FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode 11

Though certainly not absolutely necessary for Bible study, having access to commentaries when you are studying a passage of Scripture can be super-helpful. However, if you’ve been down the commentary aisle at a bookstore, or searched Amazon for one … it can be pretty overwhelming to know which to chose. We’re here to help! Listen in to this 15 minute episode for answers to your question, “Which type of commentary should I use?!”

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • How to select a commentary to match your skill level
  • The importance of understanding the goals behind the publisher of every book, and who their target audience is
  • Clues you can find from the back of the book that will help you know if it is a good selection for you
  • How looking up theological “hot spots” can help you determine if that author is theologically sound
  • The importance of asking your pastor and/or leaders in your church that you can trust for commentary
  • How to think out of the box when it comes to finding help on a passage
  • The best bang for your buck when it comes to investing in commentary
  • Why it’s a bad idea to buy a full set of commentaries

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

  • ESV Study Bible – A great resource for any book of the Bible. Includes all the basic info you would need to know about a book (author, audience, aim) and more.

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode 10

Today we chat about Song of Solomon!

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • The author, audience, and aim of Song of Solomon.
  • Chris’ thoughts on the male lover debate – who is the main character in the book?
  • Why did Solomon write this book and why is in included in Scripture?
  • What we can learn from studying Song of Solomon:
    • The importance of “don’t awaken love until it pleases”
    • The value of healthy sexuality within the confines of marriage
    • The goodness of romantic love

RESOURCES MENTIONED:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

  • ESV Study Bible – A great resource for any book of the Bible. Includes all the basic info you would need to know about a book (author, audience, aim) and more.
  • Precepts Austin – This is a TREASURE TROVE of resources for the entire book of Bible.

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF Song of Solomon:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode 9

Studying the Bible can be complicated. And especially if you are new to the Word of God, there are features in your Bible you may be missing out on.  In this 15 minutes episode we chat through what the itty bitty super-scripted numbers and/or letters that may be in your Bible. They’re there for a reason!

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • What are all the little letters and numbers in the Bible?
  • What is a footnote?
  • What is a cross-reference?
  • WHY they are in our Bibles.
  • How cross-references lead us to those “ah-ha!” moments.
  • Helpful tools to use for cross-referencing.
  • The NEW NAME for our Florida “studio.”
  • Plus a personal update from Chris and Katie!

RESOURCES MENTIONED:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

My next online Bible Study is right around the corner! We’ll be going through our BRAND NEW STUDY Philippians, and I would LOVE for you to jump in and study with us! It’s a 6-week study designed to be completed in as little as 15 minutes a day. There is also TONS of bonus content, so if you are ready to go deeper you can. Not only will you learn from the major themes of Philippians but you will also learn HOW to study the Bible ON YOUR OWN.

To jump in, all you need is a copy of Philippians and join us at the Bible Study Hub. Invite a few friends to join you! You can purchase Philippians on New Hope Publishers (they will match pricing and give free shipping on orders over $35!), Amazon (Prime ships QUICK!!), as well as several other online retailers. Nook, Kindle, and iBook versions are also available for immediate download.

Links above may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

Join the Online Study Group

  • WHAT: Studying through Philippians (6 weeks – 5 days a week – 15 minutes a day!))
  • WHEN: February 12th – March 23rd
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group or form your own group with friends
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase a copy of Philippians then request to join the group.

Who’s Excited?!

When I first started dreaming of traditional publishing for the FOCUSed15 Bible studies, my first thought was to write studies through a book of the Bible. But through the pitching process and really thinking through a myriad of factors, the idea for shorter, topical Bible studies through one passage emerged as the way God was leading us. I’ve always loved teaching and training for the “everyday” woman (’cause I’m one of them!)— by focusing on small yet challenging steps toward a closer walk with Jesus. As we worked through title development for what then was the FOCUSed15 Faith, Hope, and Love studies … the suggestion was made by my brilliant Marketing Director to add “Everyday” to each title, and the Everyday series was born.

It is still crazy to look back on the past two years of publishing — five, actually, if you count all the pitching and studying and writing. I never dreamed that I would ever have FIVE Bible studies under my belt, let alone in such a short period of time. It’s certainly been an exhausting labor of love, yet a thrill to be exactly where God wants me to be. He has continually and faithfully led us to just the right next step at just the right time and I’m so grateful.

The release of my next study, Philippians, is right around the corner. I am super-excited for this new resource! I’m getting to return to my original plan and hopes for the FOCUSed15 series: inductive Bible studies through a book of the Bible. Jonah will be soon to follow, and we are currently brainstorming what will come next in this new series. These 6-week studies are co-written with my husband Chris, and I’m excited for you to experience all he has to offer. He is a gifted communicator and has a knack for making hard-to-understand theological concepts and tricky passages accessible for the rest of us who have not been to seminary! He also brings a new set of helpful stories and analogies to the table. Also, this book is written to a co-ed audience, so the FOCUSed15 Philippians Bible study is a good fit not only for you, but also your husband, your brother, and/or your older sons and daughters.

Amidst all this excitement, there is one area of publishing that I truly struggle to walk forward in confidence: promotion. I’ve learned to be a good and (hopefully) creative copy-cat, invested in many marketing resources, and read, read, and read some more about it all. But all the training in the world cannot make my heart lose its hesitancy to not want to WEAR YOU OUT. “Cause I get it. We are all continually bombarded with “stellar” opportunities and “fantastic” deals and “must have” new resources. It is mentally (and financially) exhausting. And the last thing I want to do is be part of what fatigues you. I always want to add value to your life, especially when it comes to equipping you to enjoy the Bible, and walk closely to our Savior.

With all that said, I come to you excited for this next project, Philippiansand ask you to invest in it through pre-ordering this week. As a thank you, I have put together a new e-course I’ve been dreaming of for years. It is finally complete, and ready for you to download. The course costs $29.99, but all who pre-order (or have already pre-ordered) will receive a coupon code for 100% off! As of right now, the Philippians study is under or around $12 at most retailers (see the full list here). That means you can get this course for over half off which will be the cheapest you will be able to get it. I plan to do some promotions for the new course in the year ahead, but the biggest discount I plan to give (and not often!!) will be 50% at $14.99.

In case you were wondering, I thought I’d give you a peek behind the curtain as to why pre-orders are so important.

Why should I pre-order a book?

1. It blesses the author.

Writing is hard work. Yes, is some ways its amazing that I get to spend hours of alone time in a coffeeshop … but not all writing time is glorious. Writing a manuscript takes a ton of sacrifice. I have to write when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes I work hard to coordinate a few precious hours of writing time, pay a sitter to stay with my kids, and leave the house a complete wreck only to stare at the screen and eek out 2 lousy paragraphs. Writing is a constant fight, and just when I think I’m are done, I notice more that needs to be worked on. Sometimes I can see the end in sight, only to have to scrap it all and start over. (I had to do this with Everyday Hope.)

Writing a book demands I say no to many things for a season. No to a tidy house. No to eating as healthy as I would like (and consequently, no to a trim figure!). No to extra time with friends. No to Friday family fun night. No to sleeping in on Saturdays. No to pretty much any free-time. The season of writing a manuscript is demanding and consuming and extremely exhausting in every way.

So why would I ever say yes to this mess? Because God calls. Because the gift of writing is to be utilized and stewarded for His glory. Because I care about YOU, the reader. I want the message God has given me, and the words I’ve written to make a difference. I want them to be useful, challenging, and (at least for one person) life-changing.

So, when the person I’ve had in mind while I write, the soul I’ve and prayed for, and the life I’ve asked God to speak into through my imperfect words—YOU—purchase the book, it blesses me. It validates all the hard work. It reminds me WHY I write. It affirms my calling. When I receive kind notes of how God has used my words for His glory in your life, it is fuel to the fire for more to come. When YOU chose to spend your hard-earned money on MY book, and then your precious time to READ the words within, those actions are an absolute GIFT to me. Supporting an author through purchasing their book is an investment in God’s calling on their life. You get to be a part of that ministry to bring His message to more who have yet to hear it. 

It makes all the late nights and messy season of life worth it. 

2. When you purchase a product from the author, it will most likely fuel more free content for the future.

It’s a joy to serve online, but sometimes the pressure to provide free content is crippling. Think of all the free-to-you posts and resources you’ve consumed over the years … then make the choice to invest in more to come. I guarantee you that those “free” resources have not been free to the author. From the many website and newsletter fees, to designer and developer costs, you would probably be shocked to know how much money is spent behind the scenes in order to provide you with a month of blog posts, podcasts, and a free printable or two. So, if you hope to see more freebies, fuel their work through actually paying for something they don’t give away!

3. It speaks volumes to the publisher and retailers.

Every publisher takes a risk when they sign an author.  They invest in the book in big ways, and when you pre-order it tells them, “Yes, I love this author! Keep providing more from him/her!” Purchasing the book gives them confidence to contract more works with that author. 

It also helps retailers gauge how many books to order. 4 years into this, and I am still learning more an more about this industry, but as I understanding it, vendors put in a preliminary order WAY before the book is ready. Then, once they see how pre-sales are going, they will either DECREASE or increase their order. Pre-ordering tells retailers (and e-tailers!) that this is product they need to have available for their customers.

4. You are often among the first to receive the book!

This is just fun. I love being on the front-end of what God is doing, don’t you?!

5. Pre-order sales help authors hit best-seller lists.

This hasn’t been something I’ve specifically pursued (yet!) but many authors of regular “trade” books (not Bible studies) work hard to hit a best-selling category, as that magnifies all that I’ve mentioned so far. All pre-order numbers are queued until the day of release, so then those sales are all counted at once, giving the author their best (and typically last) shot at hitting best-selling status.

6. You typically get free stuff!!

Most authors provide valuable goods and great giveaways as an incentive to pre-order. It’s also a fun way to celebrate reaching the finish line! You may have heard that publishing a book can be like birthing a baby. While it’s not quite as painful, there are many parallels, so all the pre-ordering fun is like the baby shower: a celebration of all God has done so far and a looking ahead for the big day. Once the “baby” has come, there is still much work to do, but the final arrival is an event to be celebrated

So, thanks for helping me celebrate! Just click the button below to let me know that you’ve pre-ordered. Or, if you haven’t yet purchased the book, there are links to the study there as well. Need to learn more about the study before you decide? Go here!

Hurrah! I just finished loading the new Hebrews reading plan to our brand new system. It is so nice to see all the free reading plans nestled together. If you haven’t checked it out yet, this new system will allow for you to have continual and EASY access to all the free tips and tools in the Bible Study Resource Library.

Now that the plan is completed and uploaded, we’re ready for our next Bible reading adventure. There are thousands of women reading and studying alongside one another in the Bible Study Hub. You can jump into the group to read along with us, or grab a few friends to read with. Accountability is key to keep going!

Join 20 Days in Hebrews

The 20 Days in Hebrews reading plan is simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of this book.

Recommended Resources for Studying Hebrews

Links below include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!
  • Is Jesus Worth It? by my good friend Stacey Thacker. She’s the real deal, folks. She’s lived it out again and again: Jesus IS worth it. This book is part of the Girlfriend’s Guide to the Bible series and it goes through the book of Hebrews in an easy, accessible, enjoyable read. We’ll be offering an optional book club through this book in the Bible Study Hub, alongside the free reading plan!

 Are you in? Have you studied Hebrews before?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode 8

For some of you, your answer to this question may be a no-brainer. Or, maybe you are currently wading through theological waters to find the answer to this question. Either way it is important not only for you to know your answer to this question but also WHY. In this quick podcast episode, Chris and I chat about whether or not the Bible is really error free.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • Whether or not the Bible claims to be error free
  • What to do with the supposed errors in the Bible
  • An example of how Katie came across a passage that didn’t seem to line up and looked inaccurate
  • Three reasons to hold tightly to the inerrancy of Scripture

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

  • Are there errors in the Bible?  – This brief article from NAMB gives quick explanations for 16 different categories of supposed errors.
  • What is Inerrancy? A quick and helpful Ask Pastor John audio interview.
  • Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – This is a resource packed with loads more than just info about Biblical inerrancy.
  • Is Inerrancy a Historical Doctrine? In this video interview, Keith Whitfield sits down with Nathan Finn to talk about inerrancy and church history.A helpful look at the understanding of inerrancy throughout church history


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post. 

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

Well, the internet has been my nemesis this week. Many of you have noticed that my website has been DOWN (ugh) which also means I have had to scrap my plans (double-ugh for this inflexible Type-A) and veer toward plan-B. (Which didn’t really exist, so it was less of a plan and more of flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. Ha!) My attempts at plan-B included a pixellated video with spotty sound, a hand-held super-shaky video, and yet another with the wrong orientation. When all was said and done, it felt like an ineffective way to communicate how I wanted! So, I’ve decided to start over and try this again. (Don’t worry, all of those who entered to win on Facebook WILL still retain their entries!!)

Enter to Win an Early-Bird Gift Pack

  • WHAT: I’ve put together 5 amazing product-packs that I will ship out to continental US addresses. Details for each pack are below!
  • WHEN: Because of all my site issues, I’m extending the giveaway to go through the weekend. I will choose a winner for each pack on Monday, December 11.
  • WHY: To celebrate the upcoming release of my latest Bible study, Philippians, a 6-week FOCUSed15 Bible study, which will be released on January 22, 2018! Yay!
  • HOW TO ENTER: Preorder Philippians at your favorite retailer. Amazon | New Hope PublishersBarnes and Noble | ChristianBook.com | Cokesbury
    • Comment below to let me know where you pre-ordered!! (Winners will be asked to send in a receipt before package is sent.)
    • For extra entries, you can follow the “plan-B” directions on Facebook and receive TONS of extra entries!
    • One comment below = 1 entry for each package.

What’s in the Gift Packs?

A full description of each gift pack is below! Each pack also includes a coupon for 25% off one of my Everyday Bible studies. If you want to see and hear more about each packet, you can head to the crazy videos on Facebook. Just click the image of any one and it will take you where you need to go!

Links to items below may include affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a tiny portion of any purchases made. Thanks!

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I’m working on bringing you several fun (and FREE!) digital goodies as a thank you for all who pre-order Philippians. More details are coming soon, but you can let me know now that you pre-ordered and I’ll send them to you as soon as they are ready.


THANK YOU For your support. It means so much to me!!

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #7

We’ve been working through the Wisdom Literature this season. We’ve hit on the book of Psalms as well as Proverbs and now it’s Ecclesiastes’ turn!

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • The AUTHOR, AUDIENCE, and AIM of Ecclesiastes.
  • The similarities between VH-1’s Behind the Music and the book of Ecclesiastes.
  • The main themes in the book.
  • How a meals at Denny’s and Ecclesiastes led Katie to marry Chris.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post or watch the Facebook Live video version.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

I’m so excited for these new prayer request bookmarks!

For a long time my prayers were limited to the few memorized prayers modelled by others. Thank you for this food. . . We praise you for the blessings you’ve given us. . . Forgive me of my sins. . . Be with me today. . . Give me strength. . .  My prayers had a tendency to sound the same, as I was simply parroting what I’d heard from others. These words seemed neither effective or very “spiritual” but it was all I knew.

Through the ministry of Cru I learned much about what prayer can and should be. From the posture of my heart and how to base my prayers in Scripture, to practical how-to’s and the theology surrounding it all—the teaching and training I received during my college years opened up a whole new world to my prayer life.

Lately, I’ve been convicted of my lack of faithful, persistent prayers and my soul has been stirred toward praying more and more specific, Biblical prayers for myself, my family, my church, and the world around me. I’ve been collecting references and lists and beginning to gather together some sort of system in order to enjoy a more faithful and purposeful communion with God. I’m hoping to have everything settled by the new year, and as I gather and organize, I will share my lists with you!

Heart Prayers for the Lost

The first list available is prayers for the lost. With the holidays around the corner, many will be interacting with and getting extra time with family members and friends who are without Christ. I’ve titled these prayers “Heart Prayers” as each request is geared toward God changing the hearts of those who need Him.

Here are 7 Biblical prayers to pray for those who need Christ:

  • Compassion – Mark 6:34: Jesus, give me your heart of compassion for the lost around me — especially those who are difficult to love.
  • Enlightenment – 2 Corinthians 4:4: God, remove the blinders that keep them from seeing the light of the gospel and the glory of Christ.
  • Clarity – 1 John 5:20: God, give them understanding, so that we would know that you are the true God and the only way to eternal life.
  • Receptiveness – Acts 16:14: God, open their heart to hear and be attentive to your teaching and calling.
  • Protection – Hebrews 13:9: Lord, I ask that they would not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; strengthen their heart by grace
  • Repentance – 2 Corinthians 7:10: God, grant those who are far from you a godly grief that produces a genuine repentance that will lead to salvation.
  • Satisfaction – Psalm 16:11: Father, show them that your presence will bring fullness of joy. Only through you can they experience lasting pleasure.

Over time, my hope is that these Scriptural prayers become engrained on my heart and embedded in my mind, so that whenever I think of a lost friend or family member, these prayers are ready to go, even if I am not in front of my prayer journal.

Download the Free Bookmark

I’ve created a pretty bookmark for you to print out and use in your prayer journal! This resource (along with TONS of others) are free for my newsletter subscribers. Just fill out the form below and I’ll send you the link right away.

On My Shelf: Prayer Resources

Links below contain affiliate program links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

What prayers do you pray for the lost? Share them in the comments so we can add those requests to our lists!