Jesse Florea on an apologetics Bible
Jesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for more than twenty-six years. He currently serves as the editorial director for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. He co-hosts the “Official Average Boy podcast” with Christian comedian Bob Smiley and “Official Adventures in Odyssey podcast.” He has writtenor co-written more than forty books, including the apologetics-based books Defend Your Faith children’s apologetics Bible, The Case for Grace for Kids and The Case for Miracles for Kids.
The Defend Your Faith Bible is part of the Lifeway family of apologetics Bibles. This was the hardest and most humbling project I’ve ever worked on. After all, it’s the Bible. You have to get it right. My role as general editor was to put together hundreds of extra facts and bits of information designed to build up a kid’s belief in Jesus. These extra features included:
The Defend 100. One hundred specifically chosen Bible passages to memorize.
Digging into the Word takes readers to the Holy Lands so they can see that the people, places and events described in the Bible are real.
Science in the Bible shows God’s order and design in all of creation.
Untwisting Scripture helps readers discover the true meaning of “tricky” Scriptures and see the consistent truth of God’s Word.
Defenders of the Faith. From Bible times to modern days, these true stories of men and women, boys and girls will inspire readers to stand up for their faith.
Know Questions give answers about the world, the Bible and faith.Why is prayer important? Do miracles still happen today? How can Jesus be both God and man? Answers to these and about 70 more.
Good Words defines the meanings of specific words that can help God’s Word be more understandable.
That’s a Fact has lots of fun facts and statistics about the Bible.
Living for God is an exciting journey. And it’s important for kids—and adults—to understand what they believe and why they believe it. That’s the message that I wanted kids to get from the Defend Your Faith Bible.
What genre do you focus on and why?
I tend to write children’s nonfiction. I’ve done numerous devotional books and sports profiles. About seven years ago, I was asked to write a children’s 90-Day devotional around Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. This led to writing children’s versions of The Case for Grace for Kids and The Case for Miracles for Kids. It was that connection that caused Lifeway to contact me about the Defend Your Faith Bible. I had to go through a couple interviews and a face-to-face meeting in Nashville. But we connected as a team and, after two years of work, ended up with a fantastic resource. Plus, it was really nice to have a theologian read through and approve everything. I was a Bible minor during my undergraduate and graduate years at Wheaton College. So it took a lot of pressure off knowing that an expert was chiming in with improvements, corrections and suggestions.
Why do you write? What drives you?
I want kids to have a thriving faith. I want to help them know, follow and love Jesus. And I find it amazing that God can use very flawed people, like myself, to share His truth. If I wasn’t writing for children, I’d be teaching them. That was my plan growing up. But then I took a journalism course in high school and fell in love with writing. God’s plan was way better then mine. Now through Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines, it’s like being a teacher or youth pastor for 150,000 kids every month. And with the books, it’s reaching even more and more kids.
Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?
Jesus. Ha! I mean, it’s the Bible. His is the name above all names. King of kings and Lord of lords. The whole Bible points to Him. I hope through some of the extra features that children realize this fact and see the Bible as a love letter to them written more than 2,000 years ago.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?
Pretty crazy. Because I work full-time at Focus on the Family as editor of the children’s magazines, co-host two podcasts and manage a team of six, it’s a 40-plus hour a week job. Taking time off is difficult, because we produce two, 32-page magazines a month. Those trains never stop. Finding time for freelance projects isn’t easy. I have a very understanding wife, who loves the Bible. She was very supportive of this project. She even chose nearly all of the words that were defined in the “Good Words” section. Basically, it’s late nights and weekends where I can find extra time to write.
What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?
Meeting the kids who read your work. We get numerous letters at Focus on the Family from kids about the impact that Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. have had on their lives. And through book reviews and other online sources, it’s cool to see how kids have grown closer to God through various book projects. Plus, sometimes when I’m speaking at writers conferences or home-school conventions, I’ll get to meet these kids face to face.
What is your favorite pastime?
I have several. Hanging out with my wife, kids and two grandchildren tops the list. I also enjoy playing basketball and disc golf. Getting into the mountains is also a must. When you’re in God’s creation, there’s no doubt that there’s a loving, caring, creative God.
Do you have other books? We’d love to know.
A bunch. Many are ghost written projects that I’ve done with athletes. One of these projects, A Walk in Our Cleatscame out in February. This book features the testimonies of 25 football players, most of which aren’t the bigger names. But their testimonies and faith in God blew me away. Lots of tears with this project, and I know it’ll have a big impact. When I first came to faith as a teenager, it was a book like this (Christian football players) that God used to really impact me. I pray this book will encourage and impact people the same way.
What are you working on now?
I’ll be starting work on a middle school version of The Case for Christ this fall.I love working with Lee Strobel. And it’s cool to be doing this book, because my wife and I attended Willow Creek when he was preaching the sermons that ultimately became The Case for Christ.
Link to book: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/csb-defend-your-faith-bible-hardcover-P005790626
Other media links: https://www.apologeticsbible.com/
Follow me on social media!