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Bible News Roundup – Week of October 18, 2015

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Zondervan Academic and BibleMesh Collaborate to Offer Online Distance Learning Courses
News release

A Tribute to My Friend John Kohlenberger by Randy Alcorn
eternal perspective ministries
A Tribute to John R. Kohlenberger III: Guest Post by Dr. Stan Gundry

Record Number of Bibles Distributed by Bible Societies in 2014
United Bible Societies
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Wycliffe Associates Seeks to Expand to 500 Languages Next Year Using New Methodology
Wycliffe Associates

South Africa: Publication of First Children’s Bible in Local Language of isiZulu
Vatican Radio
See children’s Bibles in the Bible Gateway Store

90 Days of Prayer for the Bible-less Oct. 1 – Dec. 31
International Orality Network
See the Bible in 90 Days reading plan on Bible Gateway

Died: Bob Pierce’s and Billy Graham’s Bible Translator to India
Christianity Today

Rare 1631 ‘Sinners’ Bible’ to be Auctioned; Typo Omits “Not” from Adultery Command
Read the Ten Commandments on Bible Gateway

World Missionary Press Celebrates 54 Years Distributing New Testaments in 210 Countries
The Goshen News

“The Bible Is an Extremely Dangerous Book,” Pope Tells Young People
See Catholic Resources in the Bible Gateway Store

Large Canadian Churches Draw an Estimated 300,000 Worshippers Each Week

New York Says Farewell to American Bible Society and Its Building
The New York Times

Do Secular Americans Secretly Pine for Religion?
The Week

Country Music Star Scotty McCreery Freely Expresses his Christian Faith
FOX News
Country Music Star Scotty McCreery Set to Publish Debut Book with Zondervan

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Celebrate Your Pastor During Clergy Appreciation Month

Does your pastor or minister know you appreciate them? Now’s your chance to let them know: October is Clergy Appreciation Month, when churchgoers are encouraged to give thanks for their pastors, ministers, and leaders. (And yes, Hallmark has cards for it…)

It’s easy to take your pastor for granted, not noticing (or bothering to find out) the amount of work that goes into their everyday ministry. Pastors don’t “just” prepare sermons and lead worship services—they visit the sick, counsel the struggling, take the lead point on countless church ministries, and in many cases manage a staff and tend to the countless little details that keep your church running smoothly. Not to mention graciously listening to complaints about the length of their sermons, the choice of worship music, and the type of coffee served following the worship service!

Even when they don’t realize it, people place very high expectations on their leaders. And that’s not entirely inappropriate—the Bible also sets the bar very high for people called to the ministry. Read this quote from pastor and writer A.W. Tozer on the burden of responsibility pastors must bear… and consider what it would be like if these expectations were added to your job description:

“What a great responsibility God has laid upon us preachers of His gospel and teachers of His Word. In that future day when God’s wrath is poured out, how are we going to answer? How am I going to answer? I fear there is much we are doing in the name of the Christian church that is wood, hay and stubble destined to be burned up in God’s refining fire. A day is coming when I and my fellow ministers must give account of our stewardship: What kind of a gospel did we preach? Did we make it plain that men and women who are apart from Christ Jesus are lost? Did we counsel them to repent and believe?” —A.W. Tozer, “Pastoral Ministry: What a Great Responsibility!”

Yikes! That’s a heavy burden for one person to bear, which is why this month is a great time to express your gratitude to, and support for, the pastors and church leaders in your life. Maybe that means stopping by your pastor’s office with coffee and a word of encouragement, or looking for ways to ease the pastoral workload by volunteering at your church, or stepping in to help your pastor’s family through a financial or other struggle, or extending extra grace when your pastor says or does something you don’t like.

Commit this month to encouraging your pastor in some concrete manner, perhaps with one of those ideas or in some other appropriate way. To help you get in the right spirit, here are a few links and resources to read through:

I quoted A.W. Tozer above, and it seems fitting to wrap this post up with another quote from him—this time, a serious and sincere prayer request on behalf of pastors everywhere:

“Will you pray for me as a minister of the gospel? I am not asking you to pray for the things people commonly pray for. Pray for me in light of the pressures of our times. Pray that I will not just come to a wearied end—an exhausted, tired, old preacher, interested only in hunting a place to roost. Pray that I will be willing to let my Christian experience and Christian standards cost me something right down to the last gasp.” — A.W. Tozer, “Pastoral Ministry: Please Pray for Me”

How to Study the Bible: An Interview with Mel Lawrenz


Mel LawrenzWe’re just a week or so away from beginning our new free weekly series How to Study the Bible on this blog and by email delivery. It’s a follow-up to our very popular series How to Understand the Bible that we published.

Bible Gateway interviewed pastor Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz), author of Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012), on what we can expect from this new series.

Click to buy your copy of Spiritual Influence in the Bible Gateway Store

What will the new weekly series How to Study the Bible encompass?

Mel Lawrenz: I’m truly looking forward to offering a weekly lesson for anyone who uses Bible Gateway on the ways all of us can go beyond reading the Bible to understanding it as we study it. Largely this is about knowing what questions to ask, and then where to find the answers. But it’s also like exploring an exciting expansive place. Bible study is all about discovery. Whether you’ve been reading the Bible seriously for decades, or just starting out, there are time-honored ways for all of us to dig out the meaning of Scripture and apply that meaning to our daily lives.

You say that “studying” the Bible is for all believers, and not just pastors, teachers, and scholars. What do you mean?

Mel Lawrenz: How to Study the Bible is for everyone because we all need to peer intently into the meaning of Scripture. This ought to be the daily pattern for all believers. Much of this is about training our instincts so that as we’re simply reading along in the Bible, our minds are studying it as we go along.

What might those who teach the Bible get out of this series?

Mel Lawrenz: Having taught the Bible in every conceivable context and in every part of the world (except Antarctica) I have a deep longing to help those who teach the Bible, whether in a small group, in a class, to a congregation, or wherever. What we teach has value if it’s based on the truth of God. Otherwise we’re wasting everybody’s time with mere opinions.

Last year you produced a 30-week series titled How to Understand the Bible which was popular among subscribers. What did you learn from doing that series?

Mel Lawrenz: I was inspired by the tens of thousands of people who read along each week. I was heartened that so many felt encouraged that the Bible, though challenging to understand at times, truly is the mind of God given to us in human words.

We understand that there’s a paperback book version of How to Understand the Bible and that it’s also coming out in numerous languages. Tell us about that, and the “get one, give one campaign.”

Mel Lawrenz: Yes, it’s been exciting to support the translation of How to Understand the Bible into Spanish, Amharic (Ethiopia), and (in process) Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Creole, German, and other languages. When anyone purchases a copy of the paperback How to Understand the Bible, we’ll use the proceeds to get one into the hands of someone overseas. All that someone needs to do is get one or more copies here. Also available is the college edition and the Spanish edition.

Sign up now for the How to Study the Bible weekly series.

Bio: Mel Lawrenz, author of several books, trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years, having succeeded Stuart Briscoe, and now serves as Elmbrooks’s minister-at-large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought (Marquette University), is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University, and is the director of The Brook Network.

Be Happy: An Interview with Randy Alcorn

Randy AlcornThe Bible says, “Rejoice, again I say rejoice!” So why are Christians perceived as joyless and judgmental? How can a fresh look at the Bible dispel centuries of misconceptions and provide evidence that God not only wants us to experience contentment, delight, and peace—he commands it!

Bible Gateway interviewed Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) about his book, Happiness (Tyndale House, 2015), at 450 pages, the most definitive study on the subject of happiness to date.

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

Your book Happiness challenges the idea that God wants his followers to be holy but not happy. What do you mean?

Randy Alcorn: Holiness doesn’t mean abstaining from pleasure; holiness means recognizing Jesus as the source of life’s greatest pleasure. Spurgeon put it this way: “Holiness is the royal road to happiness. The death of sin is the life of joy.” For those of us who are Christ-centered believers, our lives should overflow with both holiness and happiness.

In Revelation 20:6, makarios, a Greek word meaning “happy,” is joined with hagios, meaning “holy.” The following versions capture this beautiful combination:

Sadly, too often our message to the world becomes a false gospel that lays upon people an impossible burden, as in “to be a Christian, you must give up wanting to be happy and instead choose to be holy.” In fact, happiness and holiness are inseparable. “Give up happiness; choose holiness instead” is not good news, and therefore it is not the “good news of happiness” spoken of in Scripture (Isaiah 52:7)!

Does it matter whether we believe that God is happy?

Randy Alcorn: It matters immensely. If God isn’t happy, he can’t be our source of happiness. An unhappy God would never value nor assure the everlasting happiness of his creatures. We would never ask for grace from an ungracious God, kindness from an unkind God, or happiness from an unhappy God. It would be like asking a poor man for a million dollars. He can’t give what he doesn’t have.

If God were not happy, the fact that all people seek to be happy—as Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, the Puritans, Wesley, Spurgeon, and many others have observed—would be a cruel tragedy, since it would mean that God cannot give us what we most deeply desire. At best he might deliver us from the miseries of Hell. But Heaven can overflow with happiness only if God himself overflows with happiness. Our Creator’s happiness guarantees a happy ending to the story that will never end.

The Bible frequently depicts God as being delighted and pleased, and twice God is described as makarios (1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15).

Does the Bible distinguish between happiness, blessedness, joy, and gladness?

Randy Alcorn: We imagine sharp distinctions between Hebrew and Greek synonyms and also the chosen English words, such as joyful, glad, or happy. Only when we recognize how meanings overlap in words from the same semantic domain, or word family, will we be saved from making artificial distinctions between the corresponding English words. In fact, these words are far more alike than different.

Is happiness much different from joy?

Randy Alcorn: Judging from countless hundreds of articles, books, and sermons, you’d think the distinction between joy and happiness is biblical. It’s not. Here’s a sampling of the more than one hundred Bible verses in various translations that use joy and happiness together:

  • For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. (Esther 8:16, NIV)
  • I will turn their mourning into joy…and bring happiness out of grief. (Jeremiah 31:13, HCSB)
  • Give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy. (Proverbs 23:25, NLT)

The relationship between joy and happiness in these passages refutes two common claims: (1) that the Bible doesn’t talk about happiness, and (2) that joy and happiness have contrasting meanings. In fact, the Bible overflows with accounts of God’s people being happy in him.

How should the Beatitudes be viewed in light of happiness?

Randy Alcorn: In the Beatitudes (see Matthew 5:2-12 and Luke 6:20-23), the word makarios occurs repeatedly. It’s significant that Jesus didn’t say, “Happy in God are the following…” and then give a grocery list including “the poor in spirit,” “mourners,” and “the meek.” Instead, he repeated makarios with each statement, revealing this word as his central emphasis.

The word “happy” isn’t just the literal meaning of asher and makarios—it’s also a commonly used word that most people understand. First-century readers of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke also knew the meaning of makarios. So in the Beatitudes, the down-trodden, weary, and sorrow-laden listeners heard Jesus say, nine times in a row, “Happy are you…” These statements must have stunned them.

In what way are churches failing to offer the happiness the world longs for?

Randy Alcorn: The gospel of Messiah’s redemptive work is called “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV), synonymous with what Luke calls “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Unfortunately, I believe the modern church is often driven more by duty than delight in God. The misguided distinction between joy and happiness has played a part in driving people away from the happiness the Gospel offers. To declare joy sacred, and happiness secular, closes the door to dialogue with unbelievers. If someone is told that joy is the opposite of happiness, any thoughtful person would say, “In that case, I don’t want joy!”

The word “happiness” has historically had a common meaning for both believers and unbelievers—and for many it still does. Until recent decades, it’s been a bridge between the church and world—one we can’t afford to burn. If we say the gospel won’t bring happiness, any perceptive listener should respond, “Then how is it good news?” We need to reverse the trend. Let’s redeem the word “happiness” in light of both Scripture and church history. Our message shouldn’t be “Don’t seek happiness,” but “You’ll find in Jesus the happiness you’ve always longed for.”

What do you want readers of Happiness to do once they finish it?

Randy Alcorn: First, my hope is that readers will meditate on and embrace the Scriptural teaching about God’s happiness. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Much of the battle for joy hinges on whether we believe God is happy and wants us to be too.

Second, I hope readers will seek to cultivate a Christ-centered happiness that will affect every area of their lives and will spill over into the lives of their family, friends, and acquaintances. People are drawn to Christ when they see true happiness in his followers and are pushed away when they see us chronically unhappy. (Sure, we sometimes sorrow or battle depression, but rejoicing in God is still possible.)

What are your thoughts about how using Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App can contribute to a person’s happiness?

Randy Alcorn: I use Bible Gateway or its app virtually every day; usually multiple times a day. I went to it frequently to compare translations of nearly every verse I cite in Happiness, the book, and God’s Promise of Happiness, the booklet.

Here’s an example of the feature I use most. Look up Psalm 1:1 in Bible Gateway, then go to the lower left and click “Psalm 1:1 in all English translations.”

Next, use your keyboard function (for example, for PC users depress the “Ctrl” and “F” keys simultaneously) to search for the word “happy” on that same page and you’ll immediately see it highlighted in 14 translations that use “happy” instead of “blessed.” In 1611, when the King James Version used it in the Psalms and beatitudes, “blessed” meant to be happy in God. Today, though, it sounds more like a holiness word than a happiness word.

People are unhappy because they listen to the thousands of unhappy voices clamoring for attention. Joy comes from listening to and believing words of joy from the source of joy. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). When we follow him, we’re happy. When we don’t, we’re not.

There’s no place we can go to hear God speak authoritatively, to hear his voice with complete confidence, other than the Bible itself.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul…. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:7-8 NASB).

As we listen to, meditate on, and respond to God’s Word, our souls are restored from sin and unhappiness to righteousness and happiness.

Bio: Before starting Eternal Perspective Ministries (@epmorg) in 1990, Randy served as a pastor for 14 years. He has a Bachelor of Theology and Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Multnomah University and an Honorary Doctorate from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He’s taught on the adjunct faculties of both.

A New York Times bestselling author, Randy has written more than 40 books, including Courageous, Heaven, The Treasure Principle, and the Christian Book Award winner Safely Home. His books have been translated into over 60 languages and have sold over 8 million copies. Randy has written for many magazines including EPM’s issues-oriented magazine Eternal Perspectives. He’s active daily on Facebook and Twitter, and has been a guest on more than 700 radio, television, and online programs, including Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Revive Our Hearts, The Bible Answer Man, and The Resurgence.

Randy resides in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife, Nanci. They have two married daughters and are the proud grandparents of five grandsons. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research, and reading.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, Canada!

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4 NIV

According to Wikipedia, Thanksgiving (Action de grâce), or Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l’action de grâce) is an annual Canadian holiday, occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Its roots extend to feasts of thanks beginning in 1578. The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872. On January 31, 1957, a proclamation was issued stating Thanksgiving was to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.”

Moi, je suis malheureux et souffrant.
O Dieu, que ton secours me mette en sécurité!
Psaumes 69:30 SG21

See our blogpost, Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada.

Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 CEB

Browse the many resources in the Bible Gateway Store on the subject of thanksgiving.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
Psalm 95:2 KJV

“Made for You” Quarterly Theme Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the NIV Commissioning

Click to visit the NIV Bible websiteTo celebrate the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the world’s most read modern-English Bible, the New International Version (NIV), Zondervan (@Zondervan) and Biblica (@BiblicaMinistry) have partnered on a year-long commemorative #NIV50 campaign featuring quarterly themes that recognize the different ways the NIV has impacted the Christian church. The fourth theme of the year is Made for You.

[See our blogposts: 50-Year Anniversary Celebration Continues with the NIV Bible: ‘Made to Study’ and 50th Anniversary Celebration of the NIV Commissioning Continues with “Made to Share” Quarterly Theme]

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

For the past 50 years, the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) has been continuously refining the NIV to ensure that it is Made for You. The CBT works to maintain the virtues that has made the NIV “the most read and most trusted English translation in the world: accuracy and readability,” making it ideal for reading, preaching, and studying God’s Word. To achieve this, the CBT persistently studies the latest biblical scholarship and consults a database of over 4.4 billion words that identifies trends in global English usage.

Click to enlarge the NIV Bible on a tablet

“I trust the NIV because it represents no single method of theology, no single strain of Christianity. It has a broad base, broad appeal, and isn’t trying to promote any particular agenda,” said Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church. “And it’s easy to read. It’s understandable and people can use it… When you use the NIV, you spend less time on interpretation and more time on application, because the text speaks for itself.”

The NIV is, more than any other, the most highly supported translation for study with over 50 Bible commentaries, dozens of reference works, and hundreds of Bible study guides and other resources available. Among these resources is the free NIV 365-Day Devotional Reading Plan, which has reached over 200,000 subscribers since January 2015, providing readers with a new NIV Scripture passage and insight every day. In addition, Zondervan recently released the all-new NIV Zondervan Study Bible, focused on “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

“Our goal is to give everyone, no matter where they are in life, access to the Bible that is right for them,” said John Kramp, SVP and Bible publisher for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. “There are hundreds of styles and tailored Bibles complete with devotionals and relevant resources specific to women, men, children, new believers, and those going through major life events, such as marriage, recovery, loss or cancer. And to ensure everyone has access to the Bible, there are multiple formats, including dozens of NIV eBooks and NIV mobile apps.”

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

To learn more about the 50th Anniversary campaign, along with additional content, visit

[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.]

Bible News Roundup – Week of October 11, 2015

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

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says
The New York Times
Read the King James Version of the Bible on Bible Gateway

Religious or Not, Many Americans See a Creator’s Hand
Read Genesis 1 on Bible Gateway

Texas Sheriff Department Puts Bible Verse on Patrol Vehicle
Read John 10:11 on Bible Gateway

In compromise, University of Florida Will Add Secular Quotes to Bible Verse on Building
The Gainesville Sun
Read Micah 6:8 on Bible Gateway

Vladimir Putin Proposes Law to Exempt Bible, Koran from Extremism Law

Archaeologists Think They’ve Discovered the Lost City of Sodom in Jordan
World Religion News
Read about Sodom in the Dictionary of Bible Themes on Bible Gateway

Worthy Publishing Gets Partnership with Bible Museum
The Tennessean

Scroll Confiscated by the Nazis and World’s Smallest Bible on Show in England
Yorkshire Evening Post

Founder President of Bibles for the World, Rev. Rochunga, Dies
The Shillong Times
In Memoriam: Dr. Rochunga Pudaite, Founder and CEO of Bibles For The World [NRB]

In Shadow of Death, Nigerians Rely on Bible, Prayer
Mennonite World Review

Afghan Refugee Clings to Bible, Dreams of University
Deutsche Welle
See Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity in the Bible Gateway Store

The Value in Teaching the Bible in Prison
The Atlantic

Three First Nations Groups in Canada Take A Step Closer to Reading Scripture in Their Own Languages
Faith Today

After 25 Years, Bible Translation into Mayan Language Completed
Read the Bible in multiple languages on Bible Gateway

Rachelle Telsworth Loses Dream of Working Abroad for Wycliffe Bible Translators, But She Doesn’t Lose Her Faith
The Elkhart Truth

Bank of Hungary Gold Coins Commemorate 425th Anniversary of First Translation of the Bible into Hungarian

Hungarian Catholics Make 5-Volume Bible Manuscript For Pope Francis
Hungary Today

Why Christians Don’t Read the Bible
in All things

Complexity in Publishing 4-volume Bibliotheca Causes Delays
The Christian Post
Read A Bible Designed for Beautiful Reading: An Interview with Adam Lewis Greene

Typography, Calligraphy, & Illustration Inspired by the Bible is on Display at Yale’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library
Yale News
See links to Bible exhibits

Embracing the (R-Rated) Bible
3 Lies We Believe About the Bible (TCW)

American Bible Society Shows Off New Headquarters
Philadelphia Business Journal

Washington, DC, Area Churches Unite for Second Washington Prayer Gathering
News release

Christianity “On Course to Disappear” from Parts of the Middle East

World Remembers Christian and British Nurse Edith Cavell 100 Years On
See her biography, Edith Cavell: Faith Before the Firing Squad, in the Bible Gateway Store

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Take the Quiz: Which Famous Villainess Said…?

God & Churchill: An Interview with Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

Jonathan SandysWhen Winston Churchill was 16, he had a premonition that he would lead England in its time of need. Perceived as a failure for much of his life, Churchill was the last person anyone would have expected to rise to national prominence as prime minister and influence the outcome of World War II. His belief in divine destiny propelled him on a spiritual path to help save Christian civilization.

Bible Gateway interviewed Churchill’s great-grandson Jonathan Sandys (@jonathansandys) and former White House staffer Wallace Henley (@wallacebhenley) about their spiritual biography, God & Churchill: How the Great Leader’s Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours (Tyndale House, 2015) (@godandchurchill).Wallace Henley

What is your relationship to Winston Churchill?

Jonathan Sandys: Winston Churchill is my great-grandfather on my father’s side. My grandfather, Duncan Sandys, married the Churchill’s eldest daughter, Diana. Together they had my father Julian and my aunts Edwina and Celia.

Historians have tended to focus on Churchill’s political and military leadership and not his spiritual dimension. Why do you think that’s the case?Click to buy your copy of God & Churchill in the Bible Gateway Store

Jonathan Sandys: I cannot answer for others, but my own interest was piqued when I came across situations in Great-Grandpapa’s life that, when looked at together in the context of his entire life, seem impossible feats that luck or coincidence cannot in my opinion explain.

What is the vision for this book?

Wallace Henley: Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Our vision is that people will see through the example of Winston Churchill how God directs the course of history, and that leaders and people everywhere will learn the lessons, take hope, and trust in God.

What was Churchill’s view of “divine destiny” for himself and his country?

Jonathan Sandys: He firmly believed in it and was not bashful on the several times he spoke of it. We begin God & Churchill with one of the most unlikely and impossible declarations Churchill ever made: “This country will be subjected somehow to a tremendous invasion…and I shall save London and England from disaster.”

Alone and separated from the context of the entire story, Churchill’s statement in 1891 to fellow Harrovian Murland de Grasse Evans must have appeared very arrogant. However, almost 50-years later Britain went to war and Churchill was called upon to lead us through the crisis. Five years after his appointment we celebrated an impossible victory, and by popular demand, Great-Grandpapa was hailed as the person who saved “London and England from disaster.”

Churchill believed in ‘divine destiny’ and that’s why in 1940, though severely outnumbered, like the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy facing the overwhelmingly strong armies across the Jordon, he stepped forward and accepted the responsibility of leadership, while others, equally ambitious, refused the honor due to their lack of faith in the possibility of a general victory.

How did Churchill view the Bible?

Jonathan Sandys: Great-Grandpapa’s essay, Moses, provides evidence that supports our belief that Churchill saw the Bible as the literal truth: “We believe that the most scientific view, the most up-to-date view and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest of human beings with the most decisive leap forward ever discernible in the human story.” And: “We may be sure that all these things happened just as they are set out according to Holy Writ.”

What surprised you the most about Churchill’s spirituality?

Wallace Henley: First, that he took the Bible so seriously, and was such an avid student of it. Second, that Churchill linked history/culture to the biblical worldview to the extent “Christian civilization” and its preservation was almost an obsession. Third, the way God removed the child Churchill from the influence of his wayward parents and brought him under the primary influence of his nanny, Elizabeth Everest, who molded young Winston with biblical foundations.

What did Churchill believe about Jesus Christ and the church?

Jonathan Sandys: He believed and confessed that Jesus was ‘the Christ.’ In our book, we quote Churchill’s toast at the christening of his grandson Winston: to “Christ’s new faithful soldier and servant.” In a private conversation with Montgomery, Churchill declared that ‘Christ’s story was unequalled and his death to save sinners unsurpassed.’

Wallace Henley: Critics claim that Churchill did not focus on Jesus. Again, this reflects a secularist agenda. Churchill believed in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

Churchill, though not a regular churchgoer, was not anti-church. In fact, he believed it should be supported and encouraged, and said of himself that though he was not a “pillar” of the church, he was a “flying buttress.” Mary Soames, his youngest child, wrote of growing up with Churchill as a father. She speaks of frequent church attendance on her part.

Who were Churchill’s Christian influences in his life?

Jonathan Sandys: Elizabeth Everest, Churchill’s nanny. “Woomany,” as he affectionately referred to Mrs. Everest, was the earliest religious influence in Great-Grandpapa’s life. Mrs. Everest would sit reading Bible stories with him for hours. She taught him how to pray. And it was her early influence that gave him a foundation from which, while in India, he could then compare other religions and their doctrines.

Some modern writers try to present Churchill as an agnostic, and one even an atheist. In light of the proof you present in the book that he was neither, why do you think this myth is perpetuated?

Wallace Henley: Sadly in our secular age everyone has an agenda. One idea is that religion and spirituality are irrelevant. That may be the reason ours is the first truly spiritual biography of Churchill—though Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, saw the importance of Churchill’s relationship with God and personally encouraged Jonathan to pursue research. Secularists in our day want to freeze Churchill in his early doubts and agnosticism, but God & Churchill demolishes their claims.

What were Churchill’s encounters with God when he was a soldier?

Jonathan Sandys: There are several, and we mention The Battle of Omdurman (1898) in God & Churchill which, as you’ll see from our account, Churchill narrowly escaped with his life. Had he not been forced to use his Mauser pistol in that last most famous British cavalry charge, he would most certainly have been killed.

While one cannot state definitely that God intervened, in the context of other incidences, and the overall picture of the vital role it is clear from history that Churchill could have played in the survival of Christian civilization, the evidence on this matter leans more towards the intervention argument than luck or coincidence.

The Anglo-Boer War, South Africa (1899): As a war correspondent in South Africa, Churchill was captured and then subsequently escaped. Once again, the account appears in our book, and you can see that while escaping with a price on his head, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive,’ the door he was forced to knock on was the only one for 20 miles where on the other side he found a friend. Once again, one can argue luck or coincidence; however, taken again in the context of his life story, had he knocked on the wrong door he would either have been returned to captivity or, more probably, shot where he stood. There is another angle to the story that we believe also supports our argument, and this is the fact that his escape from the Boers was the springboard for his entry into Parliament. Members of Parliament needed funds not only to support themselves, but also to make donations to local charities, etc. Churchill had no money to give, and so received little support. However on escaping from the Boers, Churchill found fame as he became a household name throughout Britain. Had Churchill not entered Parliament in 1900, he might instead have joined the church, an idea he was toying with, even if not seriously.

World War I (1915): Following the Gallipoli incident, Great-Grandpapa, being the honorable man he was, resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty and then, shortly after, requested a posting to the French Front. Again, we recount the story in God & Churchill in more detail, but basically, Churchill called to visit his commanding officer and reluctantly he went. On his return to the trenches he found that 15-minutes after his departure the trench was bombed, his billet destroyed, and the servant within had been killed. Once again was this luck or ‘Divine intervention’?

How do you reconcile Churchill’s lifestyle with the Bible and Christian faith?

Wallace Henley: Churchill did not see himself as a religious man. He believed in God, and had a relationship with God, as revealed in the fact that he more often resorted to prayer than is widely believed. He was a conservative, as his essay on Moses shows, with regard to the inspiration and authenticity of the Bible; but he was not a conservative in his lifestyle.

How did a random reading of Deuteronomy 9 give Churchill reassurance?

Jonathan Sandys: Random biblical readings are great to give confidence. However, one-off readings cannot be seen as literal guides in situations. Everything must be weighed and measured in the context of how God would respond to a situation. Hitler was evil. The Nazis were evil. Their actions were un-Godlike. Their mission was to dominate, in contrast to Christ’s which was to set free. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-16

Churchill had read the Bible throughout many times (Martin Gilbert once told me a total of 16 times). Churchill knew the character of God from the words he read. He understood that good can and will triumph over evil, and Hitler was evil. Deuteronomy 9 would have given him the answer to any doubts he had in his mind that his prediction at 16-years-old was finally becoming a reality.

Churchill’s famous “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech includes a reference to God being actively involved in people’s lives. Did he honestly believe that or was it political rhetoric?

Jonathan Sandys: The evidence strongly supports our conclusion that Churchill did honestly believe what he said.

In addition to the evidence we present in God & Churchill, there’s the remark Great-Grandpapa made to his bodyguard Walter Thompson in 1940, who was often anxious because of the danger Churchill often insisted on putting himself in. One evening while walking from St. James’ Park to Downing Street, the Luftwaffe attacked and a large explosion was heard very close-by. Thompson was very concerned for Churchill’s safety. Great-Grandpapa just shrugged the danger off. Pointing to the sky he told his trusted bodyguard, “There is someone looking after me besides you…I have a mission to perform and that person intends to see it is performed.”

The evidence supports our belief that Churchill had no need to use mere “political” rhetoric. It’s widely accepted as fact that in one’s voice you can detect both truth and lies. In 1940, Churchill was almost alone in both Parliament and the country in his belief that Hitler could be defeated. At this point, May 1940, nine months into the war, the Allies were being thrashed and it was not going to be long before Hitler would bomb London. Using the words of the Bible at this point with no actual belief in their power would have shown through in both his voice and actions. We believe Churchill’s words without faith could never have roused the millions they did and secured a victory against all odds.

What significance was it that Churchill drew on 1 Maccabees 3:58-60 for his “be ye men of valor” speech?

Jonathan Sandys: The significance in Churchill’s choice of quote from Maccabees is borne out through another Churchill quote given in Cabinet on May 28, 1940, to those who still favored surrender: “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies, choking in his own blood upon the ground.”

Churchill truly believed that life without freedom was not worth contemplating and it would be better to be dead on the battlefield of some foreign land, than alive and under the thumb of the Nazis.

Further to this, Churchill knew that the task of winning the war was beyond the realistic abilities of man. By May 1940, Germany had become the dominating force in Europe and France was poised to fall, leaving Britain alone. Churchill directed the people to the only hope he knew of: God. “As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.”

What did Churchill mean when he referred to “Christian civilization”?

Jonathan Sandys: Exactly that, “Christian civilization.” Through self-study in India, Churchill had made himself a student of many of the world’s religions. He confessed to believing in a ‘Creator’ and his references to and quotes from the Bible confirm the ‘Creator’ he was referring to is the ‘Christian’ Creator; God.

Further evidence of this is found in Churchill’s own words in 1941, on the matter of ethics: “We can find nothing better than Christian Ethics on which to build and the more closely we follow the Sermon on the Mount, the more likely we are to succeed in our endeavors.”

Wallace Henley: Churchill had seen the worst of what we term today “worldviews.” His early days in India and North Africa caused him to link outcomes with worldview. He was fascinated with Islam as an adventurous, romantic youth in Muslim lands, but, the more he saw the fruit produced the more he turned from it. Churchill knew well the freedoms and opportunities of a Christian-based society. He knew Hitler’s dreams of the global “Third Reich” were the antithesis of a culture with a biblical worldview, and that Hitler and the Nazis had to be destroyed for the sake of, not just Britain, but civilization as a whole. How desperately we now need leaders with Churchill’s scope of vision and willingness to articulate in the public square!

You say Churchill valued morality as being absolute, but he disdained moralism. How so?

Jonathan Sandys: Churchill believed in freedom and moralism enables governments and/or peoples to dictate what they feel is right or wrong to their fellow countrymen. Churchill believed in the innate intellectual ability of the British people to determine the difference between right and wrong. Churchill did not believe in government interference, but believed in empowering the people to stand with confidence themselves. Churchill saw the role of government as leader, not dictator. He recognized that a people that depend on a government to provide for them, could never stand alone and think for themselves, and would more easily become slaves to the corrupt governments who take advantage of their naivety.

How did you both come together to write this book?

Wallace Henley: It’s true that we’re an interesting mix for a writing team. Jonathan is 40, and I’m about to turn 74. Jonathan was born and raised in England, and I was born and raised in Alabama. Our coming together is a small example of “providential history”—a major unspoken theme of the book.

I was called simultaneously to two churches in the summer of 1986—one with more than 4,000 members and the other, in Houston, with less than 200. The whole Henley family sensed God’s leadership to Houston. Meanwhile, God was shaping Jonathan in England. He began making speeches about his great-grandfather, and decided to come to America. Jonathan married a Houston woman, and moved there. As Jonathan made more and more speeches about Churchill, he began to realize there was a spiritual element that had been neglected by historians and biographers. Jonathan began to get a vision for writing a book about Churchill and God, but needed a co-author experienced in publishing and biblical studies. A man in the Houston church where Wallace was pastor heard Jonathan speak, and realized the two had much in common, and that I might be the co-author Jonathan had been seeking. Through our mutual friend, Jonathan and I got together, and the rest, as they say, is history. We both feel God led us to Houston so we could meet and write God & Churchill.

How is Churchill a common thread between the two of you?

Wallace Henley: As Winston Churchill’s great-grandson, Jonathan was steeped in the history of his great forebear, and the family lore about him. I was born two days before America’s entry into the Second World War, and my childhood was filled with newsreel and newspaper images of Churchill and his booming voice. I awakened to the significance of Churchill’s role in history as a young White House aide. There I contemplated the enormity of leading a nation, and the load that Churchill had borne with such strength and grace. I named my home study the “Churchill Room” long before I met Jonathan.

How do your differences contribute to the writing of the book?

Wallace Henley: Just like his great-grandfather, Jonathan is an avid historian. Like Sir Winston, he does not have formal academic training in that field, but, also like his great-grandfather, Jonathan has a passion for historic detail, and a keen ability to communicate it. I began my career as a journalist, and developed skills that have been used to write more than 20 books. My White House experience and years studying the Bible as a college and seminary student, then as a pastor, equipped me to help bring the historic and spiritual streams together. We say that without Jonathan there would have been no God and Churchill, and without me there could have been no God & Churchill. That’s why we believe ours is a God-formed team.

What do you hope will be the main take-away for readers of your book?

Jonathan Sandys: It’s my sincere hope that people view God & Churchill as evidence that God is not some age-old concept that was created as a crutch or method of manipulation for mankind, but that He is present with us even today and if we are willing to humble ourselves before Him, He will be faithful to us and not abandon us. Further to this, it’s my hope that God and Churchill will inspire others to lead as Churchill did, in faith, and will renew the hope lost in this present age.

Wallace Henley:

  • That readers would see how God continues to work through people not necessarily “religious” to intervene in history (like God did with Cyrus the Persian)
  • That readers would understand that Churchill was not the pagan some suggest he was
  • That we can have hope in our time that just as God was guiding the course of events in Churchill’s day, so he is now
  • That we might understand the darker side of our culture and its similarities to that which produced the Nazis
  • That readers might gain insight into the kind of leadership we need in this hour.

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

Jonathan Sandys: I’m using it now and did quite heavily when researching God & Churchill, along with Tyndale House, Cambridge’s ‘STEP Bible’ ( The Internet has provided us all with the level of access one needs to be able to not only compare Bible translations, but also to confirm their accuracy by viewing them in the original language.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Jonathan Sandys: The only thing that remains is really for me to thank you for the opportunity to share some of the evidence Wallace and I present in God and Churchill. Thank you to our readers, supporters, friends, and family. This is the most exciting project I have ever worked on and nervous though I am awaiting my work to be ‘flung to the public,’ I’m confident that we’ve presented a good fact-based view of my great-grandfather that finally puts to rest the insinuations and declarations of others that he was agnostic, atheistic, or pagan. Winston Churchill believed in God. “I was very nearly killed two hours ago by a shrapnel,” he wrote to Pamela Plowden from South Africa. “But though I was in the full burst of it God preserved me.”

“One must yield oneself simply & naturally to the mood of the game and trust in God.”

Bio: Since 2005, Jonathan Sandys has been communicating the morals, values and leadership skills of his great-grandfather and those of the “Greatest Generation” to both young and old alike, in a vibrant and interactive way. Though born ten years after his illustrious relative’s passing, Jonathan very much credits Churchill’s legacy as a major positive influence in his life. As a result, Jonathan found the “Never, Never, Never Give In” attitude of Churchill made it possible for him to rise above the challenges of dyslexia and social isolation and achieve success. Jonathan’s life mission is to use both the experiences of his great-grandfather and his own to encourage and inspire people of all ages and walks of life to “Never Surrender!”

Wallace Henley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, December 5, 1941, two days before the Pearl Harbor attack. He has been married to his wife, Irene, for more than 50 years. They have two children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. In 1973 the Associated Press awarded Henley for his coverage of the civil rights movement. He worked as an aide in the Nixon White House, and also as a congressional staffer. Henley is Senior Associate Pastor at Houston’s 68,000-member Second Baptist Church, and a columnist for The Christian Post, the world’s largest Christian daily newspaper. Henley has conducted leadership conferences in 22 nations. He’s a member of the board of the Center for Christianity in Business at Houston Baptist University, and is an adjunct professor in worldview studies at Belhaven University, given its top award in 2014 for “excellence in classroom teaching.” He’s authored more than 20 books, including Globequake: Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart. He holds BA and MA degrees, and an honorary doctorate.

Jesus Calling: An Interview with Sarah Young

Sarah YoungThe beloved #1 bestselling devotional Jesus Calling® is now available in a morning and evening edition, allowing you to meditate on the hope and peace of Jesus throughout each day and as the evening draws to a close. Each morning entry is from Jesus Calling and each evening includes powerful and poignant excerpts from Sarah’s bestselling books, written-out Scriptures, and a guided thought for you to focus on just before you turn out the light.

Based on Scripture and written as if Jesus himself is speaking directly to you—words of encouragement, comfort, and reassurance of his unending love—you will find peace even in the midst of busy days. Begin and end each day in the presence of the Savior who is always with you and loves you forever.

[Sign up to receive the free Jesus Calling Morning & Evening devotional in your email inbox from Bible Gateway.]

Bible Gateway interviewed Sarah Young (@Jesus_Calling) about her book, Jesus Calling—Morning & Evening Devotional (Thomas Nelson, 2015).

Click to buy your copy of Jesus Calling—Morning & Evening Devotional in the Bible Gateway Store

Jesus Calling has sold more than 14 million copies, and its popularity continues to grow. Why do you think that so many people connect with the message?

Sarah Young: My books tend to speak to different people in different ways, meeting them right where they are. I think that’s because the books help people connect with Jesus, and He meets us right where we are.

Since I became a Christian in 1973, I’ve received excellent biblical teaching at the churches I’ve belonged to and the seminary I attended. My books reflect the richness of this wonderful Christ-centered teaching. They are designed to help people connect not only with Jesus, the living Word, but also with the Bible, the written Word.

You’ve talked about the importance of listening prayer. How do you go about deepening your relationship with Jesus through prayer?

Sarah Young: A rich relationship with Jesus is so much more than presenting Him with a list of requests.

Jesus speaks to my heart when I spend ample time with Him. Of course, we don’t have audible conversation. It’s a quiet and personal time of praying, Bible reading, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

By reading my Bible and spending time quietly with the Lord—listening and then writing what I feel He is placing on my heart—I grow closer to Him.

I have an active mind; in fact, my husband has commented—with some consternation—that I never stop thinking. When I have a pen in my hand and paper in front of me, I can think more clearly and stay focused on Jesus more continually. I like to take notes at church during the sermon for the same reason. It keeps me focused.

How do you use the Bible in your daily prayer and quiet time with Jesus?

Sarah Young: The Bible is the standard by which I judge everything I write. I actually spend a good deal of time memorizing Scripture and reviewing it in my mind—day and night.

One of my favorite verses, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Ps. 46:10), provided a foundation for my listening/writing adventure. But the verse that continues to challenge me daily is: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding’ (Prov. 3:5).

How would you describe the role of Jesus Calling?

Sarah Young: Jesus Calling is for devotional reading, and it points readers to the Bible. The Scripture readings provided for each day are an integral part of the devotional. Many people have told me they read not only the verses I include with each entry but also a chapter or more around the verses I specified. I’m always happy to hear this from readers.

Could you describe the practice of writing from the perspective of Jesus speaking to the reader?

Sarah Young: In the introductions to my books, I emphasize that the Bible is the only inspired Word of God; it’s the unchanging standard by which I judge everything I write. When I first began listening and writing from Jesus’ perspective, it was solely for my personal benefit. However, in the midst of a spiritual retreat several years later, I felt strongly led to write for publication. I began compiling the messages into daily readings and sharing them with friends who shared them with others. It was many years later that Jesus Calling was actually published.

J.I. Packer’s book, Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight, has been helpful to me. This book contains a wonderful quote from Martin Luther: “If the Holy Spirit should come and begin to preach to your heart, giving you rich and enlightened thoughts, . . . be quiet and listen to him who can talk better than you; and note what he proclaims and write it down; so will you experience miracles as David says: ‘Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law’ (Ps. 119:18).”

In previous interviews, you’ve talked about how your health struggles influenced your writing. How have those health issues changed your lifestyle, and how do you cope with those issues today?

Sarah Young: I have struggled with extremely challenging health issues for 12 years. I’ve been diagnosed with two co-infections of Lyme disease, and I’ve had quite a bit of treatment for those. In October 2008, the day after I finished writing Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life I had a severe attack of vertigo. Since that time, I’ve had a milder, chronic form of dizziness that has never gone away. I continue to be weak and to struggle with various symptoms. However, my energy level has been improving in recent weeks, and I’ve been able to do more than I’d done for years.

From the perspective of a healthy person, my life may seem quite limited. I have many dietary restrictions and allergies; I need much more rest and sleep than most adults. However, after living in one room in our home in Perth for about 20 hours a day, my current life feels amazingly free to me. I hope that my health will continue to improve, but I know there are no guarantees in this life. I also know that God has used my hardest times for good. I could not have written Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence if I had been healthier. The writing of this book helped me grasp in the depths of my being that Jesus is my hope, and he is sufficient.

Can you share a few books that have made an impact on you and explain why?

Sarah Young: Escape from Reason by Francis Schaeffer
During my philosophy studies at Wellesley College, I’d concluded that my questions about truth and the meaning of life were unanswerable. In Schaeffer’s book I was amazed to discover answers to many of these questions; this set me on a journey that led to L’Abri, where I became a Christian.

Joy Unspeakable by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Lloyd-Jones’ book gave me a taste of what it means to rejoice in Jesus with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” This book whet my appetite to pursue God wholeheartedly; thus began my quest to experience Him in His glory.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
Tozer’s book taught me how to thirst for and find a deeper, more satisfying relationship with God. It encouraged me to long for Him intensely and to listen for “His speaking Voice.”

The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence by Andrew Murray
Murray’s book emphasized the importance of developing awareness of Jesus’ continual presence through spending time alone with Him. As I pondered the readings in this devotional book, I began to delight in spending more time with God at the beginning of each day.

The Joy of Listening to God by Joyce Huggett
In Huggett’s book she interwove her personal journey with a wealth of practical teaching about how to listen to God. She emphasized the importance of listening to Him while testing everything by the yardstick of His Word.

Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni’s book kindled my longing for heaven and helped me connect this longing with my desire for intimacy with Jesus. Heaven became increasingly real and precious to me through this book—helping me see my difficulties in the light of eternity.

Bio: Sarah Young’s devotional writings are personal reflections from her daily quiet time of Bible reading, praying, and writing in prayer journals. With sales of more than 14 million books worldwide, Jesus Calling® has appeared on all major bestseller lists. Sarah’s writings include Jesus Calling, Jesus Today® Jesus Lives, Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling® for Little Ones, Jesus Calling® Bible Storybook, Jesus Calling®: 365 Devotions for Kids, and Jesus Calling®: Enjoying Peace in His Presence—each encouraging readers in their journey toward intimacy with Christ. Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years. They currently live in the United States.