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Thomas Nelson VP talks new book on hope, Christian devotional living

NASHVILLE (BP) – Jack Countryman, vice president and publisher emeritus at Thomas Nelson, hopes his new devotional book will inspire Christians to find their hope in Jesus, but also to develop better devotional habits in their lives.

Countryman said the events of the past two years inspired him to explore the Scriptures to design a devotional about the hope Christ offers.

“Today’s pandemic world just felt like we needed hope desperately,” Countryman said. “Without hope we’re lost, and Jesus Christ is the only person who can give us hope. The Bible has all of the answers we’ll ever need.”

The resulting devotional, “The Power of Hope: 100 Devotionals to Build Your Faith,” explores the topic by giving examples of more than 50 people from the Bible whose lives were changed after God demonstrated His hope to them.

Mentioned more than 190 times throughout the Scriptures, the theme of God’s hope is presented through the lives of biblical figures like Noah and Paul. Presented in a daily devotional format, the book explores how the characters were changed not through a change in circumstance, but by changing their focus to the hope God makes available.

Countryman said he hopes the turbulent times of the past two years will be an opportunity for Christians to get back on track in their devotional habits.

Creating devotional materials is nothing new for the 92-year-old Countryman, who has served as the vice president at Thomas Nelson since 1994.

Before joining Thomas Nelson, he established JCountryman gift books (now a division of Thomas Nelson) in 1981, which played a key role in the emerging Christian gift books business.

Countryman’s 30-year career as a publisher includes writing more than 35 books and publishing more than 800. Many of those books are devotionals including “God’s Promises for Your Every Need,” “God’s Promises for Men,” “God’s Promises for Women,” and “The Red Letter Words of Jesus.”

In total, Countryman’s books have sold more than 27 million units.

He has received recognition from a variety of organizations for his illustrious career.

In 2014, the State of Tennessee’s House of Representatives gave him a salutation recognizing him as a “legend in the realm of Christian publishing.”

That same year, Countryman was honored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) at its Executive Leadership Summit, where he received their Charles “Kip” Jordan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Countryman said he simply hopes his devotional materials can help believers realize how essential time with the Lord really is.

“I always just wanted to bring to life people’s relationship with Jesus Christ,” he told Baptist Press. “Christians often do not stop and take time to let God be first. I and everyone else is naturally selfish, so if we are to have relationship, God must be priority. We must let it become a priority.”

Although he has spent his entire career creating content for other Christians’ devotional lives, Countryman said he is grateful for the way his own spiritual life has grown over his long publishing career.

“I’m the one who got the most out of the process,” he said. “I’ve drawn closer and closer to the Lord and realized how much He wants to abide with us. I’m hopeful people will understand God wants the same exact thing for them.”