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Bible News Roundup – Week of June 18, 2017

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Is the ESV Literal and the NIV Gender Neutral?
Bible Scholar Bill Mounce
Read the Bible Gateway Blog, Live-Blog: Doug Moo’s Special Message on Bible Translation (Live Presentation from ETS 2014)
See Bible Gateway Blog posts about the NIV Bible translation

Canadian District Bans Christian School from Teaching ‘Offensive’ Parts of Bible
CBN News

Chattanooga, Tennessee: The Most “Bible-Minded” City in the Top 100 USA Media Markets
American Bible Society
Read Bible Gateway Blog post, What Does it Mean to be “Bible-minded”?

A Brief History of Vacation Bible School
The Anxious Bench

Christians Faced Widespread Harassment in 2015
FactTank

In World’s Largest Refugee Settlement, Churches Offer Hope
The Seattle Times
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Verses for World Refugee Day

When it Comes to Saying Grace, Americans Are Still United
The Washington Post

USA Protestant Megachurches Number 1,600; California Has the Most
Facts & Trends

At Year 150, Does Canada Show Where Religion in United States Might Be Heading?
Get Religion

Religion and Gambling: Studies Find the Wages of Faith May Be Fewer Lost Wages
Huffington Post

Science Reveals the Power of Being Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak
CT
Read James 1:19 in multiple English Bible translations on Bible Gateway

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Take Our Father’s Day Bible Quiz: How Many of These Biblical Fathers Do You Know?

If you’re a father and a Christian, you’ve probably looked to the Bible for guidance in being a better dad. You’ll have no problem finding fathers in the Bible—but as you read their stories, you’ll quickly realize that we can learn as much from their failures at fatherhood as from their successes! We put together a short quiz to test your knowledge of the most famous biblical fathers. Take the quiz below to test your Bible trivia knowledge!

Once you’ve taken the quiz, if you’re interested to learn what the Bible teaches about praiseworthy fatherhood, stop by our Father’s Day page to sign up for one of our free devotions for dads.

The Daniel Code: An Interview with O. S. Hawkins

O. S. HawkinsAre you struggling to live out your faith in a rapidly changing culture that seems to have lost its way? The ancient book of Daniel speaks of how he survived and thrived in a pagan, permissive, and perverted society.

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Bible Gateway interviewed O. S. Hawkins (@OSHawkins) about his book, The Daniel Code: Living Out Truth in a Culture That Is Losing Its Way (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

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How does the book of Daniel, written more than 2600 years ago, serve as a guide for today?

O. S. Hawkins: Our brightest young minds are in the process of being re-educated along the lines of principles that are foreign to those of all our founding fathers. Today we live in a world where too many believe there’s no absolute truth. We’re seeing the removal of the distinctions between the roles of male and female in society, the rise of gay marriage. We see bold advocacy of abortion rights, euthanasia, and the redistribution of wealth in America. This didn’t happen in the last few years. It’s been decades in the making.
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In many ways we’ve become the Babylon of the modern era. We learned our lessons at the feet of Nebuchadnezzar himself. It’s little wonder that we’ve lived to see Bible reading and the display of the Ten Commandments removed from public view and creation science excluded from classroom instruction. None of this is new. It has its roots in Babylon, and thus reveals that the book of Daniel is one of the most relevant books of the Bible in our world today.

What do you mean when you say Christians shouldn’t compromise, condone, or condemn, but confront?

Buy your copy of The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day
O. S. Hawkins: In Daniel, we see what one man of courage and conviction can do to influence two entire cultures. Daniel, who began as a young Jewish boy in exile, engaged both a pagan Babylonian culture and a pluralistic Persian one with amazing results. He lived to see the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon declare, “There is no other God who can deliver like this…. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 3:29; 4:37).

And, when Persia later defeated Babylon and broke forever the Babylonian supremacy, Daniel lived to hear King Darius proclaim, “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and steadfast forever; his kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall endure to the end” (Daniel 6:26).Buy your copy of The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

These are amazing professions of faith coming from two of the most unlikely prospects one could ever, in their wildest thoughts, imagine. Daniel lives on in history, and in our hearts, as a testimony to the fact that it’s possible not to simply survive in a corrupt culture but to engage it and change it as well. Daniel’s God is still alive today.

Daniel’s message of hope and help is still the good news of God’s grace. We call it the gospel today. It still has the power to impact lives and transform cultures. Paul referred to the gospel as the “power of God” (Romans 1:16) and chose a word from which we derive our word “dynamite” to describe it. It’s this power—not pickets, petitions, protests or politics—that’s our only hope today.

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Explain the three timeless truths; are they what you mean by the Daniel “code”?

O. S. Hawkins: In the first chapters of Daniel, he reminds us:

  • Don’t Give In — Be Resistant. You know, on some things, we can go along to get along. It’s unlikely many men reading this wear suits and ties to church. While maintaining appropriate modesty, most of us have gone to a more casual dress in church, much as we have at work, at the airport, or at a ballgame. We can give in on other non-essentials. But where there’s clear teaching by God’s Word on a given matter, we should not give in—we should be resistant! Secondly, Daniel tells us:
  • Buy your copy of The Christmas Code Booklet in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayDon’t Give Up — Be Consistent. We spent a quarter of a century serving just about every kind of church imaginable. Our first pastorate was in the southwestern wheat farming communities around Hobart, Oklahoma. Then, we served in a county-seat town: Ada, Oklahoma. For 15 years, it was our deep privilege to serve in the heart of a great cosmopolitan center—Fort Lauderdale, Florida—before coming to serve in the heart of the concrete canyons and the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas. In each of those churches, we saw men and women, boys and girls, who chose to be consistent with their faith, even when others around them took an easier road. How did they do it? How did Daniel do it? They stayed on guard. The tendency within each of us is to simply give in when we become overwhelmed by cultural pressures seeking to fit us into their mold. Daniel steps off the pages of Scripture and shows us how to stay consistent not only in what we believe but also in how we behave. Finally, he tells us:
  • Don’t Give Out — Be Persistent. Daniel was in it for the long haul. In your small group, in your church and your home, you’re surrounded by people who likely will affirm everything you believe. But what happens as you’re going to work, to school, or out into the marketplace? Daniel knows exactly what you’re facing—the incredible peer pressure of political correctness, of cutting corners, of leaving your integrity at the door. Daniel knows there’s a cost to not giving out, but he also shouts from the pages of Scripture: Don’t give out! Be persistent!

What are the four aspects of integrity you write about?

O. S. Hawkins: All of us live in four worlds. We all have a private world in which we live; that’s the place where nobody comes; alone with our secret thoughts. Our own spouses oftentimes don’t know what we’re thinking. In our private worlds, it’s only you and the Lord, who searches our hearts and knows our anxious thoughts. Then we live in our personal world, where a few people know us like we really are—our spouses, kids, and maybe one or two truly close friends. Then we have a professional world where we live, where we touch dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of people. Now, those people who know us professionally don’t necessarily know us personally, much less privately, but they know us in our professional setting. Then we all have one other world we live in: our public world. Some people call it our public persona. This is the world where someone who doesn’t know you privately, personally, or professionally hears your name and has some opinion about you one way or another.

So the question becomes: where is integrity rooted? Some people think it’s rooted in their public life. They spend all of their time trying to spin their public image. It’s not rooted there, however. It’s simply revealed there. People who lack integrity will have it revealed publicly. Some people believe it’s rooted out there in the professional world where, on the anvil of personal experience, you beat out those principles of integrity. But it’s not rooted there, either. It’s just reinforced there if you have it.

So then, one might think, it must be rooted in those dynamic personal relationships with your family and closest friends. It’s not; it’s only reflected there. Integrity, though, is rooted in your private world, that place alone with God, just him and you. When it’s rooted there, it’s revealed in the personal relationships, reinforced professionally, and revealed publicly for God’s glory and our good.

How should Christians strengthen themselves to live counter-culturally?

O. S. Hawkins: We must be sure to be governed by inner principle and not outer pressure. Nowhere was that better illustrated than with the three Hebrew young men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Out there on the Plain of Dura, Nebuchadnezzar erected a large golden statue, nine stories tall, of himself. He decided to hold a grand dedication ceremony. At just the right time, everyone would bow to it. Anybody who refused to do so would be thrown into the fiery furnace. It would be easy to go along with the crowd. No one would notice in that vast horde of people. Instead, they remained true to their convictions, stood alone, and refused to bow to any image, just as their Torah commandments had long ago taught them.

We warn our children and grandchildren about peer pressure. We want them to say no to the vices of the world: drinking, drugs, and other destructive behaviors. But as we move from childhood to adulthood, we find the peer pressure changes. Daniel 3:2 notes “the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces” were there. I’m sure more than one of them thought they needed to keep their job with all of its benefits. Not much has changed in two-and-a-half millennia. Men and women, boys and girls, are still bowing to the image of peer pressure out on their own Plain of Dura every week in every city of America.

These three Hebrew young men learned to live with pressure with principle, with perspective, and ultimately with protection. We as 21st-century Christians must do the same.

How does The Daniel Code fit in with your other “Code” books?

O. S. Hawkins: Each of the first three books dealt with a key relationship. The Joshua Code talks about our upward relationship; our relationship with the Lord. If that relationship is out of balance, all of the other relationships in our lives will be strained and not live up to their potential. The Joshua Code seeks to help Christians right that relationship with our Creator and Lord. The Jesus Code, the second book in the series, deals with our inward relationship, our relationship with ourselves. In that book, we talk about the 52 Scripture questions every believer should answer. It’s our hope and prayer that once our relationship with our Creator is strong, we can develop a positive relationship within our own selves. The James Code, our third book, talks about our outward relationship with the world. It’s about putting feet to our faith—as we say time and again, it’s not about faith OR works, or faith AND works, but about a faith THAT works!

The Daniel Code is about engaging a culture that’s lost its moorings. We have a culture that’s drifted away from truth for a long time. The Daniel Code helps us understand how to engage and thrive in such a culture.

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

O. S. Hawkins: We need to get the truth of Scripture out to every generation, and websites like Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App can help with that. Whether it’s being able to access Bible studies, commentaries, or multiple translations of Scripture in one simple place, these are good tools for Bible learners. The most important thing is for Christians to read and reap from Scripture! The app and website help people keep God’s Word nearby all the time.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

O. S. Hawkins: As we look at the chapters of Daniel, we recognize that the words of Daniel 1:21 ring true today: “Thus Daniel continued….” Daniel continued through a culture unlike his own; one that lost its way. Today, you and I are living in a culture that’s losing its way. It’s good to know that just as in Daniel’s day, God is looking for men and women of integrity to help confront in love a culture that’s losing its way and to point it back to him.


Bio: For more than 20 years, O. S. Hawkins served pastorates at the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in Dallas, Texas. He’s president of GuideStone Financial Resources, which serves 250,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He’s the author of more than 30 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation. All of the author’s royalties and proceeds from the entire Code series go to support Mission:Dignity. You can learn more about Mission:Dignity by visiting MissionDignity.org.

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Beware the Siren Call of Perfect Parenting

Jim DalyBy Jim Daly

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12

In his book Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” With all due respect to Tolstoy, I doubt that’s true. While every family is indeed unique, the unhappy families that I’ve seen and even been a part of seem to “break” in only a handful of ways.

Dr. Tim Elmore, founder of the Growing Leaders ministry and a frequent guest on the Focus on the Family daily program, says our mistakes fall into one of two areas: abundance or abandonment. That seems right to me. As a child, I probably had more experience with the abandonment part of the equation—situations that to the outside world look especially broken. Addiction or abuse can tear apart families; one or both parents can let their anger make them inattentive.

But these days in my role at Focus, I’ve come to believe more of us suffer from the problem of abundance, and maybe especially Christian families. We hover too much. We lecture too often. We get so focused on our children’s happiness and success that we never let them fail. We hone in so intently on our children’s performance—and our own as parents—that we develop an unhealthy and wholly futile drive for perfection.

How strange that anyone should use the word perfection in conjunction with Christianity! Of all the world’s big religions, only Christianity tells us explicitly that we can’t achieve perfection. While Buddhists seek Nirvana and Jews seek to follow the Law, we Christians live under a blanket of grace. God knows how messed up we are, and yet God loves us even when we inevitably miss the mark.

But why, then, despite this divine shower of grace, do we struggle to show that same grace to our spouses and children? The world calls out us Christians for being judgmental, and way too often the world has a point. We in the Christian community continually speak the words “unconditional love” and “saved by grace,” but we rarely apply them, whether in the culture at large or in our own homes. And so we mess up our relationships in horrible ways.

A few guys in Christian ministry talk incessantly about grace and forgiveness, but secretly (or in some cases, not so secretly) believe they’ve gotten over the whole “sin” thing. They’ve arrived at total sanctification. They’ve become exactly the person God wants them to be. But you know what? Their families, or at least the families I’m aware of, are utterly broken. The struggles of their grown children have led them to rebellion. Now, these leaders might say their families suffered because of the very ministries they led—the distractions, the interruptions, the demands, the fame. But I’m not so sure. I believe that when once you think you’ve arrived, spiritually speaking, you lose your humility. You lose your ability to engage with people who, inescapably, are so much “weaker.”

And what happens when those weaker people are your very own children? You demand more from your kids than they can ever deliver, which leads to fights, resentment, rebellion, and estrangement. It’s dangerous and utterly unhealthy to imagine you’ve arrived. We’re all broken, and imagining ourselves as faultless only reveals the worst kind of vanity. On this earth we cannot arrive at a place where we no longer sin. If we could do that, we wouldn’t need Jesus.

But even those of us who know we’re broken and who know deep in our bones our desperate need for God’s grace still feel tempted by the siren call of perfection. We don’t want to show ourselves as anything less than perfect. We hate to show weakness of any sort. And because we feel we get judged as parents by how well our kids perform or behave, we can demand perfection, or near perfection, from them too.

Few, if any, parents would say they expect perfect kids. But sometimes our actions expose our good intentions as lies.

A dysfunctional family takes root when a parent begins to seed unhealthy behavior. It happens when moms and dads try to shame or demean their sons or daughters to teach them a lesson. It happens when they use insults or biting sarcasm to drive their point home. Eventually, it reaches the point where a child can feel as though he or she can never be good enough. And then what happens? The kids check out. They know they can never reach the bar. And so their behavior takes a nosedive, which ironically makes parents raise the bar even higher.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next. Kids want—no, they need—to feel love and acceptance. So they try to find that love and acceptance with friends. They know their friends will accept them, no matter what, even if they do drugs, have sex, or drink heavily. They know their friends will love them regardless. And maybe their circle of friends even encourages such behavior. Suddenly, the things that parents tried to shame their children into not doing become the very things that they think they have to do in order to feel loved. They get love the only way they know how—the love they should’ve gotten at home all along.

In the Christian community, we never stop talking about grace. We base our faith and our whole lives on it. Those of us in the evangelical world hear constantly that we can’t work our way to heaven. But what happens when it comes to our kids? Sometimes we forget.

________

When Parenting Isn't PerfectTaken from When Parenting Isn’t Perfect by Jim Daly. Click here to learn more about this title.

Perfection is the enemy of parenting.

Jim Daly sees and hears from mothers and fathers trying hard to pursue perfection. They listen to the best experts and read all the right books. When someone gives them a “World’s Best Mom” or “No. 1 Dad” coffee mug, they want it to be true. And they want their children to pursue perfection, too.

It’s admirable for parents to be the very best moms and dads they can be for their children. But sometimes in so doing, they leave grace behind—both for themselves and their children. Jim believes that our quest for perfection, a quest that he believes is particularly strong among Christians, runs counter to God’s own boundless gift of grace. We can become Pharisaical parents, quoting endless rules and holding everyone to impossible standards. But God doesn’t want us, and our kids don’t need us, to be perfect. As parents, we’re called to simply do our best. And when we fail—which we will—we’re called to try again tomorrow.

Though he’s the President of Focus on the Family, Jim does not promise that his book will be a catalyst for a perfect family. But it can help point the way toward a good family—one that feels safe and warm; one filled with love and laughter. This book will encourage mothers and fathers to embrace the messiness of parenthood and show grace to their own less-than-ideal children. Jim, through his own experiences, expertise, and array of stories, will lead both moms and dads to a better understanding of what being a good family is all about.

Jim Daly is the president and CEO of Focus on the Family. Daly has received the 2008 World Children’s Center Humanitarian Award and the 2009 Children’s Hunger Fund Children’s Champion Award. He has appeared on such television programs as ABC “World News Tonight” and PBS’ “Religion & Ethics”; and been featured in Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and Newsweek, which named him one of the top 10 next-generation evangelical leaders of influence. Daly and his wife have two sons and reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Being the Strong Father Your Children Need: An Interview with Meg Meeker, MD

Meg Meeker, MDDoes society undervalue fatherhood? When men are defined primarily by their professional accomplishments, where does that leave their approach to parenting? How can being a strong, active dad be a man’s greatest triumph?

In time for Father’s Day, Bible Gateway interviewed Meg Meeker, MD (@megmeekermd) about her book, Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need (Regnery Faith, 2017).

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How does the Bible portray God as a role model for fathers?

Meg Meeker, MD: God is serious about fathers and the influence they have on their children, the culture and the survival of humanity. However, we’re living in a culture that doesn’t like fathers very much. Media portrays them as idiots who hog TV remotes, need correction by snarky 11-year-olds, and who serve as fodder for comedians. In many ways, God knew that today was coming. So we, who love him, need to be about the business of building up every father, everywhere.

What role should the Bible play in the development of strong father characteristics?

Meg Meeker, MD: Committing yourself to becoming a strong father can be tough, but it’s 100% worth the effort. One of the best places to look for inspiration is in the Bible: start to study God the Father. How does he speak and make you feel, and what does he promise? Then, mimic him.

When a man looks in his heart and identifies what he longs for from God the Father, he should turn and give precisely that to his own children. If he longs for love, acceptance, and significance from God, then he should ask God to fill those needs and then he can turn to his own children and give these to them.

When a father mimics God’s behavior to his children successfully, the child learns to trust him, feel loved by him, and draw close to him. As the child grows and learns that the word “father” is wonderful, he’ll far more easily open his heart to God the Father.

How do you define a “Hero” dad?

Meg Meeker, MD: Young children have knowledge given by God that their fathers are different from their mothers. Fathers sound, smell, and feel different from their mothers. A child sees a father as having an authority that his mother doesn’t. You know this because you were a child and knew that your mother was the safe person who would always be there, always love you, and would not leave you. Most children—even children who have disappointing mothers—believe that this is the way life should be. A child looks to a father as one who will protect, love, and defend him, and when a father tells him that he’s capable, he knows in the deepest part of his being that he’s capable. Fathers are their child’s hero because they see him as one.

One other thing to be acutely aware of: fathers, you share your name with God himself. God shares his because he loves men not just because they’re human, but because he loves fatherhood. He hand-picked men to be dads. Of course, God values mothers, but he calls men to be something different to their children.

God carries authority. Fathers carry an unmatched authority in their children’s eyes. We see God as the most powerful, wise, intelligent, caring being in the universe. We see him this way not only because this is who he claims to be, but because we have the perspective of a child. Our children see their fathers as wise, strong heroes. Fathers may not feel like they’re heroes, but make no mistake, children see their fathers as heroes just as we see God our Father as our everything.

You write that daughters and sons need different things from their fathers. Explain.

Meg Meeker, MD: Any person who grew up with a father and mother understands and embraces the stark differences between mothers and fathers. Children need fathers to provide things their mothers can’t and vice versa.

For instance, daughters need to know their fathers love them enough to protect them; give them affection and approval. After listening to thousands of teen girls over 30 years, I’ve learned that the overwhelming majority of girls need male attention and affection, and when they don’t get it from their dads, they’ll go anywhere to find it—even if the attention is harmful. Girls may receive plenty of attention from their mothers but if their fathers ignore them, their self-esteem plummets.

Similarly, boys need different things from their fathers than from mothers. While we hear of dying men crying out for their mothers, we all know men in their adult years who still seek approval from their fathers—even if those fathers have died. The drive for a father’s approval, affirmation, and affection is powerful and primal because it’s placed by God. Great mothers can express these things, but to a child, they’re different. Not less important or more, just different. Since this is a need that God created in children, we have an obligation to honor it.

What do you think God expects from fathers?

Meg Meeker, MD: Every good father wonders what God expects of him and what his children need from him. Here’s the good news: neither wants perfection. Each simply wants a father to get the big stuff right.

God equips fathers to express deep love to their children. He doesn’t care how much money they make, what sports they sign their kids up for, or how much stuff they give them. Kids want their hero dads to love them like crazy, to let them know that they believe in them, and they cherish them like God cherishes them. Hard to believe that being a hero is this simple but it is.

Think about your own father. What did you really want from him? God placed those needs in your child heart and those are the needs your child has for you, their dad. When a father meets these needs, they cover all sorts of mistakes. So, fathers should take heart; great parenting is simpler than you think, but it is hard.

How can fathers lead their children in a godly manner?

Meg Meeker, MD: Many fathers coach their children in their sports, academics, and other activities, and this is good. But there’s a difference between coaching and leading.

Coaches tell kids what to do and cheer from the sidelines. Leaders walk in front of children and show them the way to live well.

Paul did this. He exhorted friends to do what he did. He was more interested in people watching and mimicking him than in paying heed to his words because he knew words hold less power than actions. He spoke the truth, lived with integrity (didn’t lie, steal, cheat; and he respected others) in front of others and asked them to follow. This, I believe, is the charge that God asks of fathers in their homes. God cares more about a father’s character than his performance and that, as a believer, is wonderful news. That’s why God gave us Paul: to show us again that living great character before people changes lives more potently than pushing them to perform.

What are practical ways that dads can show up for their kids?

Meg Meeker, MD: Fathers hold power in their children’s lives. The question isn’t whether fathers influence their children; the question is: will that influence be for good or for ill? That’s up to each father. Where does a dad begin? Again, it’s simple. Here are a few ways to get you started:

  • Spend 15 minutes per day more at home detached from a screen. Sit in a room with a child who’s studying. Go in the backyard and kick a soccer ball. Read aloud.
  • Trust your instincts. The next time your child asks to watch a show you don’t want her to see, rather than be the nice guy—if your gut says no—then tell her no. Don’t worry about histrionics, temper tantrums, etc.; just do what you believe is right.
  • Move toward your child, not away. If you’re tempted to drop in the background and throw up your hands, don’t. If your 13-year-old slams doors and tells you she hates you, don’t go away. Later in the day, go to her and ask how she is. Ask if she wants to have lunch with you or even just go on errands. Never take your child’s behavior personally. When a child acts up, they are asking for more attention. Not less. So gently move toward him or her, never away.

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

Meg Meeker, MD: God cherishes fathers and this is clear throughout the Old Testament and the New. Our culture shames them and this sentiment infiltrates even professional parenting advice. That’s why we who love God and serve him must always seek his truth in the Scriptures on all important issues—especially in areas as important to God as raising children. That’s why, as a professional and Christian, I appreciate the work of Bible Gateway so much!


Bio: Meg Meeker, MD, has spent over 30 years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine and counseling teens and parents. Dr. Meeker is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves on the Advisory Board of the Medical Institute. A popular speaker and bestselling author of such books as Hero, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers, and Boys Should Be Boys, she works with the NFL Fatherhood Initiative and is a co-host of Dr. James Dobson’s program Family Talk. Dr. Meeker lives and works in northern Michigan, where she shares a medical practice with her husband, Walter. They have four children.

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John Piper Video Bible Study: 9 Arguments Against Anxiety

This 3-part Bible study on Matthew 6:24–34 (ESV) by John Piper (@JohnPiper) focuses on the topic of anxiety and how Jesus tells us we shouldn’t worry or have anxious hearts. We should, instead, concentrate on biblical truth to calm our fears.

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Read Matthew 6:24–34 (KJV, NIV, CSB, CEB, ESV in parallel)

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John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s the author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally, A Peculiar Glory, and The Satisfied Soul.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of June 11, 2017

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Sorry, Old Testament: Most Theologians Don’t Use You
CT
Read the Old Testament on Bible Gateway

Canadian Christian School May Battle School Division Over Bible Teachings
Global News

The Bible Given to President John Quincy Adams
National Park Service
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Georgia Family Loses Everything in a Fire, Except a Bible
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Did You Know the Saying “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” Isn’t in the Bible?

While discussing God’s relationship to people and their circumstances, a friend quoted a phrase many people assume is in the Bible:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

He isn’t alone: one in 8 Americans believe the Bible not only teaches this, but that it says this, too.

And yet if you went searching for it in the book of Proverbs or in the sayings of Jesus, you’d be out of luck—it’s nowhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says and teaches the exact opposite!

So if it’s not in the Bible, where’d it come from? And what does the Bible say instead?

Benjamin Franklin Offers God’s Help to Those Who Help Themselves

God helps those who help themselves by Ben FranklinAlthough he didn’t invent it, Benjamin Franklin is generally held to have popularized this motto in his Poor Richard’s Almanac. Here’s how it appears in the 1757 edition:

…let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us. “God helps them that help themselves,” as Poor Richard says, in his almanac of 1733.

While this may sound superficially like the kind of proverb you might hear from a committed Christian, Franklin was a deist. He didn’t believe in a personal God who is actively involved in the affairs of people, but rather in a God who set the world in motion but stands at a distance while we fend for ourselves.

So not only is this motto not in the Bible, it wasn’t popularized by someone who was committed to the historic Christian faith and the Bible’s teachings on God’s character.

Aesop Promises Help from the Gods When We Help Ourselves

God helps those who help themselves in AesopThe real origin of the motto probably lies in ancient Greece, when the storyteller Aesop wove the proverb into one of his tales:

A WAGGONER was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. At last he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Waggoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. “O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress,” quoth he. But Hercules appeared to him, and said:

“Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.

“The gods help them that help themselves.”

Though this catchy slogan sounds like something from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, its origin is likely in Aesop’s fables (or in ancient proverbs that inspired them).

The Quran Promises Allah’s Help After We Change Ourselves

While this motto isn’t in the Bible, a variation of it can be found in another religious text: the Quran. The Quran’s Ar-Ra’d 13:11 reads:

Indeed Allah will not change the conditions of a population until they change what is in themselves.

In this passage, the Quran expects a person to help himself by changing his own attitude and behavior before God will come to his aid. The principle is the same as that in Aesop’s proverb: those who expect divine help must first get the ball rolling themselves.

What Does the Bible Say Instead?

Whatever its origin, this popular motto doesn’t reflect what the Bible teaches. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of biblical teaching!

For example, the Old Testament book of Proverbs teaches that relying on ourselves, rather than on the wisdom of God, is foolhardy:

Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26)

If we can’t trust ourselves, then what hope do we have? Fortunately, the Bible has an answer. The prophet Isaiah declares that God helps those who are utterly helpless:

You have been a refuge for the poor,
   a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
   and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
   is like a storm driving against a wall (Isaiah 25:4)

God provides tangibly for those who are helpless and needy. God helps those who can’t help themselves. And who does the Bible consider helpless? Everyone! “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” the Bible tells us:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
   there is no one who understands;
   there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one.” (Romans 3:10–12)

When it comes to our greatest need—rescue from sin and death—there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves. All have turned from God; all have sinned. We are utterly unable to find true spiritual peace through our own efforts. Thankfully, that is where God comes in:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6,8)

Christ’s death is the solution to the problem of sin and death that we can’t solve on our own. It’s tempting to think that we might be able to help ourselves out of even this predicament, but the Bible clearly teaches that there’s nothing we can do on our own to find salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

Our help comes from God alone, and it happens when we turn our lives over to him in faith, trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. This isn’t something we work for; and there’s certainly nothing we can change about ourselves to make us worthy of God’s help. Instead, we are saved by the passionate, undeserved love of God. It’s his gift to us!

So the next time you hear someone say “God helps those who help themselves,” remind them what the Bible says instead: God helps those who can’t help themselves.

That means you, me… and the world.

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New Email Devotions for Women—Sign Up Today!

What does it look like to be a woman of God who thrives in today’s world? We’ve just added two new free email devotions for women!

These short, inspiring devotions explore the challenges and opportunities women face in integrating their faith into family, careers, and relationships. You can sign up for either or both at our Devotionals for Women page. Here’s what’s new:

  • 9 Key Women in the Bible: Each day of this devotional provides a different glimpse of life in the ancient world. Over nine days, this devotional looks at the problems faced by the extraordinary women of the Bible—and how they solved them through God’s grace and providence.
  • Wisdom for Women: From social media to social justice, this six-day devotional offers wisdom for modern women whose lives look much different than those in the days of Jesus or Ruth.

These new devotional experiences join Encouragement for Today, Girlfriends in God, and other devotionals that offer insight for mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. You can see more of them at our Devotionals for Women page (and of course, many of the other offerings in our newsletter library are perfectly relevant to women, too).

If you’re a woman who could use some help integrating your faith with your busy everyday life, sign up for one of these free devotionals today!

Devotions for women

More Than Beautiful Poetry

By Shauna Shanks

Editor’s Note: Wrecked by the news from her husband of an affair and a request for a divorce, Shauna Shanks shares the beginnings of her courageous journey to save her marriage in this except from her new book, A Fierce Love.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Finally, in desperation, I pleaded with God, “Please just give me one thing I can focus on! Just one word. Too many thoughts are ransacking my brain and I need to be calm and sleep.” I had to get up with the kids in just a few short hours and I knew if I didn’t sleep I would be exhausted all the next day. Maybe if I could focus on one word my mind would stop racing. “Give me something, God, anything.”

God gave me two words.

Endure. Hope.

Immediately my mind went to 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter. I never would have gone there on my own. It sounded too cliché to me, too recitable. It’s the chapter that is always read during wedding ceremonies. It seemed very common and overused. I grew up a church kid. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday nights, and any time the doors were open, my family was there. Us kids were even in Bible clubs where we were given prizes for memorizing popular Bible verses. So when I say I knew those verses, I knew those verses. I know how to love, for goodness’ sake. That’s too simple. Elementary.

Nevertheless, I was grateful for those words and for something to focus my attention toward. Immediately, I looked up the word endure. To endure means to suffer patiently. Deep breath. Relief.

Okay. I can do that. It doesn’t sound fun, though. Especially since historically, “patiently” in God-years can mean forty years wandering around in the desert! Still, at least it’s clear direction. It’s something to do. I am thankful for that. I can wait. I can endure.

It’s the hoping that will be the challenge. Hope. Hope is believing for a desired outcome. This outcome over which I have no control. Micah has made up his mind about me. I have been cut out. Like a dog that feels the hard blow of his owner’s boot. It is setting in. I am being tossed aside and thrown away. “I am leaving you,” he said. “I don’t love you,” he stated.

What if I hope and it never comes to pass? To keep hoping means to stay vulnerable. It keeps my heart soft when I’d rather it be hard and scab over. Then you can move on. I’d rather it heal and not be this raw, open, gaping wound.

Hope. Such a daunting thing to do when faced with such bleakness. I will work on that one, I vowed. After all, I only had two things to work on.

An amazing thing had happened, but in the trenches of my despair, I didn’t recognize the miracle. I was so desperate to have something to hold onto that I reacted to the words he spoke, but I failed to pause and rejoice in the simple fact that God was speaking. It was amazing. But what was truly a wonder, and what hadn’t happened much of my whole adult life, was that God was speaking, and I heard him.

I had been notorious for doing things and making decisions on my own and then asking God to bless those decisions. I didn’t understand people who prayed and asked God for direction and then felt confident they had heard him. But my ability to hear God began that night without my even knowing it. In the desperate days and weeks ahead, I would come to depend on these words as the source of my life. God would continue to give me clear direction and never leave me alone.

I made a decision that first night not to love based on feelings. Feelings, as I had learned, can change with the wind, with the seasons. But love. It perseveres.

I was to continue to love Micah, taking any love I had been receiving from him out of the equation. That love had been replaced by betrayal, harsh and damaging words, and emotional abandonment. When faced with those things, God took me back to 1 Corinthians 13. There it is. Do this.

God’s love is described in those verses, and he instructed me to love his way, not any way I was used to, and not based on feelings. There in those verses were written instructions that I could refer back to over and over again. I paused at every word and reflected on what it would look like for me if lived out this love as described.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4–8).

I replayed all the words I had read over and over in my mind. It is not jealous. Or rude. It is not provoked. It doesn’t take delight in wrongdoing but rejoices when the truth is spoken. It protects. Love bears all things, believes all things. Endures all things. Love never fails. It Does. Not. Fail.

Only because of the state I was in did I begin to understand the enormity of the challenge in these Scriptures. To fully absorb God’s message, I read the chapter over and over in every version I could find, including the Amplified Bible, “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. . . . Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. . . . Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end] (1 Cor. 13:5, 7–8 AMPC).

My goodness, this love is beautiful. It is perfect. Is it possible? It must be, because God said it. And he had it written down. And he spoke it to me. I clung to these words. I wanted my husband back. God’s way seemed like the way to go for me. The only way.

I was soon to discover that 1 Corinthians 13 was more than beautiful poetry.

________

A Fierce LoveTaken from A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage by Shauna Shanks. Click here to learn more about this title.

A Fierce Love is the story of a train wreck and reaching out to God not in the calm but in the chaos and finding hope for the future.

Wrecked with news of her husband’s affair and his request for a divorce, Shauna Shanks finds herself urgently faced with a decision. Does she give up and divorce her husband and move on, or does she try to fight for her marriage? The former choice seems to contradict God’s plan for how to love, such as “love never gives up,” “love is patient,” and “love is kind.”

Taking God at His word and assuming the love chapter was really meant to be followed literally word by word, she not only finds herself falling in love with her spouse again, but also falling in love with Jesus, which changes everything.

This book is not air-brushed. It was written in the midst of the author’s deepest trauma, and she purposefully did not edit out her mistakes and failures during that season. This book will resonate with those of you who do not feel like the picture-perfect Christian woman with the fairytale life and marriage.

Shauna Shanks is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. She started Smallfolk, a health food café, out of her passion for health and fitness. She graduated from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas, with a focus on world missions. Shauna and her husband, Micah, who is a police officer, have been married for more than a decade, and they live with their three boys on an Ohio farm.