Mountains, Valleys, Sticks, and Stones

Today we are going to be talking about rediscovering your vision and restoring your hope in God’s presence through the symbol-driven world of the Bible. You might be asking, “symbol driven world of the Bible?” “What exactly is that?” Well, locations in the Bible didn’t just matter, these locations had meaning. So how does this affect our Bible reading today? Our guest Kat Armstrong, the creator of a new and upcoming Bible study series called, Storyline Bible Studies, is here to answer that question and many more about the way in which we are reading our Bibles can immensely shift our perspectives.

Kat Armstrong was born in Houston, Texas. She is a powerful voice in our generation as a sought-after Bible teacher and innovative ministry leader. She holds a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the author of No More Holding Back and The In-Between Place. In 2008, Kat co-founded the Polished Network to gather working women in person and online to navigate careers and explore faith in an authentic community. As the host of The Polished Podcast, she interviews working women at the crossroads of faith and work. Kat is pursuing a doctorate of ministry in New Testament context at Northern Seminary and is a board member of the Polished Network. She and her husband, Aaron, have been married for twenty years and live in Dallas, Texas, with their son, Caleb, and attend Dallas Bible Church, where Aaron serves as the lead pastor. Please welcome Kat!

Kat Armstrong: Ellen, thanks so much for having me on the show.

Mentor Mama: Kat, it’s so nice to meet you and I’m so excited for our listeners to learn about just a very unique and exciting way to study the Bible. So why don’t you start at the beginning? What inspired you to start The Storyline Project?

Kat Armstrong: Yes, so The Storyline Project is new and I’m so excited about it. Ellen, you know what inspired me was that I was getting a little bored in my Bible reading and that’s saying a lot because I love to read the Bible. I love to study the Bible and I just started a doctoral program so I’m in it for the long haul, but I needed something to shake it up and I think one of the ways we can do that is to follow rabbit trails to get curious about something in the Scriptures. I love reading plans, Ellen. I love all the apps. I mean I’m going to celebrate all of those things. But sometimes, if you’ve gotten in a rut, if you leave that Bible reading plan and just go, what piques my interest? What is capturing my attention? I’m going to go do a word study or a character study or a book study on that thing. And for me at the time it was mountains. I was with my family in New Mexico, and we had hiked up a mountain and we were at the top together and I told my husband, Aaron, you know I’m not an outdoorsy person at all, but this is so incredible, and I had just done some Bible reading that morning of a song that talked about how God reaches us on the mountains. That he is at the mountaintop, right? And so, it had my attention, and so I paid attention to that. I think it was a whisper from the Holy Spirit, and I went back and spent months looking up every time a mountain showed up in the Bible. And what I found is that much like the way you and I talk about mountain top experiences in our faith life, God used the symbols of Bibles, the location of mountains in the Bible to symbolize those high points in our spiritual life. Many times that’s where he’s revealing his character to God’s people or transforming before their eyes or commissioning them to go and be his disciples. These big moments of our faith happen on the mountaintops in the Bible, and I needed some mountaintop moments in my personal life and in my study life in the Scriptures. And so that’s what really started the Storyline Project. And after I got through all the mountains in the Bible, I wanted to study all the valleys. And after I studied the valleys I remember talking to someone about trees, a tree in my front yard. And I thought, you know what I’m going to look up all the trees in the Bible. And people like the Bible Project and some other books had come out around those same topics and it just felt like this is a really fun and interesting way for me to get into the Scriptures.

Mentor Mama: It sure is and I love how God just used that experience of you on a mountaintop which really led your interest. He can always do those beautiful things. How do you hope The Storyline Bible Studies will change peoples Bible reading experience?

Kat Armstrong: I hope it shakes things up and I’m really hoping Ellen, this is what I’m praying every single day, that Christians can put their faith back together. I think a lot of people feel fragmentation in their spiritual life and in their personal life and in their spiritual journey, and I think a lot of us feel like there are pieces all over the place and I’m praying every day that people would put their faith back together and that these Bible studies in The Storyline Project will help people do that. That when they start to follow a mountain all the way through the Bible or valleys all the way through, they’ll start to see that there absolutely is a God. His artistic brilliance shows up in the narrative that this could not be a coincidence. There’s just no way the literary masterpiece that is the Bible, I think really helps people see the cohesive and unified story of the Scriptures. When you start to see wow, God must have intentionally chosen to repurpose another mountain, because everyone who came before would have thought about Mount Sinai and thought about Mount Eden and thought about Jesus’s temptation on a mountain. I think, for the reader, it’s supposed to be an experience for us, and so I’m really hoping that someone comes to the Bible study and feels as though, wow, all the fragments, all the pieces of my faith that I’m putting back together, it feels more cohesive now.

Mentor Mama: You know your direction there in wanting to sort of change the way people experience reading the Bible, I think it’s just so spot on because we recently just did a little poll on our YouTube channel and asking people what they wanted. And it was just remarkable, they want Bible studies! They want to learn. They want to dig deep. They want to understand all these different things.

Well, based on your 20 years of ministry experience, how do people usually read the Bible and how can they shift their perspective?

Kat Armstrong: I love talking about this, Ellen. So I created a free assessment on my website. It’s 12 questions long and it feels like the Enneagram for Bible readers. You know if you’re trying to figure out how is it that I read the Bible now? Over the last two decades I have found that there are about three ways that people typically read the Bible and all three of them are good. So, there are no good ways, there are no bad ways as long as you’re in the Scriptures, we know that the Holy Spirit, our great teacher, is going to teach us truth. But there are ways that we come to the Scriptures naturally. And once we know that, we can expand how we read the Bible by paying attention to how other people read the Bible. So I think there is inquisitive Bible reader. They just love to get into the research of the details. You know what strikes them about the Bible is the way it can instruct and train us for godly living. And inquisitive Bible readers, they really desire to understand what is happening accurately because they want to interpret the meaning of the text correctly. And so, the inquisitive Bible readers might be someone who’s got a Bible software at the touch of the button, they want to see thousands of responses on what something means. They’re digging into maps and word studies in the original languages. They love Bible study methods so they automatically come to the text making a bunch of observations and thinking through our interpretations. This is awesome! Inquisitive Bible readers, you’re incredible! And so, here are some ways that they could change things up. If you’re an inquisitive Bible reader, you know you might want to change your reading glasses, right? You’re seeing it from one perspective. And you might want to create more of an immersive experience. So instead of just looking at the black and white words and doing a deep dive into that. Think about putting yourself in this story. What does it look like? What does it smell like? Who’s there? What did it look like in the silent parts that we don’t get to hear? You know, when they are no words to describe what’s happening. What do you think they would have seen and so that immersive experience will help you be a little bit more imaginative. I also think that sometimes our inquisitive Bible readers are so good at exegeting the text that sometimes we forget to let it come inside our souls and to really feel like, what were people feeling and experiencing when this was happening in the Scriptures? And I think they can really diversify their resources. You know, if you’re hitting a commentary over and over and over, go to someone who is really feeling the Scriptures and embodying the Scriptures. Maybe someone who’s all about spiritual disciplines, as opposed to a commentary. And just shift gears a little bit. So that’s one way, the inquisitive Bible reader. I’ve also found that a lot of people read the Bible inspirationally. This was me when I came to faith in Christ. Every single verse just jumped out at me and I held on to it and it inspired me. It motivated me. It kept me going. We need this. We need inspirational Bible readers, and so they love to see how the Scriptures are true to life. I mean they read something like, yes, that is exactly true, not only to my own experience, but to everyone’s lived experience. They love that the Bible meets them right where they are and lifts their spirits. They feel so encouraged when they open the Scriptures and honestly it doesn’t matter where they land. God is speaking to them and through them and I love that. And so for our inspirational Bible readers, Ellen, I might challenge them to change things up and to borrow from the inquisitive Bible reader. Start asking more questions. Who wrote this? Why did they write this? When did they write this? What was happening around the same time? What was the cultural context of this passage? And so, they’re really good at experiencing the Scriptures. And so, maybe you can pay more attention to what’s happening. And then I would say the last is usually the imaginative Bible reader. And so, for the imaginative Bible reader, the Bible comes alive. It’s like they’re living in a daydream and they can really put themselves in a story. It’s almost like they’re watching a feature film of the Bible storyline in their head, and when they come to the text, they’re thinking about the emotion behind the words and their mind wanders into hypotheticals about what happened next, and what people were thinking, and so they really see the Bible as a literary masterpiece. And it’s something they can come to again and again like a good piece of art and look at it from a different angle. And so, for my imaginative Bible readers, I would just encourage you to change things up. Maybe you need to take things more for face value. It’s in many ways propositional truth. It says what it says, it means what it says. Yes, they’re beautiful layers to the meaning, but we need to also take it as fact. So, I think that’s something we can challenge our imaginative Bible readers. And I also think using more Bible commentaries in the study process, seeing some black and white words about what scholars have researched on that passage. It’ll just add more meaning to what they’re experiencing.

Mentor Mama: Oh, that is so incredible to look at yourself in those different ways. You know, for me personally, I love the inquisitive part. I love digging in and searching, but you know what? Honestly, it was, The Chosen series and seeing those people come to life that really made me feel like the Bible was real. It was that immersive experience.

Kat Armstrong: I would love to have Dallas Jenkins from The Chosen take the assessment.

I bet he would be an imaginative reader.

Mentor Mama: Yes, he must be. Well, you have these four studies, how do you recommend that these books be used? Together? Separately? Personally? Small group? What do you suggest?

Kat Armstrong: That’s such a great question. You know they were designed to support individuals in their everyday study. So if you want to sit down and you need something for 20 minutes to get you in God’s word, it will really support you to do that as an individual, but also I was really mindful to create an experience for groups and for ministry leaders. So Ellen, I’m on the teaching team in the Women’s ministry at my church and it’s such a joy. Such a privilege to be shoulder to shoulder with some other Bible teachers specifically to serve our women. And many times we’ll get curriculum, but we need discussion questions, we need to know what to do in our big group time, and many times we don’t want to preach or teach about exactly what was in the study, because sometimes it demotivates people from actually doing the homework in between, and so I really kept that all in perspective, but I would suggest people start with Mountains and Valleys. They’re a pair. You can buy them individually, or you could put them together and it creates a whole semester worth of church ministry. If you’re supporting a whole semester. And then, if you’re leading small groups, I found that a lot of times you can go five to six weeks and you need a break. And five to six more weeks because of life. And so they’re set up that way. And I would just encourage people to go to the website and to download all the free resources. You know we’re trying to make this as accessible as possible and take all the work out of some of the things you have to do in ministry life. So if you’re a discussion leader and you’ve just never done it before, we’ve got some resources for them too.

Mentor Mama: That’s phenomenal. You know, I’ve been a small group leader for years for like the last 20 years I’ve been in this ministry and I can’t tell you how valuable it is as a small group leader to have someone who’s really thought through those types of tools for the small group leader, so that will be so appreciated. Well, another way that you suggest that will deepen our understanding of God is following a person, place or thing in the Bible. Tell us a little bit about that.

Kat Armstrong: I think it’s the Holy Spirit sets your eyes when you’re reading on your device, in your paper Bible, and all of a sudden a word just jumps out to you. Who is that person? What is this place? How do I pronounce this place? Or that’s interesting, I’ve heard the word cistern. What does cistern mean? Is that a pot? Is that a bowl? Is it a jar? Is it a vessel? What is a cistern? So anytime a person or a place or thing jumps out at you, that’s an awesome opportunity, Ellen, to go and to start researching. It could be as simple as, in many of our Bibles, there is an accordance in the back and you can look at that particular word. And I just flipped mine open to look up the word, lost. And it will tell me that I wander like a lost sheep in Psalm 119, and that word shows up several other times and I could look at it as a theme and I should start to trace it. Almost like a literary thread that weaves all the way from Genesis to Revelation. And it’s a fun way just to keep things interesting. If you find your mind is wandering when you’re doing your study guides or it’s hard for you to concentrate in your small groups, shake things up and circle one word and get on your device and pull up some apps and start looking up, where did this other person show up? So for example, just the other day I was looking up Judah and Judas from the New Testament, and I noticed that sometimes they’re translated the same way in the original language just by doing a couple of clicks and searches right on the Internet, and I found it really interesting that someone in the Old Testament named Judah has a story that’s has some similarity to someone named Judas in the New Testament, and things like that. You just start to think of, wow, all of this is connected! So I’m hoping that if you follow a person, place or thing, it’ll really deepen your appreciation for God’s word.

Mentor Mama: Fascinating, I love that idea and there are so many characters in the Bible that I would like to spend more time digging in and learning about. So if you’re reading this transcript today, maybe that might be something you want to walk away and try. Is there someone in the Bible you just want to know more about? Well, your website says that you aim to spark holy curiosity. Can you explain what this means and how it shaped these studies?

Kat Armstrong: So Ellen, my son Caleb. I have one and only and his name is Caleb. He’s nine and he’s precious. So as a fourth grader, he’s really into Legos, he’s really into Marvel movie characters, and he does these deep dives into his interests. If he gets interested in animals, we know everything about animals for a season and I’ve watched his curiosity be piqued several times over the last couple of years as I have been studying the Bible following a person, place or thing, and I watch as he gets into Legos and he goes, mom, are there any YouTube videos about this kind of Lego set, or what if I converted this Lego set and this one and I put them together and I made a different world. And he’s just a really an imaginative, creative kid and when his curiosity is piqued, I don’t have to motivate him to open a book of any type. I mean, he comes home with, “I got another book on hamsters, and I got three more books on hamsters, and I asked my teacher about hamsters.” And you know if he’s interested in hamsters he knows everything about it. And I would love for all of us to bring that kind of curiosity to the Scriptures where something sparks holy curiosity, and then before you know it, you can’t stop talking about mountains in the Bible. You can’t stop talking about valleys in the Scriptures and how they’re all over the place. And I think our passions come alive and we don’t need someone saying to us, get in the Scriptures, read your Bible every day, make sure you make this a priority. Instead, it becomes almost like a holy, I don’t want to use the word obsession, but such a deep interest that it holds your attention and that’s what we want, right? We want to be in the word and to feel so absorbed by the stories there that we know Jesus and we know his words.

Mentor Mama: Absolutely! You know, Kat, I can see where Caleb got his curiosity because it just oozes out of you, and that perspective and taking that into the arena of the Scriptures is a phenomenal way to be engaged and excited about exploring it. Well, you included lengthy Bible passages in your studies. Tell us, why did you choose to do this, rather than focusing maybe on shorter passages?

Kat Armstrong: Well, if I’m honest, Ellen, it’s because sometimes, even as the leader of many small groups and a Bible teacher, I will roll up to the church parking lot 45 minutes before Bible study and I will hurriedly try to finish my homework. And I will try to find my Bible and there have been a couple of occasions that I thought, I can’t believe this, but I’ve left my paper Bible. I’m going to pull it on my device, so I pulled my device, and I start to get all sorts of notifications, 20 minutes later, I have scrolled my favorite social platforms, I’ve responded to three important text messages, and now I’ve cut the time I was going to spend in God’s word in half the time. So, this could just be me, but I found myself there several times before and I thought I would love if whatever I’m studying is in the studies so that I’ve got one place to keep all of my notes. If I forget something, or I can take pictures of it, and I do that a lot, I’ll take a picture of something that I’m studying that I don’t want to forget, then it’s in my phone. And so, I’m hoping that people will feel, oh, gosh, this is so convenient because I want to hold their attention in the Scriptures, and then, additionally, Ellen, I’m really hoping that by reading longer, you know, instead of reading 5 verses, they might read 30 verses in a row that they can see that mountains is mentioned multiple times or valleys is mentioned multiple times so they can already start to see that this is really woven through the Scriptures and that repetition they start to pick it up a little bit more.

Mentor Mama: Genius, yes, that’s really cool. Well, Speaking of genius, you refer to God as a literary genius. Explain what you meant by that phrase.

Kat Armstrong: Well, Ellen, I didn’t do super great in math in school. I did much better in English. And some writing things, although I don’t grammar very well, but I think I’ve always enjoyed the literary layers of some of our favorite stories that I can come back to something like, Little Women, one of my favorite books, and I can read it and read it again and read it five years later and watch the movie and watch the new movie, and all of them are the same story, same storyline, but I come back to it and I find new things and I think, oh now I love Amy more than I loved her before because of the newest movies about little women. Or I’ll read it in a season of profound loss and I’ll feel in that storyline things I didn’t feel when I read it when things were going great in my life. And so, things hit different and it’s because the authors have such genius in how they layer their stories. Because there’s all sorts of layers to a good character, they’re not just a single sided coin, they’re a multifaceted person or it’s a multifaceted experience, and I think that’s what God does in the Bible. This is his literary masterpiece, and he is a literary genius because we keep coming back to the same stories and the same words. And not only do they take on new life, but they can be applied differently every single time. That is literary genius, and I’m so excited that I have a book in my life, the Word of God, that I can just keep coming back to and know that it’s never going to get boring.

Mentor Mama: Yes, that is something that is just almost beyond our comprehension on how the Bible can do that. I mean, literally just kind of like the onion peeling back layer after layer. We’ll never know on this side of heaven, how much depth there really is. Well, sometimes people who have read the Bible several times find themselves feeling that passages can become dull, kind of like how you started our interview. How will these studies help people feel like the Bible is alive again?

Kat Armstrong: There is a portion of the studies, a day called, context, in every week and it’s just talking about what was going on at the time. You know, defining some keywords before you get into a story, so you kind of have the lay of the land. It’s kind of like asking someone to watch the Lord of the Rings movie without having read the books and go wait, what’s his name? How do you pronounce? Wait, I thought Middle Earth? So Middle Earth is really big, OK, so this evil person has repurposed into multiple characters… It’s easy to get lost, I think, in those stories, and sometimes that’s what happens when things are dull in the Bible for us, it just means we’re kind of lost in the story. Sometimes there are ancient words or ancient names or ancient places that don’t feel relevant. And so I’m hoping that part of the context that people will get in the studies will really help orient them. Where are they? What time is it? What’s happening? But I also think that Bible readers, when they want to feel their curiosity piqued again, and they want the Bible reading not to be boring anymore, they might need to read it in a different translation. You know, we’ve got our go-to’s, and I know on your show you do an amazing job of highlighting that and so it might be time for you to go, you know what? I’m going to set this one aside and I’m going to pick up a different translation and read it in different words. It’s going to say the same thing, just using different words. It might catch our attention.

Mentor Mama: Ah, it absolutely does. It’s amazing how even having a parallel Bible right next to each other, and you can see how much you can learn from the same passage just by looking at it in a different translation. Well, in the study, Mountains, you explained that mountains are considered holy ground. Why do you think that might be?

Kat Armstrong: Well, when I was on that mountain in New Mexico, I said to my husband and my son, I feel so close to God. We’re so high up, I feel so much closer to the heavens, if you will, than I did 2,000 feet below. And so, I think that’s one thing. I think the mountains are holy ground because we feel elevated and closer to God. Whether that’s a physical reality or not, I mean, you and I know that God is just right near to us all the time, no matter what. But there is something about changing your location to change your perspective and so when I was up there on that mountain, Ellen, I could see so far beyond the horizon. I saw so much more than I did when I was on the road at ground level. I could see the treetops and I could see what was beyond, and I think that God uses mountain locations in the Bible to do that with us spiritually. He elevates our perspective to see beyond our circumstances when he brings his people up to the mountains. So we see this with Moses on Mount Sinai and God creating a covenant between him and his people there at Sinai. And that is a moment in our faith history and God chose to have that moment happen on a mountain. And by the time we get to the New Testament, mountains are where Jesus is tempted, it’s where he preaches his most famous sermon—The Sermon on the Mount. He’s transfigured on a mountain and he commissions his disciples on a mountain, and so I think the people of God were used to these elevated places location-wise because they were high points of their spiritual life, and I wrote the Mountains Bible study for anyone who needs some high points. You know, maybe you feel low and you need God to raise you up and to lift your spirits, and that’s what those mountaintops moments meant for the people of God and I think they can mean the same for us in the Scriptures.

Mentor Mama: Yes, reminds me of the verse: take off your sandals for your standing on holy ground. And that whole scene in and of itself always gives me goosebumps because it’s the power of God himself. Well also in, Mountains you explain that location has meaning in Scripture. Do you have a place that you consider to be your own mountain?

Kat Armstrong: We had a moment together on the top of that mountain where we all held hands and we talked about what God was teaching us, and I think that will be my mountain. It’s probably not the best one I’ve ever been to, and not the only one I’ll ever go to, and it wasn’t even winter. There was no snow. It was right in the middle of summer, but, I think there was something about studying mountains and then getting on the top of one and feeling like all the things happening in my life were converging. Of course they were. God is so providential to do that in our lives. But I think that would be my mountain top experience with God and not because I sat there, Ellen, and did a big quiet time or learned anything “new.” I just felt so close to God in that moment. And I think that we all long for those moments. And now that mountains have become a symbolic location in the Scriptures for me, it’s almost like I’m taken back up to that place in my own life every time I see a mountain in the Scriptures, I can remember that moment so vividly. And it’s like when you buy a car and all of a sudden you see your type of car all over the road it. It’s once you have a mountain top experience and then you start to see mountains in the Bible. It’s like they’re everywhere and you’re brought back to those places that mean a lot to you.

Mentor Mama: Oh, absolutely. I haven’t been to that many mountains, but just two summers ago we were in the Rocky Mountains, and I had never experienced something like that. We went up to that sign, you know, that says something like, the highest point, and just to get up there, there was so much wind, and it wasn’t like it was bad weather, it’s just what it’s like way up there and it was absolutely incredible. It definitely was one of those mountain-top experiences, and I love how you said you just feel close to God. You realize the magnificence of his creation and that’s you know, just the tip of the iceberg, right? We can’t even comprehend everything there is to know. Well, in, Valleys, you describe valleys as places where your faith is tested. What do you do when you find yourself in a valley?

Kat Armstrong: Well, truthfully, I go to these valley stories, now, I don’t want to sound redundant or pedantic, but truly Ellen, this way of studying has changed me. And when I feel low, I’m at a low point in life where this is a huge test of my faith, I will go back to the stories in the Bible where people were fighting their greatest faith battles in valleys. I will go to Joshua and Caleb’s story where they were surveying the promised land in a valley that’s inhabited by their enemies and seeing only giants, only seeing fear, only seeing what was impossible. I go there with them and remind myself of how God provided and how God was faithful. And I go back to Deborah and Jael’s story. They defeated their enemies in a valley and God rushed those waters and swept away their enemies. And Deborah’s faith was so strong, but they were in the middle of a big battle. And so, as silly as it sounds, I go there. I go to the valley of Shadow of death in Psalm 23, and I realize that when it feels so dark and impossible that my Good Shepherd is with me, he is with me in these valleys, and he was there with Joshua and Caleb and Deborah and Jael. And he was in the valley of dry bones with Ezekiel. And resurrection will be the future after a valley, right? And so I think even some of the images we have of Sheol and Hades and even Hell, that these valleys we don’t want to be a part of that God can lift us out. And so I think the tests I’ve been through in my own faith journey have been served so well when I feel as though other people in the Bible have gone through low points and they’ve survived.

Mentor Mama: Yes, absolutely. And, we see that over and over again and that is such an encouragement. I know though that there are a lot of people that ask, why does a good God allow suffering? And in your Bible study, Valleys, you addressed this topic, so tell us what the Bible teaches about the purposes of these valleys.

Kat Armstrong: I wish I could answer the big question with just a statement. Why does God allow suffering? I wish I had a one-sentence answer to that. I don’t. I really struggle, I think like everyone does, trying to reconcile that I know we serve a good God and that I know the world is broken and that ultimately is on us, we did that, and how those two things play out. But I know that a good God doesn’t want to harm us, right? And so when there is suffering allowed, there’s always purpose in it. But I don’t want to make light of how troubling it can be when you’re in the middle of a struggle. Because I’ve been there myself and really questioned and tested my faith. I think what we see in the valleys of Scripture is the tensions we feel in our faith about suffering, they felt it too. And it seems they felt permission to be upset about it and sometimes despairing about it, but that the hopelessness didn’t last forever. It seems like Ellen, they felt comfortable enough with God and believed in him and had enough faith in him to say, why is this happening? And to bemoan how hard it is and still to have faith enough to call out to him about it, and so, I think that the valleys help guide us through low points in life, just reminding us that God is with us. And I know that sounds really trite—God is with us—but he is. And, sometimes in the valleys we feel him the most because we can’t feel anything else, and so, I think the valleys will encourage Bible readers and that there might be a dip in between two mountain top experiences, but ultimately we’re going to be in that final Garden City on the top of Mount Zion. That’s our future. We will not be in the valley forever.

Mentor Mama: Yes, you know that really just ties into our overall eternal hope that we have, and I know in my own mind, and going through the valleys, that’s like the one thing that gets me through, you know, like, okay, here on Earth I may never overcome this particular hurdle or obstacle or pain, but I know what my eternal hope is. This isn’t going to last forever, and so hopefully people find encouragement to that today. And I know your study on the valleys will be so helpful and I want to encourage our listeners. Well, Kat, why don’t you tell people how they can find out more information about you and your books?

Kat Armstrong: Yes, thank you Ellen. So, go to You can find all the resources you need to support your small groups and ministries. You can take the Bible reader assessment for free and see what perspective are you coming to the Scriptures with and how could you change things up and keep things interesting. You can also find more information about me there, where I’m speaking, where I’m teaching, and what is interesting me. I live on the gram, Ellen, you know, I love Instagram more than I do all the other platforms. And I do respond to people. I go on there at least once a week to check my DM’s. So if someone needs prayer or encouragement or they want a book recommendation, those are my favorite things to do on Instagram is to pray for people and then to say, read this book it’s awesome. So I’d love to give book recommendations or commentary recommendations. And then I would just say, you know, if someone wants to reach out, they could reach out through you and they could get a hold of me.

Mentor Mama: Yes, absolutely. We will put all of your links into our show notes. Well before we go I just want to ask you some of our favorite Bible study tool questions. I know you’re in your doctorate program, so you probably have oodles of Bibles, but what is your go-to Bible and what translation is it?

Kat Armstrong: Wel

l I love the CSB, the Christian Standard Bible. I love this one, Ellen. It’s just easy to read. It seems super accessible. It’s what I use when I’m teaching. And then, I love The Message Bible. I do. When I’ve read something over and over and over, I memorized it, I know what it says. It feels just like I’m almost not even reading it when I’m reading it, I go to The Message to hear from a different perspective. So I love those two.

Mentor Mama: Absolutely, you know what? The Message just reminds me too of just the way you talk about the three ways of learning the Bible. That can be a way to kind of just force yourself to be open to compreh

ending the Bible in a different way is by looking at The Message. So great suggestion. Do you have any favorite journaling supplies or anything that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?

Kat Armstrong: Oh, I do. I love LePen pens. Have you seen these? They are just cute little tiny pens. And I’m obsessed with these things and they’re like a dollar. They don’t last

long, Ellen, because they, you know, want some repeat customers and they’re getting that in me, but I love the LePen pens and I have them in all the colors and my sweet 9-year-old puts them in my Christmas stocking.

Mentor Mama: Do they bleed through your Bible pages or do you mostly do journaling with those?

Kat Armstrong: Mostly I do journaling with them.

Mentor Mama: Wonderful, OK, we will link those below. Lastly, what is your favorite app or website for Bible study?

Kat Armstrong: Well, I feel like Logos should make me an affiliate partner, maybe. I love Logos, and I’m getting to a point now where I can really trick out, you know, when I log in and what I see and how to find things. It’s taken me awhile, but you know, if you’re really wanting to go deeper and, it is a paid app, you know you do have to pay to to get access to it, but once you do, you just feel like you’ve got thousands of resources at the tip of your finger. And I love being able to click on a word, and being able to see the etymology of it and the original language, because I don’t know the original languages, so I think it’s just such a help to me that way. I love Logos and I hope they reach out soon to make me an affiliate!

Mentor Mama: Oh my goodness, Kat, you know what? We have that software as well, and it is phenomenal. I think you also need a doctorate degree to be able to appreciate everything that is on there because it’s incredible. That is like Bible geek to the max.

Kat Armstrong: I really had to pay attention to the tutorials just to get going, so I think that is a hurdle to overcome, but once I kind of had it set up, you know there’s only two or three or four things I’ll do in there and it’s super helpful.

Mentor Mama: Oh yeah, it is just phenomenal. Well Kat, thank you so much for being here today to give us a peek into what your new Bible study series entails. And just how it can help each and every one of us gro

w in our relationship with Christ and build our confidence in how we can read the Bible.

Kat Armstrong: Thank you, Ellen. What a pleasure.

Mentor Mama: And for our readers, you can pre-order the books of this six-part series. Now the first two Bible studies:

Mountains and Valleys will be released in January 2023, and the next two: Sticks and Stones will be released in April of 2023. You can find the link here for the series.

Lastly, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at Thank you so much for joining us today. We love you all. Have a blessed day.

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