The Lord God rides again!

October 26th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

TheLoneRanger3

I buckled my gun belt and adjusted my black mask. In just minutes I would hear, “… a hearty ‘Hi Ho Silver,’ the Lone Ranger rides again!” Every Saturday morning as a child, I watched “the masked rider of the plains fight for law and order.”

And every Saturday morning I ended up hiding under the coffee table in fear as the Lone Ranger and Tonto were tied up in an abandoned mine. The keg of dynamite’s fuse had burned down to a quarter inch. And if they did survive the blast, there were twenty armed desperadoes with guns focused on the shaft’s doorway.

My first-grade mind couldn’t conceive of any possible escape. But my Mother would always shove the TV Guide under the table.

“See, the Lone Ranger is scheduled for next Saturday. He’s got to get out of the mine alive.”

Okay, I knew in my head that Tonto and Kemo Sabe would escape alive, but that didn’t change what I felt in my heart.

I still have those feelings. I know intellectually that problems are an “easy thing in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:18), but sometimes emotionally I feel like hiding under the coffee table.

But I must make a choice: to follow what I know—or what I feel. It’s not always been easy for me to keep my heart under my head, but that’s how God has designed us: head above our hearts, faith above our fears. And instead of the TV Guide, check out the Bible for examples from “those thrilling days of yesteryear.” The Lord God rides again!

Copyright © 2008 James N. Watkins

jimpicloneranger

Me and my mighty rocking horse, Silver!

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Imitation of Christ releases in 78 days!

The classic devotional by Thomas à Kempis arranged and organized into 90 devotional readings.

The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything.

“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, founder of World Hope International, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

About the book
The story behind the book
Sample chapter
Daily quotation

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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

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OCT 21 2015 4:29 PM

That’s the date on the tricked-out DeLorean’s dashboard when Marty McFly and Doc Brown land thirty years into the future—today! It’s one of my favorite movies series, and the title provides some helpful advice as we try to navigate our way into the future.

Since we can’t see one single nanosecond into the future, we back into the future, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have direction. I love what Philip Yancey writes in the booklet Guidance (Multnomah, 1983):

      I had always thought of guidance as forward-looking. We keep praying, hoping, counting on God to reveal what we should do next. In my own experience, at least, I have found the direction to be reversed.

      For me, guidance becomes clear only as I look backward. At the moment, my future is a big blur. Guidance becomes evident only when I look back, months and years later. Then the circuitous process falls into place and the hand of God seems clear. But at the moment of decision, I feel mainly confusion and uncertainty

Like Yancey, I have to look back to see the future. Let me chart it out. I’ve done a lot of different things. Everything from performing magic at community events to being a hair model at beauty seminars to putting raisins in Raisin Bran to writing and speaking. But there seems to be a trajectory, a linear pattern.

BackToTheFuture2

Writing and speaking keep showing up throughout my life. As I back into the future, I can line up where I seem to be headed by the stakes of the past.

Not looking forward does not mean not moving. It simply acknowledges we can’t see the future. But by looking back at what seems to have worked in the past and the present—and which God seems to be blessing—we can move forward in the right direction, even if we can’t see what’s ahead. So keep your back to the future—but keeping moving!

And I do hope, as Marty saw in the future, the Cubs win the World Series!

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“You’re a what?!” people often ask with a high-pitched gasp when I tell them I’m a writer. “You mean you actually enjoy writing?! That would be like having homework for the rest of your life.”

Well, I do enjoy research. (One summer while in junior high, I read the entire World Book Encyclopedia.) And I’d rather tap away at a keyboard than watch TV. So, I guess writers appear slightly less than normal!

But, there’s one place I feel completely “normal” and understood—writers’ conferences. There I’m surrounded by people who do enjoy poring over research books and who think staring at a word processing screen is great entertainment.

I’m sure it’s the same with occupations I wouldn’t want to even consider, such as dentists. What kind of person enjoys working with decaying teeth and infected gums? Apparently a large number of people who perfectly understand the joy of dentistry. And don’t even get me going on proctology!

Perhaps being among people who understand our unique joys and sorrows is the secret to support groups, seminars, and conferences for writers, dentists, proctologists, as well as Star Trek fans and other marginal groups. The Father God knew how important it is to be understood when he sent God the Son to earth:

      For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus—although He is completely God—completely understands us humans, because He became human.

Every joy and sorrow, every strength and weakness, every triumph and temptation—Jesus understands. And, best of all, He understands you and me.

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Note
I’m thrilled that I’ll be with people who understand me at the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference this week. I hope to meet some of you there!

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Imitation of Christ releases in 85 days!

The classic devotional by Thomas à Kempis arranged and organized into 90 devotional readings.

The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything.

“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, founder of World Hope International, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

About the book
The story behind the book
Sample chapter
Daily quotation

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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

Share

jackolantern2016
Search Google for “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?” and you’ll get about one thousand sites covering everything from “it’s completely harmless” to “it’s completely hellish.” Here’s site number 1,001 that’s somewhere in the middle:

Origin of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back two thousand years to the Celtic New Year festival of “Samhain” (pronounced sow-in) named after their god of the dead. (If it’s been a while since World History class, the Celts occupied England, Ireland and northern France.) Samhain was also one of the four high days (sabbats) of witchcraft or, more accurately, Wicca.

On the night before the November 1 new year, Celts believed that Samhain and the dead would roam the earth causing all kinds of trouble. So the Celtic priests, Druids, would demand that all light be extinguished on Halloween night and sacrifices be made to prevent trouble.

To avoid “tricks,” the villagers would bake up “treats” to appease the dead. They would also dress up in ghoulish costumes and parade to the outskirts of town hoping the departed souls would follow them out of town.

After sacrifices, villagers would carry the fire, thought to be sacred, back to their homes in carved out vegetable shells.

In the eighth century Pope Gregory II moved the church festival honoring martyrs of “All Saints” to November 1 as a Christian alternative to the Celtic New Year celebrations. “All Hallow’s Eve” or “Halloween” means the “evening of holy persons” and was to be used in spiritual preparation for All Saints Day.

(Halloween is not the only holiday based on pagan origins. See also my posts on Christmas and Easter.)

So, what should a Christian do?

The Apostle Paul deals with these kinds of issues when he addresses meat offered to pagan idols. Is this wrong for the Christian—who doesn’t believe in the false gods to whom the meat was offered— to eat meat offered to idols? Here’s Paul’s advice:

      So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

      But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

      Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall (1 Corinthians 8:4-13).

If Paul were alive today, he might write something like . . .

      Don’t worry about the ancient association of these holidays with paganism since we know there are no gods of sun and death, and that the dead don’t roam the earth. You’re not appeasing Samhain when you go “trick-or-treating” or sacrificing to the gods by carving a jack-o-lantern. But if your family or friends have reservations about these things, don’t encourage them to do something they feel is “sinful.”

At least that’s my (and possibly St. Paul’s) opinion—among the nearly one thousand other perspectives.

© Copyright 2005 James N. Watkins. All rights reserved.

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Imitation of Christ releases in 92 days!

The classic devotional by Thomas à Kempis arranged and organized into 90 devotional readings.

The Imitation of Christ devotional is truly a gift to the church. Watkins provides timeless, profound truths in everyday language, introducing modern Christians to the power of Thomas à Kempis’ words and life’s work. A deeply moving, wholly convicting, and truly life-altering book.”
Mary DeMuth: author of Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love for You Changes Everything

“This influential book is an incredible gift to this century. James Watkins has stayed true to the original text but in language that continues to speak from the soul of Thomas à Kempis to the soul of a twenty-first century seeker. A message for which our world has deep hunger. This is literally a soul-changing, ultimately world changing book; a must for every person serious about being a Christ-follower.”
Jo Anne Lyon: White House adviser on faith, founder of World Hope International, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

About the book
The story behind the book
Sample chapter
Daily quotation

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

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

Share

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I’m taking a quick break from “hope and humor” to present a “heavy topic with a light touch” with some advice on the Internet from the disciple Luke.

The disciple Luke describes media in the first century this way:

      And they took [Paul] and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new (Acts 17:19-21).

Instead of tuning into the so-called “mainstream media,” in the first century you headed on down to the city gate if you were a man and to the town’s well if you were a woman. (This is why the famous “woman at the well” was there at noon, because she was the early morning news!).

“Mass media” began in Renaissance Europe with hand-written newsletters addressed to local merchants with news of wars and financial markets. In 1440 the Gutenberg Press, with its movable type, allowed for the news to be more efficiently printed. In the late 1400s newspapers appeared with sensationalized, opinionated and biased news involving graphic descriptions of crimes, affairs, and topics typical of today’s grocery store tabloids.

The London Gazette began publishing November 7, 1665, making it the oldest newspaper still in publication. It began as an official publication of the English government. The United States first newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, debuted in 1690 and was promptly shut down by British authorities. The first continually published American newspaper was the Boston Newsletter, which like the London Gazette, was under government control. With the American Revolution and ratification of the Bill of Rights in1791, freedom of the press was guaranteed and privately owned newspapers—free from government control—began to flourish.

Many believe the newspaper business reached its apex early last century. Newspapers attempted to shed the sleaze and bias with the American Society of Newspaper Editors drafting the “Canons of Journalism” in 1923. It declared that “News reports should be free from opinion or bias of any kind.”

At the same time, privately owned newspapers were being bought up by conglomerates such as Scripps-Howard, which owned 25 newspapers, and William Randolph Hearst, who owned 20 daily papers, 11 Sunday newspapers, two wire services and six magazines. This continued until 1983, when 90 percent of media was owned by 50 companies. Today, only five corporations own the majority of American news media: GE (NBC), Rupert Murdoch’s News-Corp (Fox, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Post), Disney (ABC), Time Warner (CNN, Time) and CBS.

But enter the Internet. While Gutenberg changed how news was published, the Internet has changed what news is published!

Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult for governments and corporations to control and censor news. “Citizen journalists” have been responsible for bringing down oppressive regimes with their Twitter and YouTube accounts. The Internet news aggregate Drudge Report first broke news of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski. And cell phone videos have brought alleged crimes and misconduct to national and international attention.

While giant corporations depend on advertisers—which can subtly and not so subtly influence what news is and isn’t covered—any person with access to the Internet with a computer or mobile device can become a “news source.”

News has become “democratized,” but that can quickly lead to anarchy! But this is nothing new as Luke notes:

      Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you . . . so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4 NIV).

Luke provides some excellent principles:

Go to the primary sources. “Those who from the first were eyewitnesses.”

Verify! Verify! Verify! “Carefully investigate everything from the beginning.”

Be certain you have the facts. “Know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

Christians who blindly forward misinformation and quotations out of context are breaking the commandment to “not bear false witness.” And, may I be completely honest, looking ignorant!

We live in the golden age of information and, at the very same time, the dark ages of misinformation. So, follow Luke’s advice to “Carefully investigate everything from the beginning.”

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Originally posted at The Presidential Prayer Team blog. If you found it helpful, please share on your social networks. Thanks!

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cancelled

I chose to drive to the board meeting of the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference, even though I hate to drive. Here’s why:

      Flight schedule

      6:30 am Leave for Fort Wayne Airport
      7:30 am Go through security, wait
      8:30 am Fly to Atlanta
      10:17 am Land in Atlanta
      11:05 am Fly to Pittsburgh
      12:49 pm Arrive in Pittsburgh
      1:30 pm Meet driver
      2:30 pm Arrive in Grove City

      Driving schedule

      9 am Leave for Grove City
      12 Stop for lunch
      12:30 pm Continue to Grove City
      2:30 pm Arrive in Grove City

But best of all . . .

• I didn’t have to run the security gauntlet

• I can travel with full-sized aerosols, liquids and gels!

• I wasn’t charged for checked luggage, no limit on carry-ons

• I had the whole exit row to myself with a fully adjustable seat

• My choice of music through a great sound system (No “stethoscope” headsets)

• I enjoyed a delicious meal at non-airport/airplane prices

• I was able to use a spacious restroom

• No screaming babies

• I didn’t have to go through Atlanta to get from Indiana to Pennsylvania.

• No weather delays or cancellations.

• No cancellation because the flight crew didn’t get their eight hours of sleep.

• No computer crashes.

• No lost luggage.

• I didn’t pay a dime for parking

So, my rule of thumb is this: if an event is six or less hours away, driving is quicker than flying. Driving actually cost $100 more than flying, but the First Class service of Watkins’ Non-Airlines was well worth the money!

Copyright © James N. Watkins

And be sure to mark your calendar for the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference June 22-26, 2016. It’s going to be amazing!

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FoundingFathers3

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

10. I can’t do all things

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

8. Does DNA disprove evolution?

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

6. Cure for common cold: sex

5. Is world coming to bloody end?! The “blood moon” hysteria

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 September 2015 . . .

1. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

(See list at right for the latest posts.)

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