Ever since Pebbles and Bam Bam graduated from Bedrock High, commencement speakers have been telling the crowd of cap and gowns to work for world peace, follow its dreams, and always wear clean underwear in case of an accident.

So cue “Pomp and Happenstance,” here are the top ten things I’ve learned since I wore a black bathrobe and silly hat.

1. World peace isn’t going to happen. Sorry commencement speakers, presidential candidates, and Miss America contestants. Two thousand years ago Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, and he hasn’t been wrong yet. Better to work at being at peace with yourself. Now if just six billion people would all do that . . .

2. Don’t follow every dream. Some of your dreams would turn into real nightmares if they were fulfilled, so try to be content with what you become. After years of wanting to become a famous author, I’ve learned that there are some real benefits to being un-famous. I can go anywhere I want to without people hounding me for autographs, I don’t have to worry about being stalked by Sixty Minutes or a psycho fan (remember Misery?), and I’ve never once appeared on the cover of The National Enquirer.

3. However, good things do come to those who wait such as sex, job promotions, and senior discounts. Keep in mind, though, it takes ten years to become an overnight success.

4. It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some fairly famous authors, musicians, and corporate big wigs. The one’s who’ve made it to 36 percent tax bracket are some of the nicest, down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. It’s the wannabes who are the arrogant, egocentric little twits.

5. If you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day of your life. Can you believe I actually receive good money and a free newspaper subscription to write this stuff? Please don’t tell any of my editors or publishers, but I’d gladly write for free! And what other job can you do in your underwear at 3 a.m.? (Okay, but those jobs are illegal in 49 states!)

6. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is the key to meeting Mr. or Miss Right, job promotions, and great deals on used cars. Next week I’ll be on a nation-wide talk show pitching my latest books, but that’s only because I taught a class with a guy who plays racquetball with a guy who’s a producer with The 700 Club. I wouldn’t have gotten past the switchboard if I had tried to get on the show myself. (But be careful to remember the next point!)

7. Love people, use things. And, what ever you do, don’t get that turned around.

8. The simple, obvious answer is usually wrong. And, just because it’s in print, doesn’t mean it’s true (unless of course, it’s this column.) Enjoy the naive bliss of having all the answers right now, because the more laps you take around the sun, the more complicated life becomes.

9. Life is not fair. You won’t get what you deserve. Actually, I’m glad for that. I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, and a job I love. Give me grace rather than fairness any day!

10. Not everyone is going to like you. For every card, email, or letter bomb I receive from people who loathe my column, I get four or five from readers who love it. I’ve learned to be satisfied with an 80 percent approval rating which is at least 20 points higher than Ronald Reagan received as one of America’s most popular presidents. Besides, if I had an .800 record in major league baseball, I’d be making millions endorsing athlete’s foot remedies. So, enjoy the small group of family and friends who truly love you. Besides, by the time you attend your twentieth high school reunion, you probably won’t remember half the people who wrote “Love always” in your yearbook.

Of course, there are many more things I could advise (just say no to drugs, pay off your credit card balance every month, don’t pee on an electric fence, etc.) but ten seems to be the universal limit for this sort of thing. But one more bit of wisdom. If you look up and a semi truck is ready to crash through your windshield, you’re not going to have clean underwear.

Congrats, grads!

Copyright © 2001 James N. Watkins

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The fight for acceptance of sex-same unions has moved from the gay community to the media to the states to the courts to “mainline” churches—and now to evangelical churches.

Matthew Vines is a self-professed evangelical who has written God and the Gay Christian, published by a religious publisher. And, not surprising, it’s sparking controversy.

Here are two of my posts on the issue:
God and the Gay Christian conversation
God and the Gay Christian conversation: 2

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As the Israelites fled from Egypt, they faced certain death between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army.

      Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

      Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:13-15 NLT, emphases mine).

There’s a time to stand still and watch the Lord work. (See my post on Waiting.) But there’s also a time, as The Living Bible paraphrases it, to “Quit praying and get . . . moving!”

I’m praying today that God gives you and me wisdom to know, as we faces challenges, if we should stand still or get moving. Both are important at the proper time and circumstance. And either way, we can be victorious over the problems thundering toward us. “Just stay calm.”

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

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I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category for Administrative Professionals Day:

10. Secretaries make coffee; administrative professionals procure international resources to motivate and empower staff.

9. Secretaries take memos; administrative professionals expedite inter-office communication.

8. Secretaries type letters; administrative professionals facilitate company communication with national and international clients.

7. Secretaries file; administrative professionals manage and organize data for efficient retrieval of corporate records.

6. Secretaries unjam the copy machines; administrative professionals maintain high-tech equipment vital to day-to-day operations.

5. Secretaries answer the phone; administrative professionals manage communication between staff and customers.

4. Secretaries listen to office gossip and complaints; administrative professionals act as corporate arbitrators and manage conflict between administrators and staff.

3. Secretaries order office supplies; administrative professionals manage inventory of critical corporate resources.

2. Secretaries buy gifts when boss realizes he or she has forgotten spouse’s birthday or anniversary; administrative professionals facilitate crisis management at the executive level.

1. Secretaries get little respect in the corporate environment; administrative professionals get little respect in the corporate environment.

While working at a publishing house, we executives could be gone for days—even weeks—at a time and the company would continue operating just fine. But if an administrative professional was gone for more than an afternoon, the house collapsed. (Roxanne, you were the best!)

So, my best wishes go out to all the administrative professionals who keep business, well, in business! You’re the best!

Copyright © 2007 James N. Watkins

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How to move a mountain

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

shovel-280
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I love the story of the man who prayed for God to miraculously remove the huge pile of dirt from behind his new home. He claimed Matthew 17:20’s promise: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

All night, he fervently prayed, but when he awoke, there—still—was the huge pile of dirt. But in front of it, something new: a shovel and a wheelbarrow!

God won’t do what we can do!

For instance, in this true story, a church in West Virginia needed the mountain behind the building moved so that they could build a parking lot. The pastor declared a “Move the Mountain Sunday,” but alas, Monday morning the mountain was still there. But there was also, at the church door, an official from the state highway department. “We need several thousand tons of fill dirt for a road project. We were wondering if we could remove part of the mountain from behind your church.”

In John’s Gospel, we see the same principle: God won’t do what we can do. Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He asks the bystanders to move the rock sealing the tomb. And after the miraculous resurrection, Jesus asks the bystanders to help Lazarus off with his grave clothes. Now, you would think, that if Jesus could raise a man from the dead, he could also easily beam Lazarus right through the stone and give him brand new clothes as well!

This principle appears throughout the Bible. God is more than willing to do what we can’t do, but He refuses to do what we can do. Gideon’s band of 300 men can’t possibly defeat an army of over 100,000, but they can create a commotion around the enemy camp with their pots, torches and trumpets so the enemy is terrified and turns on itself. The lame man’s friends can’t heal him, but they can tear up the roof and lower him in front of Jesus. Christ’s disciples can’t multiply loaves and fishes, but they can distribute the food and collect leftovers.

What mountain are you facing today? Rather than a miracle, God may provide a shovel—or the state highway department!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

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Author Tony Campolo’s most famous message declares, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’.” But what happens when it’s Sunday and we’re still facing death and despair?

Jesus has been unjustly charged and condemned to die. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. The religious and political tyrants have stopped His rebellious message. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. He has been brutally beaten, stripped, and nailed to a cross. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. Christ is sealed in a tomb, his dead body guarded by Roman soldiers. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.

The message builds to a powerful conclusion when the pastor simply shouts, “It’s Friday!” and the congregation responds, “But Sunday’s comin’.

But . . .

It’s Sunday in the United States and 4,000 unborn children will be aborted tomorrow. One out of four children will be sexually or physically abused. Five thousand teens will attempt suicide; thirteen will succeed. Sixteen young adults will be murdered. Over two thousand unmarried teens will get pregnant.

It’s Sunday in the United States and this weekend, five thousand parents will tell their children they’re divorcing. One out of every twenty adults will not have a job to go to tomorrow. Over 85,000 people will die. Out of that number, 17,000 will die of some kind of cancer.

It may be Easter Sunday, but throughout the world, people in the pews are still dealing with the effects of abuse and divorce, crime and violence, life-threatening diseases, unemployment or “under employment,” depression, and grief from a the loss of a loved one.

In fact, holidays have a way of compounding a sense of loss. Perhaps there will be one less person at Easter dinner because of a death or divorce. Maybe there is less on the table because of financial pressures.

“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin'” is not always comforting. But that’s only half of the story of Christ. The Bible’s book of Revelation, chapter 19, provides, the rest of the promise:

It’s Sunday, but Jesus is coming!

It’s Sunday. Environmentalist warn of “global warming,” acid rain. depletion of the ozone layer, and carcinogens in our food, but Jesus is coming!

      Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . .

It’s Sunday. Political unrest and corruption affects virtually every country. Christians are oppressed, persecuted, and executed by ungodly governments, but Jesus is coming!

      With justice he judges and makes war. . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It’s Sunday. Today, two billion people throughout the world will go to bed hungry. Millions throughout the world are suffering from abuse and illness. Many more millions are grieving the loss of loved ones, but Jesus is coming!

      He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

It’s Sunday. Unfortunately the actual celebration of Easter may distract us from the very Christ we honor by practicing for cantatas, buying new clothes, and preparing Sunday dinners, but Jesus is coming!

      And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be will be with them and be their God.

This certainly doesn’t mean we shut our eyes to the suffering around us. God commands us to do everything in our human power to relieve suffering and to work for justice for all.

But the good news of Easter goes beyond “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.”

It’s Sunday, but Jesus is coming!

Copyright © 1995 James N. Watkins

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Easter hope and humor

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Here are two of my favorite cartoons for Good Friday:

jimshortsgoodfriday

jimshortswedidnthavetowatch

(Click for more cartoons.)

And, my favorite Good Friday post:

“It is finished”? (It seems a strange claim to make before His resurrection!)

But wait, there’s more! Click here for my favorite Easter articles and humor columns.

Have a meaningful Easter weekend!
jimlogo2

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Knowing who we are

April 16th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


Jesus certainly practiced what He preached.

Mark 9 records the disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest.

      Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Throughout His ministry, Jesus exhibited servanthood, but never more than on the night He was betrayed:

      It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1).

Jesus is going to be arrested, unjustly condemned and cruelly executed within hours. He had every right to think of His own physical and emotional needs and expect His disciples to minister to Him. Instead, He stripped down to His tunic and washed the feet of the man who would soon betray Him, the man who would deny Him three times, and the ten others who would desert Him in His hour of need.

How could Jesus possibly do this? The key is that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power.” Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t have to prove His power and authority by demanding honor and praise from men. He knew He was the very Son of God and that performing menial tasks—like washing dirty feet—didn’t change His status. It takes power to be a servant; strength to be gentle. (A powerless person doesn’t serve but subjugates himself.) And Jesus proved to be a powerful servant as Paul writes:

      [Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . . becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7-8).

If we are trying to prove our value or status, it will be difficult to truly serve. But if we believe we the Father’s beloved children, it will be easier to serve, since we have nothing to prove.

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Related posts Hope and humor for Easter

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‘Don’t be afraid!’

April 12th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (4 Comments)


Are you going through a dark and stormy night?

      When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going (John 6:16-21).

How many times are we frightened by something drawing near in the dark? And then we discover . . . it’s Jesus! How much of what we fear in life is actually Jesus working in our lives? Difficult circumstances? Broken relationships? Illness? [Fill in the blank]? Are we willing to receive Jesus into our boat? And to trust him that he will safely take us where we are going?

Jesus, be with my friends who are facing a dark and stormy night physically, spiritually, financially or relationally. May they hear you say, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Help them to sense that you are with them in the middle of this storm. And guide them safely to the place he would have them to go.

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Photo: Fanzug.com

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

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handgrenadehangnail-small
In Squeezing Good Out of Bad, I include a top ten list of ways to deal with life’s lemons:

10. Don’t confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)

It’s sometimes helpful to put everything in perspective. Is this truly a hand grenade or is it more in the category of a hangnail?

For instance, ask yourself, would I trade this problem in on a hangnail? How ’bout a headache? Harmonica concert? Hernia? Hair loss? Holdup? Hurricane? Hand grenade?

In the grand scheme of life, most “problems” are somewhere between harmonica concert and hernia. But I would have traded some hand grenade shrapnel for the restoration of a broken relationship or miraculous resurrection of a loved one.

Mostly, though, my problems are somewhere between a really bad hangnail and a mild headache. I’ve had very few “hand grenades” in my life. We can look at each lemon of life as a hand grenade that threatens to destroy us or as fruitful experiences that prompt us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.

So, today, put it in perspective.

(And—shameless self-promotion— click to buy a copy.)

Photo from www.tfw2005.com

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