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I am still in awe that one year ago today, I had not even thought of updating one of the world’s most popular books, The Imitation of Christ! This book has been miraculous from the very inception!

• In spring of 2015, I woke up one morning thinking, Someone needs to put Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ into modern language and organize it into devotions. (Whenever you think Someone ought to do something, it’s often God saying, “Yep! And that someone is you.” On a lark, I pitched the idea to my agent. My agent emailed back the same day writing, “It’s brilliant.” In ten years, my agent had never called any of my pitches brilliant. Miraculous!

• Within 13 days of sending the proposal to publishers, my agent had an offer from Worthy Inspired. (Publishers often take three to six months to decide on a proposal.) Miraculous!

• They offered a generous contract for both hard cover and leather! (I’ve never had a book even in artificial Naugahyde.) Miraculous!

• They decided to rush the book and have it on the shelves in hardback in time for Lent 2016, and then re-release it in leather for Advent 2016. (Again, publishers can take up to two years to get a book into print. It was just nine months ago that we signed the contract! And I’ve never heard of a book getting two marketing promotions.) Miraculous!

• In the past, I’ve been given up to a year to complete a book. I had it written, vetted by my good friend and Catholic scholar, Michael Fraley, and to the publisher within two months—six weeks early! I’ve never felt such a sense of worship while writing a book. And I learned so much about imitating Christ writing it. I trust that readers will also experience worship and learn from it. Miraculous!

• When I nervously approached the publisher that I didn’t think the cover really appealed to the cross-over market, they went back to the drawing board and created the beautiful cover above. (Publishers rarely give authors input into the cover. And never go through 15 revisions! Miraculous!) And when I wasn’t comfortable with the sub-title, they took it back to marketing committee and provided the new subtitle. (Publishers rarely give authors input into titles and subtitles.) Worthy Inspired is a wonderfully weird publisher. Nothing about the process has been typical! I love everyone on the team! Miraculous!

• Buoyed by the amazing events in the production of this book, I decided to go way out on a limb and ask for endorsements from some of the biggest names in the Catholic and Protestant church. Okay, I didn’t have enough faith to ask the Pope and Billy Graham, but I did ask Timothy Doloan, the archbishop of New York, and Jo Anne Lyon, a White House adviser for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church. They both graciously said yes. (See below.) Miraculous!

• In each step in the process—researching, organizing, editing and writing—I have sensed “his mighty power at work . . . to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21). Miraculous!

• For the past few years, I have been sensing Jesus saying to me, “I must increase; you must decrease.” So, I’m totally happy that CHRIST is in 48 point print and my name is in 12 point print. Miraculous!

• And so, I am expecting Jesus to accomplish something infinitely more than I can think or imagine. Thanks for walking this amazing journey with me. I do pray that Jesus will increase and I will decrease as this miraculous book releases tomorrow. (I was surprised at the number of books sent to book stores, just ready to be sold.) Jesus gets all the praise for how he uses it to increase the number of followers who truly imitate him! I so want to be able to say, Miraculous!

Please join me Tuesday (January 12) from 6-10 pm for the official launch party with trivia contests, autographed book give-aways and more. (And I guarantee it will be more fun than watching what’s pre-empting your favorite TV show Tuesday evening.)

What others are saying

The Imitation of Christ is one of the great spiritual works of the Church. More than five hundred years later, it remains not just a classic, but a road map to the life the Lord wants each of us to live.”
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York

“This book makes me angry. Not only because I didn’t think of it, but also because I could never have done the thorough, sensitive, beautiful job James N. Watkins has done in updating Thomas à Kempis’s, The Imitation of Christ, into a modern classic of ninety riveting readings. I need this book. And so does everyone I know.”
Bob Hostetler, best-selling author of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

“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, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

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

“Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ is a timeless classic. Watkins has succeeded in providing a clear and accurate rendering of this great volume for a new generation of Catholic and Protestants alike, while avoiding modern idioms that would date the text. I’m looking forward to reading this many times.”
Rev. Randolph Sly: Priest, Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

“Each morning I eagerly go to this modern version of The Imitation of Christ knowing it will convict and teach my spirit, giving me spiritual focus throughout the day. It is the best devotional I’ve found in many years.”
Lissa Halls Johnson, author and speaker

Browse and buy

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Order online
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

And it’s available at book stores everywhere. (I love being able to say that!) Miraculous!

You can help spread the word through your social networks. Post a review on book sites. Mention it on your blog or website. Have me speak at your church. Drop copies of this post from a blimp. Be creative! I so appreciate your prayers and support!
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Here are some of my favorite songs of hope and humor along with links to corresponding posts. Enjoy and be encouraged.


How to move a mountain


Finely-aged believers
Squeezing Good Out of Bad
Holy hardships
In this world you will have trouble


Pressed but not crushed
The rest of the Bible story
Finding still waters in the storm


Turn your “shaft” into a mine
Soaring with eagles . . . walking with emus
From bad to worse . . . to astonishing
When dreams die


(Written by Scott Wesley Brown)
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
Genuine Jesus or counterfeit Christ?

Fifty praises between bed and bathroom

And of course, no mention of musical humor would be complete without Weird Al Yankovic!


Laughing matters
The power of humor in writing
Hope and humor for writers


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Imitation of Christ releases in 8 days!

We’re just one week and one day until the release of The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language and I wanted to thank you for all of your support! I have felt so honored, humbled and thankful for your help!

I would so appreciate any tweets, Facebook posts, emails, or any other form of communication you might be inclined to use to help me spread the word!

The fact that Thomas à Kempis wrote this powerful book 500 years ago—and it continues to change lives today—verifies just how God has used it. I am so excited to introduce this updated version to a new generation!

Here’s how you can help:

Share that The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language will be available on January 12th on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram. (See last week’s post for some suggestions.)

Send an email to your family and friends (Or simply forward my weekly email if you’re on my list. If you’re not on my list, you can sign up on the right navigation panel.)

Share, like, or retweet posts I make on my social media outlets:

Buy the book the week of January 12th and then post a review. (Be honest. Book sites get suspicious if all reviews are five-star and filled with hyperbole.)

• Promote the book with hot-air balloons, sky-writing, ads during the Super Bowl and whatever! (Actually, it may be more effective to buy your pastor a copy of the book and mention it would make a great discipleship tool for your church—that’s much more effective and less expensive than a Super Bowl ad!)

• Feel free to leave a comment below or send me a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for your part in what could be a major tool to make Christians more, well, more Christ-like.
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Happy hope and humor 2016

December 31st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

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Happy New Year!

I’ll be “celebrating” this New Year’s Eve at The Heritage assisted living home in Battle Creek, Michigan, after a full day of helping clean out Mom’s house, so . . .

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I hope your celebration is a bit more exciting. Here are some New Year’s columns from years past:

More than lighted balls drop on New Year’s Eve
New York City has the Tiffany glass ball, but Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, drops a 30-pound carp. That’s just the beginning of truly strange New Year’s Eve “droppings.”

jimshortsdesignatedpartier

Don’t look back!
The Bible urges us to look forward: “Do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18) and “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13b). There are real dangers in looking back.

My predictions for new year
All my predictions come with a 100 percent, money-back guarantee!

God has a plan for new year
According to the story of Christ’s birth in the gospel of Matthew, God has a plan for our relationships, schedule, location—and even tragedies—in the new year.

A verse for the new year
Everyone seems to have a word, a saying or a Bible verse for the new year. In 2014, I facetiously noted that my word for the year was “platypus.” I actually had a verse for last year . . .

jimshortsnewyear4


Top ten posts from 2015

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

10. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

9. Who is the supreme super hero?

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

7. Does DNA disprove evolution?

6. Hope and humor cartoons

5. Cure for common cold: sex

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

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

2. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

And, the number one post in 2015 . . .

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

(See list at right for the latest posts.)

Have a God-directed new year! And if you found any of this helpful or hopeful, please share on your social netowrks. Thanks!

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I am so pumped up about the new year. Lois has an exciting new opportunity looming—please pray—and I have a brand new book launching in just over two weeks.

As I’ve mentioned, Thomas à Kempis’ book, The Imitation of Christ has changed my life—I have mentioned it, right? While I had a degree in theology, and had been writing Christian books and articles most of my professional life, à Kempis had a close, deep relationship with Jesus Christ that I didn’t. I knew Christ, but I didn’t know Christ. I have read through à Kempis’ book at least ten times now, and each time, I find myself knowing Christ in closer and deeper ways.

This past spring, I woke up one morning thinking, Someone needs to put The Imitation of Christ into modern language and organize it into devotional readings. (Whenever you think Someone ought to do something, it’s often God saying, “Yep! And that someone is you.” On a lark, I pitched the idea to my agent.

It’s been one miracle after another as the book has raced toward publication in less than nine months. I sincerely believe this book can change lives. Over the past 500 years, it has done just that, so this could be the edition for the 21st century.

To reach as many people as possible with this life-changing message, I need your help. Would you be willing to share with your friends through social media, emails, newsletters, in your conversations with others, etc., about The Imitation of Christ? Below I have provided you with some prewritten tweets, Facebook posts, links, and images that you can use to help us spread the word. It’s as easy as copying and pasting one or more into your social media networks:

Facebook posts

      Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST has been a best-seller for over 500 years! Now it’s updated in today’s language and organized into 90 devotional readings by James Watkins. Available January 12th! http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      If you want to know Christ in deeper way, consider reading James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST. It’s available January 12th. Click to read a sample chapter: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Read a sample chapter of James Watkins’ updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ IMITATION OF CHRIST. It’s available January 12t. Click to read a sample chapter: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Join millions of readers who, over the past five hundred years, have become more like Christ through Thomas à Kempis’ amazing book IMITATION OF CHRIST. James Watkins’ updated version is available January 12th. Click for more info: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

Or feel free to create your own post!

Twitter posts

      James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist is available 1/12. Click for info: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Know #Christ in deeper way. Read James Watkins updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

      Read a sample chapter of James Watkins’ updated version of Thomas à Kempis’ #TheImitationofChrist Available 1/12: http://bit.ly/1O1Z6sz

Or feel free to create your own tweet!

Share a photo from one of these sites (Just click SHARE in the program. Graphics are shared and retweeted many more times than simple text.)

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

But wait there’s more . . .

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

I have so appreciated your prayers and encouragement as I’ve worked on this book. You’re an important part of the ministry this amazing book will have! Thanks.
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WatkinsChristmas2015A

Wishing you a meaningful Christmas and a God-directed New Year from the Watkins family!

We are grateful for a good 2015:

• We both thoroughly enjoyed time with family this past year. We watch Faith’s girls after school once a week, and get to see Paul and Amy’s three kiddos about once a month. Love it! Love them!

Today is Lois and my traditional Chinese lunch (“Fra ra ra ra ra!”), then “Star Wars,” Christmas Eve service and finally driving around looking at Christmas lights with Faith and girls. Christmas dinner with Mom at my brother’s. And Dececember 26, since Mom is in an assisted living home, we’ve booked a hotel for the entire Watkins kin gift exchange and then swim party (much better suited venue for five grands who are “lively and quick.”)

• I signed a book contract for a thoroughly modernized and organized Imitation of Christ devotional. It’s been filled with miracles well before its release January 12. I also enjoyed speaking at 10 writers’ conferences. (Here’s my 2016 schedule.)

• Lois continued working with the physically and mentally challenged.

• Mom moved into a beautiful assisted living facility and put her immaculate house with acreage and woods up for sale. She has found new purpose in ministering to the residents including sneaking a Christmas tree into the apartment of the resident “Grinch.”

• And I’m once again running for president as an independent with The Tupperware Party: Putting a Lid on Government. Thanks for your vote!

• We’re looking forward to what God is going to bring about in our lives and yours in 2016!

Do have a meaningful Christmas and God-directed New Year!
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Related posts
God has plan for New Year
How Christmas saved a “grinch”
The Twelve Sites of Christmas

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‘Peace on earth’ in pieces?

December 21st, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


December 2015

The promise of “peace on earth” seems to be in pieces this Christmas season with news of increased terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals. Pope Francis told churchgoers that Christmas this year is going to be a “charade” because “the whole world is at war.” The earth was at peace on Christ first arrival on earth, but only because the pax romana—the peace of Rome—had completely crushed its enemies and set up harsh military rule in the Holy Land.

However, the hope the prophet Isaiah offered nearly 3,000 years ago is still our hope today!

      The people who walk in darkness
         will see a great light.
      For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
         a light will shine (9:1-2).

      For you will break the yoke of their slavery
         and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
      You will break the oppressor’s rod,
         just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
      The boots of the warrior
         and the uniforms bloodstained by war
      will all be burned.
         They will be fuel for the fire.
      For a child is born to us,
         a son is given to us.
      The government will rest on his shoulders.

         And he will be called:
      Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
         Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
      His government and its peace
         will never end.

      He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
         for all eternity.
      The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
         will make this happen! (9:4-7).

Our world was dark in 700 BC, again at the time of Christ and now in today’s world of terrorists attacks throughout the world. But we are promised that Christ will return as the “Wonderful Counselor” to heal all our anxieties and brokenness, a “Mighty God” to restore fairness and justice, an “Everlasting Father” to love and provide for us, and the “Prince of Peace” to cause all wars and conflicts to cease.

That’s the hope of Christmas. It’s not a “charade.” Jesus came as a baby to restore our relationship with God—and is coming a second time to restore our world with “peace on earth.”

Have a very meaningful Christmas celebration!
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Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Related post

Are Islam, Christianity “peaceful” religions?
“There is no peace on earth” I said
“Threat level” solidly “green”
Why does “Grinch” Laden hate the U’s


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Imitation of Christ releases in 22 days!

The Imitation of Christ is one of the great spiritual works of the Church. More than five hundred years later, it remains not just a classic, but a road map to the life the Lord wants each of us to live.”
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan: Archbishop of New York

“This book makes me angry. Not only because I didn’t think of it, but also because I could never have done the thorough, sensitive, beautiful job James N. Watkins has done in updating Thomas à Kempis’s, The Imitation of Christ, into a modern classic of ninety riveting readings. I need this book. And so does everyone I know.”
Bob Hostetler, best-selling author of Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

“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, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church

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

About the book
About Thomas à Kempis
Read an excerpt
My exclusive interview with Thomas à Kempis
• Daily quotations: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
The story behind this book

Available January 12, 2016. Pre-order today!
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
• Christianbook hardcover eBook

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

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May the force be with you

December 17th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

jimpicyoda

Just 24 hours until the brand new Star Wars blasts into a galaxy near you! So here are some of my favorite columns, cartoons and top ten lists.


Columns from a galaxy far, far away

The Force Awakens universal questions
How does George Lucas come up with character’s names? A drunken game of Scrabble? How do light sabers work? Where do space royalty go for their hair and makeup? Do we all have a light and dark side? [Continue reading]

Star Wars III: modern morality play
Revenge of the Sith is a modern-day morality play where we witness a powerful struggle not only between good and evil, but the temptation to use evil for anticipated good; the end justifying the means. [Continue reading]

This Force never sleeps
In Episode VII, “The Force Awakens.” Has it been taking a nap? Has it been frozen in carbonite? Did it pass out at the Mos Eisley Cantina? I’m glad the real Force never sleeps! [Continue reading]


Top ten lists from Tatooine

Top ten signs Han Solo has turned 70
10. Forgets to turn off directional light on Millennium Falcon [Continue reading]

Top ten surprises in Episode VII
Disney has purchased Lucas Films and is planning to relaunch the Star Wars franchise with a new episodes opening in 2015. So, I have in my right bionic hand, direct from the Rebel base, tonight’s category. [Continue reading]


Cartoons from rebel base

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Be sure to visit my James Watkins for President page

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If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your social networks. And if you’d like to post cartoons, just SAVE by right clicking on them. Thanks! May the force be with you

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ShockTheClock

If you have a friend who has everything—except time to do everything—Shock The Clock: Time Management for Writers and Other Creatives is the perfect Christmas gift.

I found time—using her practical tips—to interview my witty and wise friend, Jeanette Levellie.

Let’s not waste time. Give me the gist of your book in 15 seconds or less.

If you got an A+ in procrastination, can’t find your car keys, and might need a lifetime pass to Clutterbugs Anonymous, you can benefit from this lighthearted approach to managing your time and getting more writing done.

That was just 8 seconds. So, in the 7 remaining seconds, what will readers learn?

I hope writers and other creatives—from artists to musicians to movie producers to Play-Doh sculptors—will be encouraged by God and my words that you can learn to manage your time, even if you were born disorganized and discombobulated like me.

So let’s reset the timer and ask, What sparked your interest in this topic?

I have learned over the years how to say no when I need to, how to manage small and large chunks of time, and how to pack the most into a day, but also how to relax and play. Some I learned from books, some from emulating organized people, and some from the Holy Spirit konkin’ me on the head.

What person or thing has been most beneficial to your writing career? Fifteen seconds start now.

God, since he’s the one who gave me a brain and all these zany ideas that turn into articles and books, but my biggest cheerleader is you. You published tons of my humor columns in the magazine Vista. Those columns morphed into my second book, The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul. Just having one person who knows the writing industry believe in your work makes the difference between barely hanging on and believing in yourself.

Well, thank you. Discovering new, talented writers is the best thing about being an editor. You are one of my favorite humorists, but enough about me. What advice would you give to beginning authors?

Don’t take rejections personally. I used to be crushed by rejection slips, but now I just move on. It’s not even about me as a person; it’s about what that editor likes, or his or her audience reads. But I do listen to corrections, so I can improve. I’ve also learned to cull out the passive verbs and write tighter, to keep the readers’ interest. I’d encourage new writers that it’s not always gonna be this hard. Just hang on awhile longer.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule of working as a church administrative assistant, writing a weekly newspaper column and authoring books. And thanks for letting me endorse your latest book:

      I’ve never believed in “time management,” but I’ve always believed in self management. So, I’m taking time to recommend Shock the Clock, Jeanette’s warm, wise, and witty book on managing yourself while carving out chunks of time to be creative. And it’s short, so you do have time to read it!

The Internet gods will be angered if I don’t reveal that I have not been paid, blackmailed or in any other way coerced to endorse this book. I’m doing it willingly and with a sound mind. (Okay, maybe not the last part.)

• Buy Jeanette’s Shock the Clock as well as her delightful The Heart of Humor and Two Scoops of Grace with Sprinkles on Top.

• And if you have time, read my post: Managing your time . . . and sanity

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

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Christmas smells like ****

December 14th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

gingerbreadmen-280
Evergreen boughs. Gingerbread. Wassail. Fresh-baked cookies. Frosty winter air. Bayberry candles. The festive fragrances reminded our family that this was Christmas Eve as we visited my wife’s mother in Wisconsin.

“Dad, can we go down to the barn and see the kittens?” Faith and Paul asked. We bundled up and trudged through the snow to the barn.

As we opened the door, the smell of urine burned our eyes and nostrils. Steam from the cattle’s body heat carried the scent of fresh manure throughout the barn.

“Let’s see the kittens and then get out of here,” my teen-aged daughter urged. “My hair is going to smell just terrible after being here!”

We did carry the odor of the barn’s manure, old wooden beams, grain, and fresh straw back to the house with us.

“This smells better,” Paul announced as the aroma of roasting turkey greeted us at the door.

But the true scent of the season clung to our clothes. The holy and pure God had chosen to arrive on earth, not between scented candles in a tabernacle of cedar paneling, but in the stench and filth of livestock.* And in his sacrificial acts, he offered us the “fragrance of life” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Copyright © 1988 James N. Watkins

Related posts
The Twelve Sites of Christmas

*The word translated “inn” (kataluma) is actually a term for upper room—the same word used for the location of the Last Supper. First century houses used the first floor for housing animals, while the upstairs was the sleeping area. Thus Jesus was indeed cradled in a manger (feed trough) but not in a “stable.”

Photo from MorgueFile.com

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The good news about bad news

December 9th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


December 2015

You know, after reading a few “Hope and Humor” posts, that my mind is slightly twisted, and sometimes completely warped. I see things differently than the average person. For instance, when I see bad news on TV or online, I think I am so glad that made the news! Let me try to explain that for you normal people.

The past seven days, the media has bombarded us with continuous coverage of the horrific terrorist killings in San Bernardino. That event bumped from the front page, a Chicago police officer being charged with murder in the killing of a knife-weilding teen—complete with the graphic video. And Sunday, President Barack Obama made a rare primetime speech to the nation trying to assure the public that citizens are safe from terrorists. There’s no doubt, it has been a bad news week. But . . .

The good news is that these events are considered news!

“Why?” you ask shaking your head in disbelief and reaching for the BACK button. Newsworthiness is determined by events that are out of the ordinary, rare and downright bizarre. “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” is news. People being killed is not news. Every day in the United States, 117 people are killed in vehicle crashes. And that same day, 77 people are killed in bathroom accidents. But when just 14 people are slaughtered by domestic terrorists, that is not normal! And so, it’s news. And it’s so unusual, that the national networks devote the entire evening and the next week covering the event!

Take government corruption. Please! It’s big news in most developed countries, but it wouldn’t make the last page of Section D in many Third World countries. While traveling to an African country to speak, I was told I would need to present the customs agent with a brand new $100 bill to enter the country. And to get out, I had to give the customs agent a brand new $50 bill. The missionary who picked me up at the airport explained that this is just business as usual in his country, as was paying ten-year-old extortionists to guard his vehicle when he parked anywhere in the downtown area. So in that country, political corruption is not news.

And while Americans were shocked at child sexual assault charges brought against Subway pitchman, Jared Fogle, it would not be news in Afghanistan. There young boys are regularly used to gratify older men. One missionary told me, “In this country, boys are for pleasure; women are for babies.” Sex trafficking, particularly of women and young children is rampant in countries such as Cambodia, India, countries in Africa and Eastern Asia.

And while a gun shot fired at the White House made it to the top of the nightly news back in 2011, violence against government leaders is not unusual in many countries. In Mexico alone, drug cartels have claimed the lives of 174 government officials including 83 police chiefs and 32 mayors in just six years.

The good news is that these recent crimes are considered “news” in the United States! Yes, we have terrorist attacks, but only 14 people have died in domestic terrorism since September 11, 2001. Yes, we have political corruption, but nothing on the scale of African, Asian or South American countries. Yes, we have cops shooting unarmed suspects, but they are a newsworthy few. Yes, we have a lengthy list of sex offenders, but it’s still considered an “offense”—contrary to countries where sex with children is the cultural norm.

And that’s good news!

Copyright © 2011, 2015 James N. Watkins Adapted from a column that originally appeared in Presidential Prayer Team newsletter, November 2011.

Related post
• My snarky response to new terror warning system: “Threat level” solidly “green”
Reponding to terrorist attacks

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