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The Saint John’s Bible: A Reflection on Creation

Over 50 institutions are turning to the same page of The Saint John’s Bible (@SaintJohnsBible) each day of Pope Francis’ visit to the USA
Read the news release. | See the daily schedule.

Read our blogpost: The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

See various editions of The Saint John’s Bible available to purchase in the Bible Gateway Store.

Monday, September 21 (Day 1): A Reflection on Creation (Genesis 1)
Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 (#7Days7Pages)

The Saint John's Bible: A Reflection on Creation

[See our blogpost: CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible.]

[See our blogpost: Reflections from Pope Francis: An Interview with Susan Stark and Dan Pierson.]

[See our blogpost: The Tweetable Pope: Catholic Resources in the Bible Gateway Store.]

Bible News Roundup – Week of September 20, 2015

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

Over 50 Institutions Throughout North America Turn to the Same Page of The Saint John’s Bible Each Day of Pope Francis’ Visit
Saint John’s University
Each day’s page
The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

Rare Bible, Given in Honor of Pope’s Visit, Now at Library of Congress
News Release
Exhibit: Illuminating the Word—The St. John’s Bible

Charles Darwin’s Letter About Not Believing the Bible Sells for $197,000 at Auction

Betsy Ross’ 1790 Bible is on Exhibit for the First Time in Over a Decade
Historic Philadelphia

University of Dayton’s Roesch Library to Exhibit 20 Bibles Oct. 3 – Nov. 8
University of Dayton
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Legal Settlement with Armenian Church Lets Getty Museum Keep Prized Medieval Bible Pages
Los Angeles Times

300 Bibles Given in Calais to Refugees in Home Languages

Government to Support Scripture Union of Zambia
Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation

Volunteers to Read Bible Passages on Georgia Lafayette Square
LaGrange Daily News

Why We Carry These Tokens of Faith
PBS Newshour

See You At The Pole Marks 25 Years of Prayer
Baptist Press

Newsboys Video Kicks Off Preparation for Bring Your Bible to School Day Oct. 8
Focus on the Family

Googling for God
The New York Times
What Are People Searching For in the Bible?
What You Look for in the Bible: The Top 20 Keyword Search Terms on Bible Gateway

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Reframe Your Perception of God: An Interview with Brian Hardin

Brian HardinDo you have a true friend in Jesus? One that consists of the emotions, dialogue, and intimate moments that we long for from our closest of comrades? If not, maybe it’s time to reframe your perception of God; change your God-connection paradigm.

Bible Gateway interviewed Brian Hardin (@realbrianhardin) about his book, Reframe: From the God We’ve Made to God with Us (NavPress, 2015).

Explain what Daily Audio Bible is and how you came to create it.

Brian Hardin: The Daily Audio Bible is a community of tens of thousands of people who have committed to being in the rhythm of Scripture daily. I created it ten years ago because, like 93% of professing believers, I had never read the Bible in context and once I did, it revolutionized my life. Every day I read the Scriptures aloud, interact with them, and share the experience through our app, our website, and through places like Bible Gateway. This creates an immediate experience. It’s something that is happening every single day and you quickly realize you’re not alone on a solitary endeavor in your devotional life. The Daily Audio Bible is the epic adventure through the Bible in a year in community.

Click to buy your copy of Reframe in the Bible Gateway StoreWhat does the title Reframe mean?

Brian Hardin: To “Reframe” is to express a concept or a plan differently. In an effort to explore what we mean when we say we are in a relationship with God, a complete reframe of the paradigm was required. And in discovering what a relationship with God is NOT, I was able to find the breathtaking beauty of what it could be.

Why do you say the term “relationship with God” is not synonymous with believing in God?

Brian Hardin: We believe in a lot of people we’re not in a relationship with. One of the false assumptions I discovered in my own life was the idea that more study about God or activity for God was making me closer to God. Certainly study and activity are important. But do they foster actual intimacy? Imagine how that would look in marriage. Study of your spouse may be helpful but to be in a life giving marriage you will have to give of yourself completely as will your mate. At some point the knowledge gives way to the intangible thing we call love. But for many, myself included, the relationship we say we have with God boils down to nothing more than gigabytes of data and data isn’t a living thing that can be related to.

Rick Warren begins his book The Purpose-Driven Life with the sentence, “It’s not about you.” You begin Reframe with, “It’s all about you.” What are you saying?

Brian Hardin: I get this question a lot because at face value it seems as if Rick and I share opposing viewpoints. But this isn’t true. The Purpose Driven Life certainly affected me as it has millions of others. When he begins with, “It’s not about you,” he’s saying that you’ll never find purpose from within yourself. To quote him, “If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God,” and “You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for His purposes.” I couldn’t agree more.

Reframe is about peeling back the layers of what a relationship with God is actually shaped like. And in any intimate relationship two people have to be mutually involved. God has bestowed such extravagant mercy, kindness, patience, love, sacrifice and every other conceivable effort to offer relationship with us. But we’re exchanging that relationship for many lesser things and calling it healthy spirituality. It doesn’t take long to realize that what we’re calling a relationship with God wouldn’t work in any other relationship in our lives. We have to begin with ourselves. God is not withholding authentic relationship. We are. And this is why I begin by saying, “It’s all about you. And it’s all about what you do next.”

What do you mean “for thousands of years we’ve been building a box for God”?

Brian Hardin: We know more about God than we’ve ever known in human history. We can juxtapose Christian thought over millennia in ways that were never possible before. With all this knowledge why are we still struggling for intimacy with God? I believe the answer lies in the fact that God cannot be contained within a theological formula or doctrinal statement. We’ve brought all that we think we know about God and distilled it into theological formulas as if God can be quantified or explained this way. It’s a box that won’t hold God. In Genesis 3 mankind traded perfect intimacy for knowledge and we’ve spent our humanity trying to explain God through the flawed lens of our knowledge when the sacrifice of Jesus once again restored the possibility of personal intimacy. We’re settling for less and it’ll never be enough.

How did the Bible help you get out of the box?

Brian Hardin: The entire arc of the biblical narrative describes God’s willingness to be with us. The Bible reframed what I thought I knew about God. He went from a disappointed and rather angry being to a jilted lover who was desperate to be restored to His love. That’s a dramatic shift and it happened before I even get to the New Testament. When we enter the Gospels we realize that God was not only willing to be with us but desperate enough to win our hearts that he became us and spoke with his own voice into our humanity before allowing himself to be executed by us. It’s pretty hard to miss God’s heart in the Scriptures when they are read in context. One word pretty much says it all when it comes to God’s ambition toward humanity: Emmanuel. God with us.

Why doesn’t theology equal relationship?

Brian Hardin: Theology is literally “the science of God or of religion.” It’s mankind’s attempt to quantify what is infinite and beyond us. And while I love theology and believe in its value, I don’t believe it can, in any way, be rightfully described as a relationship. Theology is data. And while the data may be accurate it’s still data. Data isn’t alive. You can’t be in a relationship with data.

What are the gaps you talk about in the book?

Brian Hardin: In dismantling some of the things we exchange for actual relationship I describe the way we’re prone to assumption. An assumption is simply our attempt to create a plausible reality out of a gap. We don’t like mystery. We’d rather make an assumption about a person than allow the whole story to unfold, and we do this with God. We hold many assumptions about God that have the terrible potential of estranging us from intimacy with Him. False assumptions are nothing more than our way of filling in gaps in reality. But we’re not very good at it. When you’re in a relationship with someone that’s life giving and healthy, you know better than to assume anything. You move into one-on-one communication to reveal the mystery.

Why should people stop blaming God for human choices?

Brian Hardin: God created us in His image. He gave us the ability to make choices and He allows those choices to matter. Theologically we would call this volition. But God has become the cosmic trash heap for all of humankind’s unexplainable suffering. This is totally unfair. And it leads to very unhealthy places when we’re discussing being in a relationship with God. If everything that’s painful or unexplainable in life is God’s fault, how does one cultivate trust? And how can you truly love someone you don’t trust? Yet we constantly shake our fists at God for everything painful or unexplainable without ever really owning our part of the story. In any relationship both parties have to own their part of the relationship.

What is spiritual starvation and how prevalent is it?

Brian Hardin: Hunger is one of the greatest motivators in our lives. And it’s not just to keep us biologically alive. We’re starving for life because we’re created to have it and God is our very source of life (1 Cor. 8:6, Num. 27:16). Yet we have an incredible propensity to chase after whatever promises life with the least resistance. This isn’t a new problem. The Bible is full of examples in which mankind continually abandoned God in order to chase after another lover. This always proves empty. We’re consuming empty calories that just make us hunger all the more. The spiritual adultery is everywhere because we’re starving yet refusing to enter into a first-person, collaborative relationship with the very source of life (John 5:40); and then we have the audacity to blame God for it.

Explain your idea that Christians need to reframe the Bible and see it as a friend, not a bully.

Brian Hardin: The Bible is the story of God with us. If you take God out of the Bible, there is no Bible. Likewise, if you take people out of the Bible, there is no Bible. The Scriptures bestow a spiritual heritage and history that nothing else can. When we go to it with a scalpel as if we can dissect it, or approach it as an angry authority figure whose mission is to reveal our advanced failure in life, we’re missing the point. We have to approach the Scriptures in context and understand that this is our story. Only then can we dive deeper into the nuances. Rather than hunting for the hidden codes and nuances in the Scriptures, we need to allow them to speak to the nuances of our lives.

How can Christians make “relationship with God” much more than a mere cliché?

Brian Hardin: Ha. It’s an impossible question to answer in two sentences. Read Reframe. That’ll get you started on a path that will lead to irreversible change.

Click to learn more about Promised LandDescribe your other project, Promised Land, and how it can be used with the Bible to walk closely with God.

Brian Hardin: The Bible happened in real places. Often we allow the stories in Scripture to play out in our imagination and become mythic. But these stories are rooted in actual places. Promised Land was a four-year film project in which we set out to capture the essence of these places and show much more than a static photograph of a pile of rocks at an ancient ruin. There’s nothing like walking the land of the Bible personally, but Promised Land comes pretty close. We intimately filmed the land for all it’s beauty from angles never before seen and hunted down the stories in the Bible and rooted them in the places they happened. Promised Land is literally a master class in biblical history and geography, and it is epic in its scope and beauty.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App, and how they can be used to “reframe” a person, the person’s view of God, and the person’s relationship with God?

Brian Hardin: I love Bible Gateway. I use it every single day of my life as I read the Daily Audio Bible. We’ve partnered with Bible Gateway to offer our audio reading plan so that each day’s readings are emailed along with links to the audio. To make the Bible a constant part of the rhythm of life is to orient our hearts each day to God and I’m convinced there is no other way to survive let alone thrive. Bible Gateway offers the Scriptures and tools to move deeper into a relationship with the Scriptures, which in turn orients us to a first-person, always on, never off, holistically integrated, life-giving collaboration with God in our lives.

Bio: Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer and an ordained minister. In 2006, he created the Daily Audio Bible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month. He’s the author of Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You. He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively. He’s married to Christian musician Jill Parr.

How to Study the Bible in Context at Bible Gateway

“You’re taking my words out of context!”

We hear variants of this phrase a lot. Politicians are accused of deliberately taking their opponents’ words “out of context.” When we hear an upsetting comment or joke, we’re encouraged to consider whether its context makes it more understandable. And in the Christian world, we are frequently warned about the danger of failing to read Scripture “in context.”

But what is the “context” of the Bible, and how is the average person supposed to be aware of it while reading the Bible? Fortunately, reading the Bible in context is actually quite simple—it’s something you can easily do in the course of your everyday devotions, no seminary degree required. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions as you read God’s Word, and using the right resources to lead you to the answers.

To help you do that, Sarah Travis (@srhtrvs12) at Proverbs 31 Ministries has written an excellent, easy-to-follow guide to reading the Bible in context. Sarah even recorded a video to show you exactly how to read the Bible in context using Bible Gateway (the information about Bible Gateway starts at the 1:15 mark of the video):

Just follow along with Sarah to learn how to use online commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources to get the full context of the Bible passage you’re reading. Be sure to read Sarah’s accompanying blog post after watching the video. The article and video are part of the “Taming the To-Do List” study series, which you can follow at the Proverbs 31 Ministries website.

[Read Encouragement for Today devotional by Proverbs 31 on Bible Gateway and sign up to receive it in your email inbox from Bible Gateway.]

A Wicked Sorceress: The Story of the Medium of Endor

Ann SpanglerWhat can Jezebel, the Bible’s wickedest queen, reveal about God’s holiness and power and even about his sense of humor? What about the Woman at the Well—the one with five husbands and a live-in lover? And what of the prostitute whose tears bathe the feet of Jesus in front of people who despise her?

There are also “wicked good” women like Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, Mary, and more. What do their lives tell us about God’s invincible love and his determined plan to save us?

Click to buy your copy of Wicked Women of the Bible in the Bible Gateway StoreIn her new book Wicked Women of the Bible (Zondervan, 2015), Ann Spangler (@annspangler) 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.

The stories of these women of the Bible reveal a God who is not above it all but who stoops down to meet us where we are in order to extend his love and mercy.

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

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

The following article is an excerpt from Wicked Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler. Visit to learn more. Save 47%! Pre-order the new book today from the Bible Gateway Store.]

[Also see the book excerpt, A Wicked Birthday Party: The Story of Herodias and Salome]

A Wicked Sorceress: The Story of the Medium of Endor

When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God
giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations
of those nations. There shall not be found among you
any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through
the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or
an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with
familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

For all that do these things are an abomination unto
the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord
thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12

Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 28:3-25

How a Witch Conjures the Dead

Doom. He feels it moving toward him though he cannot see it, snarly and bristling with malice. No matter how quickly he moves, pivoting to check his back, he can’t seem to get out of its way. He can feel the hair standing up on his neck like hackles on a dog.

It’s been like that for some time. Though Saul has men to guard him, he is afraid to close his eyes at night lest he be overtaken.

Some days are worse than others. Today is the worst.

How he longs for a word from God to shatter the darkness. To tell him all is forgiven and that his kingdom will endure. But there is only silence. He should ask the high priest to consult the Urim and Thummim for him, casting lots to discover whether he will prevail against the Philistines who have gathered in great numbers to attack him. But then he remembers that he has already murdered the high priest and many other priests as well. He fears they are in league with David, who has himself gone over to the Philistines.

Perhaps he should summon an interpreter to read his dreams, butthese days he has no dreams because he sleeps so little.

If only he could ask Samuel for a word, but the old man has already been gathered to his fathers and buried in Ramah.

Now there is only silence. No word from God.

Even when God had spoken to him in the past, the words were rarely to his liking. Before Saul had completed the first year of his reign, Samuel had accused him of being a flat out failure. For just a small miscalculation God had rejected him as king. At least Saul thought it was small. He had merely acted when God had told him to wait. But waiting was for women, not for soldiers under the threat of death.

For one offense and then another and another, Samuel, on behalf of God, had declared him unfit, saying, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

Though Saul has had his victories, the thing he wants most, he cannot have—to be at peace. To rest secure. After more than forty years of sitting on the throne of Israel, he is still uneasy. Philistines plague him. David eludes him. God abandons him.

He is alone.

The woman is alone too. She is a widow, doing her best to survive. She lives in Endor, not far from where Saul and his men are encamped. Today she feels restless and unsettled, though she cannot say why. Perhaps it is merely a phase of the moon or the souls of dead men who have gathered to watch the looming battle. She only knows the air is electric. But as always she wants to know more, so she fills a small bowl with water. Then she recites an incantation, asking for wisdom from the world beyond to know which way the fight will go. Carefully she pours a small drop of oil on the water’s surface and watches as it splits in two, a sign that great men are about to fall.

Late in the day, when night has fallen, she is startled to find three strangers at her door. One of them is taller by a head than any man she has ever seen. Pushing through the door, he quickly states his business: “Consult a spirit for me, and bring up the one I name,” he says.

But she is no fool. She knows King Saul has strictly forbidden the practice of necromancy, citing the Scripture that says: “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” Perhaps these are Saul’s men, seeking to entrap her.

“Surely you know,” she replies, “what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”

But the big man, the one who had to fold himself in half, stooping low to get through her door, invokes an oath, promising her, “As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.”

He is such a mixture of earnestness and power that she believes him. “Whom shall I bring up?” she asks.

“Bring up Samuel,” he says.

She is good at the art of deception. Since she is the only one who can see the visions and hear the voices she summons from beyond, she need only play her part convincingly. So she speaks in guttural tones, rolls her eyes, and makes her body tremble.

What is so bad about reassuring a mother that her dead child is well, uniting lovers across impassible boundaries, or conveying positive omens to all who seek them? She merely wants to do good, to bring hope, and, yes, to find a way to support herself.

So now she makes a show of asking the reigning powers to raise Samuel up from the grave. But before she can engage in the usual pretense, something terrifying happens. She stares wide-eyed and then looks accusingly at Saul.

“Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” she exclaims.

“Don’t be afraid. What do you see?” the king asks.

“I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.”

“What does he look like?”

“An old man wearing a robe is coming up.”

Trembling, Saul kneels with his face to the ground.

“Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” the old man accuses.

“I am in great distress,” Saul tells him. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”

Samuel’s reply is carried in the throat of the woman of Endor. “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors — to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”

The prophet’s words rush at Saul with nightmare force, and he collapses. He is too weak to rise, overcome by fear and hunger, for he has eaten nothing for a day and a night.

Seeing how shaken he is—and she is shaken too—the witch pleads with him, saying, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”

At first Saul refuses. But his men urge him to eat, and he relents.

Slaughtering a fattened calf, the woman quickly prepares it along with some bread.

After they have eaten, she watches the king and his men depart. Staring out, she notes a shadow that is darker than the moonlit night. Hungry and bristling with malice, it trails a little distance behind the king. She knows that it will not be long until it overtakes him. With a shudder and a prayer, she closes her door.

The Takeaway

What three to five words would you use to describe the character of the woman of Endor? Consider any positive as well as negative attributes. The story showcases how far Saul had fallen. Though a courageous and naturally gifted man, he met a tragic and pathetic end. What does this story reveal about the consequences of trusting yourself more than God?

The above excerpt is from Wicked Women of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by Ann Spangler. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Taken from pp. 112-115.

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.

Scripture Reflection: The Hardest Commandment

Do you have enemies?

Some people live in places where their enemies threaten them with physical harm or death. But for most of us, “enemy” means something a little different—our enemy might be a hostile coworker; a bully at school; an angry neighbor; an opponent in sports, politics, or another arena who doesn’t play fair.

Do you consider those people your enemies? And if so, could you say that you love them?

One of Jesus’ most memorable sermons challenges us to rethink everything about how we treat people who hate us.

Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)

That command is as challenging to us today as it was to Jesus’ original audience. Christians have long struggled to understand what it means to love somebody who hates you, persecutes you, or even wishes you dead. One modern pastor who had a lot of enemies, yet who felt challenged by this Scripture passage, was the civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. Here’s what he had to say about this Scripture passage:

…it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

Questions to Consider

  1. Do you have people you would consider enemies? What, in your opinion, makes someone an enemy?
  2. What is your instinctive reaction when people badmouth, belittle, or purposely thwart you?
  3. Is what Jesus commands in this passage really possible? Have you ever seen somebody put this command into practice? If this command runs counter to our natural inclinations, how can we reach a point of loving our enemies?
  4. Are there people in your life who might consider you an enemy? Have you ever been on the receiving end of “love your enemy”?

Devotional Twitter Streams to Follow as a Young Christian

Bible Gateway Twitter streamA follower of Bible Gateway’s Twitter stream (@biblegateway) asked what Twitter handles would be good for a new Christian to follow. There are so many! Here are only a few suggestions, based on the criteria that they’re centered on the Bible and they help Christians focus on strengthening and walking their faith:

Also see

Bible News Roundup – Week of September 13, 2015

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

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

It’s Sunday Morning. Where Should Your Cell Phone Be?
Christianity Today
Download the award-winning free Bible Gateway App

Igniting a Bible Study Reformation
Renewing Your Mind
The Reformation Study Bible: An Interview with Dr. R.C. Sproul

Reformation Study Bible (2015) Goes Back to Press Less Than 6 Months from Release
News release
The Bible Really Is God’s Word (guest post by Stephen J. Nichols)
See editions of the Reformation Study Bible (2015) in the Bible Gateway Store

New isiXhosa Bible-Based Literacy Booklet Launched in South Africa
News 24
Read the Bible in many languages on Bible Gateway

Bibles for Calais Refugees
Bible Society

Christians Move 400-Year-Old KJV Bible To Papua New Guinea Parliament
EM TV Online

Bible commentary series ‘The Bible Speaks Today’ Finishes after 40 Years
See The Bible Speaks Today set in the Bible Gateway Store

Why 7 More Books in Catholic Bibles?
Dave Armstrong
Read the deuterocanon on Bible Gateway

Spiritual Formation—Including Regular Bible Reading—Needed at Catholic Colleges, Says World Meeting of Families Speaker
The Cardinal Newman Society
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Carson-Newman University Acquires Rare Illuminated Bible
The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

La Roche College to Turn a Page of The Saint John’s Bible Each Day of Pope Francis’ USA Visit
La Roche College
The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

Edgar County, IL Congregations Take Part in Marathon Reading of Bible

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

New Edition of Amplified Bible Now on Bible Gateway

Click to browse the many Bibles in the Amplified translation in the Bible Gateway StoreAccording to The Lockman Foundation, the Amplified Bible is a translation that, “by using synonyms and definitions, both explains and expands the meaning of words in the text by placing amplification in parentheses and brackets and after key words or phrases. This unique system of translation allows the reader to more completely grasp the meaning of the words as they were understood in the original languages. Through multiple expressions, fuller and more revealing appreciation is given to the divine message as the original text legitimately permits.”

[Read the Amplified Bible (AMP) on Bible Gateway]

[Browse the many Bibles in the Amplified translation in the Bible Gateway Store]

Here’s a parallel comparison of Philippians 2:5-8 using the AMP and the King James Version (KJV):

The Amplified Bible (AMP) is now updated and available on Bible Gateway, along with the Amplified Bible Classic Edition (AMPC). For the update to the Amplified Bible, the goal of the translation team was to enhance the appeal of the Amplified Bible by refreshing the English and refining the amplifications for relevance and clarity. The result is an Amplified Bible that is easier to read and better than ever to study and understand.

The Amplified Bible of 2015 includes more amplification in the Old Testament and refined amplification in the New Testament. Additionally, the Bible text has been improved to read smoothly in paragraph form with or without amplifications, so that the text may be read either way. The same feel and style of amplification has been maintained, so that those who read the classic Amplified Bible will be able to easily transition to the new text.

Here’s an explanation of the various markings within the text:

Parentheses ( ) signify additional phases of meaning included in the original word, phrase, or clause of the original language.

Brackets [ ] contain justified clarifying words or comments not actually expressed in the immediate original text; as well as definitions of Greek names.

Italicized conjunctions such as “and,” “or,” and the like, not in the original text, are used to connect additional English words indicated in the same original word. In this use, the reader, upon encountering a conjunction in italics, is alerted to the addition of an amplified word or phrase.

Here’s a parallel comparison of Philippians 2:5-8 using the AMP and the AMPC:

[Browse the many Bibles in the Amplified translation in the Bible Gateway Store]

The Year without a Purchase: An Interview with Scott Dannemiller

Scott DannemillerConsumerism has a pesky way of leading to stress. Can shopping less really contribute to living more? And what does the Bible say about how to find true joy apart from the acquisition of things?

Bible Gateway interviewed Scott Dannemiller (@sdannemiller) about his humorously-serious book, The Year without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting (Westminister John Knox Press, 2015).

Click to buy your copy of The Year without a Purchase in the Bible Gateway Store

Why did a vacation from consumerism sound like a good idea to you?

Scott Dannemiller: Over a decade ago, my wife and I felt like we were on a “hamster wheel to nowhere,” constantly striving for upward mobility that never brought true satisfaction. To find more meaning in life, we followed God’s call, quit our corporate jobs, sold our house, and spent a year serving as missionaries in Guatemala. While the experience was transformational for us, we slowly drifted back into our old behavior once we arrived back in the US. So we knew we needed to do something drastic to remind us of what was truly important in life.

Explain the “family mission statement” you crafted.

Scott Dannemiller: During our year of service, we were challenged by our supervisors to write a mission statement. Though it’s now 12 years old, and written before we had kids, we feel like it still represents how we hope to honor God as a family.

It is, “To tirelessly seek God’s will by living lives of integrity, owning what we have, growing in faith together, and serving all God’s people to build a world without need.” In truth, our year-long break from consumerism was an attempt to bring our lives back into alignment with this mission.

Is it ironic that you want people to buy this book, yet you’re encouraging them to stop buying?

Scott Dannemiller: I think “horribly misguided and hypocritical” is a better term. 😉 Perhaps that’s why God invented libraries.

What do you hope to achieve with this book?

Scott Dannemiller: Honestly, our biggest hope for this challenge was to remind ourselves and our kids of what is truly important. That said, people who’ve read the book have told us that it makes them stop and think before buying things. Some have even adopted the challenge themselves. Whether the goal is to save money, spend less, or give more, I’m grateful our experiment has inspired some people to bring them closer to God and His purpose into their everyday lives. And I believe the intention is far more important than the outcome.

What Bible passages motivated you to begin your experiment?

Scott Dannemiller: There were so many… but one that stands out to me is James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Our favorite Bible verse is Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you? To seek justice, to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” I believe humility was a big part of why we wanted and needed to embark on this challenge.

What rules did you establish for your year-long non-purchase living?

Scott Dannemiller: We could’ve made it much harder on ourselves by having to grow our own food and fashion undergarments out of burlap sacks. But we knew that wasn’t realistic for us. So we had three basic rules: 1) We could only buy stuff that could be “used up” within the year (think food, hygiene items, cleaners, etc.). 2) We could fix stuff if it broke, unless a suitable replacement was readily available. And 3) Any gifts had to be in the form of charitable donations or “experiences.” Again, our challenge was less about saving money, and more about living with intention.

Why did your rules remind you of John 17:13-19?

Scott Dannemiller: Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert researches happiness for a living, and he found that “People are inherently bad at predicting what will make them happy,” often seeking joy in material good fortune. I believe Jesus’s prayer for his disciples gives us a clue where we can find the “full measure of (His) joy”—by living in the world but not of the world. And our rules were an attempt to do just that; to live in a consumer culture without being consumed by it.

Why did you decide not to tell your children?

Scott Dannemiller: Honestly, we were curious to see if they would notice. While we had created some good habits of not buying random items for them, we had strayed from a life of simplicity. We thought our kids (ages 5 and 7) could be our litmus test to see if we were truly living “in the world but not of the world.” If they didn’t notice a drastic change and feel as if we were ostracizing ourselves from society, then we’d consider ourselves successful.

How was your year like an addiction withdrawal?

Scott Dannemiller: I’ve never experienced an addition withdrawl, but I can see parallels to the struggle being much more difficult early in the process, and the day-to-day becoming easier over time as you develop new habits. Much like any recovering addict, we did avoid places where consumerism was happening like malls and big box stores. We removed ourselves from over 100 marketing email lists and rarely went “shopping”—even just the window variety—to avoid the temptation.

What is an ‘appreciation audit’?

Scott Dannemiller: It’s an exercise where you spend time each day taking stock of the blessings in your life. For thirty days, you write down five things you’re thankful for each day. For us, it was a wonderful way to keep us focused on all God has provided and forget about the things we think we were missing.

How does ‘shiny junk’ cover up the ‘image of God’ inside people?

Scott Dannemiller: During our year, I noticed how I often defined myself by the things I owned. And this made me realize I often judged others in this same way. Our challenge helped to strip away the façade and finally see the truth behind Genesis 1:27. Both in others and in ourselves.

How did Scripture passages about contentment and the love of money guide your attitude and behavior?

Scott Dannemiller: Scriptures like 1 Timothy 6:10 regarding the love of money were helpful, but the biggest driver was Matthew 6:25-34. We realized that so much of our everyday stress and worry was a product of our trying to control our lives and build a false sense of joy and contentment through buying “stuff.” This was one small way we could give it up to God.

How did your sense of humor contribute to the year?

Scott Dannemiller: For us, humor is about not taking yourselves too seriously. We enjoyed laughing at the crazy ways in which we place pressure on ourselves—especially as it related to our kids—to give them everything so they didn’t or wouldn’t feel left out or different. They never noticed, nor did they ever say anyone commented on the things they had or didn’t have.

And while this challenge was tough for us, it wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, so we had to constantly remind ourselves of that.

What do you mean when you write, “We are so much more than what we own”?

Scott Dannemiller: Advertisements today are less about the function of a product and more about what the product says about its owner. We’re enticed by image. So much so that it becomes a sort of shorthand for knowing a person. Rather than truly connecting with people, we simply look at where a person lives, what a person wears, and what car they drive and think we know something about them. And this is a lie. We’re a product of our stories, and “stuff” can just get in the way. Again, we remained focused on Genesis 1:27—“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”.

What did you gain—spiritually, relationally, etc.—from your non-purchase experience?

Scott Dannemiller: So much! But the main thing is we feel we’ve grown more in alignment with our family mission statement. A covenant born of our mission experience over a decade ago. If you want to know more, you’ll have to check out the book. And when you’re done, share it with others!

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App, especially in light of your experiential year?

Scott Dannemiller: I’m a frequent user of the site, especially if I have a question about a particular subject and want to quickly search what the Bible has to say about it. I know it’s cliché, but you guys have been a Godsend.

Bio: Scott Dannemiller is a writer, blogger, worship leader, and former missionary with the Presbyterian Church (USA). He and his wife, Gabby, reside in Nashville, Tennessee, with two very loud children.