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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.

From Smoldering Discontent to Making a Difference: An Interview with Dean Niewolny

Dean NiewolnyWhat does it take to feel good—and do good—in work? More money? Money falls short, says Dean Niewolny, whose finance career, four houses, boat, plane, and astronomical paycheck still left him restless. Call it smoldering discontent. Like most achievers, Dean found himself craving work that matters.

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Bible Gateway interviewed Dean Niewolny (@DNiewolny) about his book, Trade Up: How to Move from Just Making Money to Making a Difference (Baker Books, 2017).

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What’s the meaning behind the title “Trade Up”?

Dean Niewolny: The business term trade up means to lose the status quo to gain something superior. In this case, it’s a call to upgrade from business as usual to living with clear calling, meaning and purpose in all you do. A person can go from success to significance, from just making money to making a difference, and that’s some trade.

How is Trade Up different from the book Halftime by Bob Buford?

Dean Niewolny: Halftime was Bob Buford’s first-person story about his path from making a lot of money to using his work skills to refocus on kingdom impact. Believe me, that doesn’t just happen. He was his own guinea pig as he tried this and that, using his business disciplines to better know himself and to pursue God. The trail Bob blazed for himself and what he learned in the process evolved into the Halftime Institute, and 20 years later, Trade Up is the seasoned insight of not one but many Halftimers, and the best practices as the Institute took shape. Most important, Trade Up is a highly desirable how-to: it’s Halftime from the inside out.

What was the “smoldering discontent” you experienced in your life and what did you do about it?

Dean Niewolny: My years of “smoldering discontent”—living with dissonance between my daily situation and a sense that God was calling me to something else—led to what I now call my “40th-floor moment.” That was the day I glared out of the office I’d worked decades to get to and said out loud, “There has got to be more than this!” No matter how much I achieved at work, I couldn’t shake that feeling. Now every time I speak to groups and use that term—smoldering discontent—heads nod. Too many people know what it means to get up in the morning, get dressed, and leave for a day of meetings, busyness, deadlines, phone calls, emails . . . and no meaning. That’s the start of smoldering discontent.

Walking home one night in Chicago, you were held up at gunpoint. What happened and how did that affect your long-range thinking?

Dean Niewolny: A buddy and I were strolling home after a night on Rush Street, just a couple of guys walking in creased slacks and blazers. I looked over and saw a commotion across the street. Then a guy is on the sidewalk; another guy is running toward my buddy and I, and he has a gun. The next thing I know, the gun’s at my temple and he’s demanding our money. That night on Rush Street, I handed over several credit cards and gained two big impressions about life. The first was that my body mass index, of utmost importance to me until then, could not prepare me for death. The second regarded control, which I certainly had none of that night. For years, my world had turned on workouts and my control-everything work ethic. And now, with a gun barrel pressed against my temple, neither one could save me. Did all this affect my long-range thinking? You bet it did. It left me with the short- and long-range question, “What does matter?” I realized that I had been focused on me, and not on God and on others.

In Trade Up, you focus on the question “Is there not a cause?” Please explain.

Dean Niewolny: I once wrote a blog with that title and it drew the most response I’ve ever gotten. We humans crave work that matters. We crave more than the standard trophies: house, portfolio, right schools, right vacations. We long for a cause; to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Something that says, “more than here, more than now.” When I speak to groups about having a cause, I ask what I call the Three Disruptive Questions, which can jumpstart the cause thinking:

  1. What is all your gaining costing you? (In my case, the big income and multiple homes were costing me my health—I had hives—and my core relationships, because I was seeing too little of my family.)
  2. What in your life is priceless, and what are you doing to protect it? (Do I give priority to my priorities—usually people—or do I respond to the immediate and hope for the best?)
  3. If you were to reorder your life to finish well, what measurable evidence would confirm this was the right track? (In my case, the “measurable” evidence would start in the happiness, confidence, and purpose of my wife and kids; it also would show in my own health because right values go a long way toward joyful work, real rest, and all their benefits.)

What role did the Bible play in changing your life and career perspective?

Dean Niewolny: The Bible is my bottomless resource, my endless exploration. At varied times, it is both mystery and answer, but always a light. Not long after I gave my life to Jesus, I attended a daylong workshop on prayer and meditation. About 12 men were given a Bible and a full day for reflection. When I opened to Ecclesiastes, it was like reading a hybrid of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and The Economist. Talk about between the eyes! Solomon was a man who had everything, he was at the pinnacle of life, and yet he regarded it all as “Meaningless, meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” This spoke so profoundly to me in a place of smoldering discontent despite my success. Since then I’ve never wondered about the Bible’s ability to speak from thousands of years ago into events this week. I also lost any skepticism about the importance of solitude with God.

For people who’ve been hurt by misuse of the Bible, I say to get into a Bible study or ask someone to spend time with you and the Bible one-on-one. Don’t give up and miss the riches. Don’t miss the love. And don’t feel as if you have to “get” something every time. In the words of Eugene Peterson, it’s “a long obedience in the same direction” that brings wisdom, and life, and maturity.

How does a person who doesn’t make a seven-figure income benefit from your book?

Dean Niewolny: No seven-figure income is necessary to be mentally fixed on money and personal success. You don’t have to be handsomely paid to overwork and miss life. You don’t have to be rich to crave purpose; and everyone can benefit from identifying their strengths and gifts and passions. Everyone can benefit from a “personal board of directors” or from narrowing your efforts and multiplying your impact with a personal mission statement. You don’t have to draw a rock-star paycheck to ingeniously use your work to help others. Trade Up opens the conversation about how to move from just making money to making a difference. No minimum income required.

Unpack your chapter on beginning with the end in mind.

Dean Niewolny: That phrase may seem obvious—I think I first heard it from Jim Collins—but it makes every difference, and no one can afford to miss the reminder.

With that in mind, Trade Up asks the reader to imagine his or her 80th birthday. You walk into a restaurant and see 200 or so of the people in your life: family, associates, neighbors, others. After dinner, these people line up at a microphone and, one by one, they tell you what your life has meant.

At that 80th birthday toast, what would you hope to hear? Granted, at first you may eat more crow than cake, but this mental exercise is high-value. If you can do the work to articulate your end, then you can better direct the moments between now and getting to it. What impact would you have had on those you care about most? What impact would you have had on the kingdom? We must keep the end in mind.

What is solitude with God and why is it important?

Dean Niewolny: In my often-halting walk with God, one sure step has been the times I’ve done nothing. I lob out that word, nothing, for effect, obviously, because to the untrained eye or to the overworked exec, solitude looks a whole lot like wasting time. To doers, it can feel like a sentencing. Yet for this recovering doer, it’s been the secret to knowing and hearing from God. As it happens, Jesus set the example.

For all the other ways to seek God—fellowship, church, worship, study—in my walk with God, the game changer has been stillness. Solitude. But as rewarding as it is, as profoundly as it affects my understanding and love, it remains a discipline. And like every discipline, to neglect it “just this once,” can slide into missing it indefinitely.

It’s never gotten easy, by the way. And it’s never failed to reward me at the time or sometime later. And of course, the Bible says to come near to God and he will come near to you. My point is to tell my fellow doers that in intimacy with God, as with others, listening is paramount.

What do you say to people who don’t know what their passion is?

Dean Niewolny: With no hesitation, I say, “What makes you mad, sad, glad—or indifferent?” We get so deep in daily work we lose sight of ourselves, and it’s astonishing how hard those questions can be. Read USA TODAY for a week, we say, with that multi-part question. One of my favorite stories is the guy who came back from a week with the paper and said, “It’s no use. Every time I pick it up I go straight to the sports section.” Boom. The guy who loved sports ended up creating an inner-city youth sports program. Another Halftimer said, “I have no passion,” but in that conversation, he regretted aloud that he had an easy path to a good college and so many kids don’t. Bingo. He opened a program to help underprivileged kids get into good schools. It’s not always that one-two-three, but you’d be surprised how far that question can take you.

Trade Up urges readers to form a personal “board of directors.” How do you get one? What can it do?

Dean Niewolny: When you can’t look at yourself—and no one can—you must see yourself in the eyes and minds of wise people who know you. So in the way public companies have an independent panel to ensure they act in their shareholders’ best interest, our clients at the Halftime Institute build a board, official or un-, to help them act in their own best interests—and to stay on mission.

The idea comes with a good pedigree. King Arthur had his roundtable. Franklin Roosevelt had a kitchen cabinet. It’s why brain trusts and think tanks exist. Proverbs 15:22 says “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many counselors they succeed.”

The chapter on this in Trade Up says much more, and better, but basically:

  1. Make your first and second directors your spouse and your coach (if you have one).
  2. Never mind age—get people who are spiritually mature, able to know you at your worst and believe the best, who know your field, can give good counsel, and are committed to your wellbeing.
  3. List your candidates and pray about them.
  4. Approach them openly with the idea. Don’t expect 100 percent participation.
  5. Set up an initial conversation and make it fun. (It can be one-on-one or at a barbeque.)
  6. Set meeting parameters—when, where, how often.

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

Dean Niewolny: You’re rolling the ball to me. Ephesians 2:10 frames my work and my life. For the Halftime Institute, it’s the North Star: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s worth getting clear on our strengths and gifts so that we can do those good works with our very best selves.

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

Dean Niewolny: Another easy question because no one can work for money alone any more than we can live by bread alone. We need the people and stories and truths in Scripture by which we see and know God—and therefore ourselves. Few people I know keep a Bible in-hand at all times, but few people go even to the bathroom without a cell phone. And that’s a big part of my love for Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App. Especially on a drive, you can just turn it on and listen.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Dean Niewolny: Just thank you. And for anyone who’s interested, 20 years of changed lives from the Halftime Institute and a whole lot of lessons you don’t have to learn the hard way make up this little how-to called Trade Up. If you’d like to know what Halftimers know, from the inside out, visit or

Bio: Dean Niewolny, author of Trade Up: How to Move from Just Making Money to Making a Difference, spent more than 20 years in executive roles with three of Wall Street’s largest financial firms, finishing his career in the financial sector as market manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Chicago, where he oversaw a $100 million market. In 2010, Dean traded his marketplace career for The Halftime Institute to help more people who, like him, wanted to expand their own “first half” success and skills into passion and purpose for meeting human needs and making a significant difference. Dean joined The Halftime Institute as managing director and, in 2011, became the CEO. He speaks at events around the world, encouraging business leaders to channel first-half achievement into a second half defined by joy, impact, and balance. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children and live in Texas.

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International Book Award Winner and Bible of the Year Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Now Available in NKJV

Buy your copy of the NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Also Now Available in Personal Size and Large Print in the NIV

Because context changes everything, and because historical parables and stories can come to life with just a bit of insight, Zondervan is pleased to announce that the award-winning Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (website) is now available in the New King James Version™ (NKJV).

When it was released in the New International Version (NIV) in August 2016, the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World developed a new scriptural experience for Bible readers everywhere with the idea that clarity could be given to even the most well-known Bible stories.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: An Interview with John Walton and Craig Keener]

The general editors of the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, John H. Walton and Craig. S. Keener, are experts in the field of ancient cultural origin, which allows them to create rich and engaging commentary for Bible readers to dive deeper into their study of the days before, during, and after Christ.

For example, the Infographic below helps to explain the cultural context of the story of the Last Supper in John 13 in the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. (Also see the Infographics The Good Samaritan and The Tower of Babel.)

(Click to enlarge the Infographic in a new window)
Buy your copy of NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

This Bible’s unique offerings have been noticed and praised by industry organizations like American Book Fest, which awarded the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible the International Book Award and recognized it as Award-Winner in the “Religion: Christianity” category. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible also received a 2017 Christian Book Award for Bible of the Year from the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA).

“Since the majority of Bible readers shop with translation as their first priority, it is imperative that we introduce long-time NKJV Bible readers to this insightful, engaging commentary,” says Melinda Bouma, associate publisher, Zondervan Bibles. “I trust NKJV readers will love and appreciate this study Bible every bit as much as NIV readers.”

Additionally, due to consumer requests, the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible is also available in new Large Print and Personal Size formats in the NIV translation.

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

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Bible News Roundup – Week of September 3, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

International Book Award Winner and Bible of the Year Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible Now Available in NKJV
Bible Gateway Blog

Dozens of Seals Adorned With Biblical Names Found in Jerusalem
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Interview: Bible Scholar Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

Is the Vulgate the Catholic Church’s Official Bible?
National Catholic Register
Read the Vulgate Bible on Bible Gateway
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible
Browse Catholic resources in the Bible Gateway Store

Festival Spreads Scripture and Revival Across Africa
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Africa Study Bible Launches with Global Events

Taking the Bible to Asia’s Outback

Francysk Skaryna’s Medieval 1517 Bible Delivered from Moscow to Minsk
BelTA News Agency
Read the Bible in Russian on Bible Gateway

1 in 3 American Evangelicals Is a Person of Color
PRRI: America’s Changing Religious Identity

More Americans Now Say They’re Spiritual But Not Religious

More Than Half UK Population Has No Religion, Survey Finds
The Guardian
British Social Attitudes news release

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

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How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: An Interview with Clay Scroggins

Clay ScrogginsPaul admonishes Christians to defer to those in authority, but what if they’re incompetent or half-hearted? How can you lead if you’re not in charge?

In this Q&A, Clay Scroggins (@clayscroggins) talks about his book, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority (Zondervan, 2017).

What lie about leadership did you believe early in your work life?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: When I was growing up, I felt most alive in positions of leadership. Unfortunately, it was just so natural to believe that I had to have a title to feel like a leader. Whether it was running for student government or being named captain of a sports team, I felt like the title gave me the opportunity to lead. The more I’ve learned about leadership, the more I realize it’s actually the other way around. The title comes after leadership has been proven.
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Life teaches us that the authority to lead and the opportunity to lead are a package deal. We think they go hand-in-hand like cranberry sauce and turkey. When we’re given the authority to lead—a title, a uniform, a corner office—then and only then will we have the opportunity to lead. But that’s just not true.

What have you learned about leadership while working under your boss, Andy Stanley?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: From my perspective, Andy has spent a lot of his life intentionally seeking to create a leadership culture where decisions are pushed down to the lowest level possible. He wants to ensure the people who are responsible for executing a decision have the authority to make the decision. If North Point gravitates toward one end of the spectrum, it’s toward freedom to lead out instead of having a culture of high control. At North Point, if you have a desire to push forward, ideas for adding value, and a sense of purpose, but fail to lead out because you aren’t in charge, you can only blame yourself.

I still remember the moment my excuses for not leading well were exposed. I realized I had been focused on blaming others instead of actually leading. My exposure was more of an internal conviction of my need to change. But it was still a game-changer, drastically changing the way I think about leadership. I learned that leaders don’t sit back and point fingers. Leaders lead with the authority of leadership—or without it. If you’re a leader, you’ll lead when you’re needed.

Are you suggesting authority isn’t part of the leadership equation?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: Absolutely not, but authority isn’t the starting block for leadership.

At one point during his ministry, Jesus warned his followers to not confuse a position of authority or power with a call to lead. Because they were in danger of getting this wrong, he made an abrupt distinction between how he wanted them to lead and the way things typically operated in the world. “Not so with you!” he says. What’s the “not so” of leadership that Jesus referred to here? It’s the type of leader who seeks authority for his or her personal gain. Jesus taught them that the best leaders, the ones who are aligned with him, will lead as servants, aware of their responsibility as they answer to a higher call.

Even when we have authority and official positions of leadership, inspiring leaders do not need to leverage their authority. “Not so with you” leaders learn that there are ways to cultivate influence and build trust. Jesus tells us this is the way to lead—by example and for the right reasons.

What role does ambition play in a leader’s life?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: To me, this gets to the heart of the why of leadership—the engine that motivates your leadership train.

Leaders are driven by something inside of them and it does no good to not know what that is. Too often, there’s a distortion inside of leaders when they’re faced with dealing with the ambition to lead but without the authority to lead. This distortion limits our influence and causes a host of issues that will follow us wherever our professional life takes us.

The distortion I see for many young leaders revolves around this one word: ambition. I call it a distortion for a reason. I believe God has placed a desire for more—a desire to see things change, to make things better, and to lead—inside of us, but it gets easily twisted. And when the ambition inside us is distorted, it affects every aspect of our leadership, and something meant for good can be co-opted by a selfish motive or a narrow focus that’s of no benefit to anyone but you. We either sit on our hands in passivity or we feel like we need to go out on our own to let our ambition loose. However, I believe there’s a third way.

What does it mean to “lead yourself” first?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: You’re in charge of you. You’re in charge of your emotions, your thoughts, and your decisions. It’s the law of personal responsibility, because everyone is responsible for leading something, even if that something is just you. When you’re not in charge, the most common temptation you’ll face is to abdicate responsibility. “If they had wanted me to take responsibility, they would have put me in charge. And since I’m not in charge of all, I’m in charge of nothing.” But this is dangerous. This attitude is not evidence of a lack of leadership; it’s a sign of bad leadership. Remember, all of us are leaders. You have leadership in you, and if you find yourself abdicating responsibility because you’re not in charge, step one is to recognize it. Step two is to fix it. When you’re not in charge, you can still take charge of you.

Do you see “leading yourself” as a prerequisite for leading others?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: Great leaders know how to lead when they’re in charge because they’ve been leading long before they were ever given that authority. That’s the big idea I hope people will take away from How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge. I hope loads of people will see that it’s possible to lead from where they are right now. I hope they know they don’t have to wait for that future position they’ve been dreaming about in order to begin leading.

Leadership starts right now, wherever you are. You have everything you need to lead. You have the examples of those around you. You have the example of Jesus. You interact with people you can serve every day. Leadership is not about waiting to lead until people call you a leader. It’s about doing everything you can to lead from right where you are.

One of the best things you can do today is to begin asking yourself questions about how and why you want to lead when you’re in charge. Then, start leading with those answers in mind. Anyone can daydream about what they will do once they’re in charge. But it takes a unique person, a real leader, to imagine this reality and then put it into action before they have that position of authority.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Dr. Clay Scroggins: Hebrews 12:1-3. I memorized this as a teenager and it’s one of the passages I just naturally come back to over and over again. I love the idea of running a race, because, though I don’t love running, I do relate to the idea that life is a marathon. It. Is. An. Everyday. Race. And the best way to run is to be as light as possible, throwing off everything that would hinder. When the race gets tough, keeping my eye on the prize, just as Jesus did, is the best way to run!

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

Dr. Clay Scroggins: I’ve used Bible Gateway for as long as I can remember using the internet. The layout is simple and so accessible. Bible Gateway is a gift to us all!

Bio: Clay Scroggins is the lead pastor of North Point Community Church, providing visionary and directional leadership for all of the local church staff and congregation. As the original and largest campus of North Point Ministries, ranked by Outreach Magazine in 2014 as the Largest Church in America, NPCC averages over 12,000 people in attendance. Clay works for Andy Stanley, one of the greatest leaders on the planet, and understands firsthand how to manage the tension of leading when you’re not in charge.

Starting out as a facilities intern (AKA, Vice-President of Nothing), he has worked his way through many organizational levels of North Point Ministries and know all too well the challenge of authority deprivation. Clay holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech as well as a Master’s degree and doctorate with an emphasis in Online Church from Dallas Theological Seminary. He lives in Forsyth County, Georgia, with his wife, Jenny, and their four children.

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Why Hospitality Isn’t What You Think It Is

Jody Jean DreyerBy Jody Jean Dryer

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13 (NIV)

I always pair service and hospitality as one term. I don’t believe service and hospitality are interchangeable, or that you should have one without the other. Happy, satisfied guests require both. Not convinced? Have you ever been assisted by someone as nice as could be but without the know-how to get the job done? On the other hand, you may have been served by someone more than competent, but the experience left you feeling like road kill, as though you’d been run over (and back again), and you have the tire marks to prove it.

Service implies providing a benefit before, during, and after interactions. And good service suggests leaving guests fully satisfied with their experience. But service is a transactional experience, a fair exchange between parties. Transformational guest experiences require something more. They require hospitality. If service is getting it done, then hospitality is loving on people in the process.

In the New Testament, the Bible refers to hospitality with the Greek word philoxenos (pronounced feel-o-zee-nos, according to my dictionary). It combines the idea of offering brotherly love (philo) to a stranger or alien (xenos). In Greek the word hospitality takes on an intentional meaning that stretches our more conventional understanding of opening our homes and hearts to family, friends, and neighbors. It expresses the idea of befriending and loving the stranger. Wouldn’t it be great if every interaction started with the attitude of loving a stranger? This mentality takes what could be a transactional interaction and makes it relational. Hospitality is not an equal exchange. (“We hosted last month. It’s their turn.”) It’s more like an unconditional offering of kindness and genuine affection with no expectation of reciprocity.

Service and hospitality is the alchemy of ability and aptitude that makes for unforgettable guest experiences, both personally and professionally. My still-developing skill in the area comes from being (all bragging aside) a great waitress, spending years in Guest Relations at Walt Disney World, coming from a down-home Midwest upbringing, living in the politely hospitable South, and participating in the In Search of Excellence training videos—just part of the curriculum offered to me in the school of life.

No matter the business or even philanthropic pursuit, the importance of this idea can’t be overstated. Good service and hospitality generates results and makes us feel oh-so-good. Its opposite—the failure to offer service and hospitality—sincerely and consistently erodes loyalty. As my merchandise bosses used to say, “If our guests go away, you do too.”

Whether they walk through the door of your home, your retail location, or your web portal, you serve guests, too. And instant surveys that measure service quality in business—not to mention Instagram, which displays impossibly beautiful models of hospitality to imitate on the home front—can paralyze us. Why does it so often feel overwhelming to open our home to guests? Maybe because we think everything has to be “just so” to offer an invitation. Let me remind you (and me): don’t fall victim to the “perfection trap.” Rest assured the best experiences are usually those that are warm, inviting, heartfelt, and often spontaneous. This is about entering into a relationship, not about displaying perfection. As my dad used to say, “Perfection is the enemy of good.” Or put another way, “Better something done imperfectly than nothing done perfectly.” All boiled down, southerners have it right. It’s living the spirit of, “C’mon over, y’all.”

The fact is, service and hospitality is never fully mastered, never perfect. It’s practiced. And its practitioners are people, not machines. Here’s what I observed when I worked in Guest Relations at Walt Disney World. Among the hundreds of guest comments we would get each day, more than 75 percent of them, both good and bad, were not about the attractions, food, or merchandise, but about Disney cast members, about the folks guests interact with at every point of their visit. The vast majority wanted to tell a story about how a cast member made their visit magical with a smile, a gesture, or some extra attention to detail.

Hospitality and service are choices, not accidents. Every day, putting the welfare of others before your own and going the extra mile on their behalf is a “you-before-me” mind-set. It can be taught and talked about in volumes of books and blogs, but ultimately it’s a choice. And that choice can become a mission and a passion and, ultimately, what defines you.


Beyond the CastleAdapted from Beyond the Castle: A Guide to Discovering Your Happily Ever After by Jody Jean Dreyer. Click here to learn more about this title.

Life isn’t always a fairy tale . . . or is it?

Beyond the Castle is written for anyone who yearns for their own Happily Ever After. Don’t we all want a fairy tale life? Our story, rich and alive with characters. Our adventure, even with its stops and starts, significant and purposeful. A life of fairy godmothers, fantasy, and fireworks. Can there be such a thing? Because all too often we feel stuck in routines devoid of pixie dust and magical moments.

Jody Jean Dreyer invites you to step inside the castles of Disney and beyond, unlocking the magic and mystery to illuminate life’s true treasure. Through her entertaining and enlightening stories from more than three decades and twenty-two positions in The Walt Disney Company, she will help bring that magic to life.

Jody experienced Walt Disney World for the first time on a family vacation. That trip inspired her first cast member role as a summer intern in a career that would lead her around the world and to The Walt Disney Company’s senior staff. She has collected one-of-a-kind tales and life lessons, each with their own playful and practical principles to guide you.

Join her on the ride of a lifetime as she takes you on a journey to the castle and beyond!

A 30-year Disney veteran, Jody Jean Dreyer was a member of Disney senior corporate staff. She led worldwide synergy, headed Disney’s global outreach initiatives, and held various marketing positions in both the theme park and motion picture units. Among many projects, she performed a major role in the grand opening of Disneyland Paris. In 1986, she traveled the world as the Walt Disney World Ambassador. She met her husband, John, former head of Disney’s Corporate Communications, at the Disney company Christmas party. They have been married 25 years and live in South Carolina. Follow Jody at

Crossing Cultures in Scripture: An Interview with Marvin J. Newell

Marvin J. NewellFrom Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is replete with narratives of God’s people crossing cultures in pursuit of God’s mission. What are the lessons for today to be learned from these stories?

Bible Gateway interviewed Marvin J. Newell (@marvnewell) about his book, Crossing Cultures in Scripture: Biblical Principles for Mission Practice (InterVarsity Press, 2017).

Briefly explain what human culture is.

Marvin J. Newell: Since Crossing Cultures in Scripture is focused on the topic of culture and humans crossing cultures, I deal with the essence of human culture right at the start. In the first chapter I define culture as “the distinctive beliefs, values, and customs of a particular group of people that determine how they think, feel, and behave.” Three components are coupled together: beliefs/think, values/feel, and customs/behave. These are the basic elements of every culture found anywhere in the world.

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What cultures do readers encounter in the Bible?

Marvin J. Newell: It’s amazing how many cultures are found throughout the Bible. Stop and think for a moment of some of the cultures that we encounter in Scripture: Hebrew, Chaldean, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Hittite, Mesopotamian, Syrian, Assyrian, Philistine, Canaanite, Moabite, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman to name most of them. Here’s the amazing part: God worked in and through his servants crossing through these cultures to bring his grand story of redemption to us.

You say God included culture in the Garden of Eden. How so? And how is culture deteriorating from that high point?

Marvin J. Newell: Genesis 1:26-27 is key to understanding how humans are cultural beings. We’re made in the image and likeness of God. From the phrases, “let us make…in our image… after our likeness,” these three phrases are striking because of their reference to a divine plurality by the repeated use of the personal plural pronouns us and our. The creation of man is of such importance that Moses portrays God as conferring in his plurality about his final and crowning creative act.

In his plurality God had to have relationship, and with relationship exudes the phenomenon of culture. Also, the double modifying phrase, “in our image…after our likeness,” signifies that he did so act. These two phrases aim to assert with emphasis that man is closely patterned after his Maker. The first word image, has the root meaning, “to carve,” or “cut from.” The second word, likeness, refers to “similarity.” These two conjoining phrases are used, among other things, to show that a God who himself possesses culture, created mankind with it as well.

In contrast, animals don’t possess culture. They have “traits,” “characteristics,” and “instincts,” but not culture. Their missing elements, referencing our definition, are beliefs and values.

To answer the second part of your question: as a result of this divine act, it can be inferred that in their perfect, pre-fallen state, Adam and Eve lived their lives in a harmonious, unadulterated culture—its highest form. Since their minds were permeated with truth, they had perfect beliefs. Since their pattern for living was modeled after God’s, they practiced perfect values. And since they knew no evil, they exhibited perfect customs.

Theirs was an unimaginably rich, full, and satisfying culture at its very finest. It was absolutely perfect! No humans who’ve lived since—because of the subsequent fall into sin (Genesis 3)—have experienced the high degree of cultural perfection that Adam and Eve lived and practiced. The zenith of cultural perfection was theirs.

How was the Tower of Babel the beginning of cultural diversity?

Marvin J. Newell: The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) is central to understanding how cultural diversity came about.

The account tells us that, because of their blatant disobedience, God placed a judgment on the oneness of humanity at that time by breaking them into, and then scattering them in, linguistic affinities. This has a direct correlation to the multiplicity of cultures. It naturally followed that once humans separated themselves from one another into distinct groups occupying distinct regions, that over time they developed distinct cultures. That’s because language is the audible expression of emotions, concepts, and thoughts of the mind. Over time these audio expressions manifest themselves in distinctive beliefs, values, and customs—the very components that make up culture.

A community affirms those beliefs, values, and customs by corporately living them out and transferring them to the next generation. A cultural identity develops. It can therefore be deduced that plurality of culture followed plurality of language directly after the Babel event. Multiculturalism emerged after the dispersion of peoples throughout the world.

What are some cultural lessons you’ve gleaned from prominent Old Testament characters and stories?

Marvin J. Newell: In Crossing Cultures in Scripture I deal with 16 Old Testament major crosscultural encounters. There are rich lessons of us today about crossing into other cultures.

From the story of Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16 & 21) we learn about honor-shame dynamics, something we’re blind to here in the West.

From the encounter of Abraham with the Hittites (Genesis 23), when he negotiated a burial place for Sarah, we learn about the importance of social credit and how to successfully negotiate crossculturally.

From David’s encounter with Uriah (a Hittite), the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), we learn about the dynamics of power-distance, something that again many times we in the West miss.

The encounter of the Queen of Sheba with King Solomon is a wonderful example of the progressive stages a foreigner experiences as a guest in host culture. And there are many, many more.

How did Jesus model crosscultural outreach?

Marvin J. Newell: I’m glad you brought up Jesus in this discussion, for Jesus is a prime example of how to effectively deal with those of other cultures. His encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:1-43) is a good example. Principles extracted from this model of Jesus taking the gospel crossculturally to the Samaritans are helpful to message bearers today.

Taking initiative, like Jesus did, is the very first and important step of crosscultural outreach. But coupled with initiative must also be a strategy. That strategy may be putting one’s self in the place of vulnerability, like Jesus did, so as to first be served by the very people one goes to serve. This is difficult for those today who feel they have a superior culture, personal status, education, technical expertise, or income level compared to those they go to serve. This attitude must be put aside if one is to identify with the people of the culture that they enter.

After those initial steps are taken, one must engage in the hard work of learning and then working through the worldview of the focused culture. Only after mastering its dominant beliefs, values, and customs, as Jesus demonstrated with the Samaritans, does one earn the right to speak into it and bring people to an understanding of the gospel. Once achieved, transformation of the heart can be realized.

What are Jesus’ “Marks of Crosscultural Success”?

Marvin J. Newell: The evening prior to his crucifixion, Jesus took time to reflect upon what he had accomplished during his three years of public ministry. In what is commonly called the “high priestly prayer” (John 17), he rehearsed to the Father in a candid report the essence of what he had accomplished as a crosscultural message bearer. Briefly, here are “marks” that come from that prayer:

v. 6“I have manifested your name to the people…” This statement speaks of incarnating himself among mankind. He had presented himself well. He didn’t stick out like some kind of misfit. He fit right in with the beliefs, values, and customs of the people. This related to Jesus’ winsome and impeccable interpersonal/relational skills.

v. 8“I have given them the words that you gave me…” This statement speaks of declaring. He proclaimed well, or correctly, the very words that the Father wanted people to hear though him. This related to Jesus’ teaching ministry skills.

v. 12“I have guarded them and not one of them is lost…” This statement speaks of protecting. He cared well, guarding so that no true follower became lost, especially to other competing beliefs. This related to Jesus’ protective ministry, or skills.

v. 18“I have sent them into the world.” This statement speaks of commissioning. He effectively “passed the baton” on to his followers. Jesus may be speaking prophetically of the Great Commission statements he still needed to give his disciples following his resurrection. But that obviously needed inclusion in his report at this time, before the events of his suffering took place. This related to the transitioning part of his ministry, or skills.

v. 22“The glory that you have given me I have given them…” This statement speaks of authorizing; he empowered his followers well. This related to Jesus’ willingness and ability to empower others, his empowering skills.

v. 26“I have made known to them your name…” This statement speaks of revealing. He transmitted understanding about the Father well. This related to Jesus’ communication ministry, or skills.

What do you want readers of Crossing Cultures in Scripture to put into practice in their Christian faith?

Marvin J. Newell: To start with Scripture when it comes to engaging other cultures. The Bible should be the first and final authority for all that we believe and practice, and this includes what it has to say about the phenomenon known as human culture. The Bible itself is a textbook on cultural understanding. Granted, there’s a place for the social sciences in understanding cultural dynamics. But these disciplines are imperfect, and should never take precedent over the teaching of Scripture on any subject, including how to encounter those of other cultures.

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

Marvin J. Newell: I have the Bible Gateway App on my iPad® and find it one of the most convenient ways of accessing the Bible and related study tools. I particularly like using the audio feature to listen to the Bible when driving.

Bio: Dr. Marvin J. Newell (DMiss, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior vice president of Missio Nexus, a network of evangelical mission agencies, churches, and training centers in North America. Previously he served as a missionary in Papua, Indonesia, a mission administrator, a professor of missions, and director of a missions association. He’s the author of Crossing Cultures in Scripture: Biblical Principles for Mission Practice, A Martyr’s Grace, Crossing Cultures in Scripture, and The Broad Road, Commissioned: What Jesus Wants You to Know as You Go, and Expect Great Things: Mission Quotes that Inform and Inspire. He’s also adjunct professor at Moody Theological Seminary and Western Seminary, and sits on the board of five different mission organizations. Marv and his wife Peggy have been involved in missions for 40 years.

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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Focuses Students on Bible Study

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA website

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is an interdenominational ministry to students and faculty on US college and university campuses, working with more than 41,000 core students and faculty on campuses nationwide.

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Bible study is one of InterVarsity’s key activities. It conducts investigative Bible studies with non-Christians called GIGs (Groups Investigating God) where two or more people have a discussion flowing from a passage of Scripture. Its purpose is to discover more about Jesus from the Bible. It’s a time for friends to be together, ask questions, and talk honestly about their lives. A GIG is focused on God. It’s intended to help people learn more about Jesus from the eyewitness reports in the Bible. In a GIG, God speaks for himself through his Word.

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[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Jesus Bible Infographic: There Is No BC]

To meet the challenge of reaching every campus, InterVarsity has a record number of staff serving a record number of colleges, with 1,341 staff ministering on 687 campuses. The number of people coming to faith through InterVarsity’s campus ministry is at its highest in InterVarsity’s 76-year history—up 12% from one year ago and up 130% from 10 years ago.

Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity, wants the organization to reach more campuses by pursuing new partnerships. “How can we best partner in reaching the approximately 2,600 campuses currently unreached by any major campus ministry?” Lin asks. “Could we empower more churches and other ministries to work alongside us to reach the campus?”
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Since 1946, InterVarsity has held the Urbana conference, where thousands of students gather every three years to learn of Christian ministry opportunities around the world. The next Urbana is scheduled for December 27-31, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Bible News Roundup – Week of August 27, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

500 Years After Reformation, Many Protestants Closer to Catholics than Martin Luther
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Authority Of Scripture: An Interview with Matthew Barrett
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible Kept Pastor Alive in North Korean Prison Camp
The Toronto Sun
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway

Bible Reading Marathon at Cannonsburgh Village in Tennessee
WGNS Radio
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Scripture Says Reading the Bible in Public is Important

Iowa Religious Leaders, Local Businesses Participate in Bible Reading Marathon
Globe Gazette

1860 Bible in Cathedral Church Of St. James, Toronto, Bears Royal Signatures of Diana and Family
The Toronto Star

100-Year-Old Japanese Bible Returned to US Senator’s Family
Hawaii News Now

Homecoming for War Hero’s Bible

Slavic Churches Bring Traveling Bible Exhibit to Spokane
The Spokesman-Review

Benton Schools to Become First in Arkansas to Display ‘In God We Trust’

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

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