Biblical Narrative Series: Journey Through the Old Testament

Do you have questions about the Old Testament? Have you made the resolution to read through the Bible in one year only to stop in the middle of Leviticus? Who is Nahum? What’s a Psalm?  On September 23rd, Emmaus Ministries will be launching our Biblical Narrative Series and it’s all about the Old Testament! 

On Monday nights, for 7 weeks, from 6:30 to 8:30, we will be covering the entire Old Testament, book by book. Attendees will receive their own workbook that includes structural outlines of each book, full color maps and timelines. The sessions will be a lecture style format in which instructors will give the historical background and context that will help Bible readers feel equipped to more effectively engage in reading and studying the Bible. 

This is a completely new format for our Narrative Series and we are excited to share what we believe is the “new and improved” program. In the past, the Narrative Series has met once a month for during the course of a typical “school year” (from August to May) in an individual seminar style format, covering the entire Bible in thematic sections. This year, we are starting a more course style format, meeting during consecutive weeks with a series on the Old Testament in the fall and the New Testament in the spring. We hope that this format maintains momentum and makes the Biblical Narrative Series accessible for small groups, church groups, ministry staff and friends to do together. 

The heart of the Biblical Narrative Series is that attendees leave better equipped to engage their Bibles. It is our hope to take these unfamiliar books that were written in a different time to a culture that is completely foreign to our current day and make them come alive. It is difficult to feel like Obadiah is relevant to our lives today when you don’t know why it was written in the first place, or to whom it was originally written at all! However, with historical context and good application of the mindset of the original readers, these books become the living and active words of God. 

If you’re interested in signing up for the Biblical Narrative Series, here’s what you need to know:

When: Monday Nights September 23rd through November 4th from 6:30-8:30

Where: Canterbury Conference and Retreat Center 

1601 Alafaya Trail Oviedo, Florida

How: To pre register visit:

Cost: $50 to pre register or $75 at the door on September 23rd 

Back to School: A New Year

School is in session! Last week we kicked off the 2019-2020 year with our new School of Biblical Studies students! Over the next 10 months, we will journey with this class as they study every book of the Bible. 

Emmaus Ministries derives its name from the story of the disciples who met Jesus on the road to the city of Emmaus: Luke 24:31-32: And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”  It’s an absolute joy to walk with this group of people as they set out on their own Emmaus Road Journey. We know that as the year goes on, we will witness their hearts begin to burn through the study of the Bible. 

The first two weeks of class are seminar style, during which the students learn the method we use to study the Bible here at Emmaus. Our school teaches a variation of the Inductive Method, a way in which to study the scripture that seeks to draw conclusions only from the text. This approach sets aside any preconceived notions that a modern reader may have and focuses on the text in its original context. This is the lens through which our students view scripture and then move it into practical application to their lives today. Inductive Bible study has three steps: observation, interpretation and application. 

We use the Book of Jonah to teach the Inductive Method. This book of the Bible usually comes loaded with preconceived ideas, mental images, even songs and stories from childhood! Students are usually familiar with certain aspects of the story, they may relate it to God speaking to Jonah, or Jonah running away and getting swallowed by a “big fish.” Students often find that they have to let go of what they think they know about the story in order to inductively study the book. 

As the week progresses, The Book of Jonah begins to transform from the “familiar children's story” to a convicting, relevant, and timeless lesson about how God loves his enemies. It becomes a case study of what it looks like to truly repent and follow the Lord. For our students, Jonah is no longer just a story on a page, but a story that reveals truths about God's character in such a way that imprints something on their hearts. 

We are so excited to begin another year of studying the whole Bible and to watch as the students encounter Jesus throughout the whole of scripture. Our hope is that you’ll join us in this year while this class journeys through the bible. Please pray that our students meet Jesus with fresh eyes on open hearts. Our goal is that this would be not just scholarly school, but one of disciples that are growing, maturing and learning what it looks like to follow after Jesus.

Meet the Staff: Caleb Ives
Caleb and his wife Latoya.

Caleb and his wife Latoya.

This week we have the privilege of sitting down with Caleb Ives, the executive director of Emmaus Ministries. Caleb came on staff in 2012 when Emmaus Ministries was a bible school in the mountains of North Carolina. Caleb and his wife Latoya moved to Florida with their 4 daughters during Emmaus’ relocation and relaunch in 2015. Caleb is known for teaching the word of God with life and being a friend to all that he meets.

Caleb, lets just jump right in, what do you do around here?

I guess I do “director” things!  I teach in our different programs, shepherd the staff team, lead board meetings, and think a lot about vision for the future. But honestly, I feel like I spend most of my time in conversations. Whether with staff developing teachings and designing ministry programs, with students wrestling through difficult Bible passages and life challenges, or with pastors & leaders exploring ways to equip their Church to follow Jesus and engage their Bible. I end up spending a lot of my time in conversations.

What is your favorite part of your Job?

I love pretty much everything about my job, but my favorite part is seeing people discover new things in the Bible. It’s exciting to see individuals and churches feel equipped and gain renewed excitement to engage the Bible. And it’s incredible to get to play a part in them becoming captivated by the beauty of the Gospel and the character of God as He is revealed in the Scriptures.  Basically, I love having a front row seat to see the gracious work of Jesus transforming lives and communities! Dang...I love my job!

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

Well, this really is a three part answer. PART 1: In 2011, I was Pastoring in Michigan and felt a tangible sense of lack when it came to my knowledge of the Bible. Along with this I was struggling with anxiety and a lot of shame. At a retreat in Florida, a mentor told us about the School of Biblical Studies and my wife and I knew this was what God had for us. That retreat center in Florida “happened” to be Canterbury Retreat Center in Oviedo, FL. Four months later we were living in the mountains of North Carolina, and I was studying the BIble all day, every day in the School. Over the next year, I became a new person as the Gospel saturated my heart and the Spirit reshaped my life. PART 2: I came to the School planning to leave afterwards, go work at a church while finishing seminary, then go plant the church I’d always dreamed of planting. But, during my student year, my wife and I began to feel a desire to serve this ministry that God had used to impact our family so much.  After graduation we interviewed with a couple of awesome churches and tried to find something we could do OTHER than join the missions staff. Ultimately, God continued to pull us back to Emmaus. So, we committed to joining staff for two years, (while I finished Seminary) then we were going to go plant a church. PART 3: After those two years, I was a part of the staff team who discovered God was directing Emmaus to relocate to Central a retreat the name of Canterbury Retreat Center in Oviedo, FL (see Part 1). It was a crazy collision of our original call for me to be a student and the deepening call for this to be the ministry we give our lives to. It was through this process of discernment that our family really felt God running deep roots of this Emmaus calling in our hearts. In 2015 we moved with a few other staff to Central Florida to relocate Emmaus. Then in 2018 I accepted the commission as the new Executive Director of the ministry. It’s been quite a journey!

Which Bible Character would you want to get coffee with?

Am I not allowed to say Jesus? The right answer is pretty much always Jesus. If not Jesus, I think I’d like to grab a coffee with the exilic prophets. I have really been inspired by the faithfulness of the ministries of Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. They are rejected, persecuted, mocked and ignored. Jeremiah is told from the start of his ministry that no one will listen to him, but he remains faithful and is willing to do absolutely insane things in obedience to God and in service to the people. Daniel manages to be both incredibly humble and unbreakably strong as an exile in Babylon, his courageous trust in God has always challenged me. Ezekiel essentially has to redefine everything he thought he would be doing as a priest in Jerusalem, instead being called to be a prophet to the Exiles in Babylon. Another reason I’d want to have coffee with those guys, their stories would be epic: Jeremiah took a three month walk to bury his underwear as a prophetic sign; Daniel spent a night with lions; Ezekiel cooked food over cow poop and saw some super trippy visions. That would be an entertaining conversation for sure!

What was your favorite Christian Song to jam out to growing up?

Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith were definitely a background soundtrack for my childhood, but I’d say Carman was my jam as a kid. He had these ridiculous music videos and I thought they were amazing! I was also 110% “Down with the DC Talk” in my early adolescence. I can pretty much rap “I Don’t Want It” word for word to this day. It was the only Christian song I knew that used the word “sex” so, it had my attention as a middle schooler. In high school I discovered the Christian rap legend that is Antonious (sarcasm), but those bass lines rattled the windows of my 1988 Ford Taurus for a few years. You can probably tell that I was super cool.

Why Emmaus?

First of all, because Emmaus is committed to addressing perhaps the largest problem of the Church in America today: Biblical Illiteracy. Studies show that engaging the BIble is the number one discipline that produces life-long spiritual growth. Also, the Emmaus Road of Luke 24 is an experience that continues to repeat itself. As people journey together with the Jesus who opens the Scriptures, it continues to produce burning hearts with renewed passion for Jesus & His mission. It settles the anxious heart with the hope that is in Jesus. I’m so glad God has called our family to be a part of this ministry!

 If you would like to partner financially with the Ives family you can follow the link below or if you would like to read Caleb’s updates you can follow that link below.

Meet the Staff: Samantha McRae

This week we’d like to introduce a very important staff member. Without this person, our ministry would undoubtedly come to a screeching halt. Samantha McRae does everything from cooking breakfasts to running the behind the scenes administration that keeps our ministry going. Sam plays a crucial role in making Emmaus what we are today. Let’s dive in and learn more about Sam and her role on staff.

What do you do around Emmaus?

I am one of the "hosts.” Essentially, this means I am part of the team that plans and prepares our weekly breakfasts and our community events.

I am the calendar queen, I know, sounds important. I work on keeping our schedule clear and make sure there are no conflicts between the Emmaus and Canterbury Retreat Center’s schedules. (I also secretly aspire to be the “Emmaus Mom” pertaining to birthdays and such, but we’ll see what happens. We do have quite a few moms in our midst now.)

I also assist in the financial department, grade student assignments, and disciple female students through what we call “one-on-one's”. Oh, and I check the mail, so that’s pretty cool..

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love the staff I get to work with, in some ways they are my family. The women have become some of my dearest friends and I’m so thankful for each of them in my life. I very much enjoy the discipleship aspect of working with students, seeing another woman, a sister/friend, drawing closer to Jesus through the truth of God's Word is amazing, I feel so blessed to be able to live life beside these women as we each grow in our faith and understanding of who God is and who he made us to be. (And I really enjoy preparing breakfast and organizing schedules. Breakfast and organization make me happy.)

When did you know God was calling you to be a part of Emmaus?

In the fall of 2016, during my student year at Emmaus School of Biblical Studies, that’s when I first considered the option of staying on as a staff member after graduation.

Which Bible character would you want to get coffee with?

I think it could be interesting to speak with Rahab and hear her story, including her reasoning behind choosing to follow the Hebrew God, instead of following whatever gods she had been serving until that point in her life. I sometimes wonder if her reasoning was merely fear induced or if she was secretly yearning for the true God and the fall of Jericho presented the opportunity. Either way, I admire the way she took a stand and saved those in her household.

Another person I would like to speak with would be Ruth. I’ve heard her praised for her faithfulness and disparaged for her blind following of others but I’m interested in knowing her heart. Why did she do the things she did? How was she feeling in those situations?

Why Emmaus?

Originally, Jacob and I came to Emmaus School of Biblical Studies merely because they would accept me without having experienced a YWAM DTS. (YWAM = Youth With A Mission and DTS = Discipleship Training School) But, after spending some time around the staff of Emmaus, we realized they lived life differently than we had experienced anywhere else. We wanted to live lives immersed in the Word of God alongside other children of God. Emmaus seemed like the right fit for us. We wanted to be part of a community that actively sought the will of God, whether it was simple or not. We no longer wanted the "easy life" we had been living before. (I know, that sounds crazy. Easy sounds much better than difficult. But, Jesus makes it all worthwhile.) And we wanted to see people embrace the truth of the Bible for themselves. It transforms you. Jesus transforms people by loving them where they are. Once you accept His love your entire mindset changes. He loves you enough to challenge your preconceived notions and to convict you to change, to become a better version of yourself. And he loves you through the challenges, even when you fail. That’s the kind of God we serve and He’s who we attempt to imitate in this ministry.

Samantha and her husband Jacob are currently raising support! Please consider joining them as financial partners in ministry, if you would like to do so, follow the links below!

New Classroom Fund
New Classroom Fund
$0 $12,000
Current Funding: $2160

In 2015, Emmaus School of Biblical Studies relocated from Western North Carolina to Central Florida and our new base at Canterbury Retreat Center. It was at that time that we rebranded as Emmaus Ministries to reflect a growing heart to equip all Christ-followers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Inductive Bible Study and Authentic Relationships. In addition to our School of Biblical Studies, Emmaus now provides Biblical Literacy Seminars for churches, designed to help believers understand and connect to their Bible. Along with this, this past year we launched our new Biblical Narrative Series, which invites people who work during the day to be a student of the Scriptures through this series of evening classes which survey the history and heart of every book of the Bible.

In the midst of all the blessings we have experiencing these last few years, we have lacked a consistent, intentional, set-aside space for us to provide Biblical training, community discipleship, and for the staff to work together in the ongoing development of the ministry. This has lead to a semi-mobile classroom, unpredictable workspace, and limited ability to develop new programs. This is why it is such an exciting time for Emmaus, as Canterbury has now provided us with the opportunity to lease an 800 sq.ft. building, which we can set up as a much needed center for training, discipleship, and ministry development.

Over the month of July we are raising $12,000 which will help cover the cost of leasing this new space for the upcoming year as well as equipping it as an ideal center for training the Church to engage their Bibles and follow Jesus. Please prayerfully consider investing in the life and ministry of Emmaus as we enter this exciting new season here in Central Florida!

Tom Phillips Family 2018.jpg
Greeting Emmaus friends and family. Julia and I are thrilled with what God is doing in and through Emmaus Ministries in Central Florida. Now more than ever, Emmaus needs the support of it’s alumni and friends. Julia and I are committed monthly supporters, and we’re making a lump sum gift to help offset the increase in lease expenses at Canterbury as they set-up this new classroom. I am asking you to join in that effort with us through a special one-time contribution. There is no better way to impact the body of Christ than to send young people into every church equipped with a solid knowledge of the Gospel and God’s word. That is what Emmaus has always been about, and they can’t do it without us. Lets partner with them in this amazing ministry!
— Tom Phillips - Founder of Emmaus Ministries