Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bible Reading Plan for the New Year

I have always scorned those lists where you check off three chapters a day to get through the Bible in a year. It seemed too speedy to leave time for reflection and application.

Well, I'm here to eat humble pie. My husband actually read TEN chapters a day last year (yes, that's almost three times through) and his knowledge and love of the Scriptures has grown exponentially. Tim Challies posted a link to a list from Church of the Cross (from Grapevine, Texas) that I've been using since Dec 1st. (The link is at the bottom of the above web page.)

This plan covers the Old Testament in two years, the Psalms twice a year, and the New Testament three times. I REALLY love this plan.

First, It follows the church calendar with appropriate passages for Easter, Christmas, etc. Secondly, the New Testament passages are read three days running. For example, Mark 1-3 is the reading for December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. This gives me the time to soak in the words of a passage (which I felt was lacking in most read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans.) Third, I love it that I'm reading this with hundreds of other Christians I'll never meet or see, a picture of the unity of the invisible body of Christ. Fourth and last, I love waking up each morning to see what my new reading assignment will be. I haven't missed a day because I'm relishing this Scripture-reading guide.

If you don't start on December 1st, I'm not sure if you can jump in later, but it would be worth checking out. If you don't use this plan, there are MANY others available for free online. Ligonier Ministries always publishes a nice variety of options.

Happy Reading!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Reading Year in Review - 2015

        It's always fun to look back through my reading log to remember what I read this past year. Of the 66 books I read, only 23 were on my Kindle (a big switch from last year when I read 42 on my Kindle). Since I've been in the U.S. for half of this year I've tried to take advantage of the library and read as many physical books as possible. When I return to Brazil in a few months (where less is available), I'll revert to digital books. But I'm taking about 40 books in my suitcase to balance my reading habits.

These are the books that I most enjoyed in 2015. . .

Favorite audiobook: The Best Yes by TerKeurst

Most Enjoyable Classic: Our Mutual Friend by Dickens

Book that Required the Most Effort, but Gave the Biggest Reward: Paradise Lost

Most Amusing: Little World of Don Camillo

Best WWII: The Scarlet and the Black

Best New Author: James Runcie (Sidney Chamber's mysteries) - review forthcoming

Hands Down Favorite of the Year: The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden

Thursday, December 17, 2015

No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read Book Giveaway

When a favorite blogger (Brenda) mentioned that No Holly for Miss Quinn was on her Christmas reading pile, I decided to give it a try.

Miss Read was the pseudonym of Dora Jessie Saint (1913-2012), a British novelist of cozy fiction. She wrote two sets of novels: the Thrush Green and Fairacre series. The main character in the Fairacre books is an unmarried school teacher. This book is listed as #12 in the series and is about a different spinster. Miss Quinn is in her mid-thirties and works in a busy office in Caxley. She longs for a home in a quiet village and jumps at the chance to rent a room at Holly Lodge in Fairacre.

She is looking forward to a quiet Christmas alone when her brother suddenly calls about a family emergency.  How she responds makes up the rest of this charming little book.

My one complaint is that the characters seemed sketchily drawn. Maybe if I read all the Fairacre books I would feel like I knew them better. Still, I enjoyed watching Miss Quinn stretch and grow while assuming new responsibilities and I liked the pleasant, airy tone of the book.

I'd love to pass on my ex-library copy to one of my readers. Leave a comment on my Worthwhile Books Facebook page if you'd like a chance to win it. (Winner will be announced by Dec 31st.)

Have a blessed Christmas!

Added on January 7, 2016: Congrats to Melissa for winning this!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Gutenberg Elegies by Sven Birkerts

The subtitle of The Gutenberg Elegies is "The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age." Birkert's main premise is that ditching physical books for modern gadgets causes a reduced attention span and a general impatience with sustained inquiry. (p. 27) This loss of contemplative and cognitive power is a threat to all that makes us truly human.

My 1994 version was out-of-date in the sense that the internet was just beginning and Birkerts was still referring to cassette tapes and VHS recordings. But it was not out-of-date in its call to consider how much we are losing by giving ourselves completely over to digital media. In fact, in light of how much was not even on the scene when he wrote this book, his prophecies are surprisingly accurate.

The technologies of entertainment have arrived with great fanfare, diminishing audiences for the book, allowing watching and playing to supplant reading as a dominant home activity. . . . They not only take up time that might have once belonged to the book, but they make it harder, once we do turn from the screen. (p. 200) Amen to that!

While circuit and screen are ideal conduits for certain kinds of data - figures, images, cross-referenced information of all sorts - they are entirely inhospitable to the more subjective materials that have always been the stuff of art. That is to say, they are antithetical to inwardness. (193)

My favorite quote: I speak as an unregenerate reader, one who still believes that language and not technology is the true evolutionary miracle. (p. 6) Before texting was even born, Birkerts sensed that the need to provide information more speedily would erode our language.

This book reinforced my desire to read physical books as much as possible. But, alas, did not convince me to give up my e-reader. I am a slave to convenience after all. At times Birkerts is verbose and whiny, but I managed to slog through. More accessible titles on this subject are The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains and Postmans' Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Prayer, Praise and Promises by Warren Wiersbe

Warren Wiersbe is a Baptist minister who has written over 100 books. He is probably best known for his "BE" series on every book of the Bible. ("Be Joyful" is the study of Philippians, for example.)

I downloaded his book Prayer, Praise & Promises as my devotional book for 2015 and have really enjoyed it. If you are used to more heavy-hitting devotionals like Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, Wiersbe can seem "light" at times. (Frankly, there are some years that I need my devotional reading to be more comforting than convicting.) But light does not mean "fluffy" since the daily readings shed many insights into the book of Psalms.

I appreciated Wiersbe's explanations of certain Hebrew phrases and Jewish customs, but my favorite aspect of the book was his pithy comments such as:

How well we sleep sometimes indicates how much we really trust the Lord. (from Jan 7)

God does not reveal His will to those who are curious. He reveals His will to those who are obedient. (Feb 24)

Faith is living without scheming. (April 25)

People who don't want to do the will of God live their lives in a little bucket of water. But when we accept His will for our lives, we launch out on an ocean of possibility. (Dec 14)

Not only is Prayer, Praise and Promises a daily dose of encouragement, it's also a pleasant and painless way to work through the Psalms in one year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Words for Wednesday - On the Bravery of Faithfulness

Dustin Messer over at has an interesting article on Kent Dobson, the pastor who followed Rob Bell at Mars Hill. Dobson resigned from the church saying that he is taking a brave journey from the center of faith out to its edges. But Messer's suggests that this is not as courageous as staying centered on sound doctrine. In a culture of shifting sands, those who stay in the church are actually doing the less easy thing.

These days, the real adventurers are those who set sail for the risky land of Christian orthodoxy. The real brave men and women are those who consistently go to church, observe the sacraments, hear the word, and submit themselves to the discipline of the church. In an age of autonomy, it's those who subject their thoughts, behaviors, and passions to an exclusive Sovereign who are the brave few. Those may not be the memoirs we're interested in today, but they'll be the ones that last tomorrow.

Something to think about.