Transcript of CS#133: Walking with God Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray

Transcript of Interview with God Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray about Walking with God. This interview and others like it can be found at

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

Walking with God is available at The Catholic Company.

Chris Cash: This is the Catholic Spotlight, the show where we talk about what’s new, cool, and exciting in the Catholic marketplace. I’m your host, Chris Cash from the Catholic Company, your source for all your Catholic needs. Today, we’re talking about Walking With God, the great new bible overview by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins. Fellows, welcome!

Tim/Jeff Cavins: Hey, great to be with you.

Chris Cash: Now, since our listeners may not recognize your voices as readily as I do, we might want to at least introduce who’s who.

Jeff Cavins: Sure, this is Jeff Cavins up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tim Gray: And Tim Gray in Denver, Colorado at the Augustine Institute.

Chris Cash: Now, this is part of the overall Great Adventure Series, correct?

Jeff Cavins: Uh-hmm.

Chris Cash: So can you explain just briefly, what is the Great Adventure Series and how does this fit into it?

Jeff Cavins: Well, I can start off Chris, by telling you a little bit about the great adventure and then Tim can tell you how this new book fits into that great adventure. The great adventure is kind of the umbrella name for a whole series of studies that Tim Gray and I have put together over the years and it starts with what we call the bible time line, the story of salvation where we take the entire story of the bible and we lay it out in a way that is easily recognizable by the average layman. When you pick up the bible, you start in Genesis and hope to go to Revelation and get the story but most people, when they start off that way, they usually end up quitting shortly after the beginning because they’re in Leviticus and they’ve lost the story and we are people who are looking for the story and we follow story lines. And so, when you lose it, you give up. So what we have done is we have laid out the books of the bible in a way that tells a story and makes sense of all the books and real quickly that’s what we do is we divide up the bible into twelve periods, color-coded periods and then to read through those periods, we identify some books that are narrative in approach. In other words, they keep the story moving and we’ve identified 14 of them and then we show you where the remaining 59 fit in the context of those 12 periods and those 14 books in such a way that it really starts making sense to the person who really wants to know the story in the bible. And then we have a number of other studies off of that bible timeline. We have Matthew and Acts and we have Exodus and we have First Corinthians and we have Revelation and Psalms, and we also have some thematic studies too like the study on the Mass. So we’ve been doing that for a number of years and then we came up with this project which is the book and I’ll let Tim come in on that.

Tim Gray: Yeah, you know, Jeff and I have been able to have the privilege of going all over the country teaching about the Great Adventure Bible Timeline and bible study and it’s really initiating and introducing Catholics to the Word of God in a lifelong journey in that Word, as Jeff just said. That’s what got us, we had so many people asking for a book that kind of does what the Great Adventure Bible Timeline does in giving an overview of the scripture story because the bible has 73 books but it tells one story, as Jeff was referring to and that’s really what we try to do in the book. And there’s a great quote from St. Ambrose that Pope Benedict cites in his recent apostolic dissertation on scripture Verbum Domini and he says, “St. Ambrose says when we take up the sacred scriptures in faith and read them with the church, we walk once more with God in the garden.” And really, that’s what Jeff and I have found in our personal lives and our friendship is the Word of God and reading and praying to that Word, it’s such an encounter with God. It gives you the chance to walk with God every day. And we wanted to open up that experience that Ambrose is speaking of for everybody. And so really, the aim of this book is to get people to discover how they can walk with God by encountering the Word of God daily as a lifelong journey. And then what the book does is it has the 12 particular chapters that focus on the 12…we break up the story of the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation into 12 bite-sized parts, as Jeff mentioned, and those 12 parts become the 12 Acts of a great drama. And so, each chapter is kind of dissecting for people all of these people, places, and events and things that happened in the Scripture and then showing how they’re their integrated and interconnected to a larger plot. And then what that does is people…in fact, somebody called me a couple of days ago and said, I have read through this bible cover to cover four times in my life. I picked up Walking With God, I couldn’t put it down. I got up at 4:00 in the morning and after beating up all night reading it, and I never get up that early. I could not put this down because it was like a light bulb went off in my head and for the first time, I understood what the Scripture was really about. And that’s the exciting thing that happens when people are able to take it and read.

Jeff Cavins: What we’re seeing, Chris, is in culture today, as you turn on the television and the radio, you are seeing people that are searching for answers and there is evidence of that by just simply the popularity of talk shows and therapy shows. You have Dr. Phil and you have Oprah and all these different shows where people really do have serious questions about life and where they fit in and what is life all about and how do you solve problems within your marriage or raising your children or how do you spend your money? What if you’re in debt? All of these questions of life are really answered by God. And God has given us the keys to daily living and those answers are in salvation history. He has revealed Himself in words, in deeds, in such a way that we can understand Him and enter into an intimate covenant relationship with Him that yields fruit in our life, not only for here on earth but in eternity. And so Tim and I are just very passionate about bringing this message to your everyday Catholic out there who, right now, is searching at Barnes and Noble and Amazon for answers when they have a bible sitting right there on the coffee table and God wants to speak to them. We’re just simply opening up that conversation as the new document from the Holy Father talks about that reading the bible is a conversation with God. We’re opening that conversation for people and letting people dialogue with God.

Chris Cash: Now, going back, just really focusing on how this book fits into the Great Adventure Series, I think one thing that’s going to be on people’s minds as they look at this book is, is this a stand-alone book? Can I pick it up and understand what’s going on in this book? Or do I need to have some of the background from the other parts of the Great Adventure Series first?

Tim Gray: That’s a great question, Chris. I think what Jeff and I intended in this book is to make it a stand-alone in the sense that it starts you through the story of Genesis and we don’t assume that you’ve read the story of Genesis such that you would really get all the plot and how all the characters fit together. So we take you by the hand and just, we want to guide the reader through this great drama and all the way from the beginning of the Scripture, so from Genesis to the story of Jesus and the Church and so, that’s really…it’s for anybody who has an interest in the Scripture and that’s the goal. Now, with that being said, we also designed it to be a complement to the Great Adventure Bible Study so that when people walk through the 24-part Great Adventure Bible Study, now they’ve got a book that they can go back and they’ve heard it, but now, oh yeah, as they get to sit down and read it, this book complements that study beautifully and so it’s going to fill in some details and it’s going to reinforce some of the big picture that we teach there but then we also hope that, and I’ve seen this with people who start reading the book and they love it, it just increases their appetite for walking with God and then we’ve got this lifelong Great Adventure Bible Study series where, all of a sudden now, they can go deeper into First Corinthians. It’s just mentioned in a brief way in the book. Well now, they can do a whole study on James or the Book of Revelation and just go a lot deeper and that book then launches them into a lifelong study of the Word.

Jeff Cavins: What Tim is talking about, Chris, there is the key and that is, it’s a lifetime of study. It’s not an either/or question for us as to should a person go through and read the book or should they go through a study? The answer is both. You should read and you should study and if the Lord is laying that on your heart, you should go on for more education. But we want people to be introduced to a lifetime of study. And a lifetime of study doesn’t mean you’re going to be in this book for the rest of your life over and over and over, and that’s all you’re going to do. It’s part of the picture. We would hope that you would read the book and get a great understanding of God’s plan of salvation history and that you would go through the studies and that you would learn some things that maybe you didn’t see in the book and then afterwards, you might read the book again and suddenly, the light goes on and you see something that you didn’t see the first time you read it or going through the study. And we have students that read the book, go through the studies and then they go on and they get a master’s degree at the Augustine Institute and more lights go on. But the only reason that more lights go on is because littler lights went on earlier and they are continuing to build on their understanding of God and that is a lifetime project.

Chris Cash: Now you just mentioned the Augustine Institute. For our listeners who aren’t familiar with that, could you explain what is the Augustine Institute?

Tim Gray: Sure, Chris. The Augustine Institute is a school that several of us, Jeff Cavins and a good friend of ours, Chris Martin and Archbishop Chaput have been thinking about it for a while and what we did five years ago in launching it was we wanted a new kind of graduate school to start the new evangelization. And John Paul II talked about the new evangelization being new in method, in ardor, and expression and that’s really what we try to do. And so, one of the things we do that’s innovative, I think, is we have a video distance education program so that we have a studio classroom with three cameras with a professional videographer and so, our classes are captured with great videos. So for example, there’s a class that we have on salvation history that Jeff and I taught together and we have that available and we now have students from over 37 states and over six countries who are now doing their masters or taking audit classes but a lot of them are doing their masters from home and they don’t have to come to Denver. They can just get the courses and the video sent to them and have the web support. And it’s exciting to see how more and more people now are able to go deeper into the Word of God. And as Jeff said, that lifelong learning is really key because Pope Benedict in his recent exhortation on the Scripture said that, “Our deeper experience of God depends on a growing familiarity with the Word of God.” And so, we need that deeper study of the Word that leads to hopefully deeper spiritual life.

Chris Cash: Now, you also have a series of seminars that you do around the country. Could you tell us a little about the seminars and how somebody could find out where the closest seminar to them is?

Jeff Cavins: Sure. Both Tim and I do seminars every month around the country. We do an all-day Saturday seminar on the bible timeline which is the entire story. I know that sounds like a lot but it’s doable and it’s exciting. In one Saturday, we tell you the whole story and we give you the materials to take you through the bible in kind of a narrative fashion so that you understand that story. And that’s really geared towards people who have never even read the bible before. We can take you from that point of, “Here’s the bible. We know you’ve never read it before. Let’s get an understanding of it and let’s go through it as a starting point in your life.” We also do the same thing for several books of the bible. We both do daily seminars on Matthew and Acts and Revelation, a number of studies. And they’re really geared towards immersing you in that book hoping that you’ll want to go deeper in the book and we have these seminars all over the country and so both Tim and myself are available for these and you can find out about not only how to put a seminar on at your parish in our website but you can also find out about how to develop a long-term study in your parish and develop leadership in your parish. You can find that out at It’s just very simple,

Chris Cash: And are you finding a lot of growth in that through your program?

Tim Gray: It’s really spread more and more over the country and I think what’s really exciting is and why Jeff and I love to do this is I can think back to parishes where we first did a seminar whether it’s a place in Omaha or Tulsa or wherever and then that parish starts the Great Adventure studies and more and more people start joining these studies and so what you have is a parish all of a sudden becomes this center of life and activity centered on the Word and fellowship and renewal. We like the one-day seminars just kind of a jump-start for that but it’s amazing what happens. I mean, I know one parish right in California where we went out and did it and we had about 210 people with them. They got people so excited from the one-day seminar that they invited their friends and the people in the bible study of the parish were over 450 who came weekly for the bible study. And so what you see is a deepening of as people keep in congregating and going and be familiar with the Word of God, there’s just a deeper renewal. I think Pope Benedict mentioned that if we’re open to the Word of God, a new Pentecost will happen for the Church. And so, we get to see these great little new…these little Pentecosts that happen to all these different parishes and dioceses all over because as people get on fire from hearing the Word, it creates community, it creates energy, it creates renewal.

Chris Cash: Now, are these available in any way? Do you do webinars or anything that people could tune into from a distance?

Jeff Cavins: Well, there’s two answers to that. One is for the Great Adventure Bible Study, we’re currently looking at that and developing a strategy where parishes can participate. Say for example, Tim Gray is doing a one-day seminar on the First Corinthians, can parishes participate in that? We want them to and that’s what we’re working on right now. When it comes to the Augustine Institute, there is already established a distance ed program where people can get a number of degrees via the internet working with some of the top teachers in the country and that has proven to be a very, very powerful and effective experience in raising up leaders at the local level and deepening formation.

Chris Cash: Well, was there anything else you wanted to share with our listeners about the program before we finish up here?

Tim Gray: I just think that the best investment of my time that I found in my life is when I invested in prayer and a reflection of the Word of God. And I just know that so many people, so many Catholics hear Scripture every Sunday in every mass and they hear a little bit from the Old Testament, a little bit from the Psalms, a little bit from the New Testament and the Gospels and what we do is as you walk through this story, all of a sudden, it won’t feel like a little bit from the Gospel, a little bit from the Psalms, and a little bit from the Old Testament. It’ll feel like I’m hearing the story of Israel and I’m hearing the story of Jesus and I know where that little snippet comes from in the larger story of Jesus in Israel and God’s story and then it makes it so much easier to see how it fits into your story once you see that which is really exciting.

Jeff Cavins: And for me, Chris, I have grown in my appreciation of the Liturgy in my study of Scripture and now, we’re at a historic point where the third missal is coming out and there have been some changes in the wordings and nuances made and there is an attempt to be a bit more biblical and you can see this, for example, in the very first thing we say in the mass when the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” and we respond, “And with your spirit.” We see that same language, Paul saying that in Galatians 6:18, “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” And so, this is a wonderful opportunity for people to study the Scripture and go deeper in their understanding of the Liturgy. Truly we’re at an exciting time right now as Catholics and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

Chris Cash: Well, I have been very excited to get to hear about this series from you. I’ve always enjoyed getting to talk to you about everything to do with the Great Adventure. This is an excellent addition to the series. Everybody out there, you really want to pick up this book, right now and make sure that you get started digging into Scripture whether it’s with this book or with the Great Adventure series at a different place but just pick it up, get started, and by the time you’re done, I can tell you from personal experience, once you’ve been through one of these studies, you’re going to want to go through more because you just learn so much about the history and timeline of the bible and it just makes so much sense that you just want to find out more and more and more and it’s just an incredible program and I really thank you guys for taking the time to put this together. I know you’ve spent what? The better part of 15 years now?

Tim Gray: Yeah.

Jeff Cavins: I agree. We’ve been working a long time. Tim and I have known each other for about oh, 15 to 16 years. We’ve been working together on these almost from the beginning.

Chris Cash: So there’s 15 years of these guys putting together what they found to be the meat. I kind of think of what you’ve done is taking God’s director’s cut of the bible and condensing it down to the pop culture version, you know?

Tim Gray: Well, certainly people can understand that and while the average person in the pew can understand the bible, the bible is very, very deep. It’s kind of like onion peel. The baby can understand something of God’s Word and those who are involved in postgraduate studies will be challenged and can go deeper in their own faith. So it truly is a marvelous book.

Chris Cash: Well, thank you, Jeff; thank you, Tim for coming on and sharing about this and you guys have a great day and God bless!

Jeff Cavins: Thank you.

Tim Gray: Thank you and God bless.


Transcript of Interview with God Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray about Walking with God. This interview and others like it can be found at

Listen Now to the audio version of the show.

Walking with God is available at The Catholic Company.

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