and actually present the gospel message. The girls' book on courage does not ever do this--to my disappointment.
God loves you. The heart of Jesus is the lens through which God sees your life.
When God looks at you, He sees a beautiful person. You are beautiful and forgiven because of Jesus! Don't waste this new day trying to be someone else!
That being said, I'm not sure there's enough emphasis on God's grace and mercy and our complete and total lack of ability. The imperative tone at times seems to apply that the Christian life is something that you DO, DO, DO, DO, DO and not something that is DONE. (Jesus saying IT IS FINISHED. Jesus paid it all.) Christians of all shapes, sizes, and ages tend to miss this as well.
Decide that today is the day you will become more like Jesus and live your life for Him! Read His Word and ask Him to show you ways that you can change. 
One thing that I did appreciate was the focus on evangelism. But I'm not sure a little pride didn't creep in there as well. (Just saying it's not reformed!)
Speak truth and let your praises to God be the key that unlocks hardened hearts. 
But I didn't care for how they simplified the concept of God's glory and glorifying and exalting God into "making God famous."

Make a list of everything that's important to you. Family? Toys? Books? Friends? Whatever is on your list, make sure that "making God famous" is on it.
Be brave and decide every day that you want your life to keep making God famous. 
It did choose Scriptures from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I also liked that it didn't just choose "boy" Scriptures. For example, boys can learn to be brave like Esther.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

Bible Review: ESV Prayer Bible

ESV Prayer Bible. 2019. Crossway Books. 1920 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was so excited to be able to review one of Crossway's newest Bibles, the ESV Prayer Bible.

What makes this one unique? It includes over four hundred prayers--spanning the centuries of Christian thought--linked to specific passages throughout the Old and New Testaments. It also includes an introductory essay by Donald Whitney. (I absolutely loved, loved, loved his book How To Pray the Bible.)

I found the quality of the quotes--the prayers--to be excellent. This would be a GREAT way for readers to learn about new theologians. I love that there's a resource at the back that gives you a bit more information about each author/theologian included.

The size of this one mostly worked for me. I found it small enough and light enough to read in bed. The font of the Scripture text allowed comfortably for this. The font of the quotes--or the prayers--was a bit too tiny.

It was also light enough that one could read it while sitting in a chair--and having tea. But I found myself squinting more when I read this way. (I still did it. I love, love, love having tea and reading the Word.)









As I mentioned before, the font size of the quotes--or the prayers--was small (7.25). They were also printed in GRAY. I think both the smaller size and the lighter font made it more difficult on my eyes for long periods of time. The text of the Word itself was 9.25. (And, of course, it was printed in black.)

 The ESV Prayer Bible is single column paragraph.

There is ghosting or bleed-through. I found this to be most noticeable in the wisdom books--like Psalms--where you could "read" several psalms without ever turning the page. It was also more noticeable with the quotes--or prayers. Sadly this is because the prayers are in gray--as is the ghosted text.

If the pages had been thicker, if the the font size of the prayers had been slightly bigger, if the the color of the prayers had been slightly darker, then I think I would have absolutely loved this one. It is oh-so-close to being ideal.

I would recommend this one. Many people have better eyesight than I do and don't struggle with strained eyes. The quality of the quotes--as I mentioned--is absolutely wonderful! So there's definitely substance here.




© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
    

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