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Shock. Disbelief. Horror. Anger. Grief. These are just a few of the emotions overwhelming the French people following the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris.

I was at the McDonald’s “PlayLand” as the news unfolded on the giant TV above the area. I was holding my giggling granddaughter’s hands as she “walked” up me and back-flipped onto the floor as her older brothers ran among the equipment with uninhibited joy. At the very same time, I watched the news as immobilized victims clutched the hands of loved ones and bloodied survivors ran in horror for cover. Such joy, such sorrow. So surreal!

Here are some resources I hope will be helpful in responding to horrific attack:

Reacting
Dealing with death and grief
“bin Laden, kiss my pass!” (September 10, 2003)
Talking to your children about terrorism

Reasoning
Hope amid horror (September 11, 2006)
What motivates terrorists?
Taking the terror out of terrorism

Responding
Can war on terrorism be won? (September 11, 2005)
How can we overcome evil with good?
We are strong! We will survive! (September 17, 2001)
What we haven’t learned from 9/11 (September 9, 2002)
Candle-lighting ceremony following terrorist attacks (September 11, 2001)

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those killed and injured by terrorist acts.
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Copyright © James N. Watkins

Photo from MorgueFile.com

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I am so excited that one of my favorite books, filled with hope and humor, is now an audio book!

Listen to 10 ways to not only survive but thrive with a lemon-fresh attitude as you face those lemon juice in the eye, life-puckering problems. I’ve had my share of sour fruit (cancer, unemployment, depression, chronic nose hair), but here’s a humorous look at the problems of life and the power to overcome them.

Browse
Table of contents, endorsements
Read an excerpt on pain

Buy audio
• Audio.com Complete, unabridged book

Buy paperback and eBook
• Amazon Paperback or eBook
• Barnes and Noble eBook

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One-third of all the psalms in the Bible are what commentators call “laments.” And the lament of all laments is found in Psalm 22:

      My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
      Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
      Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
      Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief (22:1-2).

Have you ever felt that way? I suspect we all have! St. John of the Cross calls it “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Perhaps you’re facing Thanksgiving Day and there doesn’t seem to be anything for which to give thanks.

But I love the way the psalms of lament always end with hope:

      Yet you are holy,
      enthroned on the praises of Israel.
      Our ancestors trusted in you,
      and you rescued them.
      They cried out to you and were saved.
      They trusted in you and were never disgraced (22:3-5).

We need to keep our eyes on the big picture! God does not answer prayer on our time table. (See my post God Is Never Late, But He Sure Is Slow.) I prayed fervently for five years about a broken relationship before God answered. And I’ve been praying for ten years for a very important issue without an answer.

Apparently God doesn’t own a wrist watch. He lives in the eternal “now.” “You must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Unfortunately, we do live in time, and a day can seem like a thousand years!

The psalmist is encouraged by two things: simply praising God despite the circumstances and remembering the many ways God has answered prayers in the past:

      I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
      I will praise you among your assembled people.
      Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
      Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
      Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
      For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
      He has not turned his back on them,
      but has listened to their cries for help.
      I will praise you in the great assembly.
      I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you (22:22-25).

The psalmist will praise God and remain faithful to his lord, even though his heart cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” And he hopes for a better future:

      Our children will also serve him.
      Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
      His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
      They will hear about everything he has done (22:30-31).

If you’re going through a time of feeling abandoned by God, I’d love to send you a free ebook of Squeezing Good Out of Bad. Just email me at jim @ jameswatkins.com.

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
“Don’t be afraid”
Feeling inadequate, ill-equipped, in the dark?
God is such a drama king
Hope in a hand basket
I’m a giant killer! [Print and audio]
I’m giving up fear for Lent
Is it a hangnail or hand grenade?
“It Is Well with My Soul” The rest of the stories
Keeping your dreams alive
Soaring with eagles, walking with emus [Print and audio]

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Liar! Liar! Pantsuit on fire!

November 7th, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

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November 2015

I’m a fierce independent and someone with a journalism background, so if Ben Carson is lying about his rags to surgical scrubs story, that is a valid inquiry. It just wish Hillary Clinton was held to the same journalistic standards.

1. Clinton told “Today” that her daughter was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9-11 and was in a nearby coffee shop when “She heard the plane hit. She heard it. She did,” Chelsea told “Talk Magazine” she was at a friend’s house four miles away. Her friend called her out of a deep sleep to tell her the first plane had struck.

2. Clinton told an audience during her 2008 run for president, that while visiting Bosnia in 1996 as first lady, she remembered “landing under sniper fire.” A greeting ceremony had to be cancelled, she said, as her party “ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Video of the Bosnia landing showed Clinton and her daughter calmly walking across the tarmac to be greeted by a little girl with flowers and a crowd of well-wishers.

3. Clinton claims she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two men to climb Mt. Everest. The mountain climber didn’t gain fame for climbing the peak until Clinton was six years old.

4. Clinton kept State Department emails on a private server in her home, but “I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail. I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.” Early on the in federal investigation the inspector general for 17 spy agencies told Congress that two contained information deemed “Top Secret.” Other emails were not labeled “Top Secret” but were indeed top secret and she knew it, investigators claim.

Other statements are harder to nail down.

Did or didn’t Clinton know that the attack on the Libyan embassy was a well-planned out terrorist attack and not a reaction to an anti-Muslim video? (She did tell the Egyptian prime minister less than 24 hours after the attack: “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.” However, for days later, the official story continued to be the attack was inspired by the video.)

And were the Clinton’s really “dead broke” when they left the White House—to make 12 million dollars during the year after leaving.

If Carson has fabricated some of his story, he needs to come clean. And Clinton needs to be held to the same standards as Carson.

Truth is not a Republican or Democratic commodity. The bright light needs to shine on all: conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican, mainstream media and online news outlets . . .

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Note (June 2016)

Donald Trump, the “presumptive” Republican candidate, is no “Honest Abe” either. New York Times‘ columnist Timothy Egan wrote:

      [T]he nonpartisan PolitiFact has rated 76 percent of his statements lies—57 percent false or mostly false, and another 19 percent “Pants on Fire” fabrications. Only 2 percent—2 percent!—of his assertions were rated true, and another 6 percent mostly true. Hillary Clinton, who is not exactly known for fealty to the facts, had a 28 percent total lie score, including a mere 1 percent Pants on Fire.

      The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has dinged Trump with 30 of its Four Pinocchio ratings—lying 70 percent of the time.

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I love the responses to this cartoon on Facebook:

“But the greatest of these is faith.” Oh wait… I guess that’s not what it says. Faith Anne

Most days? “Jesus wept.” Linda M Au

“Let her alone; why trouble ye her?” Nancy Lohr

“The laborer deserves his wages.” Show me the money! Paula Geister (Writer)

As a stay at home dad of three boys under age five, 1 Corinthians 15:51 nails my current struggles with nap/rest time: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” Alex Shrum

“Be still and know!” Barb Williams

“My breath is offensive to my wife” (Job 19:17a). Doug Shoemaker

I love my Facebook friends! Please add your own in the comment box below. Thanks.

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Over-the-top victors

November 2nd, 2015 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


I cannot do this!

While I was undergoing radiation treatments for cancer, I was scheduled to speak at a large conference. My strength was totally, completely depleted, and I had no idea how I was going to have the energy to present the closing keynote address. As I sat on the front row listening to my introduction, those thoughts screamed out in my mind: I cannot do this! But, immediately, God seemed to say, “That’s exactly what I needed to hear.”

God promises us victory at the point where we seem to be completely depleted and defeated. (The Bible is filled with hundreds of examples!) The apostle Paul wanted to convey this powerful truth, but he was at a loss of words. So, he just made up a word.

      In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37).

The words translated “more than conquerors” is that created word—upernikwmen—a combination of the Greek words hyper and nike.

If you have a “hyper” child, there’s no need for a description. Hyper means “over the top,” “above and beyond.” And we all recognize the word Nike from athletic wear meaning “victor.”

So Paul describes believers as “over-the-top victors”—those who transcend death and life, angels and demons, the present and the future, any powers, heights and depths, and anything else in all creation (Romans 8:38-39).

As I weakly made my way to the stage, I was immediately filled with over-the-top energy for the 40-minute talk. In fact, it was one of my most energized and Spirit-empowered talks ever! But as soon as I sat back down, the exhaustion instantly returned. God had provided hyper nike just when I needed it!

God wants to do that for you as well. That’s why Paul writes:

      That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

So let’s get out there today and be “over-the-top victors”!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
Feeling inadequate, ill-equipped, in the dark?
“In this world, you will have trouble”
Top ten things I’ve learned from cancer
World’s wackiest battle briefing

Nike and the Nike “swoosh” are registered trademarks of the Nike Corporation.


Fall2015

True colors shining through

Fall is my favorite season with cooler temperatures, fresh cider and spectacular colors! As the chlorophyll—the green pigment in leaves—drains from trees, we see the true colors of the red and yellow maples, yellows of birch and reddish-purple of dogwoods. Their true colors come shining through in fall. Click for my fall photo essay.


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Imitation of Christ releases in 71 days!

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

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 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

“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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

9. Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

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

7. Hope and humor cartoons

6. Does DNA disprove evolution?

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

4. Cure for common cold: sex

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 October 2015 . . .

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

(See list at right for the latest posts.)

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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!

Related posts
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
Feeling inadequate, ill-equipped, in the dark?
“In this world, you will have trouble”
Top ten things I’ve learned from cancer
World’s wackiest battle briefing


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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!

Related posts
God’s will is not lost: for those trying to find it
Hope and humor for writers

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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!

Related post
Are authors in their “write” mind?
Genuine Jesus or Counterfeit Christ?


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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
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