Monday, June 11, 2012

Blog contest winner

Congratulations to Tami-Jo Boynton Halliman on winning a copy of  "Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors" from last week's blog contest.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Can pride and humility co-exist?

When I heard last week that my Bible study "Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors" had won the Blue Ridge Writers Conference 2012 SELAH award for best Bible study I experienced every imaginable emotion. At first, I was confused. I was on the road coming home from Nebraska when I received an email from a friend congratulating me for the award.  I had no idea what she was referring to. I had had limited email for five days and hadn't yet received word.

Next, I was shocked and surprised. The Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference is one of the premier writers conferences in the country and honors the best; I was next truly humbled.

But, I must admit that I am also proud of this study, and admittedly, the award. "Joseph" is more than the culmination of years of study and writing; it is the result of the Lord working in my own life since childhood. It is about how I so closely relate to Joseph's life. It is sharing from my heart how the Lord took me from my personal "pit" as a teenager with multiple broken families/marriages, twenty-one step-, half-, and adopted siblings, and many deep hurts to a life of service to Him.

This study goes way beyond the Sunday school story you heard as a child. I believe you will see Joseph as you never have before: the lonely little boy ignored by his brothers, yet coddled by his parents. You'll feel his fear in the pit; follow his caravan to Egypt; stand with him on the slave auction block. You'll experience his struggle for sexual purity, go with him to the dungeons of Egypt, rejoice in his rise to power, and weep as he forgives the hurt and betrayal of his brothers. Perhaps more than any other biblical narrative, Joseph’s life is a practical model for every day relationships. This study details each aspect of Joseph’s life and shows us how to relate it to our own temptations and struggles with envy, disappointment, betrayal, purity, power, and forgiveness.

“Joseph” is a blueprint for understanding blended families with broken and betrayed relationships. It serves as a leadership manual for churches and businesses; a handbook for employees and employers; a guidebook for resisting negative peer pressure and instituting moral purity, grace and forgiveness. Literally, it has something for everyone. It's an eight week interactive Bible study offering hope, encouragement, and practical answers to life’s problems. I would be willing to bet that Joseph's story is not just my story, but yours too.

I hope you will consider this study for your personal use or Sunday School or group Bible study. May the Lord bless you in your own "Joseph life"!

Please leave a comment with your contact info for a chance to win a copy of "Joseph". We'll be drawing a name next Monday.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Do you love a good story?

I don't know about you, but I love the stories and parables in Scripture. Today I'm happy to tell you about a new book Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament by my friend and fellow AWSA sister (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) Cheri Cowell. She is a self-described author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian, and is passionate about discipleship and challenging the body of Christ to holiness of heart and life. Cheri’s love of story and the Holy Word shines through in her writing and teaching. In the following questions and answers Cheri tells us about her newest book Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament, a 13-week workbook-style study of 118 parables from Jesus, Paul, and the apostles.

(Please leave a comment at the end of the blog for a chance to win a gift basket from Cheri. Your contact email must be included.)

What passion drove you as you wrote your new book?
I LOVE the Word and I love storytelling and I want others to fall in love not only with the Word but also with the concept that they can become a living parable, a living story pointing others toward the Ultimate Living Parable––Jesus Christ.

What do you hope readers will gain from your book(s)?
That the parables are not isolated stories only used for sermon illustrations, but when read together they give us a picture of how we are to live as kingdom people. Through the parables we learn how to become living parables in a world desperate to "see" God.

The title of your study is Parables & Word Pictures; just what is a “word picture?”
There are some teachings of Jesus, such as when He says, "I am the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep" that aren't technically parables but are what I call parable word pictures because the image tells the whole story.

It has been said that Jesus spoke in parables to “confuse and confound” and you say you have a “key” to making these less confusing and confounding to modern-day readers. What is this key?
It wasn't until I studied the parables as a whole that the whole message they convey became clear, so the key is a comprehensive look at the New Testament parables.

Storytelling is a big part of our culture. Everywhere you turn there is a new story; how can we use these parables to reach our neighbors and friends with their story-telling power?
For me, this is what studying the parables is all about. It is about shaping our lives after Jesus that when others "read our lives" they see Him. How we treat others, how we respond to sorrow and obstacles tells a story. When asked how and why we are able to be at peace, or turn the other cheek, we don't need a canned presentation. We simply share our story of how God's story has changed us.

The study concludes with a look at the Parable of all parables. Tell us about this because this is the heart of your study.

I remember the moment when in preparation for writing this study I understood that Jesus not only taught parables, but He was a parable––a living parable. In fact, He was the Ultimate Living Parable who lived His life as an example of what a life shaped by the truths taught in the parables should look like. Likewise, you and I have been invited to live parable-shaped lives so we, too, might become a living parable in a world begging to see God.

Thank you, Cheri! 

To order Cheri's book:

Trailer Link: