Happy 150th Birthday Concordia Publishing House! {celebrating with brags and giveaway swag }

Before telephones rang or light bulbs glowed. Before fountain pens, cars, or laser printers had been invented. A full century before the internet even existed, Concordia Publishing House was already producing materials that pointed people to Jesus.

In 1869, CPH began its journey to print Gospel-centered resources for a young Lutheran synod. Everything was printed in German and employees drank beer as they worked. Many things have changed!

As time and technology progressed, printed resources delivered by horse-drawn buggies expanded to electronic resources immediately accessible through downloads and apps.

By the grace of God, CPH is going strong 150 years later because it listens to readers, keeps track of current trends, and implements the latest technology to provide award-winning Christian products.

It has been an unbelievable privilege to write and publish five books through CPH to date. There is a beautiful camaraderie among CPH’s authors because we share the same goal: to honor God with the written word. We routinely learn from and encourage each other.

Women are avid readers and love Bible studies, so CPH has eagerly welcomed female authors to lend our unique, God-given voices and experiences to engage readers with the Bible. Shout out to these extraordinarily talented female CPH authors: Deb Burma, Sharla Fritz, Heidi Goehmann, Elizabeth Ahlman, Christina Hergenrader, Katie Schuermann, Kim Marxhausen, Gail Pawlitz, Lisa Clark, Heather Kaufman, Sarah Baughman, and Ruth Meyer, just to name a few.

Now, some people may ask, “Aren’t all publishers the same?” NO.

CPH truly feels like family. Their perspective is eternal. It’s never simply business as usual. Many people at CPH have become cherished friends over the years. We don’t just talk about manuscripts, marketing, and launch dates. We ask about each other, pray for each other and face life’s roller coaster ride together.

When I turn in a manuscript, I know that learned scholars and talented professionals use all of their God-given gifts to produce a doctrinally sound, Christ-focused, engaging Bible study that guides readers toward the very heart of God.

Not every publisher does that.

And not every publisher reaches 150 years young. (This is most certainly true.)

So this is a celebration! And what’s a party without presents? (I’ll let you bring your own beverage and scrumptious cake. Can somebody pass the Riesling, please?)

True to its generous heart, CPH sent me an incredible goody package to offer to one lucky subscriber! [So if you aren’t subscribed to my blog, please do so now.] Here are the giveaway contents:

A brand new Enduring Word Bible, CPH journal, a Bible marking pen set, and insulated beverage container. And I am adding a copy of my brand new CPH Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges–A Nehemiah Battle Plan.” {The videos for that study are available online only, or I would include that, too!}

But a birthday wouldn’t really be a grand celebration with just one gift, would it? So I’m giving away one copy of “Perseverance” to THREE additional subscribers, as well!

To Enter:
1) Subscribe to this blog (you can always unsubscribe later).
2) Follow CPH and me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.
3) Share this blog post giveaway on your social media channels and tag me (so I know to put your name in the hat). EASY!

I will draw names from all eligible entrants and post the winners on next Friday’s blog post. You have until Thursday, September 5, at 5:00 p.m. CDT to enter.

CPH’s journey brings this Scripture to mind: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you for faithfully running the race with holy integrity and endurance for 150 years and counting. Happy Birthday, Concordia Publishing House!

How To Balance Life While Writing A Book

With four books and several Bible studies published, I finally feel qualified to write this post. Perhaps it’s just the experiential miles talking.

As an author, the question I field more often than any other is: “How do you have time to write books, work full time, travel to speak at events, and maintain a satisfying personal life?

The simple answer is the amazing grace of a faithful God and the incredible support of family and friends. But there’s more.

It requires commitment. Sacrifice. Focus. Organization. And no small amount of blood, sweat and tears.

Through trial and fire, I’ve discovered five specific ways to stay sane while meeting manuscript deadlines. There are many more, but these five help set solid boundaries.

     1) Say NO to new commitments until the manuscript is turned in.

New and cool opportunities will start pouring in the moment you commit to a writing deadline — trust me. It’s like when you commit to eating healthy and suddenly chocolate materializes everywhere. However, resisting the urge to add entries to your calendar is crucial to protect your writing time.

     2) Take a sabbatical from voluntary, time-consuming commitments.

I sing on my church’s worship team and absolutely love it. However, it requires time learning music, diligent rehearsal, run-through, and singing at both services on Sunday morning.

I took a sabbatical from the worship team for the two months prior to my last manuscript deadline to shift that time toward writing. The team’s support and prayers touched me to the core. The cool thing? A few new worship leaders have stepped forward to become amazing blessings to our church.

     3) Commit to writing a certain word count each day.

I created a 3-month daily chart containing current commitments. It allowed me to ascertain at a glance which days/evenings could be devoted toward significant blocks of writing time.

Regardless, I committed to adding 1,000 words to the manuscript each day (except Sundays). Some days I only added 500 words, but others reached over 3,500. The chart kept me on track right up to the deadline.

     4) Sign off of social media and devote all spare time to your manuscript.

If I had 30 minutes to write, I wrote! I loaded my manuscript onto a dedicated thumb drive and wrote during lunch breaks, waiting at the airport, and during flights.

You’ll be surprised at how much you get done when you’re focused.

I also scheduled a week of vacation from my full time job right before the deadline. I sequestered myself at home and fine-tuned the manuscript, taking time to pray often. I also took a two-month sabbatical from my blog and avoided social media for the final ten days to eliminate distraction.

     5) Become anti-social.

This one is extremely tough. Writing involves more than strolling along picturesque rivers at sunset while eating French bread washed down with wine while pondering deep thoughts that will eventually be captured on our laptop.

I’m sorry to pop the idealistic bubble, but writing entails long hours of research and typing with complete focus. Headaches, backaches and stiff necks go with the territory.

Explaining my deadline and commitment to family and friends included them in the process instead of shutting them out. They understood that I couldn’t go to impromptu movie nights until after the deadline.

Their encouragement and prayer support kept me going during those tougher writing days (yes, they happen).

I am looking forward very much to this summer, because come Fall I will buckle down, put these five items into high gear and complete my next manuscript before Thanksgiving.

And remember, intentionally rest between manuscripts to re-engage in normal life, putter around the house, take a vacation, and breathe again. Rest is crucial to tackling your next project with enthusiasm instead of exhaustion.

Bottom line? There are many ways to carve out the necessary time to meet your writing deadlines. Just prioritize, organize, and jump in with both feet, remembering:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23

If you’re an author, what could you add to the list?

If you’re an aspiring author, did you find anything surprising?

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For the Love of Bible Study {plus free downloads}

When it comes to Bible study, I admit that it used to scare my freckles white. As a new Christian 25 years ago, my Bible’s table of contents was a lifeline to find my way around Scripture.

How do you view Bible study? Frustrating, fulfilling or downright frightening?

Much like a car’s GPS, effective Bible study tools often spare us the discomfort of getting lost in Scripture.

Because who likes getting lost?

Study Bibles and other resources are helpful tools, but when it comes to studying God’s Word for personal growth (rather than preparing to speak or teach from it), I’d like to suggest a method from personal experience that works well:

(1) Shelve your study Bible.

Don’t discard it, just shelve it initially. Get a Bible that contains only Scripture cross-references. Look up the cross-references to help you interpret and navigate through Scripture. Comparing Scripture with Scripture lets the Bible explain itself, allowing God’s context to speak.

Treat study Bible notes as what they are: commentary, and a brief one at that. Remember they are man’s words, subject to bias and error. Read them respectfully but critically.

(2) Take your time.

Ask God for insight as you begin studying His Word. Humbly ask God to reveal truth to your heart and mind as you read for understanding on your own. Ask again as you compare your discoveries to those of trusted commentators.

Even if you discover that you may have drawn an inaccurate conclusion from a passage, your diligence to discover the correct interpretation will cause you to remember more readily.

This journey is vitally necessary for spiritual growth.

(3) Consult multiple sources.

Study notes serve as a starting point, not a terminus. Once you have read the passages for personal understanding in a note-free Bible, consult several study Bibles and commentaries from trusted sources. Look for consensus and disagreement among them.

And keep those prayer lines open with God as you go.

There are many resources, so where do we start? Here are some of my indispensable research mainstays:

The Lutheran Study Bible by Concordia Publishing House
Logos Bible Software
www.blueletterbible.com
ESV Bible Atlas
The New Strong’s Expanded and Exhaustive Concordance
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
NIV Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture

There are others, but I usually use the above resources each time regardless. Just remember, those study tools serve as a reference point for your conclusions, but not as a substitute for them.

And don’t be afraid to get a little lost in Scripture.

Allow yourself to feel the extent of what you don’t understand. It’s a humbling feeling.

If wisdom and understanding define your destination, humility makes an excellent starting point for the journey.

After all, God faithfully promises: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

How do you view and/or approach Bible study?

Comment below and let’s learn from each other’s tips and study methods. We’re on this journey together!

FREE DOWNLOADS:
Here are four different Bible Reading Checklists to choose from. Tuck one (or all) neatly in your Bible for marking your study journey. Please feel free to share them.

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