Guest Post: Janet Ferguson

He Is Able to Free the Captives

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners. ~Isaiah 61:1, NIV

About a decade or more ago, I was volunteering with our church youth group, and one young teen was especially passionate about blight of human trafficking. Until then, I hadn’t realized the enormity of the problem. Heart pricked, I started reading books like Be the Change and Not in My Town and others. Imagining our modern world where the despicable practice not only still existed, but existed in our country, travelled our interstate systems, blew me away. It was a bit overwhelming. We’ve given a bit of money here and there to charities that helped free victims. Our church supported a village for children who had been freed for a Christmas project.

But still…The conclusion of the story comes to life. (1)

So, I decided to incorporate the heartbreaking issue into my latest novel as a tiny means of spreading the word. The novel is set on the campus of the University of Mississippi, and in the summer the students volunteer at a Summit on Human Trafficking. Without going into dark details, they become aware of the problem. The heroine of the story is a college student. She is three years down the road from a date-rape that happened to her in high school. She finds hope as she sees the recovery and strength in one of the speakers who survived sex trafficking and has started an organization to help other victims.

My prayer is that God uses my little story to bring hope and light and freedom. We were all captives to darkness and sin at some point. But we have a Savior who has defeated our enemy. No matter where we find ourselves in this life. We are free in Christ. Isaiah 61 has been my inspiration for the Southern Hearts Series. The second part of verse one says:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners.

May you find and share that freedom.



Tackling the Fields
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 3

Cole Sanders is a changed man. The university quarterback questions his direction in life after serving on a mission trip in Honduras. Things that used to fill Cole’s ego seem empty after witnessing the developing country’s extreme poverty and the death of a precious child. The one glimmer of hope through his confusion is the fresh perspective he now has about his tutor, Audrey. She possesses something beautiful inside and out—something that might help him become the person he wants to be.

University senior Audrey Vaughn tutored Cole Sanders for an entire year and never imagined the popular quarterback would see her as anything more than a friend. After partnering with him on the mission trip, they are drawn together. And he appears to have changed for the better. To let Cole into her life, Audrey will have to overcome not only her brother’s distrust, but also the paralyzing fear still lingering from a past she’s tried to leave behind.

Cole can’t walk away from Audrey now that they’re back in Oxford. He’ll have to figure out how to keep her giant of a brother, a lineman on his football team, from killing him when the coach has his back turned. But can Audrey trust her heart to a player so similar to the one who stole so much from her in the past?

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janetprofileJanet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.


Morning Desperation

Faced a crisis this morning: Crawled out of my bed after the third round of snooze-slapping, wandered to the kitchen and hit power on the Keurig. Pod in, mug positioned…go. It dripped about a quarter of a cup…and then broke my heart. I slunked back to my room, my day now ruined forever, curled up on my bed and covered my head with a pillow. Hubby comes out of our bathroom wondering why I’m going to die. “I just need a cup of coffee…”background-15994_1280
Yes. This is tragic.
So I’m sitting here with my McCafe in hand (sorry Joltin’ Jo’s. I couldn’t muster the strength to brave B street. The not plowed roads around the schools were enough stress for this uncoffeed woman this morning. I shall return when the streets are clear.) and I’m finally getting to the reading of God’s Word.

“Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future.” Psalm 16:5, HCSB

Huh. What would it be like if I woke up every morning as desperate for Jesus as I am for my cup ‘o caffeine?

I’ll ponder that as I finish my coffee…


He Gives Me Freedom and Purpose

I’ve been entrenched in the study of James. Our church is doing a holistic approach to the book. Because I’m a teacher to our junior high students, I’m studying beyond what is available to me on Sundays (which, by the way, we all should anyway… but that’s not my point).

It’s been a rough few months.

I like James. I’ve always liked James. I’m a black-and-white kind of girl. I like rules that tell me what I should do and what I shouldn’t do.

But then again, James is a tough guy. When I read Romans 1:17 (the verse that turned Martin Luther’s head and heart, allowing him to see the God whom he could love) and then skip over to James 2:22-24, I’m conflicted. Painfully so.

The righteous shall live by faith…but faith without works is dead, and man is justified by works and not by faith alone…

Wait, what happened? This is the same Bible, is it not? Paul and James followed the same Jesus, did they not?

You know what, I’ll let you grapple with it…because that’s not really the point of this entry. I will say that context is everything, so keep that in mind. I will also say that Paul points to agreement with James in his many other writings. He doesn’t state it the same way, but it is there (Ephesians 2:8-10; don’t leave verse 10 out!).

Here’s what I am writing about today: I am startled to see how much I get James, the man. He sticks out as an oddity–something I can totally identify with. Amen.

He seems to be the stern face preaching works to a crowd dancing in the streets to a rhythm of grace.

“But look,” he says, “you’re dancing carefree, and yet over there–you’ve just mistreated someone because they couldn’t pay the pew tax. And you walked right by that naked boy. What of the penniless widow? Did you notice her at all while your hands were lifted high?”

Huh. Maybe he has a point.

“Love your freedom,” he continues. “It gives the law LIFE and PURPOSE. So, USE IT. If you don’t, then you’re not really free. You’re simply oblivious.”

See, the thing about James is that he knew dead works. He knew legalism. He lived without compassion, clinging to his Jewish upbringing with an iron grip, while at the same time he mocked the Messiah in his own home (you did know he was Jesus’s half-brother, right?).

James also knew great grace. Jesus has a reputation for redeeming those who had mocked him not very long before. Praise God.

Perhaps James is a problem to us because when truth was revealed to him and he believed, we expect him to let go of that Jewish upbringing, steeped long and deep in the law.

He didn’t.

Maybe it’s the middle child in him (and this is why I can relate?). The unique position to see two very different perspectives–the somber authority and responsibility of the oldest, and the carefree, fly-into-the-wind-and-embrace-life attitude of the youngest.

Responsibility. Freedom. Law. Grace.

James sees both sides. He held onto both. Perhaps because seeing the TRUTH gave PURPOSE to the law.

That’s the thing about freedom. It’s supposed to have purpose.


He Leads Me

Arise, my beloved, and come away with me.

~Song of Solomon 2:10

image“Come with me!”

What do you do when you hear that? Me? My first response is to ask, “where are we going?”

A valid question, right? If I’m going to leave the comfortable spot I’ve been warming for however long, I want to know the end destination. Come on, now, be honest…you probably do too.

So, let’s play out this conversation…

“Come, my love, let’s go.”

Still in my comfy warm spot. “Where are we going?”

He smiles, holds out his hand. “Come with me.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

His grin fades a bit. “I’m giving you an invitation to be with me. Does the destination matter?”

Yikes. Jesus calls me to follow where He leads. To be with Him. And my caveat is, “I need to know where we’re going”?

Maybe I need to have that “define the relationship” chat with him again. He is good, faithful, trustworthy, and when he invited me into a relationship with him, I was all in. “You lead, I’ll follow.” That was the deal.

Because where we were going wasn’t the point. He leads, I follow, because I want to be where he is.

I think that makes the whole where are we going question irrelevant.

Lead on.


What are you doing here?

Written by one of my favorite bloggers, this reminds me of God’s promises. He will walk with me in the quiet moments of peace and in the fierce, stormy times. He will never leave me.

Thanks, Bill, your words spoke to my heart while I sipped my coffee this morning!

Raising The Mug

What am I doing here2

Ever ask yourself that question? “What am I doing here?”

You feel out of place, you don’t know anyone in the room. Maybe you’re participating in a competition where everyone around you seems far advanced. Maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a job or relationship that isn’t working out like you expected.

The seeds of doubt creep in. You begin to question your abilities. You don’t know what the next move is.

Welcome to the club!

 1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled…

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