My wife, Kathleen Cooke, is releasing a new devotional book Hope 4 Today: Staying Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, and because it's based on extensive research about engaging the Bible as well as the perspective of someone who's spent her career in entertainment and media, I thought my readers would be interested in the subject. Here's an interview I did with her about the project:
Phil Cooke: We've worked together in the media and entertainment business in Hollywood for more than 25 years. Why did you decide to write a devotional?
Kathleen Cooke: Remember back in 2005 when we were filming a documentary in London, and terrorists' bombs exploded in a tube station and on the street just a block or two from where we were setting up? Subsequently, we had to delay the shoot, but when we finally starting filming a day or two later at the British Library, I was honored to hold Anne Boleyn's Bible —the one she had when they took her (the wife of Henry VIII) to the Tower of London and cut off her head.
Having been so close to death myself the previous day, I wondered what Scripture she had on her mind as she died. It made me re-think how much I valued the Word of God and how much of it I was keeping in my heart and mind.
A couple years after the London bombings, we worked with a ministry called Back To The Bible and the Center For Bible Engagement. They conducted an eight-year study with 100,000 people on what choices and activities those who call themselves Christians did that actually affected their behavior. After all, God tells us in the Bible that if we follow Him, He will transform our lives. But sadly, I'm around lots of people who call themselves Christians whom I see continually struggling with physical addictions and emotional and relationship issues. So CBE asked people how often they pray, how often they went to church, how often they listen to spiritual music or watch Christian television and how often they read their Bibles to see what exactly would affect their actual behavior.
The conclusion was that if a person were to engage with the Bible—four or more times a week it would dramatically (and visibly) change their life. Statistics proved a lower propensity for substance abuse, divorce, sex addition issues, even lying, cheating and emotional issues all significantly fell. Which means that if a person reads the Bible only 1-3 times a week, prays, goes to church or listens to spiritual music or programs, significant changes don't happen. But at the four-day mark of engaging in the Bible each week, there was a true difference. Four or more days a week of Bible reading was the tipping point. Americans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on self-help books each year to try and improve ourselves. Yet, the average household in America—93 percent of us—has four or five Bibles, and we never look to them for guidance. The one book that has been proven to improve our lives and help us is never opened.
PC: Does the devotional entries focus on anything in particular?
KC: Yes and no. I had my own journey in writing the book. I asked the Lord to tell me what He wanted to say to the reader. I wanted the reader to focus on God and spend time with the Him and not me. But as a professional in media and entertainment who works in today's culture, I know that if the devotionals aren't interesting and challenging, the reader will discard them quickly. The CBE research study indicated that one of other reasons people don't read the Bible is that they don't know where to begin. So, Hope 4 Today is based on our work in media and entertainment with our company, Cooke Pictures, for the past 25 years and my life growing up, raising kids and navigating a marriage. It has stories about my travels and people I've met while filming and speaking. It contains stories that brought me inspiration, insights that God taught me on forgiveness, suffering, prayer, financial issues, leadership lessons and how to find contentment in an uncertain world. Each entry tells stories, asks questions and may challenge your thinking—which is how Jesus taught. But the ultimate purpose is for the reader to focus on God and to hear from Him.
PC: What's your favorite entry?
KC: That's a hard one. It's like asking me to pick a favorite person from a group of friends. They each have merit and each has something special about them that can bring different insights and encouragement. Some entries are based on popular songs and movies, some on relationships and family and some on travels around the world. My prayer is that they will all connect people to God and to His heart. That you find wisdom and His hope for you. He's the best story—the answer to all your questions and the real truth whom I hope people will connect with for a flourishing life. Hopefully, the best entry is the one that inspires you to engage more with the Scripture.
You can order your copy here.
An internationally known writer and speaker, Phil Cooke has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world.
This article originally appeared at philcooke.com.
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