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TGIF: An Interview with Os Hillman

Os HillmanAtlanta businessman Os Hillman has devoted himself to write a daily email devotional featuring four-minute meditations on faith and work life. They consist of practical help in applying Christian faith to the work environment, encouragement and support for people to exhibit their faith, and empowerment to be more effective in work. Whether for individual quiet times, Bible study groups or workplace groups, these daily devotions, available by email from Bible Gateway, help men and women fulfill God’s call on their lives in the workplace.

[Sign up for the free daily email devotional TGIF: Today God is First]

Bible Gateway interviewed Os Hillman (@oshillman), author of TGIF: Today God Is First (Revell, 2007), about his life, testimony, and TGIF.

Click to buy your copy of TGIF in the Bible Gateway Store

How did golf circuitously lead you to beginning a relationship with God?

Os Hillman: Golf was an idol in my life. My life in my early and late teens and early twenties was focused on becoming a professional golfer. I had a lot of success as a junior golfer and college golfer. I attended college on a golf scholarship and then turned pro from three years. However, my dream to play professisonal golf failed and it left me wondering about the purpose of life. I accepted Christ when I was one year out of college after realizing I was not going to fulfill a lifelong dream. I was impacted by my mom and a pastor who reached out to me and shared Christ with me.

An insight from the TGIF devotional

Tested for Abundance

“We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:12b

God’s economy of abundance often has little to do with material blessing. In God’s economy, abundance is often measured in wisdom and knowledge of himself. It is then that we are truly blessed. Wisdom cannot be gained through intellectual pursuits. Wisdom comes only through experience. Real wisdom comes from the kinds of experiences that come only through the deepest tests.

Lessons of refinement, including prison accompanied by burdens, lead us through the fire and water. This is the territory that must be traveled to reach that place of abundance. It would seem strange that a loving God would use such means with His children. What we often fail to realize is that God’s measuring stick is the character and likeness of Jesus Christ Himself in each of us. This cannot be gained through a life of ease and pleasure. Ease and pleasure fail to refine.

What was your initial perspective toward the Bible? Why and how did it change?

Os Hillman: I began reading the Bible the very day after my conversion. I was a voratious student of the Word and have never not spent time in God’s Word daily, now 40 years later.

Describe your organization Marketplace Leaders, its mission, and why you started it.

Os Hillman: Marketplace Leaders mission is to help men and women see their work as a holy calling from God. I realized during my business career that many people struggle to integrate their faith lives into their working lives. They don’t realize God values their working lives and wants to manifest his life through all they do—including their working life.

An insight from the TGIF devotional

Seeing The Big Picture

“…Everything is against me!” Genesis 42:36

So often we believe our dreams are dead. There seems to be nothing left in our world to live for. Everything appears to be against us. During these times, God is doing His deepest behind-the-scenes work. During these times, God is performing a deeper work in each of us—a work that cannot be seen.

One of God’s methods for directing His children’s steps is through drying up resources: a job loss, a career change, or a disaster. In these times we are willing to listen more intently, and to seek God in ways we would not normally do.

What personal adversities prompted you to write TGIF: Today God Is First?

Os Hillman: I went through a seven-year crisis that began in 1994 in which I lost $500,000 through a “Bernie Madoff” type of scam and lost 80% of my business when a client left and stuck me for $170,000. My wife left me at the same time and my vice-president left and took my second largest account. This ushered me into a seven-year season. I began writing TGIF: Today God Is First during that season in an effort to find answers I desparately needed at the time. I began sharing my writings with others and now 150,000 people in 104 nations read TGIF daily.

What do you mean when you say “turn the Valley of Achor into a door of hope”?

Os Hillman: In the book of Hosea he speaks of the Valley of Achor. Achor means “trouble.” He says God will turn our Valley of “trouble” into a door of hope for those who will trust him.

How is TGIF organized?

Os Hillman: There’s no organized progression, but there are themes—adversity, calling, purpose, work life, prayer, trust, sonship—all spoken of in the devotionals.

An insight from the TGIF devotional

Knowing Versus Doing

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection….” Philippians 3:10

If I asked you the purpose for which God made you, what might you say? You might give a lot of answers that required some action on your part. However, the simplest answer to that question relates to one primary thing: fellowship. The most important thing God desires from us today is to have a deep and intimate fellowship with each of us.

The apostle Paul said he wanted to know Christ, and by knowing Christ he could experience the power of His resurrection. I find this to be the hardest thing for many of us workplace believers to do. So often it is much easier to be busy with the urgent (or even Christian) activity than spending quiet moments before the Lord. Before we realize it, days have passed since our last quiet time with Jesus.

Are you taking the time to get to know Him today?

Why is it important for people to read the Bible?

Os Hillman: The Bible is our compass for life. No one can live the Christian life without spending time reading and applying the Bible into one’s life. The Holy Spirit cannot direct us if we do not have the Bible in our heart and mind. The Bible is the Christian’s everyday food. I cannot imagine going one day without spending quality time getting my spiritual food for the day.

For those who don’t currently read the Bible, what are your suggestions for ways they might begin?

Os Hillman: The TGIF devotional is a great way to get started. There’s a Scripture verse and an application to each reading. It only takes four minutes a day. That can get you started and when you form a habit each day, it becomes easier to make that commitment.

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

Os Hillman: I love Bible Gateway. It’s a trusted resource when I do word studies and need to find Scripture passages online. I use the app when I travel all the time to do my readings. What a wonderful time to be alive in regard to technology that allows us easy access to the Word of God!

[Sign up for the free daily email devotional TGIF: Today God is First]

Bio: Os Hillman is founder and president of Marketplace Leaders (@todaygodisfirst), an organization whose purpose is to help men and women fulfill their God-ordained calling in and through their work life. He’s president of the International Coalition of Workplace Ministries (ICWM) and Aslan Group Publishing. Os is an internationally recognized speaker on the subject of faith and work, and is a faculty member of the Wagner Leadership Institute on Workplace Ministry. He’s authored ten books, including The 9 to 5 Window: How Faith Can Transform the Workplace, Change Agent: Engaging Your Passion to Be the One Who Makes a Difference, and TGIF: Today God Is First, and teaches leadership workshops titled Called to the Workplace. He lives in a suburb of Atlanta with his wife, Angie.

Owl Husbands, Persecuting Printers, and More: Famous Typos in the Bible

scriptureChristians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, safeguarded through the generations by God’s hand. But physical copies of the Bible are typeset, printed, and published by fallible humans, which means that the occasional typographical error slips through. There have been some impressively unfortunate typos in the long publishing history of the Bible, and a recent article at The Guardian lists some of the most memorable:

‘Sin on more’
A 1716 edition of the 17th-century King James version (known as the Party Bible – OK, no it isn’t) replaces “Sin no more” from Jeremiah 31:34 with “Sin on more”. There were 8,000 copies printed before anyone noticed.

‘Let the children first be killed’
This is very awkward. It’s Mark 7:27 and it’s supposed to be: “Let the children first be filled.” A 1795 edition of the King James version.

‘If the latter husband ate her’
Known as the Cannibal’s Bible (yes really), a 1682 printing alters this passage from Deuteronomy 24:3, which is meant to read: “If the latter husband hate her.”

(Note that, as the article says, several of the items in this list are better described as questionable translations rather than typographical errors.)

The presence of occassional typos in Bible printings throughout history is not a secret, and it crops up periodically in entertaining lists like this one. The Washington Post published another list of historical Bible typos earlier this year, and there’s a very extensive list of typos and other quirks at the International Society of Bible Collectors website. Fortunately, most such errors are easily identified as such once they’re noticed (although I distinctly remember wondering, as a child, if a misplaced comma I’d noticed in my children’s Bible cast doubt on the reliability of Scripture!). Fortunately, there is good reason to be confident that modern Bibles accurately convey the language and intent of the original Scriptures, and that the Bible is reliable.

Over the years we’ve touched on some of the interesting questions that crop up in the course of Bible translation. You might take a look at R.C. Sproul’s discussion of Bible discrepancies and Lee Strobel’s explanation of the mysterious missing verse in the book of Matthew. And for a fun example of a translation question that centers around the capitalization of a single letter, you might enjoy this dicussion of the difference between ‘S’ and ‘s’ in Psalm 2:7.

It Starts With Zeal


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

I want to say, right at the start, that I am so encouraged that you, and tens of thousands of other people, are signed up for our ongoing series on understanding, studying, and applying the Bible to our lives. I’m encouraged because I have seen over my lifetime how the power and truth of the word of God have given people life when it seems like so much about our world is going downhill.

I read the Bible when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until I was 17 years old and someone put an easy-to-understand version of the New Testament in my hand and I devoured it one summer, that I experienced the ring of truth and the deliciousness of the word of God. That summer changed the whole trajectory of my life because from then on I knew where I could hear the voice of God confronting me, beckoning me, filling me, correcting me, inspiring me.

I was inspired to read the Bible—slowly, methodically, prayerfully—but I also learned about studying the Bible, which is the subject of the series we begin today.

I want you to be encouraged by the idea of “studying” the Bible, not to be intimidated by the thought. Studying the Bible is for every believer. You do not need to know Hebrew and Greek or invest a thousand dollars in books in order to study the Bible.

The word study (from Latin studium) refers to devotion, concentration, and zeal. So when you pick up the Bible and read, intently longing to understand it and being willing to submit to it, you are studying the Bible. This holy process begins before you turn to any Bible study tool. Studying the Bible begins in the soul. It is when you open the Bible and say to God: I want to know you more, and I am willing to read intently, with devotion, concentration, and zeal.

Now there are many other things we can do to study the Bible that go beyond reading it. In this series “How to Study the Bible” we will look into book studies and character studies and thematic studies and many other methods. But it all depends on this: What is in our hearts? Do we want to hear a word from God? Do we have a sense of responsibility to do the work to get to the actual meaning of biblical texts? Will we concentrate on the Scriptures as a lifestyle, knowing that, with the passage of years, we will become better, wiser, people?

This would be a good time for you to invite your friends and family, a group you belong to, or a congregation you lead, to sign up for “How to Study the Bible.” Each week Bible Gateway will email a new piece in this series for you to read at your convenience.

Just point people to the Bible Gateway signup page here (do it today, if you can):

It is great to be on this adventure with you in the months to come!

Mel Lawrenz

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

Imagine Heaven: An Interview with John Burke

John BurkeIt’s obvious from bookshelves and movie screens that Heaven is a popular topic of entertainment and conversation. But what does Heaven really look like? What will we do forever? Are near-death experiences useful to our understanding of the biblical description of Heaven? What does the Bible say?

Bible Gateway interviewed John Burke (@J0hnBurke) about his book, Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future that Awaits You (Baker Books, 2015).

Click to buy your copy of Imagine Heaven in the Bible Gateway Store

Why did you write Imagine Heaven?

John Burke: Heaven is a real place—in fact more real, tangible, and exhilarating than Earth! That’s what the Bible has said all along, but I find most people don’t have a good image of it. We don’t “set our eyes on things above” or live for Heaven, like Colossians 3:1-3 says, when we can’t imagine it. I’ve investigated close to a thousand near-death experiences (NDEs)—accounts of what people experienced when they were clinically dead—and I’ve compared them to an extensive study of the Bible’s view of the afterlife. I was astounded by how NDE reports color in the picture of the afterlife painted in the Bible. Imagining what Scripture says through their eyes makes you feel like you’ve been there. I wrote the book to share the hope and motivation I’ve found from imagining the incredible life to come.

You write that how a person views Heaven changes everything about their life. Explain what you mean.

John Burke: When you can really imagine what God promises in the life to come, it changes how you love others. In the book you’ll read about the Life Review people experience in God’s presence, and how they see the ripple effect of their loving or unloving actions. It changes how you endure suffering because you see how God does work everything for good, and you will read stories showing how he creates beauty out of Earth’s tragedies in Heaven. It changes how you give, sacrifice, and serve because you can see that Heaven is the life to live for; exponentially better than the best retirement you’ve ever imagined!

Why do people tend to have a boring view of Heaven?

John Burke: I have no idea, because evidence shows Heaven is better than anything we’ve imagined on Earth. Both Scripture and NDEs describe beautiful mountains, valleys, rivers, flowers, and forests—not unlike Earth, but experienced in a new dimension; not with five senses, but with what feels like 50 new senses. We’re fully ourselves, yet we’ll feel more alive than we’ve ever dreamed possible—real relationships, real hugs, real communication, and the greatest reunion with loved ones ever imagined. And Jesus is the Highlight of Heaven—more glorious than you’ve ever pictured; no one ever wants to leave his presence, and the good news is you don’t have to in Heaven!

What sparked your interest in near-death experiences?

John Burke: When my dad was dying of cancer, a friend gave him Life After Life, the first book on near-death experiences. I picked it up off his nightstand and read it in one night. I was not a Christ-follower, but after reading it, I was shocked. I said, “Jesus, you are real—I want to be with you when I die.” It was that compelling. The next year, I was invited into a Bible study where I understood God’s grace and started following Christ. For 35 years, I’ve studied the Bible (in seminary and out), and I’ve read about 1,000 near-death experiences. I don’t advocate forming your view of Heaven from individual NDEs because each one is an interpretation, and our view should come from Scripture. But I found that NDE commonalities corroborate with one another and with what the Bible says in compelling, vivid, colorful ways that help you imagine Heaven and want to live all-out for it.

Of the thousands of NDEs you’ve studied, what elements do most have in common?

John Burke: In Imagine Heaven, I discuss the 12 commonalities that many NDEs share, like being aware of a new spiritual body—still with arms, legs, fingers, and toes, but with intensely heightened senses experienced in a new dimension of time and space. People recognize each other, communicate in perfect heart to heart understanding, and experience a deeper unconditional love than they can put into earthly words. People commonly meet a man of brilliant light who radiates to them a love they never want to leave—those who know Him know he’s Jesus. And many have a Life Review in the presence of God where they relive every action, thought, and motive, and experience how it affected others. The main message they get is the centrality of love, and it changes many of them forever!

Some studies estimate 1-in-25 have had NDEs. How do you know these stories are real and why do you believe they’re occurring more often?

John Burke: Modern medical resuscitation keeps improving, so millions of people who have been clinically dead, for minutes to hours, are being brought back to life. I devote a chapter to show why many skeptical doctors have been persuaded that these NDEs are real. NDErs report details of their resuscitations that they could not have witnessed or heard while in their physical bodies. Hundreds of studies conclude the most logical explanation of what they report is that consciousness survives bodily death. While I am still skeptical of any one story alone, so many NDEs say similar things that it’s very important for Christians to understand them in light of the Scriptures.

As a pastor, do you have a hard time believing some of the NDEs you’ve come across? Why do you think Christians are often skeptical of NDE stories?

John Burke: I’m skeptical of individual stories, and yes, some I have a hard time believing. I don’t advocate building your understanding of Heaven based on individual accounts, but rather looking first to Scripture, then seeing where many common experiences corroborate and align with Scripture. That’s why I include so many Scriptures illustrated with 120 stories in the book—stories that could be replaced with many more saying similar things. When you read enough NDEs, you see how much people struggle to put their multidimensional experience into three-dimensional terms. That means every person is interpreting their experience, and many who are not Christian interpret them in ways that don’t gybe with Scripture. I think that’s why many Christians are skeptical, but if you look at the common experience described rather than interpreted, it’s amazingly biblical.

What does the Bible say about what we can expect in Heaven?

John Burke: Heaven will be abundant life like we always knew it should be—unconditional love that makes us feel forever at home. It’ll be way more “earthy” than imagined—the Bible describes tall mountains, valleys, palm trees, rivers, beauty like that of earth, yet exploding with vibrant new colors that come from the very light of God (remember, he lights up everything according to Revelation). Heaven will be a glorious reunion with friends and family in Christ, where Jesus said we’ll eat and drink like at an elaborate wedding feast!

But that’s just the beginning; we’ll have projects to do, music to compose, work to do but without the frustrations or deadlines of Earth. All of it will reflect God’s glory. We’ll have property, valuables, animals to care for (Isaiah and John said animals will be there too), some people will rule cities or nations, all will have unique work to do that brings us great enjoyment and God great joy. I could go on and on, but you’ll have to read the book to see everything—but this is what the Bible says!

What can NDEs teach us about Heaven that the Bible can’t?

John Burke: Nothing important. But having said that, most Christians don’t live like Heaven is a treasure worth selling everything to purchase—because we can’t imagine just how wonderful it’ll be. While NDEs are not needed to add content to what the Bible teaches, they do add color to the Bible’s picture of Heaven. For instance, Revelation tells us there’s no Sun for God is the light of Heaven. We could probably infer that the color spectrum of God’s light far exceeds that of our Sun, but when you hear many NDErs describe the vivid, dazzling colors—a sensory explosion more captivating than the northern lights—and you hear multiple blind people who could “see” the light of God coming out of everything and radiating inexpressible love—you see the compelling nature of Heaven.

What about hellish NDEs? How prevalent are they and do you believe there’s any truth to them?

John Burke: Very few who research NDEs even address that an estimated 23% of those who report having an NDE had a hellish or distressing experience. Given the fact that people are hesitant to report heavenly experiences, for fear of being labeled “crazy,” I think it’s safe to say hellish experiences are underreported as well. In Imagine Heaven, I spend a chapter reconciling these hellish experiences with the Scriptures. Because none of these experiences are irreversible death (many reported a boundary, and they all came back), I don’t think one’s NDE experience is always a good predictor of their final destination, but I do think these experiences are just as real as the good ones. In the book, I wrestle with the troubling questions these hellish experiences raise.

What other common questions about Heaven do you answer in your book?

John Burke: I grapple with just about every question most people have about Heaven, including “Will I be myself and recognize others?” “What will we do forever?” “What will it look like?” “Will my pets be there?” “Who goes and who doesn’t and how can I know my final destination?”

What do you hope people will learn from reading your book?

John Burke: I hope people with faith will see how beautiful and glorious Jesus is, how wonderful the world to come will be, and like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, I hope they will live courageously for what lasts. I hope those without faith will learn from this book that God is real, and Heaven is real. I pray many will be compelled by his great love and grace to give their lives to him.

Bio: John Burke is the author of No Perfect People Allowed, Soul Revolution, and Unshockable Love. The founder with his wife, Kathy, of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, John is also the president of Gateway Leadership Initiative (GLI) (@gatewayleaders), a nonprofit organization. As an international speaker, John has addressed hundreds of thousands of people in twenty countries on topics of leadership and spiritual growth. He and his family live in Austin, Texas.

Bible News Roundup – Week of October 25, 2015

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Urgent Talks Between the Bible Societies of the Balkan States Planned as Migrant Crisis Continues
Bible Society

Bible to Serb Troops Will Prevent ‘Future War Crimes,’ Says Senior Officer
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Bible Translation Technique Meets Open Source Culture
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Bible Totally in Seychellois Creole is Launched
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Biblica and Scottish Bible Society Spur Spiritual Revival in Scotland
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Bible Campaign Plays Role in ‘Guatemalan Spring’ in Election Year
United Bible Societies

Nano Bible Donated to Smithsonian
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A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

World’s Oldest Bible on Display as British Museum Tracks Egypt’s Religions

1,000-Year-Old Bible Recovered by Police in Central Turkey
Daily Sabah

Pope Francis Tells Youth: ‘The Bible is Your Most Precious Treasure, Now Read It!’
Catholic Herald
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Bible-Citing Marine Raises Religious Freedom Questions in Appeal
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The State of Books and Reading in a Digital World
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The Writing’s on the Wall: 10 Pop Songs Straight Outta Scripture
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See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Reminder: “How to Study the Bible” Lessons Begin Soon


Just a quick reminder: our new series of weekly lessons on “How to Study the Bible” begins soon! If you haven’t signed up yet, click here to do so.

In this new series, pastor and speaker Mel Lawrenz will walk alongside you as you learn why Bible study is so rewarding, and how you can go about doing it. You don’t need a seminary degree to participate in these lessons—they’re specifically written for everyday people who suspect that their experience of the Bible could be deeper and more meaningful, but aren’t sure where to start.

To get a feel for what the new series will be like, read our recent interview with Mel Lawrenz or take a few minutes to browse through his previous lesson series, “How to Understand the Bible.” And if you’re intriguied by what you read, sign up for the new series!

“Talking to Women Who No Longer Exist”: Christine Caine on Women and the Church

caineRelevant magazine has published an interesting profile of Christian speaker and activist Christine Caine (it can be found in the September/October issue). Caine (@ChristineCaine) is perhaps best known for her work with the The A21 Campaign (@A21) to fight human trafficking around the world. But her ministry work encompasses many other fields as well, notably the raising of women leaders within the church.

But what most caught my attention in the profile is Caine’s interest in improving the Christian church’s engagement with women. It has been common in recent decades to lament the decline in the Christian church’s engagement with men—if you read Christian magazines and journals regularly, you have probably seen more than one article laying out grim statistics about the decline of church attendance among men. That’s certainly a troubling issue, but it’s interesting to see Caine pointing to a similar problem brewing among women as well:

“We as the Church are hemorrhaging a generation of young women,” [Caine] says, “because the Church has been very slow on the uptake of the changing goalposts in the world. So much of the literature that’s written to women in the Church is written to the women who no longer exist. It’s written to June Cleaver, and she doesn’t exist anymore.”

Today, says Caine, more than 70 percent of mothers in North America work. And 53 percent of women are single; 48 percent will never birth biological children. It’s a different day for women….

“A lot of us are talking to an audience that is no longer there. We have this hugely educated generation of young women—more than 80 percent of American women go to college, 70 percent of all postgraduate degrees are women—and we talk as if they don’t exist.”

If you’re interested in following along with Caine’s ministry insights, there’s a weekly devotional penned by Caine that you can read online or subscribe to via email. Throughout the course of a year’s readings, you’ll get a good glimpse of Caine’s vision to encourage and empower “everyday people” in the church to step forward into leadership roles in their communities.

You can also find many video clips of Caine speaking online—she’s an eloquent speaker. Here’s a recent talk about “dark moments” in life:

Read her online devotional, check Youtube for videos of her public addresses, or pick up one of her books—it’s well worth a few moments of your time!

The Bridge Builder: An Interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Rabbi Yechiel Z. EcksteinIt’s not shocking that there is an Orthodox Rabbi from Chicago raising millions of dollars for Jewish philanthropy. It is astonishing that these donations come from evangelical Christians despite hundreds of years of discord and animosity between the two groups. What force could be behind this seemingly insurmountable feat?

Bible Gateway interviewed Rabbi Yechiel Z. Eckstein (@TheFellowship) about the book, The Bridge Builder: The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by Zev Chafets (Sentinel, 2015).

Click to buy your copy of The Bridge Builder in the Bible Gateway Store

What are the objectives of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ)?

Rabbi Eckstein: The objectives are threefold. One, to build bridges of understanding and healing between Christians and Jews after 2,000 years of enmity, hatred, and separation. Two, to deepen Christians’ understanding of the Jewish roots of their faith and their bonds with Israel and the Jewish people. And three, to form a way to cooperate on issues of shared concern.

More than 30 years ago, what prompted you to see the need for building relational bridges between Christians and Jews?

Rabbi Eckstein: I felt that there was enough common ground between Jews and Christians, especially evangelicals, who, as Paul says in Romans, were grafted onto the rich olive tree of Israel. That dialogue led to the second goal of helping Christians understand their Jewish roots and deepen their spiritual bonds with Israel. And then third, we found issues unrelated to Israel, mainly about religious persecution, that we could come together on.

Today we’re witnessing a world that’s so fractured and divided. There’s so much ethnic and religious hate leading to violence and wars, and we’re all facing the challenge of radical Islam and terrorism. I believe everyone is called to be a bridge builder, especially today.

What challenges did you face when you began IFCJ?

Rabbi Eckstein: First, I didn’t have any money. There was no vehicle through which Christians and Jews could reach out to one another and together bless Israel. And so that was a big challenge to get people to believe in the message. Frankly, it was more difficult with the Jewish community than it was with the Christian community. From the beginning, the Christian community readily adopted this vision of bringing healing and reconciliation by blessing Israel and the Jewish people. The Jewish community in general was more skeptical. I personally suffered a good deal from the challenges within my own Orthodox community, where there still are pockets of criticism to this day. My biography, The Bridge Builder, goes into that matter in great detail. But at no point did I ever waver or question this vision. I believe God anointed me to go out and preach this vision of Christian and Jewish reconciliation and cooperation. We all need to build bridges with others.

How do you hope this book will impact readers?

Rabbi Eckstein: My greatest hope is that people who read about my 40 years of becoming a bridge builder will see that as a model for their own lives. I really believe that each of us is called to be a bridge builder in some way in our lives. It may be with our children. It may be with the guy down the block who hates us. It may be with another community. I believe God is calling us all to build bridges every day. It’s just that sometimes it’s hard to hear God’s voice through the clutter of our day-to-day activities.

When Zev Chafets, a New York Times reporter and FOX News correspondent, approached me about writing my biography, I was flattered and humbled. But I didn’t want to make any money from the book. Every penny from the sale of the book and all the royalties go to IFCJ.

Is anti-Semitism lessening or increasing around the world?

Rabbi Eckstein: Anti-Semitism has been growing in the past few years; frighteningly so. We thought that after World War II and the Holocaust the world would get it and would realize finally after all these centuries that unspeakable things happen when anti-Semitism is allowed to grow. Whatever the reason, it’s reared its ugly head again today, and in force. There’s a huge spike in anti-Semitism in the Arab world, where they’re teaching their children to hate Israel and to hate Jews. The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement is not just boycotting Israeli companies, they’re boycotting Jews and Jewish companies in America, France, Germany. You can’t go into a synagogue in Europe without police guards making sure that you’re not carrying any bombs. And a lot of Jewish institutions are vulnerable.

What role does the Tanakh and the Christian Bible play in your efforts?

Rabbi Eckstein: The Bible is central to both Christians and Jews. We share a common vision of the Bible serving as a source of values, and the truth of the matter is that America was founded on the basis of that Judeo-Christian heritage.

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

Rabbi Eckstein: I’m so thrilled that there is Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App. It’s a wonderful tool; an opportunity for people to study the Bible. I believe there are some more than 200 versions already in the Bible Gateway series. I commend Bible Gateway for enabling millions of people to study the Bible and to have it hopefully be a force in our lives for good. What’s also great about the App is that it makes it so easy to search and delineate those verses that are especially meaningful to you. I do that. I like to come back to verses that are especially meaningful to me and contemplate them, pray over them, and let them inspire my soul. I appreciate that Bible Gateway helps me do that.

Bio: In 1983, Rabbi Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), devoting his life to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews and broad support for the state of Israel. Rabbi Eckstein is a leading Jewish authority on evangelical Christians. The Fellowship now raises over $125 million dollars annually, making it the largest Christian-supported humanitarian nonprofit working in Israel today.

Rabbi Eckstein received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University in New York. He holds master’s degrees from Yeshiva University and Columbia University, where he also completed studies for his doctorate. Rabbi Eckstein has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Seminary. He currently serves on the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Record Number of Bibles Distributed by Bible Societies in 2014

2014 saw the highest number of printed Bibles ever distributed by Bible Societies around the world. Nearly 34 million full Bibles were distributed, a rise of 6% over 2013’s figures, and 14% higher than the number distributed in the first year of the decade.

Click to enlarge this infographic

The figures are taken from the United Bible Societies’ Scripture Distribution Report, produced annually, which compiles Scripture distribution figures reported by Bible Societies.

In total, 428.2 million Scriptures were distributed by Bible Societies in 2014, including full Bibles, Testaments, Gospels, and other smaller Scripture items—representing a 7% and a 17% increase over 2013 and 2010 respectively.

See the rest of this article at United Bible Societies.

Read the Bible on Bible Gateway.

Zondervan Academic and BibleMesh Collaborate to Offer Online Distance Learning Courses

Zondervan Academic websiteZondervan Academic (@ZonderAcademic), a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and BibleMesh (@BibleMesh), a producer of online courses for theological education, have entered a collaboration that will further both entities’ interest in distance learning. Online courses offered through this new collaboration will be available to colleges and seminaries for use in their curriculum, as well as to individuals interested in non-credit, online continuing education. The first courses will be available in November 2015, with as many as 25 available by the fall of 2016.BibleMesh website

“We are committed to publishing the highest-quality resources for schools to help instructors teach and students learn,” said Dr. Stanley N. Gundry, Zondervan senior vice president and publisher. “Building the best online courses for both undergraduate and graduate level study is a natural extension of that commitment. Zondervan Academic has superb content that will be built into the courses, and BibleMesh has experience and expertise in online distance learning. This is why this collaboration makes such good sense and will be such a quality service to schools.”

Courses will be taught by leading evangelical scholars, including Wayne Grudem, Andrew E. Hill, William D. Mounce, Gary D. Pratico, Miles V. Van Pelt, John H. Walton, and many others. Courses available in November will include Basics of Biblical Greek, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Interpretation, New Testament Survey, and Old Testament Survey.

In addition to making courses available to schools to use within their online programs, Zondervan and BibleMesh will make online courses available to individuals not enrolled in a college or seminary, with an option to get credit from a partner institution.

“BibleMesh has invested years in developing a superior online learning experience for students using cutting edge technology,” said Michael McClenahan, Executive Director of BibleMesh. “Now, the collaboration between BibleMesh and Zondervan Academic will give schools the chance to offer even more online options for their students.”

Last year 72% of incoming college freshmen reported taking an online course the previous year. Many Christian colleges and seminaries have begun to offer online courses to meet the demand and stay competitive, seeing their importance for growing enrollment and leveraging new learning technologies.

The new courses can be used as part of a traditional residential program, within a flipped classroom, or as part of online-only degree programs. Schools can use them to supplement an existing online program or start a new program using courses with content from Zondervan Academic incorporated into the BibleMesh platform.

Sign up to be notified when the first courses are available and to receive news and updates.

About BibleMesh
A provider of cutting-edge online educational services, BibleMesh promotes understanding of the Christian scriptures and Christian discipleship. BibleMesh advances this mission through core curriculum development, particularly in the biblical languages, alongside strategic partnerships with content creators. BibleMesh was launched in 2010 by Emmanuel A. Kampouris, retired chairman, CEO, and president of American Standard Companies, Inc. and his wife Camille, an educator and performer best known for her work with The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street. For additional information, please visit

About HarperCollins Christian Publishing
The world’s leading Christian publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishing Inc., comprises both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan publishing groups in addition to Olive Tree Bible Software. The company produces bestselling Bibles, inspirational books, academic resources, curriculum, audio and digital content for the Christian market space. Also home to, the world’s largest Christian website, and, an online community dedicated to helping people grow in their faith. HarperCollins Christian Publishing is headquartered in Nashville, TN, with additional offices in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. For more information visit