GideonNicolasPoussin

Biblical archaeologists claim to have uncovered a never-before-seen transcript of Gideon’s battle briefing to his 300 men taking on an enemy army of 100,000 Midianites, Amalekites and Parasites:

My fellow Hebrews, ask not what Israel can do for you, ask what you can do for Israel. I can only offer you blood, sweat, and tears, but history will record that this was Israel’s finest hour. Remember the grain! May the force be with you! Let’s go out and win one for the . . .

Uh, excuse me, it’s the Commander in Chief.

Yes, Sir.

Yes, I know we have a numbers problem.

Yes, I thought . . .

Too many? But . . .

Yes, Sir.

Alright, men! Listen up and listen good. Get the women, children, and lily-livered cowards off the battle field.

No! Wait a minute! Maybe you didn’t understand . . . just those with a yellow streak.

Well men, we’re outnumbered, so we’re going to have to go to Plan B—an elite commando force. Now, all you guys weighing two hundred pounds and six feet tall who played lineman for Hebrew High, I want you to . . .

Excuse me, it’s the Commander in Chief.

Yes, Sir, I thought we could use a small SWAT team.

Great, I’ve got some real Rambo types and . . .

Let me make sure I heard that right. You want me to pick the men by how they what?

Yes, Sir.

Okay, men, we’re moving out to the river.

Now, you guys with the wet heads, pack up your tunics and head for your tents. You . . . you three hundred skinny guys, come with me. I’m sure the Commander in Chief has some smart weapons for our mission—laser-guided spears, atomic-powered battering rams, or intercontinental ballistic catapults, or . . .

Excuse me, it’s the Commander in Chief. Yes, Sir.

With what? When?

Alright men, gather ’round for your battle briefing. This is the AK-47 Clay Pitcher. Take care of your pitcher and your pitcher will take care of you. The AK-47 is armed with a 100 millimeter flame-throwing torch. Make sure your torch is well-trimmed and properly oiled. Finally men, the pneumatic-powered trumpet. Now, let’s move out!

I know it’s 01:00 hours, but the Commander says we’re to attack in the middle of the night.

Look, I’m only taking orders from higher up—and I do mean higher up.

Copyright © 1993 James N. Watkins from Characters.

Note
The final score: Gideon 300, enemy 0! Read the original story in Judges 7.

Painting by Nicolas Poussin


WhiteHouseRainbow

Responding to ruling on same-sex marriage

I was busy directing the St. Davids Writers Conference when the historic Supreme Court ruling came down declaring states have no right to ban same-sex marriages.

Here are two previous posts that address . . .

A “Christian” response to Supreme Court ruling and . . .

My response to the same-sex marriage debate.

Bottom line: “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:6).

Photo: AP

Share

crosspakistan

“I am going to build a big cross, higher than any in the world, in a Muslim country. It will be a symbol of God, and everybody who sees this will be worry-free.” That is the dream, now coming to pass, of Pakistani businessman Parvez Henry Gill. Four years ago, the lifelong Christian believes God spoke to him saying, “I want you to do something different.”

That “something different” has resulted in the nearly-completed 140-foot-tall cross at the entrance to Karachi’s largest Christian cemetery where tombstones are routinely vandalized, it is believed, by militant Muslims. Gill believes it will convince persecuted Christians that “some day their lives will get better.”

However, some Karachi Christians fear the massive Christian symbol will make their community even more vulnerable to radical Muslims. But Gill is convinced his cross, built on a 20-foot underground foundation is “bulletproof.” “If anyone tries to hit this cross, they will not succeed.”

That sounds like a triple-dog dare for militants to try to blow it up. Believe me, they already have the cross bar in their cross hairs!

I certainly don’t doubt my brother’s sincerity, but there seems to be a few flaws in his thinking.

First, it’s not the “world’s tallest cross.”

The Millennium Cross is actually 77 feet taller at 217 feet, and is built atop the Vodno Mountain in the Republic of Macedonia city of Skopje.

But that doesn’t stop the people of Effington, Illinois, claiming theirs is “The World’s Tallest Cross.” Towering over Interstates 57 and 70, the “Cross at the Crossroads” is only 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide. It can’t even claim to be the tallest cross in the United States!

“The Great Cross,” in St. Augustine, Florida, actually soars ten feet higher at 208 feet—9 feet taller.

Not to be outdone, Missouri developers are planning the “Branson Cross: World’s Largest Cross.” It will be “nearly 200 feet” once completed. While it won’t be the tallest, it will be large enough to include two elevators. Developers promise free admission and—I quote—“An encounter with Jesus.” Somehow the phrases “elevators” and “encounter with Jesus” seem to be less than comforting! Which brings me to the second issue:

Second, it’s not going to bring peace and end worry

Perhaps the world’s giant cross builders are missing the point when Christ promises, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

When Jesus—not tons of steel and concrete—is lifted up from the earth, he—not P. T. Barnham-like promotion—will draw all people to himself.

I think the Gill family had it right in the beginning. They have a long history of Christian charity including helping thousands of poor Pakistani children pay for education and covering the cost of over 100 eye surgeries for the blind. That is the way, according to Matthew 25, that Jesus is lifted up when his followers satisfy the hungry and thirsty, provide hospitality to strangers and care for the poor and the prisoners. But not a single command to compete in building the world’s largest crosses.

In Pakistan, in the United States, and throughout the world, manmade things will not make us “worry-free.” But Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Concrete and steel will not convince persecuted Christians that “some days their lives will get better.” On the contrary, Jesus teaches, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

And as 9/11 taught America, no human-built structure is “bulletproof.” Jesus warns, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).

So, may I suggest . . .

• Pray people will put their hope in Christ and not in human-made structures.

• Pray that Christians will invest their efforts and money into things that will last for eternity and not just for tourist season. (Feeding the hungry would be a great start.)

• And pray for Christ to be lifted up around the world.

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins (This post first appeared in ViewPoint from the Presidential Prayer Team.)


Confederate Flag

Controversy de jour: confederate flag
Displaying the confederate flag is the controversy de jour with the predictable near-jerk reactions pro and con. Here’s my take. If southerners are denied displaying the flag, will the LGBT rainbow flag be next? How ’bout the Christian flag? The first amendment seems to protect them all in displaying a flag representing their cause or beliefs. However, I think I have a responsibility to not intentionally offend or provoke people with my words or actions, so I think the right thing to do is voluntarily take down any flag or sign that a group may find offensive or troubling. It’s the law of love rather than the law of personal freedom. That does not mean, however, that I am going to stop “speaking the truth in love.” It’s complicated, but the bottom line is to do all things in love.


banner2015

Directing the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference
I am so looking forward to being with “my people” Tuesday through Sunday at the conference on the campus of Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Thanks for your prayers for safe travels for everyone attending and for God to work in the hearts of those entrusted with sharing his Word with their words!

I’ll also be speaking at these conferences this summer

July 19-24, 2015
Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference
Montrose, Pennsylvania

July 29 – August 1, 2015
Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

But wait, there’s more: I have a whole ream of writing resources for writers if you can’t join us.

Share

Happy Father’s Day!

June 15th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

jimshortsdads2

Here are some of my favorite columns for this special weekend:

My real job
Nope, it’s not writer and speaker

The papoose-driven life
Lessons learned from a four-month-old grandaughter

jimshortsdads

jimshortsfathersday

Son of a saint!
When godly parents have not-so-godly children

“Spray paint” parenting
The secret is thins coats of moral and ethical lessons

jimshortsparents

Talking to your kids about S-E-X
Children will learn about sex—from us or the bus!

Talking to children about war, terrorism, school violence . . .
It’s a frightening time to be a child—and a parent

dad

Top ten things my dad taught me
(Yep, that’s my dad above.)

You may be a parent if . . .
. . . you’ve ever uttered one or more of these classic lines

jimshortschildren

Praying that you have a great Father’s Day weekend, whether a dad or child!
jimlogo2


jimshortslight

Praying for light in Charleston, South Carolina
My heart is breaking for the families and friends of the nine members of the AME church murdered in cold-blood during a prayer meeting Wednesday. Our world is getting darker and darker, but the outpouring of love and forgiveness for the alleged killer shines brightly. Darkness can never extinguish light, but light can dispel the darkness!


banner2015

Speaking at Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop
I’m looking forward to a fun week team teaching and doing “stand up” at this conference with my very funny friend, Twila Belk! June 18-20 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Directing the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference
Join agents, editors, marketing experts, plus fellow writers for “the most fun writers’ conference on earth.” Seriously, I love this conference and for some crazy reason, they hired me as director. (What were they thinking?!) The conference runs June 24-28, 2015, on the campus of Grove City College, Grove City, Pennsylvania.

I’ll also be speaking at these conferences this summer

July 19-24, 2015
Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference
Montrose, Pennsylvania

July 29 – August 1, 2015
Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

But wait, there’s more: I have a whole ream of writing resources for writers if you can’t join us.

If you enjoyed today’s post, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

Share

GiantKillerStones

What would summer be without a “rerun”?! I’m speaking at six conferences this summer, so here’s one of my favorite past posts:

David had a choice in 1 Samuel 17. He could believe the promises of Goliath or God.

      Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

      David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

As you know, it was Goliath who became buzzard meat.

We have a choice whose promises we will believe: our enemy or our God:

“You’re a loser, a worthless failure” or “You’re a child of God.”

“You can’t do it” or “I will give you strength.”

“You’re out of work and you’re going to starve” or “I will provide for you.”

“You have six months to live” or “In Me, you have eternal life.”

“Your prodigal children are lost” or “I will guide them home.”

“No one loves you” or “I love you unconditionally.”

“You’re alone” or “I am with you.”

We have a choice whose promises we will believe: the loser or the winner.

Copyright © 2009 James N. Watkins

Listen to my talk I’m a Giant Killer


My favorite cartoon from last week. (Yes, once again “Evil Jim” chewed through his restraints.)

jimshortspoliticians

Click for more cartoons.


banner2015

Speaking at writers’ conferences
I’m looking forward to meeting with potential authors for Wesleyan Publishing House and teaching at the following conferences:

June 18-20, 2015
Cedar Falls Christian Writers’ Workshop
Cedar Falls, Iowa

June 24-28, 2015
St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference
Grove City, Pennsylvania

July 10-11, 2015
American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreat
Atlanta, Georgia

July 19-24, 2015
Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference
Montrose, Pennsylvania

July 29 – August 1, 2015
Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

But wait, there’s more: I have a whole ream of writing resources for writers if you can’t join us.

If you enjoyed today’s post, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

Share

BannerWritingSpeaking2015

“Scrabble,” the original “Words with Friends,” just added 6,500 new acceptable words to its list. So, here are some new words and phrases that should be added to The New World Church Dictionary:

Bibull: Sermon that takes Scripture out of context.

Bored Meeting: (No definition required!)

Byelines: Third verse of hymns skipped over in congregational singing

Bisectual relationship: Result of marriage between Methodist and Baptist, Protestant and Catholic, etc.

Carnal nurture: Replacing sermons with motivational talks

Church growth: Side effect of too many carry-in dinners

Commviction: Psychological technique used to coerce parishioners to serve on church committees

Deafline: Point pastors pass when their message goes over twenty minutes

Damentalist: Believer who has lost the “fun” in his/her faith

Geek Orthodox: A member of an online church

Heaven’s Gate: Senior Bible class

Helloship: Shallow conversation in church foyers often mislabeled as “fellowship”

Justavacation: Excuses for skipping church

Lite sin: Antonym of “deep sin” having one-third less disapproval than other leading sins

McMessage: Entertaining sermon with little nutritional value

Meology: Self-centered doctrine

Messchatology: Deriving theology from “last days” novels

Ministry: Suffix, which applied to any activity immediately spiritualizes it (ie. sports ministry, beach ministry, Internet ministry, etc.)

Non-prophet organization: Politically-correct church that doesn’t want to offend anyone

Pastornoia: Overwhelming fear that the minister will: a) visit your home while you’re watching Cougar Town, b) see you on your way to the lake on Sunday morning, or c) ask you to serve on a committee

Pew mold: a) globs of gum stuck to the bottom of church seats, or b) person who has been sitting in the same seat, reciting the same testimony, and praying the same prayer for six months or more

Prophits: People in ministry for the money

Sinspiration: Motivation to do something right for the wrong reason

Tele-Vision: Special revelation given to a TV evangelist when contributions fall behind budget projections

Two-timers: Parishioners who only attend at Christmas and Easter

Writeousness: Self-righteous attitude of authors who see the speck of dust in their brother’s eye, but have a plank in their own and . . . Uh, sorry, I’m out of room.

Copyright © James N. Watkins


banner2015

I’m speaking at Write to Publish conference
I’m looking forward to meeting with potential authors for Wesleyan Publishing House and teaching nonfiction book writing at the conference on the campus of Wheaton College Wednesday through Saturday.

I’ll also be speaking at these writers’ conferences this summer:

June 18-20, 2015
Cedar Falls Christian Writers’ Workshop
Cedar Falls, Iowa

June 24-28, 2015
St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference
Grove City, Pennsylvania

July 10-11, 2015
American Christian Writers Mentoring Retreat
Atlanta, Georgia

July 19-24, 2015
Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference
Montrose, Pennsylvania

July 29 – August 1, 2015
Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

I’d love to see you at one of these conferences. But if you can’t join us, here’s a whole ream of writing resources.


Summer schedule begins today
Normally—well, nothing is ever completely “normal” around here—I post a new article on Mondays, a guest post on Wednesdays and “The best and the rest,” as a round up of cartoons and commentaries from Facebook, on Fridays. In June, July and August, I’ll be posting on Mondays only. (We all need a summer break.)

If you enjoyed today’s post, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

Share

Top ten posts: May 2015

May 31st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

ItIsWellWithMySoul2

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten posts from May 2015

10. Does DNA disprove evolution?

9. Top ten things almost as good as sex

8. What was Paul thinking when he wrote 1 Timothy 2:12?

7. Demons: Possession or Obsession

6. The cure for the common cold: sex!

5. Children who marry their parents: the psychology of courtship

4. Faith of Our Mothers

3. “More than you can think or imagine” (Amazing book offer!)

2. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

And, the number one post in May 2015 . . . and April 2015 . . . and March 2015 . . . and . . .

1. (1) “It Is Well with My Soul” The rest of the stories

Share

beach

. . . and one even better!

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten things almost as good as sex. (Don’t worry, it’s rated PG.)

10. Apple dumplings

9. Hot tubs

8. Being “liked” on Facebook (It actually stimulates the same area of the brain receptive to sexual activity. That’s creepy!)

7. “Meat Lovers” pizza

6. Roller coasters

5. The ocean

4. Music from the 60s

3. Laughter

2. Dark chocolate

1. Signing a book contract (The Watkins kin is celebrating an amazing book deal today with lunch in Fort Wayne.)

But there is one thing even better than sex and it’s found in—of all places—the Bible. Really! God labels everything he created the first five days of Creation as “good,” but only after he creates male and female humans on the sixth day does he declare it “very good”! And having a relationship with God through Christ is even better. The apostle Paul writes:

      “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31 ESV).

Definitely a “mystery.” Becoming “one flesh” is a merely a shadow or inadequate symbol of the joy and satisfaction Christ and his followers experience. In fact, Jesus calls the church his “bride” and promises to come back for her.

So the “wedding feast” in heaven will feature delights even more delectable than apple dumplings, pizza and dark chocolate. And the joy and satisfaction will be infinitely greater than the best sex on earth! Ever! Forever!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Looking for love in all the right places
Love, marriage and sex (15 posts)

If you enjoyed this post, please share on one or more of the social networking sites below. And if you’d like to add to the list of things “almost as good as sex,” please comment below. Thanks!

Share

crosssun

For the last couple years, I’ve been hearing Jesus say in my spirit, “You must decrease, I must increase” and “Only I am to be exalted.”

So when I wrote a book proposal that’s all about Jesus and not a word about me, here’s what happened:

• Within 13 days of sending the proposal, my agent had an offer from a large publisher.

• It’s a generous advance and royalty structure. And the marketing plan is unbelievable!

• Plus it will be offered in hard cover and leather! I’ve never had a book even in Naugahyde.

• And it will be on shelves in less than nine months—in time for the beginning of Lent.

Those things simply do not happen in publishing! It can take from three to six months to get a response to a proposal. Books can take up to two years from contract to book store shelf.

And I’ve really done nothing to cause all this to happen so quickly and remarkably, except to write a book that is all about Jesus.

It’s definitely a “more than you can think or imagine” type of thing (Ephesians 3:20). So, Jesus gets all the praise.

I’ll let you know the name of the book, publisher and all the ordering details in late winter. For now, thanks to you for your faithful prayers over the years. And please continue praying as I complete the manuscript and the publisher begins working on the design and marketing campaign. Thanks!

Share

churchbrokenwindow

That got your attention, didn’t it? Augustine is credited with lamenting that “The church is a whore, but she is still my mother.” So, as we approach, Pentecost Sunday, it’s a good time to remember, the church may not be perfect, but it is worthy of our support. As St. Cyprian, a third-century bishop, wrote, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the church as Mother.”

The Church is . . . the place Jesus called home

When Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem at 12 years of age, his parents left without him, assuming he was traveling in their caravan.

      Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

      His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

      “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:46-49).

While on earth, Jesus regularly attended “church,” which at that time were the synagogues and the Temple in Jerusalem:

      When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures (Luke 4:16, emphasis mine).

The Church is . . . the Bride of Christ

      As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one (Ephesians 5:31-32).

      For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
      and his bride has prepared herself.
      She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
      For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people (Revelation 19:7b-8).

Okay, the Church may not be pure as the driven snow, but the Bible describes the God/human relationship in terms of marriage and in the final book of the Bible describes the Church as the Bride of Christ.

The Church is . . . the Family of God

      And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

Anyone who claims he or she can be a Christian without Christ’s church is simply disobeying Scripture’s command to meet with other believers. Jesus himself made it very clear:

      “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”(Matthew 18:20).

The church is . . . the Body of Christ

The apostle Paul describes the Church as Christ’s Body:

      The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

      All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27).

No church is perfect. But she is Christ’s home, the Bride of Christ, the family of God and the Body of Christ. And it is the place that he has commanded us to belong to and support this coming Pentecost Sunday . . . and every Sunday.

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

If you enjoyed this post, please share on your social networks. Thanks!

Share

BlueRidgeBanner

I’m looking forward to being faculty at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference: the biggest name in writing conferences. (It has 43 letters!)

I will be representing Wesleyan Publishing House, a royalty publisher, and ACW Press, an independent publisher—so I can get you published one way or another!

I’ll be speaking on the following subjects—just in case you a) can’t be at the conference or b) my classes conflict with more interesting classes.

The Ministry of Writing
Includes twenty-five-rejection-proof markets that truly do minister to needs.

Taking the Word to the Worldwide Web
Includes practical tips on “branding,” writing online as well as setting up one’s own website/blog.

Writing with Banana Peels
Based on my college text book, the seminar provides practical strategies for communicating more effectively with humor. If nothing else, you’ll laugh a lot.

Then I’ll be sharing a keynote Your Write Role based on 1 Corinthians 12 from the The New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version. (I hope to have the audio available soon after the conference.)

I’m looking forward to meeting you, and be sure to stop by my table at the autograph party so I don’t feel like a complete loser sitting there by myself. (I’ll have Writing with Banana Peels and Communicate to Change Lives for sale—of course!)

Share
WordPress Backup