Gone are school playgrounds covered in knee-scraping asphalt, bludgeoning swing seats and “head injuries on a stick” known as tetherball.

For those unfamiliar with this violent game, a volleyball is hung from a tall metal pole with a rope (tether). The players on opposite sides of the pole try to hit the ball—one clockwise, one counterclockwise—until one player winds the ball all the way around the pole so that it is stopped by the rope. A steel pole. A heavy ball flying directly at the contestants’ faces. What possibly could go wrong?!

Have you ever felt like a human tetherball? Life punches you in the face as you reel in the opposite direction, then you’re struck again and propelled the other way. You’re in constant motion, being struck this way and then that. The only thing that keeps you from totally flying out of control—and into traffic—is the rope that anchors you to the center. Better to be a tetherball than a volleyball flattened by a passing truck.

So are you a volleyball or a tetherball? Neither is an appealing option. But as a tetherball, you’re safe from rolling into the street and flying into the school cafeteria dumpster. I’ve had my share of “hits” in life: cancer, unemployment, a kidney stone (one is quite enough, thank you), family crises, etc. But I have always had my faith as a center of my life. God is my pole. Faith is my rope. And my life is the battered ball.

The apostle Paul writes about the safety of being tethered to God’s great love:

      If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

      Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

      [No] I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39).

Life is not easy as a human tetherball! But it is safe and secure in the love of God.

Copyright 2015 © James N. Watkins

Photo from tetherballsports.com

Related posts
Christ’s career path: obscurity, popularity, animosity
Squeezing Good Out of Bad: excerpt
Sure beats a kidney stone
Top ten things I’ve learned from cancer
Why? Some thoughts on life’s tough questions

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Ten years ago today, the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster struck the Gulf coast. Here’s my response to the swirling questions Hurricane Katrina unleashed.

August 30, 2005

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina rained down destruction of biblical proportions on New Orleans. But is this a direct act of God upon a city with a reputation as being, shall we say, less than godly?

Wednesday WorldNetDaily.com’s headline announced “Hurricane hits just before homosexual event; Christian activist: Act of God prevented ‘Southern Decadence’.” The article went on to report:

      Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans just two days before the annual homosexual “Southern Decadence” festival was to begin in the town, an act being characterized by some as God’s work. Southern Decadence has a history of “filling the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars,” says a statement from the Philadelphia Christian organization Repent America.

Thursday, WorldTribune.com’s headline quoted a Kuwaiti government official as claiming “The terrorist Katrina is a soldier of Allah.” Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments, reportedly said:

      I opened the Koran and began to read in Surat Al-R’ad [‘The Thunder’ chapter], and stopped at these words [of Allah]: “The disaster will keep striking the unbelievers for what they have done. . . .”

I, however, tend to believe the blame for this tragedy lies not with God, but with French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier for founding a city below sea level surrounded by a lake, river, and ocean. What was he thinking?!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote, following December’s tsunami, that when God commanded Adam and Eve to “subdue the earth” He was giving humans two commands:

      Our first distinctive cultural imperative is to render ourselves less vulnerable to nature. We believed we were following Divine will when we developed medicine and medical technology to dominate disease. We found insecticides to protect our food supply, and we built dams to control rivers. We knew we were pleasing God by making ourselves safer and more secure, and this knowledge lent added urgency and meaning to our efforts. Not by coincidence did the overwhelming majority of these scientific and technical developments take place in the West.

      Civilization`s second distinctive cultural imperative is the importance of preserving human life. This too derives directly from our biblical roots and distinguishes us from the peculiar fatalism toward death found in so many other cultures.

      God runs this world with as little supernatural interference as possible. Earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and, yes, tsunamis happen. It is called nature, which is not always benign. Fortunately, God also gave us intelligence and commanded us to make ourselves less vulnerable to nature. He also implanted in us a culture in which each and every life is really important. Many of those fatalities are attributable to misguided cultures.

“Misguided” certainly describes New Orleans original city engineers!

We live in a fallen world of natural disasters, disease, deadly animals— and humans— bent on evil. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve were the last people to live in a perfect world. But God continues to love his creations and creation and desires us to reach out to those affected by disaster.

Copyright © 2005 James N. Watkins

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Happy 8/28!

August 28th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I love the date of August 28, since 8/28 reminds me of Romans 8:28!

      And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Unfortunately, we leave off the verse that tells us exactly that “purpose.”

      For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son. . .

So, on this special day, here are some of my favorite posts on one of my favorite verses:

Christ’s career path: obscurity, popularity, animosity

Coincidences or “God-incidences”?

Did duct-taped recliner save our lives?!

God has a plan for new year

Squeezing Good Out of Bad: excerpt

Top ten things I’ve learned from cancer

Why? Some thoughts on life’s tough questions

Will God’s purpose be accomplished on election day?

Have a happy 8/28!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

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All five grands are back in school, so I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten things I (Jim) want my kids and grandkids to remember. (These are even more important than state capitals and multiplication tables!)

10. God is often unpredictable, but never untrustworthy.

9. Be wary: the simple, obvious answer is usually wrong. (See graphic below!)

8. Choose your battles (you can’t fight them all).

7. Keep your balance between work and play, justice and mercy, grace and truth . . .

6. Don’t expect life to be fair, easy, or carefree. (Jesus saves, but life can still suck!)

5. So, develop tough hide and a tender heart (and don’t switch those around).

4. Understand that there are no problem people, just people with problems.

3. Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

2. Love people; use things (and don’t switch those around either).

1. Put God first in everything.

There are a lot more: Don’t use drugs. Pay off your credit card balance each month. Don’t eat raw hamburger. But ten seems to be the universal limit for these sort of things.

So, when my final deadline arrives, I trust that my children and grandchildren will remember what I said, what I wrote, but mostly what I lived.

Copyright © James N. Watkins


Way to start rumors, Facebook!

Let the record show that I am not flying off to North Carolina with Beth Wooters! She’s the daughter of my college roomie, and I simply made a snarky comment that I’d be praying for her as she flew through “O’Hell.” Thanks, Facebook programmers, for emphasizing point 9 above!

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While tramping around the United States in a motor home, Lois and I developed comedy/drama sketches that played well in churches, camps and conferences. In 1993, Lillenas contracted us to publish our favorites in the book, Characters.

Creator magazine called the collection, “Humorous and witty . . . edifies the Body and glorifies God in an entertaining way.”

Now that Lillenas has rung down the final curtain as a publisher, we’re now making a few of our very favorite sketches available on a donation basis.

Click for six of our favorite sketches.


The real ‘female Viagra’

August 18th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

This just in: Today the FDA approved Addyi (flibanserin) AKA “female Viagra.” In clinical trials, the little pink pill increased sexual desire only 10 percent better than a placebo.* With that in mind, our research department indicates that the following medications may increase sexual desire in women significantly more than Addyi.

“Forget female Viagra! Here’s what’s really needed,” one woman responded.

Has been shown to reduce anxiety attacks in males often associated with shopping malls and flea markets.

Preliminary testing confirms the drug unclogs male tear ducts during weddings and “chick flicks.”

Studies have shown that men actually acquire cooking skills and a desire to help in the kitchen with this medication.

Male Pattern Blindness (“Where are my socks?” “I can’t find the ketchup!”) was alleviated in three out of four test subjects.

Derived from sodium pentathal, it causes males to be truthful about size of fish that got away, golf scores and their whereabouts when “working late.”

Promises to relieve multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night for eight out of ten males.

Studies show this diet drug works by creating a chemical aversion to pie, cake and doughnuts.

Has been found to reverse hard, rigid, unbending attitudes in males.

Constant questioning and second-guessing were completely eliminated in males tested.

When questioned if males would consent to taking these ego-altering medications, women were unanimous: “No Criagra, no Viagra!”

Copyright ڟ 1998, 2015 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.

* “Across the three trials, about 10 percent more Addyi-treated patients than placebo-treated patients reported meaningful improvements in satisfying sexual events, sexual desire or distress. ” Food and Drug Administration

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Have you seen the Facebook posts that reads:



If we start out well, and have the right end in mind, the middle will work out.

King David describes our beginning:

      You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
      and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
      Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
      Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
      You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
      as I was woven together in the dark of the womb (Psalm 139:13-14).

We are not the random result of a billion genetic possibilities. David writes that we are wonderfully, marvelously made and knit together by God himself. He watched over us as two of his wonderfully complex creations themselves created new life. (I admit don’t have an explanation of genetic birth defects and miscarriages. I do know that he created humans perfect but since the Fall, environmental and genetic damage have led to imperfection. But this is no surprise to God who continues to watch over every gestating creation.)

God lovingly watched over you and me as we were “woven together in the dark of the womb.” David goes to on write:

      You saw me before I was born.
      Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
      Every moment was laid out
      before a single day had passed.
      How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
      They cannot be numbered!
      I can’t even count them;
      they outnumber the grains of sand!
      And when I wake up,
      you are still with me! (Psalm 139:16-18).

Is God’s “book” the genetic code that causes every human body to go through the “chapters” of secondary sexual development, fertility, menopause, old age, etc.? Or it is talking about God planning out our lives, such as “directing our paths” that is alluded to in Proverbs 3:6 and in many other passages?

While scholars struggle to understand the specific meanings, we can know that God is watching over us as we are formed in the womb and that every single day he is with us, thinking precious thoughts about you and me.

In verses 19-22, David points out that while God is with us from the instant of conception and will be with us every second of our lives until we are with him for eternity, we face a postnatal world of wickedness, murder, blasphemy, hate and idolatry. After such a wonderful beginning and the promise of an even more wonderful end, the middle can still be THROOGUHLY CUFSONNIG!

But two “bookends” hold life together! Physical life and eternal life. Knowing that God has given us physical life and knowing that through his Son we can enjoy eternal life, gives us hope and courage for the MEXID UP middle!

      Search me, O God, and know my heart;
      test me and know my anxious thoughts.
      Point out anything in me that offends you,
      and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24).


Copyright © 2015James N. Watkins

* We can be assured that God is lovingly watching over his precious children from the very beginning to the very end . . . and then through eternity. He is literally our “Alpha and Omega,” our beginning and our end!

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A platypus parable

August 10th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


For nearly twenty years, Lois and I traveled the United States, as well as a two-week tour to Australia, with “The Platypus Players.” Here’s one of Mr. Platypus’ favorite stories:

It looked rather strange, it looked rather odd,
Lying there shining on billabong sod.
It looked round and square, it looked thin and fat,
Platypuses stared and asked, “What is that?!”

They stroked at their bills and gave it some thought.
One platypus said, “I think that we ought
“To run to our home and bring back some cheese,
“These six shiny strings will slice it with ease.”

Platypus two cried, “No, no, no, no, no!”
“You’ll lose six slices right down that black hole!”
“I’ve given it thought. I think that I know.
“This is the world’s only six-arrow bow!”

Three tapped his flippers and thumped with his tail,
“No, no, no, no! It’s the world’s smallest jail!
“These six tiny bars keep criminals snug,
“You can lock up a snail, a crayfish or slug.”

The fourth creature said, “There’s no way it’s that!
“This strange looking thing’s a fancy door mat!
“Just rub your flippers over these strings,
“And mud ‘tween your toes is gone with a zing!”

Proudly they placed it outside of their door,
Their billabong floor was muddy no more,
“We finally know why this thing is made,
“By Gibson Guitars in U. S. of A.”

But soon their doormat was no longer there
Cleaning the floor of their platypus lair.
One of those creatures, the ones with no fur,
Had taken their prize with him or with her.

Yes, a human took their doormat away.
And pulled out the cheese and dug out the clay.
And turned some bright knobs on top of the thing,
And strummed on the wires and started to sing.

The platypuses thought, It doesn’t slice cheese,
Shoot arrows, jail snails, clean flippers with ease.
Guitars make music. That’s why they are played!
I wonder
, they thought, why people were made.

As the human sang and strummed the guitar
The four were amazed with bills all ajar
The he or the she seemed to sing to the air,
At least to Someone who didn’t seem there.

“I will praise You, God, I’m wonderfully made.
“To love and adore You all of my days,
“Your wonderful works are worthy of song,
“From morning to night and all the day long.”

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Copyright © 1987, 2001 James N. Watkins

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Happy anniversary to us!

August 3rd, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Forty-one years ago today—August 3, 1974—Lois Farra and I were married at the Wesleyan church in Valton, Wisconsin. We’re heading off to the “big city” to celebrate, so some reruns today of past anniversary columns, pics, music and cartoons.

August 4 update: Our big anniversary celebration was kind of a bust. Lois wasn’t feeling well, I was distracted with an important meeting today, the food at the restaurant wasn’t exceptional, the hotel hot tub was broken with just one working jet—so we took turns sitting in front of it—and there was nothing good on TV. But, we’ve got each other! And that’s the whole point.

Falling in love . . . and getting back up
Fifty Shades of Beige (Reel v. real sex)
Top ten reasons I’m not divorcing my wife (1996)
Top ten secrets to staying married 30 years (2004)

Pics, videos and music
40th anniversary album (with captions)
40th anniversary video
Music from the video: Loving God and You (1973), Love in a Cruddy World (1972), Lois (1974)

And some cartoons




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Top ten posts: July 2015

August 1st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


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

10 . A case for polygamy

9. Cure for common cold: sex

8. God is never late, but he sure is slow

7. Who is the supreme super hero?

6 . Does DNA disprove evolution?

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

4. Hope and humor cartoons

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

2. “It Is Well with My Soul”: the rest of the stories

And, the number one post in July 2015 . . .

1. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

(See list at right for the latest posts.)

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