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.

Podcast
Listen to a related podcast using the story of Gideon in The Ten Creative Commandments

Painting by Nicolas Poussin


Rendered Christian Flag

This flag flies higher

July 4 At a church where Lois and I served, there was an American flag and a Christian flag on the platform. One Saturday afternoon, I sneaked over to the church with my trusty handsaw and cut one-inch off the bottom of the American flag pole, so the Christian flag would always stand taller. That flag offers real freedom.


WhiteHouseRainbow

Responding to ruling on same-sex marriage

June 29 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

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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.


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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.

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Happy Father’s Day!

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

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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

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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

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


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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.

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“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 Watkins 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


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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.)

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