Introducing Me and God: A 21-Day Country Music Devotional by Iain Duguid

Country Music is a unique genre in terms of its Christian connections and interest in telling compelling stories. As a result, it faces up to the deep questions in life more often than other genres of music: it goes beyond mere love and romance to think about marriage and family, broken relationships and divorce, justice and injustice, life and death, sin and redemption, even heaven and hell. It is often aware of the spiritual dimension of life, and of the fact that there is a God who is deeply involved in this broken world.

As George Strait sang in “God and Country Music,” the partnership between the two is like an embrace between Johnny Cash and Billy Graham—a natural alliance of two old friends. This new devotional book walks you through in a simple way how to begin and maintain a relationship with God, accompanied by Scripture passages as well as the soundtrack of familiar country songs. It can serve as an introduction to the good news of Jesus for someone who is inquiring into Christianity for the first time or as a refresher course for those who have walked with Jesus for many years. Each devotional is connected to a Biblical passage and a country music song (with an embedded QR code link to a recording of the song on Spotify).

The author is (surprisingly!) a British Old Testament scholar, who teaches at a theological seminary and has a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Cambridge University. Yet, after spending some time in Mississippi, he became hooked on country music and repeatedly inflicted it on his wife and six children whenever they rode in the car. He wrote this book to help you connect the soundtrack of your life with the deep truths of the Christian message. He is the author of many other books about the Bible, and his Bible Study Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints, was a finalist in the ECPA’s 2020 Christian Book Awards.

An Interview with the Author

How did you first get drawn to country music?

Well, I grew up in the South—the South of England that is, even though my family was from Scotland. So I didn’t really hear much country music until I moved from Oxford, England, where we had been planting a church, to work at a seminary in Jackson, Mississippi in the mid-1990s. Talk about culture shock—my children were convinced that the other kids in school were still holding the War of Independence against them! But in Mississippi, every other radio station plays country music, so I couldn’t help but listen. And as soon as I did, I was hooked. From then onward, the car radio was tuned to a country station wherever we went, and it was on as often as my wife and children would let me. Country music became the soundtrack of my life.

Why a country music devotional?

Country songs tell stories that are so true to life, in all of its fascinating complexity. The singers don’t just sing about love, but about marriage, having children, the beauty of small-town Sunday mornings, the pain of separation and divorce, the reality of old age and death—and even about what lies beyond this life. That was what really gripped me: the Christian rootedness of so many of the stories. As the George Strait song reminds us, God and Country music really are a natural pairing, as natural as Billy Graham embracing Johnny Cash.

What kinds of songs did you include?

Some of the songs in the devotional are explicitly Christian songs (like Alison Krauss’ beautiful rendition of “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”); others are not (like Toby Keith & Willie Nelson’s song, “Beer for My Horses”), but they raise questions to which the Christian gospel gives the answer. Still others point us to aspects of the Christian life that we easily forget, such as Carrie Underwood’s, “Jesus, Take the Wheel” (Surrender) and Hillary Scott’s poignant, “Thy Will be Done” (Suffering). There are a mix of older songs (Hank Williams’, “I Saw the Light”) as well as newer ones (Gary Levox of Rascal Flats’, “The Distance”). Hopefully, the devotional will stimulate readers to think more deeply about the worldview of other songs that they are listening to as well.

How is the devotional organized?

The idea behind the book is to pair a Bible verse with a well-known country song as an entry point into a particular aspect of the gospel. There’s a QR code link on each page to a version of that song on Spotify, in case you don’t know the song, or want to create your own playlist from the devotional. Step by step, the devotional explains in simple terms what it means to come into a relationship with God through Jesus, how to walk through life with Jesus, and then it draws our eyes onward to the prospect of being with Jesus forever. Each day has a question or two to stimulate your thinking. It’s not a complex theological textbook; it’s a simple reminder of the truths that many people have never heard and that Christians so easily forget or take for granted.

How should people use this devotional?

There are several ways to use the book. It’s short enough to read in one sitting, or to take day by day as a three-week devotional. Each devotion could also be a starting point for stimulating a conversation with a friend, or you could make up a playlist of the songs on Spotify or Amazon Music and listen to it regularly, to soak yourself in the gospel.

From the Introduction:

God is Great, Beer is Good and People are Crazy

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Billy Currington’s song recounts a chance encounter in a bar between the narrator and an older man. The conversation that day ranged widely, covering politics, women, personal brokenness and the difficulty of transformative change, along with the reality of God’s grace in the midst of life’s messiness. When the two finally separated at 2 a.m., the older man’s conclusion was, “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy”. The narrator thought no more about the meeting until he read in the paper that a rich man had donated his entire fortune to a virtual stranger: the picture in the paper was the old man and the stranger who inherited the fortune was himself, much to the chagrin of the rich man’s family.

The theme of God’s grace to broken people is central to the country music gospel, and the song epitomizes this emphasis. Neither man has lived an exemplary life—the rich man has been married and divorced, while the narrator has had his own problems with women. If salvation is by works, neither would be likely to qualify. Yet, like the unexpected inheritance received by the narrator, God’s favor is not something that is earned or deserved. The gospel invites broken people to come to the cross just as they are, with their messy lives and their own personal “craziness”. God’s grace is sufficient for them—and it is sufficient for you and me (2 Cor. 12:9).

Yet the good news of the Biblical gospel is even greater than the song suggests. God does not simply sit down with us over a beer, accepting us just as we are and leaving us entirely unchanged, except for giving us an undeserved inheritance. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God begins a good work within us that he will bring to completion on the last day (Phil. 1:6). That work is long and slow, and we will continue to wrestle with the ongoing insanity of our sin throughout life, as Romans 7 makes clear. Yet we are as beloved by God now, in the midst of our brokenness, as we ever will be. What is more, on the last day, Christ will present us to the Father, without blemish or spot, changed into new creation (Eph. 5:27). God’s grace to us in Christ is indeed great!


Make a list of experiences you have had that demonstrate:
1) God’s greatness; 2) the goodness of God’s creation (not just beer!); 3) the craziness of people (including yourself). How should these three undeniable realities shape your life today?

People Are Crazy: Words & Music: Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones © 2008 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crozier Music Enterprise and Tiltawhirl Music, a division of Carnival Music Group.

Where to purchase the book:

Me and God: A 21-Day Country Music Devotional is available at as a paperback or e-book.

Editor’s Note: The material for this post was supplied by the publisher and is provided here as a service to our readers.


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