Skip to content

Most Recent Blog Posts

Upgrade Your Life by Downsizing It: An Interview with Erin Loechner

Erin LoechnerHow should you focus on the few things that truly matter? How can you upgrade your life by downsizing it? How can such steep climbs as a husband’s brain tumor, bankruptcy, family loss, and public criticism be handled by God’s grace?

Bible Gateway interviewed Erin Loechner (@erinloechner) about her book, Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path (Zondervan, 2016).

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

What message are you communicating in the title?

Erin Loechner: Chasing Slow is a book about middles. There’s no arrival point, no tidy destination in which I claim to have figured out what it means to live a slower, wiser, more grace-filled life. It’s simply one woman’s journey on a quest to try a new way of being; a flinging of old patterns and a clinging to new lessons. There’s a line in the book that states, “Chasing slow is still a chase,” because in truth, we sometimes trick ourselves into pursuing the slow life just as quickly and gracelessly as we once pursued the fast one. Perhaps acceptance of our current pace—both the ones we can control and the ones we cannot—is a more worthy goal.

You open yourself up right away in the book with writing “I married a man with an expiration date.” Describe how, through your husband’s brain tumor and other turmoil, you found the strength to surrender to God’s grace.

Erin Loechner: I don’t know that we ever fully find the strength to surrender it all, but it’s certainly what I’m working toward. You know, you just go through life with a false sense of security. We all do. We assume that if we pay our taxes and brake for bunnies, God will bless us. We’ll be “good” people, with “good” outcomes and in God’s good graces. Ken’s tumor taught us both very early on that we’re not meant to control this life—we’re meant to surrender to it. The circumstances we’re given aren’t always the ones we’d choose, and we can either approach them with downcast eyes and angry hearts, or we can try a different way—one of acceptance, of joy, of delight in the days we’re given still. It’s surprisingly hard, yet surprisingly simple.

What are three ways to find God in the everyday rhythms of life?

Erin Loechner: Prayer, meditation, and worship. God has made himself ever-available to us; the veil has been torn. Are we living as if this is true, as if Someone so majestic and awe-inspiring is so very accessible? I find prayer, meditation, and worship to be the most consistent ways to invite God into my own everyday rhythm, whether my day is grounded by a particular verse, parable, or my own heart’s prayer. I find that by simply paying attention to the world God’s given us is one of today’s most rebellious acts—turning our eyes toward both beauty and pain; walking toward it all day after day after day.

What is a “quiet and constant faith” and how can someone find it?

Erin Loechner: I think of a quiet and constant faith as a house built on rock. We don’t find it; we build it. We choose love and truth and grace. We serve our neighbors, we care for the poor and the orphaned; the widows. We abide. We obey. We work, collaborating with the one who gives us strength and humility both, and in these small (great) acts of ordinary holiness, we inevitably witness the many ways our faith has sheltered us from a slew of storms.

How does the Bible help you in “chasing slow” in your life?

Erin Loechner: The Bible is a profound source of wisdom for me. It’s so difficult to indulge in the trials of our everyday when you receive a smack of perspective on the daily.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Erin Loechner: Proverbs 16:9—We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.

I find comfort in the idea that our plans must be held loosely in order to find ourselves obedient to a new (greater) direction.

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

Erin Loechner: I use the Bible Gateway App and site often when traveling and find it to be such a helpful resource for cross-referencing translations and themes in a larger context.

Bio: Author of Chasing Slow and founder of Design for Mankind, Erin Loechner has been blogging and speaking for more than a decade. Her heartfelt writing and design work has been showcased in The New York Times, Lucky, Parenting, Dwell, Marie Claire, Elle Decor, Huffington Post, and a two-season web special, garnering over one million fans worldwide. She has spoken for and appeared in renowned international events for clients such as Walt Disney World, IKEA, Martha Stewart and Home Depot. Now nestled in a Midwestern town, Erin, her husband, and two kids strive for less in most areas except three: joy, grace, and goat cheese.

Get biblically wise and spiritually fit with Bible Gateway Plus. See how.

The Most Important Thing for Our Children

Gary ThomasBy Gary Thomas

Our natural (but not necessarily holy) inclination to make life as easy as possible for our children, coupled with our focus on what we really want them to achieve, ultimately tells us parents what we value most about life. In what we stress with our children, we reveal the true passion of our own hearts.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Sacred Marriage: An Interview with Gary Thomas]

What is the most important thing for our children? Is it to make it into Harvard or Yale law school? Is it to make it to age 21 without suffering a single scar or a single broken heart? Is it to raise a child who says, “Yes, sir,” and “No, ma’am,” and who becomes financially independent? Though these are worthy goals, ask yourself a question. Is a child who has never been in the hospital, who is comfortable and familiar with the protocol of eating at a fancy restaurant, and who is a managing partner at a major law firm—but who cheats on his or her spouse, acts like a jerk to others, and whose soul is in eternal peril—really the kind of son or daughter you want to produce?

The Bible gives us a strong warning in 1 Samuel. High Priest Eli had two sons who slept with women workers and who gorged themselves on God’s offerings. Their father’s position allowed them to live in relative luxury, and though Eli despised what they did, he didn’t stop them. You might say he chose his sons’ happiness over their holiness and, in doing so, elicited God’s wrath. “Why do you honor your sons more than me?” God scolded Eli (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli’s sons became God’s enemies, to the point that the Bible tells us, “It was the Lord’s will to put them to death” (1 Samuel 2:25).

How terrifying to think that my kids could feel happy on the way to receiving the full brunt of God’s wrath! I want my children to echo Paul, who called himself “a servant of Christ Jesus . . . set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). Rather than seeking mere behavior modification, sacred parenting points our children to their need for a relationship with God and his wonderful answer to this need. If they never experience this emptiness, they will never appreciate God’s remedy.

Another way of putting this is that worldly failure can set our kids up to seek and receive God’s grace. Failure may teach them that they can’t do it on their own—they need the empowering Holy Spirit. If we protect our kids from failure, we may inadvertently protect them from believing that they need God. They will never sense their need for a Savior. They will always take Adam’s lame approach, blaming someone else for their own spiritual failing. And ultimately they may face God’s wrath because of it.

Yes, it hurts us when our kids hurt, but it devastates our kids’ eternal perspective far more when we hide their need for a Savior. Our hardest hurt may actually be their most important hurt. What a tragic loss if the hurt we spare ourselves is bought at the price of our children’s salvation.

This means accepting a very difficult but very important truth: Ultimately God’s kingdom far outweighs in significance the personal comfort of my children. As much as I adore my children, as crazy as I feel about them, I betray them if I put their happiness and comfort over God’s overall purpose in their lives and in our world.

I confess that it hurts even to type those words! Of course I want my kids to be safe and well fed, and to achieve their full potential, educationally and otherwise. But even more important to me is that they become recipients of God’s salvation and servants of their Savior. If they reject this gospel, they will be justly condemned. Even more difficult, I will have to agree with that condemnation—which means that if I try to craft a world without pain and consequences, I blind them to the reality that there will be eternal consequences, involving great pain, if they persist in rebellion against their Creator.

One time, one of our children got upset with us following a bout of discipline occasioned by an improper attitude toward us. I told her, “Look, this isn’t just about the attitude you have toward your mother or me; it’s about the health of your soul as you accept the authority God has placed over you. If I simply turn a blind eye to your attitude, I risk putting your eternal soul in peril, and I love you too much to do that.”

Children are our heart’s mirror. How we interact with them truly does reveal what we value most about life.


Sacred ParentingTaken from Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls by Gary Thomas. Click here to learn more about this title.

Parenting is a school for spiritual formation, says author Gary Thomas, and our children are our teachers. The journey of caring for, rearing, training, and loving our children profoundly alters us forever . . . even when the journey is sometimes a rough one.

Sacred Parenting is unlike any other parenting book on the market. This is not a “how-to” book that teaches readers the ways to discipline their kids or help them achieve their full potential. Instead of a discussion about how parents change their children, Sacred Parenting turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses children to change their parents.

Stepping beyond the overly-tilled soil of method books, you can learn a whole new side of parenting. you’ll be encouraged by stories that tell how other parents handled the challenges and difficulties of being a parent – and how their children transformed their relationship with God.

The lessons in this book are timeless. And in this edition, Gary Thomas includes some additional insights and stories that he’s learned and lived over the past fifteen years of his own parenting. He has found that the lessons have remained much the same but there are new applications for new generations who are just now discovering his book.

Gary L.Thomas is Writer in Residence and serves on the teaching team at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas and the author of 18 books that have sold more than a million copies worldwide and have been translated into a dozen languages. He and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 30 years.

Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Children: An Interview with Jean Thomason (Miss PattyCake)

Jean ThomasonThe psalmist’s admonition to “rejoice and be glad” extends to everyone. How can that concept best be taught to young children? What are age-appropriate teaching tools that center on communicating the love of God and help kids see that praising God is a game changer in life?

Bible Gateway interviewed Jean Thomason (aka Miss PattyCake) (@PattyCakePraise) about her book, Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives: A Can-Do Guide for Parents and Caregivers (Worthy Publishing, 2017). [See all the Miss PattyCake resources in the Bible Gateway Store]
Miss PattyCake

Tell a little about Miss PattyCake and how that persona teaches children about the Bible.

Jean Thomason: Miss PattyCake is a brightly costumed character with a program designed to plant biblical truths—broken into musical child-size pieces—into little lives. She teaches Bible verses and stories, praise songs, games, and activities that are biblically based.

Buy your copy of Sharing God's Big Love with Little Lives in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Miss PattyCake exists to share God’s BIG LOVE with little lives, and help parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers teach God’s Word through music, stories, Scripture, and FUN.

With biblically based resources and live appearances, she assists in the kingdom work of spiritual formation, which is: laying a foundation for salvation and establishing a biblical worldview.

Describe how you have transcribed the Miss PattyCake teaching experience into this colorful and fun book.

Jean Thomason: About three years ago I was singing at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. In the foyer hangs a large banner with these words: “Whoever wants the next generation the most, will get them.” I knew it then…I had to take the time to write what I had learned through experience, research, and Bible study about these early years and the importance of starting EARLY to teach biblical concepts, Scripture, and having FUN doing it.

I don’t think I’m a good writer, but I can talk—so I’d record myself teaching, and then actually write what I said! It needed lots of editing and it took almost two years. Worthy Publishing read it, liked it, and made it better! I’m most proud that they left the color and graphics in the book, since my hope is for busy parents to be intrigued and never bored while reading. When I was a young mommy, I didn’t want another book telling me what more I should do or what I wasn’t doing. That’s depressing. Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives, I hope, will be fun to read, make people laugh, and give them enthusiastic confidence as they live with and influence little lives!

Why is it important for parents and caregivers of children to be intentional about teaching the Bible and, as you put it, “practice praising God”?

Jean Thomason: Praise is a game-changer for all of life…so much of Scripture instructs us to “rejoice in always,” “give thanks in everything,” “Praise the Lord!” When I began to practice praising God, it radically changed my life. If you’ll practice praise by yourself as well as with your children, and do it often, it’ll change you. It’ll change the way you deal with your circumstances, and it’ll change the atmosphere in your home, and that will affect all your relationships.

I’ve found many people don’t know what the word PRAISE really means. It’s always a verb, and has many different directives. When parents and caregivers get understanding about how and why we praise God, it can change their life….it changed mine! Then they know better how to teach children, who are already more uninhibited and are excited to give thanks and praise to God.

The Bible says this, “Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs that drown out enemy talk, and silence atheistic babble.” (Psalm 8:2 MSG).

Working with little children now for 25 years has proven to me they need little encouragement to give God PRAISE—only direction. The promise of God’s Word again and again is this: when we CHOSE to praise God, the benefits are blessings, joy, peace, his presence, guidance, and more! Who doesn’t want that?!

How do you use the word “praise” to organize the book?

Jean Thomason: By using the letters of the word as the acronym PRAISE, this book takes readers on a tour of parenting and teaching young children about God, Jesus, the Holy Sprit, and the Bible.

      P — Placed And Privileged to Parent

      R — Rare Window of Opportunity

      A — All-Access Pass

      I — Infancy

      S — Seven Ways to Practice Praise

      E — Enthusiastic Enjoyment

       ! — Imperative—Do It!

How should parents and caregivers be sensitive when teaching the Bible and biblical truth to children who’ve encountered abuse, bullying, or other difficulties in their lives?

Jean Thomason: No matter what sadness, sorrow, or pain children have encountered, they ALL need to know about the unconditional and faithful love of God and the good news of the gospel of Jesus. The Bible is clear about the power of God’s words which “are living and active” (Heb. 4:12).

All of us who are alive in this fallen world know that sad and bad things happen to children. This should make us even more determined to teach our own little ones about God who made them and loves them, and about Jesus who went about doing GOOD, and forgave others. We should never, for any reason, NOT teach the Bible to children, because we can trust God’s words to lay a foundation on which salvation and sanctification can be built.

2 Tim. 3:15 says “from infancy you have known the Scriptures which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

How do you want this book to make a change in its readers?

Jean Thomason: I hope and pray this book will leave readers saying, “I can do this!” God helping us all, we can confidently say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). I hope this book will convince readers that God has put a child or children in their lives on purpose. And that he’s given us everything we need to speak into these little lives as his ambassador, representing his kingdom. It’s no mistake you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver of a little child. It’s a great responsibility, a privilege, and it can be a pleasure!

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

Jean Thomason: Psalm 40:1-3
“I put all my hope in the LORD.
    He leaned down to me;
    he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
    out of the mud and filth,
    and set my feet on solid rock.
        He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
    they will trust the LORD.”

This has been my personal life verse since I became a follower of Jesus! The word “praise” here is the Hebrew word, tehillah, which means to sing with the spirit; the singing of Hallelujahs! This word changed the direction of my life, pointed me to become a worship singer, and set the course for my life work. Also, it’s my story—what God has done for me and through me; how he’s helped me and used me. I’m the one who is AMAZED!

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

Jean Thomason: I’m so grateful for the Bible Gateway resource! I would have been lost without it while writing this book. There’s much Scripture reference all through my book, and I was constantly looking for the correct Bible translation, cross reference, etc., so I found it to be invaluable!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Jean Thomason: We must take seriously the task of teaching our children about God. The culture will not do it for us. The church is helpful, but the task is ours.

“If we don’t teach our children who God is, someone else will teach them everything that he isn’t.” (Darlene Schacht)

“The research is very clear: if Jesus is not already part of their lives by the time they leave junior high school, the chances of them accepting him as their Lord and Savior [are] very slim (6%, to be exact). With children, it’s just the opposite. The greatest evangelical window currently available is among young children.” (George Barna)

Bio: Jean Thomason is the live embodiment of the joyful children’s character, “Miss PattyCake.” The music and character of Miss PattyCake allow Jean to plant biblical truths, broken into musical toddler-size pieces, while helping parents lay a spiritual foundation. Jean has more than 30 years of experience as a musical performer, worship leader, and conference speaker (Miss PattyCake TV). Her live family concerts are performed around God’s great big world. Jean and her husband, Chris, live in Franklin, Tennessee.

Leading your family in Bible study? Bible Gateway Plus equips you to explore & teach the Bible better. Try it free for 30 days!

Take Our Eclipse Quiz: Do You Know What the Bible Says About the Sun, Moon, and Stars?

Are you making plans to see the August 21 eclipse? To celebrate this unique event, we’ve put together a quiz to test your Bible trivia skills. How well do you know the Bible’s references to the sun, moon, and stars? Take our new quiz and find out!

As you can see, even the most simple biblical references to the sun, moon, and sky provide insight into God’s nature and his great plan for Creation. If you’d like to explore more enriching details like this in your Bible, sign up for Bible Gateway Plus and get to know the Bible like never before. Click here to start your free trial.

Bible News Roundup – Week of August 13, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
Bible Gateway Weekly Brief
Newsletter signup

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

Two-Thirds of Americans Admit They Are Sinners
Facts & Trends
Read Romans 3:23 on Bible Gateway
Read about Sin in the Dictionary of Bible Themes on Bible Gateway

Silent and Solo: How Americans Pray
Barna Group

Museum of the Bible to Offer Free Admission
Christian Newswire
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Gateway Now Hosts Museum of the Bible Radio Program
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

$1 Million Gift to Fully Fund Bible History Elective Courses in Tennessee County
Hamilton County Department of Education

Local Churches Assist in Bible Translation in the Middle East
Mission Network News

Family’s Lost Bible Returned After 17 Years

Successful Businesswoman Sustained by Bible Reading and Prayer
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Biologists Analyze 900-Year-Old Gospel of Luke
Baptist Press

Cave Could Be Source of Stone Jars Whose Water Jesus Turned Into Wine
Read John 2 on Bible Gateway
Read about Cana in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

Meeting with God in the Airport

Sara HagertyBy Sara Hagerty

“Why this waste?”
Matthew 26:8

I’d been in a suit and heels since 5:00 a.m., and after a full morning, I was at the airport for an early afternoon flight home—home to a husband, but no children. It was a couple of years after my season at the boutique on North Barracks Road, but still a few years before the grief of infertility had settled into my soul.

I’d recently started to crave more. I wanted more from my sales support job. I wasn’t tired of doing it or even tired of the deskwork and the travel, but I was tired of working for little more than sales goals and a paycheck. I wanted more than productivity and success. I wanted brushes with God and meaning and almost anything that mattered but wasn’t easily measured.

My work for the day was done and I was tired, but my heart was hungry, and I was beginning to like heart hunger. So I prayed: God, I want to meet with You in this airport.

Meeting Him required quieting my insides enough to hear and respond. The kind of dialogue I was learning to have with God burgeoned when I saw it as an exchange—my mind for His thoughts, my fear for His assurance, my whispers for His response. As I made my way to a restaurant near my gate, I noticed an elderly gentleman who was being pushed in a wheelchair. I prayed for God to breathe life and strength into his frail body. I saw a man running as fast as my mind usually worked, and I prayed his racing heart would come to know Jesus. I saw a young woman with vacant eyes, and I prayed she would find the filling her heart most needed. I realized afresh that the people all around me weren’t merely interesting. They were God-created. I wanted to talk to Him about what He had made.

God, what do You see in the man who is late for his flight? And the one in the wheelchair—how do You see the heart buried underneath that broken body? Rather than looking at people as faces among the masses, I asked for His eyes for them and responded with minute-long prayers: God, I want to meet You in this airport.

No one knew this conversation I was having in my head with God. And I was starting to like these secret exchanges. At the restaurant, I grabbed the last available seat at the bar, which was full of day travelers with carry-ons. As I scooted up onto my stool and glanced at the laminated menu, I noticed the gentleman sitting next to me. He looked to be near retirement, but he was dressed for business. I was drawn to him in the way you’re drawn to someone who is not at all like you, but with whom you feel a strange connection.

Maybe I’m supposed to share the gospel with this man, I thought. I ordered my food and opened my book, trying to concentrate on reading while staying aware of what felt like a nudge from God.

Ten minutes later when the waitress brought out my order along with that of the man next to me, I noticed that we both had ordered the same meal. I awkwardly mumbled a comment about it, looking for a way to begin a conversation. But my voice, perhaps too quiet from nerves, got lost in a salvo of loudspeaker announcements. He hadn’t heard me. I went back to my book, resigned that I’d misread God’s cues.

The book I was reading explored the concept of abiding in the vine from John 15. The author used the notion of tree grafting to illustrate this abiding. After hours of client presentations on throbbing feet, my mind couldn’t absorb the words. I read and reread the same paragraph, but without comprehension. And then this prompt dropped into my mind: Ask the man sitting next to you to explain it.

Uh-oh, I thought.

As much as I wanted to hear from God, I knew that we humans sometimes mishear Him and mistake our mental wanderings for His voice. What should I do? Talk to the man and risk awkwardness and embarrassment? Or not talk to him and risk missing what might well be God’s answer to my prayer to meet with Him in this airport?

Well, at least I’ll never see this guy again, I thought. So I went for it.

“Sir, excuse me,” I said, much louder this time, almost shouting to compensate for my nerves.

He startled. “Yes?” he said, raising his eyebrows like the authoritative boss of a fresh college grad.

“Do you know anything about grafting?” I coughed out.

“What?” he asked.

Oh no. I had to say it again. This business exec didn’t even seem to know what the word meant.

“Grafting, sir. Do you know anything about grafting?”

My face was red hot.

“It’s funny you should ask,” he said. I noticed tears welling up in the corners of his eyes.

My heart started racing.

“I majored in agriculture in college and I minored in grafting. I run a farm equipment business but have gotten away from what I once loved.” Now I was sure I could actually hear my heart, not just feel the pounding.

He stretched back on his stool, took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. Then he enthusiastically explained the details of how the branch of one tree is grafted into another as if he were telling me a page-turning story. I showed him the paragraph in my book and asked him questions. He made it all so clear.

I’m not sure if I was more surprised that the prompt to talk to this man really was from God, or that God was personal enough to meet me at an airport barstool. Apparently, God was meeting this man too, right over his hamburger and French fries. He thanked me after our exchange as if he’d been reminded of his boyish love for trees and for grafting, a love that needed rediscovering.

Twelve years later, this conversation remains my most memorable business trip. Still. I can’t remember where I’d gone or even who I met with on that trip. I remember it only because I’d felt seen and heard by God.

God showed up when I was in my suit and heels, and He winked. We shared a secret. During those days of client presentations, excel spreadsheets, and conference calls, He was whispering, I want to meet with you, here. What I might once have considered a waste of time conversation with Him in the midst of a demanding day—became, instead, food for my hungry heart. It was a gift of hiddenness during a season when my work required me to be on during the workday.

God’s currency is communion—a relationship that grows, nearer still. A relationship that is cultivated when no one else is looking. A relationship accessed not just when we feel we need His help but at all the odd times that punctuate our agenda-driven days. A depth of relationship that feeds the recipient in the way that productivity and accomplishment just cannot.

What a waste. What a beautiful waste.


UnseenTaken from Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed by Sara Hagerty. Click here to learn more about this title.

Every heart longs to be seen and understood. Yet most of our lives is unwitnessed. We spend our days working, driving, parenting. We sometimes spend whole seasons feeling unnoticed and unappreciated. So how do we find contentment when we feel so hidden?

In Unseen, Sara Hagerty suggests that this is exactly what God intended. He is the only One who truly knows us. He is the only One who understands the value of the unseen in our lives. When this truth seeps into our souls, we realize that only when we hide ourselves in God can we give ourselves to others in true freedom—and know the joy of a deeper relationship with the God who sees us.

Our culture applauds what we can produce, what we can show, what we can upload to social media. Only when we give all of ourselves to God—unedited, abandoned, apparently wasteful in its lack of productivity—can we live out who God created us to be. As Hagerty writes, “Maybe my seemingly unproductive, looking-up-at-Him life produces awe among the angels.”

Sarah Hagerty is the author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, a wife to Nate, and a mother of six, including four children adopted from Africa and one toddler who’s found his voice amid them all. After almost a decade of Christian life, she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her. His Word and His whisper took on new shape and form to her in the dark. Sara writes regularly about life delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage, and adoption at

How to Avoid Email Anxiety: An Interview with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Dr. Emerson EggerichsWhat does the Bible say about the proper way to communicate in our modern email and social media saturated world? How can truth, kindness, necessity, and clarity help you avoid a communication disaster?

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (@loverespectinc) about his book, Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache & Heartache (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Buy your copy of Before You Hit Send in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What problems are you addressing in this book?

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: In Before You Hit Send, I address the vital importance of thinking about four words before communicating. To ignore one of these words and then hit send is not a good idea.

When I’ve neglected just one of these, usually the person listening to me or reading what I’ve written gets the wrong idea, not the right idea.

By the way, after surveying 1250 people, we found that each of these four words is distinct and essential. In other words, like four legs of a table, each is a standalone item and indispensable. In neglecting one, the communication table tilts or collapses.

Using these four words as a checklist has saved me both headache and heartache. Like a pilot who goes through a checklist in the cockpit prior to departure, my four points help me before I enter any realm of communication.

Don’t we all wish to be credible and effective communicators? Even at a young age, we’re all taught to think before we speak. These four concepts not only cause us to think first, but think wisely.

For instance, one of the four words is TRUE. I ask myself: Is this communication true? Is what I’m about to say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God?

Obviously, when we communicate something untrue, and the person listening learns it’s untrue, though all else that we say may be true, that person will wonder about our reliability and integrity. Just as a little leaven leavens the whole, a little lie poisons our reputation. My credibility as a communicator drops a notch; or several.

Why would we say what is untrue? In the book I provide 20 reasons under each of the four concepts that show why even people of goodwill are tempted to compromise. With this knowledge I seek to provide an impetus to stop before we cross a line that later we regret.

What’s an example of a goodwilled person compromising God’s will on speaking the truth? A wife asks her husband how much he spent on the tools he just bought. He knows he should tell her the whole truth, but he also knows he went over the agreed-upon budget. However, he doesn’t like marital conflict. He fears it. He doesn’t like to upset his wife. He wants to keep the peace so he hedges on the truth. From his lips he hears himself saying he spent $100 when he knows he spent $300. He hit send, so to speak, on a message to his wife that wasn’t the whole truth.

Why did this husband hedge on the truth? He was FEARFUL of the consequence of the truth, which to him is marital conflict. Peacemaker at heart, he compromises the truth. Of course, long term this makes things worse, but in the heat of the moment it seemed to prevent his fears from being realized. This is one of the 20 reasons a person would compromise the truth: fearing the consequences of the truth.

How should the Bible influence the way a person composes an email or writes a social media post?

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Before You Hit Send is driven by the biblical revelation related to these four words. For example, Ephesians 4:25 instructs us to set aside falsehood and speak truth to each other. This should govern all communication.

I point out that God’s first disciplinary action after Pentecost—when the Holy Spirit came to indwell the individual believer—concerned a husband and wife who lied. Ananias and Saphirra lost their lives due to the untruthful communication concerning the price of a piece of property they sold. This disciplinary action served as a clear declaration that we who are indwelt by God himself as his new temple must be people of truth who never knowingly mislead.

We’re to be imitators of God, who “cannot lie” (Ephesians 5:1; Titus 1:2). In the deepest sense our communication as Christ followers reflects what we believe about God.

Briefly unpack “The Golden Rule of Communication” and the Bible verses that support it.

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Some ask, “But how do I know for certain what’s the right thing to communicate?” Most often we can know immediately given we act on what Jesus said in Luke 6:31, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” We know this as the Golden Rule. When it applies to communicating, I need only ask myself, “If the roles were reversed, what would I want this person to say to me?”

Those who refuse to communicate based on the Golden Rule have come up with “reasons” why they’re an exception to the rule. However, in the long run no one is an exception. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” We’ll give an account before our audience of one, with whom there are no exceptions, and nothing slips by. For certain, God is not some cosmic killjoy out to hammer us, but our loving Father who reveals that our words matter to him because we matter to him. Most deeply, he wishes to reward us, not shame us.

God cares about our heart, and intends for us to discern that our words evidence the condition of our soul. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). Figuring out our heart isn’t easy, but our word choice and communication helps us know ourselves. When I always speak what’s true, that too reveals who I am. When I chronically lie, this reveals something about my nature (John 8:44).

What should a person do after sending an email that never should have been sent?

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Quickly apologize. We learn this in principle from Jesus who tells us that when another has “something against you. . . . Make friends quickly . . . first be reconciled” (Matthew 5:23-25). In this instance, reconciliation begins by seeking forgiveness for the inappropriate content in the email. Most people are forgiving when humbly asked to forgive. In this process there can be no self-justifying or blaming. The best approach is to take full responsibility for the bad email. Usually this clears the air.

How should a person respond when receiving an email that never should have been sent?

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Given the other person intended to be mean, we escalate the conflict when we retaliate in like manner. When hurt, offended, and angry, it’s best to calm down so as to compose a response that’s composed! This is where the checklist of four words best serves us to prevent that escalation and maintain maturity. When all four are checked, the issue at hand can be addressed without all the drama and toxicity.

What’s the relationship between truth and kindness in communication?

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: These are two of the four axioms on the checklist that ensure sound communication. Is it true? Is it kind? As mentioned, each is distinct. In this instance, one can be true but not kind or one can be kind but untrue. That’s why the Bible tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Truth without love is jarring if not cruel. Love without truth is superficial if not wrongly accommodating.

Explain your statement in the book that “honesty doesn’t always pay, but dishonesty always costs.”

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Telling the sad truth about a used car may result in no one purchasing the vehicle. Honesty does not always pay. While dishonesty may help sell the car, in the long run it costs your reputation. When the truth comes out, and it usually does, the buyer tells family and friends, “That guy is a liar.” At that juncture dishonesty is far more costly than any amount of money one might have gained by misleading the buyer. Reputation is more important than revenue.

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

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs: Ephesians 5:33. God used this verse to illuminate my heart. There God commands the husband to love the spirit of his wife and a wife to respect the spirit of her husband created in the image of God. However, I discovered a connection. When a wife feels unloved for who she is as a person and a husband feels disrespected for who he is as a human being (we are not talking about respecting evil actions) it can get crazy. The Crazy Cycle says without love she reacts without respect; without respect he reacts without love. Since 1999, we have been helping couples jump off the Crazy Cycle.

Bio: Emerson Eggerichs, PhD, is an internationally known communication expert and author of The New York Times bestseller Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs. Just as Dr. Eggerichs transformed millions of marital relationships with a biblical understanding of love and respect, he also turned these principles to one of the most important relationships of all in Mother & Son: The Respect Effect. As a communication expert, Emerson has also spoken to groups such as the NFL, NBA, PGA, US Navy SEALs, and members of Congress. He was the senior pastor of Trinity Church in East Lansing, Michigan for almost 20 years. Emerson holds a PhD in child and family ecology from Michigan State University, a BA in biblical studies from Wheaton College, an MA in communications from Wheaton College Graduate School, and an MDiv from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He and his wife Sarah have been married since 1973 and have three adult children.

Bible Gateway Plus is the ultimate Bible learning companion with no expensive software to install. Try it free right now!

Take Our New Bible Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Holy Land?

How well do you know the places of the Holy Land, and how they connect to the Bible? Test your knowledge of the Bible and Holy Land geography in our new quiz!

Many of the photos used in this quiz are taken from Lysa TerKeurst’s online Bible study Uninvited. Uninvited is an in-depth Bible study about rejection taught by Lysa from the Holy Land. If you enjoyed this quiz and want to dive deeper into the ways that the people and places of the Bible connect with your own story, we encourage you to join Lysa for this free Bible study.

8 Questions To Ask When Reading the Bible: An Interview with Matthew S. Harmon

Matthew S. HarmonWhat are the questions you should ask every time you read the Bible so that you can understand what you’re reading and apply the Scripture passage’s lessons to your everyday life?

Bible Gateway interviewed Matthew S. Harmon (@DocHarmon) about his book, Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible (Crossway, 2017).

Buy your copy of Asking the Right Questions in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Download this free Bible study summary page of four questions for understanding the Bible and four questions for applying Bible lessons to your life. Then print and stick it in your Bible for easy reference. Also download and print this free bookmark to put in your Bible.

Why is reading the Bible—something so important to the Christian life—so hard sometimes?

Matthew S. Harmon: I think there are several reasons that reading the Bible can be so challenging. The first is that the Bible is a big book that talks about so many different things. So we can be unsure what kinds of things we should focus on. A second challenge is that the Bible has several kinds of literature (narrative, law, proverbs, poetry, prophecy, letters, etc.) that we’re not always sure how to understand. On top of that is a third challenge: the Bible is set in a very different world from today. So how do we take what the Bible says and apply it to our lives today?

How is the Bible both a divine and a human book?

Matthew S. Harmon: Every word of the Bible “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It can be hard for us to wrap our minds around how every book in the Bible was not only written by the human author, but also by God himself. Peter describes this reality when he writes that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). God spoke through the unique personalities of each human author to move them to write down what God wanted to communicate in the exact words God wanted the human author to use.

Why is it important to know that the Bible is comprised of stories and how they fit together?

Matthew S. Harmon: As Christians it’s essential that we know the main storyline of the Bible that stretches from Genesis to Revelation. Every story in the Bible fits somehow into that larger story.

I find the analogy of a TV series helpful. The main story of the Bible is like the overall plot of the TV series, and each individual story in the Bible is like an individual episode in that TV series. Sure, you can make sense of an individual episode if you haven’t seen the whole TV series. But you’ll likely miss out on the larger significance of events, characters, and themes. The same is true of the Bible.

What do you mean the Bible is not written to us but for us?

Matthew S. Harmon: None of us are ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness under Moses’s leadership. None of us are sixth-century (BC) Jews living in exile in Babylon. None of us are first-century (AD) Romans, Ephesians, or Philippians. So in that sense the Bible is not written to us as modern day believers. But, the Bible is absolutely written for us as God’s people today. Romans 15:4 states, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The words that God inspired the biblical authors to write to others were written for us to instruct us and to produce encouragement, perseverance, and hope. Recognizing this distinction can help prevent us from making serious mistakes when applying the Bible to our lives.

What’s the basic pattern of Christian living that the Bible lays out?

Matthew S. Harmon: At the center of the Christian life is a basic pattern of repentance from sin and faith in Christ and his promises. They’re not only the entry point into the Christian life, but the ongoing pattern of our experience as believers. Although repentance is something God calls people to do (Isa. 55:6–7; Joel 2:12–13), it’s also mysteriously a gift from God (Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:24–26). The same is true of faith. We’re responsible to believe in Christ and his promises (Ps. 37:3–5; Prov. 3:5–6), yet faith is also described as a gift from God (Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet. 1:1). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin (John 16:7–11), which enables us to turn away from it and instead turn towards greater faith in Christ and his promises.

Explain the four foundational questions a person should ask when reading the Bible.

Matthew S. Harmon: The four foundational questions flow out of what Jesus identified as the two greatest commandments: love God with our whole being, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37–40). In light of these two commandments, here are four questions to ask when reading any passage of the Bible:

  1. What do we learn about God?
  2. What do we learn about people?
  3. What do we learn about relating to God?
  4. What do we learn about relating to others?

What’s the danger of taking a verse out of its context and applying it to modern life? And how should a Bible reader avoid doing that?

Matthew S. Harmon: The meaning of words and sentences depends on their context. Yet often when people read the Bible they take an individual verse out its context and as a result they either misunderstand what it means or how it applies to daily life. That’s why it’s so valuable to read larger passages of Scripture at a time. So instead of reading an individual verse, read an entire chapter, or several chapters for that matter. That way when a particular verse catches your attention, you can easily look at the surrounding context to make sure you’ve understood it correctly.

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

Matthew S. Harmon: It’s so hard to pick one! Galatians 2:20 has always been dear to me: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I simply can’t get over the fact that Christ loved me enough to die for me and rise from the dead for me. And as if that weren’t enough, he now lives inside of me to empower me to live for his glory!

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

Matthew S. Harmon: I love how Bible Gateway allows me to access so many different translations of the Bible. There are so many helpful resources to help people read, understand, study, and apply the Bible. I regularly recommend it to my students!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Matthew S. Harmon: There’s no other book like the Bible. My prayer is that God will fill our churches and our communities with people who find his Word more desirable than the finest gold and sweeter than the sweetest honey (Ps 19:10). As we see Christ more clearly in the Bible, we’ll be transformed so that we more closely reflect his beauty and his glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

Bio: Matthew S. Harmon (PhD, Wheaton College) is professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He was previously on staff with Cru for eight years and is the author of several books, including Jeremiah: A 12-Week Study, and Making All Things New: Inaugurated Eschatology for the Life of the Church. Matthew and his wife, Kate, live in Warsaw, Indiana, and have two sons.

Leading your family in Bible study? Bible Gateway Plus equips you to explore & teach the Bible better. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit!

New American Standard Bible and Amplified Bible Publisher Robert Lambeth Dies

Robert LambethRobert “Bob” Lambeth, president for 38 years of the Lockman Foundation, died July 11. He was 81.

The Lockman Foundation is a nonprofit, interdenominational ministry dedicated to the translation, publication, and distribution of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Amplified Bible (AMP), Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC), and other Bible resources. Mr. Lambeth served as the foundation’s president from 1979 until his death, having been connected with the ministry since the 1950s through his relationship with founders Dewey and Minna Lockman.

Read Mr. Lambeth’s memorial at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Originally produced in 1971 and updated in 1995, the NASB is considered a literal English translation of the Bible. The Amplified Bible, first published in 1958 and updated in 2015, is a literal equivalent translation that, by using synonyms and definitions, both explains and expands the meaning of words in the text by placing amplification in parentheses, brackets, and after key words. This unique system of translation allows the reader to more completely and clearly grasp the meaning as it was understood in the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Amplified Bible Translation: Available for the First Time as a Full-Featured Study Edition]

See the variety of NASB and Amplified Bible print editions in the Bible Gateway Store.

Understanding the Bible doesn’t need to be hard. Find out how Bible Gateway Plus makes it easier!