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Test Your Heaven IQ: What Does the Bible Say?

Browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway StoreHave fun taking this quiz on the topic of Heaven and the New Jerusalem using the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which includes study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology—the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through Scripture.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The NIV Zondervan Study Bible: An Interview with Dr. D. A. Carson.]

[See the Infographic and read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Biblical Theology Bible Study: Heaven and the City of God.]

Bible News Roundup – Week of November 20, 2016

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

Museum of the Bible Unveils What Will Be $42 Million High-Tech Experience
News Release
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

About 200 Works, Including 6 Six-Figure Bibles, from the Bible Collection of Charles Ryrie Are Going on Auction Dec. 5
Fine Books & Collections Magazine
Sotheby’s: The Bible Collection of Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—Theology for Everyone: The Legacy of Charles Ryrie

16th Century Bible Finds a Home at Pacific Union College, Thanks to Alumni
Adventist Review

Clarksville, Pennsylvania Church Donates Turkish Bible to Waynesburg University

16th & 17th Century Bibles Visit Grace College
Times-Union Online

Print On Demand Keeps Bible Translation Secret
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—Wycliffe Associates—Helping to Translate the Bible Where Persecution of Christians Is Severe: An Interview with Bruce Smith

Another Satan Club Begins in an Elementary School Days Before Christmas
CBN News

Study: Churches That Teach the Bible Is Literal Grow Faster Than Ones with Theological Liberal Interpretation
The Guardian
Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy

How Technology Helped Martin Luther Change Christianity
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Christianity on the Rise Again in Finland, Survey Finds
Evangelical Focus

How Gypsies Have Moved From Fortune-Telling to Fervent Christianity
BBC News

Turkey’s Latest Scapegoats: Christians
The Gloablist
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
See books in the Bible Gateway Store on the subject of Christian persecution

Why Stained Glass Works in Sacred and Secular Spaces
Deseret News

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: An Interview with Max Davis

Max DavisWhat would happen if we began seeing others as God sees us all? What would happen if people saw less of us and more of Jesus?

Bible Gateway interviewed Max Davis (@maxdavisbooks) about his book, When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does (Worthy Publishing, 2016).

What’s the story behind the unusual title?

Buy your copy of When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

Max Davis: When I came face-to-face with Jesus living inside a beautiful green-eyed brunette, it shattered my preconceived image of what Christianity was all about. She didn’t smell religious or churchy. She smelled like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “…through us [Christ] diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place.” This young lady diffused the fragrance of Jesus.

Though I was rebellious, arrogant, and wanted nothing to do with the hyper-legalistic religion I had been brought up under, the Jesus living inside her drew me to himself. I wanted—had to have—what she possessed: incredible peace, a strange power that wasn’t intimidated by me, and a genuine joy. As a result, I knelt down in a shower in my home and invited Jesus into my life.

It wasn’t spectacular. I didn’t get goose bumps or feel electricity, yet something supernatural took place. When I got up, all I can say is, I was a changed person. From that moment on, Jesus became my best friend and nearly 40 years later we’re closer than ever. Only the living Jesus could have kept me through the years. Looking back, I know God is real because I’ve seen him do so much.

What do you mean when you write “the sacred in the ordinary”?

Max Davis: As born-again believers, when we truly grasp that Jesus is inside us and live from that reality, it changes how we view everything from the mundane to the difficult. Instead of going to church, for example, we understand that we are the church. We’re Jesus’ hands and feet. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, not some building. Thus, making everywhere we go potentially as sacred as the chapel—the supermarket, the office, the classroom, the health club, the dialysis center, etc.

Because Jesus is present with us, it grieves him when we sin as well. When we understand the reality of the indwelling Christ, it affects the way we conduct our lives. Jesus’ presence in us can transform atmospheres, giving off his fragrance, bringing peace, offering grace and hope to a hurting world. It may sound simple, but the truth is: most Christians say they believe, but live as though Jesus is still in the tomb. He’s not! He’s very much alive today showing up in ordinary people, doing extraordinary and sometimes even supernatural things.

What’s the biblical basis of your book’s premise that Jesus is fully present in everyday life?

Max Davis: One of the central pillars of the Apostle Paul’s teachings was that Jesus is risen from the dead because Jesus personally appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul states that over 500 people, most of whom were still alive, all of the apostles, and finally himself, were eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. Then, in verses 15-20 Paul says if Jesus is not risen that he and all the other apostles are liars because they preached the resurrection. In other words, Paul is saying, (my paraphrase) “Come on guys. Why would we lie to you and make up such a story? Remember, I had set out to you kill Christians. What caused my dramatic turnaround? I saw Jesus. No, we’re not lying!”

After establishing the resurrection, another central pillar of Paul’s teaching was that if you are a genuine believer, the risen Jesus is inside you and that fact should impact the way you live. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says, “…Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? …” (NKJV).

How do we test ourselves? We understand, believe, and embrace the promises of God. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him (Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…” When we trusted the gospel and believed, the Holy Spirit (the spirit of Jesus) came inside us. It’s a promise.

Now, we simply let Christ live his life through us. When he takes residence in us, he starts moving around the furniture. “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus in us is our hope for true life. He becomes our purpose. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27).

“…But you know him, because he [Jesus] lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:17). This passage indicates that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one. Before Jesus went to the cross (John 14), He told his disciples it was better if he went because he could then send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, that would indwell them. Before Jesus was walking with them, but after the resurrection he would be inside them, which was far better. Because Jesus is in us, we can literally have his mind (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Describe one of your favorite stories that you recount in When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette.

Max Davis: I was walking on the Mississippi River levee one day, trying desperately to finish the last chapter of this book. I often take long walks with my trusty clipboard in hand, writing down my thoughts. Once I get them down, I go back to my office and transcribe my notes on the computer. On this particular day, while walking, I passed a homeless guy on a bench. When I did, the Jesus inside me said, “Give him your shoes.”

Now, you have to understand, these weren’t just any shoes. They were $175 special order hiking boots. I loved them and did not want to give them away. Besides, what would I do with no shoes? I had an important book to finish and would be barefoot. So, I kept walking, attempting to ignore the Spirit’s prompting. It was no use.

“I said, ‘Give him your shoes.’” This was the voice of Jesus that I’ve come to know after nearly 40 years of relationship with him. I was quite familiar. This was not a suggestion. “Give…him…your…shoes.” “Ok,” I said, throwing my hands up in surrender. Turning around, I walked back to the homeless guy.

“God told me to give you my shoes,” I said. He looked up at me with a shocked expression on his face but never said a word. I took off my shoes, knelt down, and began putting them on his worn-out feet. He had remained silent, eyes as big as silver dollars. Suddenly, he burst into tears. “I can’t believe you’re giving me your shoes, man!” he cried. “You’ve given me hope!”

“I’m only doing what I was told. Can I tell you about Jesus?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. I did and ended up praying with him. It was a sacred encounter and became the last chapter in the book.

Explain how Christians should let “the living Jesus live in them and through them to love people the way God does.” And what role should the Bible have in that process?

Max Davis: Practicing the reality of Jesus in us happens through faith and relationship. I want to make sure to emphasize that our relationship with Jesus is not based on a feeling but on confidence and trust in his promises in Scripture. Promises like, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).

If we live by faith, trusting what the Bible says regardless of our feelings, we will at times experience great feelings, but it’s the truth of God’s Word that sets us free. The Bible is a supernatural book. It’s alive. “For the word of God is living and powerful…” says Hebrews 4:12. When we immerse ourselves in it, a transformation takes place. Jesus is in us. He speaks to us primarily through the Bible.

Sometimes we’ll have promptings—divine guidance—in our spirits, but they’ll never contradict Scripture. Over time, as our relationship grows, we get to know Jesus more intimately and recognize his voice. The more we’re obedient to Scripture and the Spirit’s inner promptings, the more we’ll know him.

In the Garden, Adam and Eve walked in daily fellowship with God. The Fall brought sin into the picture and broke that fellowship. Jesus was the bridge of reconciliation making it possible for us to enter into intimate relationship with God again. The Christian life is about a relationship with God through Jesus, who, by the way, is God.

What do you mean when you write “God’s perfect will is more about being than doing?”

Max Davis: If Jesus is in us, our first purpose in life is to become more like him and then to love people like God does. God is more interested in developing our character than great outward works. He’s preparing us for something bigger than this world. God is training us for eternity with him. We’re going to have a purpose and an assignment in Heaven. This world is a spiritual boot camp.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV). What is the “good” that all things are working together for? The next verse tells us. “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” (Romans 8:29).

God is working all things in our lives, including the painful and difficult things, for the purpose of making us like Jesus. Our first calling is to become like Jesus. With this in mind, a person bound to a hospital bed, extolling the faithfulness of God can be doing just as an important work as the missionary in the third-world country. “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19); “…as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Works are important, but must be an outgrowth of our becoming. Whether it’s an assignment to write a book, give a homeless person your shoes, or love your spouse in the way Jesus loves, it all happens as an overflow from a daily relationship with him. “I am the vine,” said Jesus. “You are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Fruit and good works are birthed out of an authentic relationship with Jesus, out of abiding in him. Everything else is just religious noise.

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

Max Davis: I absolutely love Bible Gateway! It’s my #1 Bible tool. Seriously: I don’t know what I’d do without it. Whenever I’m writing a chapter, I have the link open for easy Scripture reference and scholarly commentary. I almost always read the passage I’m researching in several versions and then pick the one most applicable.

Bio: Max Davis is the author of over 20 books, including The Insanity of Unbelief: A Journalist’s Journey from Belief to Skepticism to Deep Faith. He’s been featured in USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. he holds degrees in journalism and biblical studies and is a sought-after speaker for churches and organizations worldwide. He and his wife, Alanna, live in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.

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Devocionales de Biblie Gateway para la Navidad – ¡Ya disponibles en español!

navidad-devotionalsParece que este año fue especialmente turbulento, ¿verdad? Para ser sinceros, al momento que llega la temporada navideña, la mayoría de las veces ya nos sentimos un poco cansados y abrumados. Al terminar el 2016, los cristianos alrededor del mundo fueron desafiados a responder a múltiples actos de terror y violencia. Si usted vive en los Estados Unidos, entonces fue testito de una campaña política particularmente contenciosa. Añada a eso cualquier preocupación personal que enfrente, y tiene como resultado una serie de doce meses de mucho impacto traumático.

[Ver todos los libros y biblias en español en la Tienda en línea de Bible Gateway]

¿No sería maravilloso terminar el 2016 en una nota distinta? ¿No sería maravilloso experimentar la paz de Jesucristo que deja en la perspectiva correcta nuestras tristezas y preocupaciones?

Nos gustaría ayudarle a tener precisamente eso. Hemos integrado dos devocionales navideños gratuitos que están diseñados para ayudarle a hacer a un lado el estrés y simplemente concentrarse en Jesús durante este agitado tiempo del año. Cada devocional ofrece un ángulo distinto de la temporada navideña:

Gozo navideño: ¿Sabe usted lo que significa experimentar el gozo de la Navidad? ¿”Gozo” es una palabra que usted asocia con su agitado calendario festivo? ¡La respuesta a esta pregunta debe ser “sí”! El pastor Mel Lawrenz, autor de la popular serie de libros Cómo entender la Biblia (disponible solo en inglés) e Influencia Espiritual (disponible en español), nos presenta un devocional para cada día de la temporada navideña.

A causa de Belén: Max Lucado, un autor favorito de los lectores en español, comparte notas de ánimo e inspiración extraídas de su nuevo libro. Si lo que usted necesita es una dosis rápida de aliento para cada día, esto fue escrito para usted.

Estos devocionales inician durante el tiempo de Adviento, pero puede registrarse ahora mismo para que no se los pierda. ¡Visite nuestra página de Devocionales Navideños para registrase!

“Storying” Scripture: Don’t Just Read Bible Stories—Speak and Listen to Them!

Last week, we shared a video about “timelining” Scripture—the practice of organizing the diverse stories of the Bible into a larger narrative to make it easier to see how they all fit together. Did you have a chance to try it out? If not, take a few minutes to watch the video to see how it works—it’s a simple way of engaging with the Bible that anyone can do!

This week, let’s look at a closely related approach to the Bible. While timelining focuses on charting out the broader story of the Bible, the practice of storying Scripture is a way to more deeply interact with specific stories in the Bible.

The Scripture Engagement section of Bible Gateway explains the practice of storying Scripture in detail. It requires no fancy knowledge of the Bible or advanced degree in theology; all it requires is a willingness to start listening and speaking Bible stories in addition to reading them quietly on the page. Here’s how it works:

Storying the Word is the process of helping people discover the truths of the Bible through hearing the stories of the Bible. Have you ever noticed how often the Bible uses the word “hear” and not “read?” Bible scholars tell us the Bible is really a book designed to be listened to, not to primarily be read by an individual (which really wasn’t practical until the printing press was invented and Bibles eventually became more plentiful).

There are a number of ways a person can “hear” the Bible. People all over the world listen to recordings of the Bible as a means of hearing God’s Word (if you are a reader, try reading and listening to a recording of the Bible at the same time; it will enhance your experience). Scriptures can also be read aloud at worship services. Another technique is called “storying” and has been used by missionaries for years.

In storying, a teacher tells a Bible story by memory to a group of people. The listeners then retell the story together back to the teacher as best as they can. The teacher than tells the story again until all of the listeners have the story in their memory. The group then discusses the story and relates their own lives to the story. The goal is for the listeners to learn the story so they can share it with others; in a sense, becoming walking, talking Bibles.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a “walking, talking Bible”? To show you how this works in practice, here’s a video that shows a Bible study group storying Luke 24:

As you can see, it’s simple to do and is perfectly suited for a small group Bible study. If you’re interested in this and other ways to make your Bible engagement more meaningful, we encourage you to read about storying Scripture and many other strategies in the Scripture Engagement section of Bible Gateway. There you’ll find over a dozen different ways to approach the Bible, courtesy of Taylor University‘s Center for Scripture Engagement.

Jesus and the Culture of His Day: An Interview with Craig A. Evans

Dr. Craig A. EvansArchaeological evidence enlightens our understanding of the life and death of Jesus and the culture in which he lived, providing a context for the different periods in time.

Bible Gateway interviewed Craig Evans (@DrCraigAEvans) about his book, Jesus and the Remains of His Day: Studies in Jesus and the Evidence of Material Culture (Hendrickson Publishers, 2015).

Buy your copy of Jesus and the Remains of His Day in the Bible Gateway Store where everything is always on sale

[See the Archaeology Resources section in the Bible Gateway Store]

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Undeniable Reliability of Scripture: An Interview with Josh McDowell]

Please explain the meaning of your book’s title, Jesus and the Remains of His Day.

Craig A. Evans: All that we have of history are “remains,” either remains of writings or the physical remains of human culture. With respect to Jesus we have a significant body of writings and physical remains, which are brought to light through archaeological excavations and analysis. My book assembles the most important of these remains and then interprets the remains and the written records in a way that sheds light on one another.

How is modern archaeology reinforcing the Bible’s veracity?

Craig A. Evans: Modern archaeology supports the general veracity of the Bible’s narratives in two ways:

(1) What we learn of the biblical world thanks to archaeology is consistent with what the biblical narratives describe. That would not be the case if the biblical narratives were nothing more than fiction or wildly inaccurate stories.

(2) Often archaeology confirms specific claims in biblical narratives. Again, if the biblical narratives were fiction, this would not happen. Historians and archaeologists call this verisimilitude, in that the biblical narratives—or in the case of the New Testament Gospels, with which my book is primarily concerned—align with the historical data we find in other sources, both written and archaeological. If a source does not exhibit verisimilitude, historians and archaeologists will not use it.

Explain why even non-Christian archaeologists use the four Gospels as a basis for their digs.

Craig A. Evans: All archaeologists in Israel/Palestine make use of the New Testament Gospels. They do this because the Gospels exhibit verisimilitude. In short, the Gospels help archaeologists know where to dig and they help archaeologists understand what they unearth. The 2nd-century Gospels and Gospel-like writings rarely exhibit verisimilitude, so archaeologists rarely appeal to them. The Gospel of Thomas, greatly favored in some circles, is ignored by archaeologists, primarily because it exhibits no verisimilitude. It tells us nothing about the historical Jesus and the world he and his disciples lived in. I’ve heard it said, that if all we had was the Gospel of Thomas, would we even know that Jesus was Jewish?

How does archaeological evidence enrich a person’s study of Jesus and the Gospels?

Craig A. Evans: Archaeological evidence provides significant help in interpreting the Gospels. In a sense, archaeology is an exegetical tool. To ignore the evidence of archaeology would be almost as irresponsible as making no appeal to the original text. The archaeological evidence is a vital component in the context of Scripture.

What’s important about the cities of Bethsaida and Magdala and what’s been learned from artifacts found there?

Craig A. Evans: In the year 30 CE Philip the tetrarch of Gaulanitis, where Bethsaida is located, announced the re-founding and renaming of Bethsaida. It was now Julias, in honor of Livia, recently deceased widow of Caesar Augustus, who had been deified as “god” or “son of god.”

In Caesar’s will Livia was adopted into the imperial family and received the name Julia Augusta. A movement got under way urging her deification. Evidently Philip supported it. Such a move would have offended pious Jews. It’s important for Jesus and his disciples when we remember that at least three disciples (Simon Peter, Andrew, and Philip) came from Bethsaida. Atop the rock precipice of Bethsaida, now Julias, the tetrarch planned to build a temple in honor of divine Julia.

I believe that Jesus “pushed back” against this political announcement by renaming his Bethsaida disciple Simon Peter or “Rock” (petros), adding that he would build his church or community on the rock (petra) and that the gates of hell (that is, the government) would not prevail against it. Philip, the tetrarch, could build his temple on the rock of Bethsaida, in honor of a pagan Roman woman; Jesus promised to build his church on the rock of Simon Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Anointed Son of God.

The recent discovery of a decorated stone in the center of a 1st-century Magdala synagogue is very important. The decorated stone exhibits Temple themes, including the menorah. Not only have we finally discovered a synagogue in Magdala that dates to the time of Jesus, the decorated stone provides evidence of the Galilean Jews’ loyalty to the Jerusalem Temple. Although not proven, it’s possible that Jesus preached in this very synagogue. Excavations of the nearby market, street, and private homes, some with mikvoth, continues. It is probable that the street that’s been uncovered was walked by Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ prominent female followers.

What are the difficulties of correlating textual data with material evidence on the Bible?

Craig A. Evans: The principal problem is that textual data and material remains are often incomplete and sometimes lack adequate context, in order to know precisely how they correlate. Sometimes all we can say is that the textual data and the material remains are probably related but how exactly can’t be said until additional discoveries are made.

Talk briefly about your book’s exploration of hanging and crucifixion during the time of Jesus.

Craig A. Evans: As I write in Jesus and the Remains of His Day, the archaeological evidence of crucifixion is quite significant and has until quite recently been under-reported. We have 148 iron nails that have been recovered from pre-70 Jewish tombs. Most of these nails are probably crucifixion nails. Many of them were placed in tombs as good-luck charms, as strange as that may sound. Some of these nails are encrusted with human calcium. Best known are the nails that remain in the right heel of Yehohanan and the hand of Antigonus.

The evidence as a whole suggests that many people who were crucified were probably buried, according to Jewish customs. Study of Roman law (as seen in the Digesta) allowed for the burial of the executed. According to Philo and Josephus Roman authorities in the land of Israel permitted burial of the crucified. The idea that Jesus was probably not taken down from the cross and buried, but was left exposed to animals, is most unlikely and is in fact rejected by archaeologists, Jewish and Christian alike.

One of your chapters discusses an ossuary and its significance. What are you saying can be learned from it?

Craig A. Evans: Ongoing scientific study of the ossuary, whose inscription reads “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” has show that the ossuary and its inscription are in fact ancient and authentic. Unfortunately this has not been widely reported in the popular media, so even some scholars who ought to know better remain under the impression that the so-called James Ossuary is a fake. The ossuary and inscription are genuine. Whether the inscription’s names are those of the well known Jesus and family remains uncertain. If they are, then we know that James did indeed live in Jerusalem, as the book of Acts states, that he and his family were probably Aramaic-speaking, as many in Galilee were, and that they continued to live according to Jewish customs, including burial practices.

Why are Christian epitaphs included in your book?

Craig A. Evans: Christian epitaphs provide important evidence of views that differ, sometimes sharply, from the views of Jews and pagans. Christian epitaphs provide important insights into beliefs about Jesus, God, heaven and hell, and virtue. What’s starkly different about Christian epitaphs, in contrast to pagan epitaphs, is the hope that’s expressed. Rarely do we find hope in pagan epitaphs; we almost always do in Christian epitaphs.

What is your response to someone who says the Bible is historically unreliable?

Craig A. Evans: That person doesn’t know the sources or the archaeological evidence.

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

Craig A. Evans: Bible Gateway is a great tool.

Bio: Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins and Dean of the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University in Texas. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he received his MDiv from Western Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and his MA and PhD in Biblical Studies from Claremont Graduate University in southern California. He was awarded the D.Habil. by the Karoli Gaspar Reformed University in Budapest.

Author and editor of more than 60 books—including From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, and God Speaks: What He Says, What He Means—and hundreds of articles and reviews, Professor Evans has given lectures at Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Yale, and other universities, colleges, seminaries, and museums, such as the Field Museum in Chicago, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. He also regularly lectures and gives talks at popular conferences and retreats on the historical Jesus, Archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Bible.

Along with countless interviews on radio networks across Canada and the US, Evans has been seen on Dateline NBC, CBC, CTV, Day of Discovery, and many documentaries aired on BBC, The Discovery Channel, History Channel, History Television, and others. He also has served as a consultant for the National Geographic Society and for The Bible miniseries, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

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Sign Up for Christmas Devotions from Bible Gateway

christmas-smallIt feels like it’s been an especially turbulent year, doesn’t it? To be honest, by the time Christmas season rolls around, most years have started to feel a bit exhausting and overwhelming. As 2016 has rolled on, we’ve been challenged to respond to multiple acts of terror and violence, we’ve slogged through a contentious American presidential election—and many of our brothers and sisters outside America have grappled with much worse. Add to that whatever personal concerns or trials you’re facing, and it adds up to a pretty traumatic twelve months.

[Browse the Christmas section in the Bible Gateway Store]

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to end 2016 on a different note? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience the peace of Jesus Christ that puts all our worries and sorrows in perspective?

We’d like to help you do just that. We’ve put together three free Christmas devotionals designed to help you step aside from stress and simply focus on Jesus during this busy time of year. Each devotional approaches the Christmas season from a different angle. They are:

The Bible Gateway Advent Devotional: Our popular Advent Devotional explores the meaning of the Christmas season through an interesting mix of Bible passages, sermons, and quotes. If you’re interested in a slightly offbeat approach to Christmas that explores a mix of different Christian devotional writing, this is for you.

Christmas Joy: Do you know what it means to experience the joy of Christmas? Is “joy” even a word you would ever associate with your busy holiday schedule? It can be! Pastor Mel Lawrenz, author of the popular How to Understand the Bible series, presents a devotional for each day of the Christmas season. (Also available in Spanish!)

Because of Bethlehem (by Max Lucado): Beloved author Max Lucado shares encouragement and inspiration drawn from his new book. If what you need is a quick dose of encouragement each day, this is written for you. (Also available in Spanish!)

These devotionals begin during Advent, but you can sign up today so you don’t miss out! Visit our Christmas Devotions page to sign up!

In the weeks to come, we’ll be posting about other free devotional content you can find at Bible Gateway to help you get into the spirit of Christmas. Whatever devotional or resource you turn to, we hope that this Christmas you’ll set aside some time to revisit the original story of Christmas and consider what it means for you today!

Bible Honored in US House of Representatives

Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado

In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of National Bible Week, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado (@RepDLamborn) led an hour-long gathering on the floor of the US House of Representatives Nov. 15 recounting the Bible’s significance in the history of America and the recitations of Bible verses from members of Congress honoring the role the Bible has played in their lives.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, American History’s Entwined Relationship with the Bible: An Interview with Angela Kamrath]

In his opening remarks, Rep. Lamborn said, “I don’t know where in their spiritual journey people may be who are listening tonight, but I do know this: it is better to read the Bible for oneself and not just to take someone else’s word for what is in it. For me, it made all of the difference in the world.”

The speeches were captured in print in the Congressional Record for Nov. 15 (begin on page H6210) and broadcast live on C-SPAN and

View the video of members of Congress on the floor of the US House of Representatives honoring the Bible

Scripture Recited by Members of Congress on the Floor of the US House of Representatives Nov. 15, 2016

— Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado —
John 14:6 — Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Psalm 119:105 — Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

2 Chronicles 7:14 — If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Reference to the book of Daniel

— Rep. Randy Forbes, Virginia —
James 1:5 — If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

— Rep. Tim Walberg, Michigan —
John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Proverbs 14:34 — Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.

Psalm 1 — Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

2 Timothy 2:15 — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Isaiah 40:8 — The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

— Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina —
Psalm 119:105 — Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

— Rep. Jody Hice, Georgia —
Hebrews 4:12 — For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

— Rep. Robert Pittenger, North Carolina —
Psalm 119:105 — Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

John 1:1 — In the beginning, it was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

— Rep. Bill Johnson, Ohio —
1 Chronicles 4:10 — God that you would bless me, indeed, that you would expand my territory, that your hand would be upon me, and that you would keep me from evil that I might not cause pain.

Daniel 6 — Daniel in the lions’ den

John 8:31-32 — Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

— Rep. Doug LaMalfa, California —
Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Reference to the book of Revelation

Proverbs 4:18-27 — The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the work of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart for they are like life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the left or the right; keep your feet from evil,’’ which indeed in this business keeping on that right path, do not be drawn into temptation, do not go to the left or the right where evil might be.

Reference to the book of Genesis

— Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas —
John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 22:36-40 — Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm 22:1 — My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Cliff Barrows, Longtime Billy Graham Associate, Dies at 93

Cliff Barrows

Cliff Barrows (@CliffBarrows), 93, of Marvin, NC, music and program director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), died Nov. 15 at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, following a brief illness.

Buy your copy of Celebrating the Music of the Billy Graham Crusades in the Bible Gateway Store where everything is always on sale

[Browse books by and about Billy Graham in the Bible Gateway Store]

As longtime director of music programming, and later television and radio programming, for Billy Graham Crusades, Barrows traveled the world with Billy Graham since the first Crusade in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947. Barrows hosted the weekly Hour of Decision radio program, heard around the world, for more than 60 years.

[Listen to Hour Of Decision Online: Remembering Cliff Barrows]

Barrows and Graham met in 1945 while Barrows was on his honeymoon. The two men soon formed the first team of what was to later become the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

[See What Was Billy Graham’s First Impression of Cliff Barrows?]

“Cliff Barrows was the voice behind my father for 60 years, emceeing the platform for his Crusades and The Hour of Decision radio program,” said Franklin Graham. “Not only was he one of my father’s closest friends, but he was a friend to all of us on the team and in the family. Growing up, and until the day of his death, I called him Uncle Cliff. He was very much a part of our family. My father has said: ‘The remarkable contribution Cliff has made to my ministry cannot be measured in human terms. I love him like a brother.’ His counsel and suggestions were invaluable. He was a great friend and will be missed by all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ann and the entire Barrows family.”

A public funeral service for Barrows was held at Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC, on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

For his significant contributions to Gospel music, Barrows was inducted into the Nashville Gospel Music Hall of Fame in April 1988 and into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Barrows was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.

Son of Harriet M. and Charles Tilson Barrows (both deceased), Cliff Barrows was born and raised in Ceres, Calif. He is survived by his wife, Ann, and five children (from his first marriage) and their spouses—Chris and Bonnie Thomas, Bob Barrows, David and Betty Ruth Seera, Clifford (Bud) Barrows, and Bill and Teri Barrows—and numerous grandchildren. He is also survived by Ann Barrows’ children and their spouses, Tal and Teresa Prince and David and Dana Shillington. Barrows was preceded in death by his first wife, Billie.

National Bible Week and International Day of the Bible 2016

National Bible Week

US House of Representatives to Honor the Bible Nov. 15

[See all the Bible translations available to be freely read on Bible Gateway]

From November 13-19, 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites families, parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups to participate in National Bible Week in celebration of the 51st Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum. This year’s theme, “The Bible: A Book of Mercy,” builds on this year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible]

An event will be held on the floor of the US House of Representatives, including readings from the Bible, commemorating the 75th Anniversary of National Bible Week. Led by US Congressmen Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, CO, it will be held in the afternoon hours of Tuesday November 15th, 2016.

UPDATE: Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Honored in US House of Representatives.

[Browse the Bibles section in the Bible Gateway Store, where everything is always on sale]

International Day of the Bible

And the National Bible Association is sponsoring International Day of the Bible (@IntlDayofBible) (#biblecelebration) November 14, inviting people around the world on that day to participate at noon their local time by pausing for a few minutes to creatively express their love of the Bible by reading, reciting, singing, Tweeting, or socially sharing portions of Scripture.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Join the International Day of the Bible: An Interview with Richard Glickstein]

Have a favorite Psalm? Or a special passage that’s helped you through tough times? Want to share with the world how much the Bible means in your life? Join the world at noon on Monday.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bible Table of Contents]

Organizations like The American Bible Society, Bible Gateway, Bibles for the World, Scripture Union, and YouVersion are encouraging participation of the event.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Reading Levels]

“We’re thrilled with the reception to the launch of International Day of the Bible so far and are encouraging everyone from faith groups to performing artists as well as business, sports, community and religious leaders to participate and share their appreciation via social media or in public at noon in their local time zones,” says Richard Glickstein, President of the National Bible Association. “Honoring God’s Word and asking him to bless our nations and bring peace to the world is particularly apt in this period of great turmoil,” he added.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, When Was Each Book of the Bible Written?]

Glickstein said one could simply read a favorite passage with family, friends, co-workers, and schoolmates, but participation can go beyond Bible reading. He suggests coming up with something creative, such as breaking into a flash mob, singing and dancing Scripture, painting or drawing a picture with a few lines of verse, or capturing God’s creations in photos, selfies included, and sharing them along with a beloved Psalm.

[See the Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway]

Some groups are planning to tape their activities in advance to share on social media at noon in their local time zones on Nov. 14.

Use the hashtag (#biblecelebration) for posting online comments, videos, photos, and creative expressions.

About the National Bible Association
The National Bible Association, based in New York City, is a nonprofit, educational association of business leaders operating in the public square. Since 1940, the Association has focused exclusively on encouraging Bible reading in every sector of society regardless of religious or political distinction. For more, visit