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Remembering Renowned Old Testament Pastor-Scholar J. Alec Motyer

J. Alec Motyer

J. Alec Motyer, renowned Old Testament author, pastor, and scholar, died August 26 at the age of 91.

Motyer devoted much of his academic life to the study of the Old Testament, particularly the book of Isaiah. He was the editor or author of more than ten books, including the award-winning The Prophecy of Isaiah (InterVarsity Press, 1999). Motyer was also Old Testament editor of IVP’s commentary series The Bible Speaks Today and authored several volumes in that series. Although esteemed by great scholars and teachers such as Don Carson and Tim Keller, Motyer once said, “I’m not really a scholar. I’m just a man who loves the Word of God.”

Buy your copy of The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary in the Bible Gateway Store

John Goldingay, a friend and fellow Old Testament author, is one of the scholars who was deeply impacted by Motyer. He said, “Alec Motyer enthused winsomely about the theological and spiritual significance of the Old Testament, and about the value of reading the text carefully. He conveyed his quiet enthusiasm to such effect that after 50 years I still share it.”

“Born John Alexander Motyer in Dublin,” writes Justin Taylor for The Gospel Coalition, “he graduated with a BD (1949) and MA (1951) from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland, and did further studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1947 as a deacon, and then in 1948 as a priest, serving as a curate in Penn Fields, Wolverhampton (1947–1950), and at Holy Trinity Church in Bristol (1950–1954). In Bristol, he also served as Tutor, and then Vice Principal, of Clifton College (1950–1965). Buy your copy of The Message of Exodus in the Bible Gateway Store From there he became Vicar of St Luke’s, West Hampstead (1965–1970), but returned to Bristol as Deputy Principal of Tyndale Hall (1970–1971), and then became the principal of the reconstituted Trinity College (1971–1981). His final decade of active parish ministry was as the Minister at Westbourne (Bournemouth) (1981–1989).”

Dan Reid, associate publisher and IVP Academic editorial director, said, “Alec Motyer was an important figure in the resurgence of evangelical biblical studies in the UK in the 1950s and following decades. It was the privilege of InterVarsity Press (USA) to have a part in bringing his work to a North American audience.”

In a tribute on, Terry Johnson recalls what it was like learning from Motyer as a student at Trinity College in Dublin. “‘Packer and Motyer’ (we came to speak of them as one) were and are simply the two most godly men I have ever known,” Johnson wrote. He added that he would describe them this way: “What Packer is in print, Motyer is from the pulpit and lectern.”
Buy your copy of The Message of Philippians in the Bible Gateway Store

“Mr. Motyer’s lasting contribution, if not the recordings of his lectures and sermons, will be his publications,” Johnson said. “He holds the distinction, along with John Stott, of writing commentaries about which one may say, ‘If I have his, I have all I need.’”

One passage in particular from The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary stood out to Reid with regard to Motyer’s legacy. In the preface, Motyer had this to say about his grappling with the great prophet:

As I look back now, and particularly over the intensive activity of the last three years, there rises unbidden the picture of a very small mouse nibbling heroically at a very large cheese. Indeed it is no picture but a reality, and now that all is at last done, like Reepicheep of Narnia (though, please God, without his endearing bumptiousness), I too lay my sword at the feet of him who alone is worthy of all praise, the Servant of the Lord, the reigning King and the coming Anointed Conqueror, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Founded in 1947 as an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing thoughtful Christian books that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of life. For more information, visit

Bible News Roundup – Week of September 4, 2016

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

Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Release New Journal the Word™ Bibles
Bible Gateway Blog post
See Journal the Word Bibles in the Bible Gateway Store

Palace of Westminster Launch for God’s Justice Bible
Christian Today
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—God’s Justice: The Holy Bible—An Interview with Tim Stafford
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—God’s Justice Bible at The Justice Conference

#WHYBible: New Campaign to Reach Millennial Christians
CBN News

UK Christian Set for Mars Would Read Bible on the Red Planet

Forum at Yale Offers Chance to Discuss Views of the Bible
New Haven Register

Canadian Bible Society Partners with International Student Ministries Canada to Distribute Scriptures
News Release

Wycliffe Translates New Testament into Lubwisi for Babwisi people in Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mission Network News
Read multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway

Bible Society of Nigeria Translates Holy Bible Into 24 Nigerian Languages

Bible Society of Nigeria Conducting Marathon Public Bible Reading
Nigerian Tribune

Wycliffe Associates Develops New Tool for Translating the Bible for Speakers of Languages with No Written Form
News Release
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—Wycliffe Associates—Helping to Translate the Bible Where Persecution of Christians Is Severe: An Interview with Bruce Smith

Vincennes Indiana Free Methodist Church, Known for Its Bible Quizzing, Celebrates 125 Years
Vincennes Sun-Commercial

UK Church Reads Bible Aloud Non-Stop for Three Days

Marathon Bible-Reading Event Gets Underway at UK’s Winchester Cathedral
Bible Society

Iowa Bible Readers Kick Off Marathon
The Daily Nonpareil
The Oskaloosa Herald: Bible Reading Marathon Comes to Mahaska County Iowa

Bible Brought 3,000 to This Rural New Jersey Town in the 19th Century

Increase in Christian Persecution in India Reported
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—I Am N: An Interview with Cole Richards and Jason Peters
See resources on the topic of Christian Persecution in the Bible Gateway Store

Ancient, Biblical ‘Jacob Sheep’ Ready to Return to Israel After Hamilton, Canada Stay
Read Genesis 30-31 on Bible Gateway

500-Year-Old Torah Scroll ‘Gift of a Testimony’ to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Baptist Press

Gift of 1859 Bible Comes to New Mexico Church
Mountain View Telegraph

Jerusalem Biblical Temple Floor Designs ‘Restored’
BBC News
The Christian Century: Archaeologists reconstruct Second Temple stone floor on Jerusalem mount
Read about the Second Temple in Easton’s Bible Dictionary on Bible Gateway

Pope Gifted with Bible in Baluchari Silk by Mamata

1.6 Million People Now Attend 100 of America’s Largest Churches Each Weekend
Christian Newswire

67% of Evangelicals Have Looked for a New Church to Attend
Christianity Today

Church to Pay Off Congregation’s Debts Up to £50,000
Read about Giving in the Dictionary of Bible Themes on Bible Gateway

Church Bell-Ringers Shortage in UK Prompts Concern
BBC News

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Zondervan Releases NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible

Thousands already have! Try your 30-Day free trial today!
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Buy your copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

Features Hundreds of Inspiring Verses in Detailed, Ready-to-Color Line Art

Zondervan is now releasing the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible (website). In February 2016, Zondervan released the NIV Beautiful Word Bible, which features full-color art and blank space for journaling. It appeals to both the artist who desires to personalize and create art based on Scripture, as well as the disciple who desires to understand and experience God’s Word in a deeper way.

[See the Coloring Books & Bibles section in the Bible Gateway Store]

“Developing the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible was a natural next-step from our full-color edition, the NIV Beautiful Word Bible,” says Melinda Bouma, associate publisher, Zondervan Bible Group.

“We were the first to launch a Bible that paired Bible art journaling with Scripture text, and it’s helped thousands of women create a fresh experience with God’s Word by opening their eyes to a new expression of worship,” Bouma continues. “It became clear to us that many women would want a coloring edition as another option, because not everyone feels equipped to create journaling art themselves.”

[Also see the Bible Gateway Blog post, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Release New Journal the Word Bibles]

The NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible has the same artistic style and intentional focus on God’s Word as the NIV Beautiful Word Bible, but it has hundreds of inspiring verses illustrated in detailed, black and white art ready for readers to color. The artwork is intentionally kept separate from the Bible text so as to enhance the Word of God, not compete with it.

The NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible‘s thick white paper allows colored pencils, ink pens, oil-based pens, and more to keep their true color against the page while minimizing see-through. It also features lightly ruled lines in the extra-wide margins, providing ample space for artistic expressions and journaling; easy-to-read black letter text in a single-column format; a ribbon marker; and it lays flat in one’s hand or on a desk. The NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible is a perfect gift that will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.

Adult coloring has been proven to have stress-relieving benefits and to stimulate otherwise neglected parts of our minds. It also can help help the brain explore and meditate on complex ideas, encouraging deeper comprehension. The popularity of adult coloring has soared, with an estimated 12 million adult coloring books sold in the United States in 2015, according to The Washington Post.

“By coloring in words directly from Scripture, it will help women to spend significant time focusing on Scripture text,” says Bouma. “It’s a wonderful Bible using a creative tool to enhance Bible memorization!”

To access sample coloring pages, great tips for journaling in your Bible, and a free 7-day reading plan and free practice canvas, 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

Surprised by Autism: An Interview with Tahni Cullen

Tahni CullenWhere is hope when there is no hope? How does the Bible help parents of a toddler with Autism Spectrum Disorder? And how does God force a family out of their comfort zone and predictable theology, catapulting them into a mind-blowing love-encounter with Jesus?

Bible Gateway interviewed Tahni Cullen (@TCJosiahsFire) about her book with Cheryl Ricker, Josiah’s Fire: Autism Stole His Words, God Gave Him a Voice (Broadstreet Publishing Group, 2016).

Briefly explain the story of Josiah’s birth and subsequent diagnosis.

Buy your copy of Josiah's Fire in the Bible Gateway Store

Tahni Cullen: Josiah was born in October 2005, a healthy happy baby. And aside from being a late walker, everything about his first year-and-a-half of life was typical and on track. We had no reasons for alarm. Very rapidly, however, at around 22 months, he began to regress: losing eye contact, speech, and play skills. At age two, he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder—no known cause; no known cure; lifelong. Quite the blow for any mom and Christ-follower. As you can imagine, a big question haunted me: “Where was hope when there was no hope?”

At that time, Autism affected 1 in 150. Today, it affects an estimated 1 in 50 children, and is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the US. Despite our aggressive efforts to help him in every way possible, Josiah landed on the “severe” end of the spectrum, as one of the 40% of children with autism who are “nonverbal.”

What do you mean by “fire” in your book’s title?

Tahni Cullen: The biblical name “Josiah” means “fire of the Lord.” Little did we know when we named him Josiah that we would be declaring a destiny over him to love God’s ways, even as King Josiah did in the Bible. The concept of fire makes me think of God igniting an internal passion for him and his ways. We know our God is an all-consuming fire.

What exposure to the Bible did Josiah have leading up to his surprising typing event?

Tahni Cullen: He was only exposed to the Bible at a young-child level; and because of his autism, he attended very little children’s church. And he doesn’t sit and read books or the Internet in a typical way either. However, my husband and I have always tried to model a God-honoring life. We read him kid-friendly Bible stories and sang songs to him, but he certainly didn’t have any access to any mature theological insights.

What happened on that day you asked Josiah to spell the word “heal”?

Tahni Cullen: I was doing a lesson with him using a technique I’d been trying that year; and this is how it works: After reading a passage to the child, you teach him a single point, and then ask him what you said based on two or three choices written on slips of paper. Then, you have him spell the word corresponding with the right choice by pointing at letters.

In this instance, while reading Josiah a story from the Children’s Bible about how Jesus healed the blind man, I said, “Josiah, Jesus healed the blind man. What did he do? Did he H-E-A-L—heal—the blind man or did he P-L-A-Y—play—with the blind man? Choose.” He poked at the word “heal” correctly, but when he went to spell it on the iPad® app, he instead spelled his first-ever independent sentence: “God is a good gift giver.” It nearly made me fall over because he’d only just recently started spelling a few very simple single words, and I’d given him most of them. This was his own personal thought. He continued to spell very complicated words and thoughts for a child not-yet seven. But this was the beginning of more very puzzling revelations to come.

What are some examples of the profound thoughts Josiah has typed?

Tahni Cullen: While Josiah has grown in his ability to describe this “supernatural input,” he continues to craft profound wisdom words, poetry, and personal insights to people. And he grasps God’s Word and workings within a spiritual realm that he’s never been naturally taught. Even I haven’t been taught many of the things he shared! Josiah also communicates with me about regular, everyday things, which makes our lives a lot easier. Thankfully, all his writings are saved verbatim on the iPad. Here’s a small example of his spiritual insights:

  • “Faith is picture it done.”
  • “I’m trying to hide myself in God’s loving tower, not in that space between winning and losing.”
  • “Faith is believing for kites to fly when there’s no wind in sight.”
  • “Angels make tears into minutes of amens.”
  • “Jesus holds my hand and we value the halls of hope together.”

Why do you believe Josiah’s words were from God?

Tahni Cullen: I’ve wrestled with reconciling the evidence I see with my eyes against what my mind deems as logically possible. I’ve wondered, “How could this be happening?” Are the thoughts coming from Josiah’s own mind? Is this from God’s kingdom—or could it be from the kingdom of darkness? Is Josiah somehow subconsciously picking up something from me that I’m completely unaware of? I mean, when something like this happens to you, you ask these kind of questions. And of course, I invite readers to do the same.

Since I’m well-aware of Josiah’s influences and sources of input, I can only conclude that all this good fruit that he’s somehow hearing and seeing must be springing from a supernatural source. After much deep personal reflection and discernment, I have to say that this sure looks to me a whole lot like the God of the Bible.

Josiah expresses himself in a language from Heaven that seems devoid of religious agendas, making it especially refreshing. He likes to point out insights, direction, and information, both to me and others. He shares knowledge he couldn’t have gleaned from me, because I didn’t possess it.

Interestingly, I’ve had to learn how to affirm and help Josiah embrace his developing giftings. I may not fully understand them, but in my spirit, how can I not firmly believe they are from the Lord, the good gift giver? Since “Faith… is the evidence of things not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:1), faith will need to be embraced for people to discern and digest parts of Josiah’s words and our story. You have to approach it prayerfully and with an open mind.

What’s been the reaction of people who’ve encountered Josiah’s writings on Facebook?

Tahni Cullen: Mostly, amazement at his wisdom and insight. Many people say his words ring true, and that they’re far from cliché. Some say they spur them on toward spirit-driven reflections that even go beyond other devotionals and such. Josiah’s child-like faith may challenge them, but it gives them a fresh perspective.

How has the Bible helped you and Josiah in your family’s journey with autism?

Tahni Cullen: About a year into this autism journey I journaled ten questions to God. Even though I was working in ministry, I wrote that I didn’t want to just take the perspective of my training or experience, my pastor, my friends, or family when it came to getting these answers. I needed to see for myself what God’s Word actually said for what I could believe and pray for my child.

I pulled out these questions each time I opened my Bible. I contended with the boldness of God’s promises and whether or not I could really receive them when they talked about healing, restoration, and hope. I wrestled with the terms of his offered covenant. Were they theoretical or real? Since I believe the Bible is the true inspired Word of God, I’ve come to look at everything through that context. And there’s nothing more useful than the active, living, breathing, Word of God to inform our lives and help us encounter Christ.

What do you hope readers of your book will experience?

Tahni Cullen: I’ve opened up our life to the public in a very raw, authentic way because I want readers to know God is real and involved as we invite him in. When the world tells us to learn to cope with our impossible circumstances, all of Heaven is spurring us on to hope! When faced with disappointments and setbacks, pain, and impossibilities, I want people to be encouraged to hang on and be awed by our incomparably good Father. Parents will identify with the fierce desire for their children’s future, but regardless of where we’re at in our journey, we all need to hear Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

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

Tahni Cullen: I have been a long-time user of Bible Gateway. It’s my go-to resource for study, whether I’m looking up a keyword, probing for a definition in Hebrew or Greek, or comparing and contrasting Scriptures in various translations, it’s so convenient in that it’s right at my fingertips.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Tahni Cullen: Sure. God thinks more highly of us than we can imagine. He is for us, and he doesn’t want to withhold from us any good thing.

Bio: Tahni Cullen is a people-lover, blogger, and conference speaker who brings a powerful message of hope and restoration. Tahni worked for 13 years at a multi-campus church in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, serving in communication arts and as a ministry director. She’s a freelance marketer and also performs in an original live variety show for women’s events. Tahni and her producer husband, Joe, have created an award-winning documentary called Surprised by Autism. They live with their son, Josiah, in Saint Paul, where they enjoy exploring Minnesota’s museums and destinations.

50 Major Events in the Bible Storyline

We thought it would be helpful to identify where in Scripture you can quickly read major stories of the Bible’s grand narrative. Click each one’s Bible reference link to read more about it.

To deepen your understanding of the Bible, become a member of Bible Gateway Plus, with which you’ll have unlimited 24/7 instant digital access from any Web-friendly computer or device to a valuable library of more than 40 bestselling and critically-acclaimed Bible references—and enjoy a banner-advertising free environment—alongside Bible Gateway’s Scripture passages you select to read. Learn more.

[To select individual resources that will help you study the Bible, browse the Bible reference section in the Bible Gateway Store.]

50 Major Events in the Bible Storyline

Buy your copy of A Doubter's Guide to the Bible in the Bible Gateway StorePortions of the above list were excerpted from A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics (Zondervan, 2014) by John Dickson, p.14. His latest book is A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments: How, for Better or Worse, Our Ideas about the Good Life Come from Moses and Jesus (Zondervan, 2016)

Also see our Blog posts,
A Guide for Bible Skeptics: An Interview with John Dickson
Challenge for Skeptics: Read 100 Pages of the Bible.

Discovering Fierce Faith: An Interview with Bianca Juarez Olthoff

Bianca Juarez OlthoffGod has huge dreams for you! How can you gain insight into his character and understand the unique fire he’s placed inside you to fulfill your calling and kingdom purpose?

The Bible says that God isn’t waiting until you have more resources or a spouse or a job so he can use you. He’s ready to use you now. The mythical creature, the Phoenix, was referenced by early church leaders highlighting the beauty of reinvention with fire as both the impetus and the method for change. We serve a God who is redemptive, and can take the worst situations and use them for his glory.

Bible Gateway interviewed Bianca Juarez Olthoff (@biancaolthoff) about her book, Play with Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God (Zondervan, 2016).

Buy your copy of Play with Fire in the Bible Gateway Store

Why is your book titled Play with Fire?

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: My whole life I wanted to be safe. I didn’t do things that pushed me out of my boundaries or made me uncomfortable. What I didn’t realize was that my desire for safe had crept into my theology. Safety precluded me from living a bold and daring life of following fiercely after Jesus.

I started reading Scripture and discovered every time fire is mentioned, God’s presence is revealed and people’s lives are transformed. In the season I was in, I was in desperate need of change and transformation. So I went on a journey to discover God in great ways and explore what it meant to enter in the fire of transformation.

What’s the “fierce faith” you want readers to discover?

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: Our faith is tried and tested through trials and tribulation. Plain and simple: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. My fav passage that demonstrates this is out of Daniel 3 when my Hebrew homies are thrown into a furnace because they refuse to compromise and bow down to any other god.

What they thought was going to kill them actually caused them to experience the presence of God in the fire with them. Not only did they live (Hello?!), but they were a testament to others of the saving power of God (Daniel 3:25).

When we survive the “refiner’s fire” we experience the transformation and saving nature of a God who is able to use all trials for his glory.

You refer to certain Bible passages in your book and you say, “Scripture gives us an open invitation to shout aloud, to ask God to respond.” For the verses listed here, explain your feelings toward them and how you want readers of your book to apply them into their lives:

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: John 15:16—Ugh. I just LOVE this verse. And most people just focus on the latter part (“…so that whatever you ask in my name the father will give you”). But I don’t even care about that! I’m wildly obsessed with the idea that God CHOSE me and CHOSE you as his children. Can you believe that?

Growing up an obese minority living in the ‘hood, I never felt chosen. Not chosen in kickball, not chosen in the spelling bee, not chosen to sit with. The idea of God Almighty choosing me to be his favorite just blows my mind! (And yes, I feel like I’m his favorite.)

Exodus 2:23; 3:7—These verses (and many others) are PROOF that our God sees us, hears our prayers, and is concerned for us. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had moments when I feel alone, forgotten, and unheard by God. Even worse, I’ve questioned if God even cared about me.

But his Word is PROOF that he hears our pain, knows our trauma, and is concerned for us. Not only that, other Scripture will back up that our God is ABLE to save, ABLE to heal, and ABLE to repair even the deepest of wounds.

If God did it for the Israelites, he’ll do the same for us!

Haggai 2:5—Ok, come on! This is GOLD. As God promised the Israelites on their exodus out of Egypt, he still makes promises today. And what did God promise them? HIS SPIRIT.

Friends, what did Jesus promise us before his crucifixion? He promised us an advocate! He said he wouldn’t leave us as orphans. Nope. No way, Jose! Our God made a promise to the Israelites, just like Jesus made us a promise before he ascended to heaven. And what was the promise? The Holy Spirit.

For the love, friends?! Do you see it? As Paul states, the power that raised Christ from the dead is alive in you. GAHHHH! I could drool. This is bananas!

Who is your book written for and how do you want it to change them?

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: This book is for the person who wants God to awaken and transform them. Perhaps they’re in a season of loss, confusion, pain, or simply surviving the doldrums of life with safety as their first priority. I want to provide language and simple theological handles for people to see how God works.

This book is also for people who’d like to support the FEED THE OLTHOFF CHILDREN FUND. I’m joking! (Well, I’m half joking. Don’t judge.)

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

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: This is going to sound SO cheesy, but I just love Bible Gateway. Hand to heaven, I use it daily just to Google Scriptures. The WordNerd in me geeks out over how quick it is to find a verse to check out a commentary. Yup, I [heart] you guys!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Bianca Juarez Olthoff: Yes, and I’ll make it brief. I grew up afraid of theological arguments and questioning things like sovereignty and gifts of the Spirit, and why the fruits of the Spirit weren’t actually fruits. As I step into adulthood and discover greater depths of faith, I no longer fear getting to know God more. One of the greatest adventures I’ve been on is discovering the limitless, all-powerful, all-consuming fire God claims to be.

God loves us so much he gave us the presence of his Spirit to do greater things than Jesus Christ did on earth. Does that blow your mind? It shouldn’t. We should simply take God at his word and start doing what he said we can do.

It’s time to live en fuego. It’s time to Play with Fire.

Bio: Bianca Juarez Olthoff is the Chief Storyteller for The A-21 Campaign and the Creative Director for Propel Women. Bianca is a step-mom to Parker and Ryen and has spent the last ten years mobilizing God’s people to action alongside her husband Matt, the Executive Director and Pastor for Project Europe.

Bianca has been in church ministry for 15 years inspiring women to live with unquenchable passion. With Bianca’s trademark humor and honesty, Play with Fire reminds women that God has huge dreams for each of his children. “He’s whispering in the wind and speaking through the fire and shouting in silence the extraordinary dream.”

Bible News Roundup – Week of August 28, 2016

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

Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store

Zondervan Releases NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible
Bible Gateway Blog post
See the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible in the Bible Gateway Store
See Coloring Book & Bible section in the Bible Gateway Store

Advocacy Group Wants Dept of Defense Inspector General to Investigate Officer Who Displayed a Bible on His Desk, and His Superiors
Air Force Times

Teens Read Bible More During the School Year
Christianity Today
OneNewsNow: Only 3% of Teens Read Bible Daily
See the Teen Bible section in the Bible Gateway Store

Novel-Like New Testament Created for Teens Who Don’t Read the Bible
Christian Newswire
Pierced: The New Testament in the Bible Gateway Store

National Bible Bee Encourages Students
The Jackson Sun

At a Hotel on a Business School Campus in Arizona, It’s Now ‘Bring Your Own Bible’
The Arizona Republic

Bible Reading Marathon Set for Iowa’s Louisa County
The Hawk Eye

Winchester Cathedral UK to Hold Bible Reading Marathon
Hampshire Chronicle

Ex-Muslim Turned Christian Evangelist Fighting Stomach Cancer
CBN News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—No God but One: Allah or Jesus?—An Interview with Nabeel Qureshi
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—Interview: Nabeel Qureshi, author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
See the Understanding Islam section in the Bible Gateway Store

Chalk Bible Passages on Bangor, Maine Sidewalks Spark War of Words
Bangor Daily News

USA Man Among First People Targeted Under Russia’s New Anti-Evangelism Laws
Forum 18: Punishments Under Russia’s Anti-Sharing Beliefs Law Begin
See resources in the Evangelism section in the Bible Gateway Store
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—I Am N: An Interview with Cole Richards and Jason Peters
See resources on the topic of Christian Persecution in the Bible Gateway Store

Is the Bible Still Relevant?
Bible Gateway Blog post—Reading & Understanding the Bible: An Interview with Ben Witherington III
Bible Gateway Blog post—Invitation to the New Testament: An Interview with Ben Witherington III

Bible Speaks Today Editor Alec Motyer, 91, Dies
See Bible Speaks Today commentaries in the Bible Gateway Store

3,000 Year Old Treasures Dated to the Time of King David Unveiled
The Jerusalem Post
Read the article about King David in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
See Bible search results for “David” on Bible Gateway
See resources about Biblical Archaeology in the Bible Gateway Store

11th Century Bible Recovered in Central Turkey
Daily Sabah

Exhibition Features Biblical City of Shaarayim, Where David Fought Goliath
Jewish Post: Archaeological Evidence of the Kingdom of David to be Displayed in Jerusalem
Read the article about the Valley of Elah in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
Read 1 Samuel 17 on Bible Gateway

King Solomon-Era Palace Found in Biblical Gezer
Read the article about Gezer in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
Read 1 Kings 9:15-17 on Bible Gateway

Bible Survives Katrina, Finally Returned This Year to Georgia Woman

Survey: New Zealand Youth Prefer Reading Printed Bible Rather than Bible Apps
New Zealand Bible Society
2016 Report: New Zealand’s Teen Bible Readers (pdf)

Astronaut Jeff Williams Sees ‘An Infinite God’ From Space
Baptist Press
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—First Liquid Poured on the Moon and the First Food Eaten There Were Communion Elements
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—God of the Big Bang: An Interview with Leslie Wickman, Rocket Scientist

Saturday’s Venus-Jupiter Encounter May Explain Bible’s Star of Bethlehem
Read Matthew 2:1-12 on Bible Gateway

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: The Last Supper

Buy your copy of NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

The Bible was originally written to an ancient people removed from today by thousands of years and thousands of miles. The Scriptures include subtle culturally-based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature, and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the Scriptures read. For us to hear the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world.

[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, Zondervan to Release NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible]

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Zondervan, 2016) (website) with notes from Dr. John H. Walton (Wheaton College) in the Old Testament and Dr. Craig S. Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary) in the New Testament, brings to life the ancient world of Scripture for modern readers.

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

For example, the Infographic below helps to explain the cultural context of the story of the Last Supper in John 13 in the NIV 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)
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You’ve heard many Bible stories hundreds of times, but how many behind-the-scenes details are you missing? Get a FREE online course on Bible backgrounds taught by Wheaton College professors John Walton and Andrew Hill. This course will help you to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture and allow you to treasure it more.

Jesus Changes Everything: An Interview with Nick Hall

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Nick Hall“Follow me,” Jesus told his early followers, “and I’ll show you life as it was meant to be lived.” Are you having trouble resetting your life?

Bible Gateway interviewed Nick Hall (@NickHall) about his book, Reset: Jesus Changes Everything (Multnomah, 2016).

Describe what “Together 2016” was and how it turned out.

Nick Hall: Together 2016 was a dream five years in the making. For years I had read about revivals of the past—these incredible testimonies like the Welsh Revival or the First and Second Great Awakening—and had thought, “Why couldn’t that happen today?”

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As I prayed and dreamed over these five years, I started to find that other leaders across the nation also had an incredible burden to see revival in America. We started talking and praying about what it would look like to come together, even for one day, to lift up Jesus with people from all walks of life.

So the vision of Together 2016 was born, and all along the way we saw God answer prayers. We booked the National Mall, had incredible speakers and artists join us like Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, and Hillsong United, and on July 16, 2016, we saw hundreds of thousands of people convene on the National Mall in Washington DC to lift up the name of Jesus.

Our hope and dream for July 16 was that it wouldn’t just be an emotional experience, but that it would be a launching pad to take the message of Jesus to this nation. Throughout the day we focused on the importance of prayer and digging into Scripture, of sharing the love and the message of Jesus with the world. While it’s true that our event had to end several hours early because of the heat, we truly believe God renewed a commissioning onto a generation to reach this nation.

What is PULSE and the “Reset Movement”?

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Nick Hall: PULSE is a nonprofit organization I started out of college in response to the incredible need I saw in my generation. As a college student, I had come face-to-face with the depression, suicide, and ultimately the emptiness that my peers were struggling to fill. I would go from campus to campus telling students, “Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the reset you’ve been looking for.”

This whole idea of a “reset” is tied to the technology this generation is so familiar with. When our phone or computer isn’t working, we press the reset button. To reset a system is to get it working toward it’s intended purpose. And in the same way, we believe that Jesus died and rose to bring us back into relationship with the Father. Jesus is the supernatural reset we’ve been looking for.

Over the years, this “reset” message really started to take root across the nation. I like to tell people, “Reset is not my message. It’s not PULSE’s message.” This isn’t about spreading a new metaphor. This is about spreading the gospel. So, if it’s helpful for someone else to take the message of “reset” and use it at their church or event or whatever—go for it! I want as many people as possible to know that Jesus changes everything.

What are the top one or two spiritual issues most pressing on today’s youth?

Nick Hall: I think identity and value are probably the two biggest issues for the youth of this generation. Everyone wants to be someone, and everyone wants to feel loved. In the teenage and college years, it’s natural for young people to search for their identity and ask the hard question, “Who am I?” At the same time, I’ve met so many young people who are struggling to find their value in life, not only asking, “Who am I?” but “What does it matter?”

Most often, issues of depression or addictions come from young people trying and failing to find the answer to these questions. And the opportunity that’s often missed by followers of Jesus is to speak into that culture, and to tell young people that the gospel answers both of these questions—that Jesus is the answer.

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What do the young people you encounter think about the Bible?

Nick Hall: Many people believe this is the most biblically illiterate generation in America’s history, and I know I’ve seen it. One study by LifeWay found that only 45% of people who attended church read their Bible every week—and these are people in the church!

So I think for a lot of young people who are either outside of the church or raised in the church, they don’t see the value of reading the Bible or trying to understand what it means for them. But at the same time, a lot of millennials really do look up to and respect Jesus. They see how he healed the sick and cared for the poor, and they love that. The challenge is in finding a way to connect the Jesus they admire with the Bible that’s collecting dust on their parents’ bookshelf.

What role does the Bible play in encouraging people to reset their lives?

Nick Hall: The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it shows us not only how far we are from God, but how far God went so that we could know Him. If you don’t already believe you need a reset, all you have to do is open the pages of Scripture to realize how much we need Jesus. At every outreach I speak at, I offer gospel booklets that take people through either Luke or John and connect the words of the gospels to real life. Scripture has the power to change hearts, and as we bring students into contact with God’s Word, we trust that God will work in their lives.

What do you mean in your book to “reset my faith”?

Nick Hall: Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and for a lot of people in the church, I think Hebrews 11 is a chapter we love to read but hate to live. We love the stories of Abraham and Moses, yet in our hearts I think we count them as the exception rather than the rule.

But then you get down to verse 6, which says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And so I see that God is calling me to live a life of faith, and yet so often I trust him only as far as I can see. Like the man who cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” this leads me to cry out, “Reset my faith!”

I think there are a lot of people who have grown up in the church and have checked the box marked “Christian,” yet have never truly known Jesus. Or maybe they used to be really passionate about Jesus, but now are more or less indifferent to him. And to both of those people, I’d tell them that Jesus stands ready to reset their faith. Faith isn’t about figuring it all out. Faith is about turning to and trusting Jesus.

How can a person “reset my generation”?

Nick Hall: Resetting a generation has to start with faith-fueled prayer. If you don’t see a need in your generation, why would you pray? And if you don’t believe God can do anything about it, why would you pray? But if you see a great need and believe God can turn it around, then you’ll be driven to prayer. And when we pray, God moves.

For the individual wondering, “What can I do?” I’d tell them to never underestimate the power of prayer personally or globally. Our prayers can change hearts and nations, and all we have to do from there is be available to God. Starting in our families and moving out in our circles of influence, God has given each of us opportunities to share the message and love of Jesus with others.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Nick Hall: The reset life starts with you.

One time I had the opportunity to visit Billy Graham. I asked him several questions, yet he answered every one with a variation of the same truth. “Jesus,” he said. “You have to spend time with Jesus.”

For each of us, the reset life is strengthened when we daily spend time with Jesus. Yes, Lord Jesus, reset my generation. And let it start with me.

Bio: Nick Hall is the author of the book Reset: Jesus Changes Everything, and the Founder and Chief Communicator for PULSE, a ministry at the center of some of the largest student-led prayer and outreach efforts in the world. Nick sits on the leadership teams for the US Lausanne Committee, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the student advisory team for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). As a voice to the next generation, Nick has shared the Gospel with nearly three million students and regularly speaks at events around the world. He has a master’s degree in Leadership and Christian Thought from Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his wife, Tiffany, live in Minneapolis with their two children. Visit for more information.

Spiritual Warfare Questions Answered

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Dr. David JeremiahAre demons real? What protection does the shield of faith provide? How can I defend myself against forces of evil?

From the bestselling author of The Prophecy Answer Book comes a wealth of biblical wisdom on another challenging and fascinating topic: spiritual warfare! In his book, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016), Dr. David Jeremiah (@davidjeremiah) draws from years of teaching and experience to answer 86 common questions.

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The following article is excerpted from The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016) by Dr. David Jeremiah.

What names are given to Satan in the Bible?

If you read through the Bible and underline the names for Satan, you will discover a great deal about him. Here are some names of Satan that can be found in the Bible:

There are many names for Satan in the Bible, and all of them reveal him as our enemy.

Is Satan’s army organized?

Scripture clearly teaches that Satan controls and commands a great army of fallen angels. In the force of evil described in Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV), we read that his army is organized and that there is a hierarchy in the domain of Satan:

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

In the Greek language, principalities refers to the “first” or the “head officers.” The powers mentioned here are staff officers, and the rulers are divisional commanders. And with this rank and file is the spiritual host of wickedness under the command of thee officers. Clearly, there is an organized effort on the part of Satan to do his work in the world. he has arranged his forces against God’s people, and we are the target of his schemes.

What protection does the sword of the Spirit provide?

Within God’s armory we have only one offensive weapon to use in battle against the evil one—it is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 NKJV).

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he used the Greek word machaira for sword. He wasn’t talking about what we would think of as a sword today; he was talking about a dagger, a weapon that people used in hand-to-hand combat. That metaphor suggests, then, the the sword of the Spirit…is a very precision-oriented instrument. Specifically, the Word of God referred to in this passage is not the whole Bible (the logos) but a particular part of the Word, a promise (a rhema) to apply to a particular battle situation.

In other words, the Bible is an armory in which the individual swords of the Spirit are kept until you need them for close combat with the enemy. But unlike a material sword that you would use to pierce the body, the spiritual sword pierces the heart. A material sword gets duller as you use it, but a spiritual sword gets sharper every time you use it. And those spiritual swords are found within the covers of the Bible.

In Matthew 4, when Jesus was attacked by the tempter, He confronted Satan with three simple words: “It is written…” And then Jesus quoted passages from Deuteronomy. Isn’t it interesting that even the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, used the Scripture to defeat Satan?

Years ago my friend Swen Nater and I got together at a restaurant. We talked about the areas where we thought the enemy would come after us, and we took a concordance and researched the Scriptures. We came up with about 40 “swords” for each of us, which we stored in the armories of our minds. I’d suggest you do the same. Think of areas in which you know Satan will tempt you, find some Bible verses relating to those areas, write them out on little cards, and put them where you will see them often. Memorize them. Internalize them. learn them by heart—and be ready to use them when the enemy attacks.

Satan can’t do much with people who assault him with Scripture.

The above article is excerpted from The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Dr. David Jeremiah. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. Pages 30-31, 34-35, 129-131. All rights reserved.

Bio: Dr. David Jeremiah, David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He’s the author of more than 50 books including Captured By Grace, Angels: Who They Are and How They Help, What in the World Is Going On?, Agents of the Apocalypse, and editor of The Jeremiah Study Bible.

David serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren.