Sunday, September 30, 2018

Books of the New Testament


Books of the New Testament

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Acts and the Letters to the Romans
First and Second Corinthians,
Galatians and Ephesians

Philippians, Colossians
First and Second Thessalonians
First and Second Timothy,
Titus and Philemon

Hebrews, James
First and Second Peter
First and Second and Third John
Jude and Revelation

Friday, September 28, 2018

The juggler

I hope no one judges my social media and blogging abilities by my own accounts lately. My poor social media accounts are sad, and I'm back posting here like no one's business. Do as I say, not as I do, right?

I promise, it's not because I'm lazy. It's because I'm juggling!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Parenting First Aid




Parenting Kneeling Down, Not Standing Up
Weary parents can find peace in the midst of parenting trials
by trusting in a God who promises to partner with them.

In today’s world of insta-porn on electronic devices, the ease of access to drugs, and the ever-increasing blurring of sexuality, families are assaulted with an unprecedented level of trials and challenges. Parents are faced with disappointment and overwhelming trials. They often blame themselves when their children struggle and don’t recognize that God often allows trials to help parents lean on and trust him.

Parenting First Aid: Hope for the Discouraged by best-selling author Marty Machowski (New Growth Press/September 24, 2018) is designed to point parents back to God. His goal is to encourage overwhelmed parents with the Bible passages that encouraged him when he experienced trials as a parent. “The best advice I can give parents in a major trial is don’t give up, and don’t allow the enemy to discourage you or tell you God doesn’t care or won’t help. Galatians 6:9 has always encouraged me: ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.’”

Machowski knows some serious parenting trials seem to refuse to be resolved and understands how parents wrestle with weighty trials, from dealing with children involved with drugs or sexual sin to teenage rebellion. In those tough times, many parents reach for parenting books that provide to-do lists, techniques, or a solutions-based approach to child-rearing, promising certain outcomes. But what happens when these parenting technique books fail to deliver what they promise, leaving parents disillusioned and at a loss for what to do? “God bridges the gap between parenting theory and parenting reality,” Machowski says. “When I went through my own parenting trials, I felt the Lord impress this message upon my heart: ‘I don’t want you parenting standing up. I want you parenting kneeling down.’ In other words, it’s not technique that is going to deliver you through the parenting years. God instead wanted me to entrust myself to him. Only God can deliver us through our parenting years.”

Parenting First Aid is filled with real-life stories of parents who face various trials and found their hope in God through them. The devotionals are full of Scripture, personal stories, and meditations aiming to reinvigorate the faith of parents and keep their focus on a sovereign God and his ability to reach and rescue their children. Machowski is clear not all of the stories lead to happy endings because God has not promised us happiness and ease. However, all the people in the stories did find comfort in God and a peace beyond understanding.

Machowski assures parents anyone who weary and discouraged will benefit from the devotions, not just those walking through a major trial. His goal is to encourage, uplift, and strengthen the faith of parents in the midst of hardship. The book is divided into twenty weeks with three devotionals and a real-life testimony for each week. While Machowski designed the book so parents can complete Parenting First Aid in five months, parents in an intense season can use the book daily over two months.

By compiling unique Bible passages not typically applied to parenting, Machowski hopes parents will be challenged by Scriptures they have likely not applied to their situations. Through his biblically based insight, he strives to remind parents they shouldn’t parent alone. “Parenting is easy until it gets harder. God is the second watchman on the wall and the second set of hands to help us build. God has uniquely crafted our parenting trials to drive us back to him, the only one who has the power to save. Trusting God through parenting trials doesn’t just help us get by; it helps us thrive.


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for thirty years. Machowski leads Promise Kingdom, the gospel-centered children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship.

He is the author of numerous resources for churches and families, including The Gospel Story for Kids series, The Ology, and Parenting First Aid.

Machowski and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is also the Executive Editor for Children’s Resources at New Growth Press.

Learn more at www.martymachowski.com. He can also be found on Twitter (@MartyMachowski).

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Parenting First Aid and other releases from New Growth Press, visit www.newgrowthpress.com


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The simple joys of time with family



Darla Weaver shares a year in the life
of her Old Order Mennonite Family

Darla Weaver grew up the oldest of nine children in a five-bedroom farmhouse her parents still live in to this day. The house was always brimming with life and laughter, and some inevitable sadness. All the children grew up, and the five sisters eventually all had their weddings there at the house. Home held a special place in the hearts of all of them, especially the sisters, and still does to this day. No matter how busy life becomes with raising children, chores and work, everything is set aside one day a week.


“Our Tuesdays happened more by accident than by conscious planning. We never sat down and planned for Tuesdays, but after I moved six miles away to my own home, I gradually acquired the habit of going back to the old home place and spending a day each week with my family,” Weaver writes. It was a tradition that caught on and continued after all the other sisters married and started families of their own.

On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.

As for the sisters, “We don’t exactly play, yet Tuesdays for us are also about relaxing. Of course, there is always work to do—just making dinner for such a group is a big job—but the day is more about relaxing, reconnecting, visiting, and sharing. We talk a lot, we laugh a lot, sometimes we cry. Tuesdays is about being sisters, daughters, moms. It’s about learning what is happening in each other’s lives. Every day is different, yet every Tuesday follows a predictable pattern that varies with the seasons.”

Over the twelve chapters of the book, Weaver shares the activities and time spent together spread over the twelve months of the year. Together the sisters cook, laugh over cooking disasters, share in the sewing, work in the gardens, swap books, work puzzles together and enjoy time as a family. She even shares some tried and true family recipes that didn’t “flop.”  The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesday is about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

When asked what her sisters thought about her writing Gathering of Sisters, Weaver notes their initial reactions varied. Her mom thought maybe she should change their names. One sister suggested, “Maybe you’ll have to Sunday-us-up a bit, make sure we all use our best manners when you write about us.” Another pointed out since she would still have to claim them as sisters she wouldn’t make them sound too odd or ornery. “I promised not to. One of my nieces, who at fourteen has graduated from eighth grade and is again spending Tuesdays with us, considered staying home for the entire next year to keep her name out of the book. But on a whole, no one really objected. Like Laverne and our children, Mom and my sisters are almost used to my compulsive scribbling. Almost.”

Gathering of Sisters is the sixth book in the Plainspoken series from Herald Press. Each book is written by Amish and Mennonite people about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith. Each book includes “A Day in the Life of the Author” and the author’s answers to FAQs about the Amish and Mennonites.

About the Author

Darla Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul, Many Lighted Windows and Gathering of Sisters. Weaver has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Parenting by Faith and Freedom


Parenting by faith instead of formula starts with
establishing a mindset rather than a model

In a social media-driven world, parents are faced with temptations to compare their own families to images and descriptions of the “ideal” family. Parenting books are quick to provide formulas and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to parenting choices, but each family has its own story—and God is writing it.

Child Proof: Parenting by Faith Not Formula (New Growth Press/September 24, 2018) by Julie Lowe challenges parents to rely on wisdom and Scripture to get to know the needs of their own home and to uniquely and wisely apply biblical principles to their own family lives. Just as God models individual, personal, and fatherly care to each of his children, Lowe encourages parents to do the same for their children through biblical wisdom, love, self-sacrifice, and commitment to godliness.

As an experienced counselor of children and families (with seventeen years of experience helping families apply the CCEF model of biblical change) and an adoptive and foster mom, Lowe knows there is something far better than a recipe for success: a Christ-centered, relational wisdom that equips parents to know, love, and shepherd their families. “In my own parenting experience, I was challenged to think outside of the box,” says Lowe. “The formulas my husband and I attempted to follow just didn’t fit with our family. We realized being godly was more important than following a specific recipe for success. Even without a typical formula, we discovered we could learn to parent in a godly way.”

Through her counseling work, Lowe has seen similar patterns in other parents, particularly parents relying too much on parenting techniques guaranteeing “good children.” According to Lowe, they were failing because they were missing out on really knowing their child individually—their needs, strengths, weaknesses, and struggles—and weren’t focused on making wise, biblical choices in how they responded to them. Lowe notes that parenting formulas are common issues in the church. “I hope the book helps churches to stop trying to fit everyone into boxes we create. I hope it gives people freedom to live outside the box, yet still in godly and wise ways.”

Because every family is unique with differing needs, Child Proof helps readers prayerfully consider what loving their children looks like today. What does wisdom look like today? Life morphs and develops over time, in different stages, through various seasons. Formulas cannot adapt to the changes, but wisdom can guide in every situation.

Lowe demonstrates what this might look like by addressing “hot parenting topics,” including parenting the difficult child, parenting with disabilities, responding when a child breaks your heart, the alternative to micromanaging, how to deal with technology, and more. She views each parenting issue or struggle through a gospel lens, demonstrating how God cares about the specifics of our lives, and how living out of a love for the Lord shapes a new parenting mindset. “Hopefully, this book will help restore Christ to the center of each family, allowing wisdom to guide how they establish their homes.”

Applying biblical wisdom requires an intimate knowledge of your children (their personalities, history, and life together), which is why Lowe asks parents to become experts on their kids and come up with their own blueprint. Doing so will help them make gospel-centered parenting choices based on what love specifically looks like for their children. Working toward understanding their children—especially when they make poor choices—will help parents love their kids wisely. Her goal for Child Proof is to be one piece of the puzzle to help shape how people think, not a standard of how to do parenting.


Julie Lowe is a faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). She holds an MA in counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary. She is a licensed professional counselor with more than eighteen years of counseling experience. Lowe is also a registered play therapist and has developed a play therapy office at CCEF to better serve families, teens, and children.

Julie and her husband, Greg, have six children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Child Proof and other releases from New Growth Press, visit www.newgrowthpress.com



Monday, September 24, 2018

Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms "Take a Day for Mom" giveaway

No one is immune to stress, least of all moms. That’s why Debora M. Coty, author of the best-selling Too Blessed to be Stressed series decided it was time to write an edition specifically addressing the stresses and needs in the daily life of moms. In Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms (Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing), Deb offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help frazzled moms of all ages hear God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

To celebrate the release of Too Blessed to Be Stressed for Moms and to bless a mom that needs to de-stress, Deb is giving away a $75 VISA Cash Card to “Take a Day for Mom.” The card can be used by a mom for a day of pampering or just getting away and enjoying a day to herself. Do you need a day away or know a mom that does? (Is that a trick question?) Then, enter the giveaway and share it with all your friends. (Another little secret… You don’t have to prove you are a mom in order to win!)



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learn more about Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms:

About the book:

Do you feel like you’re drowning in the everyday stress-pool? . . .

Wish you could make busy-ness a business so you’d be a millionaire? . . .

Welcome to the maternal order of slightly sagging sisters of the 'hood. The motherhood.

With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, popular inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Whether you're struggling with stress related to attitude, time-management, guilt trips, patience, or something in between. . .this humor-filled volume will deliver a much-needed smile and equip you with simple-to-implement tips for attaining the peace we all crave—the peace that passes all understanding.

About the author:


Debora M. Coty is a popular humorist, speaker, and award-winning author of numerous inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed line. Deb considers herself a tennis junkie and choco-athlete (meaning she exercises just so she can eat more chocolate). A retired piano teacher and orthopedic occupational therapist, Debora currently lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her husband, Chuck, and three grandbuddies and one grandprincess. 

Readers can connect with Debora M. Coty via her website, deboracoty.com, or on Facebook (AuthorDeboraCoty), Twitter (DeboraCoty) and Instagram (DeboraCoty)

How stressed are you?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Jesus Loves Me


Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus love me he who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus loves me he will stay
Close beside me all the way,
He’s prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I’ll see.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus take this heart of mine,
Make it pure and wholly thine;
On the cross you died for me,
I will try to live for Thee.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!




Saturday, September 22, 2018

The project I've wanted to do for a long time


I can't tell you how long ago I saw some Dr. Seuss quotes on Pinterest and wanted to make something similar.

I've had a supply of canvases for almost two years now, just waiting for me to do something. A couple of weeks ago I found some Seuss books at an estate sale that were falling apart and ready for me to disassemble.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous how my first attempt at Modge Podge on a canvas was going to go, but I was very, very pleased with how the pages went down. Here's my first attempt, and I will have more soon!

(Update: I posted this on Facebook at 1:30 AM when I finished it. At 1:45 AM after I took a shower, it was sold!)

Friday, September 21, 2018

For all the farmers, ranchers and FFA'ers

Because we are working it to have something for everyone, we've brought out the farm animals! 

The Houston event we are doing is to raise money for the FFA, so instead of the baseball team, drill team or band, we're trying to load up on other things. What do you think?









Thursday, September 20, 2018

Calling all bloggers! Sign-up to review Into the Deep by Lauren Gaskill!

Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith
Lauren Gaskill


Abingdon Press

Tour dates: November 6 - 20



CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
or SCROLL DOWN to the form!
About the book:
How do we live with less fear and more faith when the deep waters of life come crashing over us?
Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing. In fact, the waters of life are often tumultuous, crashing over us. Sometimes we can feel that we’re drowning in a sea of confusion, division, frustration, complacency, or disillusionment. We need more than a shallow faith to survive these deep waters.
Into the Deep is an invitation to dive headfirst into a life of courageous faith. With endearing warmth and authenticity, Lauren Gaskill shares how she and others have learned to swim with Jesus in the deep waters of life—facing challenges such as anxiety, depression, and chronic illness—only to discover a more authentic, enduring faith that cannot be shaken by circumstances. Lauren invites us to discover how to:
  • Trade doubt and fear for courage and boldness.
  • Dive deeper into faith and build endurance for the journey.
  • Make decisions by faith.
  • Overcome battles with specific strategies and practices.
  • Live a life rooted in faith and love.
You can leave fear behind and step into faith.

About the author:

Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and the founder of She Found Joy. Diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder, Lauren is passionate about encouraging others to hold on to faith and learn how to find joy in every circumstance. She lives with her husband and beloved dog Reese just a few hours from the ocean in North Carolina.




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hope in the Midst of Great Pain


Lindsey Dennis shares story of incredible loss to
reveal a hope greater than our dreams


Lindsey R. Dennis and her husband, Kevin, had only been married a few months when they found out they were pregnant. Excited and hopeful about the new life she was carrying and the future of their family, they were devastated to learn at their 20-week ultrasound that the baby would not live due to a fatal diagnosis. They would relive their grief again as they buried their second daughter fourteen months after their first. In Buried Dreams: From Devastating Lost to Unimaginable Hope (Abingdon Press), Dennis shares not only her story of grief and loss, but how to live out a hope that is greater than our dreams.

Through the crushing of their hopes and dreams, the Dennises came to know the kind of resurrection hope that can rise from the grave. This experience of infant loss revealed how sorrow and suffering are instruments in the hands of God to forge a greater joy and hope than one can ever know. This kind of joy can only be discovered by walking through the deep pain of burying precious dreams.

Even though they knew they would have to say goodbye to their daughters who only lived a few hours after their respective births, Lindsey and Kevin chose to celebrate both lives alongside their church community. She started a blog shortly after learning of baby Sophia’s diagnosis to keep friends and family informed of what was going on. Within a week, the blog had thousands of views, and it grew from there. People around the country and the world shared in praying for and celebrating each week the girls lived in the womb.

“I talk to many people who are struggling with how to walk through the disappointment that has unfolded in their lives, the buried dreams, the loss and pain, and I wanted them to know how hope can rise from even the darkest seasons,” explains Dennis. “I want others to know this hope and how to persevere in the midst of great pain. I wanted to tell the story of God’s worthiness and faithfulness to us during deep suffering.”

Buried Dreams offers an uplifting perspective, sharing how devastating loss of personal dreams can give way to unimaginable hope and how death can give way to life. Framing her own story of staggering loss and soaring hope with biblical perspective, Dennis highlights that we can never plan for the unexpected turns of this life that sometimes lead to great personal suffering, but we can reach for the One who is there with us in the loss.

“This book is both for women who are walking a path similar to mine, but more broadly any woman who has had to bury a dream,” Dennis shares. “That dream may quite literally be in the death of a loved one, or it could be the loss of a marriage, career or any hope for the future. We live in a culture that says, ‘Keep dreams alive, don’t stop dreaming,’ but the reality is that some of our dreams do die, so what are we to do when that happens? How do we ultimately hope for something greater than temporal dreams?”

There are three things Dennis hopes readers will take away from Buried Dreams and her story:
·         A greater view and understanding of God,
·         To see how God is at work in their own stories, weaving His hope in often unexpected ways,
·         To learn how to press into their own seasons of waiting and suffering with a posture towards God and not away from Him. These seasons are fertile soil for hope to grow.

There is joy to be found in Dennis’ story. Two years ago, their son Jaden, joined their family through adoption. On July 2, 2018, Dennis gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

About the author

Lindsey R. Dennis has worked with Cru for more than 15 years. She has served in international locations, as well as universities in the States, and takes great joy in getting to invest her life in students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. 

Dennis also writes and speaks on what God has done to bring hope and healing in her life through the life and death of her first two daughters. Within a few weeks of learning the news of her first daughters’ diagnosis, she began to blog about her unfolding story of hope and loss. Within the first week she had thousands of views and within two years, she had 1.5 million pageviews and 400,000 unique visitors. Dennis loves to share with others what it looks like to know God in the midst of suffering and how to trust Him with the pen of their stories. In addition to her own blog, she is also a contributing writer for www.hopemommies.com and www.stillstandingmag.com.

She lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband, Kevin. They have 4 children, Sophie and Dasah who now live with Jesus, and Jaden and Briella now in their arms.

You can follow more of Lindsey Dennis’ journey and writings on her blog,

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity


Scripture informs parents and caretakers on how to celebrate ethnic diversity for the beauty and glory of God.


In today’s racially-charged culture, racism, bigotry, and ethnic pride have manifested themselves in more ways than one, distorting God’s purposeful design of ethnic diversity. Both historically and in the present day, children have learned these social sins from family members, media, or peers.

Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne is inviting parents and caregivers to see how the gospel offers a new way, not just for adults, but for children too. Through his beautifully illustrated children’s book, God Made Me and You: Celebrating God’s Design for Ethnic Diversity (New Growth Press/September 17, 2018), Linne challenges parents and caregivers to put on the mind of Christ, learning and living out a kingdom perspective of ethnic diversity through countercultural, biblical views that don’t just happen but, rather, are taught.

Through a lyrical, rhyming style; colorful illustrations by Trish Mahoney; and a narrative taking place in a realistic classroom setting, Linne demonstrates how parents, teachers, and caregivers can start important conversations with their children. In the book, children are teasing one another about the color of their skin, and a teacher helps them understand how and why ethnic differences are to be celebrated—not made fun of or even just tolerated.

God Made Me and You is geared toward children ages five through eleven and fosters an environment of respect, love modeled in Scripture, and a lifelong embrace and pursuit of diversity. Linne closes the book with the children singing together. The song “God Made Me and You” takes its lyrics from the book and is available on his new album, “Jesus Kids”, which is being released the same week as the book.

Linne also includes a final page for adult readers, outlining six ways to help children appreciate God’s design for ethnic diversity. “Be hopeful for a future where the Spirit will break down barriers between people of different ethnic backgrounds,” he writes. “Let your children know through your words, attitudes, and actions that you believe God is at work in our world, drawing his people to himself and making us one in answer to his prayer” (John 17:20–26).

Throughout the book, Linne uses Scripture to celebrate diversity, including passages such as Revelation 7:9–10, which clearly illustrate God’s ultimate purpose in the gospel: a redeemed, ethnically diverse community of worshipers praising God for all eternity.

“God was intentional in the ways he made us to differ from each other,” Linne notes. “Like the facets of a jewel, the glory of God shines all the more brightly as the light of his gospel is reflected through different vessels.”

By teaching children to adopt a kingdom mindset of ethnic diversity for the glory of God, Linne points out how families are enriched and able to see God shine in particular ways that would have otherwise been lost without diversity (Ephesians 2:14–19).

Together, parents and children can write God’s purposeful and beautiful design for ethnic diversity on their hearts, singing out, “We’ll no longer view our distinctions as odd, but rather, more reasons to give praise to God. Together forever with saints of all kinds—this is exactly what God has designed.”

God Made Me and You is the second book in New Growth Press’ God Made Me series. The series launched with God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb, a book aiming to teach children how to protect their bodies and recognize and report sexual abuse. All previously published and yet-to-be released books in this series focus on providing a biblical guide for parents to talk about important topics with their children.


Shai Linne is a recording artist who has released numerous acclaimed Christian hip-hop albums, including The Atonement and The Attributes of God. He is the author of God Made Me and You: Celebrating God's Design for Ethnic Diversity and coauthor of It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God.

After completing a pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, Linne co-founded Risen Christ Fellowship, an inner-city church in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Blair, and their three children, Sage, Maya, and Ezra. 
Learn more at www.shailinnemusic.com and follow him on Twitter (@ShaiLinne).

Trish Mahoney is a graphic designer and illustrator in Seattle where she runs The Mahoney Studio with her husband, Patrick, also a designer and illustrator. They have two children—both budding artists too. Trish is also the illustrator for God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies and The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Despite attacks against it, the Bible has survived the ages


Part 1 of an interview with Rod Gragg,
Author of The Word: The History of
the Bible and How It Came to Us


Recent polling data reports that a copy of the Bible can be found today in 90 percent of American homes. Although much has changed in the world around us, the Bible remains the most popular book in all the world. Throughout eons of human history, men and women have sought to live according to the Bible, and countless numbers have given their lives for it,” award-winning author and historian Rod Gragg observes. “Why has the Bible been so revered? How did it come to us? And why have billions of believers through the ages considered it to be inspired by God?” These are a few of the questions explored in his latest book, The Word: The History of The Bible and How it Came to Us (WND Books).

Q: You’ve written many history books on a variety of topics. What let you to write a history of the Bible?

Before being a historian, I’m a Christian, so I have deep respect and love for the Bible. As a historian. I always want to know the back-story, so to speak. So, it was my hope for a long time to be able to write a history of the Bible. It’s a fascinating story about the book of Books—the one book that that’s found in 90 percent of American households today.

Q: As is typical of your books, The Word has a lengthy bibliography and extensive source notes. However, you wrote the book for all readers, not just historians and Bible scholars, correct.

Right—it’s based on sound scholarship, but it isn’t intended to be academic in style. It’s what’s called a “popular history,” meaning that it’s written for any and all readers. I like to think that I’m doing the research that the average person interested in the Bible would love to do if he or she had the time.

And it is an extraordinary history. When you hold the Bible in your hand today, it’s both inspiring and sobering to think about the countless people over the ages who have lived by its truths, and so many others who have died for it in order for us to have it. The history of the Bible is remarkable and inspirational.

Q: Among the many fascinating stories you share in this book, do you have a favorite? Did your research reveal anything that surprised you?

Well, a lot impressed me deeply for sure. I think that some of the most memorable stories center around the early translators who risked so much to translate the Bible into English: Wycliffe, Tyndale, John Rogers and others.

I think about John Wycliffe, an elderly Bible scholar at the end of his days who translated the Bible into English because he wanted everyday people to have access to the Bible. This was before the Gutenberg moveable type press, so His translation had to be hand-printed, and therefore, it was very expensive. Due to the costs, people tried to borrow or even rent a copy. It was said that the going rate to borrow a Wycliffe Bible was a full wagon-load of hay. Church authorities did not share that enthusiasm. After Wycliffe died, they had his body disinterred and burned, then his ashes were tossed in a nearby river. However, he had inspired the dream of a Bible in the English language.

Another favorite story of mine occurred much later in early Colonial America. It’s the story of the first Bible published in America, what became known as the “Eliot Indian Bible.” It was published in 1661 by John Eliot, who was a Puritan missionary to the Native American people of New England. He and a team of Indian consultants translated the Bible into the Wopanaak-Algonquin language, which not only opened the Scriptures to New England’s Native American people but also helped preserve their language.

Q: We hear about modern-day attacks on the Bible and Bible-readers around the world, but hasn’t that been going on since the beginning?

That’s true—and attacks continue to arise in new places. The history of the Bible is filled with repeated attempts to suppress, eliminate or neutralize its message which is remarkable since the Bible is God’s love letter to humanity.

In fact, the book opens with an introduction that refers to King Josiah, who reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah in the 7th century BC and directed a Bible-based reform movement because his grandfather, King Manasseh, had attempted to replace the Bible with Baal worship. Attempts to suppress or destroy the Bible and persecute those who accept it as the Word of God have been a recurring phenomenon throughout history.

Q: What were some of the major attacks that the Bible has survived through the ages?

The Word chronicles attempts to suppress, displace or destroy the Bible by first-century cults such as the Gnostics, waves of persecution under the Roman empire, barbarian raiders and invaders, the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and China among others in modern times. This includes Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, which attempted to replace the German church with a Reich Church that would substitute the Nazi swastika for the cross.

All attacks on the Bible failed to eliminate it, of course. It’s been said that the Bible has outlived a lot of would-be undertakers. I think many Christians would see that as fulfilment of an observation in the Old Testament book of Isaiah: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Q: How many ancient Bible manuscripts exist today? What are some of the most important ones?

More than 5,000 partial or complete manuscripts from the New Testament alone exist today. What’s believed to be oldest existing New Testament fragment is Papyri 52 or P52, which is held by the John Rylands Library in Manchester, Britain. It’s from John 18, reporting the trial of Jesus, and it dates from AD 90—150. It shows the Gospel was recorded by the mid-second century AD or even the late first century, which is historically close to the events reported in the New Testament.

The three most important and famous ancient Biblical manuscripts are Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus. Codex Sinaiticus, or most of it, is held by the British Library in London. It’s a translation of the Bible in Greek from more than 1,600 years ago, dating to about AD 340. It contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament in existence, and about half the Old Testament. It was in the collection of St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt until the mid-19th century, when it was acquired by the German Bible scholar Constantine Tischendorf.

Codex Vaticanus is just about as old—it dates to the first half of the fourth century AD. It’s preserved in the Vatican, which acquired it about fifty years before Columbus landed in America. Codex Alexandrinus is also preserved in the British Museum. It dates to the fifth century—about AD 425—and is believed to have been kept in an ancient church library in Alexandria, Egypt. The existence of these and other ancient biblical manuscripts demonstrates that the text of the Bible we read today has been faithfully transmitted from ages past to modern times.

Q: How has the age of Bible manuscripts been determined?

One method is radiocarbon dating which is sometimes used to determine the age of an object from antiquity. However, much more about ancient literature has probably been determined from linguistics and paleographical analysis which is the study of handwriting and its tools. But that’s another book in itself.

Q: There’s a common belief in some circles that the books of the Bible were selected by church councils, which picked some and dropped others. Did your research support that view?

The church councils did not pick the books of the Bible. The Old Testament canon was already well-established by the Jewish community more than 250 years before Christ. As for the New Testament canon, orthodox Bible scholars believe that it was not a group of books assembled by chance or forced on the early church by fourth century church councils but was steadily and unhurriedly established through its acceptance by church congregations from the first century onward. Accordingly, the Church councils did not pick the 27 books of the New Testament, but rather acknowledged what already had been accepted by the Christian community.

Q: When did the Bible as we know it today become established or canonized?

All the books of the Old Testament are generally believed to have been completed by the time of the Old Testament scribe and priest Ezra (about 445 BC) with the Old Testament canon established by the third century BC. After Roman forces conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in AD 70, a Jewish center of Biblical scholarship arose in Yavne or Jamina, west of Jerusalem. Jewish scholars there over time acknowledged the 39 books that Protestant churches accept today as the Old Testament to be the Hebrew Bible. But those books had long been recognized by the Jewish people as being divinely inspired and thus canonical, so it was a matter of acknowledging what already existed.

The New Testament canon is believed to have been developed by the mid-to-late second century—by then the early church fathers had quoted from all 27 books of today’s New Testament. It was established not by a single meeting or by a pronouncement by a group of Christian leaders, but by the progressive, unhurried acceptance of those 27 books by Christian congregations in the era of the early church. Historically, Christianity has attributed the emergence of the New Testament as an act of the Holy Spirit. By the time the famous church councils began meeting in the 4th century AD, the New Testament canon was already well-established by the use of those 27 books within the early church. So, the councils did not actually pick books and declare them to be the Bible; instead, they recognized or acknowledged the canon that already existed.

Q: Does the history of the Bible reveal how faithfully the biblical text has been transmitted through time?

Orthodox Christianity holds that the reliability of the Bible is demonstrated through internal and external evidence. The external evidence is the remarkable manner in which the Biblical text has been preserved through the ages, and that there are more than 5,000 partial or complete Biblical manuscripts existing from antiquity that uphold the authenticity of the Scriptures has we have them today. The internal evidence is the Bible claims to be the Word of God, and continues to change lives when it’s read, through what has been called the internal witness or conviction of the Holy Spirit. Christianity says read it—start, for instance, with the Gospel of John. Read it, prayerfully, with an open mind and a willing heart, and the Holy Spirit can open its truths, and introduce the reader to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.