The Fellowship of Faith

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NKJV)


As I sit to write this post, I am doing a new thing. Listening to Russell and Kristi share their faith through song, I’m reliving some of the precious memories made on the mountain. Meeting old and new friends. Learning new skills and techniques. Discovering Who I Am in Christ as a Writer through an intensive four-day practicum to learn how to navigate The Third Path. It’s safe to say that for this word-weary old rancher and writer, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference surpassed all my expectations.

Four years in the making, I found the time and resources to take advantage of this tremendous learning and networking event. The Ridgecrest Conference Center, nestled in Black Mountain, NC, seems a perfect venue for Christian writers to both grow in their craft and their faith. From the moment I stepped onto the tarmac at the Asheville airport, I experienced a peace in my soul that told me I was where God wanted me. Riding to Ridgecrest with a beloved brother-in-Christ I had never met in person gave us the chance to share our hearts and learn a bit more about one another. The blessings poured out as the miles passed. Did I bless him as much as he blessed me? Only God knows and time will tell.

Upon my arrival, I instantly began meeting friends and readers I’ve known for years but meeting in person for the first time. Oh, the joy that comes when you walk into an auditorium and a spunky little redhead screams out your name and comes in for a hug. Other attendees, the Ridgecrest staff, and everyone associated with the event overwhelmed me with kindness. The long days of classes, pitches, and networking were worth the good tired I felt at the end of each day, coming long after my normal farmer’s bedtime.

Among the greatest of these blessings was the realization of how my writer’s soul was dry and starved for in-person fellowship. Many Christian writers experience fellowship with their local church body. We often share with others via Zoom™ calls, responding to and sharing “anti-social” media posts, and sending/receiving emails from our fellow writers. There’s something about a physical touch as you join to pray for one another’s writing and needs. A special blessing comes sitting across from an industry icon and they affirm your efforts to grow platform and in your craft are achieving the results needed for publishing.

In-person fellowship refills you with God’s joy. #FellowshipOfFaith #Fellowship #GrowInChrist #Joy Share on X

As the conference drew to its inevitable end, I watched as the emcee and the co-directors joined hands on stage to “Pray us out.” As we prayed, I felt a surge in my soul, the Holy Spirit leading me to this truth, “To the full.” Since being called to become a Christian writer, God has blessed me with amazing mentors, wonderful friends, and opportunities I could have never imagined when I began this journey. I have yet to attend any Christian writer’s conference where I did not hear this message in my soul.

Reconciling my experience on the mountain, I began to pray for those who have not yet returned to their churches. Through pandemics, government shutdowns, mask and distancing mandates, and a slower-than-expected return to normalcy, Christ’s church remains a strong, vibrant, and necessary place for in-person fellowship. If you are among those who still watch church in your PJs, study your Bible alone, and continue to cut yourself off from the body of Christ, then please listen. Here are three points I ask you to consider about why you should make the fellowship of faith more prevalent in your life.

  1. Christian fellowship strengthens the body of Christ. (Acts 2:42)
  2. Christian fellowship helps us grow in our faith. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
  3. Christian fellowship ensures we are never alone on our journey. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

We’ve all had to adapt to this fast-changing and frightening world. We cannot continue to stand strong when our spiritual tanks are empty. Please pray and ask for God’s guidance, conviction, or Word that you need to get back to in-person fellowship. History has proven that we will always stand stronger together. Now more than ever, we need to keep our tanks full, our powder dry, and our hearts filled to the full of God’s love, joy, and peace. The best source for this will always be fellowship with Him and His people.

Do not forsake the fellowship of faith.


God’s blessings,

Please join me this Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

68 thoughts on “The Fellowship of Faith”

  1. Truth. You beautifully express my own experience at Blue Ridge and as you always do, brings the lesson about community. What a community! We’re all working toward the same goal (the Kingdom), serving in our niche, helping one another be their best. This community and the church are the body of Christ. We NEED one another. Great post friend!

    1. Thank you Ms. Cathy. Yes, I too found it refreshing to be around other writers. To share common problems, issues, and yes, fears. I like how you put that, “our own niche.” It’s important to remember that we are not competitors but “fellow laborers.”

  2. Oh Sir, seeing you was the highlight of my conference. Many of us are in agreement. Our Texas farmer friend, you indeed exude Jesus. Everyone who met you was touched by your love, kindness, and gentle spirit.
    May you be blessed as much as you blessed all of us at Blue Ridge.
    This spunky little redhead is proud to call you friend and brother in Christ.

    1. Oh my Ms. Cherrilynn. I pray that I might one day, with God’s help, become the man you believe me to be my friend. Until that time, I’ll keep being the very best me I can be. I trust God to handle the rest. 🙂 God’s blessings, and what a tremendous blessing it was to meet your and your sister, finally!

  3. Amen. Well said and true, J.D. I pray all hear and apply so they, too, can enjoy what we experience every day. Write on!

    1. Thank you Ms. Lori. I can’t think of a single writer’s conference I’ve been to that you’ve not demonstrated your leadership and faithfulness through prayer and encouragement.

  4. J.D., meeting you in person was one of the conference’s highlights. I’m excited to see what God will do in and through you as you walk (and write) in obedience to all He has for you and your readers. Cheering you on from the Carolinas, my friend!

    1. I can honestly say that I’ll never be able to walk into any coffee shop again without looking for you, Ms. Dee Dee, and others sitting there waiting for me with big smiles and bright eyes. What a blessing it was to meet you and “the girls” at the conference. I remain humbled by your encouragement and edification. Thank you

  5. Suzanne Montgomery

    “We cannot continue to stand strong when our spiritual tanks are empty.”
    This is so true! Thank you for this crucial message to the body of believers.

  6. Thank you for your wise words. Although I was not able to attend I’m drinking from the overflow. That is strengthening my soul in more ways than I can say. Thank you for continuing to share your heart.

    1. Aww Ms. Sharon. Always the blessing ma’am. Thank you, and if we never meet this side of heaven, knowing that I’ll see you there with Jesus is enough. God’s blessings ma’am.

  7. The lack of seeing you when so close leaves a void in my heart likely not to be filled for a year. Inconceivable, but perhaps necessary.

    Your message reflects our founding fathers’ take on the necessity of religion (always to be read as Christianity). They constantly encouraged the people to corporate worship and applying their faith.

    I’ve learned over the past year of neglect my hope is in Him as I pick up my pen (er, keyboard) to give voice to His urging.
    II Chron 7:14
    Fair thee well, kind sir.

    1. I too wish we could have visited more this year at Blue Ridge Mr. Warren, but if our Lord tarries, perhaps next year (be it BRMCWC, CCWC, FCWC, or some other) we’ll get to once again enjoy a time of fellowship and friendship sir. Until that time, I remain but a phone call or email away. Zoom isn’t as good as in-person, but it’s better than a poke in the eye. Let’s the four of us make that happen on evening soon.

  8. Marjorie Hill

    Ridgecrest has long been a special place for me. It was there my husband and I gave out hearts to missions that would forever change our lives. When I went to BRCWC, a new pathway of love for our Lord through writing proved to me He continues to work through His people no matter their circumstances. So glad you got a glimpse of His Glory there. Blessings!

  9. Beautiful and wise words, J.D. Meeting you in person was like seeing a brother after a long separation. I met you on Facebook, I grew to know your heart and faith through your blogs posts, I relish in your humor, and meeting you in person was the whipped cream on top. With my own brother in Heaven, I now adopt you as my brother (besides being my brother-in-Christ). Give Ms. Diane and Mavric my love.

    1. My how I’ll cherish these words for many years to come Ms. Ane. As long as we’re “familglia”, when can I pencil Mr. T in to come help me get branding done this summer? 😀 Thank you for your kind words ma’am; I feel exactly the same. My family has grown stronger and more vibrant because you’ve become a part of it ma’am.

    1. It sure was Ms. Ann. In returning, I walked smack dab into the middle of chores and challenges. As I sit beneath the pines in the barnyard to cool myself and catch my breath, I find myself breathing easier when I’m replaying the people, conversations, and camaraderie shared.

  10. The top of the mountain experience of my week at Blue Ridge can be summed up with this: I got to see Mr. J.D again and give ‘em a great big hug! As usual, today’s post is a blessing, both with a great lesson and covered in encouragement. Thank you for obeying God’s call to write. Your wise words bless all of us. Love you, brother.

    1. Oh, how you humble me sweet friend. Getting to see you again and finally meeting the famous “Mr. Larry” was a highlight of my time on the mountain too ma’am. I’ve never been “gushed” over like he did, and it inspires me to work harder so I might be worthy of the time your dear husband invests in reading my work. Thank you both for all the blessings you gave during those precious few days.

  11. Such beautiful thoughts from your beautiful soul! (You have me tearing up this morning.) You have such a kind and generous spirit — a blessing to all who know you. Happy your experience was wonderful. Prayers and blessings on your writing!

    1. Perhaps the only thing that could have made my visit to NC any better would have been meeting you dear friend. But I understand, the beach beckons. LOL God’s blessing Ms. Cynthia.

  12. Ridgecrest was an amazing time. Being with our online friends in person was so refreshing. I gleaned more than just writing craft lessons from the classes. It was a pleasure to see you again and I’m glad you got to meet my husband.

    1. To see you again after your long hiatus overseas was such a blessing. And to finally meet your dear husband; that was indeed icing on the cake ma’am. I so enjoyed speaking with you both.

    1. Oh how I wish you and Mr. Michael could have been there. Then again, I’m not sure Ridgecrest could have withstood both you and Ms. Starr at the same time. 🙂 Missed you “Mama D”, Lord willing they’ll be a next time. If not, “In Case of Rapture”, that’ll be okay too. Eternity seems too short sometimes.

  13. I felt the power of your presence an hour east of me, JD! It would have been the greatest joys to hug your neck and meet my rockstar farmer brother-in-Christ and fellow Texan! I am grateful the Lord enabled you to attend. Yes, these are weary but full days. I’ve been to BRM-CWC multiples times. Very well organized and covered in prayer.
    Go forward and sow seeds of love and wisdom to those God puts in your mind and direct path.

    1. Thank you Ms. Mary. Had I known you were that close, I would have found a bicycle and paid you and Mr. Bruce a visit. Although, not sure I could make it up those mountains on a bicycle any more. 😀 Worth the try though to get a Ms. Mary hug.

  14. Kathy Collard Miller

    JD, thank you for emphasizing the importance of writers conferences. Believe it or not, I went to my first writers conference in 1980 and I only had one article accepted at that time. I never knew what God had planned for the ministry He only hinted at then. That conference was life changing. We can confidently tell others of the value of a writers conference. Preach it brother!

    1. Indeed Ms. Kathy. I’m not sure what additional things God will have me learn or do from this experience, but I’ve learned to always be open to His leading. I learned that from a dear couple who moved way out west a couple years ago.

  15. I think you elevated this conference for a lot of people. The sweet, encouraging, and wise word master, J.D. I agree with Cherrilynn: you indeed exude Jesus. Everyone who met you was touched by your love, kindness, and gentle spirit.

    Soldier on!

    1. Humbled Ms. Candyce. I felt the same way about my friend the “shepherdess” (er, seashell searcher). What a blessing it was to have met you. I only wish I had found more hours in the day to have spent more time learning and sharing with you ma’am.

  16. Great message, JD. We need each other. So glad you could experience BRMCWC. I’m working to implement the Third Path also. Fellowship urges us on. Thanks and God bless!

    1. Amen Ms. Nancy. Still processing all that was shared and explored by Ms. Eva Marie. The blessings of that class, and the perfect selection of folks attending, continue to unfold with the passing days.

  17. This sounds like a conference I would love to attend, J. D. We do so need affirmation and input from our fellow Christians, lest our spiritual tanks run dry. I am so happy to say that Danny and I have found a new church to attend where we both feel comfortable and welcomed. That is such a blessing for both of us. Just to be in relationship and to worship with others brings such joy and peace.

    1. Oh, it certainly is Ms. Martha. I’m so pleased to hear that you and Mr. Danny have found a church home. Answered prayers! And yes, if you ever get the chance to attend BRMCWC, take it. What an amazing adventure in learning, networking, and encouraging time it was.

  18. Your summary of the spiritual lift we draw from BRMCWC is right on target my friend. But your response to the loving fellowship we authors and industry professionals experienced on the mountain reminds us that our calling is to share the love of Jesus with others. Thank you for being such a wonderful role model, my friend, and for living out the mission Jesus called us to share–“Go and tell others…”

    1. How true Ms. Katherine. It’s important that we take that refilling and ask God to pour us out across the audience He puts along our path. How I can take the things I learned, the encouragement, and the friendships attained and use them in God’s service is yet to be seen. I’ll be looking ma’am. God’s blessings.

  19. J.D., I am so sorry I didn’t get to meet you in person. But the time was all you said. And the fellowship was rich, rich. So good to see writing friends I haven’t seen in four years and meet new ones! Now to get back to work and implement what we learned!

    1. I saw you a couple of times Ms. Debbie, but by the time I made it to where you were, you weren’t. What a blessing it would have been to have got to spend time with you and your Mr. Larry. Perhaps next time I’m in Burlington ma’am.

  20. Joanna Eccles

    So glad that you were able to go to Blue Ridge this year. I wish I could have seen everyone! Thankful that the body of Christ came together and encouraged each other during that time. May the Lord continue to bless your writing and everyone who reads your words.

    1. That would have made the trip perfect ma’am. It’s been a long time since we shared with each other in Spartanburg. Until the time when we can meet again ma’am, my prayers are but an email or call away. God’s blessings my young friend and continue to change the world with your words.

  21. J.D., you were an integral part of this writers conference for me. It was such a pleasure to meet you in person. God has blessed you with an incredible gift of encouragement. I also cannot agree with you strongly enough about in-person Christian fellowship. It’s often messy, but it’s an instrument by which God strengthens us. Thank you for putting this out there. Blessings to you, my friend!

    1. Ms. Annie, you were certainly a blessing and a half for my conference ma’am. To feel the warmth of your smile and to hear the joy and love God has placed in your heart ma’am. You make the world light up when you’re around. God’s blessings sweet lady.

  22. I was so hoping you would write a little about your conference experience and you did. Yea! You traveled quite the distance so I am glad you received multiple and spontaneous blessings. There have been very few times when I have not come away from a writer’s conference with my head swimming and my heart overflowing with blessings. You are spot on about in-person fellowship. We need it for refreshment, encouragement, and enlightenment. Glad you got a chance to see the mountains, but I know your cows are glad you are back home on the ranch.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I did enjoy the conference, and came away “refilled”, but yes, I missed the ranch and all the different things we do each day. It was in capable hands, just not MY capable hands. It did feel good to get out the next morning and visit with everyone (all the livestock).

    1. The fellowship is something that I was sorely lacking Ms. Melissa. I love all of our online friends, but it’s not quite the same without hearing the clink as you set down your coffee or tea. 🙂 Thank you for all your kindness and encouragement ma’am.

  23. Yvonne Morgan

    The conference was so amazing and it certainly filled my tanks. It is such a privilege to be a member of God’s writing squad. The added blessing was a chance to meet you. God bless you my friend.

    1. Absolutely ma’am. I could not have imagined a sweeter couple than you and Bill. What a delightful time it was meeting you both. Such a blessing! And you’re right ma’am, to realize that we’ve been called to be God’s scribes is indeed recognition of a special calling and responsibility.

  24. So glad you were refreshed at BRMCWC (even though it may take a few days for you to catch up on some sleep!)
    Your timely post follows a wonderful sermon our pastor gave on the same topic two weeks ago. Even last week when we held a homeschool graduation ceremony for our son at our church I heard one guest comment how the service blessed her and stirred something within her. She said she missed being with others in the church and the service confirmed for her that she was heading back to active participation in the church.
    You’re right, J.D. a Bible-believing church encourages, teaches, and strengthens us. It is a blessing beyond compare.

    1. Amen Ms. Sally. So excited to learn about your returning member. We’ve been growing again as more are returning after a long hiatus. What a blessing it is to look around and find new (to me) people I’ve not met before.

  25. Reading your thoughts about the conference made my heart swell with joy. Being with fellow writers for Christ in such a place is a powerful, awe-inducing experience. I pray I’ll get back to Blue Ridge someday and be blessed to give and receive some of those hugs myself. Keep pressing on, sir — your words bless so many people.

  26. I’m so glad you got to go to the Blue Ridge conference! I hope to some day. I attended virtually one of the years they offered that. I attended the Carolina Christian Conference a couple of years (where I met you in one class! I didn’t know you then, though). That conference was such a blessing, for all the reasons you listed. I imagine BR is the same but magnified due to more people and time together.

    I was one who actually didn’t mind watching church at home, especially when we all did and had a “Zoom” time afterward to check in with each other and see how everyone was doing. But I have to agree, there is nothing quite like in-person fellowship.

    1. What a great idea Ms. Barbara. A time to stay connected to each other after the service to check-in with everyone. My wife and I, as she is immuno-suppressed and was awaiting surgery for two of the past three years have caught a lot of online church. We enjoyed and participated as best we could, but we enjoy our in-person fellowship and worship so much more. Thanks so much for your great comments ma’am. And yes, I remember meeting you briefly in Spartanburg, but can’t seem to remember which class it was. Am very glad we’ve gotten to know one another (albeit virtually for now) also ma’am. God’s blessings.

  27. Beautiful post, J.D. Wish I could have gone to the conference this year. It’s been a while. Maybe some day I’ll get back. The last time I was there, I also wrote about what God taught me on the mountain. Blessings! 🙂

    1. I would love the opportunity to meet and share with you and Mr. Mike Ms. Karen. What a blessing that would be. I hope to see you at a conference soon. If not, then I’ll see you guys in glory. 🙂

  28. I’m so happy for you that you got to attend BRMCWC, and that your tank got filled. One of these days I hope to go to that one too. And one of these days we’ll meet in person, my encouraging brother. In the meantime, I pray you get many miles to the gallon!

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. Next time I’m in LA, I am definitely going to be looking you up ma’am. What a special blessing it would be to meet you and get a tour of your magnificent garden. Thank you for all your kind encouragement ma’am.

  29. I hope
    To make it to the Blue Ridge Conference someday. Sounds wonderful. There’s no substitute for gathering together with like-minded believers. As always, your words encourage me.

    1. I can’t say enough good things about the entire experience Ms. Terri. I pray you can make one of these and experience for yourself. When you do, I pray I’m there to finally meet you and say Thank You in person for all your support and encouraging words ma’am.

  30. How many times can I write “ditto, ditto, ditto” in this space before my hand falls off.
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. I actually came close to not going because of the expense and I wasn’t sure why I would attend. But shortly I arrived, the Lord began to reveal my “why.” I really needed the professional, social, and emotional boost. Plus, learning from the seasoned, professional writers who love Jesus, was so helpful. Ultimately, we all want the same thing–to help and encourage others to know and serve our wonderful God. Our unified goal gives a great sense of camaraderie.
    Spending time with old friends and gaining new friends who understand what I do is more encouraging than words can express. I needed it!
    J.D., getting all caught up with you regarding your human family and animal family was so gratifying. I always like to hear about my four-legged buddies at the Cross-Dubya, especially Elpis.
    Thank you for prompting many pleasant memories in your post. It was a joy to read.
    Oh, and via my CD, I worshiped along with Russell and Kristi on my drive home.
    God bless you and all our wonderful writer friends.

    1. Without question, my biggest blessing was sharing time with you Ms. Connie. As you said, getting caught up on our family happenings was such a special blessing. The bonds of friendship with you and Mr. Guy grow stronger with each passing week my friend. As much as I learned, and am still processing what all that was in some cases, it was the fellowship that far outpaced the opportunities to meet with industry titans.

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