In this episode, Belinda Pollard, Donita Bundy and Alison Joy interview Jack Countryman, author of 35 books based on Bible promises, blessings and prayers, which have sold more than 27 million copies. At 93, Jack has just released another book. He encourages all Christian writers, and especially those writing devotionals, and those who fear they are “too old”.
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In conversation in this episode:
- Jack Countryman, author of 35 Bible devotionals on God’s promises, blessings and answers
- Belinda Pollard, author of mainstream crime novels, writing coach, accredited editor with qualifications in theology, writing and publishing blogger at smallbluedog.com, and Gracewriters founder
- Donita Bundy, writing teacher, preacher and author of the Armour of Light urban fantasy series
- Alison Joy, romance author, former early childhood teacher and mother of 4 adult children
Topics covered in this episode:
- What inspires Jack to write.
- Tips for writers of Bible devotionals of various kinds.
- Dramatic experiences that challenged Jack to believe that God wasn’t finished with him yet.
- How to cope with the fear that you might be “too old” to have anything to say.
Find Jack online:
Jack Countryman’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B00EEC1090
A selection of Jack’s books
We’ve featured a selection of Jack’s 35 books below. Click each cover to find out more on Amazon (associate links that help earn a few cents for Gracewriters):
Please use the sharing buttons at top and bottom of this post to share on social media or directly with Christian writers you know.
Belinda Pollard: Welcome to the Gracewriters Podcast – Christian Writers Changing Popular Culture. Hit subscribe on your favourite podcast player so you never miss an episode and find show notes, useful links and a full transcript at gracewriters.com.
Today on the podcast, author of best-selling Bible devotionals, Jack Countryman.
I’m Belinda Pollard. I’m an author, editor and writing coach with a theology degree and 20 years in the publishing industry. I blog for writers at smallbluedog.com and you can find links to all my blogs, books and online courses at belindapollard.com.
Alison Joy: Hi, I’m Alison Young. I’m a former early childhood teacher living in south-east Queensland. I have four adult children and I’m a mad-keen photographer. I write under the pen name, Alison Joy, and you can find out more about my books at alisonjoywriter.com.
Donita Bundy: Hi, I’m Donita Bundy. For the past 20 years, I’ve been using my theology degree to inform my preaching and more recently, my urban-fantasy series, Armour of Light. You can find out more about me, my books and all my other projects at donitabundy.com.
This morning, we are speaking with Jack Countryman. He is the founder of JCountryman Gift Books, a division of Thomas Nelson and he’s a recipient of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award.
Over the past 30 years he’s developed best-selling gift books such as God’s Promises for Your Every Need, God’s Promises for Men, God’s Promises for Women, and God’s Blessings Just for You and The Red Letter Words of Jesus (Amazon links are affiliate links which earn a few cents for Gracewriters). Jack’s books have sold more than 27 million copies.
Good morning, Jack. It is a great pleasure to have you with us on the Gracewriters podcast.
Jack Countryman: Well, thank you. It is my privilege to be with you today.
Alison Joy: Now, if we have a quick look on the internet, we’ll find that, hey, there’s a prolific production of devotional books. What started your journey in this regard, Jack?
Jack Countryman: Well, back in 1982, I was really interested in God’s Word and I got this inspiration to write the book, God’s Promises for Your Every Need, because I believed that people wanted to know all that God has promised them.
And lo and behold, it has become an all time best seller and has sold over 12 million books and that, of course, spurs me to look at other things to write about. After that I wrote, God’s Answers for Your Every Need. I actually wrote, God’s Answers for Your Life and then I wrote, God’s Wisdom and God’s Blessings Just for You and so on and so forth. And I’ve written about 35 books.
Belinda Pollard: Are all of them devotionals or are some of them different kinds of things?
Jack Countryman: Yes. Most all of them are of a devotional type. God’s Word is my basis for everything I write about because I believe God has the answer to everything that you’ll want or need in life and therefore I’ve based all of my books on the Word of God.
Donita Bundy: What do you think is the importance of devotions and more specifically, guided journals like your God Promises series?
Jack Countryman: Well, I believe that everything starts and ends with the Word of God because God really wants to bless us and to be with us and go before us.
When I chose God’s Promises for Your Every Need, I have 81 subjects, what Jesus is to us and what the Word of God means and so, I did review in Scripture and prepared myself to write explanations around Scripture and that seemingly took off because I have sold jillions!
Alison Joy: What should readers look for in a good devotional?
Jack Countryman: Well, I believe that a good devotional needs to be Scripture based because the Word of God, I believe, has all the answers to life and then the writing needs to be able to touch lives and change lives.
Truly hit the person where they are and relate what the Word of God has to say about a particular subject and what God wants them to do or how God wants them to live, how God wants them to be. So, that’s basically how I did things.
Belinda Pollard: May I be cheeky and ask how old you are, Jack?
Jack Countryman: Well, I’d really like to have you guess but I’ll let you know I’m 93!
Belinda Pollard: Wow! Are there more books coming? Are you still writing, even now?
Jack Countryman: Yes. I’m writing a book right now on contentment.
Belinda Pollard: That’s fantastic.
Jack Countryman: And I’ve recently come out with Bible Prayers to Guide Your Life. So, I’m busy!
I don’t believe God has finished with me yet. So, I’m just spending my days working and writing and dreaming and, hopefully, being blessed by the Lord.
Belinda Pollard: Your latest one was The Miracle of Peace. That sounds like a really important topic in the world at the moment, doesn’t it?
Jack Countryman: Yes.
Belinda Pollard: Tell us what prompted that and what brought that forth.
Jack Countryman: Well, I had two occasions whereby I had a peace come over me. I fell and had blood on the brain and I went into the doctor and he told me, he says, “Well, we can do one of three things; we can just wait and see if the blood dissolves or we can open up your skull and remove the blood, or we can do burr hole surgery where we bore holes in your head and we drain the blood off.”
Without hesitation, without worry, I said, “Let’s drain blood off the brain,” and so they did and they drained the blood off my brain and I’m here, bright and healthy!
It was interesting, one of the doctors said to me, “Jack, do you know that people who have blood on the brain, 7 out of 10 die?” I didn’t realise that! I just feel like I’m in God’s hands.
Belinda Pollard: Yes.
Jack Countryman: God is not finished with me yet and so I praise his holy name for that and I just continue to work and do things that I want to do to honour the Lord and to tell others of his great love for each and every one of us.
Belinda Pollard: I actually lost my father that way so, that’s a topic close to my heart and he was a good man who had, I thought, a lot of things left to do but, I guess, in God’s wisdom it was a different answer. It’s hard, isn’t it?
Jack Countryman: Oh, yes. I’m amazed. I feel good, my health is good, I’m not tired all the time, I feel ambitious and full of pep and ready to do things.
I really feel wonderful about my life at this time.
Belinda Pollard: Well, when you think about it, Moses was only just getting started at your age. He was only about 12 years into his real ministry, wasn’t he? Twelve or 13 years!
Jack Countryman: Yes!
Donita Bundy: So, Jack, would you say that that accident, the fall, led to you writing The Miracle of Peace or was that something that you were already thinking about and had intended to do prior to that incident?
Jack Countryman: Well, there were two things that caused me to write this book: one was the blood on the brain and how God delivered me from that and took care of me and the other one was, I was coming down the road and [a car came towards me and] without thinking I just went off to the right, down in the shoulder and up on the road and he missed me and slammed into the car behind me.
And I feel that that was something that was the Holy Spirit because I didn’t have time to think. I didn’t have time to reason. I just automatically reacted and I believe that the Holy Spirit took over and I was saved and here I am today. I just praise God for that.
Donita Bundy: So, what kind of response have you had since the release of this book from your readers?
Jack Countryman: I’ve had wonderful people write me and tell how this book has blessed them and they’ve related me their stories and so it’s been really a wonderful experience.
Alison Joy: Are you able to respond to everybody’s letters or do you just pick a few out or it’s just too many there?
Jack Countryman: I’ve been able to respond to each and every letter that’s come to me. I’ve tried to be responsible there and I mean, if people take the time to write me, the least I could do is write back to them and thank them.
Yes, I’ve done that.
Alison Joy: So, when you’re writing these devotionals, is there a set format you follow every time?
Jack Countryman: Well, everything that I write is always Scripture based. It comes from the Word of God.
You see, God has the answers to everything in life. I choose the Scripture, a story that fits the Scripture and the pattern of what I want to communicate and that’s worked out pretty good.
Belinda Pollard: What tips would you offer to other people wanting to write devotionals?
Jack Countryman: I think that unless you’re inspired by God to write, you shouldn’t write.
If you have something to say that would touch lives and change lives, then go ahead and take your shot at writing but communication is an important entity in God’s Kingdom and what we write and what we say reflects on our relationship with the Lord and reflects on who we are.
At the same token, if you are called to write, pray about it. Let God lead you. Let God inspire you. Let God give you the words that you need to write and what you need to say because He is the giver and taker of life and what he has to say to you, is what you need to communicate to others.
Belinda Pollard: I have just helped a 96 year old woman publish her first book. I don’t know how many more she might write but there’s going to be some listeners out there who are in the, maybe, the last third or whatever of their life, whatever God might happen to give them. What encouragement or suggestions could you offer for people?
Our society is so youth-focused, isn’t it?
Jack Countryman: Yes.
Belinda Pollard: And people often think, “Oh well, I’m 65, I have to retire. I can’t do anything useful anymore.”
I’m just interested in your insight for people out there who are longing to write and worried that they’re too old.
Jack Countryman: Well, I will say, “Wake up!” If you are of an age, 80, 90, whatever, you’ve lived a long life, you have many experiences, you’ve had things happen in your life that you need to share with others. So, I want to encourage you to move forward and do something with that gift that you’ve been given. The gift of life itself is so important.
Really, I just think that you need to share those things with others so they will gain from your experiences and gain from your knowledge and what you have to say because you have a lot to offer to someone. Because if you’ve lived 90 years, you have many experiences and God has touched you in many ways and you need to share that.
Belinda Pollard: Beautiful! Thank you.
Donita Bundy: Jack, the Gracewriters slogan is, Christian Writers Changing Popular Culture. What is your response to this?
Jack Countryman: That’s a tender subject. Popular culture: what is popular culture today?
If you listen to the world, you’re in trouble. You need to select what you want to write about and make sure about what God has blessed you with. What God wants to bless each of us with and touch everyone for his glory.
We are not an island. We are not by ourselves. The Holy Spirit lives within each and every one of us that loves the Lord and that Holy Spirit speaks to us daily. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Let God lead you and guide you. And if He does things with you that you need to share with others, please share it with others so they will understand how God has touched your life and what God means to you and how God is so important for you.
Alison Joy: Jack, what is your relationship between your faith and your writing?
Jack Countryman: My faith is my writing. They are just synonymous.
My trust in the Lord comes out in everything that I communicate. My faith comes out in everything that I communicate. I want to let people know what Jesus means to me. He is my everything and without Him, I am nothing. But with Him, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, loves me, guides me and wants the best from me.
Belinda Pollard: As you work on your writing, does that also enrich your own faith?
Jack Countryman: Absolutely! My faith comes out and goes on paper. My faith is told to other people and I want people to have what I have, the love that I have, the joy that I have and the experiences that I have.
God blesses me each and every day and so, I just want to share those things with others and let them know that God loves them and God wants the best for them. So, don’t hold back. Don’t be selfish. Don’t just think for yourself. Look to the Lord and let Him guide your life and bless you because He wants to bless you so you can bless others.
Belinda Pollard: Those are fantastic thoughts, Jack. Thank you for that. Really, really good.
Where can people find you online?
Jack Countryman: You can go on Amazon and see all of my books and choose which one you want to read and hopefully you’ll be touched and God will bless you and you’ll be changed and the glory of the Lord will show through you.
Belinda Pollard: Thank you, Jack.
How about I pray for you and the Gracewriters before we finish?
Jack Countryman: Oh, please do.
Belinda Pollard: Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are working through Jack over so many years and that you’re continuing to work through him. That you’re blessing him, that you’re blessing others.
We just ask you, Lord, to please be very present with him as he continues to try and honour you with his writing. To express the truths that you are showing to him. To encourage and build up other Christians.
And we also pray for other Christians out there who are wanting to write devotionals. They’re feeling called to write devotionals. I pray that you will help them to be anchored firmly in your Word and building and growing and nourishing their own faith as well, as they share that with others.
And we pray, especially, for those who are our older writers out there, we’ll call it ‘late middle age’, those who still have a fire in their belly and yet society is sitting on them to a certain extent and we pray that You will release them into the ministries that you have for them.
We thank you that there is no retirement in the Bible. That we always serve You, every day, until we go and see you face to face. And we entrust it all to You, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jack Countryman: Thank you, Belinda.
Belinda Pollard: You’re welcome, Jack. Thank you so much, Jack Countryman, for joining us today on the podcast. I’m Belinda Pollard. Thank you, Donita Bundy and Alison Joy and we will see you next time on the Gracewriters podcast.
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