Meet the Author

Debbie Wilson

Debbie Wilson is one of the first bloggers I got to know when I first started my website in 2015. She has always been an encouragement to me and today I want to tell you a bit about her as a lead in to a review of her newest book, Little Strength, Big God, that I will post on Friday.

Debbie W. Wilson is an award-winning author, Bible teacher, and former Christian counselor who speaks and writes to connect fellow sojourners to the heart of Christ. Her books include Give Yourself a BreakLittle Women, Big God, Little Faith, Big God, and Little Strength, Big God. 

She and her husband (Larry) of 45 years lead Lighthouse Ministries, a non-profit Christian counseling and Bible teaching ministry. Despite time in Boston, the Midwest, and Southern California, Debbie still says y’all. Her family, which includes two grown children and two mischievous standard poodles, calls North Carolina home. Connect with Debbie, find free resources, and learn about her books at

Debbie is a member of Christian Author’s Network who recently interviewed her about her new book to be released on September 5. I want to share some of that interview with you.

Tell us about your book. (50 words or less)
Little Strength, Big God is a Bible study that looks at the faithful in Hebrews 11 who “became mighty in battle.” It provides opportunities to review, reflect, feel, and enjoy these biblical stories at a deeper level. Their stories help strengthen us for our battles. 

What inspired you to write this book?
When I started writing on the men and women in Hebrews 11, I realized their stories were too rich to skim over in one book. As I considered themes, Hebrews 11:34 (NLT) arrested my attention. “Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.” Not being a fan of weakness or battles, this verse intrigued me. Little Strength, Big God looks at those whose weakness was turned to strength and became mighty in battle, beginning with Moses’s parents in Hebrews 11:23. 

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
If God allows a battle to come to you, He’ll equip you to rise above it. If we’ll embrace His strength and move forward in our weaknesses, through weakness we will be made strong.

How has God used the message of your book in your own life?

Writing about biblical heroes and heroines reminds me that the Christian life is not a playground. More often than we like it is a battleground. That may sound like bad news. But it’s helped me to look for God in my battles and choose to trust Him. The best stories in the Bible include rejection, betrayal, injustice, and misunderstanding. The Lord may not keep us from the fiery furnace, but He’s with us in the furnace. 

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?Maybe because I spent so many years working as Christian counselor, I seem to write a lot about how to find victory in our battles, whether they be with an outside enemy or a critical inner voice. That theme shows up in all my Big God books and in Give Yourself a Break

What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
I write at my kitchen table. And it is ideal in many ways. I have lots of natural light and can make a mug of hot tea when I want. But when my family is around, of course it is not a good place to write. My ideal writing place would be a soundproof version of what I have.

What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?I love writing, but I’ve found real writing isn’t just an overflow of your heart. Like most things that are worthwhile, it takes a lot of self-discipline and perseverance. A little thick skin doesn’t hurt either.

Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I worked for 24 years as a Christian counselor and several years ministering to youth. Working with women of all ages with real issues challenged me to dig deeper into the scriptures. I saw they not only show the ideal, but they practically illustrate many messy areas. These experiences shape my writing. 

Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?Both! I have two standard poodles. One has Addison’s Disease. We’ve almost lost him several times. He’s affectionate, stubborn, and a deep feeler. A week after our female suddenly died, he was in the vet hospital at death’s door. He’s inspired many insights. He helped me better appreciate why God included some rascals in Hebrews 11.

Come back next time to hear more about this new book and it’s impact as Debbie looks at a series of unlikely heroes from Hebrews 11.

The Long Game


Today I come to the end of this series on Nehemiah. I hope those of you who have taken this journey with me have been encouraged and blessed by not only a review of the stories, but hopefully a new insight here or there. I confess this has always been one of my favorite Old Testament books. As I finished reading it recently, I couldn’t resist this journey I have written about. One of the study resources I used made specific note about Nehemiah’s godly leadership, evidences of that and how it was broadened by experience. As I was reading and studying, those points were ones I especially wanted to share.

I think that in an era where it can be hard to identify faithful godly leadership in so many arenas, Nehemiah has much to teach us. Today I want to look at one final characteristic:

A godly leader keeps leading.

To gain a sense of that point, let me turn us to look at the story as we near the end of it.

The book of Nehemiah is at the end of Old Testament history even though Esther appears last canonically. So, in truth, Nehemiah is the last piece of Old Testament history we have. That gets my attention.

Throughout the story we have watched Nehemiah’s heart and actions respond to God in obedience. His leadership has been steady throughout. When we reach chapter 13, we see the Law is still being read, that same truth the exiles had committed to follow after hearing it read the first time and repenting. They were clearly hearing the people of God were to be separate from the people of other nations. Specifically, they were reminded the Ammonites and the Moabites were never to be living in their midst.

Once again, however, they were failing to be faithful. Tobiah was mixed up with the chief priest and had even allowed Tobiah to lodge in the temple. The chief priest’s grandson had also married Sanballat’s daughter. He had entered into a variety of alliances and ideas with the enemies of the people of God and instead of modeling what the Law taught, he was doing the exact opposite.


How did this happen? Read the text to see what you may discover, but one thing will be clear: Nehemiah was out of town when all this was taking place and now has returned. As governor of the city, he once again demonstrates his courage by throwing out the chief priest who had not followed the Law and defiled the temple. He also threw out everyone who belonged to him or was connected to him in any way.

Nehemiah was acutely aware that God’s house was never to be profaned so he was clear he had to go about doing a thorough house cleaning. He discovers a lot. He learns the Levites had not been receiving their portions as the chief priest was caught up with the enemies of the people of God. As a result,, they had fled into the area surrounding the city because the people were not providing for them as outlined by the Law. Nehemiah called the magistrates of the city to account for not administering the city as had been directed and outlined. He took note of how the Sabbath had been profaned as well and grieved and acted to restore that day as God had outlined to Moses.

It was clear in the absence of Nehemiah’s godly leadership, everyone else went astray from his or her commitment. He needed to constantly remind the people of their promises. The people were caught up in the same kinds of sins evident throughout all their history prior to the story of Nehemiah. His work of leading never ended. He was a shepherd to the people and they sorely needed one.

We have been blessed to have had the Living Word, Jesus, show us the way and shepherd us. He came to provide the ultimate sacrifice because He loved us and knew that we too would be unable to keep our promises and walk in pure obedience. His death and resurrection would give us the path to relationship with Him forever. He wanted His to be assured of His everlasting love through His grace and mercy.

Even so, Nehemiah demonstrated godly leadership before the Word came in the flesh and in this series, we saw the evidence of it in Nehemiah’s life.

  • A godly leader prays
  • A godly leader acts
  • A godly leader faces opposition
  • A godly leader cares
  • A godly leader turns people to God’s word
  • A godly leader confesses sin
  • A godly leader leads people in specific commitments
  • A godly leader keeps leading

Modeling Produces What Is Modeled


A long time ago I learned that I might try to teach my children and others a great many things. If I was fortunate, they might learn some of the things I taught, but I could guarantee they would nearly always learn things they “caught” from me. It was what I was doing, saying, and modeling that really had the greatest impact and that was especially true when my words and behaviors did not match. They would be more likely to “catch” my behaviors even if I would have wished otherwise.

As I have been walking through Nehemiah with you the past several weeks, it has been clear that Nehemiah was demonstrating excellent evidences of leadership, godly leadership. Up until now, we have identified six qualities:

  • A godly leader prays
  • A godly leader acts
  • A godly leader faces opposition
  • A godly leader cares
  • A godly leader turns people to God’s Word
  • A godly leader confesses sins

It has also been clear that time and again Nehemiah’s choices and behaviors, his attitude and his strategies were consistent as evident of his godly character.

As we observe those in leadership over us in all arenas, we will discover if they live out what they would ask us to be and do. Their words and rhetoric may woo us and persuade us to follow them; but if we do that the inspiration they elicit will begin to fade when we do not detect those same principles lived out.

Modeling matters.

Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we have noted how well he has modeled the life of not only a godly leader, but first a godly person. By the time we near the end of the story and the people have confessed their sins, we see another aspect of godly leadership.

At the start of the story Nehemiah demonstrated a commitment to follow what he knew was significant as a godly man. He knew Jerusalem needed to be rebuilt so the exiles living there could be protected and be reminded of who they were and whose they were. From the time he arrived in Jerusalem, his commitment was on display for all to see. It was there when he assessed the condition of the walls and gates. It was there when he came up with a strategy to rebuild those walls and gates and to handle the opposition to those very plans. It was there when the physical rebuilding was done, and he recognized the need to hear the book of the Law opened so the exiles would be reminded of how they were to observe all God had laid out for them. It was there when he joined the community in the confession of sins and a heart of repentance.

Such godly leadership evoked a godly response from the people. After the confession they made, now they made an oath to keep God’s law. They not only said it, but they put it in writing and the leaders, Levites, and priests affixed their seals to it as well. They had heard the truth and they responded. After all, they had watched Nehemiah modeling this type of commitment from the beginning.

Their oath showed their seriousness as well because it included a curse if they would not follow their commitment to their pledges. Throughout the ninth chapter of Nehemiah their specific promises are outlined. These acted much like a covenant for the people.

Pledges and covenant are words not so common in our vernacular and neither is the word oath. When we do see those words or hear them, it is most often when someone is appearing in court or being sworn into office or being married.

Perhaps we no longer value such commitments.

Could it also be that too often we have observed that leaders we are submitting to do not make them, or keep them so we feel excused from doing so?

Modeling matters.

A godly leader leads people in specific commitments.


After They Heard the Truth


Two weeks ago, I started a series on Nehemiah. It is a favorite Old Testament book, but what stood out to me were the evidence of what a godly leader is and does as evidenced in the text. This week I will add three more posts and finish the series.

If you have been following along in this series about Nehemiah, you will likely recall that when we left the story Ezra had read from the book of the Law to remind the exiles of who they were and how they were to be living. When they heard about the level of their sin, the people became sorrowful. Nehemiah, however, reminded them of the need to be joyful and celebrate the truth they had learned, and they set about celebrating the Feast of Booths. (Ezra also continued to read for seven more days!)

After the feasting and celebration, the leaders now focus on the sins that had come to light because of hearing the Law. What did they do? They led them in a confession of those sins before God. The lengthy prayer began with them praising God and then specific confession of their sins and the sins of their fathers. They made no effort to blame or shift the responsibility for what they had done and failed to do on God or anyone else. How hard that can be for us so many times.

It seems quite evident that hearing the truth of God and seeing His character evident in His mercy and loving-kindness brought them into a much keener awareness of their sin.

God’s Word has a way of adjusting us to the right standard of His truth when we take time to read it. We should never look at the Word as a buffet we can pick and choose from to adjust it to our preference.

When the exiles heard God’s words to them, they saw His everlasting love and were reminded of His promises of love.

When we first come to know the Lord personally, we are acutely aware of our sinfulness and find it relatively easy to confess those sins to Him. What may not happen as often is how we attend to daily time in God’s Word and how that should not only lead us to worship Him, but also cause us to confess our sins that we can ignore or slough off without thought.

What we read informs our conscience of His love, mercy, and grace, but also His justice. What we read reminds us that our lives are meant to increasingly look more like Him and that can only happen when we are keeping short accounts with Him.

In this series, we have identified 5 characteristics of a godly leader so far. Here they are again:

  • A godly leader prays
  • A godly leader acts
  • A godly leader faces opposition
  • A godly leader cares
  • A godly leader turns people to God’s Word

The part of the story we have looked at today gives us a sixth characteristic to add to the list:

A godly leader confesses his sins and leads his people to confess their sins.


The Next Mission


We have been traveling through Nehemiah and observed his leadership as he has guided clearing the rubble, rebuilding the wall, and hanging the gates of the city. His strategic planning in building and executing the warfare necessary to defeat the taunts of the enemy results in the mission being accomplished in just fifty-two days. Despite the relatively small size of the city, that is a remarkable achievement with the level of demoralization the inhabitants of the city were experiencing as well as the lack of any modern equipment to eliminate the rubble, rebuild the walls and hang the timbers hewn to make the new city gates.

Nehemiah turns over the management of the city to, Hanani, a relative, and Hananiah, the marshal of the viceregal court that Nehemiah had maintained in Jerusalem. Nehemiah was aware of the character of these men, their high religious principles, and their patriotic spirit so he had confidence these men could be trusted to watch over the city.

This gives us another picture of Nehemiah’s godly leadership. He discerned those who were equipped to lead in his stead as he likely was preparing to return to Susa. He recognized the work of God’s Kingdom was great and his plans needed to include those who would follow him to carry on. His wisdom here is quite evident. It also shows as he makes recommendations about when the gates should be opened. He sees the importance of appointing sentinels that would also guard each of their houses as the gates would be barred at sunset as a point of safely securing the city from any enemies that would seek to harm them.

Additionally, he also seeks to get an accurate registry of the exiles who had returned. This was key if they were to identify those who were called from the tribe of Levi to be priests and lead the people in their covenant relationship with Him. He worked with Ezra to ascertain the conflicting records.

What was the count of people in the city? 42,360 were counted and beyond that, 7,337 male and female servants.

If we were to stop here, we would miss how godly this leader we find in the Old Testament really was. His greater mission was now ahead of him and that would be to rebuild the people of the city and the faith that had been also broken down.

Now all the people gather in the rebuilt square in front of the Water Gate for the celebration for the feast of the seventh month. This was the gate where everyone in the city would exit to get the closest source of water. Pause for a moment to consider the place they have assembled. There were other gates in the city that had been repaired and hung, but they came to the Water Gate.

Throughout the Bible water has symbolized God’s Word.

They come to this location for Ezra to read the Law. Nehemiah recognized the walls and gates of the city would not be enough to sustain these exiles unless they knew the foundation of the beliefs their faith was built upon. This foundation needed to be built and secured now that they had physical foundations in place. Some of these exiles had long since lost the truth of God.

Ezra gets up on a platform so all can see and hear as he opens the book to read the Law. This reading had been a requirement that had been neglected during their captivity. The Bible tells us that he read from daybreak until noon. (For many of us today, it can seem that to be in church for an hour or so on a Sunday is a lot.) What would it be like for us today to have our pastor read from the Bible from sunrise until lunchtime?

Ezra needed the help of the Levites so they could understand what he was reading. The people responded by lifting their hands and bowing down and weeping. Now they saw their sin clearly and were convicted.

I am guessing this could have turned into a long period of sorrow and lament, but Nehemiah as governor steps in and forbids them from responding with weeping and tells them not to weep and mourn. He then gives them the following direction:

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

That might seem a paradox, but Nehemiah wanted them to celebrate the words of the Law they had just heard and to enter the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. What we see is the next day the heads of families, the Levites, and priests all come to Ezra to hear and study the words of the Law. It is through this study they come to know how the Feast of Tabernacles is to be celebrated and so they go about gathering branches and boughs to make booths for themselves as the Law has said and Ezra reads from the book of the Law for seven straight days.

Nehemiah understood the significance and crucial place the Word had in the lives of God’s people. Through Nehemiah we have observed that a godly leader prays, acts, faces opposition, and cares. Today we add one more characteristic of a godly leader.

What we see challenges us to consider if these qualities characterize us. It can be easy to look at something and say it is not our area or gifting, but these qualities are the evidence of godly character, not about gifting.

A godly leader turns people to God’s Word! That Word is what brings life!