Peace and Christmas: A conversation with Jack Countryman

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Peace and Christmas: A conversation with Jack Countryman

December 23, 2022 - Denison Forum

Denison Forum podcast logo, protraits of Dr. Mark Turman and Dr. Jim Denison

In this bonus episode, Jack Countryman joins Dr. Mark Turman to discuss the miracle of peace, how to give over your anxiety to Jesus, Christian publishing, and to give his Christmas blessings to the Denison Forum Podcast audience.

Resources and further reading:

About the hosts

Dr. Mark Turman is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.

About the guest

Jack Countryman is the founder of JCountryman Gift Books, a division of Thomas Nelson, and the recipient of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the past 30 years, he has developed bestselling gift books such as God’s Promises for Your Every Need, God’s Promises for Men, God’s Promises for Women, God Listens, and Red Letter Words of Jesus. Countryman’s books have sold more than 20 million units.

Transcript

Transcribed by Otter.ai

 

Mark Turman  00:09

Welcome to the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman Executive Director. We’re glad to have you back with us for another conversation. And we are welcoming to our podcast, Jack countryman. Let me give you a little insight into him. You’ve probably picked up a book of his sometime over the last three decades whether you realize it or not got it as a gift. But Jack Countryman is the founder of J. Countryman gift books, which is a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and is the recipient of the evangelical Christian publisher publishers Association’s Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the past 30 years, he has written 35 books and develop best selling gift books, such as God’s promises or your every need God’s promises for men, God’s promises for women, God’s blessings just for you and the Red Letter Words of Jesus, countrymen’s books have sold more than 27 million copies. He was given a salutation by the state of Tennessee’s House of Representatives General Assembly in 2014, recognizing him as a legend in the realm of Christian publishing, and he makes his home there in the Nashville area. Mr. countryman, thank you for joining us for the Denison Forum Podcast.

 

Jack Countryman  01:32

Well, thank you for having me, it is my privilege to be a part of your podcast.

 

Mark Turman  01:38

Well, your work greatly blessed a lot of people and has brought them closer to faith. And we want to talk to you about your recent work, the book, The miracle of peace. Tell us a little bit about what prompted you to write on this topic and a little bit about the book itself?

 

Jack Countryman  01:58

Well, a miracle of peace came to me when I had two different situations where God gave me a sense of peace in difficult times. So I can just say that God takes care of his own. Whenever you come into a difficult, difficult situation, if you just trust in Him.

 

Mark Turman  02:24

You while I was talking to a pastor out in California recently he had described the season of time that we’re living in as a season of anxiety, and despair and weariness. Have you seen that around in the communities and culture and environments where you’re in that just seems like the whole world is suffering the last few years under that same kind of experience, just a lot of anxiety and a lot of uncertainty, a lot of despair about negative things that are happening and that we fear are going to happen? And everyone just seems to be very weary? Would you agree with that assessment?

 

Jack Countryman  03:10

I would certainly would, you know, everybody’s worried about COVID. Right? everybody’s worried about their health, they see people getting sick all around them. everybody’s worried about the economy. everybody’s worried about their incomes. I mean, it’s just one thing after another that people are worried about. And I have found that if you just trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, and acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will direct your path. And so I just found that I have so much happier by just trusting the Lord, I have a contentment that he gives me. And that I think is available to anyone who walks with God.

 

Mark Turman  04:04

And that’s that’s been your testimony for how long? When did when did you begin begin your relationship with Christ?

 

Jack Countryman  04:11

Well, I accepted Christ when I was a boy. But about I’m 92 now going to be 93 this month. And I tell you, I really got turned on to Christ about 40 years ago. You know, when Christ really spoke to me about my walk with him, and I totally surrendered my life to Him, and I’ve been walking with him ever since. And he blesses me every day. I have a real sense of peace at my old age. And I just feel that the Lord is in charge. And I’m one of these children and he’s gonna take care of me, and I trust him for that.

 

Mark Turman  04:57

Absolutely. Is there a particular reason Why you name this most recent book, The miracle of peace?

 

Jack Countryman  05:03

Well, I use I use 21 different people. And I asked them to share with me, what did God give you a sense of peace in difficult times in your life. And I had two or three of them to talk about the cancer that they went through. And how God gave them just the sense of peace, even though they were going through a difficult season, but the sickness, there was a story of a man who lost his wife. But God gave him a sense of peace, even in that trial. So this book is filled with stories of people that have experienced God’s peace in difficult times. And I, I wrote it for one reason, because everybody’s got a problem. Everybody is being worried about something. And I want them all to understand that God loves them, and wants to protect them, and wants them to have that sense of peace that only He can give. So that’s the reason I wrote the book, and outside of my own two different situations, I really feel that, you know, the Lord is there to watch us, to watch over us, to be a blessing to us, to guide us to lead us and to help us to be all that he is called us to be.

 

Mark Turman  06:42

Right jackin in the midst of these 21 stories in the people that you talked with, and your own experience of peace, what would you say to people that are are eager to discover greater experiences and levels of God’s peace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their circumstances, the things that are making them anxious or, or weary, those circumstances might not change immediately. But is there the possibility of discovering and experiencing Christ’s peace, even if your circumstances don’t improve, or don’t improve very quickly?

 

Jack Countryman  07:25

It all begins with surrender. We need to surrender our lives to the Lord. And let him be the Lord and Master of our life. When we run our lives, we got all kinds of problems. You know, we worry about everything we, we fight about everything we we are, are so taken with ourselves, that we just do not let the Lord turn our lives over to the Lord. So I say When you surrender to the Lord, led me the Lord, a master of your life. He gives you a sense of peace that only He can give. And he gives you the reassurance that he’s gonna take care of things that only he can take care of. So it’s really all about you and what you’re going to do if you’re going to surrender and let the Lord be the master of your life, or if you’re going to continue to run your life and suffer the consequences.

 

Mark Turman  08:33

So you mentioned where your relationship with Christ deepened a good deal. Some four decades ago, 40 years ago? Was there something that you learned or encountered with Christ that brought about that increased level of surrender? What did that experience have greater commitment and greater oneness with him? What did that season of surrender look like for you?

 

Jack Countryman  09:03

Well, it all started when I was called to write the book God’s promises for your every need. And the Lord gave me all of the verses. The Lord guided me to create this book that has now sold over 12 million and is a you know, a classic in the in the world. And it’s all because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. during that season, I just had a sense, as I as I studied and researched and wrote and came up with those scriptures. That largest spoke to me and said, You just continued to do that. And I will take care of the rest. And he has and he does

 

Mark Turman  09:56

just been faithful through all kinds of seasons. Right, even to your now 90s

 

Jack Countryman  10:03

Yes, I and I’ve been to all kinds of seasons, I mean, you know, I’ve raised a family to boys. And, you know, we’ve all I’ve had certain things happen to me, I’ve had cancer and my face that had to be removed. And just everything that has happened to me, the Lord has guaranteed me, he was going to take care of me, and I’m never worried about it. You know, I had brain surgery. And then what happened was they, they came to me I fell and bruised my face. And, and, and I was all black and blue and brown, my eye and my cheek and everything, and end up ended up having blood on the brain. And that happened when I wasn’t able to speak one evening. And so I went to the doctor the next day. And he said, We better take a look at this. So they did a CAT scan, and I had blood on the brain. And so I had to have, they gave me three global alternatives said, Well, you can remove your cranium, take the top of my head off, we can just wait and see what happens. Or we can do more whole surgery. And if you look in money, you can see the, the holes in my head, where they drilled holes that went in and drain the blood off my head, and just sewed it back up. And I’ve been writing ever since. And all that happened. I never had one minute of doubt. I was always content. I was always at peace. I just had a sense that God was going to take care of me. And he did. And I recovered. And I’m right his reign now. So when someone says to me, do you really trust the Lord? Do you really feel at peace? I can guarantee them, the Lord is in charge of my life. And I am totally at peace with him. And whatever he wishes for me, I will accept

 

Mark Turman  12:26

whether those whether those circumstances be good or bad, right, whenever they that’s not to be, right.

 

Jack Countryman  12:32

That’s right. So the Lord has a plan for each of us. We just need to be willing to let Him guide us and direct us and accept whatever he has for us.

 

Mark Turman  12:47

So we’re in that season of year where the word piece gets tossed around and tossed around quite a bit. We see it at the stores and we hear it in the Christmas carols. We get it in our mailbox on Christmas cards and and do you really feel like that that is the experience of most people? Or is it more of an aspirational goal? Is it something that is even becoming more of a cynical comment that people don’t really think they can actually engage it or experience it? In the world that we live in? How do you feel about the commercialization of just that whole idea of the promise of Christmas?

 

Jack Countryman  13:33

Well, the promise of Christmas is a great thing because it is the promise of Jesus Christ. And He is the only one that can give you the peace that passes all understanding. But the peace aren’t really talked to overnight. So something that really comes to us in difficult times, comes to us, when we have a sickness comes to us when we have something happen in our lives, that really affect us. And so, I say that, if you just surrender to the Lord, let him be your guide. He will give you the peace that passes all understanding. And he is the only one that can do that. It can come with money. It can come with ambition, it can come with anything else, but the Lord.

 

Mark Turman  14:25

Exactly. Jack you you’ve been writing some now 35 books. Were you in publishing, all through your career or some people have said that you. You are the creator of the genre of devotional books, for believers to spend time looking at God’s word looking at God’s promises and spending time with him through devotional resources is is that something that you’ve always done? Or is it something that God launched in your life as a particular part of your journey of faith what what brought you into writing these kinds of books?

 

Jack Countryman  15:06

Well, I started publishing 40 years ago. And when I created my first book, God’s promises for your every need. that drew me into the evangelical ministries. And I started dealing with pastors all over the country, who wanted to use that book. And that opened the door for me to publish some of their writings, as well as my own. And so that, that really launched me into the publishing business. And, you know, that was just, that was a book that God gave me. And I just can’t explain that it’s, it was something I felt driven to do. I was a student of the Bible. And I wanted to research the Bible and see what God has promised me than 7000 promises in the in the, in the Bible. So I picked out all about 1500 of them, and in 81, subjects, so people could relate to where they are, you know, it’s what to do when, what the Bible has to say about, and what Jesus is to us, and all of these things. And it was, it’s a reference book, it’s all scripture. It’s nothing of my writing. And so I found that that book, would be a book that someone could use, and help them, open up the Word of God for them, so that they will be more interested in the Bible, and what God has to say, and how God really loves us and cares to us with an everlasting love.

 

Mark Turman  16:55

So that that main book, or that first book was, is kind of an index of God’s promises.

 

Jack Countryman  17:01

Oh, it absolutely is. Yeah, I mean, you know, there’s 81 subjects and, and it’s all it starts out the what Jesus has chosen as 18 Things Jesus’s does, and then goes into the various other scriptures that deal with our needs, and our wants, and what we, what we experienced when we trust Him at all that sort of thing,

 

Mark Turman  17:26

right? I imagine that many of the people who will hear our podcast today are familiar with the idea of having a committed, and hopefully regular time of devotion with God. Talk a little bit about why you think that that’s important. And when people are looking for resources, such as what you write, and what others write, what are some of the things they should look for in a tool that will help them to, to have a meaningful time with God on a consistent basis.

 

Jack Countryman  18:02

Well, I like to think that my devotions particularly, are all scripture centered. It everything begins with a word of God. You know, God wants to lead us and guide us and direct us. And I live in the center of our lives. And if you’re not into his word, you’re going to be into your own word. And when you start listening to yourself, that’s where we get astray. If we concentrate daily, on the Word of God, and what he has to say to us, it opens up our hearts and our minds. And we become more of what God wants us to be, and less of what we want to be.

 

Mark Turman  18:53

Have you had the experience in your own journey, that something God speaks to you about in your, in your daily devotional will show up later in the day, or in some situation or conversation that you find yourself in?

 

Jack Countryman  19:09

I tried to, to start memorizing some scripture. You know, let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart become acceptable in your sight, oh, Lord, by strength and my Redeemer, Psalm 1914. And I repeat that oftentimes, during the day, and I do that so that my mind and heart will be more God centered, and less Jack centered. Right, because Jack has a big ego. Jack has a jack you’re so so full of himself. That if I’m not careful, and I squeeze God out, or Eagle, Ed’s God out, and do not give him a chance to infect me, and to guide me, and lead me So, yes, it’s really important that you get into the Word of God daily, because it separates you and like causes you to think about the scripture that you’ve read, and what that scripture means to you.

 

Mark Turman  20:14

Right? And let it actually function as a light to your path, as it says, right?

 

Jack Countryman  20:20

Oh, yes, absolutely.

 

Mark Turman  20:23

And let it let it point the way. And as one of my friends says, you know, God never gave anybody a five year plan, but he will give you plenty of light for today. That’s right. And that Oh,

 

Jack Countryman  20:35

and if you see if he gave you a five year plan, you would mess it up.

 

Mark Turman  20:41

Or you’d be scared that

 

Jack Countryman  20:44

you’d start wanting to change it and figure it, try to work in round the way you want it. Because we’re very, you already ended. Right. And so he takes care of us moment by moment, and day by day. And that is a beautiful thing, that we have someone that loves us enough, and cares about us enough, in spite of ourselves and loves us just the way we are, with all our faults, and all of our all of our shortcomings, but he still loves us, and still wants the best for us. And that’s wonderful.

 

Mark Turman  21:18

It is it is absolutely. Jack, you’ve you’ve had the opportunity to be engaged in Christian publishing for now more than 40 years. What is your perspective on just how Christian publishing is? is operating these days? Are there things that you’re greatly encouraged about? Or your Do you have concerns about how this very vast industry that we call Christian publishing is operating? What what gives you encouragement and hope about it? What maybe brings you some concern?

 

Jack Countryman  21:54

Well, I believe that people really have become used to getting fed the Word of God, and enlightened words from leading pastors and evangelists and the leading man of God. And so it’s become more of an acceptable thing to read, by work. And I am, I found that my books are selling now, more than they ever sold before. I’m getting good feedback from people all around how the books have taken, been something part of their lives. And so I’m encouraged that today, people are much more open to this avenue of communication. And, you know, it’s just, it’s been a marvelous thing. And I get letters of people encouraging me and wanting me to continue to write and do things. So it’s, it’s pretty nice. And I’m just encouraged, and I’m hopeful that it’s touching lives and changing lives for God’s glory. Absolutely. And one of the, one of the best things we can give to other people are not just simply books that are meaningful to us, but books that are anchored in Scripture, books that continually take people back to the book of all books, right? Oh, absolutely. Everything that I do, is scripture based. I always start with a word of God. Because he is the end all. He is the one who has the pattern of how we ought to live in what we ought to do. And in his word, he has the answer to everything you will ever want in life. Seek it and you will find it.

 

Mark Turman  23:47

And your and your books are helping people to do that, Jack, they’re there in some ways, taking portions of Scripture and putting them into bite sized levels so that people can get to them quicker. Many people are, I think, intimidated by the Bible. It’s a very daunting book to some people. And by taking resources like you provide, it puts it more in an accessible form that people can get to a little bit easier and a little bit quicker without being Bible scholars, right. Well, I

 

Jack Countryman  24:21

think you hit the nail on the head. We’re spoiled today. We want everything right now. Right? And we want it in short bites. We don’t want to expect to spend 3045 minutes an hour trying to find an answer to something we wanted in three minutes. And so that’s why I do scripture and short, bite sized explanations about that Scripture so that people understand easily and quickly, exactly what God wants them to do, and how he wants them to act and the way he wants them to be influenced. And so I it’s just, it fits the day and time what we’re in right now. That’s the big thing.

 

Mark Turman  25:06

Right? And it, it really is a useful these are useful tools, whether it’s the the miracle of peace or some of your other works and other good works that we can talk could talk about a reference as well. But it says that I remember the Scripture, Mark 135 says that Jesus got up early in the morning went to a solitary place to pray. And that’s the spirit of a devotional life, a spirit of taking some portion of the Bible and spending time with it, spending time focusing on its meaning and letting God speak through it. And that’s Jack, what your resources the miracle of peace and others are doing. And we just want to thank you for that. And I wonder, as we get ready to wrap up today, is there a word of blessing for Christmas that you would like to offer to those that will hear our podcast?

 

Jack Countryman  25:58

Well, I just want everybody to enjoy Christmas for what it’s for. When we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let us give thanks, that He loves us just the way we are. He accepts us just the way we are. And he wants to give us a eternal life, if we just accept him. So my word to everyone is, celebrate Jesus birth, celebrate the risen Lord, celebrate Jesus Christ, and love Him with an everlasting love, as he loves you, with an everlasting love. And if the miracle of peace will give you a certain amount of peace and guide you in that direction, praise the Lord. And if not, I hope that you enjoy the book, and let it be a guide for you, as it has been for me.

 

Mark Turman  26:57

Wow, what a good word. And not only is it a great gift to receive, it’s a great gift to give. And we hope people will check out the miracle of peace as well as other works that you’ve done, Jack, folks, it’s Jack countryman, and you can find him at all of your book retailers, both online and in stores. And we hope that you’ll check it out that you’ll use this resource to draw closer to God. And Jack, we just want to thank you for the conversation today. Thank you for the book. And thank you for your many, many years of blessing people through your writing. Well,

 

Jack Countryman  27:35

thank you, it’s been a real privilege for me to be on your program. And may the Lord continue to bless you and all that you do and guide you. And if you want to really check me out, just go to Amazon, and you’ll see all the different books and things that I’ve done. And hopefully, it will be a blessing to those that do that.

 

Mark Turman  27:57

That’s a good word. Want to say thank you to our audience that is listening. And just remember to rate and review the Denison Forum Podcast share it with others so that they can learn more about Jack, Countryman and other topics. And we thank you for joining us today. God bless you

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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