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Bible News Roundup – Week of November 8, 2015

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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Mourning With Those Who Mourn: Looking for Answers to the Terror in Paris
Bible Gateway Blogpost

Dr. Douglas Moo on the NIV and the Future of Bible Translation [interview]
The Overview Bible Project
Accolades for the New NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Paperless Scholarship: Editing the New NIV Study Bible
Trinity International University
See editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

Northern Kentucky’s Biblical Ark Rising to Open in July
Read Genesis 6 on Bible Gateway

Sotheby’s to Auction Private Library of Important Hebrew Writings, 1189 Bible
Winnipeg Free Press

Symposium of 30 Years of Bible Ministry Cooperation Between China Christian Council and United Bible Societies
China Christian Daily

Speedy MAST Bible Translation Hits a Bump
Christianity Today

Accelerating Accuracy: The Bible Translation Challenge
Christianity Today

Bible Translation in Europe Today
Evangelical Focus
Three European languages have more than 25 Bible translations

‘Gods and Scholars’ Brings Religious Artifacts to Light
Cornell Chronicle
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Authorities Disqualify Georgia High School State Championship Runner for Wearing Headband with Bible Verse
Forsyth County News
FOX News
Read Isaiah 40:30-31 on Bible Gateway

Tenn. School District Bans Bible Giveaways
CBN News

Atheists Try to Ban Gideon Bibles in Public Hotel Rooms

Pocket Bible’s Worn Pages Tell Ex-POW’s Story
The Toledo Blade
Read John 3 on Bible Gateway

Melbourne Family Reunited with 100-Year-Old WWI Heirloom Bible Found in Canberra Rubbish Tip
ABC Canberra

New Cambridge University Project to Explore the Bible’s Role in First World War
Cambridge News

40% of People in England Don’t Believe Jesus was a Real Person: Church of England Survey Suggests
BBC News

2500 Namibians Walk for Bible Distribution
Namibia Economist

“When I Started to Read the Bible, It Changed Me”
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity

National Bible Week Begins on Sunday, Nov. 15

National Bible Association Hosts Special Reading of Aitken Bible at the Capitol
Standard Newswire

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Poll: Bible Gateway Users Split on NT/OT Books As Favorite

More than 2,800 Bible Gateway Blog readers responded to our latest survey, telling us their favorite book of the Bible (from a prepared list of four New Testament (NT) books and four Old Testament (OT) books).

Answering the question, “Of the books of the Bible listed, which one is your favorite?,” the following list developed:

  1. The Gospel of John (26%)
  2. Psalms (24%)
  3. Romans (14%)
  4. Proverbs (12%)
  5. Acts (7%)
  6. Genesis (6%)
  7. Philippians (6%)
  8. Ecclesiastes (5%)

Some of the most famous Bible verses are found within the first chapter of each of these books, which then set the reader’s expectations of what the book is about:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (NIV)

Blessed is the man
   who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
   nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)

I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (CEB)

The fear of the Lord
is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 (HCSB)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 (NET)

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NRSV)

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher,
vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2 (KJV)

We encourage you to use Bible Gateway to enjoy your favorite book. One way is to use Bible Gateway’s many Bible Reading Plans that you can easily personalize to fit your own reading style and time schedule. Once you sign up, be sure to share what you read with your Facebook and Twitter followers, telling them about the options available on Bible Gateway.

[See results of our other Blog polls]

Our next Bible Gateway poll asks “How do you integrate the Bible into your Thanksgiving family celebration?” Cast your vote below and encourage your social media followers to as well.

[Sign up for our brief 7-day free Thanksgiving email devotional]

How do you integrate the Bible into your Thanksgiving family celebration?

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Just a reminder that you can support the ministry of Bible Gateway by purchasing your Bible, book, music, and gift needs in the Bible Gateway Store.

God’s Crime Scene: An Interview with J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner WallaceWhat would happen if an experienced homicide detective applied the investigative tools he uses to prove that God exists? Could he examine eight pieces of critical evidence in the “crime scene” of the universe to determine if they point to a “divine intruder”?

Bible Gateway interviewed former atheist J. Warner Wallace (@jwarnerwallace) about his book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe (David C. Cook, 2015).

How does God’s Crime Scene differ from other books on Christian apologetics?

Click to buy your copy of God's Crime Scene in the Bible Gateway StoreJ. Warner Wallace: It’s my hope to add something of value to the historic case for God’s existence by providing a new investigative framework for the evidence. While other books certainly describe the facts, God’s Crime Scene incorporates investigative techniques from real-life crime scenes to examine eight key attributes of the universe. Each chapter begins with a real crime scene, based on my work as a Cold-Case Detective. I describe the specific forensic principle we used to solve the case, then we apply this technique to the evidence for God’s existence. God’s Crime Scene doesn’t just describe the evidence, it provides readers with the detective skills necessary to evaluate the evidence so they can make the case. It’s also fully illustrated to make the case clear.

What message are you trying to convey with the title?

J. Warner Wallace: I realize God’s Crime Scene might sound like I’m describing God as a criminal suspect, culpable of some kind of crime, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, I’m simply trying to apply crime scene investigative techniques to the universe to infer the most reasonable inference for what we all experience. I’m treating the universe as a crime scene to determine if there is good reason to believe we have an external “suspect”.

How does your profession as a cold-case homicide detective help you uncover evidence for Christianity and God’s existence, which led you to write this book?

J. Warner Wallace: My journey of faith was directly tied to my work as a detective. When I first encountered the New Testament Gospels, for example, I investigated and tested them as I would any set of eyewitness accounts (I described this process in Cold-Case Christianity). At the end of that process, I was comfortable with the reliable nature of the Gospel accounts except for the existence of the supernatural miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection. I thought the Gospels were some form of historical fiction. But I decided to take an additional step in my investigation to determine if my bias against the supernatural was warranted. I examined the universe the same way I examined other targeted scenes and I applied the same scrutiny I did to other pieces of evidence in such scenes. The result is the process I describe In God’s Crime Scene.

Explain “inside the room” and “outside the room.” What common detective investigative technique do you use to examine the cause of the universe?

J. Warner Wallace: Every death investigation presents one of four possibilities; the victim died accidentally, died from natural causes, committed suicide, or was murdered. Only one of these circumstances requires someone outside the room to enter the scene. Accidental deaths, natural deaths, and suicides can occur without an intruder. Homicide detectives, therefore, are looking for evidence of outside involvement.

One important question must be asked and answered: “Can the evidence ‘in the room’ be explained by staying ‘in the room’?” If, for example, there is a victim in the room with a gunshot injury lying next to a handgun, but the doors are locked from the inside, all the DNA and fingerprints in the room come back to the victim, the gun is registered to the victim and there are no signs of an outside intruder, this is simply the scene of a suicide or accidental death. If, however, there exist fingerprints or DNA of an unknown suspect, the gun does not belong to the victim, and there are bloody footprints leading outside the room, detectives must consider the reasonable inference of murder. When the evidence in the room cannot be explained by staying inside the room and is better explained by a cause outside the room, there’s a good chance a murderer is on the loose. Intruders turn death scenes into crime scenes.

As we examine the universe around us, a similar opportunity awaits those who want to begin the most important of all investigations. Can everything we see in the universe be explained solely from causes found within the natural realm, or is there evidence of an outside “intruder”? Can the universe be explained by natural “internal” forces, or is an external “intruder” a better explanation? God’s Crime Scene was written to help readers examine the nature of the universe as they sift through eight important characteristics of the cosmos, biological organisms, and human experience, considering each as though it were a piece of evidence at a crime scene.

How do the judicial terms of explanatory liabilities and explanatory virtues enter into your approach to proving God’s existence?

J. Warner Wallace: In every case I’ve investigated, the explanations ultimately offered by the prosecution and defense teams possess both virtues and liabilities. Even true explanations typically suffer from unanswered questions or explanatory liabilities (weaknesses in understanding or knowing precisely what happened). It’s our responsibility, then, to evaluate every explanation to see which explanation possesses the greatest number of virtues and the least liabilities. In God’s Crime Scene, I describe all the virtues and liabilities from explanations offered from “inside the room” and “outside the room”. I also point readers to the best three atheist defenders and theist apologists so readers can examine the case for themselves. In the end, the explanations offered by those who describe an all-powerful Creator “outside the room” possess the greater explanatory power and the least number of explanatory liabilities.

What do you mean when you write, “Intruders turn a sense of curiosity into a sense of urgency”?

J. Warner Wallace: Death scenes provoke a response from those who are investigating them. When a death occurs accidentally, naturally, or because of a suicide, criminal investigators may have a sense of curiosity about what happened, but there won’t be any sense of urgency to catch the murderer. If the evidence in the death scene can be explained from inside the room, curiosity will rule the day. On the other hand, if investigators believe they have a murder (because the evidence in the scene can’t be explained from inside the room), everything changes. Curiosity turns into urgency as detectives quickly move to identify and capture the intruder who is responsible for the crime. Intruders turn a sense of curiosity into a sense of urgency.

In a similar way, if the evidence in the universe cannot be explained from “inside the room”, we ought to have a sense of urgency about this reality. If there’s a Divine Intruder we ought to passionately pursue him.

What four categories of evidence do you explore?

J. Warner Wallace: In God’s Crime Scene, I identify eight pieces of evidence in the universe in four very divergent categories:
Cosmological evidence (1. A universe that has a beginning, and 2. The fine tuning of our universe for the existence of life),
Biological evidence (3. The origin of life in our universe, and 4. The appearance of design in biological organisms),
Mental evidence (5. Consciousness, and 6. Free agency), and
Moral evidence (7. The existence of transcendent, objective moral truths, and 8. The presence of Evil).

These eight pieces of evidence simply cannot be explained from “inside the room” of the natural universe. In fact, the best explanation for these features of the universe is found “outside the room,” and the divergent nature of these evidences makes the case all the more compelling.

What is the “cumulative case for an intelligent designer”?

J. Warner Wallace: Famed atheist and evolutionist, Richard Dawkins has written, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” In God’s Crime Scene I try to identify the attributes of design all of us recognize (either consciously or unconsciously) when we identify intelligently designed objects. To make these attributes easier to remember, I’ve assembled them in an acronym (DESIGNED):
D – Dubious Probability (Given Chance); Is random chance an insufficient explanation for the formation and assembly of the object we are examining?
E – Echoes of Familiarity; Does the object resemble other structures we know (with certainty) were designed by intelligent designers?
S – Sophistication and Intricacy; Does the object display specificity, sophistication and intricacy consistent with the involvement of an intelligent agent?
I – Informational Dependency; Is there any evidence the object was directed and created by way of instructional information?
G – Goal Direction (and Intentionality); Does the form and assembly process of the object process to be goal-directed?
N – Natural Inexplicability (Given Laws of Physics or Chemistry); Are the laws of physics and chemistry insufficient to account for the form and function of the object?
E – Efficiency / Irreducible Complexity; Does the object display efficient, irreducible complexity reflecting the involvement of an intelligent designer?
D – Decision / Choice Reflection; Does the object display evidence of conscious choices indicative of an intelligent designer?

We don’t need all the attributes of design to be present in order to correctly infer the involvement of an intelligent agent, but the more attributes we identify, the more reasonable the inference. There are many biological organisms that possess these attributes of design, including the modern icon of the Intelligent Design movement, the bacterial flagellum. Even if we skeptically rejected the presence of some of these design characteristics in biological micro-machines like the bacterial flagellum, the strength of the inference for design is still very strong, given the remaining pieces of the cumulative case. In God’s Crime Scene, I describe each of these design attributes in much greater great detail as I navigate the structure of flagella. I also examine the naturalistic explanations of those who deny the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

How do you approach the subject of good and evil coexisting?

J. Warner Wallace: Few people witness as much horrific evil as homicide detectives. I’ve certainly seen my share. But what do we really mean when we say something is evil? Are we saying we just don’t like it personally, or are we saying there are some things that are truly, transcendently, objectively evil? Is evil nothing more than a matter of opinion? If so, we could remove all evil by simply changing our minds about what we thought was evil in the first place. If we can’t eliminate evil in this way, we need to think about why and how transcendent notions of evil could exist.

While evil might at first appear to be a strong evidence against the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving Divine Creator, it may actually be the best possible evidence for the existence of such a Being. Unless we are prepared to dismiss evil as nothing more than whatever fails to please our private desires or opinions, we’re going to need a transcendent standard of good by which to evaluate and identify anything as evil. As crazy as it might sound at first, the existence of true evil, the kind that transcends each of us as individuals and groups, is dependent on the existence of a true, transcendent standard of good. True evil is evidence for God’s existence.

The only thing left to us, then, is to understand why an all-loving, all-powerful God might allow evil to occur. That’s what I hope to do with a seven-part explanatory template in God’s Crime Scene.

What outcomes do you hope for once someone has read your book?

J. Warner Wallace: I wrote God’s Crime Scene to chronicle my own journey from atheism, to provide the case for those who are genuinely seeking to know the truth about God’s existence, and to encourage those who already call themselves believers. If you’re a skeptic, I hope to show you to the strength of theistic explanations for the universe and the weakness of atheistic accounts. If you’re a believer, I hope to provide you with the evidence in a way that’s both easy to understand and communicate to others.

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

J. Warner Wallace: I’ve been using the Bible Gateway for many years as both a pastor and case maker. It’s my “go to” website to research the Bible so I can “connect the dots” from the New and Old Testament. It’s one of only a few apps I have on my phone to study God’s Word on the go.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

J. Warner Wallace: I believe each of us is called to be a Two-Decision Christian. If you’ve already decided God exists, take a second step and decide to make the case for what you believe. Become a case-making believer. I hope to encourage believers to make this second decision, and I hope God’s Crime Scene will help them fulfill their calling. Start small. Read and study. Engage your friends. Get in the game.

Bio: J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker, and author of Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. He’s been featured repeatedly on Dateline, FOX News, and Court TV. He’s part of a three generation law enforcement family. J. Warner and his wife have four children and live in southern California.

Which Bible?


This is the second lesson in Mel Lawrenz’ new “How to Study the Bible” series. You can catch up with last week’s lesson here. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.

The first question we must answer when attempting to study the Bible is: which Bible? Every student of the Bible is going to decide, first of all, which translation or translations to use. But there is a prior issue: how much of the Bible? And the answer must be: the whole Bible.

That may seem obvious, but it really is easy for us to focus on the New Testament, or on other subsections of Scripture we are attracted to. Some people really like the Gospels. Others feel most at home in the letters of the apostle Paul. Some are attracted to the poetry of the Bible, or the historical narratives, or the prophecies. But we risk imbalance and misinterpretation if we do not study the totality of what the prophets and apostles taught, and in balance.


Commenting on Paul’s comment in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God,” New Testament scholar D. A. Carson says Paul : “taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively” (in Preach the Word, Crossway, 2007).

So what about translations? Why are there so many options? Is there one “correct” translation?

Rendering the meaning of the original biblical texts from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into the language we use, is a dynamic process. The reasons there are different translations is because language changes, and because different translators have different purposes. The English we use today is different from the English 500 years ago, for instance. Many Bible readers can compensate for that (by becoming experts, really, in antique forms of English), but many prefer a modern translation that uses today’s language. (Translators refer to this as the “receptor language.”)

So-called “word-for-word” translations have the advantage of showing the reader the specific word choice and phraseology of the biblical authors. Another approach is to go “thought-for-thought.” These versions are true to the biblical author if they authentically render the intended meaning. Free translations or paraphrases often render whole sentences in new ways. These versions benefit people looking to catch the whole flow of Scripture, not so much the verse by verse meaning.

The debates over Bible translations can be intense because the Bible is important to us—which is a good thing! But we all should recognize that the most important thing is that we actually read the Bible. The best translation is the one that you will actually read and understand. If you are serious about studying the Bible you will access several versions. One of the basic skills of studying the Bible is to read and compare different translations. We’ll get to that later.

Here is a list of the most widely used Bibles (in English) today, and some of the best study Bibles.

Which Bible should you study? The whole Bible. That is because to study the Bible is to study God (remember, last time, study=zeal). In the same way that you best describe your spouse or your parent or child or friend by understanding the whole person, we will study Scripture best when we are peering intently at the whole.

If you haven’t contemplated the whole amazing sweep of Scripture lately, take a minute right now to read “the Big Picture.”

Mel Lawrenz trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, the latest, How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See other books here.

Give Thanks! Our Devotional About Gratitude Will Help You Fight Holiday Stress

Now that autumn is in full gear, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that means the return of Give Thanks, our week-long Thanksgiving email devotional!

We wrote Give Thanks to help you contemplate the value of gratitude and thankfulness as the inevitable holiday stress starts to build up. Each day’s reading (which we kept short so you can easily fit it into your busy schedule) consists of a brief devotional and then a story from Scripture that teaches us something about gratitude. Each reading wraps up with a handful of discussion questions to help you think through what the story means for your life.

So if you can already feel the stress of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season looming over the horizon, now’s your chance to pre-emptively fight back against it by exploring the virtue of thankfulness. If that sounds appealing, click here sign up for Give Thanks today! Give Thanks begins immediately upon signup and continues daily for one week.

Bible News Roundup – Week of November 1, 2015

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

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in November
Bible Gateway Blogpost

Massive Survey Shows How US Christians Changed from 2007 to 2014
Christianity Today

For Many, Bible No Longer Good Book
Baptist News Global | Research report (PDF)

Most UK Adults Do Not Believe the Bible is God’s Word
Talking Jesus research report (PDF)

New Biblica Europe Director Lindsey Holley Outlines Bold Vision

New Welsh Bible So Popular Pre-Ordered Editions Sell Out
Bible Society

Churchgoers Pay for Bibles for Serbian Soldiers ‘To Prevent War Crimes’
The Telegraph

Support Being Provided to Cameroon Bible Translators Living in the Shadow of Extremist Violence
Mission Network News

Wycliffe Associates Partners with National Christian Leaders to Advance Bible Translation for Isolated Groups in Pacific Region
Wycliffe Associates

UK Christmas Stamps Unveiled With Theme of Nativity Story
Read the Christmas Story on Bible Gateway

Illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible on Display at Mount Saint Mary College
Hudson Valley News Network
See blogpost, The Saint John’s Bible: A Reflection on Creation

Studio Completion = Scriptures for More Oral Learners
Mission Network News

Carbon Test to be Applied to Gilded Bible Seized in Turkey’s Northern Province of Tokat
Hurriyet Daily News

Reading the Bible Interculturally: An Invitation to the Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Christianity
Covenant Quarterly

The Futility of Representing Religion With a Bar Chart
The Atlantic

2015 State of Atheism in America
Barna Group

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Celebrate the Reformation at Bible Gateway

martinlutherWhile Halloween is the holiday on most people’s minds this weekend, it’s also the anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous nailing of the “95 theses” to the door of the church at Wittenberg. Luther’s actions informed and inspired the Protestant Reformation, which formed in reaction to perceived theological errors and abuses in the church. On October 31, churches around the world remember and celebrate the work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the many other people who inspired and drove the Reformation.

Over the years, we’ve gathered a good number of Reformation-related resources here at Bible Gateway. If you’re looking to get into the spirit of the Protestant Reformation this weekend, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Five Bible Verses to Read on Reformation Day: We picked five Bible verses to read on Reformation Day—five verses that informed the Protestant Reformation. How many of these verses are you familiar with? Do you see why they would have had a special significance to the Protestant Reformers?
  2. Try the 1599 Geneva Bible: The 1599 Geneva Bible was an important and influential Bible throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, with ties to many famous Protestant writers and thinkers. It’s also considered by many to be the world’s first study Bible, as it included a vast number of notes and commentary, written by a veritable who-‘s-who of the Reformation. You can read it online at Bible Gateway. Here’s John 3 in the 1599 Geneva Bible; you can also read more about its significance. When reading this Bible on Bible Gateway, be sure to have footnotes toggled on, so you can enjoy the accompanying study notes. (Here’s how to toggle footnotes and other page options.)
  3. Access the Reformation Study Bible online: The Reformation Study Bible is a study Bible with thousands of helpful notes on every part of Scripture, written by distinguished theologians and scholars like Wayne Grudem, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and many others. And it’s available in full on Bible Gateway! To access the Reformation Study Bible notes alongside your Bible reading, click the Study This button on any Bible passage page. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing so.
  4. Insight from Reformed Theologians: Our library of devotionals contains several written by respected modern Reformed theologians. There are several written or edited by R.C. Sproul: Essentials of the Christian Faith, Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul, and Tough Questions with R.C. Sproul will all take you on an accessible, honest journey through the basics of Christian belief. And Daily Devotions by John Piper offers everyday inspirational insight with a Reformed perspective.
  5. The Best of Charles Spurgeon: Charles Spurgeon was one of the most eloquent and influential Reformed preachers of the modern era, and his Morning and Evening devotional is beloved around the world. We’ve also got two devotionals that draw on Spurgeon’s sermons—Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and the New Park Street Chapel. As with the Sproul and Piper devotions, you can read them online or have them delivered to you via email.

We hope one or more of these resources will help you explore and appreciate the legacy of the Protestant Reformation. Whether you consider yourself “Reformed” or not, there’s something to be learned from the Reformation’s focus on the centrality of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. And if you act quickly, there might still be time to get your Ulrich Zwingli costume ready for Halloween!

New Feature: Customize Your Devotional Reading on Bible Gateway

If you read our interview with OS Hillman yesterday, you know that there’s a new daily devotional on Bible Gateway. TGIF: Today God is First was born when Hillman, a successful Atlanta businessman, suffered a long string of setbacks that left him desperate for spiritual help:

I went through a seven-year crisis that began in 1994 in which I lost $500,000 through a “Bernie Madoff” type of scam and lost 80% of my business when a client left and stuck me for $170,000. My wife left me at the same time and my vice-president left and took my second largest account. This ushered me into a seven-year season. I began writing TGIF: Today God Is First during that season in an effort to find answers I desparately needed at the time.

You can find TGIF: Today God is First here on the Devotionals page on Bible Gateway. But while you’re reading TGIF, you might also want to note a new set of features we’ve added to our devotionals: subscription and reminder options.

Subscribing to a devotional on Bible Gateway is a way to keep track of how far you’ve read in that devotional, get email reminders when a new reading is ready, and never miss an entry or “fall behind” on your reading. It’s a new feature that we’re launching in conjunction with TGIF. When you visit TGIF or any other devotional on Bible Gateway (you can choose from our full list of our online devotionals here), you’ll now see a new subscription panel at the top of the daily reading. It looks like this:


This panel lets you subscribe to a devotional that you want to follow. Subscribing to a devotional makes it easier for you to keep up with your devotional reading by allowing you to:

  • Have reminders sent directly to your email when a new devotional reading is ready
  • Chose your own starting date, and track your reading progress
  • Pause a devotional at any time, and easily catch up with readings you’ve fallen behind in

To subscribe to a devotional, you’ll need to be logged into a free Bible Gateway account. (You can follow most of these steps if you’re not logged in, but you’ll be prompted to log in before you complete the process, and may not see all of the options until you’ve done so. Here’s more info about Bible Gateway accounts.) To subscribe to a devotional, visit one of our devotionals and click the Subscribe button on that panel. This will open a calendar view you can use to select the date on which you wish to start reading the devotional. You can also opt to have email reminders sent to you whenever a new reading is reading by selecting the Send reminders to… checkbox:


Choose your start date and (optionally) check the email reminder box, then click the Start button. (You must be logged into a Bible Gateway account in order to subscribe to a devotional; if you aren’t logged in at this point, you’ll be prompted to log in or create a free account when you press the button to subscribe.) Now that you’re subscribed, Bible Gateway will remember where you are in that devotional. Anytime you visit that devotional page, you’ll be presented with the next reading.

You can manage your subscription to a devotional by clicking on the little calendar icon above each reading:


The panel that opens up gives you the option to pause or restart the devotional, start or stop email reminders, unsubscribe from devotional, or “catch up” the devotional by marking all previous entries as “read”:


Once you’re subscribed to a devotional, you’ll want to visit it regularly to do the readings. Most of our devotionals have a new reading either weekly or daily. You can bookmark the individual devotional page, or find it in our big list of devotionals. If you checked the box to receive an email reminder when a new reading is ready, you’ll get an morning email on the appropriate days containing a link to the devotional.

That’s a very cursory introduction to our new devotional subscription feature—and we’ll be working to improve it as we receive feedback from visitors like you, so the details may change a bit. But if you’ve been frustrated in the past by a lack of customization options for our online devotionals, we encourage you to visit our devotionals and try out the new subscription feature (and to let us know what you think)!

The Bible’s Top-10 Wicked Women

Ann SpanglerThe following guest blogpost is by Ann Spangler (@annspangler). In her new book Wicked Women of the Bible (Zondervan, 2015), Ann tells the stories of 20 wicked and “wicked good” women in greater detail. At the end of each story, Ann provides a brief section including additional historical and cultural background as well as a brief Bible study in order to enhance the book’s appeal to both individuals and groups.

[See our blogpost: Wicked Women of the Bible: An Interview with Ann Spangler]

[Take the quiz: Which Famous Villainess Said…?]Click to buy your copy of Wicked Women of the Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

[Subscribe to Ann Spangler’s weekly free email devotionals, Women of the Bible and Men of the Bible]

The Bible’s Top-10 Wicked Women

Like entrées on a menu, some words simply sound more delicious than others. I’m not talking about words like “butter” or “gelato” or even “chocolate,” but about sharp, pungent words that you can sink your teeth into. Words like “wicked,” for instance. Mix it with words like “women” and “Bible” and the resultant phrase may remind you of that first mouth-watering bite of forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Paul’s protégé Timothy once remarked that all of Scripture is both “God-breathed” and “useful.” Surely that’s reason enough to reacquaint ourselves with these ancient stories.

In order to give credit where it’s due, I’ve attempted to rank the Bible’s most disreputable women in order of wickedness, providing a brief refresher on what each one did to make the list.

10. The Woman of Samaria—The Jews and Samaritans had formed a mutual hatred society long before Jesus encountered this woman by herself at a well. Jesus surprised the woman by starting a conversation and then by disclosing his knowledge of her multiple love affairs and revealing himself as the Messiah. Though she was probably the neighborhood floozy, she became the first evangelist, convincing everyone in her town to come and see the “man who told me everything I ever did.”

9. Gomer—Married to the prophet Hosea, she abandoned him in order to pursue relationships with multiple lovers. Her prodigal lifestyle eventually led to financial ruin and she was forced to sell herself into slavery to satisfy her debts. Despite her betrayal, Hosea rescued her by settling her debts and welcoming her home. A prodigal wife who learned the meaning of true love, her story served as a lived-out-parable, poignantly expressing God’s love for a people who had committed spiritual adultery by worshiping multiple gods.

8. Lot’s Wife—She lived in Sodom, a city of legendary wickedness. When an angel told Lot and his family: “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back…,” she ignored the warning and was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife was probably guilty of more than a fateful glance backward. Most likely she abandoned her fleeing family in order to return to the city, thus sharing in its destruction.

7. The Witch of Endor—Also known as the medium of Endor, this woman made her living by attempting to conjure the dead in order to predict the future. Since necromancy was strictly forbidden by King Saul, she risked death whenever she practiced her craft. Ironically, the same king who forbade the practice, visited her home in disguise the night before he died in an attempt to divine whether he would prevail against his arch enemies—the Philistines.

6. Delilah—The wicked girlfriend of a legendary but foolish strongman named Samson, she made a bargain with his enemies, who promised her cold, hard cash for the secret of his superhuman strength. After wheedling the secret from her lover, she told them his strength would vanish the moment they cut off his hair. While Samson lay fast asleep with his head resting on Delilah’s lap, the Philistines snipped off his hair. When her unfortunate boyfriend awoke, they gouged out his eyes and took him captive to Gaza.

5. Potiphar’s Wife—A high-ranking Egyptian woman who fell for a good-looking Hebrew slave by the name of Joseph. Enraged by his refusal to jump into bed with her, she accused him of attempted rape and had him thrown into prison. After Joseph’s release, he became one of the most powerful men in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

4. Herodias—The granddaughter of Herod the Great, she married two of her uncles, Herod Philip I and Herod Antipas. An ambitious and ruthless woman, she hated John the Baptist for thundering against her marriage to Herod Antipas, whom she had married after divorcing his half-brother Philip.

Unable to persuade her husband to murder John, Herodias arranged an elaborate birthday party in Herod’s honor. Then she asked her daughter Salomé to perform before Herod and his guests. Herod was so pleased by the young girl’s dance that he vowed he would give her anything her heart desired, up to half his kingdom. Consulting her mother, Salomé shocked Herod and his guests by asking for the most stomach-turning gift imaginable—the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

3. Athaliah—She was the daughter of Ahab and probably also of Jezebel, the Bible’s wickedest queen. Married to the King of Judah, she grew paranoid after his death, murdering her grandchildren in order to secure the throne. Thanks to a conspiracy, this ruthless queen was finally overthrown and executed just outside the temple in Jerusalem.

2. Jezebel—A Phoenician princess, she was married to Ahab, one of Israel’s worst kings. She worshipped Baal, who was heralded as the bringer of rain and prosperity. In order to force conversions to her storm god, she murdered many of Israel’s prophets but was eventually made a laughingstock by Elijah and his God. Though this wicked queen came to a very bad end, she spent the last few moments of her life combing her hair and applying makeup so she could look her best when her servants threw her out of the palace window, feeding her body to the dogs below.

1. Eve—The original baddie, she made the fatal-for-everyone mistake of listening to the serpent’s lie that God wasn’t telling the truth about the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. After taking a bite, she offered it to Adam and the two were ejected from paradise. According to the story, giving in to the original temptation let death and suffering loose in the world. Though Eve may have eventually turned her life around, I’ve ranked her first in the order of wickedness because of all the evils she and her husband unleashed on the world.

However you rank them on the scale of wickedness, the stories of these women are dramatic and fascinating. They make delicious reading for anyone interested in how that most ancient of Books—the Bible—has shaped and formed the history of our world.

Bio: Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and the author of many bestselling books, including Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, and The One Year Devotions for Women. She’s also coauthor of Women of the Bible and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, and the general editor of the Names of God Bible. Ann’s fascination with and love of Scripture have resulted in books that have opened the Bible to a wide range of readers. She and her two daughters live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

…all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…
2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV)

Click to buy your copy of Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It's Not Safe to BelieveAccording to Open Doors USA, Christian persecution is any hostility experienced from the world as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.

[See books in the Bible Gateway Store on the subject of persecution.]

[Jesus said,] “If you find that the world despises you, remember that before it despised you, it first despised Me.”
John 15:18 (Voice)

The Pew Research Center reports that over 75% of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions (and many of these people are Christians). According to the United States Department of State, Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

[See our blogpost, Standing Strong Through the Storm: Stories from the Persecuted Church]

Rejoice as you share Christ’s suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed. If you are mocked because of Christ’s name, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory—indeed, the Spirit of God—rests on you.
1 Peter 4:13-14 (CEB)

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP)—initiated in 1996 with a resolution on the worldwide persecution of Christians passed in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate—now extends to three Sundays in November, appealing for people to pray for those around the globe who are being persecuted for their faith: unable to share their Christian belief or freely read the Bible without personal retribution and physical danger. In 2015, the dates are November 1, 8, and 15.

[Jesus said,] “…But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

#IDOP, #IDOP15, and #IDOP2015 began with a live webcast by Open Doors USA, Friday, October 30.

The Open Doors USA World Watch List ranks the top 50 countries where Christians face the greatest persecution, including North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, and Nigeria.

The following organizations have resources ready to help you help others become more prayerfully aware of the plight of Christian brothers and sisters around the world:

Think constantly of those in prison as if you were prisoners at their side. Think too of all who suffer as if you shared their pain.
Hebrews 13:3 (Phillips)