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Hunger, Thirst, and a Heart That Grew Ten Sizes

Melanie ShankleBy Melanie Shankle

Maybe it was partly fear of not being good enough to be truly saved or fear of missing out on fun (this is most likely), but something caused me to sign up for the youth group mission trip to Reynosa, Mexico, the summer after my freshman year. At that point in my life, I’d never been on any sort of mission trip and probably thought I actually qualified as the less fortunate because I owned only two pair of Guess jeans.

This was back when it still felt fairly safe to travel to Mexican border towns. I mean, sure, there was a good chance you’d see someone selling a goat’s head on the side of the road and be bombarded by small children selling Chiclet gum, but that was about the extent of it. So my parents put me in a big blue van and sent me to Mexico. That last sentence sounds like the makings of a fantastic Lifetime movie.

Despite the fact that Texas shares a border with Mexico, it takes approximately nine hours to drive from Beaumont to Reynosa because you are literally traveling all the way across the state of Texas. I’m sure a Texan has never told you this, but we have a big state. We also like to own a lot of things in the shape of our state, but it’s not our fault God made Texas in a shape that makes a nice waffle.

Our van caravan was driven by brave, tireless youth workers with a high tolerance for tomfoolery. This was long before the days of cell phones, so our road trip entertainment consisted of occasional stops for fast food and marathon rounds of the alphabet game and Truth or Dare (although there are only so many truths or dares that can happen within the confines of an Econoline van). Several of us also had our Sony Walkmans so we could listen to music. We’d been told that we could only listen to Christian music since this was a church sponsored trip and we were on our way to do the Lord’s work, which apparently didn’t include listening to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Our musical selections were supposed to consist of artists like Michael W. Smith, Petra, Amy Grant and, for the real Christian rock music pioneers, Rez Band.

However, someone may have slipped in a cassette of Van Halen’s 5150 album and caused us all to gather around two earbuds in the back of the van as we listened to “Dreams” over and over again. No offense to any of the Christian artists previously mentioned, but it’s hard to compete with an impassioned Sammy Hagar telling you to “dry your eyes, save all the tears you’ve cried, because that’s what dreams are made of.” We made our way to Mexico as Sammy Hagar encouraged us to “reach for the golden ring, reach for the sky.” That song, along with “Glory of Love” from the Karate Kid II soundtrack, were the anthems of my summer of 1986.

When we finally arrived in Reynosa, the temperature was approximately 158 degrees. I can’t remember where we stayed except that it resembled a large dormitory with several rooms of bunk beds and a shared bathroom where we all quickly discovered there was no hot water. Also, there was no air conditioning to speak of, unless you consider two small oscillating fans to be air conditioning, which I personally do not.

Sleep came easy that first night because we were all exhausted from the long trip. We woke up bright and early the next morning, ready to begin our first day of mission work, which was going to involve visiting an orphanage and passing out rice and beans to families in a remote area of town. The girls had been told to wear skirts and dresses, so I put on my cotton Esprit dress with a pair of scrunchy socks and Keds because I wanted to look extra special as I began my first foray into the world of being a missionary.

Nothing could have prepared my fourteen-year-old mind and heart for everything we saw that day. Here was a whole world I didn’t know existed apart from the occasional Save the Children commercials narrated by Sally Struthers. I’d never really known what it was to think outside of myself and my little world until this moment. It was both humbling and sobering to spend time with orphans who needed homes, who craved love and attention so much that they congregated around us like we were rock stars even though we were complete strangers.

We spent the next several days painting churches, feeding the hungry, and sharing the love of Jesus with the help of our translators. The thing that amazed me most was how much the people we met wanted Jesus. They were desperate for him in a way that we rarely experience. How desperate can you be if you already have everything you need? The people we encountered that week knew what it really meant when we told them that Jesus was the bread of life because they understood what it meant to be truly hungry, both spiritually and physically.

However, there was one evening when the language barrier caused a little confusion. One of the youth workers spoke to the local church crowd in Spanish, telling them that God was their heavenly father, but instead of using the masculine el papa, he said la papa. Essentially, he shared a heartfelt message about how our heavenly potato sent his son to save us from our sins. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some heavenly potatoes in my time, and not one of them has saved me from my sins. But I still hope they have potatoes in heaven, and frankly, I can’t imagine that they don’t.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve heard criticisms of short-term mission trips. People question how much good you can do in a few days and whether or not the local people even need their church to be painted or to have a bunch of overly enthusiastic American teenagers teaching their children all the hand motions to Father Abraham. (Not to be confused with Abraham the Potato.) And I get it. Sometimes we barge into situations with the best of intentions but don’t know how to make the most of our efforts.

Anyway, that trip to Mexico was the first time I understood what it meant to live out these words of Jesus:

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I
was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a
stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you
clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in
prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did
we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and
invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did
we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you
did for me.’ ” (Matthew 25:35–40)

Sure, I spent a lot of time that week flirting with boys, listening to Van Halen, shopping for cute Mexican embroidered tops in the local market, drinking Big Red, and giggling with my girlfriends late at night, but something also shifted in my heart. Now I could put faces and names with real children who didn’t have a home or family. I knew real families who were unbelievably grateful to receive a few bags of rice and beans because it meant the difference in whether or not they’d eat that week. I met local pastors who worked tirelessly to spread the words of Jesus to their congregations, not for money or to build a big building, but purely for the sake of the gospel.

On that trip to Reynosa, my self-absorbed fourteen-year-old heart turned its gaze outward and grew ten sizes. I returned home with a greater appreciation for what I had, including but not limited to air conditioning. That one week laid the groundwork for trips I’d take as an adult to places like the Dominican Republic and Ecuador to serve the people there, to play a game of soccer with kids desperate for love and attention, and to pray with families who have nothing this world says is valuable but do have an unshakable faith that humbles me—especially when they ask how they can pray for us because they have all they need. It made my eyes quicker to see the needs around me and motivated me to figure out how I could help. It gave me a much wider view of the world, one that was very different from what I saw on the streets of my suburban neighborhood.

Maybe sometimes the point of a mission trip is God changing our hearts and our eyes to see what he sees more than about an orphanage needing us to sing some songs and put on some plays. If our purpose is to become more like Christ, then I think we take the first step on that path when we begin to see things outside of ourselves, no matter how small or insignificant that may sometimes seem. And sometimes we have to leave the comfort of home to get that perspective.

God doesn’t call all of us to live our lives on a foreign mission field, but we are all called to help when we can and to love at all times.

________

Church of the Small ThingsAdapted from Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life by Melanie Shankle. Click here to learn more about this title.

Is my ordinary, everyday life actually significant? Is it okay to be fulfilled by the simple acts of raising kids, working in an office, and cooking chicken for dinner?

It’s been said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” The pressure of that can be staggering as we spend our days looking for that big thing that promises to take our breath away. Meanwhile, we lose sight of the small significance of fully living with every breath we take.

Melanie Shankle, New York Times bestselling author and writer at The Big Mama Blog tackles these questions head on in her fourth book, Church of the Small Things. Easygoing and relatable, she speaks directly to the heart of women of all ages who are longing to find significance and meaning in the normal, sometimes mundane world of driving carpool to soccer practice, attending class on their college campus, cooking meals for their family, or taking care of a sick loved one.

The million little pieces that make a life aren’t necessarily glamorous or far-reaching. But God uses some of the smallest, most ordinary acts of faithfulness—and sometimes they look a whole lot like packing lunch.

Through humorous stories told in her signature style, full of Frito pie, best friends, the love of her Me-Ma and Pa-Pa, the unexpected grace that comes when we quit trying to measure up, and a little of the best TV has to offer, Melanie helps women embrace what it means to live a simple, yet incredibly meaningful life and how to find all the beauty and laughter that lies right beneath the surface of every moment.

Melanie Shankle writes regularly at The Big Mama blog and is The New York Times bestselling author of three previous books, including Nobody’s Cuter than You. She is a graduate of Texas A&M and loves writing, shopping at Target, checking to see what’s on sale at Anthropologie, and trying to find the lighter side in every situation. Most of all, she loves being the mother of Caroline, the wife of Perry, and the official herder of two wild dogs named Piper and Mabel. The five of them live in San Antonio, Texas.

The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith: An Interview with Andrea Lucado

Andrea LucadoWhat happens when you take a wide-eyed preacher’s daughter from Texas “across the pond” to the multicultural lawns of Oxford? With winsome honesty, Andrea Lucado relives the year she spent navigating the Thames river, romantic relationships, the university’s atheist society, and a coffee-less Lent—and searched for answers to the universal questions of identity and faith.

Bible Gateway interviewed Andrea Lucado (@andrealucado), the daughter of Max Lucado, about her book, English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith (WaterBrook, 2017).

Buy your copy of English Lessons in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

[Browse books by Max Lucado in the Bible Gateway Store]

Tell a little about your upbringing with such a famous father.

Andrea Lucado: I heard a fellow preacher’s kid and author Chrystal Evans Hurst answer this question recently: What was it like being raised a pastor’s kid? I liked her response: Does a fish know it lives in water?

This captures what my upbringing was like with a famous father. I didn’t know, or care, that he was famous. He was just dad. He was around. He didn’t talk about doing TV interviews or speaking in front of thousands of people. He was at all of our games and recitals. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized just how well-known he was.

Your book has been called a memoir of belief and identity. How so?

Andrea Lucado: English Lessons is about a year in my life that I questioned my faith, more than any other year. Questioning your faith will go hand-in-hand with questioning your own identity because when you’re in Christ, he’s your new identity. So if you’re questioning the whole Christianity thing, you will, undoubtedly, question yourself also.

This happened to me during that year. I was living in England going to grad school and for the first time I was surrounded with people who were not like me: non-Christians. It shook me up, out, and everywhere, in the best kind of way.

Why did you include the word “crooked” in the book’s subtitle?

Andrea Lucado: I don’t think our faith journeys are easy, straight, clear pathways. I think they look more like crooked and winding paths with detours where we get lost for a little while before being found again.

My big detour that year in Oxford was doubt. I went through this somewhat intense season of doubting my faith. It didn’t feel like I was on the path to being a better or stronger Christian in any way. Looking back though, I see that in the doubt I was beginning to grasp my faith as my own. There was purpose in it. For this reason, I prefer the crooked path toward faith, rather than striving to live some sort of perfect and polished Christian life.

What was your perspective on the Bible growing up and how did it change during your time in Oxford?

Andrea Lucado: I first read through the Gospels when I was 14 years old. My youth minister had challenged us to do that as a New Year’s resolution. When I finished with John I just kept reading, all the way through the New Testament, stopping before Revelation (because it freaked me out). I loved reading the Bible. I think part of this was because I loved reading, in general, and I think part of it was truly the Holy Spirit giving me this hunger for it.

Of course I haven’t always felt a deep desire to read the Word, and in Oxford I remember Scripture falling a little flat for me. Rather than being interested in reading it, I grew interested in knowing whether or not it was true. How could I trust it? Who wrote which part? What did the apologists say about Scripture? What did the atheists say?

Interestingly, it was Scripture that proved to be my breakthrough in doubt that year. I was at a conference about faith and art and the speaker read from Psalm 137:

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
   in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
   let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
   above my highest joy! (Psalm 137:4-6, ESV)

Something about these verses struck me. I made a note to look them up when I got home. When I did, I wrote the words on a Post-it® note and stuck it on the wall above my desk. I began to cry. I was a foreigner in a foreign land. I had begun to forget Jerusalem, where I was from and what I believed. And I realized, I didn’t want to forget, and not only that, but that my faith had not left. It was still there. It was small, but it was still there.

What insights would you give millennials and new graduates who are wrestling with their Christian faith?

Andrea Lucado: I think the most important lesson I learned through my time at Oxford was that things are not as black and white as we think they are. The hard and fast rules we make for ourselves don’t usually make sense as we begin to make our way through adulthood. We make mistakes, others let us down, we experience doubt, we get a glimpse into how other people live—all of these things will change your perspective on the world, on faith, and on others.

I think keeping a posture of humble, open-handedness is crucial. Keep your hands open to possibly being wrong about something. Keep your hands open to other perspectives. Keep your hand open to who God is. The older I get the bigger he gets. Like what Lucy says to Aslan at the end of Prince Caspian:

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Andrea Lucado: I use BibleGateway.com almost daily. I do a lot of devotional writing and Bible study writing for my job and I love that you make free commentaries available. When I’m doing this type of writing I typically like to compare how a passage is written in different versions of the Bible. On my desk I’ll have a couple of different Bibles open, and then on my computer I’ll have Bible Gateway open where I can look up any version. I love how easy Bible Gateway makes it to study the Bible for those of us who don’t have seminary degrees.


Bio: Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. The daughter of bestselling author and pastor Max Lucado, she inherited an obsession with words and their arrangement. She’s the author of English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith blogs regularly at AndreaLucado.com. She has a masters degree in English literature from Oxford-Brookes University and contributes regularly to online and print publications such as Relevant magazine and She Reads Truth. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find her laughing with friends at a coffee shop or running in the Texas hill country.

Bible Gateway Plus: No expensive software suite. Just the best value in digital Bible study and reference. Try it right now!

Anxious for Nothing: An Interview with Max Lucado

Max LucadoHow have we let our fears get the better of us? What’s the difference between fear and anxiety? What does it mean to be anxious for nothing?

In this Q&A, Max Lucado (@MaxLucado) talks about his book, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

[Browse books by Max Lucado in the Bible Gateway Store]

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Because of Bethlehem: An Interview with Max Lucado]

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How common is anxiety in American society?

Max Lucado: Anxiety disorders in the United States are the number one mental health problem among women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men. Some say the United States is now the most anxious nation in the world. The land of the Stars and Stripes has become the country of stress and strife. This is a costly achievement. Stress-related ailments cost the nation $300 billion every year in medical bills and lost productivity, while our usage of sedative drugs keeps skyrocketing; just between 1997 and 2004, Americans more than doubled their spending on anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium, from $900 million to $2.1 billion. The Journal of the American Medical Association cited a study that indicates an exponential increase in depression. People of each generation in the twentieth century “were three times more likely to experience depression” than people of the preceding generation.

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What drives our anxiety?

Max Lucado: Change, for one thing. Researchers speculate that the Western world’s “environment and social order have changed more in the last 30 years than they have in the previous 300.” Think what has changed. Technology. The existence of the Internet. Increased warnings about global warming, nuclear war, and terrorist attacks. Changes and new threats are imported into our lives every few seconds thanks to smartphones, TVs, and computer screens. In our grandparents’ generation news of an earthquake in Nepal would reach around the world some days later. In our parents’ day the nightly news communicated the catastrophe. Now it’s a matter of minutes. We’ve barely processed one crisis, and then we hear of another.

In addition, we move faster than ever before. Our ancestors traveled as far as a horse or camel could take them during daylight. But us? We jet through time zones as if they were neighborhood streets. Our great-grandparents had to turn down the brain sensors when the sun set. But us? We turn on the cable news, open the laptop, or tune in to the latest survival show.

Buy your copy of Anxious for Nothing Study Guide in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What’s the difference between anxiety and fear?

Max Lucado: Anxiety and fear are cousins but not twins. Fear sees a threat. Anxiety imagines one.

Fear screams Get out! Anxiety ponders What if? Fear results in fight or flight. Anxiety creates doom and gloom. Fear is the pulse that pounds when you see a coiled rattlesnake in your front yard. Anxiety is the voice that tells you, Never, ever, for the rest of your life, walk barefooted through the grass. There might be a snake…somewhere.

In Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul wrote “be anxious for nothing.” Isn’t that kind of extreme?

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Max Lucado: Right! “Be anxious for less” would have been a sufficient challenge. Or “Be anxious only on Thursdays.” Or “Be anxious only in seasons of severe affliction.” But Paul doesn’t seem to offer any leeway here. Be anxious for nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Is this what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense, which implies an ongoing state. It’s the life of perpetual anxiety that Paul wanted to address. The Lucado Revised Translation reads, “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst.”

The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional. Anxiety is not a sin; it’s an emotion. (So don’t be anxious about feeling anxious.) Anxiety can, however, lead to sinful behavior. When we numb our fears with six-packs or food binges, when we spew anger like Krakatau, when we peddle our fears to anyone who will buy them, we’re sinning.

Do Christians struggle with the myth that they shouldn’t ever feel worried or experience anxiety?

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Max Lucado: Yes! We’ve been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety! The result is a downward spiral of worry, guilt, worry, guilt.

You long to be “anxious for nothing.” You long for the fruit of the Spirit. But how do you bear this fruit? Try harder? No, hang tighter. Our assignment is not fruitfulness but faithfulness. The secret to fruit bearing and anxiety-free living is less about doing and more about abiding.

Our aim—our only aim—is to be at home in Christ. He’s not a roadside park or hotel room. He’s our permanent mailing address. Christ is our home. He’s our place of refuge and security. We’re comfortable in his presence, free to be our authentic selves. We know our way around in him. We know his heart and his ways. We rest in him, find our nourishment in him. His roof of grace protects us from storms of guilt. His walls of providence secure us from destructive winds. His fireplace warms us during the lonely winters of life. We linger in the abode of Christ and never leave.

Don’t load yourself down with lists. Don’t enhance your anxiety with the fear of not fulfilling them. Your goal is not to know every detail of the future. Your goal is to hold the hand of the One who does and never, ever let go.

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So, what does a life without anxiety look like?

Max Lucado: With God as your helper, you’ll sleep better tonight and smile more tomorrow. You’ll reframe the way you face your fears. You’ll learn how to talk yourself off the ledge, view bad news through the lens of sovereignty, discern the lies of Satan, and tell yourself the truth. You’ll discover a life that’s characterized by calm and will develop tools for facing the onslaughts of anxiety.

It’ll require some work on your part. I certainly don’t mean to leave the impression that anxiety can be waved away with a simple pep talk. In fact, for some, God’s healing will include the help of therapy and/or medication. If that’s the case, do not for a moment think that you’re a second-class citizen of heaven. Ask God to lead you to a qualified counselor or physician who’ll provide the treatment you need. This much is sure: It’s not God’s will that you lead a life of perpetual anxiety. It’s not his will that you face every day with dread and trepidation. He made you for more than a life of breath-stealing angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life. And he’s ready to write it.

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You write that God’s sovereignty gives Christians an inside track to peace. How?

Max Lucado: Sovereignty is the term the Bible uses to describe God’s perfect control and management of the universe. He preserves and governs every element. He’s continually involved with all created things, directing them to act in a way that fulfills his divine purpose. That’s why the most stressed-out people are control freaks. They fail at the quest they most pursue. The more they try to control the world, the more they realize they cannot. Life becomes a cycle of anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure. We can’t take control, because control is not ours to take.

The Bible has a better idea. Rather than seeking total control, relinquish it. You can’t run the world, but you can entrust it to God. This is the message behind Paul’s admonition to “rejoice in the Lord.” Peace is within reach, not for lack of problems, but because of the presence of a sovereign Lord. Rather than rehearse the chaos of the world, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty, as Paul did. Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace. Others see the problems of the world and wring their hands. We see the problems of the world and bend our knees.

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What do you say to those who feel God is far away when life is most stressful?

Max Lucado: The Lord is near! You’re not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you’re alone. But there’s never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near. God repeatedly pledges his proverbial presence to his people. Don’t assume God is watching from a distance. Avoid the quicksand that bears the marker “God has left you!” Don’t indulge this lie. If you do, your problem will be amplified by a sense of loneliness. It’s one thing to face a challenge, but to face it all alone? Isolation creates a downward cycle of fret. Choose instead to be the person who clutches the presence of God with both hands. We can calmly take our concerns to God because he’s as near as our next breath!

How does prayer affect anxiety?

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Max Lucado: Peace happens when people pray. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). Casting is an intentional act to relocate an object. Let this “throwing” be your first response to bad news. As you sense anxiety welling up inside you, cast it in the direction of Christ. Do so specifically and immediately. Find a promise of God that fits your problem, and build your prayer around it. These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and activate the angels of heaven. Miracles are set into motion. Your answer may not come overnight, but it will come. And you will overcome.

Can gratitude calm frayed nerves?

Max Lucado: Gratitude is a mindful awareness of the benefits of life. It’s the greatest of virtues. Studies have linked the emotion with a variety of positive effects. Grateful people tend to be more empathetic and forgiving of others. People who keep a gratitude journal are more likely to have a positive outlook on life. Grateful individuals demonstrate less envy, materialism, and self-centeredness. Gratitude improves self-esteem and enhances relationships, quality of sleep, and longevity. If it came in pill form, gratitude would be deemed the miracle cure. It’s no wonder, then, that God’s anxiety therapy includes a large, delightful dollop of gratitude. The anxious heart says, “Lord, if only I had this, that, or the other, I’d be okay.” The grateful heart says, “Oh, look! You’ve already given me this, that, and the other. Thank you, God.”

How would you encourage someone who doesn’t know how they’ll survive life’s current storm?

Max Lucado: Paul’s answer to that question is profound and concise. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). As we do our part (rejoice in the Lord, pursue a gentle spirit, pray about everything, and cling to gratitude), God does his part. He bestows upon us the peace of God. Note, this is not a peace from God. Our Father gives us the very peace of God. He downloads the tranquility of the throne room into our world, resulting in an inexplicable calm. We should be worried, but we aren’t. We should be upset, but we’re comforted. The peace of God transcends all logic, scheming, and efforts to explain it.

How do our thought patterns shape our perspective on life’s difficulties?

Max Lucado: There are many things in life over which you have no choice. But the greatest activity of life is well within your dominion. You can choose what you think about. You can be the air traffic controller of your mental airport. You occupy the control tower and can direct the mental traffic of your world. Thoughts circle above, coming and going. If one of them lands, it’s because you gave it permission. If it leaves, it’s because you directed it to do so. You can select your thought pattern.

For that reason, the wise man urges, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Prov. 4:23 NCV). Do you want to be happy tomorrow? Then sow seeds of happiness today (count blessings, memorize Bible verses, pray, sing hymns, spend time with encouraging people). Do you want to guarantee tomorrow’s misery? Then wallow in a mental mud pit of self-pity or guilt or anxiety today (assume the worst, beat yourself up, rehearse your regrets, complain to complainers).

Thoughts have consequences. Healing from anxiety requires healthy thinking. Your challenge is not your challenge. Your challenge is the way you think about your challenge. Your problem is not your problem; it’s the way you look at it.


Bio: More than 130 million readers have found inspiration and encouragement in the prolific writings of Max Lucado. Browse his books in the Bible Gateway Store. Max lives with his wife, Denalyn, and their mischievous mutt, Andy, in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the people of Oak Hills Church.

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Nabeel Qureshi, Convert from Islam and Christian Apologist, Has Passed Away

Nabeel QureshiWe’re saddened to learn that Nabeel Qureshi, an active figure in Christian apologetics, has passed away after battle with cancer. Qureshi, who converted to Christianity from Islam, became a leading voice in Christian apologetics with books like Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and No God but One: Allah or Jesus? He worked not only to introduce Muslims to the Gospel, but to help Christians better understand and love their Muslim neighbors.

We interviewed Qureshi twice, inviting him to talk about his two books. In those interviews, you’ll see his Qureshi’s approach to apologetics and his passion for evangelism. You can read them here:

For a moving tribute to Qureshi’s life and ministry, see this Washington Post article by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.

With Qureshi’s passing, the modern church has lost a powerful voice. We’re grateful for the intellectual rigor he brought to the work of evangelism, and we pray that his example will inspire others to carry on with his mission.

Did You Know Jesus Died a Terrorist’s Death?

One of the most famous paintings depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is Diego Velázquez’ Christ Crucified:

Diego Velázquez’ Christ Crucified

As you can see, it depicts rough-hewn beams, fashioned together perpendicularly. Nailed to those boards is the man Jesus, blood seeping from both hands and both feet. There’s also the crown of thorns, with blood trailing down Jesus’ neck. Blood trails from a several-inch cut on his upper right chest—the slice from the Roman soldier’s spear.

This nearly five-hundred-year-old painting is typical of the kinds of images that have been used to depict Christ’s death. Yet it doesn’t even begin to capture the reality of what he endured.

What he endured was the most severe form of capital punishment ever devised, one that was usually reserved for the Roman Empire’s most notorious political rebels.

A Punishment Fit for Terrorists

While most retellings of the crucifixion story portray Jesus as enduring a common form of punishment for common criminals, this isn’t entirely true. In reality, this form of punishment was mostly reserved for insurrectionists, enemies of the state, and terrorists. (Think Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.)

This form of execution wasn’t used against just anyone, but was mostly reserved for those who tried to directly challenge Rome’s authority. It was the most horrifying death imaginable. Rome understood this, and they used it to instill the fear of the Empire in their subject people.

Rome would line up cross after cross after cross of crucified terrorists to show their subjects who was boss. In one instance, after the Siege of Jerusalem, it was reported by Jewish historian Josephus that hundreds of captured rebels were crucified—letting everyone know what would happen to those who tried to take on Rome.

We know from the account of Jesus that one such terrorist, Barabbas, was waiting to be crucified: he “had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). While some have suggested that Jesus was crucified between petty thieves or criminals, the original Greek word used in Matthew and Mark to describe them is lestes—“insurrectionist” or “rebel,” the same word used for Barabbas after he had terrorized the city in rebellion against Rome. In fact, it’s possible Jesus hung in the very spot reserved for Barabbas—the purported leader of these two terrorists. Political insurrection is also the charge the Jewish religious leaders leveled against Jesus before the Roman governor—that he was “subverting our nation” (Luke 23:2), like a terrorist.

This is how Rome treated Jesus: as a rebel, an insurrectionist, a terrorist who threatened the order of the empire. And the punishment they doled out fit the crime.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Before a crucifixion, guards would often flog their victims with a device called a flagrum—a wooden handle with several strips of metal-studded leather. Before the main event, guards would flog the convicted terrorists, destroying their backs, ripping out pieces of their scalps, tearing off the sides of their face.

Jesus was flogged. And then he was beaten by soldiers with a staff, clubbed to the side and head and ribs—again and again and again. He was spit upon and mocked for being a supposed “king of the Jews.” The guards shoved a crown of thorns on his head and draped a purple robe around him in mockery. In the eyes of Rome, Jesus was obviously a failed terrorist, for he was succumbing to the might of Rome.

After hours of this pain and suffering, victims were forced to carry their own beam to the site of their crucifixion. Jesus’ beating and flogging left him physically incapable of carrying that burden, so one of the guards pulled a man out of the crowd and forced him to carry it for Jesus.

Once at the site of crucifixion, Jesus would have been laid on the cross naked, stripped bare of his clothes—an important feature of crucifixions missing from most depictions. We know this is true because after the soldiers had crucified Jesus they gambled for his clothes.

Then there were the spikes. Seven-inch-long pieces of sharpened metal that were pounded through each of his wrists and feet—through flesh, tendons, and bones. The posture these instruments created allowed for maximum agony… often for days.

For hours Jesus hung on the cross completely exposed to the crowd and elements—to flies, birds, animals, the sun. His nakedness added to the humiliation, increasing the shame and excruciating experience. Flies buzzed around his wounds. Birds probably tried to scavenge flesh off his body. He wouldn’t have been able to hold his waste. The heat would have been suffocating—baking in 100 degrees without relief, dehydration would have set in.

Imagine the struggle, imagine the pain, imagine the suffering—for over three hours.

For you, for the world.

Death with a Purpose

Christ’s brutal, undignified death at the hands of Rome served a purpose that has rippled through all of history.

As the early church father Cyril of Alexandria commented, “He made his life to be an exchange for the life of all. One died for all, in order that we all might live to God sanctified and brought to life through his blood, justified by his grace.”

Remarkably, the Son of God died for those who had rebelled against him! He wasn’t the rebel or insurrectionist, we were. And at just the right time, the Bible says, Christ died for us ungodly rebels:

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7–8).

Because God loved the world so much, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die the death we should have died to pay the price of our sin. Rome didn’t take Jesus’ life—he freely offered it! And the result?

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:21–22).

Because Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross, drinking the cup of pain and judgment completely dry,we don’t only have peace with God; we’re holy, forgiven, justified, and free of any shame or guilt.

Puts the familiar, sanitized version of the crucifixion in its proper context, doesn’t it?

The Swindoll Study Bible to Release In Early October

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One of America’s best-loved and most respected pastors, Chuck Swindoll, partners with Tyndale to publish an insightful and practical study Bible

Tyndale House Publishers (@tyndalehouse) will release The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) (website) in October 2017. The fruit of pastor, teacher, and author Chuck Swindoll’s (@chuckswindoll) more than 50 years in ministry, The Swindoll Study Bible offers the best of Swindoll’s biblical wisdom, wit, charm, and practical insight that gets straight to the heart of the Bible’s transformational message for the world today.

[Hear the Bible Gateway Blog post, Searching the Scriptures: An Interview with Chuck Swindoll]

[Browse the more than 70 books by Charles Swindoll in the Bible Gateway Store]

“This study Bible was designed with the reader in mind,” says Swindoll. “As you read the Scriptures, imagine me sitting beside you and sharing personal stories, important insights, and hard-earned lessons that will encourage you to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.”

A lifelong desire to help people understand and apply God’s Word to their daily lives is the driving force behind The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT). Readers will find it the perfect complement to other study resources from Swindoll and other trusted authors.

“Based on recent conversations with Chuck, I think there are two words that really capture this Bible: relevance and practicality,” says Kevin O’Brien, Tyndale House study Bible and reference brand manager. “That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have scholarship or depth behind it! We often hear people say, ‘Well, this one is good for personal devotions and that one is good for serious study.’ My response is simple—if your devotions aren’t serious and your study isn’t personal, you’re doing it wrong. The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) really does help you do both.”

The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) features include:

  • The clear, accurate New Living Translation: Chuck says, “When I am in the pulpit, the Bible I use is the New Living Translation. It is really a scholarly work, but it is readable.”
  • Living Insights include more than 1,600 study notes developed straight out of Chuck’s personal sermon notes.
  • Application Articles adapted from Chuck’s sermons include compelling stories, illustrations, and specific application points.
  • Holy Land Tour stops take readers on detailed excursions to significant biblical locations. It’s almost like touring the Holy Land with Chuck and his ministry team.
  • People Profiles explore illuminating lessons from figures in the biblical story that hit home with modern readers.
  • Prayer Moments feature heartfelt prayers from Chuck, asking God to help us live out the truths of his Word.
  • Book Introductions provide enlightening answers for five key questions that orient readers to essential details and themes for each book of the Bible.
  • Searching the Scriptures summarizes Chuck’s personal approach to Bible study and message preparation. Adapted from Chuck’s book of the same name, this article includes exercises to teach readers to prepare and serve their own nourishing spiritual meals.
  • Bible-reading plans, indexes, dictionary/concordance, and color maps help readers stay in the Word and better understand its context.

Swindoll says, “’How can I apply Scripture today?’ is a question more than any other that has fed my passion to publish this Bible. My primary focus in ministry has been preaching and teaching biblical insight for living; for genuine life change. After all, that’s why God communicated his Word to us—that we may become like his Son, Jesus Christ, the central figure of this book.”

About Charles Swindoll:
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the clear, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Consistently ranked as one of America’s best-loved and most respected pastors, he is highly influential, a 12-time Gold Medallion winner, and a bestselling author and contributor to more than 70 titles. His Insight for Living (@IFL_USA) radio program airs on more than 2,100 outlets around the world and in multiple languages.

Tyndale House Publishers:
Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of September 17, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
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Most Church of England Christians Never Read the Bible, Survey Finds
The Telegraph
Read Bible Gateway Blog posts that introduce you to the Bible

illumiNations: An Audacious Goal for Bible Translation
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Satan Clubs Dying and Good News Clubs Growing
Christian Newswire

The Number of Religious Congregations in the USA Has Increased by Almost 50,000 Since 1998
CT

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Charting the Bible Chronologically: An Interview with Dr. Ed Hindson

Dr. Ed Hindson

The Bible follows the rise and fall of kingdoms and governments, covers millennia of ancient history, and reveals God’s plan for humanity through powerful accounts that are still relevant today. How can having a panoramic view of the events recorded in Scripture help in your own study of the Bible?

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. Ed Hindson (@TheKingsComing2), who, along with Dr. Thomas Ice, is the author of Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan (Harvest House Publishers, 2016).

Thomas Ice

What do you mean when you say the biblical view of history is linear, unlike other worldviews?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Biblical history is real history: real people, real places, real events. It unfolds through real time from creation unto the eternal city. In other words, these are the “bookends” of the timeframe of the Bible. Other ancient views of time are cyclical—an endless series of repetitious cycles with no final culmination. The Bible begins with God’s creation and ends with his re-creation of the new heavens and new earth.

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Why is it important to study the chronological data presented in the Bible?

Dr. Ed Hindson: The specific data of the biblical events helps us place those events in their original context. The Bible was written in real history not in the realm of mythology. Charting the Bible Chronologically helps the reader understand the order of the biblical events as they will occur in the future.

In your book’s master fold-out timeline, you’ve placed the date of creation to be 4004 BC. What convinces you of that?

Dr. Ed Hindson: By taking the dates of the genealogies literally, one arrives at that date for creation. Otherwise, we would have no way to even begin to compute the date of creation. All other suggested possibilities are mere guesswork.

How do you account for the Bible recording the average age of people before Noah’s flood to be around 930 years?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Long life spans before the flood were likely due to several factors, especially genetics and environment. The human genome had not yet broken down and the pre-flood environment was much less hostile for human existence. After the flood, the environment changed drastically and lifespans dropped accordingly.

Your book summarizes the Bible into seven categories. Please briefly describe them.

Dr. Ed Hindson: The Creation, The Flood, The Abrahamic Promise, The New Testament, The Fate of Israel, Growth of the Church, and Promise of the Future. These simply provide a general outline of biblical history from creation until the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the future. They give the reader a framework for understanding the Bible in its entirety.

How did the Bible come to be?

Dr. Ed Hindson: The Bible is a collection of 66 books in one volume. These were written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a period of 1500 years (from Moses to the Apostle John). Each book has its own unique message of the Bible. Both Jewish and Christian theologians accepted the individual books for canonicity based upon the criteria of their standards of “inspiration.”

What are the “divine institutions” you write about?

Dr. Ed Hindson: There are three institutions that God established before the Fall: 1) Responsible Dominion; 2) Marriage; 3) Family; and at least two after the Fall: 1) Civil Government; 2) National Diversity. These social responsibilities were given to all humankind either at creation or after the flood. Thus, the primary function of human government is to restrain evil so that the pre-Fall institutions can be successful.

What is dispensationalism and why is it controversial?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Dispensations are periods of time (stewardships) in which God dealt with humankind on the basis of his progressive revelation of divine truth. Therefore, dispensationalists view this progression as an essential context through which to interpret Scripture. Dispensational hermeneutics (interpretation) helps us understand how Jesus viewed the relationship of Israel to the church. As with many theological understandings, there are those who disagree and this results in controversy.

Explain the format of your book and how you hope it will impact readers.

Dr. Ed Hindson: The book is divided into historical periods with charts of the main biblical events (for example, patriarchs, judges, prophets, kings, apostles, etc.). These are supplemented with clear discussions of each time period. This enables the reader to move progressively through the Bible in chronological order.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Bible gateway is an incredible tool that opens the Bible to the mind of today’s reader in a multi-faceted way that makes the Bible come to life today.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the importance of Charting the Bible Chronologically.


Bio: Dr. Ed Hindson is the Distinguished Professor of Religion and Dean of the School of Divinity at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

He is the speaker on The King is Coming telecast and a Gold Medallion author, having written over 40 books including The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey, The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, and The Gospel of Matthew: The King is Coming. He also served as general editor of the Gold Medallion award-winning Knowing Jesus Study Bible, The King James Study Bible, and the King James Bible Commentary, and is the co-editor of the 16-volume 21st Century Biblical Commentary Series.

An executive board member of the Hendley Foundation, Atlanta Georgia, he is also a Life Fellow of the International Biographical Association of Cambridge, England. Dr. Hindson holds earned degrees from several institutions: BA, William Tyndale College; MA, Trinity Graduate School; the Doctor of Theology (ThD) from Trinity Graduate School, The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) from the University of South Africa. He has done additional graduate study at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Dr. Hindson has served as a visiting lecturer at Oxford University and the Harvard Divinity School, as well as numerous evangelical seminaries including Dallas, Denver, Trinity, Grace, and Westminster. He has taught over 50,000 students in the classroom and another 50,000 online at Liberty University in the past 30 years. His solid academic scholarship, combined with a dynamic and practical teaching style, communicate biblical truth in a powerful and positive manner.

Ed and his wife Donna reside in Forest, VA and have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

Thomas Ice is director of the Pre-Trib Research Center and has authored and coauthored 30-plus books. He has a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD from Tyndale Theological Seminary, and lives in Texas.

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Rebel in the Ranks: How Martin Luther’s Reformation Changed Much More Than the Church

Martin LutherWhat do you think about when you consider the Protestant Reformation (which started 500 years ago this year)?

Most of us tend to picture Martin Luther nailing his famous “95 theses” to the wall of a Wittenberg church—an act of defiance that led to the Reformation and changed the religious landscape of Europe. In many churches and schools, Luther’s Reformation is taught and understood as a theological movement: a period of important change within the church, but of little concern outside it.

It’s certainly true that the Reformation was a theological movement, but it was also a political and cultural movement—and the changes wrought by the Reformation were not limited to within the Christian church. In his new book Rebel in the Ranks, Brad S. Gregory takes a close look at the actions and intentions of Martin Luther as he raised the standard of reform. Gregory sees Luther not just as the author of a theological movement, but as a man whose acts of defiance unleashed a cascade of political and social changes that quickly evolved beyond his control. And those changes define your world today, whether you’re Protestant, Catholic, non-Christian, or even an atheist.

Today, we take the concepts of religious freedom and diversity for granted. But for European Christians breaking away from the authority of the Catholic Church during the Reformation, these ideas were new and untested—and even frightening! Christians found that their theological views affected much more than just the choice of which church to attend. As Gregory notes,

Martin Luther

The early evangelical movement was a dynamic, diverse, and creative outpouring of Christian commitment in the cities and villages of central Europe. It turned out that the Word of God, liberated from the prescriptions of the Catholic Church, could be understood in many different ways. Different assertions and priorities followed—about the Church, political authorities, worship, the sacraments, and more—depending on how you understood scripture and the Spirit or whose interpretation of them you decided to follow. […] Inspired by God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, these different Protestant groups formed communities based on their competing interpretations of Scripture….

If religion had been just religion, these fissures might not have mattered too much. But in the sixteenth century religion was never just religion, so the ruptures and rifts made worlds of difference. Religion wasn’t separate from the exercise of power or one’s duties to others or the buying and selling of goods; it wasn’t separate from education or morality. It touched everything, which meant disagreements about it threatened to disrupt everything.

With the relative religious freedom sparked by the Reformation came political unrest that sometimes manifested in violence and war, as Europe’s Christian communities struggled to come to grips with the lack of a single unifying spiritual authority. And in a development that Luther would never have approved, the (often bloody) clashes between different Christian groups actually encouraged people to reduce the role of religion in civic life over time:

Because religion as more-than-religion proved to be so problematic in the Reformation era, religion therafter will begint o be circumscribed and restricted. It will begin to be separated fromt he many domains of human life it had previously informed, demoted to being just another part of life. Besides being redefined and narrowed in scope, religion will be refashioned as a matter of individual choice—another major modern innovation. The freedom of a Christian will come to include the freedom not to be a Christian—or a Jew or Muslim or member of any other religious tradition. Freedom of religion wil imply the potential for freedom from religion.

Rebel in the RanksThat the Reformation ultimately led to the decline of religious influence on civic life would have seemed a bitter irony to Luther and his peers. But whether you’re a Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, or Jew—or even if you’re not religious at all—we all owe our freedom to worship without coercion by a religious state to Martin Luther’s act of theological defiance 500 years ago.

This fall, as we reflect on the contributions of the Protestant Reformers and the movements they created, it’s worth looking for their influence not just within the walls of the church, but in the “secular” cultures and societies where we live and worship freely. It’s an imperfect world, to be sure; and today we continue to discuss and debate the appropriate place of religion in public life. But that we can have these debates at all is partly because of the long-term changes the Reformation inspired.

If this take on Luther and his revolution sounds interesting to you, you can read much more in Brad S. Gregory’s Rebel in the Ranks. If you’ve always looked at Luther as a figure of merely theological importance, this book will challenge you to expand your appreciation for both Luther and movement he ignited.

Redeeming the Feminine Soul: An Interview with Julie Roys

Julie RoysWhat is the scriptural vision for godly womanhood and manhood? How should the feminine soul be biblically nurtured? What is the clarity between feminist and fundamentalist?

Bible Gateway interviewed Julie Roys (@reachjulieroys) about her book, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

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How do feminine souls and masculine souls differ?

Julie Roys: For years, I didn’t think they did. I was a quintessential tomboy growing up and loved playing sports and competing against boys. I also loved debating issues and sparring intellectually. I was a Christian and believed God had created men and women for unique purposes, but I had trouble figuring out what those purposes were. Other than our anatomy, it seemed like women and men were pretty much the same—at least when considering people like me who never really fit a gender stereotype.

Then God allowed me to go through a very painful experience that showed me I was far more feminine than I ever would have imagined. I realized that I had a strong craving for relationship and intimacy—and when I didn’t get it, I resorted to a stereotypically feminine way of trying to get it.

This experience sparked a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual journey that eventually led me to see that women embody nurture and relational connectedness in a way that’s unique to them. Conversely, men embody initiation and strength in a way that’s unique to them. This is revealed in numerous Scriptures, but perhaps most explicitly in the gender-specific curses in Genesis 3. God causes women to experience pain in childbirth, and men to be frustrated as they work and try to take dominion over nature. Yet, neither women nor men fit neatly into the gendered caricatures the church often communicates to them. We’re far more complex than that.

You write that women are destroying themselves. How so?

Julie Roys: Many women have been wounded, dismissed, or even abused simply because they’re women. In addition, our culture values masculine virtues like strength and power over feminine ones like compassion and empathy. So it’s not surprising that many women are rejecting anything that’s uniquely feminine about themselves and instead becoming, as feminist icon Gloria Steinem once wrote, “the men we wanted to marry.”

The problem is that God didn’t make women to be men. And becoming like them requires us to die to something essential within ourselves. Yet that’s precisely what’s happening today. Many women have traded motherhood for jobs in the marketplace. We’re serving in combat positions in the military. And we’re even competing in sports like weightlifting, wrestling, and boxing in the Olympics. These changes supposedly represent progress, yet studies show we’re less happy than ever before. Unfortunately, we’ve lost sight of who God made us to be, and have adopted the perverse values of our misogynistic culture. And it’s making us miserable.

How has the theologically conservative Christian church become a “boys’ club”?

Julie Roys: I don’t think conservative churches intend to be a boys’ club. But when churches exclude women from full participation in the church, that’s what often happens. Men take all the main leadership roles in the church, and it often never occurs to them that women possess certain gifts and should be invited to contribute in significant ways.

Of course, many male leaders don’t allow women to serve in certain capacities because they believe Scripture advocates specific, rigid roles for each gender. While these roles have validity, the church unfortunately has become rather myopic, focusing almost obsessively on sex roles while missing the greater and grander vision of why God created gender in the first place. As I say in Redeeming the Feminine Soul, conservatives often miss the forest for the trees. On the other hand, feminists have razed the entire forest!

How is understanding what male and female symbolize critical for understanding God and his purposes?

Julie Roys: God created male and female/husband and wife to serve as spiritual symbols, revealing deep truths about himself and the way he relates to his church. Theologians have long taught that God designed the one-flesh union of Adam and Eve in Gen. 2:24 to be a symbol of the Trinity, showing how multiple persons exist in a life-giving union of love and mutuality. Then, in Ephesians 5, we learn that Christ’s church is invited to share in this Trinitarian union. We’re his bride and he’s our bridegroom. We become one with him as he’s one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This is the greater and grander purpose of gender and sexuality, and if we miss this symbolic meaning, we lose our ability to comprehend God and our relationship with him. As Pope John Paul II once said, marriage and family are the bookends of Scripture and key to interpreting what’s in between. Scripture begins with the wedding of Adam and Eve and ends with the wedding feast of Christ and his bride, the church. Gender and sexuality encompass much more than designated roles or procreation. That’s likely why they’re being fiercely attacked today.

Unpack your chapter titled “A Man in Every Woman and a Woman in Every Man.”

Julie Roys: C. S. Lewis once wrote, “There ought spiritually to be a man in every woman and a woman in every man. And how horrid the ones who haven’t got it are: I can’t bear a ‘man’s man’ or a ‘woman’s woman.’” By this, Lewis wasn’t advocating for androgyny or gender ambiguity. Men should still be masculine and women should still be feminine. But Genesis 1:27 tells us that we were made in God’s image, “male and female.” So there seems to be something about masculinity and femininity that reflect God’s image. And since God apparently possesses both characteristics, we who are made in his image should likewise possess both masculine and feminine in a degree appropriate to our particular sex.

A woman who possesses only feminine characteristics is sickly passive and unable to act or say no. A man who possesses only masculine characteristics is warlike and incapable of empathy. Rather than promoting overly masculine visions of manhood and overly feminine visions of womanhood, the church should teach that healthy men and women contain a balance of both qualities. This is a much healthier vision for men and women than the reductionist visions so prevalent in many churches.

How should a woman pursue God’s design for the feminine ideal?

Julie Roys: I don’t think we should pursue a feminine ideal. For one, the feminine ideal presented in many churches isn’t biblical, but simply a uni-dimensional feminine caricature. Plus, trying to force ourselves into a certain mold often just makes us depressed, exhausted, and angry. It’s like pounding a square peg into a round hole.

That being said, there’s no doubt that many of us have been shaped by our culture in false and unhealthy ways. Yet rather than trying to pursue an ideal, we need to pursue Christ and personal transformation. We need to identify wrong attitudes and beliefs about our own gender, and confess them. We need to accept our limitations and agree to be the women God has made us to be. We need to seek healing and maturity. If we do this, we’ll eventually become, not some idealized woman, but an authentic, healthy, and godly one.

What’s a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Julie Roys: I have two passages, but their meanings are similar. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Similarly, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Both speak of this wonderful promise of Scripture that we can shed our broken, sinful selves and become glorious creations, reflecting Christ himself. The last chapter of my book is titled, “The Glorious Becoming,” and talks about the transformation I’ve experienced as I’ve followed Jesus over my lifetime. I never could’ve become the woman God created me to be without God’s transformative power.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Julie Roys: I love Bible Gateway and use it constantly! It’s the best resource for finding Bible passages using a keyword, and also for finding the best translation for a given verse. In fact, the two verses I quoted earlier are from the ESV and the NIV. I love that I can go to biblegateway.com and instantly read multiple translations of a given verse. I don’t know what I’d do without it!


Bio: Julie Roys is host of Up for Debate, a popular talk show on the Moody Radio Network, which is carried on more than 140 stations, reaching a potential audience of more than 33 million listeners. The author of Redeeming the Feminine Soul and a graduate of both Wheaton College and the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she is respected for her ability to tackle difficult conversations with both courage and fairness. Her work has appeared in World magazine, Christianity Today, and the Christian Post. She also is a sought-after speaker at mega-churches, conferences, and special events. Julie and her husband live in the Chicago area and have three children.

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