Q: Women often overcommit themselves and limit their Bible study time. How much time during a day or week is required for each Discover Together lesson?
Women today are busy, but fast-paced full lives mean they need God’s Word to guide them just as much, maybe even more, than women in previous generations. Most women can complete a lesson in one to one and a half hours a week, and even with this minimum time commitment, they can expect an in-depth grasp of the text. The key is consistency. Understanding, really understanding, God’s Word will radically change your life if you apply what you learn. Where else can you get life change for an hour to an hour and a half a week?
Q: How can women take part in The Year of Discovery?
Choices. Women can participate in The Year of Discovery along with their Bible study groups at church. Or, if they can’t commit to another night out of the house for a group study or their work schedule keeps them on the road, they can still engage in meaningful study by completing the lessons themselves and then finding community and discussions on my new Facebook page (Facebook.com/DiscoverTogetherSeries). I’ll be leading women through one study after another in 2013. Check out the calendar and join us.
Q: For those familiar with your Bible studies, what added features can readers expect from these new editions of the Discover Together Bible Study Series?
The new studies sport updated designs, colors, and formats, with sidebars quoting inspirational authors, helpful background information, and my own related stories. “Digging Deeper” questions have been moved into the sidebar space. Also, we’ve added QR codes to take readers to free supplemental online teaching videos, most between three and five minutes each. The new website www.discovertogetherseries.com features these videos as well as an introductory video for each study, most around eight minutes in length, to jump start students as they begin their individual or group study. The leader’s guides, previously part of the study guide itself, can now be accessed online. We have also changed the way questions are numbered, making them easier to lead. We’ve done everything we can think of to make these studies user friendly and adaptable to a variety of study situations.
Q: Tell us about what readers will learn by working through the “Digging Deeper” portions of the studies.
“Digging Deeper” questions are for those who want to, and make time to, probe the text even more deeply. Answering these questions may require outside resources such as an atlas, Bible dictionary, or concordance; women may be asked to look up parallel passages for additional insight; or they may be encouraged to investigate the passage using an interlinear Greek-English text or Vine’s Expository Dictionary. This deeper study will challenge women to learn more about the history, culture, and geography related to the Bible, and to grapple with complex theological issues and differing views. Some with teaching gifts and an interest in advanced academics will enjoy exploring the depths of a passage, and might even find themselves creating outlines and charts and writing essays worthy of seminarians!
Q: Something unique to these studies are the videos that have been created for each lesson. What can we expect from each video message?
Some of the free online videos complement the question or question set adjacent to it in the lesson. Others relate to the general topic of the lesson. They are short, three to five minutes, and optional. Women can choose to listen to them all, or to none of them, as time and interest allow. In our sound bite world, short with high impact is often preferable to longer messages, although women who want to hear a longer message, thirty to forty-five minutes, will find some hiding among the shorter videos. Again, this Bible study series is about choices.
Q: Most of the devotionals being released this year are revised editions of previous devotionals; the exception is Revelation. Is there a reason why you had not written a study on Revelation before now?
Over my thirty-plus years of Bible teaching, students have requested Revelation more than any other book. Also, recently several respected Bible teachers have predicted that Jesus’ second coming is imminent, and that has heightened interest in studying the book that tells us more about his return than any other. I’m not making predictions, because Jesus told us in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” I do agree however that we are living in unsettling times and we certainly could be the last generation, but I’m hesitant to insist that we definitely are. But all this speculation, as well as the unsettled world we now live in, convinced me that now was the time.
Q: There are some people who hear their Bible class is going to do a study of Revelation and groan while others are fascinated by the topic. Why do you think that sometimes people are less than excited when it comes to an in-depth study of the Bible’s final book?
I haven’t heard women groan when they hear that’s the topic. Most are excited. But I do hear apprehension, even fear, that Revelation will be difficult to understand, that it may not be practical, and it may be divisive. These are legitimate concerns, but I’ve created a format to overcome these apprehensions. My study focuses on the beginning and ending of Revelation.
Q: You actually pick a few specific chapters of Revelation to study rather than the entire book. Can you explain to us your choice?
Revelation opens with a magnificent picture of the resurrected Christ. Following that overwhelming, dazzling picture are letters from Jesus to seven churches. They represent Christian communities throughout the ages. Imagine, letters from the resurrected Jesus to us! Throughout these letters, Jesus hints at rich promises and rewards that await the faithful when he ushers in the New Heavens and the New Earth, then eternity. We see the culmination of those promises and rewards at the end of the book. So going deep into the first and the last parts seemed like rich fare for hungry women. And, as I said, the middle is better taught by experts than a self-discovery method.
Q: What can women expect to learn from this study of Revelation? Anything practical?
How about what Jesus thinks of the way we live in our communities today? What delights him? What irritates him? Would that be worth knowing? Also, Jesus teaches us how to live purposefully with the end in mind. You can’t get more practical than that.
Q: What was one of your favorite things about researching and writing this study?
I’ve studied Jesus’ words in the Gospels, but I’d never gone deep into Revelation’s red-lettered words. I’d always assumed that John wrote the letters, but John was the scribe for Jesus. And Jesus’ words are particularly significant now because they are written in the context of end-times prophecy. They prepare us for what’s ahead.
Q: Why are you excited about women studying Revelation?
I’m hearing escalating, unsettling concerns related to the times in which we live. Globally, we are experiencing more natural disasters, economic strife, and political chaos, like birth pangs. How do we live in times like these? Revelation prepares us. And it is the only book in the Bible that promises blessings if we read and apply it. My fervent prayer and hope is that studying Revelation will calm concerns and bless women with a supernatural peace that only God can give.
Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible to study?
Yes, it’s the book I’m studying at the time. I’ve found that every book of the Bible deserves being labeled divine literature and every book results in practical life change when we actually dig into it, discover its riches together, and apply its truths.
Q: What studies will you be offering next?
I’ve been asked to write four new Bible studies for the series. I just finished Philippians and I plan to work on Daniel next. I’m still praying and asking God about the other two. If you have requests, let me know.
Visit www.discovertogetherseries.com to learn more about the Bible study series, download leader’s guides and watch Sue Edward’s video messages that correspond with each lesson.
Keep up with The Year of Discovery on www.facebook.com/DiscoverTogetherSeries.