Author, speaker, and sidewalk theologian, Cheri Cowell is passionate about discipleship and challenging the body of Christ to holiness of heart and life. As the author of Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life (Beacon Hill, 2007) and over 300 articles, Cheri’s love of story and the Holy Word shines through in her writing and teaching. In 2009 she was one of six journalists chosen for a tour of the Holy Land by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, a blessing that only deepened the love of the parables Jesus told. Cheri is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary where she learned the Inductive Bible study method used in this study to encourage, challenge, and equip the body of Christ to live story-shaped lives.
Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament is a 13-week workbook-style study of 118 parables from Jesus, Paul, and the apostles. This comprehensive look at the New Testament parables will help readers develop an ear for the message they convey—that the Kingdom of God is both here and near. Through the study readers will be challenged to live faithful and holy “Kingdom lives” in a broken and unholy world.
Of the thirteen weeks, the first nine explore the parables of Jesus in the four gospels; the next three look at the parables in Acts and those from Paul and the apostles. The study culminates in a look at what the author calls living parables, with Jesus as the Parable of all parables. Through Him we come to know God the Father, and through Jesus we come to live as living parables in a world begging to “see God.” Living story-shaped lives allows others to see God in us—this is Kingdom living.
The workbook includes a chart of parables in chronological order, a chart of parables alphabetically arranged in the four gospels, a chart showing the locations in Israel where the parables were taught, and an index of scriptures to make finding parables quick and easy. A Leader’s Guide is available.
What was the first book you wrote?
Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life (Beacon Hill Press, 2007) about spiritual discernment and knowing and following God's will in tough times.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing your book and how did you overcome it?
What to include and what not to include in a study of the parables. My study covers 118 New Testament parables, parables word pictures such as when Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd, and what I call 'parable sequels' or extensions offered by Paul and the apostles.
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 surprised or otherwise impacted you as you wrote your book?
There's not a consensus on how many parables are in the Bible or even what defines a parable.
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.
What book(s) do you have on your nightstand right now?
I'm reading two books, Cynthia Ruschti's They Almost Always Come Home and Calvin Miller's Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition.
What life experience, education, or training helped you become an author?
I am a writers' conference fan, having attended and taught at more than 40 over the last ten years. I wouldn't be where I am today as a writer without them. I also received a Masters in Theological Studies from Asbury Seminary, where I learned the Inductive Bible study method I used in writing the parables Bible study.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
My husband and I love to travel, to see nature and all the beautiful places God's created for us to enjoy. National Parks are our favorite destinations. In June we will travel to Yellowstone.
What is God teaching you right now?
That we all have a story to share and in sharing our stories we hear how God is moving, in listening to other's stories we begin to see how our own story is shaped by the interweavings of so many stories to form a God-story.
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. This is what the study brings to the reader.
To schedule an interview with Cheri Cowell, call (407) 712-3431
Parables and Word Pictures from the New Testament in the Following God Bible study series
ISBN: 978-0-89957-349-6 0-89957-349-5 $14.99, Trade Paper, 224 pages, 8.5” x 11” AMG International. Book is available at your local Christian bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from the author at www.CheriCowell.com
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