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The Swindoll Study Bible to Release In Early October

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

One of America’s best-loved and most respected pastors, Chuck Swindoll, partners with Tyndale to publish an insightful and practical study Bible

Tyndale House Publishers (@tyndalehouse) will release The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) (website) in October 2017. The fruit of pastor, teacher, and author Chuck Swindoll’s (@chuckswindoll) more than 50 years in ministry, The Swindoll Study Bible offers the best of Swindoll’s biblical wisdom, wit, charm, and practical insight that gets straight to the heart of the Bible’s transformational message for the world today.

[Hear the Bible Gateway Blog post, Searching the Scriptures: An Interview with Chuck Swindoll]

[Browse the more than 70 books by Charles Swindoll in the Bible Gateway Store]

“This study Bible was designed with the reader in mind,” says Swindoll. “As you read the Scriptures, imagine me sitting beside you and sharing personal stories, important insights, and hard-earned lessons that will encourage you to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.”

A lifelong desire to help people understand and apply God’s Word to their daily lives is the driving force behind The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT). Readers will find it the perfect complement to other study resources from Swindoll and other trusted authors.

“Based on recent conversations with Chuck, I think there are two words that really capture this Bible: relevance and practicality,” says Kevin O’Brien, Tyndale House study Bible and reference brand manager. “That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have scholarship or depth behind it! We often hear people say, ‘Well, this one is good for personal devotions and that one is good for serious study.’ My response is simple—if your devotions aren’t serious and your study isn’t personal, you’re doing it wrong. The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) really does help you do both.”

The Swindoll Study Bible (NLT) features include:

  • The clear, accurate New Living Translation: Chuck says, “When I am in the pulpit, the Bible I use is the New Living Translation. It is really a scholarly work, but it is readable.”
  • Living Insights include more than 1,600 study notes developed straight out of Chuck’s personal sermon notes.
  • Application Articles adapted from Chuck’s sermons include compelling stories, illustrations, and specific application points.
  • Holy Land Tour stops take readers on detailed excursions to significant biblical locations. It’s almost like touring the Holy Land with Chuck and his ministry team.
  • People Profiles explore illuminating lessons from figures in the biblical story that hit home with modern readers.
  • Prayer Moments feature heartfelt prayers from Chuck, asking God to help us live out the truths of his Word.
  • Book Introductions provide enlightening answers for five key questions that orient readers to essential details and themes for each book of the Bible.
  • Searching the Scriptures summarizes Chuck’s personal approach to Bible study and message preparation. Adapted from Chuck’s book of the same name, this article includes exercises to teach readers to prepare and serve their own nourishing spiritual meals.
  • Bible-reading plans, indexes, dictionary/concordance, and color maps help readers stay in the Word and better understand its context.

Swindoll says, “’How can I apply Scripture today?’ is a question more than any other that has fed my passion to publish this Bible. My primary focus in ministry has been preaching and teaching biblical insight for living; for genuine life change. After all, that’s why God communicated his Word to us—that we may become like his Son, Jesus Christ, the central figure of this book.”

About Charles Swindoll:
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the clear, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Consistently ranked as one of America’s best-loved and most respected pastors, he is highly influential, a 12-time Gold Medallion winner, and a bestselling author and contributor to more than 70 titles. His Insight for Living (@IFL_USA) radio program airs on more than 2,100 outlets around the world and in multiple languages.

Tyndale House Publishers:
Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of September 17, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

Most Church of England Christians Never Read the Bible, Survey Finds
The Telegraph
Read Bible Gateway Blog posts that introduce you to the Bible

illumiNations: An Audacious Goal for Bible Translation
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Organizations

Satan Clubs Dying and Good News Clubs Growing
Christian Newswire

The Number of Religious Congregations in the USA Has Increased by Almost 50,000 Since 1998
CT

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Charting the Bible Chronologically: An Interview with Dr. Ed Hindson

Dr. Ed Hindson

The Bible follows the rise and fall of kingdoms and governments, covers millennia of ancient history, and reveals God’s plan for humanity through powerful accounts that are still relevant today. How can having a panoramic view of the events recorded in Scripture help in your own study of the Bible?

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. Ed Hindson (@TheKingsComing2), who, along with Dr. Thomas Ice, is the author of Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan (Harvest House Publishers, 2016).

Thomas Ice

What do you mean when you say the biblical view of history is linear, unlike other worldviews?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Biblical history is real history: real people, real places, real events. It unfolds through real time from creation unto the eternal city. In other words, these are the “bookends” of the timeframe of the Bible. Other ancient views of time are cyclical—an endless series of repetitious cycles with no final culmination. The Bible begins with God’s creation and ends with his re-creation of the new heavens and new earth.

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

Why is it important to study the chronological data presented in the Bible?

Dr. Ed Hindson: The specific data of the biblical events helps us place those events in their original context. The Bible was written in real history not in the realm of mythology. Charting the Bible Chronologically helps the reader understand the order of the biblical events as they will occur in the future.

In your book’s master fold-out timeline, you’ve placed the date of creation to be 4004 BC. What convinces you of that?

Dr. Ed Hindson: By taking the dates of the genealogies literally, one arrives at that date for creation. Otherwise, we would have no way to even begin to compute the date of creation. All other suggested possibilities are mere guesswork.

How do you account for the Bible recording the average age of people before Noah’s flood to be around 930 years?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Long life spans before the flood were likely due to several factors, especially genetics and environment. The human genome had not yet broken down and the pre-flood environment was much less hostile for human existence. After the flood, the environment changed drastically and lifespans dropped accordingly.

Your book summarizes the Bible into seven categories. Please briefly describe them.

Dr. Ed Hindson: The Creation, The Flood, The Abrahamic Promise, The New Testament, The Fate of Israel, Growth of the Church, and Promise of the Future. These simply provide a general outline of biblical history from creation until the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the future. They give the reader a framework for understanding the Bible in its entirety.

How did the Bible come to be?

Dr. Ed Hindson: The Bible is a collection of 66 books in one volume. These were written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit over a period of 1500 years (from Moses to the Apostle John). Each book has its own unique message of the Bible. Both Jewish and Christian theologians accepted the individual books for canonicity based upon the criteria of their standards of “inspiration.”

What are the “divine institutions” you write about?

Dr. Ed Hindson: There are three institutions that God established before the Fall: 1) Responsible Dominion; 2) Marriage; 3) Family; and at least two after the Fall: 1) Civil Government; 2) National Diversity. These social responsibilities were given to all humankind either at creation or after the flood. Thus, the primary function of human government is to restrain evil so that the pre-Fall institutions can be successful.

What is dispensationalism and why is it controversial?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Dispensations are periods of time (stewardships) in which God dealt with humankind on the basis of his progressive revelation of divine truth. Therefore, dispensationalists view this progression as an essential context through which to interpret Scripture. Dispensational hermeneutics (interpretation) helps us understand how Jesus viewed the relationship of Israel to the church. As with many theological understandings, there are those who disagree and this results in controversy.

Explain the format of your book and how you hope it will impact readers.

Dr. Ed Hindson: The book is divided into historical periods with charts of the main biblical events (for example, patriarchs, judges, prophets, kings, apostles, etc.). These are supplemented with clear discussions of each time period. This enables the reader to move progressively through the Bible in chronological order.

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

Dr. Ed Hindson: Bible gateway is an incredible tool that opens the Bible to the mind of today’s reader in a multi-faceted way that makes the Bible come to life today.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Dr. Ed Hindson: Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the importance of Charting the Bible Chronologically.


Bio: Dr. Ed Hindson is the Distinguished Professor of Religion and Dean of the School of Divinity at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

He is the speaker on The King is Coming telecast and a Gold Medallion author, having written over 40 books including The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey, The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future, and The Gospel of Matthew: The King is Coming. He also served as general editor of the Gold Medallion award-winning Knowing Jesus Study Bible, The King James Study Bible, and the King James Bible Commentary, and is the co-editor of the 16-volume 21st Century Biblical Commentary Series.

An executive board member of the Hendley Foundation, Atlanta Georgia, he is also a Life Fellow of the International Biographical Association of Cambridge, England. Dr. Hindson holds earned degrees from several institutions: BA, William Tyndale College; MA, Trinity Graduate School; the Doctor of Theology (ThD) from Trinity Graduate School, The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) from the University of South Africa. He has done additional graduate study at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Dr. Hindson has served as a visiting lecturer at Oxford University and the Harvard Divinity School, as well as numerous evangelical seminaries including Dallas, Denver, Trinity, Grace, and Westminster. He has taught over 50,000 students in the classroom and another 50,000 online at Liberty University in the past 30 years. His solid academic scholarship, combined with a dynamic and practical teaching style, communicate biblical truth in a powerful and positive manner.

Ed and his wife Donna reside in Forest, VA and have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

Thomas Ice is director of the Pre-Trib Research Center and has authored and coauthored 30-plus books. He has a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD from Tyndale Theological Seminary, and lives in Texas.

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Rebel in the Ranks: How Martin Luther’s Reformation Changed Much More Than the Church

Martin LutherWhat do you think about when you consider the Protestant Reformation (which started 500 years ago this year)?

Most of us tend to picture Martin Luther nailing his famous “95 theses” to the wall of a Wittenberg church—an act of defiance that led to the Reformation and changed the religious landscape of Europe. In many churches and schools, Luther’s Reformation is taught and understood as a theological movement: a period of important change within the church, but of little concern outside it.

It’s certainly true that the Reformation was a theological movement, but it was also a political and cultural movement—and the changes wrought by the Reformation were not limited to within the Christian church. In his new book Rebel in the Ranks, Brad S. Gregory takes a close look at the actions and intentions of Martin Luther as he raised the standard of reform. Gregory sees Luther not just as the author of a theological movement, but as a man whose acts of defiance unleashed a cascade of political and social changes that quickly evolved beyond his control. And those changes define your world today, whether you’re Protestant, Catholic, non-Christian, or even an atheist.

Today, we take the concepts of religious freedom and diversity for granted. But for European Christians breaking away from the authority of the Catholic Church during the Reformation, these ideas were new and untested—and even frightening! Christians found that their theological views affected much more than just the choice of which church to attend. As Gregory notes,

Martin Luther

The early evangelical movement was a dynamic, diverse, and creative outpouring of Christian commitment in the cities and villages of central Europe. It turned out that the Word of God, liberated from the prescriptions of the Catholic Church, could be understood in many different ways. Different assertions and priorities followed—about the Church, political authorities, worship, the sacraments, and more—depending on how you understood scripture and the Spirit or whose interpretation of them you decided to follow. […] Inspired by God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, these different Protestant groups formed communities based on their competing interpretations of Scripture….

If religion had been just religion, these fissures might not have mattered too much. But in the sixteenth century religion was never just religion, so the ruptures and rifts made worlds of difference. Religion wasn’t separate from the exercise of power or one’s duties to others or the buying and selling of goods; it wasn’t separate from education or morality. It touched everything, which meant disagreements about it threatened to disrupt everything.

With the relative religious freedom sparked by the Reformation came political unrest that sometimes manifested in violence and war, as Europe’s Christian communities struggled to come to grips with the lack of a single unifying spiritual authority. And in a development that Luther would never have approved, the (often bloody) clashes between different Christian groups actually encouraged people to reduce the role of religion in civic life over time:

Because religion as more-than-religion proved to be so problematic in the Reformation era, religion therafter will begint o be circumscribed and restricted. It will begin to be separated fromt he many domains of human life it had previously informed, demoted to being just another part of life. Besides being redefined and narrowed in scope, religion will be refashioned as a matter of individual choice—another major modern innovation. The freedom of a Christian will come to include the freedom not to be a Christian—or a Jew or Muslim or member of any other religious tradition. Freedom of religion wil imply the potential for freedom from religion.

Rebel in the RanksThat the Reformation ultimately led to the decline of religious influence on civic life would have seemed a bitter irony to Luther and his peers. But whether you’re a Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, or Jew—or even if you’re not religious at all—we all owe our freedom to worship without coercion by a religious state to Martin Luther’s act of theological defiance 500 years ago.

This fall, as we reflect on the contributions of the Protestant Reformers and the movements they created, it’s worth looking for their influence not just within the walls of the church, but in the “secular” cultures and societies where we live and worship freely. It’s an imperfect world, to be sure; and today we continue to discuss and debate the appropriate place of religion in public life. But that we can have these debates at all is partly because of the long-term changes the Reformation inspired.

If this take on Luther and his revolution sounds interesting to you, you can read much more in Brad S. Gregory’s Rebel in the Ranks. If you’ve always looked at Luther as a figure of merely theological importance, this book will challenge you to expand your appreciation for both Luther and movement he ignited.

Redeeming the Feminine Soul: An Interview with Julie Roys

Julie RoysWhat is the scriptural vision for godly womanhood and manhood? How should the feminine soul be biblically nurtured? What is the clarity between feminist and fundamentalist?

Bible Gateway interviewed Julie Roys (@reachjulieroys) about her book, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Buy your copy of Redeeming the Feminine Soul in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

How do feminine souls and masculine souls differ?

Julie Roys: For years, I didn’t think they did. I was a quintessential tomboy growing up and loved playing sports and competing against boys. I also loved debating issues and sparring intellectually. I was a Christian and believed God had created men and women for unique purposes, but I had trouble figuring out what those purposes were. Other than our anatomy, it seemed like women and men were pretty much the same—at least when considering people like me who never really fit a gender stereotype.

Then God allowed me to go through a very painful experience that showed me I was far more feminine than I ever would have imagined. I realized that I had a strong craving for relationship and intimacy—and when I didn’t get it, I resorted to a stereotypically feminine way of trying to get it.

This experience sparked a spiritual, emotional, and intellectual journey that eventually led me to see that women embody nurture and relational connectedness in a way that’s unique to them. Conversely, men embody initiation and strength in a way that’s unique to them. This is revealed in numerous Scriptures, but perhaps most explicitly in the gender-specific curses in Genesis 3. God causes women to experience pain in childbirth, and men to be frustrated as they work and try to take dominion over nature. Yet, neither women nor men fit neatly into the gendered caricatures the church often communicates to them. We’re far more complex than that.

You write that women are destroying themselves. How so?

Julie Roys: Many women have been wounded, dismissed, or even abused simply because they’re women. In addition, our culture values masculine virtues like strength and power over feminine ones like compassion and empathy. So it’s not surprising that many women are rejecting anything that’s uniquely feminine about themselves and instead becoming, as feminist icon Gloria Steinem once wrote, “the men we wanted to marry.”

The problem is that God didn’t make women to be men. And becoming like them requires us to die to something essential within ourselves. Yet that’s precisely what’s happening today. Many women have traded motherhood for jobs in the marketplace. We’re serving in combat positions in the military. And we’re even competing in sports like weightlifting, wrestling, and boxing in the Olympics. These changes supposedly represent progress, yet studies show we’re less happy than ever before. Unfortunately, we’ve lost sight of who God made us to be, and have adopted the perverse values of our misogynistic culture. And it’s making us miserable.

How has the theologically conservative Christian church become a “boys’ club”?

Julie Roys: I don’t think conservative churches intend to be a boys’ club. But when churches exclude women from full participation in the church, that’s what often happens. Men take all the main leadership roles in the church, and it often never occurs to them that women possess certain gifts and should be invited to contribute in significant ways.

Of course, many male leaders don’t allow women to serve in certain capacities because they believe Scripture advocates specific, rigid roles for each gender. While these roles have validity, the church unfortunately has become rather myopic, focusing almost obsessively on sex roles while missing the greater and grander vision of why God created gender in the first place. As I say in Redeeming the Feminine Soul, conservatives often miss the forest for the trees. On the other hand, feminists have razed the entire forest!

How is understanding what male and female symbolize critical for understanding God and his purposes?

Julie Roys: God created male and female/husband and wife to serve as spiritual symbols, revealing deep truths about himself and the way he relates to his church. Theologians have long taught that God designed the one-flesh union of Adam and Eve in Gen. 2:24 to be a symbol of the Trinity, showing how multiple persons exist in a life-giving union of love and mutuality. Then, in Ephesians 5, we learn that Christ’s church is invited to share in this Trinitarian union. We’re his bride and he’s our bridegroom. We become one with him as he’s one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This is the greater and grander purpose of gender and sexuality, and if we miss this symbolic meaning, we lose our ability to comprehend God and our relationship with him. As Pope John Paul II once said, marriage and family are the bookends of Scripture and key to interpreting what’s in between. Scripture begins with the wedding of Adam and Eve and ends with the wedding feast of Christ and his bride, the church. Gender and sexuality encompass much more than designated roles or procreation. That’s likely why they’re being fiercely attacked today.

Unpack your chapter titled “A Man in Every Woman and a Woman in Every Man.”

Julie Roys: C. S. Lewis once wrote, “There ought spiritually to be a man in every woman and a woman in every man. And how horrid the ones who haven’t got it are: I can’t bear a ‘man’s man’ or a ‘woman’s woman.’” By this, Lewis wasn’t advocating for androgyny or gender ambiguity. Men should still be masculine and women should still be feminine. But Genesis 1:27 tells us that we were made in God’s image, “male and female.” So there seems to be something about masculinity and femininity that reflect God’s image. And since God apparently possesses both characteristics, we who are made in his image should likewise possess both masculine and feminine in a degree appropriate to our particular sex.

A woman who possesses only feminine characteristics is sickly passive and unable to act or say no. A man who possesses only masculine characteristics is warlike and incapable of empathy. Rather than promoting overly masculine visions of manhood and overly feminine visions of womanhood, the church should teach that healthy men and women contain a balance of both qualities. This is a much healthier vision for men and women than the reductionist visions so prevalent in many churches.

How should a woman pursue God’s design for the feminine ideal?

Julie Roys: I don’t think we should pursue a feminine ideal. For one, the feminine ideal presented in many churches isn’t biblical, but simply a uni-dimensional feminine caricature. Plus, trying to force ourselves into a certain mold often just makes us depressed, exhausted, and angry. It’s like pounding a square peg into a round hole.

That being said, there’s no doubt that many of us have been shaped by our culture in false and unhealthy ways. Yet rather than trying to pursue an ideal, we need to pursue Christ and personal transformation. We need to identify wrong attitudes and beliefs about our own gender, and confess them. We need to accept our limitations and agree to be the women God has made us to be. We need to seek healing and maturity. If we do this, we’ll eventually become, not some idealized woman, but an authentic, healthy, and godly one.

What’s a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Julie Roys: I have two passages, but their meanings are similar. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Similarly, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Both speak of this wonderful promise of Scripture that we can shed our broken, sinful selves and become glorious creations, reflecting Christ himself. The last chapter of my book is titled, “The Glorious Becoming,” and talks about the transformation I’ve experienced as I’ve followed Jesus over my lifetime. I never could’ve become the woman God created me to be without God’s transformative power.

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

Julie Roys: I love Bible Gateway and use it constantly! It’s the best resource for finding Bible passages using a keyword, and also for finding the best translation for a given verse. In fact, the two verses I quoted earlier are from the ESV and the NIV. I love that I can go to biblegateway.com and instantly read multiple translations of a given verse. I don’t know what I’d do without it!


Bio: Julie Roys is host of Up for Debate, a popular talk show on the Moody Radio Network, which is carried on more than 140 stations, reaching a potential audience of more than 33 million listeners. The author of Redeeming the Feminine Soul and a graduate of both Wheaton College and the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she is respected for her ability to tackle difficult conversations with both courage and fairness. Her work has appeared in World magazine, Christianity Today, and the Christian Post. She also is a sought-after speaker at mega-churches, conferences, and special events. Julie and her husband live in the Chicago area and have three children.

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The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Is Now Available in the NIV

Buy your copy of The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

During his many years of ministry, renowned pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley has diligently highlighted the 30 Life Principles that have guided him and helped him to grow in his knowledge, service, and love of God.

In The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible (website), readers can explore each of these principles in depth, learning how to make them a part of everyday life. Readers will find answers to life’s tough questions, practical examples, book introductions, passages for study and reflection, and key truths for discussion, prayer, and Christian living. Hundreds of God’s promises are highlighted throughout the Bible text.

Buy your copy of The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayNow featuring the easy-to-read NIV translation, this Bible will help readers grow in their relationship to God and equip them for the future God has planned for them.

The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible is also available in the New King James Version and the New American Standard Bible translations.

“Dr. Stanley has ministered to so many people through the best-selling Life Principles Bible, with its unique features designed to lead believers into a life-changing relationship with Jesus,” says Daniel Marrs, associate publisher for Thomas Nelson Bibles. “We’re thrilled to partner with Dr. Stanley and In Touch Ministries on this edition in the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version translation to reach even more readers.”

Buy your copy of The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NASB in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NIV is available in several bindings: hardcover, and imitation leather (black, burgundy, green/black, and indexed or non-indexed).

About Charles F. Stanley:
Charles F. Stanley is the founder of In Touch Ministries and a New York Times bestselling author. While his teaching is transmitted throughout the world to millions of people, Dr. Stanley has been said to demonstrate a practical, keen awareness of people’s needs and to provide Christ-centered, biblically-based principles for everyday life.

Dr. Stanley’s motivation is best represented by the truth found in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” This is because, as he says, “It is the Word of God and the work of God that changes people’s lives.”

About In Touch Ministries:
In Touch Ministries was founded by Dr. Stanley in 1977. Its mission is to lead people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to strengthen the local church. It remains committed to advancing the gospel from person to person and place to place as quickly, clearly, and irresistibly as possible.

Today, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley can be heard around the world via radio and television broadcasts, podcasts, the handheld In Touch Ministries Messenger, In Touch Apps, and on the Web. Their programs are seen and heard around the world on more than 2,600 radio and television outlets in more than 50 languages. In addition to broadcasting, the ministry produces books, studies, discipleship resources, and the award-winning In Touch magazine.

About Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson) is a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years. As part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the publishing group provides multiple formats of award-winning Bibles, books, gift books, cookbooks, curriculum and digital content, with distribution of its products in more than 100 countries. Thomas Nelson, is headquartered in Nashville, TN. For additional information visit thomasnelson.com.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of September 10, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Is Now Available in the NIV
Bible Gateway Blog

Report: Hostility to Religion in America is Growing
CBN News

Mounds, Oklahoma Police Chief Slammed by ACLU Over Bible Posts
KTUL News

91-Year-Old WWII Veteran Reunited With Bible
KPLC-TV

Original Copy of Gutenberg Bible on First Ever Display in Minsk
BelTA News Agency
Read the Bible in Russian on Bible Gateway

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Did You Know That God is Missing From One Book in the Bible?

You’d think that the Author of the most famous book of all time would take center stage on every single page, from Genesis to Revelation. Remarkably, he doesn’t!

Did you know that mention of God is completely missing from one book in the Bible?

True story! The book of Esther—an often-overlooked book nestled between the better-known books of Nehemiah and Job—makes zero mention of him. No Lord, no God; he’s completely absent!

Or is he?

Esther’s story shows us that even when God seems absent and totally missing from life, he isn’t.

The Story Behind God’s MIA Status

So what’s the deal with the book of Esther? Why does God seem to be missing in action? Let’s begin with a look at the backstory of this fascinating book of the Bible.

EstherThe story of Esther is set in Susa (modern-day Iran). A century before Esther’s story begins, the Jews had been exiled from Judah and Jerusalem when Babylon sacked their cities in 586 BC. A few decades later, Babylon had been conquered in turn by Cyrus, king of Persia, who later released the Jewish exiles and encouraged them to return to their homeland.

Both events—exile and then restoration—were pivotal moments in Jewish history, shaping Israel for generations. Up until this point, the Jews had enjoyed a long, glorious, and prosperous history as God’s people—they’d been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, adopted as the Lord’s chosen people through a covenantal relationship, and given their own land in promise. A glorious temple in Jerusalem symbolized their prosperity.

The destruction of that temple and the exile under pagan superpowers brought a bitter end to this long period of glory and prosperity. This calamity was God’s judgment on their wickedness—a judgment he’d warned about generations earlier when he established his covenant with them:

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you…. Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. — Deuteronomy 28:15,64 (NIV)

And yet, despite this warning, despite his judgment, and despite his seeming absence—God wasn’t through with his people.

Where Is God? What Is He Up to?

Esther’s story begins when King Xerxes hosts a banquet for the royal and military leaders of Persia and Media. During the festivities, the king’s wife snubs him—so he hosts a beauty contest to have her replaced.

Guess who happens to win the Xerxes’ affections? A young Jewish woman by the name of Esther—although at the urging of her uncle Morecai, she carefully hides her family background and nationality. The plot thickens when Mordecai hears of a plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children” (3:13).

But how could this be? Didn’t God promise that his people would be as numerous as the stars, and their kingdom would endure forever? Where was God, what was he up to?

One commentator on this story calls out the “genius” of God’s complete absence, noting that the author of the book of Esther seems to almost deliberately avoid mentioning him. The story is a microcosm of the larger Jewish one at the time, when they would have been asking themselves, “Are we still God’s people? Are we still in relationship with him?”

We find the answer to this question in a tiny, seemingly insignificant detail of the story.

One Tiny Detail, One Big God

The main antagonist of the story is one bad dude named Haman. He’s the one who wanted to wipe out God’s people—simply because Mordecai refused to kneel down before him and pay him honor.

Now, there’s a two-word descriptive detail mentioned in chapter 3—and it’s an important one: Haman is described as “the Agagite.” Most readers move right past this piece of information, missing its significance. Yet in many ways the story hinges on it!

Mordecai's triumphThe word “Agagite”—meaning a descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites—provides a link between the plight of the exiled Jews and the ancient covenant God made with their ancestors at Sinai (back in the book of Exodus). These the Amalekites had the distinction of being the first people who attacked Israel on their way to the Promised Land. God said to Moses that Israel would be at war with these people for generations until the Lord blotted out their name.

And here is a descendant of these ancient people squaring off with Israel again! Haman seems to have the upper hand; will he finally wipe them out? He convinces the king to issue an edict to permit the destruction of God’s people.

While all hope seemed lost for Israel, Mordecai recognized that God was still in control—for he believed God had strategically placed Esther in the king’s court for this moment:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”Esther 4:12–14 (NIV)

In a remarkable reversal, it was Haman who was wiped out—all because God used one of his own to save his people.

God Is Here and Is Not Silent

God answered his people’s groaning and questions. He also fulfilled his promises—not with miraculous intervention, but through very ordinary means. The story is a striking biblical statement on the providence of God—the way God moves through history invisibly, yet deliberately, to bring about his will, benefit his people, and glorify his name.

You know what? He still does!

Though God may seem missing from your own story, you can be sure that he is working behind the scenes to provide relief and deliverance. Through seemingly normal and everyday events, God still fulfills his covenantal promises.

He is neither absent nor silent in your story!

The Sacred Enneagram: An Interview with Christopher L. Heuertz

Christopher L. HeuertzWhat is the Enneagram and how is it a sacred map to the soul? How does it cut through our internal clutter and help us find our way back to God and to our true identity as God created us?

Bible Gateway interviewed Christopher L. Heuertz (@ChrisHeuertz) about his book, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan, 2017).

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What is the Enneagram?

Christopher L. Heuertz: The Enneagram is often misunderstood as a personality tool to describe quirks and traits of people’s individuality, however the Enneagram goes much further than mere caricatures. The Enneagram is a character-structure system that illustrates the nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, nine ways we learn to come clean about the illusions we live in, and nine ways we find our way back to God.

It explains the “why” of how we think, act, and feel. It helps us come to terms with our gifts as well as the addictive patterns that tether us to our greatest interpersonal, spiritual, and emotional challenges.

It shows us our defense mechanisms and all the ways we attempt to fortify our illusions about ourselves.
A compassionate sketch of possibilities, the Enneagram is fundamentally less about nine types of people and more about nine ways we return to God and our true selves.

Ultimately the Enneagram is about excavating essence. Rather than it being a tool for self-absorption, the Enneagram is a tool for self-liberation.

The Enneagram invites us to deeper self-awareness as a doorway to spiritual growth.

What is the difference between a person’s type and temperament?

Christopher L. Heuertz: Temperament is an aspect of our Enneagram type, but it’s just one fragment that makes up the whole of who we are. For example, some of us draw energy from being around other people as extroverts, while others draw energy from solitude as introverts. Unlike our types, our temperament is may change as we mature. For example it’s not uncommon for extremely extroverted people to move toward introversion later in life. Our natural slant toward optimism or pessimism is another example of temperament. These traits often fluctuate depending on our frame of mind, the kind of company we keep, or the phases of life we cycle through.

Unlike temperament, our dominant Enneagram type stays with us throughout our lives; type does not change.

How does a person map his or her Enneagram type?

Christopher L. Heuertz: When attempting to determine your type, the most popular approach is taking one of numerous Enneagram tests. Many free Enneagram tests are available online, and most of them are a suitable start to exploring what your type might be. However, if an online test is your preferred method of typing, I’d suggest paying for the Enneagram Institute’s RHETI test because it’s widely regarded as the most accurate, thorough, and time-tested.

A second approach to determining your type is meeting with someone trained in conducting Enneagram-typing process interviews.

Finally, most experts agree that if you’re honest with yourself and courageous enough, then merely reading the descriptions of each of the nine types will be a sufficient method for determining your type. As you read through the materials, the type you feel most exposed by or most uncomfortable with is usually the one that ends up being yours. Doing your own research requires a level of maturity that assumes self-awareness and truthfulness.

How is our personality the “mask we wear”?

Christopher L. Heuertz: The English word personality is derived from the Latin word for mask. Simply put, our personality is the mask we wear. Taking off that mask, trying to get behind the mask, is the work of the spiritual journey.

How is taking off that mask the “work of our spiritual journey”?

Christopher L. Heuertz: A mark of spiritual growth is when we stop polishing the mask and instead start working on our character behind the mask. The Enneagram helps us do that work. The English word character comes from the Greek word meaning engraving into stone. And that’s what we’re trying to do here with the help of the Enneagram—to chip away at our being, like the most talented of sculptors, and reveal our soul’s essence in its purest form.

Awakening to what the Enneagram exposes within us often leads to an urgent unmasking of our false identity. A contemplative approach to the Enneagram, centered in prayer, allows for discernment to develop as we learn to better listen to the voice of God. We soon realize that contrary to pop psychology, personality is not fixed. Spiritual growth is the result of exposing the masks or illusions of personality and getting to the core of our created identity. The Enneagram supports this inner work.

Explain your statement, “We live unawakened lives marked by self-perpetuating lies about who we think we are.”

Christopher L. Heuertz: Who we think we are can be confused by parts of our story that we over-identify with or refuse to face altogether. Often we allow one piece of our story, for better or for worse, to lay claim to the whole of our identity.

We overidentify with the fragments we think are most attractive, the parts of our stories that seem most successful. This fragmentation keeps our shadow in the dark, out of sight and out of mind, yet always capable of sneaking up on us.

A contemplative approach to the Enneagram invites us to resist the reductionism of inner fragmentation; to realize we aren’t as bad as our worst moments or as good as our greatest successes—but that we’re far better than we can imagine and carry the potential to be far worse than we fear. Father Richard Rohr, one of my mentors who has taught me much about the Enneagram, once told me, “To cast great light in the world also requires a long shadow.” Both belong. If we think we can run from the shadow, we’re sorely mistaken; it’s always with us. Facing the whole of ourselves rescinds the permission we give to the fragments to lay claim to the whole of our identity.

How does the Enneagram assist in a person carrying out the greatest commandments of loving God with all our “heart, soul, mind, and strength” and loving others?

Christopher L. Heuertz: Waking up takes place when we stop fueling our own self-preoccupation and allow self-realization to serve as an invitation to deep union with ourselves and God, which naturally leads to solidarity with others.

Fundamentally, this is at the heart of our Christian faith tradition: that God is love, and in consenting to silence and the self-reflection the Enneagram initiates, we allow Love to wash over us, inviting us into a “new we,” a new kind of community that affirms the divine imprint in all humanity.

What do you want your book to achieve in those who read it?

Christopher L. Heuertz: We know this: if we can’t self-observe, then we can’t self-correct. The Sacred Enneagram helps us self-observe and tell the truth about who we really are coming clean from our delusions and illusions, so that we can live from our authentic identity.

For the past four to five years I’ve been working on the ideas contained within the pages of The Sacred Enneagram and after two long years working on this book it’s now ready to be shared. In its pages you’ll not only learn what the Enneagram is and where it’s come from, but specifically you’ll learn how to pray with your type, how to use what the Enneagram teaches you about yourself so that you can apply that to your own spiritual formation. Learning to see ourselves for who we really are is a gift of grace. The Enneagram helps us navigate this gift.


Bio: Christopher L. Heuertz has spent his life bearing witness to the possibility of hope in a world that has legitimate reasons to question God’s goodness.

Chris is an author, speaker, Enneagram coach, non-profit consultant, and anti-human trafficking activist. After graduating from college, Heuertz moved to India, where Mother Teresa mentored him for three years. There he helped launch South Asia’s first pediatric AIDS care home. For 20 years, Heuertz served with working for women and children trafficked into the commercial sex industry.

Heuertz serves on the board of several nonprofits, and in 2012 he and his wife, Phileena, started Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism. He’s the author of several books, including The Sacred Enneagram, Simple Spirituality, Friendship at the Margins, and Unexpected Gifts. Join @ChrisHeuertz on Twitter in his adventures to love on the margins.

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Pushing Through My Season of Suffering

Andrea Logan WhiteBy Andrea Logan White

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
JOHN 19:30

I began to write Perfectly Unfinished while thrown into a season of suffering unlike any I had ever faced. David and I had unexpectedly lost two very precious loved ones within just a few months of the release of God’s Not Dead. Only four months before its release, David’s mother died suddenly. Then our beloved Pure Flix partner and mentor Russell Wolfe, producer of God’s Not Dead, succumbed to ALS at age fifty, just two months after the movie’s release. We had been so sure that God was going to heal him on earth, yet he took him to heaven instead. Heartrending. These sudden losses at a time when we were celebrating God’s surprise gift of such success stirred the still lingering grief over two others who had been taken in their prime just a few years before. David’s dad had died tragically seven years earlier, meaning that neither of his sweet parents who had served the Lord as Mennonite pastors ever got to witness the success of their son’s movie. And David’s cousin, only nineteen years old and very close to us, died tragically in his sleep a mere four years ago.

On top of the deep grief both David and I experienced, I’ve been suffering the past few years with relentless physical ailments and have been diagnosed with several frightening, vague, and elusive illnesses: fibromyalgia, acute migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, a genetic disease called porphyria, Lyme disease, and a condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), in which the resting heart rate is very high and blood pressure extremely low, causing one to faint. Housebound for three months with this condition when I started writing my book, I had fears of dying and leaving my precious children motherless. And though I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on mainstream medicine, chiropractors, herbalists, and endless other medical options, I’ve had adverse reactions to more treatments and medications than I can count.

In light of these overwhelming symptoms, I’ve been striving to find a healthy balance of rest, nutrition, physical care, stress care, therapies, medications, tests and more tests, research, and of first and foremost, the Word of God and prayer, only to have to confess I haven’t been able to find anything close to the healthy balance of such things. This has left me deeply discouraged.

In the year of writing my book, at times I’ve been too ill to drive, been unable to walk, lost vision in one eye temporarily, and even been completely bedridden at times. So I turned to some well-loved sermons from preachers of the gospel, but came up disappointed in my lack of faith. The apostle Paul writes, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV). But truth be told, when I literally could not walk, I was filled with panic, not faith.

Honesty and transparency start to get a little scary at this point, and I’m all too aware that this next confession is going to earn me some less than affirming mail from some, but the reality is that more than once, as I sat in the emergency room, Scripture did not comfort me at all. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” but that wasn’t true of me, even though I wanted it to be. I didn’t have a sense of confidence or assurance at all. I had doubts of God’s love. I had heart-racing fear—and lots of it.

I often sat there completely alone (David was at home with the kids), and I did not have joy in the midst of suffering. I wanted to know why I was suffering so badly. I saw no signs of heavenly mercy.

Well, except for one thing. I met people there. People who were also in pain or fear or despair. I’m the kind of person who tends to strike up conversations. For instance, there was an older gentleman who just needed to have someone listen to his laundry list of medical issues. Making him laugh and finding a few things in common about our experiences relaxed him as he waited. And there was a young mom with her little boy in the ER one day. Her wide eyes and shaking voice told me her fear was powerful. Her little boy lay limp on her shoulder, hair plastered with sweat to his forehead. We talked about kids and how hard it is to watch them suffer. How frightened we get. We both felt less alone. And then there was a teenage girl in an office all by herself. I guessed why she was there alone and stepped in to be the calming adult for a few minutes while she waited to see a doctor.

I may be exposing myself as a little dense here, but it took me a few times (not that I recommend making the ER a habitual destination) before I caught on to the fact that I was seeing heavenly mercy at work in those conversations, but it didn’t look like the kind of mercy for which I’d been pleading. Our God is most unpredictable.

At least one of our children has been ill every single week for over seven months. Between them and me, we’ve been in and out of emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and blood-drawing labs more times than I want to count. I’ve prayed the verse “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5), yet have found myself disappointed that illness, rather than healing, seems to dominate our home. I’ve prayed, spoken the Word of God, repented, rebuked, and had others pray for us—yet the onslaught of illnesses continues.

I know full well that countless people are dealing with far worse, and they would gladly accept my little list of woes in exchange for their own devastating circumstances. Terminal illness. A marriage falling apart. A son or daughter maimed in combat. A loved one arrested. An injury suffered. Victimization by some violent act. The list goes on and on. The last thing any of us need is a “who’s got it worse” comparison, for there is always someone who does have it worse!

So here’s the challenge I’ve been facing. While working on my book, these struggles have seemed all-consuming to me. In recent months, faced with one painful circumstance after another, I’ve been genuinely surprised (and downright discouraged) to discover how often I feel just as lost, just as anxious, just as insecure, just as unqualified, and just as frustrated as I did at 2:00 a.m. one morning as I watched my son Everson’s temperature climb—hands shaking, heart pounding. But I kept hiding it all under the veneer of the “successful” Christian life, whatever that means. I admit it: I’ve been profoundly disappointed in my spiritual responses and lack of knowing or comfort from God in my travails of life.

I don’t know how this season of trial is going to end, or if it will end. Will it end in deliverance? Healing? Or more suffering? When I get to the end of this period, will I hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” reverberating over the loudspeaker? (That seems highly unlikely, given how I’ve been struggling. How could I deserve the words “well done”?) Or will I come up terribly short? (I feel like I already have!)

Will I be cut from the part I am playing in God’s story? (Isn’t that what I deserve?) Fired? Blacklisted? Surely there are far more qualified people to write a message—spiritual grown-ups—rather than the uncertain child I feel myself to be these days.

It’s not that I hadn’t expected more trials and difficulties. I get it that those are always a part of life on this earth. But I did not expect my responses to result in the same old struggles.

As I see it, feeling as confused and defeated as I have been, I had a choice to make about my book. Either I would choose not to write it, or I would push through it anyway and see where God took me. I’ve pushed through storm after storm ever since I’ve been saved. How do I stay close to God through such things? Where has this series of storms been coming from? Where will it lead?

I only know that quitting would ensure my defeat. Pushing through at least holds some possibility of my discovering the truth God wants me to know. So the book I’ve actually written is quite different from the one I’d planned to write. Because I’ve decided that rather than write from what I’ve already learned, I will write instead from what I’m struggling to discover. Rather than writing from victory, I’m writing from the battlefield, exposing where I’m defenseless.

Why? Because pretending I’m living in victory when I’m not will just lead me deeper into defeat. Life is hard, and I despise the veneer of faith-talk portraying that life is all good when much of it is quite bad. I can’t stand frauds, so sometimes I’m so real that I walk away from conversations, thinking, Hmm, why did I just share that? I’ve been told by some that I am way too transparent. But I believe, humbly, that not pretending and being honest are gifts God has given me to help others. We truly heal from each other’s stories. We can connect with each other when we confess our unanswered questions and weaknesses.

We are defenseless against our enemy if we are living a lie.

There is much I do not know, but of this I am sure: I cannot win this battle alone. I’ve done it alone—did it for years, in fact—to disastrous results.

I’m not going back to alone!

I’m going forward with Jesus.

And I will tell you why. Because at the risk of sounding like an old hymn, I once was lost. Wholly, desperately, devastatingly lost. I’d lived my life my way with no personal connection whatsoever to the God of the universe—the God who made me. And when finally, at the end of myself, I cried out in desperation, “God, if you’re really there, show yourself to me”—he did. Dramatically. Personally. On the spot.

And then he began to change me.

I take comfort in this: I know I’m not the only one on this battlefield. There are legions of us who are Christians, who love God, who follow Jesus, yet who, when brutally honest with ourselves, limp along and falter with our wounds and with the shortcomings and limits of our faith. But we try to hide it. We smile and say we are fine when we are anything but.

Simply put, even though I understand the principle that God is the finisher of my faith, I’m not as “finished” as I believe I “should be” by now.

So I decided to see what God has to say about being finished.

And since not knowing how the scene finally ends tends to cause us the most angst, I’m looking at the ultimate final scene. Jesus, hanging on the cross in the midst of an agonizing and torturous death, spoke three final words before he breathed his last: It is finished. Jesus finished his work. Speaking words so critically important that he chose to declare them as his final words from the cross.

We may not yet have a clear understanding of what “it is finished” means for us and our struggle. I don’t yet. But we do know that Jesus declared it to be so. So let’s agree that we will struggle together to discover the power these words can have in our lives today.

________

Perfectly UnfinishedAdapted from Perfectly Unfinished: Finding Beauty in the Midst of Brokenness by Andrea Logan White. Click here to learn more about this title.

Andrea Logan White appeared to be living the “American dream” or what many would call a “perfect life.” However, underneath the happy veneer of the model, actress, and producer, was a subtle, caustic voice leading to emptiness and self-destruction. She was being crushed under the weight of her own drive for “perfection.” Andrea’s remarkable (and often tabloid-worthy) journey that took her from hanging out in the Playboy mansion to finding God at a stop light on Hollywood Boulevard is a page-turner, but it is not the whole story.

Even discovering Jesus, finding an amazing husband, having beautiful children, and embarking on an exciting career didn’t hold the “happily ever after” Hollywood ending Andrea had envisioned. No matter how successful, how spiritual, how loved, she was still enslaved by a lie the Enemy uses against many of us: she felt she needed to be “perfect” to be accepted by herself, by others, and by God.

Andrea shares her struggle with life-threatening eating disorders and self-defeating thought patterns, and she reveals the beautiful discovery that God’s love meets us not in our perfection, but in the most unfinished places of our life. In Perfectly Unfinished, Andrea exposes the powerful truth that continues to change her life: God loves us just as we are, just where we are; for it is in the midst of our brokenness and imperfections that Jesus is at work completing us so that we may share fully in his holiness.

Andrea Logan White is a wife, mother, actress, and co-owner of Pure Flix Entertainment. Andrea starred in Sony Pictures’ Mom’s Night Out, and she produces films, develops scripts, pursues her acting career, speaks at conferences and churches, and shares encouragement on her blog. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David A.R. White, and their three children.