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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.

International Literacy Day

This is International Literacy Day. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, about 757 million adults and 115 million youths around the world cannot read or write a simple sentence, and women are the first to be denied these basic skills. Explore an interactive literacy map to see which countries are most affected.

At the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) Leaders for Literacy Day earlier this year, global illiteracy rates were discussed, showing 12 percent of the world’s population to be functionally illiterate. In the United States, 14 percent of the adult population—32 million adults—can’t read. ILA executive director Marcie Craig Post said, “We know that literacy helps people escape the bonds of poverty and live longer. We know that people who are literate are more inclined to vote, take part in their community, and seek medical help for themselves and their families.”

The ability to read is also central to understanding God’s revelation to us in the Bible. Helping people who cannot read to become literate is a worthy cause, just as is helping those who can read to become regular readers of Scripture.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain

For a better understanding of the problems of, and solutions to, Bible illiteracy, see the following Bible Gateway articles and features:

Bible News Roundup – Week of September 6, 2015

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

Celebrate Bible Translation Day, September 30, With Live-Streaming Event
Dr. Douglas Moo’s speech: Evangelicals and Bible Translation

Papua New Guinea Pastors to Usher in 404-Year-Old KJV Bible on Independence Day September 16
PNG Loop
Read the KJV Bible on Bible Gateway

5 Good Reasons to Read the Entire Bible Every Year
The Southern Blog
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Cuba’s Castros Say They’re Open to Christianity
Charisma News

Texas Lawyer Builds Theological Library
Amarillo Globe-News
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Darwin’s Letter About Not Believing the Bible to be Auctioned
Fox News Latino

Has a 2,000 Year Old Podium Been Found in the City of David?
Israel Antiquities Authority

Over 2/3 of Regular UK Churchgoers Say They Would Consider Becoming an Organ Donor Because of Their Faith

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Jimmy Carter’s Wellspring of Hope: The Bible

The 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 90, recently announced that he has cancer and that it’s spread to his brain. Before, during, and after his 1977-’81 presidency, he has spoken of, written about, and demonstrated his fervent personal Christian faith, which is rooted in his ongoing devotion to reading and teaching the Bible. Speaking about his condition, he said: “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes. I do have a deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for.”

Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (CEB)

Click to buy your copy of Through the Year with Jimmy Carter in the Bible Gateway StoreAt the August 20 press conference Mr. Carter convened to announce his diagnosis, he said his future “is in the hands of the God who I worship.” Conservative commentator and fellow Christian Cal Thomas observed in his column, “What struck me was not only Carter’s humility and gratitude for the opportunities and privileges he has enjoyed, but the inner peace he exuded. Evangelical Christians like Carter understand this from a Bible verse that says, ‘And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’” (Philippians 4:7).

Thomas went on to refer to Wesley Pipperts’ book, The Spiritual Journey of Jimmy Carter in His Own Words: “While teaching the Sunday school class on January 29, 1978, Pippert quoted Carter as saying: You can’t say, ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to have inner peace in my heart…’ It slips away from us. It’s not something guaranteed to each of us. If we subjugate our lives to God, if we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, if our life is consistent with the purpose or example of Christ … in our relationship with God, and others, then we will have inner peace…Click to buy your copy of NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter in the Bible Gateway Store That statement, more than the optimism of doctors who are treating him, reflects the source of Carter’s contentment, which many in the media still do not understand.”

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7 (ESV)

Commentator Maureen Fiedler said of Mr. Carter’s announcement: “He reflected on his life, expressed gratitude for the many opportunities he has been given, and then noted that no one lives forever. And he said it all—even the thought of his own death—with a smile.”

One facet of Mr. Carter’s outworking of his Christian faith was the establishment of The Carter Center (@CarterCenter). He’s said that, if given the choice between re-election as president and establishing the Carter Center, he’d choose the latter, which “seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”

Click to buy your copy of Sources Of Strength: Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith in the Bible Gateway Store“I thought I had a few weeks left, but I felt surprisingly at ease. I’ve had a wonderful life,” Mr. Carter calmly said of his reaction to the initial diagnosis. “I’m ready for anything and looking forward to a new adventure.” As his health allows, he continues to teach Bible lessons in Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church, Plains, GA.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus Is Central

Tim KellerTim Keller (@timkellernyc) is senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) (@RedeemerNYC) in Manhattan, New York, and author of numerous books. He is also co-founder and vice president of The Gospel Coalition (@tgc).

The following article by Dr. Keller is excerpted from the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.

[See our blogpost: Accolades for the New NIV Zondervan Study Bible]

Click to brows the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway StoreIn After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre famously illustrates that stories are necessary if we are to assign meaning to anything. He imagines standing at a bus stop when a young man he doesn’t know comes up to him and says, “The name of the common wild duck is Histrionicus histrionicus histrionicus.” He knows what the sentence literally conveys, but he has no idea what the young man’s statement and action mean. The only way to know that is to know the story into which the incident fits. Perhaps, alas, the young man is mentally ill. That sad life story would explain it all. Or what if yesterday someone had approached the young man in the library and asked him the Latin word for the wild duck, and today the young man mistakes the man at the bus stop for that person in the library. That trivial story would explain it as well. Or perhaps the young man is a foreign spy “waiting at a prearranged rendezvous and uttering the ill-chosen code sentence which will identify him to his contact.” That dramatic story would make sense of the incident too. But without a story, there’s no meaning.

All Fits Together

The title of this article includes an all-important assumption: the Bible is not just a diverse assortment of stories and materials; it altogether comprises a master narrative. This is not to say the Bible is written like a novel with a tight, simple plotline—not at all. It contains many individual stories and a lot of non-narrative material. But just as J.R.R. Tolkien produced thousands of pages of narratives, poetry, articles, maps, and even lexicons over the course of decades in order to tell one very sweeping story, so God, the author of every part of the Bible, is also telling one overarching story about the real world he created. There is a basic plotline to which all the parts relate and which makes sense of all the pieces.

The Bible begins with God making the world “very good” (Gen. 1:31)—without the corruption, decay, and death that now dominate the world (Rom. 8:20–21). He placed human beings in the world as his masterpiece, made in his image to reflect his own glory (Gen. 1:27). We were created to adore and serve God and to love others. If we had chosen to live like that, we would have enjoyed a completely happy life and a perfect world. But instead, we wanted God to serve us and do what we wanted because we made our will the sovereign measure of all things. Instead of living for God and loving our neighbor, we turned away to live self-centered lives (Gen. 3:1–7). And because our relationship with God has been broken, all other relationships—with other human beings, with our very selves, and with the created world—are also ruptured (Gen. 3:8–19). The result is spiritual, psychological, social, and physical decay and breakdown. “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” (William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming)—that describes the world under sin now.

God’s Response

How did God respond? Did he respond with wrath toward the human race or with love? The answer is yes—to both (Rom. 1:18; John 3:16). God insists on truth, demands that we do right, and threatens to punish all disobedience and evil. Nonetheless, he pursues the human race in love, declaring his intention to save and not allow all to perish in their sin. The Lord calls a people to himself in order to create a new human society—people who know his holy character and his law, his love and his grace. This community began as an extended family (Gen. 12:1–8) out of which God created an entire nation: the people of Israel, whom God delivered from slavery and established under Moses. With this people God made a covenant in which he promised to be their loving God and they promised to be his faithful people (Exod. 19:1–8). But the history of this covenant relationship is one of almost unrelieved failure of the people to be what God called them to be.

All stories have plot “tension” and, in the most gripping narratives, it’s intense. It comes from the clash of seemingly intractable forces in the struggle to restore things. And here we can see why the Bible is indeed a story. Through two-thirds of the Bible, the part we call the Old Testament (OT), an increasingly urgent, apparently insolvable problem drives the narrative forward. God is a God of holiness and is therefore implacably opposed to evil, injustice, and wrong, and yet he is a God of infinite love. He enters into a relationship with a people who are fatally self-centered. Will he bring down the curse he says must fall on sin and cut off his people, or will he forgive and love his people regardless of their sin? If he does either one or the other, sin and evil win! But it seems impossible to do both. Is the covenant relationship he established with his people conditional (so that failure is punished) or unconditional (so that the covenant is maintained despite the people’s failure)?

Again, the answer is yes—to both. This resolution is largely hidden from the reader through the OT, though Isaiah comes closest to unveiling it. The glorious King who brings God’s judgment in the first part of Isaiah is also the suffering servant who bears God’s judgment in the second part. It is Jesus. And in the New Testament (NT), Jesus Christ, the Son of God, comes as our substitute—living the life we should have lived and dying the death we should have died, in our place. By living a perfect life, he earns God’s blessing for obedience; by dying on the cross, he takes the curse for disobedience (Gal. 3:10–14). When we believe in him, he receives the punishment we deserve and we receive eternal life as a gift (2 Cor. 5:21). And he does this in order to not only pardon our guilt but eventually free us from all sin and give us glorious new bodies and even a perfect, renewed world (Rom. 8:18–39).

The Greatest Story of All

The best and most compelling stories have high stakes and astonishing, unexpected resolutions. If that is the case, there has never been a greater story than this. The stakes are literally cosmic: everyone and everything is at stake. It seems impossible that God could be true to himself—fully good and loving, fully righteous and just—and still save us. It seems impossible that after all we have done there should be any hope. But victory is achieved through one man’s infinite sacrifice on the cross, where God both punishes sin fully yet provides free salvation, where he is revealed as both just and justifier of those who believe (Rom. 3:26). Jesus stands as the ultimate protagonist, the hero of heroes.

Because the Bible’s basic plotline is the tension between God’s justice and his grace and because it is all resolved in the person and work of Jesus Christ, Jesus could tell his followers after the resurrection that the OT—“the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44)—is really all about him (Luke 24:27, 45). Paul says that all God’s promises throughout the Scripture find their fulfillment only in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). So everything in the Bible—all its themes and patterns, main images and major figures—points to Jesus.

The Bible, then, is not a collection of Aesop-like fables, fictional stories that give us insights on how to find God and live right. Rather, it is both true history and a unified story about how God came to find us in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived and died in our place so we could be saved by grace through faith and live with him forever in a remade world, the Garden-City of God (Rev. 21–22). From this basic plot there emerge profound insights, principles, and directives on how to live. But the Bible is not primarily about us and what we should do. It is first and foremost about Jesus and what he has done.

This is the Greatest Story not merely because of its infinitely high stakes and the endless wonder of its resolution but also because of its transforming power. How different is the Bible’s story from the dominant one told in the Western world today—that we are accidents, here for no purpose other than what we create for ourselves, living in a world marked by one operative principle: the survival of the strong over the weak? Just as MacIntyre’s response to the incident at the bus stop will be completely determined by what he discovers the story to be about, how we respond to suffering, death, sex, money, and power will be profoundly influenced by whether we understand and believe the story of the Bible about Jesus—or not.

The above article is excerpted from the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, general editor, D.A. Carson. Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. All rights reserved.

The 50 Most Important Teachings of the Bible: An Interview with Jim George

Jim GeorgeIt’s been said that what you believe is how your behave. What you believe about God, his written revelation—the Bible—and his ultimate revelation—Jesus—will define how you live your life. Having a grasp of what the Bible teaches, then, is crucial to living life to its fullest. What are the key teachings every Christian should know and how should they influence a believer’s daily behavior?

Bible Gateway interviewed Jim George (@JEGeorgeAuthors) about his book, The 50 Most Important Teachings of the Bible: What They Mean for You (Harvest House Publishers, 2015).

Click to buy your copy of The 50 Most Important Teachings of the Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

What need do you see among Christians that prompted you to write a book about the 50 most important teachings in the Bible?

Jim George: During the past 30 years of ministry, I’ve witnessed an alarming decline in biblical understanding. Christians are less and less familiar with their Bibles. Correspondingly, Christian doctrine has fallen into disfavor and the average believer has a very elementary understanding of the basic doctrines upon which the Christian faith rests. To do my part in countering this decline, I sought to write a book on the basic doctrines of the Bible; not from an academic perspective, but prayerfully, with a practical, down-to-earth approach.

You say there are some teachings in the Bible that are more foundational than others. What do you mean?

Jim George: Obviously any doctrine that deals with salvation must be seen as foundational. The reformation was based on this fundamental doctrine of salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Also, any teaching on the person and nature of God must be considered as essential. What a person believes about God will determine how that person behaves.

Why do you say the Bible is the ultimate handbook for life?

Jim George: The Bible contains “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68) and is the ultimate “truth” (John 17:17). The Bible states in no uncertain terms that it contains God’s revelation of himself to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). The Bible states that “his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). No other book can make these kinds of claims, so it stands to reason that the Bible is the ultimate handbook of life.

What’s your reaction to people who say the Bible is confusing, contradictory, and not to be trusted?

Jim George: First, I’d ask them if they believed in God. If they don’t believe in God, then, of course, the Bible would appear confusing and contradictory, and there would be no reason to trust in a book written by a god who doesn’t exist.

But if they do believe in God, I would ask them to show me specifics about the Bible that are “confusing or contradictory” to them. Most people have read very little of the Bible. What they’ve read has been bits and pieces, and would appear at first glance to be confusing and even contradictory. But diligent, purposeful reading of the Bible would help clarify and answer many of their questions. It might be as simple as finding a translation that gives the confused person a better understanding.

How can you have one chapter titled “Satan Is Not as Powerful as You Think He Is” followed by a chapter titled “Ignore Satan at Your Own Risk”?

Jim George: These two chapters deal with two misconceptions of Satan. First, Satan is viewed has having a power equal to God. This is not true. Satan is a created being and therefore ultimately answerable to his Creator, God, who limits Satan’s activities (Luke 22:31). Satan can do nothing without God’s permission (1 John 4:4).

The second misconception is that of underestimating Satan’s power; that is, since believers are “protected” from Satan’s destructive power, they have nothing to fear from Satan. This is not true. Satan is an extremely powerful spiritual being who “prowls around life a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He’s the father of lies (John 8:44) and deceives many regarding religion. Satan deceived Eve by getting her to doubt God (theology), and he can do that to unsuspecting Christians (1 John 4:1).

Yes, Satan is not as powerful as we think, but he’s more powerful than any believer can deal with apart from putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).

What did you learn about yourself in writing this book?

Jim George: The Bible is an amazing book written by an infinite God who reveals different aspects of himself, and his son, the Lord Jesus every time you read and study your Bible. This is even more evident when any person begins to write about God, and his desire to have a relationship with his creation. I come away, as always, with a sense of wonder from the fact that the creator of the universe would desire to have a relationship with me and all others who would embrace his son as their savior.

Which of the 50 teachings comforts you the most?

Jim George: I especially like the idea expressed in the title of one teaching—“Jesus Walks with You, and When Necessary, Carries You.” God leaves none of his children behind. Therefore I have the assurance that what God began in me at salvation, he’ll complete in heaven (Philippians 1:6).

And which challenges you the most?

Jim George: The teachings that deal with Christian living are the most challenging because they remind me of my need to abide in Christ and make the effort to walk moment by moment by God’s Spirit. Christian living is where my—and every believer’s—doctrine is lived out. What I believe will determine how I behave.

You end with saying “Heavenly Living Starts Here and Now.” What do you mean?

Jim George: With salvation, a believer begins a new life. They’re “born again.” In God’s eyes, they’re now citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). As future citizens of heaven, God expects his children to start acting out here and now what they will be in heaven. Obviously, our sin nature hinders this process, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, Christians can grow in grace and knowledge, and that citizenship will be lived out 100 precent when we get to heaven.

Bio: Jim George and his wife, Elizabeth George, are Christian speakers and authors. Jim, author of A Husband After God’s Own Heart (a Gold Medallion finalist) and The Bare Bones Bible Handbook, has MDiv and ThM degrees from Talbot Theological Seminary. He’s served in various pastoral roles for 25 years and been on The Master’s Seminary staff for ten years. Jim and Elizabeth have two married daughters and are grandparents.

CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible

Laura BernardiniLaura Bernardini (@laurabernardini) is director of coverage in CNN’s Washington, DC, bureau. She’s a lifelong Catholic but had never read the Bible from cover to cover. For the next year, she’s reading every word, from Genesis to Revelation.

[Select from any of our many Bible versions to read the Bible yourself on Bible Gateway.]

[Select a Bible reading plan on Bible Gateway that’s right for you.]

Here’s an ongoing list of Laura’s weekly essays on CNN:CNN logo

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 1: The Genesis

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 2: A Flood of First Impressions (Genesis 1-11)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 3: Get Me Out of Genesis (Genesis 19)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 4: Inspired by an Above-Average Joe (Genesis 37)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 5: This God Scares Me (Exodus)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 6: Going Back to the Roots (Leviticus)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 7: 10,000 Commandments (Leviticus)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 8: Uncomfortably Numbed by Numbers (Numbers)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 9: A Talking Ass Saves the Day (Numbers 22)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 10: God Needs an Editor (Deuteronomy)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 11: Seeking Professional Help

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 12: God’s Promises (Joshua)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 13: Rooting for Ruth (Ruth)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 14: Better Not Call Saul (1 Samuel)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 15: Cruel and Unusual Punishments (2 Samuel)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 16: Praying for the Wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 17: Ahab Goes to the Dogs (1 Kings 16)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 18: If You Feed Them, They Will Come (1 Kings 17)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 19: Pete and Repeat (1 Chronicles)

A Catholic Reads the Bible, Week 20: God’s Blinged-Out Building (1 Chronicles 28)

Bible News Roundup – Week of August 30, 2015

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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The Most Popular Bible of the Year is Probably Not What You Think It Is
The Washington Post
See the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

Survey Shows How People Connect To Faith On Mobile Devices
News Release
Learn about the free Bible Gateway App

Year of the Bible at Colorado Christian University
Colorado Christian University
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Detroit Lions’ Don Carey Goes Deep in Bible Studies
The Detroit News
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Slideshow: Bible Translation Day—Then and Now
Dr. Douglas Moo’s speech: Evangelicals and Bible Translation

A Major Transition is Occurring in Bible Translation
Bible Translation 3.0 – Mission Frontiers
A New Era in Bible Translation – Mission Frontiers
Bible Translation in the Digital Age – Mission Frontiers

Adventist Scholars Release a Modern Translation of the Bible in Russian
Adventist Review
Read the Bible in Russian on Bible Gateway

In the Beginning was the Word, Now on Display at Penn Museum
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Churches Participating in The Story Bible Education Program
Vail Daily
The Story is Improving Bible Literacy in Churches: An Interview with Shelley Leith

No Request Too Big or Too Small for Scripture Booklets
Mission Network News

No Country has a Complete Translation of the Bible in Sign Language
Mission Network News

Storytelling & Bible Engagement
Mission Network News
See the Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway

Nepalese People Receive Digital Bible After Disaster
American Bible Society
Read the Bible in Nepali on Bible Gateway

CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible

WWI Bible Returned to UK Family on Centenary of Battle Where It Was Lost
Gazette & Herald

For Centuries, This Book Sold 2nd Only to Bible
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Accolades for the New NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Click to browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

“…a magnificent achievement. The illustrations are stunning and the maps are expertly done. Most important, the content in both the articles and the commentary is superb. Every Bible reader and person in ministry should turn to it often for help.”
Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“This NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a tremendous tool for informed Bible reading and study. The notes are written by the best assembly I’ve seen of faithful, international scholars. I highly recommend this publication.”
Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Don Carson and the whole team deserve our congratulations. The notes and articles of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible are helpful, thorough, and readable, and the maps and artwork are beautiful. I am particularly grateful for the writers’ emphasis on Biblical Theology and the unity of the Bible.”
Paul R. House, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University

“This is a study Bible like no other! It’s not every study Bible that brings a layman-accessible seminary education with it, but this one surely does.”
Fred Zaspel, Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church in Franconia, PA and adjunct professor, Calvary Baptist Seminary

“The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a tremendous resource for both pastors and congregations. In this Study Bible, readers will find a library of resources available at their fingertips from the world’s best and most committed Evangelical scholars. The contributors to this volume have done the church a remarkable service. Let the NIV Zondervan Study Bible equip you for more faithful theological thinking and doctrinal integrity.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“With a treasure trove of fair-minded introductions to biblical books and themes, accessible verse-by-verse commentary by a stellar cast of experts, and a reliable series of articles on the gospel-shape of all Scripture, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a uniquely important resource to add to your collection.”
The Rev’d Dr. John P. Dickson, Founding Director, Centre for Public Christianity

“…it has precisely the kinds of helps a Bible reader would hope to find to aid one’s understanding and appreciation for what the Bible teaches. This study Bible has all the marks of greatness about it, both in its introductory articles and the accompanying notes, pictures, and graphs.”
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., President-Emeritus Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Click to browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway StoreThe New International Version of the Bible, the world’s most read and most trusted modern-English Bible translation, is now complemented by extensive study notes and resources designed and edited by general editor and The Gospel Coalition co-founder, D.A. Carson. The new NIV Zondervan Study Bible presents the best of evangelical biblical scholarship, appealing to a broad spectrum of Bible readers. Built from the ground up to reflect the most current 21st century scholarship, Dr. Carson—along with a team of over 60 contributors—crafted all-new study notes, book and section introductions, a library of articles, and other study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology—or the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through the Bible.

An added bonus when you purchase the NIV Zondervan Study Bible print edition: you’ll get a code to gain free digital access (a $19.99 value) to its comprehensive study notes, maps, charts, articles and more from your computer or mobile device through Bible Gateway and Olive Tree.

[See our blogpost: The Story of the Bible: How the Good News About Jesus Is Central.]

Click to browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

[See our blogpost: Read More Than One Bible Version Side-By-Side on Bible Gateway.]

The all-new study tools provided in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible support the project’s unique goal of “unpacking God’s story:”

  • first book-by-book
  • then as collections of biblical literature
  • and finally tracing the Bible’s complete witness to the gospel.

Click to browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible students from every walk of life will grow deeper in their understanding of Scripture as God’s story is unpacked by

  • nearly 20,000 new, comprehensive verse-by-verse study notes
  • a 4-color interior with over 60 informative charts
  • more than 90 maps
  • and hundreds of photos.

In addition, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible houses a library of 28 articles by award-winning scholars covering topics such as covenant, the Bible and theology, and love and grace, among others.

Releasing within the year-long NIV 50th anniversary celebration, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible reflects the vision that drove the commissioning of the original translation committee in 1965. Dr. Douglas Moo, assistant editor of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible and also the chair of the current Committee on Bible Translation—the governing body that oversees the NIV translation—agreed to commit the additional time to this project because, he says, “I am convinced a study Bible that focuses on putting the whole story of the Bible together is a vital resource for the people of God.”

[See our blogpost: Doug Moo’s Special Message on Bible Translation (Live Presentation from ETS 2014)]

For more information on the NIV’s anniversary celebration, visit (@NIVBible). Join the social media conversation with these hashtags: #NIV, #NIVBible, and #NIV50.

[Browse the Bible Gateway Store to see the many editions of New International Version Bibles.]

Under the guidance of Carson, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible also represents the work of associate editors Richard S. Hess, T.D. Alexander, Douglas J. Moo, and assistant editor Andrew David Naselli, as well as 60 additional contributors. Says Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, “This NIV Zondervan Study Bible is a tremendous tool for informed Bible reading and study. The notes are written by the best assembly I’ve seen of faithful, international scholars.” More information is available at

[Sign up to receive the free NIV (and other versions) Bible Verse-of-the-Day in your email inbox from Bible Gateway.]

[Download the free Bible Gateway App, on which is available the NIV and many other Bible versions.]

About Zondervan
Zondervan is a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, as part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, MI. For additional information, please visit

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. It’s a comprehensive undertaking of crafted study notes and tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scripture.

Poll: People Don’t Bring a Print Bible on Summer Vacation

Since the beginning of the summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), we’ve been asking Bible Gateway Blog readers to answer the question: “When do you read your Bible while on family vacation?” Surprisingly, the most selected answer (27%) by the more than 1,600 people responding is: “I don’t pack a Bible.”

This might mean that they don’t read the Bible at all while on vacation, or that they rely on a different source for Scripture—perhaps a Bible app (like the Bible Gateway App), Bible readings via email, or even a Gideons Bible in their hotel room.

The other answers selected in our poll are:

  • During family devotions (before the start of traveling each day) (23%)
  • Whenever I remember to (18%)
  • Other (15%)
  • In the car (any time daily while traveling) (9%)
  • Around the campfire (before bedtime) (6%)
  • Beside the pool (during an activity each day) (2%)

No matter how you read the Bible on vacation or elsewhere, we want to assist you in your objective of knowing God’s Word. One way is to use Bible Gateway’s many Bible Reading Plans that you can easily personalize to fit your own reading style and time schedule. Once you sign up, be sure to share what you read with your Facebook and Twitter followers, telling them about the options available on Bible Gateway.

[See results of our other Blog polls]

Our next Bible Gateway poll asks “Of the books of the Bible listed, which one is your favorite?” Cast your vote below.

Of the books of the Bible listed, which one is your favorite?

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