Skip to content

Most Recent Blog Posts

Turning Disappointments into Healing: An Interview with Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Jerusalem Jackson GreerWhen you live between beauty and mess, celebration and mourning, disappointment and contentment, how can you find redemption in what is rather than what could be? One woman did it by practicing the presence of God through rediscovering ancient contemplative teachings and practices (solitude, study, work, prayer, and service) and pairing them with domestic arts (baking, gardening, sewing).

Bible Gateway interviewed Jerusalem Jackson Greer (@JerusalemGreer) about her book, At Home in this Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises (Paraclete Press, 2017).

Buy your copy of At Home in this Life in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What do you mean, “balance is a myth when it comes to living a wholehearted life”?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: For me, living a wholehearted life means intentionally choosing to be all-in with my life. It means agreeing with God’s desire that I be present to the moment at hand, the people, the struggles, and the triumphs—to the mess, and the beauty, of our lives—as it comes. And as we all know, life rarely happens at a steady pace. Love, heartache, losses, and gains—they all come in fits and bursts, it’s all feast or famine.

How many times over a lifetime do we say “when it rains, it pours!” Living a wholehearted life means we don’t try and contain the rain in neat little boxes to be dealt with later—this never works anyway. Instead it means we show up and we get wet. We allow those experiences—good, bad, messy, amazing—to soak us to our core, often changing us from the outside-in. Which is where the Holy Spirit work really begins.

But if we’re pursuing balance instead of wholehearted living, we’re going to live lives of frustration and resentment, because it’ll always seem to be just out of reach. Which is why I’m so keen on debunking the myth of a balanced life.

What are examples from the Bible of people living “at the crossroads of unraveled dreams and beautiful surprises”?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: My favorite examples would have to be stories of women who were placed in impossible circumstances, who found joy and hope in the midst of their situations. Naomi and Ruth, Rachel and Leah, Miriam, Rahab, and Esther. All of these women had dreams that came unraveled—lives that disintegrated due to forces outside their control—and each of them made choices to still show up in their lives. To go all-in; to be present to the situation instead of running away. Each and every woman chose to face the hard things in her life with courage, and each found beautiful surprises because of this choice, including Mary, the mother of Jesus.

What undoing aspects of your own life prompted you to write At Home in this Life?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: Not to sound like a country-western song, but my dog died, my chickens were killed, the roof fell in, I lost the farm, and then I broke my foot. It sounds ridiculous in retrospect, but yes, all those things happened, and they happened within an 18-month period. So needless to say, I was looking for a beacon of hope; a rope to pull myself out of the “pit of despair” as Anne of Green Gables would say. Which is how I stumbled onto Jeremiah 29 and the Benedictine practices.

How did Jeremiah 29 figure into your circumstances?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: A lot of what went wrong during the Awful Year (as I refer to it) centered on the house and place that we were living. It was while researching the context of Jeremiah 29:11 (a verse that was quoted to me multiple times in that season), that I begrudgingly noticed how similar the attitude of the Israelites (who were in exile at the time) was to mine. In other words, they were extremely petulant and dissatisfied. Which made me wonder if perhaps the instructions God was giving to them in order for them to be present and joyful in their life—to build houses, plant gardens, raise their families, and be a part of the community they were living in—could also be applied to my life. And the answer turned out to be a very clear YES.

How have you combined ancient Benedictine spiritual practices with crafts, recipes, and your everyday living?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: Benedictine monasticism is one that’s centered on life lived in community, so it was an easy skip-and-a-hop to apply a lot of the practices to modern domestic and family life.

Cooking together is a way to practice the discipline of mutual obedience (with is really respectful listening). Planting gardens is a way to practice steadfastness. DIY projects are a way to practice being good stewards of our home. Stitching prayer flags is a great way to practice stillness while creating a great tool for practicing everyday prayer.

By intentionally pairing things we would do anyway—cook, garden, care for our home—with faith practices, we’ve really found a deepening of our understanding of what it means to partner with God in our transformation. And it gives a greater purpose and motivation to do all these things as “unto Christ” instead of just for our own benefit.

Briefly explain how “usefulness and stillness can be partners or they can be enemies.”

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: While there’s nothing inherently wrong being efficient and prolific in our abilities to get things done, I think we’ve begun to mistakenly become accustomed to equating our productivity with our self-worth, and even our soul-worth.

We tend to look at the tangibles in our lives—our bank accounts, our homes, the numbers on our step-counters and bathroom scales, the ratings of the schools and neighborhoods we live in—for our sense of accomplishment and worth. We equate being useful with being busy.

But actually, sometimes the most useful thing we can do is to sit quietly with someone who’s grieving. Sometimes the most useful thing we can do for our families is to take an extra-long, non-calorie burning, totally inefficient start-and-stop walk around the block. Often we’re more useful to the things and people who matter most when we’re still, and slow, and not producing anything but presence.

What are 30-minute Sabbath practices?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: 30-minute Sabbath practices are mini-reset buttons. Ways that anyone—or any group—can press pause and savor the goodness of God and creation.

In the creation account, when observing the first Sabbath, God looks around, calls it all good and then rests. God paused, delighted, and then savored in the goodness of creation, instead of feverishly running to the next item on the cosmic “to-do list”!

30-minute Sabbath practices are intentional ways that we can all experience a respite from our overscheduled harried lives by making the decision to stop. Delight. And savor. When we do all three with intention, we can reset for our minds, bodies, and souls, falling back into a rhythm where we live, and move, and have our being in Christ.

What lessons have you learned from your worm farm?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: The number-one thing my worms taught me was that it’s often the least-sexy work that produces the richest gifts. Second to that would be that within us all is the ability to feel and hear and sense the presence of the Holy Spirit; but in order to do so, we have to show up to the job site. We have to be ready to receive.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: Right now I’m obsessed with John 21:1-14, specifically where Jesus makes breakfast for the disciples on the beach and says to them “come and eat!” I just get giddy thinking about this scene. This to me is what life is all about: gathering together around tables—dining tables, coffee tables, picnic tables, altar tables—and opening our arms wide and saying to everyone we see, “Come on y’all! Let’s eat!”

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

Jerusalem Jackson Greer: This is not a hyperbole, but I could not do what I do well, without Bible Gateway. I use Bible Gateway for every aspect of my work: writing, preaching, speaking, teaching, blogging. The Bible Gateway tab pretty much stays open on my laptop at all times.

Bio: In addition to writing At Home in this Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises and A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together, Jerusalem Jackson Greer is also a blogger, speaker, and Family Minister. Jerusalem, her husband Nathan, and their two boys Wylie and Miles, live in rural Arkansas where they’re attempting to live a slower version of modern life. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. She writes about all of this and more at

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

What Lukewarm in Laodicea Really Means

By Zach Hoag

The concept of the lukewarm Christian is drawn from Revelation 3, which gives us the last in a series of seven messages to seven influential churches in Asia Minor. Jesus, speaking through the apostle John, saved his strongest words for last: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Biblical Practice of Religion Might Save USA Christianity: An Interview with Zach Hoag]

Like many things that become Christian cliches, the metaphor of lukewarmness is usually taken out of context. It becomes a general warning against not having a hot enough faith, a committed enough walk with the Lord, a holy enough lifestyle, and instead being only halfheartedly devoted. Jesus hates this halfheartedness, preachers say, so you should rededicate your life to him or come to the front of the church and get delivered from whatever sin or spiritual laziness afflicts you. Jesus would rather you be cold or hot—either a licentious heathen or a totally on-fire follower. No more messing around in the middle.

(I sometimes wonder how many sincere but struggling Christians actually have chosen the cold option as a result of this browbeating.)

But the context of this warning to the church in Laodicea leads to a much different emphasis than individual commitment and spiritual holiness.

Our first clue comes in the fact that the message is addressed to a church—a body of Christians. Something was wrong collectively.

Our second clue is what Jesus quotes this group as saying: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’” The something wrong in this church was wrapped up in its economic status: it was wealthy and self-reliant.

And our third clue has to do with the metaphor itself. Why was Jesus, through John, using the metaphor of lukewarmness in the first place? As with most things in Scripture, we have to look at the historical context—the geography and background of the city. To the north of Laodicea, Hierapolis had healthy hot springs, and to the south, Colossae had cold springs that were clean and refreshing to drink from. But Laodicea had perpetual problems with its water supply, which was brought by aqueduct six miles from the south. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it had become lukewarm. It was tepid, unclean, and undrinkable, the kind of water that makes you sick, that you might spit or vomit out of your mouth, as Jesus is said to do, metaphorically speaking, with the entire Laodicean church.

Jesus’ words here, rather than a call to hot personal commitment and revival, confront a social sickness in the church that springs from embracing the lifestyle of the wealthy and elite. This sickness is especially hard to detect because the church appears to be numerically healthy and self sufficient. But with respect to the gospel and the kingdom mission, it is “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

To be spiritually healthy is to be either cold or hot. To be spiritually sick is to be lukewarm. In the words of New Testament scholar Michael Gorman, “Lukewarmness is not an ancient metaphor for indifference. The text, therefore, does not present a spectrum with two extremes—hot (for Jesus) and cold (against Jesus)—and a wishy-washy middle. Rather, it presents two antithetical points, the first of which is illustrated with two images, hot water and cold water. Both of these are pleasing and beneficial, while lukewarm water is precisely the opposite, disgusting to taste and not salutary. ‘Lukewarm’ here means so prosperous and supposedly self-sufficient (3:17) as to be completely out of fellowship with Jesus.”

The lukewarm Laodicean church was compromised by the status quo ways of the Roman Empire. They were, according to Gorman, “not only participating with the status quo when necessary as a means of survival, but fully embracing the lifestyle and values of the elite and powerful.” And in this sense, lukewarmness is a temptation that the church has always faced, right up to the present day. The living water that Jesus offers can quickly become tainted by indulging in the wealth and power of the empire.

And that’s because empire wealth and power are signs of allegiance to a kingdom other than the kingdom of God. The Laodiceans’ spiritual malady was not a lack of individual moral or spiritual commitment but the collective compromise with empire values that put them out of step with the kingdom of God.


Adapted from The Light Is Winning by Zach Hoag. Click here to learn more about this title.

If anyone had good reason to join the league of the “Nones,” the “Dones,” and the deconstructionists, it would be Zach Hoag. After growing up and out of the compound walls of a Texas cult, and becoming a failed church planter in one of the most post-Christian cities in America, Zach was faced with both a crisis and a choice. He loved Jesus, yet questioned: If the church is such a broken system, is it really worth belonging to anymore?

The viral upswing of the “spiritual but not religious” trend has cast religion as going rapidly out of style. Yet even in his own desert of deconstruction, Zach couldn’t shake his desire for a spiritual home. His search ultimately led him to look behind the statistics, where Zach found an astonishing undercurrent subversively at work.

The truth, as Zach discovered, is that we are in a cultural moment of apocalypse. Not an end-of-the-world apocalypse, but in the very literal sense of the word which translates simply, “a revealing.” Perhaps the downtrend of Christian faith in America is just the kind of Great Revealing we need to show us who we really are as American Christians, who Jesus really is in our midst, and how we can step into the flourishing faith he has always intended for us.

For anyone who is anxious about the future of the church and their place in it, The Light Is Winning rallies to an unexpected, unshakeable hope: Could it be that we’ve made religion out to be the culprit when in fact, religion is just what we need to revive us? Could it be that our struggle for relevance must come to a necessary end, so that we can get to the real? After all, isn’t this the essence of the story of God: death paves the way for a resurrected, deeply rooted, flourishing faith. Such faith can be yours. The Light Is Winning will show you how.

Zach Hoag is an author, preacher, and creator from New England. Planting a church in one of the least churched cities in the US (Burlington, Vermont), and pursuing ministry beyond that in a variety of spaces, Zach has learned a few things about the power of a deeply rooted life in Christ. Zach has found belonging in Westford, Vermont where he lives with his wife, Kalen, and their three girls. Find him writing at and follow him on Twitter @zhoag.

With God in Russia: Christian Hope Despite Persecution

Buy your copy of With God in Russia in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayRepublished for a new century, With God in Russia (HarperOne, 2017) is the classic memoir of an American-born Jesuit priest imprisoned for 15 years in a Soviet gulag during the height of the Cold War—a poignant and spiritually uplifting story of extraordinary faith and fortitude as indelible as Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Delacorte Press, 2014).

[For inspiring reading in your inbox, Bible Gateway offers free email devotionals to help you increase your awareness of the persecution and the hope Christians face every day around the world. Sign up to receive the free email devotionals Standing Strong in the Storm and 40 Days with Dietrich Bonheoffer]

I am not sure [this] story in itself will answer clearly the [hard question], “How did you manage to survive?” To me, the answer is simple and I can say quite simply: Divine Providence. But how can I explain it?

I don’t just mean that God took care of me. I mean that He called me to, prepared me for, then protected me during those years in Siberia. I am convinced of that; but then, it is my life and I have experienced His hand at every turning. Yet I think for anyone to really understand how I managed to survive, it is necessary first of all to understand, in some small way at least, what sort of man I was and how I came to be in Russia in the first place. —Walter Ciszek, S.J.

While ministering in Eastern Europe during World War II, Polish-American priest Walter Ciszek, S.J., was arrested by the Russian secret police (NKVD), shortly after the war ended. Accused of being an American spy and charged with “agitation with intent to subvert,” he was held in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison for five years. The Catholic priest was then sentenced without trial to ten more years of hard labor and transported to Siberia, where he would become a prisoner within the forced labor camp system made famous in Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize-winning book The Gulag Archipelago (HarperCollins, 2014).

Read an extended excerpt from With God in Russia.

Buy your copy of With God in Russia in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.

Buy your copy of With God in Russia in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him.

All through that summer of 1940, until October, I worked as an unskilled laborer in a mixed brigade (men and women), hauling logs from the river and stacking them in long rows over 6 feet high and some 30 yards in length. It was rough work. The rows were higher than I was, so the last few logs had to be heaved into place above my head. I had no gloves, and worked barehanded with the rough bark until my hands bled. —Walter Ciszek, S.J.

“None of us are going to be incarcerated in a Soviet labor camp, for the simple reason that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist. And although there are many Christians today who suffer persecution…, for the most part our lives do not involve such brutality. So some readers, although moved and inspired, might put this book down, because they feel unable to connect it to their own lives. They might say, ‘I’m no hero. I could never do what Ciszek did,’ or, ‘What do my small problems have to do with his?’ That, however, would be missing the point of his book, which in fact offers a great deal of wisdom for our daily lives.” —From the Afterword by James Martin, SJ

“This is really the story of a non-spy who stayed out in the cold. It builds in interest and suspense from page to page.”—Denver Rocky Mountain News

“…a human and historical document of compelling interest.”—The Atlantic

“…the great story of spirit and courage, written by the Catholic priest who literally disappeared after being taken prisoner in Russia.”—Catholic Sentinel

“His integrity and his religious faith light up his sturdy account of what he endured and his report on what he saw, an American prisoner’s view of the Soviet Union.”—New York Post

“…at once an unusually penetrating picture of Siberian life and also an ennobling insight into a simple and unpretentious man who would never admit to being one of God’s heroes.”—The Sign

“…holds the reader in a grip of suspense that the late Ian Fleming would have envied.”—Pittsburgh Press

“More than a superbly interesting adventure story, With God in Russia is a moving document of a man’s faith in his God and his God’s goodness in allowing him to live through his ordeal.”—The Advocate

“…an incisive portrayal of the struggle for existence in a Russian prison camp. The very simplicity of presentation makes it unforgettable.”—Louisville Times

“A truly inspiring story, to our age what Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead was to his.”—Ave Maria

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: An Interview with Michael R. Licona

Michael R. LiconaWhy are the same events sometimes reported differently in the four Gospels? Should the biblical accounts be viewed as contradictory and unreliable? What were the intentions of the original writers centuries ago?

Bible Gateway interviewed Michael R. Licona (@MichaelLicona) about his book, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Buy your copy of Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What is the issue your new book addresses?

Michael R. Licona: Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time reading the Gospels has observed the manner in which they report the same stories often differs to the point of apparent contradiction. This is perhaps the foremost objection to the historical reliability of the Gospels.

Evangelicals often attempt to harmonize the accounts. While harmonization can be a legitimate approach in some cases, when I read the Gospels in view of their biographical genre, I get the strong impression that harmonization is very often the wrong road to take and that the Gospel authors would have said, “No. Don’t do that, because the event did not occur as you’re proposing.” Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? takes a fresh look at the differences and seeks to discover what led to them.

What does harmonizing the Gospels mean and what do you see as a problem with this approach?

Michael R. Licona: By harmonization efforts, I mean the common practice of laying the parallel Gospel accounts on top of one another, similar to transparencies on an overhead projector. The objective of such efforts is to demonstrate that all of the details—even those appearing to be in conflict—actually fit together without much, if any, tension. Unfortunately, these efforts sometimes lead to subjecting the Gospels to a sort of hermeneutical waterboarding until they tell the exegete what he or she wants to hear.

Those performing strained harmonization are doing so for honorable reasons. They seek to have a high view of Scripture and believe their harmonization efforts are treating the Gospels with respect while rescuing them from skeptics who want to dismiss their contents.

The problem is the literary conventions for writing history and biography in antiquity differed in some ways from those of today. So, we can go wrong by reading the Gospels as though their authors wrote them with 21st century literary conventions in mind.

A truly high view of Scripture embraces the Gospels as God has given them to us rather than forcing them into a mold of how we think he should have. Those failing to follow this principle may claim to have a high view of Scripture when what they actually have is a high view of their view of Scripture. And that’s misguided piety.

How should the four Gospels be properly understood in light of the literary genre of Greco-Roman biography?

Michael R. Licona: The majority of New Testament scholars agree that, at minimum, the Gospels share much in common with the genre of Greco-Roman biography. Therefore, it should be of no surprise to observe the Gospel authors using the compositional devices that were part-and-parcel of that genre. In fact, we should be surprised if we did not observe it. Accordingly, gaining a better understanding of that genre should, in principle, yield a greater understanding of the Gospels for us.

So, what were the objectives of ancient authors and how did they write to achieve them? Did their techniques result in the type of differences we observe in the Gospels? As I conducted my research with the objective of answering these questions, I discovered that reading the Gospels in view of their biographical genre sheds light—sometimes a great deal of light—on numerous items that were not so clear previously.

Most evangelicals are willing to acknowledge that the Gospel authors used some compositional devices. For example, most agree that Matthew has compressed the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree and narrates it as though the fig tree withered and died the moment Jesus cursed it, whereas Mark narrates the story as though the withering probably took a little more time. But they usually only acknowledge the use of a compositional device when harmonization appears almost impossible.

Where I differ is, I place a priority on genre over harmonization. So, before seeking to harmonize Gospel texts, one should read the Gospels in view of their biographical genre, which includes their authors’ use of the various compositional devices commonly used when writing history and biography. Both of us see harmonization and compositional devices as solutions. Where we differ is which of these should be given priority.

How does your book use the techniques used by the ancient biographer Plutarch to account for compositional techniques used by the Gospel writers?

Michael R. Licona: Well, I first observed how Plutarch reports the same stories in two or more of the biographies he wrote. I then assessed how the same author—Plutarch—told the same stories differently. Then I identified patterns of the differences. I then inferred compositional devices Plutarch likely employed that resulted in those differences.

I did not discover those compositional devices. In fact, classicists have for some time recognized their use in Greco-Roman literature. I just examined and assessed the differences in Plutarch’s extant biographies more than had been previously done. I then assessed numerous stories in the Gospels where their authors most likely used similar compositional devices. It was quite exciting to see the results!

What is literary spotlighting and how is it used in the Gospels?

Michael R. Licona: Imagine you’re at a theatrical performance and there are multiple actors on the stage. At one point, the lights go out and a spotlight shines on one of the actors. You know other actors are on the stage. But you can’t see them because the spotlight is focused on one person.

Literary spotlighting is when an author mentions only one person performing an action while being aware of several others who are present. Of all the compositional devices I observed being used by Plutarch, literary spotlighting was perhaps the most common.

There are occasions in the Gospels where literary spotlighting is likely at play. Take the resurrection narratives, for example. In Matthew and Mark, there is one angel at the tomb, whereas there are two in Luke and John. It seems likely to me that Mark, followed by Matthew, is shining his literary spotlight on the angel who announces that Jesus has been raised.

In all of the Synoptics, multiple women visit the tomb and discover it empty, whereas only Mary Magdalene is mentioned in John. It seems likely to me here as well that John is aware of the presence of other women while shining his spotlight on Mary. After all, he reports Mary announcing to Peter and the Beloved Disciple, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Who’s the “we” to whom Mary refers? Probably the other women who were present. Then observe what happens next. In John, Peter and the Beloved Disciple run to the tomb and discover it empty, whereas Luke 24:12 mentions Peter running to the tomb and no mention is made of the Beloved Disciple. However, just 12 verses later, Luke reports there were more than one who had made the trip to the tomb. These observations strongly suggest Luke and John were employing literary spotlighting in their resurrection narratives.

As a Christian apologist, you regularly debate atheists. How should the average Christian respond to non-believers who question the historical veracity of the Gospels (and the Bible itself) and claim the books of the Bible are replete with errors and inconsistencies?

Michael R. Licona: My research did not include the Old Testament. So, I can only speak in reference to the Gospels. Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? does not build a case for the historical reliability of the Gospels. However, if what I’m suggesting in the book is correct—that an overwhelming number of Gospel differences are not only reasonably but also most plausibly accounted for by reading the Gospels in view of their biographical genre—the tensions resulting from nearly all of the differences disappear and arguing that the Gospels are historically unreliable in view of their differences is no longer sustainable.

That said, the historical reliability of the Gospels is the topic of my present research. Last year, Bart Ehrman and I had a lengthy written discussion on the matter. Those interested may read it at

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway?

Michael R. Licona: Bible Gateway is a tremendous resource for Christians who desire to engage in Bible study. They can look-up a Bible text, do a word search, and find cross-references while having an almost endless number of translations in many languages available at their fingertips. It’s nothing short of a fantastic resource you provide and at no cost to those using it!

Bio: Michael R. Licona (PhD, University of Pretoria), the president of Risen Jesus, Inc., and associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University, is the author of The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, and Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

Scripture Says Reading the Bible in Public is Important

The Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway says the Bible is meant to be read, but it is also meant to be heard. The public reading of the Bible is an ancient practice; as old as the content of Scripture itself. And people still read the Bible in public today.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bible Project: An Interview with Tim Mackie and Jon Collins]

…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13

Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. Deuteronomy 5:1

So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Then Joshua read all the words of the law out loud. He read the blessings and the curses. He read them just as they are written in the Book of the Law. Joshua 8:34

On the first day of the seventh month, the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from this Law that the Lord had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. From early morning till noon, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully. Nehemiah 8:1-3

At that time the Book of Moses was read out loud. All the people heard it. Nehemiah 13:1

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 2 Kings 23:1-2

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to liberate the oppressed,
    and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.” Luke 4:16-21

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

Bible News Roundup – Week of June 25, 2017

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
Bible Gateway Weekly Brief
Newsletter signup

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Destroyed in Less Than a Day
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Ten Commandments Past and Present: An Interview with David L. Baker

99 County Bible Reading Marathon in Iowa to be Held in Creston
Creston News
The Daily Nonpareil: Council Bluffs, Iowa Group Reading Aloud Bible for Second Year
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Scripture Says Reading the Bible in Public is Important

Gov. Matt Bevin Publicly Signs Bill Allowing Kentucky’s Public Schools to Teach the Bible
John Fea: The Bible in Kentucky Schools

Smithsonian Exhibit: Religion in Early America—The Presidents’ Bibles
National Museum of American History
NPR: To Understand How Religion Shapes America, Look To Its Early Days

Swedish Christian School Preschoolers Banned from Saying ‘Amen,’ Talking About the Bible
Education News

At Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, A Robot is Copying the Bible
Pittsburgh City Paper

United Bible Societies Roundtable Exchange Being Held in Sydney, Australia
Eternity News

Biblica Finishes Kurdish Bible Translation
Read the Bible in multiple languages on Bible Gateway

South Carolina Pastor Spent Countless Hours Crafting Model of the Tabernacle
McDowell News
Read about the tabernacle in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Experience the Tabernacle: An Interview with Jeanne Whittaker

Bible Commissioned by King George II of England Found Nebraska
NTV News

Who Reads the Bible in Norway?

Christianity on the Wane in Australia, But Pentecostal Church Bucks Trend
The Guardian

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

Did You Know? How to Compare Different Bibles Side-by-Side on Bible Gateway

Ever wanted to compare how two or more different Bibles translate the same passage? Bible Gateway makes it easy to compare Bibles! Watch this video introducing this useful feature—and then follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to do this yourself for free on Bible Gateway.

It’s easy to compare more than one Bible side-by-side (sometimes called a parallel Bible view) on Bible Gateway. Here’s how to do it.

How to Compare a Bible Verse in More Than One Bible Translation

Start by looking up the Bible passage you want to view—for example, 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn’t matter what Bible version you use; choose one of the Bibles you want to compare.

Once the passage appears, look for the Parallel button button to the top right of the Bible text. You can find it here:

Parallel Bible button

Click or tap that button to add a second Bible panel right alongside the original, showing the same Bible passage you looked up (in our example, 1 Corinthians 13).

Use the drop-down menu directly above the Bible text to choose a second Bible translation to compare to the first:

Bible selector

You did it—you’re are now looking at the same Bible passage in two different translations side-by-side! (Here’s what it looks like to view two different Bibles side-by-side.) But that’s not all you can do. You can continue adding new Bibles to compare by clicking the Parallel button button again:

Add another Bible

You can view a total of up to five Bible translations in parallel in this manner. Here’s what it looks like to view five different Bibles side-by-side. To remove a Bible translation, click or tap the Close button button in the top right of the Bible panel.

That’s how easy it is to compare different translations of the same Bible passage! Go give it a try—look up any Bible passage (try our example, 1 Corinthians 13) and add a few parallel Bible translations. How do the Bibles you chose differ in the way they translate the same passage?

Once you’ve gotten the hang of this feature, there’s one more useful tip to learn. We’ll talk about it below. But first, let’s step back for a moment and ask…

Why View a Bible Passage in More Than One Bible?

That’s a neat trick, but you may be wondering: what’s the point of comparing different translations of a Bible passage? If you already have a favorite Bible translation, shouldn’t you just stick with it? Is there any value in seeing how other Bibles render the same passage? There are several cases in which comparing Bibles side-by-side is very useful.

1. It’s an excellent way to look for nuances in the Bible text that can’t be conveyed in a single translation. There’s not always one correct way to translate the original languages of the Bible; sometimes the full meaning of a passage becomes clearer when you see how different translators chose to translate the same Greek or Hebrew text. Sometimes one translation brings out a shade of meaning that isn’t evident in another translation. Think of it as examining a Bible passage from several different angles, to make sure that you understand the full meaning and message.

2. Comparing Bible translations is a good way to try different Bible versions and identify the Bible that speaks most clearly to you. There are a lot of Bibles out there to choose from (there are over 50 English Bibles on Bible Gateway, for example!) and it can be tough to find the one that’s just right for you. If you’re uncertain which Bible is best for you, use this feature to compare several different Bibles at once. You’ll quickly identify Bibles whose language and translation styles are a good fit for you.

3. It’s a great way to learn to read the Bible in a different language. You aren’t limited to just English Bibles—you can read any Bible on Bible Gateway side-by-side with any other. If you’re learning a second language, this is a great way to practice your new language skills. You can even use this as an aid in learning the original Bible languages—try looking up a verse in both an English translation and in an ancient Hebrew or Greek translation! And in addition to helping you read the Bible in a new language, this makes it easy for you to share Bible verses with friends who don’t share your language.

Use a Shortcut to the Side-by-Side Bible View

Above, we described the most common way people use Bible Gateway’s side-by-side Bible feature. But there’s one extra trick worth learning: a shortcut that will save you some time if you use this feature frequently.

If you know in advance what Bibles you want to compare, you can save some time (and clicks) by performing your search on the Passage Lookup page. On the Passage Lookup page, look for the Select version(s) box. Click Lookup passage(s) in multiple versions directly beneath the drop-down:

Multiple versions

This will expand the version selector to five drop-downs. Select the Bibles you want to compare:

Five versions

Clicking Lookup passage will then show your specified Bible passage in all of the Bible versions you selected, side-by-side.

(This trick also works on the Keyword Search page, in case you want to search multiple Bibles for a particular keyword rather than for a specific Bible passage.)

That’s it—you now know everything there is to know about Bible Gateway’s side-by-side Bible feature. it’s one of the easiest ways to deepen your Bible reading and study. Go give it a try and see what you learn!

Now that you’ve learned how to compare different Bible translations, you’ll find it useful to learn about some of Bible Gateway’s other useful Bible study features: highlighting, favorites, and note-taking. These features are all available when you create a free Bible Gateway personal account. Create your free account today and get more out of Bible Gateway!

NIV Revolution Bible and NIV True Images Bible Updated for a New Teen Generation

Buy your copy of the NIV Revolution Bible: The Bible for Teen Guys in the Bible Gateway Store

Trusted Resources for Teen Girls and Guys Packed with Tools and Insights to Help Teens Navigate Today’s Contemporary Cultural Issues

For 15 years, the bestselling NIV True Images Bible and the bestselling NIV Revolution Bible have been trusted resources guiding teen girls and guys towards a closer relationship with God.

[Read the New International (NIV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]

[Sign up for the NIV Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway]

[Browse the Bible section in the Bible Gateway Store]

Updated for today’s generation, these new editions (website) are packed with challenging insights, smart advice, and open discussion about today’s contemporary cultural issues, empowering young men and women ages 13 to 18 to ask big questions, discover fresh perspectives, and impact others, while living their faith on the edge. Both Bibles include the complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version.

Buy your copy of the NIV Revolution Bible: The Bible for Teen Guys in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day            Buy your copy of the NIV Revolution Bible: The Bible for Teen Guys, Imitation Leather, Gray and Navy in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day            Buy your copy of the NIV Revolution Bible, Imitation Leather, Blue in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Buy your copy of the NIV True Images Bible: The Bible for Teen Girls in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day            Buy your copy of the NIV True Images Bible: The Bible for Teen Girls, Imitation Leather, Blue and Gold in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day            Buy your copy of the NIV True Images Bible: The Bible for Teen Girls, Imitation Leather, Pink in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

“The NIV True Images Bible has helped teen girls to see themselves through the eyes of their Heavenly Father, and the NIV Revolution Bible has helped teen guys explore what it means to live a revolutionary life for God,” says Melinda Bouma, associate publisher, Zondervan Bible Group. “Both have helped teens to live with confidence, love, and grace. As these are bestselling teen Bibles in the market, we are committed to updating them frequently, and we’re excited to see them help a new generation, post-millennials, navigate the issues that are affecting them today.”

See the NIV True Images Bible infographic 11 Creative Ways to Be Generous

Features of the NIV True Images Bible give teen girls a fresh perspective on faith-related issues and provide tools to thrive in a complex world. They include:

  • 12 magazine-style quizzes that help girls learn more about themselves
  • In-depth book introductions establish the context of each book in the Old and New Testaments
  • “In Focus” notes explain the Bible’s perspective on contemporary cultural topics such as perfectionism, spiritual growth, eating disorders, pornography, prayer, self-harm, relationships, sex, bullying, and popularity on social media
  • Over 300 “Genuine” notes focus on the value of authenticity and true inner beauty
  • Over 100 “Love Notes” give opportunities to reflect on God’s love
  • 500 “Dare to Believe” challenges help teens discover God’s truth about life and faith
  • 52 “Mirror Images” share the stories of biblical women
  • “Christianity 101” introduces teens to the basics of Christianity
  • “Beliefs 101” helps teen girls dig deep into the underlying principles that shape their worldview

See the NIV Revolution Bible infographic What Should I Do When I Feel Anxious?

Features of the NIV Revolution Bible are strategically designed to empower guys in their quest for truth about faith and their surrounding world, such as:

  • 12 full-color pages offer life-impacting ideas like “50 Passages That Show God Is a Revolution God” and “50 Ways to be a Better Friend”
  • In-depth book introductions that give an overview of the context of each book in the Old and New Testaments
  • “Battlelines” answer tough questions that teens have and present the Bible’s perspective on spiritual growth and contemporary cultural topics such as self-harm, sex, divorce, environmental care, prayer, drug use, underage drinking, pornography, modesty, reading the Bible, relationships, and popularity on social media
  • Over 200 “Be the Change” articles challenge teen guys to discover God’s truth on various topics
  • 100 “God Calling” notes point to verses to help you find God’s plan for your life
  • 100 “Live the Revolution” notes show you how to change your life and revolutionize your impact on
  • 50 “Matchups” capture the strategies, reflections, and conflicts between the Bible’s heroes and villains
  • “Christianity 101” introduces teens to the basics of Christianity
  • “Beliefs 101” helps teen guys dig deep into the underlying principles that shape their worldview

About the NIV:
The New International Version (NIV) is the world’s bestselling modern-English Bible translation—accurate, readable, and clear, yet rich with the detail found in the original languages. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica, a nonprofit ministry organization, translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world. To learn more, visit

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

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

The Money Challenge: An Interview with Art Rainer

Art RainerDid God create us to be secure, self-protective hoarders? Or to become the conduit through which his generosity flows? What does the Bible say about money, generosity, and the purpose of financial well-being?

Bible Gateway interviewed Art Rainer (@ArtRainer) about his book, The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money (B&H Books, 2017).

Buy your copy of The Money Challenge in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What prompted you to write The Money Challenge?

Art Rainer: Like many Americans, those in the church are experiencing significant financial stress. It’s impacting their career, ministry, family, and their generosity. God designed us not to be hoarders, but conduits through which his generosity flows. The Money Challenge helps readers discover and realize this design. My hope is that readers will begin living the fulfilling, adventurous, and generous life on which too many of us are missing out.

Why did you start writing about financial issues? How have some of these principles affected your life personally?

Art Rainer: I’m a story of one that chose, starting in his teenage years, to use sound, basic financial wisdom and the results that can come from it. The advice found in The Money Challenge really works. I’ve experienced it firsthand.

Unfortunately, there are many who have or are making harmful financial choices. From working in a bank to working in a church, I’ve heard many of these stories. And I just want to help. I want to help people right their financial picture and steward their money the way God intended them to steward it. I want to see pain, frustration, and stress replaced with contentment, joy, and open-handedness.

How much emphasis does the Bible place on money management and the concept of generosity?

Art Rainer: Money management and generosity are woven throughout Scripture. There are more than 2,000 verses related to money and the stewardship of our resources. Jesus spoke about money more than any other topic. To say that the Bible emphasized money and generosity is an accurate statement. Why the focus? Because, according to the Bible, money management is a reflection of heart management (Matthew 6:21).

It can be difficult to decide how to be generous with money. For example, what to do when a stranger on the street asks for money, or deciding what organization or cause to donate to. How does the Bible lead a person to be responsibly generous?

Art Rainer: Stewardship demands thoughtful, kingdom-advancing generosity (Proverbs 21:20). While this type of generosity starts with the local church, it does not preclude additional generosity outside the local church. Whether someone considers giving to a stranger on the street or to a kingdom-advancing nonprofit, he or she should not be flippant about the decision. Flippant giving tends to be wasteful. Thoughtful giving tends to be impactful. Wherever you give, get to know the recipient of your generosity and how that money will be used.

What’s the biggest misunderstanding you’ve seen among Christians when it comes to understanding God’s design for our money?

Art Rainer: Generosity is about the leftovers. For many Christians, generosity is what happens once all of their needs and wants are met. But this is not what the Bible teaches us. Generosity is a priority. Our giving is meant to be the sun around which our budget revolves.

Why is it so important that believers manage their money well?

Art Rainer: God has allowed us to be a part of his kingdom-advancing mission. He’s given each of us resources to use for his glory and his mission. When we mismanage our money, we erect barriers to leveraging our resources for his mission. We get frustrated. We feel stressed. We feel like we’re missing out on something—because we are. We’re missing out on the open-handed life God designed us to live.

What’s the purpose of the challenges at the end of each chapter?

Art Rainer: There are 30 different challenges throughout the book. Some challenges involve money, while others do not. The challenges are meant to help readers consider, and even experience, the generous life whether they have much or little.

How do you hope that individuals use the book? How can pastors use this book to lead their congregation toward greater biblical stewardship?

Art Rainer: I hope individuals use this book to restore health to their finances, but not just for the sake of being financially healthy. My concern is not that they become rich but enriched; to be in a place where they can live more open-handed and generous.

The Money Challenge teaches that the local church is the priority for one’s giving. Pastors can use this book to initiate a 30-day Money Challenge for church members or make it a part of a sermon series.

There are so many books about money, why should people read The Money Challenge?

Art Rainer: You can have financial health and still be unhappy with your resources. Most books make financial health an end. In The Money Challenge, financial health is not an end but a means to a greater, more satisfying end. The book desires to align the reader with God’s design for them and their money.

What do you hope readers do after reading this book?

Art Rainer: I hope they continue on their journey to financial health and generous living. I hope that they continue to pursue the contentment and adventure God has for us when we align our money with his design. And, of course, I hope they invite their friends to try The Money Challenge.

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

Art Rainer: Bible Gateway is a phenomenal resource. I’m grateful that such a resource is available to all.

Bio: Art Rainer is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and an MBA from the University of Kentucky. He’s the author of The Money Challenge, Raising Dad, Simple Life, and The Minister’s Salary, and lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!

The Biblical Practice of Religion Might Save USA Christianity: An Interview with Zach Hoag

Zach HoagThe trending sentiment of “spiritual but not religious” suggests the demise of religion. What if we’ve gotten religion all wrong? What if the rooted biblical practice of religion is just what we need to revive us? Does the downtrend of Christianity in America have to be the end? Or can it be the first step back toward the flourishing faith God intends for us? After all, isn’t this the essence of the Christian story: death paves the way for resurrection?

Bible Gateway interviewed Zach Hoag (@zhoag) about his book, The Light is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life (Zondervan, 2017).

Buy your copy of The Light is Winning in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What’s the meaning of your book’s title?

Zach Hoag: The Light is Winning is ultimately a statement of hope—that despite the statistical decline of Christian faith in the US, and despite many of the harmful realities and trends this decline is revealing, there’s resurrection, renewal, and flourishing to be had at both the micro (individual faith journey) and macro (American church) levels.

You see denominational downsizing and the increasing number of people uninterested in church as being an apocalypse. What do you mean and why do you consider it in a positive sense?

Zach Hoag: Well, it isn’t positive on the surface, and that needs to be acknowledged first and foremost. Numerical decline in the church and tectonic shifts in the culture (towards increasing secularism and pluralism, for instance) bring about a very real suffering as congregations, denominations, and institutions lose their ability to sustain and have desired influence. It’s a death of sorts.

But that’s precisely where the gospel “flip” takes place: Jesus said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Death and resurrection is not only a one time event but the pattern of life in Christ (1 Peter 2:21). And in that sense, this death and decline present an opportunity for the church in American to see what it might be revealing—and then move towards reflection, repentance, and resurrection.

Why do you say authoritarianism and ‘empire business’ are pervasive problems in American Christianity?

Zach Hoag: I say that first because, at the heart level, human beings have a problem with power. All of us do, in differing degrees, and church leaders and church structures are no exception.

I say this also because, at a cultural level, our understanding of what constitutes healthy and effective authority is changing, and changing drastically. While there are doubtless many churches and movements that would like to deny there’s anything wrong with how we “do” authority, I believe we’re caught up in a tide that will, whether we like it or not, be sweeping away our unhealthy practices regardless. So we might as well look at what’s being revealed now, and lean into the opportunity for change.

“Empire business,” then, is specifically when church leadership and church structures are compromised by the empire values of power, wealth, and violence. Scripture speaks against these values clearly and often, and Jesus’s own description of healthy ministry militates against these empire abuses (Matthew 20:25-28). And again, in differing degrees and in diverse ways, I believe we see empire business popping up all over the place in the American church—sometimes making headlines, and sometimes shipwrecking lives in ways we never hear about.

Applying it to Christian faith, explain your statement, “Deconstruction is a necessary work that brings us to our necessary ending so that we can find our way through to a new beginning.”

Zach Hoag: Suffering, pain, and “death” are teachers—if we will allow them to be. I think that many are caught up in this moment of revealing and are finding their faith gutted by what they now see so clearly. This has often been described as a wilderness experience, where you don’t know where you belong with God or the church anymore, and you’re wandering listlessly. But I like to call it the “desert of deconstruction” because that’s what’s really happening—reality is challenging our theological understanding and our church structures and causing us to dismantle everything we thought we knew.

But this testing of our faith—and the doubt it entails—is not inherently bad. Quite the contrary (1 Peter 1:6-7). In fact, I believe it’s necessary to get us back into alignment with reality, so we can find a deep and abiding faith that’ll sustain us for what’s ahead. A resurrected religion and a flourishing faith are the promise on the other side of the desert of deconstruction. But we must journey through that wilderness.

How did the Bible help you find your way out of your own wilderness?

Zach Hoag: I’ve always been a person of the Word. From the time I felt a call to ministry at a very young age, I’ve studied and mediated on Scripture constantly. When I hit my own “eruption of the real” and my wilderness sojourn, I never stopped leaning on the Word for guidance, for sustenance, for some kind of direction. It was a dry season, a confusing season, a dark and painful season, but I knew that Jesus, revealed in Scripture, would be the one to bring me through it. And he did.

Where else would I go? He has the words of life (John 6:68).

Talk about 2 Timothy 3:5 and 1 Timothy 3:16, and why you prefer the word “religion” to “godliness.”

Zach Hoag: I simply think it’s the more natural translation. “Religion” here is really a neutral term referring to the beliefs, rituals, and practices connected to faith in God. Thus, Christians can have the form of religion but not the power; and, the mystery of our Christian religion, expressed in Paul’s ancient creed, is great.

How is James 1:26-27 “about as anti-empire as it gets”?

Zach Hoag: James, like his brother Jesus, operates in the realm of prophetic utterance, calling Christians on the carpet for their tendency to practice an empty religion of words. His summation of “pure and undefiled” religion brings us back to the substance, to the actions, that prove its power: controlling our tongues, supporting widows and orphans, and keeping ourselves unstained by the power, wealth, and violence of the world.

What do you want to achieve with this book?

Zach Hoag: Two big things: First, to rouse those who are resisting this moment of revealing to open their eyes and move towards repentance and reformation. And second, to reassure those who are in the throes of their apocalypse to know that God is present with them in the midst of the erupting, in the midst of the wandering, in the midst of the mess—that they are beloved and called, and that only by going through they will get to the place of promise and flourishing.

So take heart, and keep going, because the light is winning.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Zach Hoag: Revelation 21—because that’s what true and full resurrection and flourishing look like, on earth as it is in heaven.

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

Zach Hoag: I love both—keep up the great work!

Bio: Author of The Light is Winning, Zach Hoag is a preacher and creator from New England. Planting a church in one of the least churched cities in the US (Burlington, Vermont), and pursuing ministry beyond that in a variety of spaces, Zach has learned a few things about the power of a deeply rooted life in Christ. Zach has found belonging in Westford, Vermont where he lives with his wife, Kalen, and their three girls. Find him writing at

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
Remove banner ads and expand your Bible reading experience using our valuable library of more than 40 top resources by becoming a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Get biblically wise and spiritually fit. Try it free for 30 days!