I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Courtney Doctor’s new Bible study, From Garden to Glory; a Bible Study on the Bible’s Story (CDM 2016) just released this spring and I hope you’ll take a look. Courtney guides her readers through the entire story of the Bible in manageable portions, with theological depth and practical wisdom. She makes it look effortless, but it’s clear that this book comes from years of diligent study. I hope you’ll enjoy this sneak peek with Courtney:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
The first half of my life I was a sinner, but, I am much relieved to say, the second half of my life I’ve been something entirely different—I’ve been a forgiven sinner. And that is all the difference in the world! I have never gotten over the fact that the Lord rescued me, adopted me, saved me, and is slowly restoring me. And, as he is doing that, he gives me the privilege of being a lot of other things as well—things I love and am so grateful for.
I am the wife of Craig, the mother of Austin, Bradon, Shelby, and Rebecca, and the mother-in-law of Ruth and Jordan. I love horses, especially one named Carson. My husband and I have had the unique privilege to go through seminary together, both graduating with our Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary. We also currently serve on staff together at The Kirk of the Hills, PCA church in St. Louis—Craig as an Assistant Pastor and I serve as the director of Women’s Ministry. I serve on two school boards, so I will give a “shout out” to Providence Classical Christian Academy in St. Louis and Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA. I love God’s word and one of my greatest joys is to study and teach his word.
But these are all either roles in which I serve or things I love to do. As far as who I am as a person? I am a woman who struggles with wanting the approval of others, trying not to constantly voice my opinions, body-image issues, laziness, loving others well, and a host of others things that plague me—but I am also a woman who is daily learning more and more what it means to rest in the eternal love of a perfect Father. And, most of all, I am a forgiven sinner, redeemed by grace.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
I’m not sure I qualify yet as someone who can say there was a time that I “started writing!” Maybe I will look back one day and be able to point to that time as now. I am just beginning this part of my journey and am learning daily as I lean into it. I enjoy watching how God can take my initial thoughts and teach me as I am trying to teach others. I enjoy how the terror of a blank page can turn into the joy of a page filled with words—some of which I know were not mine. I enjoy hearing that something I have written connects with and helps someone else in his or her walk with God. Most of all, I enjoy knowing that I have been obedient long enough to sit at the computer and can watch God take my feeble efforts and delight in them. Writing, at times, is an intimate act of worship.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
Writing is almost always difficult for me! When it is time to open the document and begin work, I find myself starting to organize bookshelves, return obscure emails, clean out my closet, my refrigerator, my inbox . . . you name it! It takes an enormous amount of self-discipline for me to sit and stare at a page. If the page is blank, it is almost physically painful. Oh, I occasionally have those days where the thoughts and words seem to just appear on the page, but those days are few and far between. I wrestle with God, the words, the thoughts, the constant temptation to check Facebook, and with my own lack of self-control.
Why did you decide to write From Garden to Glory?
My husband and I moved to St. Louis in 2010 in order to start a new adventure in our lives—seminary! At Covenant Seminary, all first year students are required to take a course that will be foundational to their work throughout the rest of their studies. This class was so important that five professors team-taught it and it spanned two semesters. The class was Covenant Theology and it rocked my world. I had never heard the biblical story explained in such a comprehensive and coherent way. It was like pieces of a giant puzzle were falling into place and the bigger picture was more beautiful than I had ever imagined. As I sat there week after week, my thought was, “Every Christian needs to know this!” And the desire to write this study was conceived.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
Because this study is an overview of the biblical story, the central message of the study, I hope, is the same as the central message of Scripture! Which is that our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is on a grand mission to redeem and restore his creation. God longs to dwell with his children as he did in the Garden; but the holy cannot dwell with the unholy. That is the great dilemma in Scripture. And so the story of Scripture—from the garden until we reach glory; from Genesis to Revelation—is the story of how God moves and acts to accomplish his purposes. It is a grand story of love and rescue—and is a story that should cause us to bow before our great Redeemer and worship One so mighty to save.
Why is this topic important to you?
I love God’s Word and long to see others love it, too. When I was first taught to read the Bible as one, big, cohesive story, my love for both God and his Word increased. Different parts of the story—different books of the Bible—came alive because I was able to read them as part of the whole. I was in awe of the beauty and majesty of, not just the story, but of the God who is both the author and the main character!
Here’s a sneak peek quote from the book:
This great rescue mission is for a purpose—God wants to be in relationship with his people! He loves us. And so he binds himself to his own promises, knowing that he will be the only one who will be faithful and keep the covenant. Our faithful God enters into a binding relationship with unfaithful people. He knew on the front end that he would have to be the one upholding both sides of the covenant and, because he is faithful, he keeps his promises and accomplishes his will; we are his people and he is our God (Chapter 4, Day 2).
Here’s what others are saying about From Garden to Glory:
I don’t know of another book quite like this one. In over 35 years of ministry, I’ve read scores of books about understanding the Bible from various perspectives, but Courtney gives us a unique work which provides the essentials for understanding the Bible as one glorious, cohesive story of redemption. It is biblical. It is theological. It is devotional, and it is delightful. – Donna Dobbs, Director of Christian Education; First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS
From Garden to Glory takes the reader on a journey from Genesis to Revelation. Each lesson focuses on a few passages with depth, while explaining the theological concepts that weave the whole of God’s Story together. Courtney Doctor’s insightful and humorous commentaries will motivate both beginners and lifelong students of Scripture to dig deeper into the biblical texts. Her knowledge of Scripture and depth of theological study provide the reader keys to better understand what they read in the Bible. This is a unique and wonderful study; I’ve never seen curriculum like it. What a gift to the church! – Tasha Chapman, PhD, Director of Educational Studies Covenant Theological Seminary, co-author of Resilient Ministry (IVP 2013)
The Bible exists to present the story of God’s way with the world, and its primary purpose is to call and shape a people for the sake of his kingdom mission of redeeming a sin-sick world and restoring human beings to lives of personal flourishing and blessing to the world. Using colorful illustrations drawn from family life, movies and literature, Courtney gives us a readable and lively introduction into the heart of Scripture. Courtney gets it: God is not just talking to us; he is inviting his children into his grand redemptive mission. – Mike Williams Professor of Systematic Theology, Covenant Theological Seminary, Author Far as the Curse is Found
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
That depends on the weather. On a nice day you would find me at my friend Angie’s house—saddling a horse and heading out to ride the beautiful trails that run through her property. On a cold or rainy day, you would find me in my “jammies,” curled up in a chair by the fire with a cup of coffee and a good book. Both qualify as my “happy place.”
From Garden to Glory also has a video option and a children’s curriculum to accompany your study. If you’d like to hear more, here’s a glimpse of Courtney teaching:
Courtney Doctor received an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2013 and currently serves as the Director of Women’s Ministry at the Kirk of the Hills in St. Louis, MO. Her desire is to study, teach, and apply well the word of God. She is a Bible teacher, a conference and retreat speaker, and the author of From Garden to Glory; a Bible Study on the Bible’s Story (CDM 2016). Courtney has a love for education and is on the board of directors for Providence Classical Christian Academy in St. Louis as well as the advisory board for Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA. Her husband, Craig, is also on staff at the Kirk of the Hills as the Pastor of Men’s Ministry and Administration. They have four children—Austin, Bradon, Shelby, and Rebecca—and two amazing daughter-in-laws—Ruth and Jordan. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or at her website.