The 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the USA, Mexico, and Canada. It’s expected to be the largest edition of the tournament with 48 teams playing 80 matches across 34 days. Sixty of the tournament’s matches will be held in the USA; Mexico and Canada will host 10 games each.
The 2018 World Cup has been underway in Russia with 32 teams playing 64 matches in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The competition is going into its final matches, with the championship game scheduled to take place July 15 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
We thought this would be a good opportunity for you to see how well you know the fancy footwork that’s in the Bible. Have fun taking this brief quiz. After completing it, sign up for one of Bible Gateway’s free Bible Reading Plans to help you become even more familiar with Scripture, reading at your own pace.
The Jewish memorial of Tisha B’Av is a time of mourning, commemorating the many tragedies throughout Jewish history. Yet through shadows of sorrow come rays of hope.
Comfort in Sorrow is a series of seven free email devotions exploring the depths of tragedy, and what we can do to transform darkness into light.
Tisha B’Av—the ninth day of the month of Av—marks the darkest, most sorrowful day of the Jewish calendar. It was on this day that the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BC and the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon. And the Romans destroyed the Second Temple on this same day in AD 70.
Throughout the course of Jewish history, this day has been marked by other tragedies: the final revolt against the Romans was crushed in AD 135; the expulsion of the Jews from Spain was decreed in 1492; and in 1942, on this day, the Nazis began deporting Jews from Poland’s Warsaw Ghetto to the death camps.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love
You are my hiding place.
You will keep me safe from trouble.
You will surround me with songs sung by those who praise you
because you save your people.
Who is the Holy Spirit? How did our relationship with the Holy Spirit change from the Old Testament to the New Testament? What are the common misconceptions we have of the Holy Spirit? How are we to think, speak, (and sing) rightly about him?
You share that the biblical discoveries presented in this book exposed your misguided views of the Holy Spirit. What are those views and how did you respond to that confrontation?
Daniel Henderson: A recent study by LifeWay Research revealed that 56% of evangelical Christians believe the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a person. While I knew, biblically, that the Holy Spirit was the third person of the Trinity, some of my common words and perceptions were still rooted in impersonal ideas about the Holy Spirit as some kind of “force.” I believe these misconceptions are widespread, and even promoted, throughout the modern-day church. Francis Chan wrote that the Holy Spirit is the “forgotten God.” I’ve concluded that he is also the “misrepresented God.” So, through my personal study and the process of writing this book, I submitted all of my preconceived ideas and our common slogans to the clear teaching of New Testament truth about the Holy Spirit.
Why does a gospel lens empower us to enjoy a new and full experience of the Holy Spirit?
Daniel Henderson: When Jesus announced in his final supper with the disciples, “this is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:17-19; 1 Corinthians 11:25) it signaled the fulfillment of all the Old Testament had pointed toward (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Jeremiah 31:31-35). This introduced a new reality in how believers would understand and experience the Holy Spirit. Jesus immediately proceeded to teach his disciples about this profound work of the Holy Spirit in his final discourse (John 14:15-22, 15:26-27, 16:5-15).
In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was present but would come and go, temporarily empowering certain people. Today, because of the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells, enables, and transforms every believer in a powerful and personal way. The gospel signaled the new reality of inside-out living. The New Testament is full of promises about the God who works in us and how the Spirit’s indwelling changes everything.
How can pastors lead their congregations to recognize their deep need for the person and power of the Holy Spirit?
Daniel Henderson: Our website, www.transformingpresencebook.com, provides some amazing resources for pastors, including eight practical suggestions for helping congregations embrace a new covenant experience of the Holy Spirit. We also feature sermon outlines, small group questions, video introductions, and an audio prayer for each chapter in the book. The bottom line is that a pastor must understand, model, teach at various levels and consistently emphasize the inside-out work of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer. This is especially imperative in light of the widespread misrepresentation of the work of the Spirit in today’s slogans and songs.
What is the Holy Spirit’s primary purpose and why is it often undermined?
Daniel Henderson: The Holy Spirit is a true “purpose-driven” Spirit. Jesus described this when he proclaimed “he will glorify me” (John 16:14). J.I. Packer uses the illustration of a floodlight in a beautiful building which does not exist for its own glory but to make clear and visible the splendor and wonder of its object by illumining its features. The mark of a true Spirit-filled believer, church, or worship service is the degree to which the aim and outcome is the glory of the person and purposes of Jesus Christ.
What are the effects of depersonalizing the Holy Spirit? How does technology in the church contribute to the impersonal view of the Holy Spirit?
Daniel Henderson: I tend to speak in a lot of large churches from a variety of theological backgrounds. They have all the tools of what we call “worship arts.” They feature digitized lights, environmental smoke, and gargantuan sound systems. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these tools. Yet, in these same gatherings, they speak and sing of the Holy Spirit as if he’s reluctantly hovering in the atmosphere or coming through the vent system. I fear we’re creating a generation of “atmospheric addicts” who equate the work of the Holy Spirit with the emotions and technological sizzle of our gatherings, rather than living day-to-day with a clear biblical assurance of the constant, sufficient, indwelling presence of God.
Why do you feel misgivings toward the common church greeting, “Welcome to the house of the Lord”?
Daniel Henderson: Words matter, especially when they’re repeated by leaders week after week. Jim Cymbala has noted that “instead of understanding the full benefits of the new covenant in Christ, most in the church live in a no-man’s land between Jesus and Moses.” We have a lot of confusing Old Testament hold-overs in our worship language. This is one of them.
The building is not the “house of the Lord.” Jesus dismissed all facility-oriented worship when he announced to the woman at the well that his followers would not understand worship in terms of buildings, but would worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:20-24). This truth is carried throughout the New Testament. Jesus is now our temple and we are his temple.
In a recent pre-service prayer gathering one sincere participant prayed, “Thank you Lord that we can come into your presence” (referring to the building as the dwelling place of God’s presence). Instead we need to pray, “Thank you Lord that your presence has come into us.” This prayer aligns with a true gospel understanding of the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit. This is new covenant language.
What does God want believers to experience in worship?
Daniel Henderson: In recent years, it’s become common in worship gatherings to view music as the means by which we’re “brought into God’s presence.” This emphasis eclipses and confuses the overwhelming New Testament teaching that his presence has already been assured by the Holy Spirit through the sacrifice of Christ. We don’t sing in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We’re filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might sing.
In truth, there’s no New Testament verse teaching that music is a means of mediating the presence of the Holy Spirit. We don’t summon some external “force” in our worship. Rather, we’re to submit to the indwelling person of the Spirit as the core focus and source of our worship. In conjunction with the word of Christ, he produces praise and thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16), prayer (Romans 8:26), understanding of the Scriptures, mutual ministry to one another (1 Corinthians 12:6-7), a true organic unity (Ephesians 4:3), and more—from the inside-out.
What are the implications of using phrases of invitation or ambiguous descriptions to describe the work of the Holy Spirit?
Daniel Henderson: When we confuse the paramount truth of the indwelling Spirit, we devalue the finished work of Christ and his clear teaching about the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. We lead people to false expectations about the reality of a true, biblical work of the Spirit. Ultimately, we fail to give them a clear and compelling assurance of the promised inside-out, personal empowering of the Holy Spirit—sufficient for daily living—beyond the worship gathering.
What is the language of new covenant truth that should be used to speak of the Holy Spirit?
Daniel Henderson: In the back of Transforming Presence I offer a “new covenant” vocabulary chart. The bottom line is that we should always speak of the inside-out work of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we live in full surrender to him rather than referring to some distant “presence” that we summon to come, as if he were not already living within us.
Share the inside-out power of the Holy Spirit that you personally experience in your daily life.
Daniel Henderson: I love the clarity and passion of Andrew Murray’s words, “Within you! Within you! . . . God created man’s heart for his dwelling . . . the kingdom of God is within you. It is within we must look for the fulfillment of the new covenant. . . . The Spirit of Christ himself is to be within us as the power of our life.” Waking up every day in light of these truths has changed the way I reflect on my life, react to people, respond to temptations, and recognize spiritual opportunities. My communion with the Lord has been richer, my insights in the Scripture deeper, and my sense of power for living greater.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Daniel Henderson: One that has really resonated with me in recent months, especially in light of this book, is Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Daniel Henderson: Bible Gateway is an incredibly helpful, relevant, and reliable source for Christians at every stage of spiritual growth. I’m grateful for your far-reaching ministry of spreading the biblical understanding and encouragement across the globe.
Bio: For almost three decades Daniel Henderson has served as a pastor to thousands in congregations in California and Minnesota. Today, as Founder and President of Strategic Renewal International, he leads renewal events and coaches pastors across North America. His commitment to encouraging pastors has allowed him to speak in plenary sessions and lead prayer experiences at dozens of national and regional pastors’ conferences including The Moody Bible Pastors’ Conference, Alistair Begg’s Basics Conference, and John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference. With a passion for world missions, he has traveled to over 45 countries.
He is also the National Director of The 6:4 Fellowship, a cross-denominational community of pastors focused on the primary biblical priorities of “prayer and the ministry of the Word” based on Acts 6:4. Daniel is the author 11 books, including Transforming Presence, The Deeper Life, Old Paths New Power, and The Prayer God Loves to Answer, and his articles have appeared in publications like Leadership Journal, Pray! Magazine, PrayerConnect, and ChurchLeaders.com. He and his wife, Rosemary, live near Denver, Colorado.
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. Leviticus 25:10
If you go to the USA city of Philadelphia today, you can visit a historic 18th-century building which contains a room called Independence Hall. This ordinary room was the place where, on July 4, 1776, men signed the Declaration of Independence and where, in 1787, the Constitution of the United States was drafted. A huge bell, which we know as the Liberty Bell, hung in the bell tower there. Inscribed on its side are the words of Moses written 3,000 years earlier declaring a year of Jubilee: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”
They rang the bell in that tower before the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, as they had rung it on important occasions before. But only decades later did the bell become a kind of icon when it was first depicted on the cover of a new magazine called Liberty, a publication devoted to the cause of the abolition of slavery. Freedom in this new nation was not just freedom from the taxes of the king of England. It had to be freedom for every man and woman, boy and girl—the freedom that is the God-endowed dignity of the human race.
When God told the Israelites in the Old Testament that they should observe a year of Jubilee every 50th year, one of his purposes was to teach the people again that he, the living God, stood for freedom. In the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were supposed to let their slaves go free—a hint that one day slavery would be abolished altogether.
We know that liberty is important to God, because the Bible talks over and over again about the Exodus from Egypt as God’s great act of salvation and the hint of his ongoing liberating work in the world.
God knows we all have taskmasters. One person is enslaved to alcohol or drugs, another to a domineering person. One person is trapped in guilt and shame imposed by others, another is in the bondage of being the taskmaster—an addiction to control.
All people need to hear the sound of liberty ring loudly and clearly through their hearts and minds. And only the living God can deliver that kind of liberty.
The sound of freedom rings throughout the New Testament. For instance, the Apostle Paul says something in Galatians 5:1 that seems obvious: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”
Why did the apostle Paul say, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”? When someone is set free, aren’t they free? Not necessarily.
A convict can be set free, but still think like a convict, talk like a convict, and behave like a convict. Constricted, suppressed, and afraid. Like a person who lived for a long time in a controlling, abusive relationship, he or she may go on cowering in life even when the oppression is gone.
Galatians 5 talks about a bondage to the way of the law. It is the belief that we achieve a truce with God our creator if we follow all the rules just right, make visible displays of righteousness, and track all our spiritual accomplishments. That was the way of Pharisees—and Paul had had enough of it. He was really good at it, but he saw it as spiritual death.
The laws of the Old Testament are good. The Ten Commandments have ongoing relevance. But when Jesus came—Jesus who liberates us from every form of bondage—everything changed. He demonstrated that while the Law came through Moses (and that law was necessary to teach the human race that there is a difference between right and wrong), he brought grace and truth. By God’s mercy, we are allowed to repent and turn to God for a whole new life. He frees us from the childish way of following “do’s” and “don’ts” so that we can freely live in obedience to Christ. We do what is right because we are right with God and our instincts have been trued up to who he is.
But we must remember that we are free. We must rehearse it. Any person can become a Pharisee on any given day. We can turn faith into performance, like a kid trying to gain mom or dad’s favor by being a star player on the soccer field.
No. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Proclaim liberty!
Technology has information at our fingertips. But our relationship with God needs to be one of the heart, not the smartphone. How does memorizing Bible verses, chapters, and even entire books help you engage with the Word of God in a refreshing and amazing new way? What are some techniques you can use for Scripture memorization?
How much of the Bible have you committed to memory?
Thomas Meyer: I know about 20 complete books of the Bible from memory. I’ve never counted how many verses I know because in the back of my mind I remember the account of King David counting how many subjects were under his dominion and the consequences he had to pay for his pride (2 Samuel 24:1).
What inspired and launched your incredible memorization journey?
Thomas Meyer: Hopefully the same thing that will encourage you to follow in my footsteps–it was just one person challenging me to hide God’s Word in my heart, so I can know him better. By having it in my heart and not just on my shelf or my phone, the Word of God, like David said, is “before me” or always on my mind (Psalm 18:22).
Thomas Meyer: Every Bible in the world except this one is printed in such a way that is not conducive to memorization. Besides oral repetition, one of the main ancient techniques I implemented in this study Bible was having eight words or less in each line of the verse. This is what the ancients called “an eye’s glance”. We do the same thing today with billboards on the highway. They all have eight words or less on each line so those driving by at 55 mph can remember to buy an “Orange Mocha Frappuccino.” To break up the verse into bite-sized portions makes it much easier to digest (Isaiah 28:10)!
What are the three pillars of memorization used in The Memorization Study Bible and how do these work?
Thomas Meyer: The three pillars of memorization that helped those who went before us to memorize entire books of the Bible are reading, hearing, and writing. Let me explain.
When we memorize out of The Memorization Study Bible, we can do so through one of these three techniques or a combination of them. If you’re like me and need all the help you can get, use all three.
One method is to “read” the lines or bite-sized portions of the verse we want to memorize over and over again–but the key is to read it ALOUD or “hear” it. What works best for me is to simultaneously read the verse with my eyes, say it with my mouth, and write it line by line with my hand; this lets the word go from my lips through my ears and into my heart (Psalm 119:11).
Can you implement these three pillars into memorizing things other than the Bible?
Thomas Meyer: Yes. We live in a copy-paste, Facebook, Tweet, file and forget world. Like any other muscle, the more we work out our minds, the stronger they become. The renewing of the spirit of your mind when you memorize will help your mind stay sharp in all other facets of life (Ephesians 4:23).
What are some of the challenges people tend to face when they start the process of memorizing Scripture and how do you suggest they overcome these obstacles?
Thomas Meyer: That’s a great question. I think one issue is: where do I start memorizing? Well, don’t start in Leviticus, though the ancient Jewish schools did. I would suggest memorizing a short section like the Sermon on the Mount or a short book like Titus or Philemon. To memorize something with a train of thought that’s logically connected is very attainable in a short period of time. If you just memorized one verse a week, say from Philemon, you’d have the whole book (which is all about forgiveness, and who doesn’t need to be reminded of how we need to forgive?) memorized in less than a year.
How much time do you suggest someone spend studying The Memorization Study Bible a day to memorize Scripture most effectively?
Thomas Meyer: I’d suggest adding five minutes or so of memorization to your daily devotions. Also try to incorporate memorizing Scripture into family time or bedtime routines (Deuteronomy 6:7). It’s really cool to gather the family together and have someone quote the book of James or when the kids go to bed to tell them dramatically about Heaven from the book of Revelation.
What is your suggestion for someone jumping into The Memorization Study Bible who is looking to build a habit of Scripture memorization?
Thomas Meyer: Just like when we exercise our bodies, the first few days or weeks are the hardest. It hurts, and we don’t want to do it some mornings! But when we start to see results–that is, our minds and hearts becoming increasingly more like Christ’s (Philippians 2:5)–we’ll be so devoted to this spiritual exercise that soon it will become a normal part of our routine.
What are some ways you’ve seen the benefits of Scripture memory play out in your own life?
Thomas Meyer: That’s a great question. Why do it? I have four copies at home and it’s right here on my phone. God promises special blessings to those who meditate on his word: spiritual prosperity and spiritual success (Joshua 1:8). I’ve become a more obedient child of God, a better husband, a better father, and a better friend through hiding God’s Word in my heart. Even though I’m far from perfect, more often than not, it causes me to not sin against God.
Can The Memorization Study Bible be used in group settings?
Thomas Meyer: One of the greatest things you can do is memorize with someone else. When I lived in Jerusalem for four years, I visited a yeshiva (Jewish school) where there were students who’ve memorized volumes–Encyclopedia Britannica-sized collections of Jewish Law. One of the main techniques they used was having an accountability partner to quote to. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17)!
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Thomas Meyer: As someone who’s been called to speak the Word of God from memory as the sermon, I really like to present the entire book of Revelation from heart, unabridged, without any exegesis. I really believe the opening promise “blessed is he that reads” (1:3). I know better than anyone the need for explaining the text, but to hear that book spoken dramatically from memory in one shot–as if you were sitting in the pew somewhere in Asia Minor in the first century–really makes the book more understandable. The Bible is originally meant more for the ears than the eyes. It’s like reading Mozart versus hearing Mozart. The few of us on earth who quote the book of Revelation dramatically from memory are links in the chain that go all the way back to the Apostle John.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Thomas Meyer: Even the Bible Memory Man needs to look up Bible passages! As a product of my environment, I’m always on my phone. Whenever I need to find a verse, Bible Gateway is everything I need at the tips of my fingers. I’m able to quickly reference the books/chapters/verses I need with the ability to compare versions with ease. Bible Gateway is an invaluable resource that I highly recommend.
Bio: Professor Thomas Meyer, the Bible Memory Man, has memorized over 20 books of the Bible. He is a frequent Christian guest speaker at churches and conferences where he presents the Bible spoken dramatically from memory in an engaging and powerful manner. Sharing his Bible memory insights, Tom inspires Christians nationally to memorize the Bible. He’s the author of The Memorization Study Bible.
The shift in American society from admiring Christians to fearing and criticizing them provides an opportunity for self-reflection. How have we been presenting the message we believe in? Might there be a more grace-filled way?
Some want to focus on personal morality and leave public morality to secular politicians. Others seek ways to guide the broader culture while still communicating grace. Rather than propose a single path, I will instead make some observations and suggestions for Christians to consider as we interact with a world that does not always share our views.
Clashes Between Christ and Culture Are Unavoidable
John Howard Yoder recounted 51 separate times in which Jesus himself confronted injustices, and throughout history Jesus’ followers have followed suit. Early Christians were instrumental in ending the Roman practices of gladiatorial games and infanticide, and in the years since Christians have led moral campaigns against abuses such as slavery and sexual trafficking. Even separatist groups must engage with culture — the Anabaptists’ pacifism, for instance, stands as a powerful moral statement.
Christians must always discern which injustices merit a fight, but complete withdrawal is bad for both church and state. Nazi Germany posed the severest test to Luther’s doctrine of two kingdoms, a test the church mostly failed. Practicing a personal faith, with no real tradition of opposing the state, German church leaders waited far too late to protest. Indeed, many Protestant leaders initially welcomed the Nazis as an alternative to communism and some adopted a motto that now seems obscene: “The Swastika on our breasts, the Cross in our hearts.”
Eventually some Christians did wake up to the threat. Martin Niemöller published a series of sermons with the in-your-face title Christus ist mein Fuhrer (“Christ [not Hitler] is my Fuhrer”). Niemöller spent seven years in a concentration camp; Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed in another. In the end, faithful Christians were one of the few groups within Germany to oppose Hitler. Trade unions, parliament, politicians, doctors, scientists, university professors, lawyers — all these capitulated. A small but determined minority of Christians who understood their loyalty to a higher power resisted, and their courageous stand attracted the world’s attention: from 1933 to 1937 The New York Times ran nearly a thousand news accounts on the German church struggle.
After World War II the eastern part of Germany found itself under a different kind of totalitarian rule, the onset of four decades of Soviet domination. A few years ago I interviewed a pastor in Saxony who recalled the difficulties that Christians faced under Communism. In those days his children had limited educational opportunities, and he had to work as a plumber to supplement his meager pastor’s salary. When the Berlin Wall came down everything changed. Although less than 20 percent of Saxony’s citizens now belong to a church, he estimates that 70 percent of those in parliament are active, practicing Christians. Having lived under Nazism and then Communism, Christians quickly stepped into a cultural vacuum to help the newly free society lay a foundation for morality and law. They knew all too well what can happen when Christians are excluded from the public square.
As the pastor learned, working within a democracy presents a different kind of challenge. It involves tiresome work and tricky compromises. Stephen Monsma, a Christian who served in the Michigan state legislature, has written of the painstaking struggles to get drunk-driving legislation — an issue that invites a clear moral consensus — passed in his state. He likens his original vision of doing good to sitting by a cozy fire in his living room choosing luscious vegetables and beautiful flowers from a seed catalog; the actual work, he said, more resembles the gardener’s chores of digging furrows, pulling weeds, and battling insects.
There are a variety of ways to engage with culture. Some Christians express their pro-life beliefs by picketing; others volunteer at hospices and pregnancy counseling centers; still others work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving or campaign against the death penalty. Some debate ethical issues within the academy while others take up the tedious work of writing laws.
Democracy always requires bargaining and compromise. While he was Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop attracted the ire of fellow conservatives who had an all-or-nothing approach to morality and resisted any compromise on abortion. Koop, who shared their iron-clad belief that all abortion is wrong, came to conclude, “One of the problems with the pro-life movement is that they are 100-percenters. Historically it is true that if the prolife movement had sat down in, say, 1970 or 1972 with the prochoice people, we might have ended up with an agreement on abortion for the life of the mother, defective child, rape and incest, and nothing more. That would have saved ninety-seven percent of the abortions since then.” Only after losing the absolute battle did the pro-life movement change tactics to restrict rather than abolish abortion; since then hundreds of such laws have passed in state legislatures.
Modern democracy, which grew out of Christian soil, compels us to recognize others’ rights even when we deeply disagree with their positions. We seek to persuade but not to coerce. More, the gospel commands me to love my enemy as well as my neighbor. Christians may work within institutions, but always wary of their limitations and always conscious of our primary charge to love. Institutions cannot really express love; justice is as close as they come.
Christians Should Choose Their Battles Wisely
The sociologist Peter Berger has written of the “world maintaining” and “world shaking” functions of religion. Founders of the United States recognized that a democracy, with less top-down control and more freedom, needs a religious foundation to guide and motivate its citizens. In John Adams’ words, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The nation’s leaders counted on the church for this world-maintaining role, to teach and equip citizens to act responsibly.
When the church moves into the world-shaking business, however, it must do so wisely and with care. Alas, Christians involved in politics have tended to go off on tangents, such as historical efforts of Protestants to demonize Catholics and the failed Prohibition movement of the early 20th Century. The more Christians focus on tangential issues, the less we will be heard on matters of true moral significance. I hear very little from evangelicals about the impact of gun proliferation on violent crime, much less an issue like nuclear disarmament. I hear almost nothing about healthcare for the poor and protecting widows and orphans, all biblical mandates. Only recently have evangelicals taken up the cause of creation care. Evangelicals trumpet family values, but when an administration proposed legislation to allow mothers to take unpaid leave after childbirth, conservative religious groups opposed it.
Too often the agenda of religious groups matches line for line that of conservative — or liberal — politics and not the priorities of the Bible.
The Church Must Use Caution in Its Dealings with the State
Historian Edward Gibbon said that in ancient Rome all religions were to the people equally true, to the philosophers equally false, and to the government equally useful. Society needs the restraint offered by religion, and the state welcomes it — as long as it can call the shots.
The Christians who supported Hitler were startled to learn one day that the German government would now appoint church officials. Soon all pastors were required to take a loyalty oath to Hitler and his government. In Russia, Stalin compelled the church to grant the Party full control over religious instruction, seminary education, and the appointment of bishops. In China today the Communist government pays the salaries of official Three-Self pastors, a way of keeping them under its thumb, and appoints “illicit” Catholic bishops who do not have Vatican approval.
The church works best as a separate force, a conscience to society that keeps itself at arm’s length from the state. The closer it gets, the less effectively it can challenge the surrounding culture and the more perilously it risks losing its central message. Jesus left his followers the command to make disciples from all nations. We have no charge to “Christianize” the United States or any other country — an impossible goal in any case.
When the church accepts as its main goal the reform of the broader culture, we risk obscuring the gospel of grace and becoming one more power broker. That is how many in the secular world view us now, as a right-wing conspiracy intent on passing laws against them. In the process, they miss the good news of the gospel, that Christ died to save sinners, to free us from guilt and shame so that we can thrive in the way God intended.
The state will often try to use religion for its own purposes, but when it does so, the gospel itself changes. Civil religion invites us to share in a nation’s military glory; the gospel calls us to take up a cross. Civil religion offers prestige and influence; the gospel calls us to serve. Civil religion rewards success; the gospel redefines success and forgives failure. Civil religion values reputation; the gospel calls us to be “fools for Christ.”
During the Brezhnev era at the height of the Cold War, Billy Graham visited Russia and met with government and church leaders. Conservatives in the West harshly criticized him for treating the Russians with such courtesy and respect. He should have taken on a more prophetic role, they said, by speaking out against the abuses of human rights and religious liberty. One of his critics said, “Dr. Graham, you have set the church back 50 years!” Graham lowered his head and replied, “I am deeply ashamed. I have been trying very hard to set the church back 2000 years.”
Christians have proclaimed the good news about Jesus for centuries. But the good news isn’t sounding so good these days, at least to some. More and more surveys show that people view Christians as bearers of bad news, judgment, and intolerance.
In Vanishing Grace, bestselling author Philip Yancey acknowledges the problem and then explores how we can respond with both grace and truth. He offers a discerning look at what contributes to a hostility toward Christians, and identifies three groups—pilgrims, artists, and activists—who can show us a different way.
With a reporter’s eye and a compassionate heart, Yancey suggests practical ways in which we can live as salt and light within a society that is radically changing. What can we learn from those who shun church but consider themselves spiritual? Can the good news, once spoiled, ever sound good again?
As Yancey writes, “Like a sudden thaw in the middle of winter, grace happens at unexpected moments. It stops us short, catches the breath, disarms…. Yet not everyone has tasted of that amazing grace, and not everyone believes in it. In a time of division and discord, grace seems in vanishing supply. Why? And what can we do about it?”
In the wake of recent events—Las Vegas, Charlottesville, Charleston, Ferguson, Islamic terrorism—people both inside and outside the church are thirsty for grace. Vanishing Grace calls us to see their thirst, and ours, in a hopeful new light as we listen, love, and offer a grace that is truly good news.
Philip Yancey serves as editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine. He has written thirteen Gold Medallion Award-winning books and won two ECPA Book of the Year awards for What’s So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew. Four of his books have sold over one million copies. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado. Learn more at philipyancey.com.
A new cutting-edge edition of the Bible is coming Oct. 9, 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers (@tyndalehouse) that combines the tactile experience of the biblical text on printed pages in the New Living Translation (NLT) Bible version with full-color reference study material in an accompanying app.
Several years in development, the Filament Bible NLT (Tyndale, 2018) (ISBN: 978-1-4964-3631-3, $59.99; 978-1-4964-3317-6, $79.99) introduces a patent-pending print + digital augmented reality combination that provides opportunities never before featured in a single Bible, according to the publisher.
Filament (website) is unique in that the print Bible pairs seamlessly with smartphones or tablets through the Filament app, available free in the App Store and Google Play. The app uses the device’s camera to recognize the page and instantly connects to a rich set of curated content centered around that passage—study notes, profiles, devotionals, interactive maps, videos, and more.
“The concept is powerfully simple,” explains Keith Williams, senior editor for Bibles at Tyndale. “The print Bible features a carefully crafted page design, offering the best possible reading experience in a single-volume print Bible. A line-over-line single-column setting, generous font size and margins, and optimal line length create a strikingly beautiful presentation of God’s Word in a portable package.
“Filament is exciting because it allows us to do things we could never do in a print Bible, like including profiles for every person mentioned on a page or allowing the reader to tap and explore an interactive map,” says Williams. “At the same time, it also allows people to have a clean, uncluttered reading experience with the Bible when they want to engage directly with God’s Word.”
Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.
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Venture back to the year 1993. The first widely used graphical World Wide Web browser, Mosaic (later to become Netscape), was introduced, representing a major turning point in the Internet’s journey toward wide-scale user acceptance; US President Bill Clinton put the White House online; the first ever webcam connected to the Internet; and, topping the news in 1993, Bible Gateway, a fledgling idea in the mind of a college staffer, launched as an internal Bible research tool for college students.
Twenty-five years ago, the nascent World Wide Web accounted for only 1% of telecommunications information flow. By 2007, that number rose to 97%. Today, in the center of the information deluge flowing on the Web, sits BibleGateway.com (@biblegateway), the most-visited Christian website in the world; home to more than 200 Bible versions in more than 70 languages; and a trusted resource for more than 140 million people in more than 200 countries every year. Rely on it every day for all your Bible needs.
Haven Today is the daily radio program—broadcasting on more than 600 stations in North America and around the world—that tells the Great Story all about Jesus and how he relates to everyday life. Anchor is its daily devotional guide that features brief Scripture selections together with current insights and experiences woven into a few short paragraphs each day. Full of Christ-centered content, sign up to get this free email devotional as a great way to begin or end your day.
How did your career as a broadcast journalist, UPI bureau chief, and press secretary to two US Senators prepare you to host an international Christian radio program?
Charles Morris: I became the speaker for Haven Ministries (@HavenToday) at the tail end of 1999. It was the beginning of a new millennium, and I was taking over as my friend, the late Ray Ortlund, retired. By that point, Ray had already changed the name of the ministry from “The Haven of Rest” to just “Haven” because people kept on calling in thinking we were a crematorium or retirement home!
Then 9/11 happened. Up to that point, we were like all Christian radio programs and recorded the daily broadcast weeks in advance. Thanks to the leap in digital technology, we were able to change the program at a moment’s notice, and I knew we had to speak gospel comfort into a dark day in America’s history. Within minutes, I was on the phone with my old friend Tim Keller who was on his way out the door to do what he could to encourage his New York congregants, some of whom perished in the World Trade Center.
Changing the program on a dime forced us to think about our ministry in a new way. My time as a journalist prepared me well for fast paced production that changes as news happens. So we began recording the program only a day before broadcasting so that we could speak into current events.
Our name went from just “Haven” to Haven Today, and we haven’t turned back since.
Explain your focus of “Telling the Great Story that’s all about Jesus.”
Charles Morris: As a seminary student in Philadelphia, my family and I began attending a church led by the late Jack Miller. Jack would always say, “Cheer up: you’re a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.” This message changed my life, my marriage, and the way I read the Bible. And it shapes everything we do at Haven.
The gospel changes how we live each day. And Christians need to hear the gospel by faith every day. You see, this message of salvation in Jesus is more than just something we’re supposed to believe. God wants us to experience it every day. And that’s what we try to do with every single broadcast, hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the Great Story that’s all about Jesus.”
How did Haven Ministries begin? And what impact did The Haven of Rest radio broadcast have when it launched in the golden era of radio?
Charles Morris: In the early 1930s, Paul Myers was drinking his way through job after job at many of the major Los Angeles radio stations. His life was spiraling out of control and his alcoholism had even forced his wife to kick him out of the house, but she continued to pray for his salvation and recovery. Now homeless, Paul was turned away from a San Diego church service because of his repellent and drunken appearance, so he went back to his cheap hotel and started reading the Gideon Bible in his room. As he read, he was convicted of his sin and found forgiveness in Jesus. One month later he was back on the radio, but this time as a broken man saved by grace. From then on, he went by the name “First Mate Bob.”
Beginning in Hollywood, Haven’s early impact spread up and down the West Coast and, eventually, across the country. Listeners tuned in as First Mate Bob delivered a message of peace and hope which was, as it remains today, all about Jesus. And of course I can’t neglect to mention one of the key factors that shaped Haven’s history: music. Every Christian radio program in those days had their own in-studio quartet, and the Haven of Rest Quartet was routinely known as one of the best. And that’s not just my opinion!
Here’s some early footage we recently found in our archives that gives a tour of the old Haven of Rest studios in the Good Ship Grace in Hollywood—a building that still stands today as a national historic site. In the video, First Mate Bob leads us through what went into producing the broadcast in those early days.
Charles Morris: Like everything we do, Anchor Devotional is a daily devotional that is all about Jesus from every page of the Bible and every part of life. Its purpose is not to be a list of 31 rules for holy living. Rather, every page tells that the greatest story on earth is all about Jesus, and the mercy and grace found only in him.
Our writers come from all walks of life. Some are school teachers, parents, ministers, authors, musicians, or seminary students. Some of the most moving issues were written by prisoners who found redemption in Christ behind bars.
Thirty-thousand copies of the print edition of Anchor go out monthly to readers whose life circumstances are varied. Some are elderly and may be disappointed with life. Others are young and idealistic. Some have limited education; others are professionals. Some are spiritually mature; others are untaught in the Word. Some have been reading Anchor for years; others are new, their only encounter with Christianity having read a copy of Anchor in a doctor’s office, in a beauty shop, or on Haven’s website.
What role does the Bible play in the Haven Today radio ministry?
Charles Morris: Scripture plays a pivotal role in everything we do at Haven. From the very first words of the Bible, the foundation for all of human history is laid out: creation, the fall of humanity, and God’s promise to redeem us from the curse of sin. Our goal is to do more than teach a moral lesson. We want to point to Jesus in all of Scripture because he told us in Luke 24 that the whole Bible, from beginning to end, is all about him!
We often begin a week of programming with an interview with a well-known author, singer, or minister of the gospel. But that always leads us to Scripture, which always leads to Jesus. For example, we recently had Mercy Me’s Bart Millard and movie director Jon Erwin on our program talking about the song and movie I Can Only Imagine. This story of Bart going on a journey to forgive his abusive father led us to do programs on fatherhood in Scripture and how, in spite of the shortcomings of our earthly fathers, we can find love and security in the arms of our eternal Father who we know through Jesus.
This led us to talking about John 10 and Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and the Bible Gateway Bible Audio App?
Charles Morris: Bible Gateway, whether online or on the App, is an invaluable resource for everyone on our team. I still bring my large study Bible with me wherever I go—I still love analog resources! But it’s often Bible Gateway that’s there for me when I need to incorporate God’s Word into a broadcast. I’ve also heard from members of our team who say they use it multiple times a day to find the verses they need for life and work.
Bio: At the turn of the new millennium Charles and Janet Morris packed up and moved to California, leaving behind the dream home they built at the base of Pikes Peak in the Colorado Rockies. They had been asking the Lord to use their communication skills in a front line way for the kingdom when the phone rang and Charles was called to become the fourth speaker on an 80-year-old Christian radio program based in Los Angeles. Charles had journalistic experience on radio, TV, and with UPI, but no file drawer full of sermons. So with a background in Bible teaching and leading women¿s retreats, Janet joined her husband in helping write the daily messages. Haven Today airs on 600 stations with 500,000 listeners. Together Charles and Janet have co-authored Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story, Saving a Life: How We Found Courage When Death Rescued Our Son and Jesus in the Midst of Success. Charles and Janet have three children and three grandchildren.
Verso Del Día: Todo lo que Dios es habita corporalmente en Cristo, incluso en su vida en la tierra. En Cristo, ustedes están completos y no necesitan nada más, pues él es cabeza de todos los gobernantes y poderes.- Colosenses 2:9-10 (PDT) ...
VERSE OF THE DAY: For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. -Colossians 2:9-10 (HCSB) bit.ly/2MYuxfm...
Verso Del Día: Por esto, despójense de toda inmundicia y de la maldad que tanto abunda, para que puedan recibir con humildad la palabra sembrada en ustedes, la cual tiene poder para salvarles la vida.- Santiago 1:21 (NVI)