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Bible-Related Finalists Chosen for 2018 Christian Book Awards

ECPA Christian Book Award websiteThe Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) (@ecpa) has selected 58 finalists in 11 categories for the 2018 Christian Book Award® program.

[See the books that have won the Christian Book Award in the Bible Gateway Store]

These titles represent the industry’s best books and Bibles of the year in Christian Living, Faith & Culture, Biography & Memoir, Devotion & Gift, Young People’s Literature, Children, Ministry Resources, Bible Reference Works, Bible Study, Bibles, and New Author. The finalist pool includes three ties in three categories, and is representative of the excellent work of 19 publishers and 27 publishing imprints.

“The quality and variety of the finalists exemplify the commitment to literary excellence of the Christian publishing industry,” said ECPA executive director Stan Jantz. “These books and Bibles reflect a professional curation process that begins with an idea in the mind of an author and ends with literature that brings the transforming message of Christ to millions of people of all ages. We are excited to honor our publishers with this recognition.”

The Finalists of the 2018 Christian Book Award program include:

BIBLES
See all 58 ECPA 2018 Book Award Finalists in 11 categories on the ECPA website

BIBLE REFERENCE WORKS
See all 58 ECPA 2018 Book Award Finalists in 11 categories on the ECPA website

BIBLE STUDY
See all 58 ECPA 2018 Book Award Finalists in 11 categories on the ECPA website

The Christian Book Award® winners in each category, along with the 2018 Christian Book of the Year®, will be announced May 1st at the ECPA Awards Celebration held during the ECPA Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. The dinner event will be held “after-hours” in the Museum of the Bible and will celebrate 40 years of Christian Book Awards with Anne Graham Lotz—author, evangelist, and daughter of Billy Graham—as keynote.

[Sign up to receive the The Daniel Prayer 5-day free email devotional from the bestselling book of the same title by Anne Graham Lotz]

The Christian Book Award® program has recognized the absolute highest quality in Christian books since 1978. Based on excellence in content, literary quality, design, and impact, the Christian Book Award® program is the oldest and among the most prestigious awards in the religious publishing industry.

About ECPA
The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is an international non-profit trade organization comprised of member companies that are involved in the publishing and distribution of Christian content worldwide. Since 1974, ECPA has strengthened Christian publishing by building networking, information, and advocacy opportunities within the industry and throughout multiple channels so that our members can more effectively produce and deliver transformational Christian content.

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How to Move Past Your Disappointment: An Interview with Chad Veach

Chad VeachAre you disappointed with your life? Do you feel like you’ll never accomplish anything remarkable? How should you pay attention to what God has in store for your life?

Bible Gateway interviewed Chad Veach (@chadcveach) about his book, Faith Forward Future: Moving Past Your Disappointments, Delays, and Destructive Thinking (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

What do you mean, “If you aren’t willing to do ridiculous things, you’ll never experience miraculous things”?

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Chad Veach: A ridiculous thing can be viewed as something like “walking on water” like Peter did! It’s amazing how life works this way. You have to do something ridiculous—like stretch out your hand when it’s been withered your whole life—in order to see something miraculous.

It reminds me of that saying, “If you move, God moves.” A lot of times, we want God to move first. But he always moves after we do!

You write that people’s personal life-dreams need to conform to God’s plan for them. How can people discern God’s plan for them?

Chad Veach: I think discern is the right word. I think that we discover God’s plan by “sensing” his direction: “feeling” our way into where God is leading us.

Most often he leads us in promptings, urgings, and undeniable sense that he’s guiding us into (or out of) something. How do you discern? You’ll never know until you try!

What’s the biblical basis for not dwelling on past failures?

Chad Veach: Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)—“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

How should a person learn to listen to God’s voice?

Chad Veach: I think the way you learn to hear God’s voice is through reading God’s Word. God speaks loudest and most accurately through his written Word!

The more I read the Bible, the more it helps me to discern the difference between his voice and others—because God’s Word is actually and literally God speaking to me!

What do you mean by a person having their own God-given grace?

Chad Veach: The Bible says we have all been given a measure of grace and a measure of faith. So God gave you your gift and gave you your faith. How awesome is that!

Paul often talked about the grace that was given to him. The God-given grace to be able to preach, lead, be an apostle, have influence with the Gentiles. All of that was from God.

God did that with Paul. And he does that with you and I. He gives us all a grace zone!

How does God “always call us forward”?

Chad Veach: He always calls us to follow him! He did this with all of the disciples. And most everyone he encountered. Calling them out of where there were—and into where he was going.

He calls us into the future he’s planned. He does this by urging, nudging, speaking. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in us, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

The word work in the Greek is the word energio; it’s where we derive the word energize. I always think of the Energizer Bunny. Remember the Energizer Bunny? He would be in the desert, beating his drum, and the announcer would say, “He just keeps going and going.”

God is at work in us, spurring us forward into what he’s planned for our lives!

How do you want readers to be changed after reading your book?

Chad Veach: I want every reader to be deeply impacted by God’s firm commitment to our future. So many people feel like the devastation of sin and the aftermath of shame has disqualified them from receiving God’s very best.

This is not the God we serve! We serve the God of unconditional love. And the God of new beginnings; also known as second chances.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Chad Veach: I absolutely love Ephesians 3:20. “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that is at work in us.”

It gets me fired up. God can do more than I could ever ask, think, or imagine.

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

Chad Veach: Well, I’m obsessed with both and use both of them every single day. I use my app non-stop. And do all of my Bible reading on Bible Gateway. Not to mention, I use Bible Gateway to prepare all my messages. So, you could say I’m sold and addicted—and the #1 fan!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Chad Veach: I want everyone to know that God has already been in your future. In fact, he’s now standing there, beckoning you and calling you into the future that he’s for you! It’s better than anything you could ever imagine. All you have to do is follow Jesus to discover the amazing life he has planned for you!


Faith Forward Future: Moving Past Your Disappointments, Delays, and Destructive Thinking is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.


Bio: Chad Veach, author of Faith Forward Future: Moving Past Your Disappointments, Delays, and Destructive Thinking and Unreasonable Hope: Finding Faith in the God Who Brings Purpose to Your Pain, is the pastor of Zoe Church in Los Angeles, California. Chad and his wife, Julia, have four children.

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What I Hate the Most about Being a Mom

Ruth SchwenkBy Ruth Schwenk

One morning my nerves were wearing thin. It was one of those days when I had awakened on the wrong side of the bed. As the morning wore on and the overall volume of my house increased, I became more and more impatient and irritable, and less and less like Jesus. I was responding to my kids’ requests with short, terse answers. I was nagging them about every little thing that was wrong or out of place. After becoming increasingly upset by all the messes and really frustrated by the overwhelming tasks of the day, I noticed that Bella hadn’t cleaned the bathroom as I had asked.

That was it! My voice rose as I tried to hold back my irritation. I listed off to her all the tasks she still needed to do and how she had better “get going.” I let her know there was too much to do to just mosey around and take her sweet old time.

When I saw the hurt look on her face, I knew I had crossed the line. My behavior had been a bit overboard, and I immediately felt the sting of conviction. Realizing my own sin, I backed off and sheepishly apologized. As a mom I had blown it, even if it was just for a moment.

I had crossed the line. It was clear to me that I did not measure up. And I hated the fact that I had failed.

I wanted to go back into hiding. But exposing our flaws is one of the ways God can make us better. It’s how he works. So if this feels all too familiar to you, don’t despair. God uses momming to uncover the places in our hearts that need his grace and truth the most.

The Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). God sees it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We may try with all our might, but there is nothing we can hide from God!

Consider, for example, how Adam and Eve first responded to their sin in the Garden of Eden. They didn’t listen to their wise and loving Father. God had told them they were free to eat from any of the trees in the Garden except for one—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17). And just like little kids, they decided that was exactly the one tree they wanted to eat from.

Instead of trusting God, they wanted to be God. So they did what they wanted and the consequences were deadly. Sin left its mark. And all of creation still feels the effects of that first act of disobedience.

Adam and Eve responded to their first awareness of falling short by trying to hide (Genesis 3:8). Instead of running to God, they ran from God. How much easier, and better, if they had come out of hiding to find God’s grace in their time of need. Instead, they ran from the very One who is the source of truth, love, and healing.

So hiding is as old as the Garden of Eden. And just like our ancestral parents, we too become experts in hiding. We minimize our sin, defend it, pretend it’s not there, excuse it, or just plain deny it. But God is not fooled. Nothing is hidden from his sight.

God is not the only one who sees our sin. Our kids see it too. That’s the way momming works. Our kids have a unique way of pointing out our weak spots. All the grand ideas we had about ourselves get kicked down and uncovered. The pleasant visions we had of being a patient, sacrificial, always caring, and untiring mom get wrecked not by our kids, but by our own sin.

It’s not that we are never patient or kind; it’s that in the middle of momming we discover we are in worse condition than we ever imagined. Our hearts are not pure. Our motives are not always good. Our identities are not always anchored in God’s love for us. Our kids help break down the false ideas of how close to perfect we think we are and reveal that there is a lot of work yet to be done—from the inside out!

But please don’t be discouraged by the process. God isn’t just using us to shape our kids; he uses our kids to help tell us the truth about who we are and how far we have to go. And remember, even when the process feels awful, God is not doing it to defeat us but to provide us real and lasting transformation. What needs changing first is not our husbands, our kids, or our homes, but our own hearts.

Being made aware of our own brokenness is painful. The pain a mom feels when she fails is not only for herself but for her child as well. I am reminded of my friend who called one day to ask what we did when our kids didn’t respond to “no” at an early age.

“I just don’t want to do the wrong thing and mess up my child,” she said. In her mind, messing up as a mom meant messing up her child. Many moms carry that fear. As moms we carry an unnecessarily heavy load when we try to do everything perfectly and try to get everything right. But no one can carry that load for long. Failure is inevitable in momming.

There are countless decisions we make over the course of our children’s lives. Some are small and some are big. We make choices about discipline, diet, sports, friends, church, college, dating, and we even influence our kids as they are choosing a future spouse. Yikes! It’s no wonder our hearts become heavy or fearful as we seek to wisely navigate these treacherous waters. It’s no wonder our hearts feel burdened and sometimes broken when we don’t get it right.

Sometimes our feelings of failure are accurate. We do miss the mark. We say things or do things we shouldn’t. God humbles us. Our hearts get exposed. Our failures might require us to pause for reflection and confession. Our shortcomings and mistakes can provide great opportunities to move in a new and better direction. Our failures, whether big or small, are opportunities for God to do some much-needed work in our hearts.

The Better MomTaken from The Better Mom: Growing in Grace Between Perfection and the Mess by Ruth Schwenk. Click here to learn more about this title.

Mothering is messy. Our joy and hope in raising children doesn’t change the reality that being a mom can be frustrating, stressful, and tiring. But just as God is using us to shape our children, God is using our children and motherhood to shape us.

In The Better Mom, author Ruth Schwenk, herself a mother of four children, encourages us with the good news that there is more to being a mom than the extremes of striving for perfection or simply embracing the mess. We don’t need to settle for surviving our kids’ childhood. We can grow through it.

With refreshing and heartfelt honesty Ruth emboldens moms to find freedom and walk confidently in purpose; create a God-honoring home environment; overcome unhealthy and destructive emotions such as anger, anxiety, and more; avoid glorifying the mess of momming or idolizing perfection; and cultivate life-giving friendships.

At the heart of The Better Mom is the message that Jesus calls us to live not a weary life, but a worthy life. We don’t have to settle for either being apathetic or struggling to be perfect. Both visions of motherhood go too far. Ruth offers a better option. She says, “It’s okay to come as we are, but what we’re called to do and be is far too important to stay there! The way to becoming a better mom starts not with what we are doing, but with who God is inviting us to become.”

Ruth Schwenk is the founder of The Better Mom, and along with her husband, Patrick, the creator of For the Family. She is a pastor’s wife, mom of four energetic kids, a lover of coffee, and dreamer of big dreams. She loves leading, speaking, and blogging. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Ruth is the coauthor of Hoodwinked and Pressing Pause. The Schwenks are the coauthors of For Better or for Kids. Ruth, Patrick, and their children live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Celebrating Passover

Sacrificial Lamb of God by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598–1664), Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain (The Yorck Project)

The season of Passover is March 30–April 7, 2018.
Browse resources for Passover in the Bible Gateway Store.

Buy your copy of Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts: The Prophecies in the Feasts of Leviticus in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Passover Explained: God’s Deliverance and watch the videos.

Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Complete Jewish Study Bible Is Now Available.

Read Jewish-related Bible translations on Bible Gateway:

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Surprising Stories of People Rescued and Changed: An Interview with Jim Cymbala and Ann Spangler

Jim CymbalaWhat do a Wall Street broker, a party girl, a student, a homeless man, an addict, a teenage mom, and a drug enforcer have in common? All were in despair spiraling out of control until something unexpected happened to change their lives forever.

Bible Gateway interviewed Jim Cymbala (@jimcymbala) and Ann Spangler (@annspangler) about their book, The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories (Zondervan, 2018).

[Sign up to receive the Women of the Bible free email devotional by Ann Spangler]

Ann Spangler

How did you end up working together on this project?

Jim Cymbala: Ann has been a dear friend for many years, going back to when she was my editor at Zondervan for my first book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, and then later serving as my literary agent. She also helped my wife, Carol, write He’s Been Faithful, the book that tells the story of her life and ministry. Because Ann has a great ability to express the emotional dynamic of a story and to convey the spiritual dynamics as well, I wanted her to help write it.

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

Ann Spangler: I have a very deep regard for Pastor Cymbala and The Brooklyn Tabernacle, a church I’ve visited many times. I know that God shows up there, and I’ve talked to many people over the years whose stories have moved me and strengthened my faith. So it was a real privilege to work on a book with someone who’s had such a big influence on me.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire Celebrates One Million Copies Sold]

How did you narrow down the stories for the book? How did you know the people whose stories were included?

Jim Cymbala: Over the years, both in the church and as I’ve traveled, I’ve heard many amazing stories and testimonies of how Christ is at work in people’s lives. These always strengthen my faith. I wanted to do a book that would highlight testimonies so that we could all be strengthened. I began as I always do by praying, asking God to show us which stories out of many we should include. It seemed important to choose a variety so that people could read about individuals from various backgrounds, lifestyles, and journeys, making it easier for them to identify with someone in the book. Also, telling stories about all kinds of people showcases Christ’s love for all of us. Most of the people whose stories are included were at one time or other connected to The Brooklyn Tabernacle. The exception was Robin, who I met at an outside event and invited to speak at our church after hearing her story.

Ann Spangler: By the time I came on board, The Brooklyn Tabernacle had already produced an amazing DVD showcasing the stories of four of the seven people’s whose stories are told in the book. I made several trips to Brooklyn to interview these four people in order to tell their stories in more detail and also to interview others whose stories might be right for the book. The only person I wasn’t able to meet with face to face was Robin, since she lives in Israel and we couldn’t get our schedules to match up when she traveled to the US.

Pastor Cymbala, which one of the seven individual’s stories has ministered to you the most? Could you expound on the ways God has used someone’s story to encourage you?

Jim Cymbala: When I recorded the audio version of the book, I began to get emotional because I sensed the deep pain each person experienced. A couple of times I had to ask the engineer to stop recording so I could get myself together again. Toni’s story especially hit me because of everything she went through. But all of the stories are still very alive to me. Two things stand out. First, Jesus specializes in impossible situations. He’s the only one who can provide solutions to the unsolvable problems many people face. These stories have built my faith because they remind me how powerful God is.

Second, these stories underline to me the importance of trying to see people the way God sees them, to understand what they’re going through and who they are. I don’t want to preach to a faceless crowd. I want to be sensitive to how God wants to work in the lives of individuals. So I always pray: “God, please give me something that will help people right where they are.” I don’t want to expound on Philippians, for example, if God has something else he wants to say.

The takeaway from each story was not the importance of being rescued from one’s circumstances but the importance of recognizing one’s need to be delivered from themselves and from their sins; to cry out in faith to a God most of them didn’t know. It’s this aspect of the teaching and the receiving of the gospel that seems largely missing in our culture: the idea of coming to the end of one’s self. Do you agree with this? Why do you think this is the case? What kinds of things can be done to turn it around so that we hear more rescue stories like these?

Jim Cymbala: It’s important that the church doesn’t spend its time focusing on self-improvement programs or encouraging people to make endless promises about how they’ll change or preaching legalistic messages that only spread self-condemnation. The gospel isn’t about behavior modification. It’s about a complete transformation. So we need to preach the gospel. That means all of us need to be willing to share our faith with the people God puts into our lives.

There’s always a mystery about why some people respond and others don’t. Some cities welcomed Paul and established thriving churches. Others threw him into prison. Why are some people’s hearts hard and some people’s hearts open to the message? That’s a mystery. Our part is to keep planting seeds, trusting that God will water them and that some will grow. What we can do to see more people come to Christ is to pray that God will help us see people through his eyes. If we see them as he sees them, we’ll want to share the gospel, and we’ll see many more transformations.

Ann, how has co-authoring this book affected your own relationship with God?

Ann Spangler: Every time I went to Brooklyn to interview people, I felt more in awe of God. I realized even more than in the past that God deeply loves every person on the planet. I also realized that beneath the circumstances that try to define who we are—rich or poor, emotionally happy or deeply wounded, healthy or mired in some kind of addiction—we’re not that different. We’re all broken people in need of Christ’s saving power.

I remember interviewing a man who’d shot his own brother. Though his story didn’t make it into the book, it was clear that God had transformed him. We ended our time together with a great big hug. But after I heard his story, I confess I took a little more care as I walked from my hotel to the church, realizing that the streets are full of people who still need to be rescued.

Closer to home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I live, I’m involved in evangelism efforts through my church that have had me praying with homeless people and many who are mired in poverty. When you meet people face to face and hold their hands to pray, your categories tend to fall apart. You can’t judge groups of people just because they’re different than you. God softens your eyes so you can see them as he does and you can understand they have the same needs and desires you do. It doesn’t matter what color their skin is or whether they’re behaving the way you think they should. Because God loves them, you do too. I think that’s one takeaway from the book that we all can benefit from.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Wicked Women of the Bible: An Interview with Ann Spangler]

Is this book written for followers of Jesus or non-followers?

Jim Cymbala: It’s written for both.

So many believers are losing heart. I’ve been astonished to meet pastors who don’t think God can change people. Many Christians have children or spouses or other family members and friends that seem too far gone to respond to God. But that’s simply not true as the stories in this book show. I hope The Rescue will increase people’s faith so they won’t give up on loved ones but will continue to pray for them. As believers we need to understand that the gospel still has power.

I also wrote the book for those who don’t know Jesus or who’ve fallen away from him. I think it’s the best book I’ve written for unbelievers. Remember how Jesus expelled many demons from the man we know of as the Gaderenes? After he was restored to his right mind, he wanted to jump in the boat and follow Jesus. But Jesus told him he should stay behind and tell others what God had done for him. I hope many people will read these stories, open their hearts to Christ, and then tell others how they’re being transformed.

The book seems to take pains to avoid mentioning The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Was that deliberate?

Jim Cymbala: In an era in which many churches are branding themselves to call attention to how big or how special they are, I wanted the focus to be off the church and onto God, where it belongs. He’s the one who transforms people and he’s the one who deserves the glory. Plus, not everyone in the book is in our church. Toni started in our church but her story continued in another church. Lawrence came to Christ in an alleyway, not a church. Robin lives abroad. It’s not about the church, it’s about Jesus transforming people.

Pastor Cymbala, what advice would you give a young pastor that you wish you had been told when you began to pastor?

Jim Cymbala: There are a hundred things I’d like to say, so it’s hard to pick just one. Perhaps I could say two things.

First, focus on doing what the early church did. Look at the Gospels and at Acts. The first Christians simply preached the gospel and God added to their numbers. Think about how God has used Billy Graham. His message was so simple. He just kept preaching the gospel and people all over the world came to know Jesus.

Second, spend time with God every day. He will shape you. God made you unique, so don’t follow formulas. Do what he’s calling you to do in the way he’s calling you to do it. Nobody in church history stood out because they were following a formula. Stay close to the Lord and let him lead you.

What are your hopes for this book as it reaches the marketplace?

Jim Cymbala: I hope that people will read it and open their hearts to God to experience the same forgiveness the people whose stories are told did. I hope they will spend eternity in heaven with Christ.

For those who are already Christians, I hope their faith will grow stronger—that they’ll believe that Christ really can change people. I hope they won’t stop praying for those who need Jesus and that they’ll one day write to me or to the church to tell us how Christ has transformed yet another life.

Ann Spangler: I hope The Rescue will give people a glimpse of what God is capable of, so that when they face a time of darkness or a season of struggle in their own lives, they’ll not give up but will cry out to God, confident that he hears them and loves them. I hope these stories will encourage them so that no matter how long it may take to receive an answer, they’ll continue to believe and to pray.

What is your favorite Bible passage and why?

Jim Cymbala: Hebrews 4:16 in the NIV translation says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I love this passage for the hope it gives us no matter our dilemma. It reveals the heart of God toward us and his invitation and encouragement to draw near in prayer to receive what we need—his promised mercy and grace.

Ann Spangler: Two passages that are thematically related stand out to me. “…with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26 (NIV) and “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28 (NIV). These two promises bring so much hope, buoying us up through many storms.

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

Jim Cymbala: I love how easy it is to use Bible Gateway. It’s great for writing or sermon preparation because you can easily access a huge variety of Bible translations as well as study materials. I understand it even provides online seminary level courses.

Ann Spangler: Bible Gateway is the first place I go to whenever I’m looking for a particular passage. I use it all the time in prayer, when I write, and for speaking engagements. It’s very helpful and useful for studying and praying with Scripture. I’m also happy that it includes The Names of God Bible, for which I served as general editor. It’s fascinating to search and see where the original Hebrew names show up in the text; names of God like Yahweh, Adonay, El Shadday, and many others.


The Rescue is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.


Bio: Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle for more than 25 years. He is the bestselling author of such titles as Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Fresh Faith; Fresh Power; Life-Changing Prayer Study Guide with DVD; and Strong through the Storm. He lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

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.

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Infographic: 9 Facts About Jesus’ Resurrection

Buy your copy of Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

By Sean McDowell, PhD, co-author of the newly updated edition of Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Thomas Nelson, 2018) (website)

The historical fact of the resurrection is the very foundation for the Christian faith. It is not an optional article of faith—it is the faith! The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together. One cannot be true without the other. Belief in the truth of Christianity is not merely faith in faith—ours or someone else’s—but rather faith in the risen Christ of history. Without the historical resurrection of Jesus, the Christian faith is a mere placebo. Worship, fellowship, Bible study, the Christian life and the church itself are worthless exercises in futility if Jesus has not been literally and physically raised from the dead. Without the resurrection, we might as well forget God, church, and following moral rules and “feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Cor. 15:32).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Evidence That Demands A Verdict Redux: An Interview with Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell]

On the other hand, if Christ has been raised from the dead, then he is alive at this very moment, and we can know him personally (see 1 Cor. 15:4). Our sins are forgiven (see v. 3), and he has broken the power of death (see v. 54). Furthermore, he promises that we too will be resurrected someday (see v. 22). We can trust him because he is sovereign over the world (see v. 27). He will give us ultimate victory (see v. 57), and he has a plan for our lives (see v. 58).

The Centrality of the Resurrection

The resurrection has been the focus of the church since its inception. The New Testament book of Acts, which tells the story of the beginning of the Christian church, illustrates this well:

  • In the first chapter the 11 apostles were trying to find a replacement for Judas. One criterion for the selection of an apostle was that he “must become a witness with us of His [Jesus’] resurrection” (Acts 1:22, NASB).
  • In Acts 2:23-24 Peter gives his first sermon on the day of Pentecost. The keynote of his address was, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (NASB).

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

Paul refers to the resurrection of Jesus 53 times in his letters. Most of these texts assert the primacy of the resurrection, the assurance it gives us of our own future bodily resurrection or both. He emphasizes the centrality of the resurrection in his letter to the Thessalonians: “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:9-10, NASB, emphasis added).

British scholar N.T. Wright explains how central the resurrection has been in the life of the church:
There is no form of early Christianity known to us—though there are some that have been invented by ingenious scholars—that does not affirm at its heart that after Jesus’ shameful death God raised him to life again. Already by the time of Paul, our earliest written records, the resurrection of Jesus is not just a single detached article of faith. It is woven into the very structure of Christian life and thought.

Atheist Gerd Ludemann Gets It Right

Even Gerd Ludemann, an atheist scholar who has severely criticized the Gospels for their supernatural content, recognizes the importance of the resurrection to Christianity. He explains, “The resurrection of Jesus is the central point of the Christian religion… Evidently everything quite simply depends on the event of the resurrection of Jesus.” We may disagree with Ludemann about the fact of the resurrection, but he hit the nail on the head regarding its importance.

To say that Jesus, his early apostles and the Christian church has placed significant emphasis on Jesus’ resurrection is to put it mildly. Everything Jesus taught and lived for depended upon his death and resurrection. All the promises and prophecies in the Bible depend on the resurrection. The whole history of God’s plan to restore his relationship with man and woman depends on the resurrection. It is not overstating the facts at all to say that the resurrection of Jesus is the single most important event in the history of the world. Your life and mine depends on the resurrection.

[This post originally appeared on Sean’s website]


Evidence That Demands a Verdict is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.


Bio: Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, especially young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support of a biblical worldview. Sean is an assistant professor in Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and the resident scholar for Summit California. A regular speaker for organizations like Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Youth Specialties, among others, Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over 18 books, including A New Kind of Apologist, Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World, and GodQuest Guidebook for Teens, and is a frequent guest on radio shows like Family Life Today and Point of View.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of April 1, 2018

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Martin Luther King’s Legacy Built on the Bible that Inspired Him
USA TODAY
CT: King’s Dream Succeeds If We Study the Bible
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bible and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

51% of Churchgoers Don’t Know of the Great Commission
Barna
Read Matthew 28:18-20 on Bible Gateway

No Lie: Americans Still Ascribe to the Ten Commandments
CT
Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 on Bible Gateway
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Ten Commandments Past and Present: An Interview with David L. Baker
See resources about the Ten Commandments in the Bible Gateway Store

Divinity Students Work with Museum of the Bible Project to Transcribe Ancient Greek Texts
Liberty University
Read the book of 1 Timothy on Bible Gateway
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, World’s Largest Museum of the Bible Now Open

Pastor René Breuel Named Urbana 18 Expositor
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Focuses Students on Bible Study
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship: An Interview with Tom Lin

Braille Bibles: Spreading the Gospel to the Blind in Kenya
KTN News

Bibles Pulled from China’s Online Bookstores as Beijing Releases White Paper on Religious Policy
ABC
New York Times: China Bans Online Bible Sales as It Tightens Religious Controls
Read the Bible in Chinese on Bible Gateway

Cuba Blocks Distribution of 17,000 NIV Bibles Despite Lifting Bible Ban
The Christian Post
MNN: Cuba Experiencing Revival, Needs Bibles
Read the NVI Spanish Bible translation on Bible Gateway
Read the NIV English Bible translation on Bible Gateway

German Bible from 1880s Returned to Illinois Family
Pekin Daily Times

Reading 100 Hours of the Bible Celebrates 100 Years of Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana
National Catholic Register
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Reading the Bible in Public is Important
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How Reading Aloud Can Change the World

Woman Turning 111 Reads Bible Every Day, Credits Long-Life To Her Faith
WBBM-TV
Select a Bible reading plan on Bible Gateway

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He Is Risen! — Resurrection Sunday

Alleluia, Christ is risen; he is risen indeed!

Read the Scriptures that tell of Jesus’ stupendous resurrection

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[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Infographic: What Happened During Holy Week Day-By-Day]

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Passion Week Timeline: Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.

Today we remember the agony experienced by Jesus in his death on the cross, crucified by Roman soldiers. As he hung there he uttered “seven last sayings:”

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34

“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43

“Woman, behold thy Son” John 19:26

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

“I thirst” John 19:28

“It is finished” John 19:30

“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” Luke 23:46

This concludes our review of the biblical day-by-day chronology of events of Passion Week, also known as Holy Week. See the events of Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. For the Infographic detailing the entire week, see our Holy Week Timeline, which we encourage you to download, print, and share with your church or community.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Infographic: What Happened During Holy Week Day-By-Day]

Browse resources for Easter in the Bible Gateway Store.

Here’s the close-up look for Good Friday along with the associated Scripture portions: What Happened on Good Friday?

Event timeline of Good Friday

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Bible Gateway 25th Anniversary Sweepstakes for April

Learn more about the ESV Reader's Bible, Six-Volume Set, Cloth Over Board with Slipcase in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayBible Gateway is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new sweepstakes every month this year! Winners have already been selected for the months of January, February, and March. Enter every month!

This month enter for a chance to win a copy of the ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set, cloth over board with slipcase (Crossway, 2016), which has a suggested retail value of $199.99 (read a PDF excerpt). One winner will be selected at random. One entry per person; legal residents of the USA 18 years of age and older. Entry period: Mar. 28, 2018 (midnight ET) – Apr. 30, 2018 (11:59 pm ET).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Crossway Releases New ESV Reader’s Bible 6-Volume Set]

Once you’ve entered, tell your friends and followers about Bible Gateway’s 25th Anniversary—and what Bible Gateway means to you—in your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media; when you do, use the #MyBibleGateway hashtag to communicate the fun!

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Bible Gateway’s 25 Years

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.

 

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