I have in my right hand, direct from the Sky Mall catalog, today’s category: Top ten things I do not want for Christmas

10. Sippy Wine Glass ($19.95) “When standing and noshing, juggling a wine glass can be challenging. Enter this acrylic wine glass with a no-spill sippy lid.” [Perfect for the tipsy toddler.]

9. Darth Vader Toaster ($44.95) “Butter your toast on the ‘dark side.’ Make toast and marvel at the Star Wars logo branded into it.” [More dollars than sense you have, yes?]

8. Relaxing MagicShowerhead ($59.99) “Enliven your daily shower experience by transforming your regular shower into a fountain of brilliant fun. Illuminates the shower water producing a variety of changing colors.” [Far out, man!]

7. Outdoor Dog Chaise Lounger ($249) “Designed with a built-in, overhanging shade for those days your dog just wants to cool off.”

6. Fyxation Leather Six-Pack Caddy ($59.99) “This full grain leather beer caddy conveniently fastens to your bike.” [Don’t drink and bike!]

5. Bacon Jams Sampler ($39.99) “Pack of three features All-Original, Red Chili & Garlic and Black Pepper”

4. Toilet Lid Photo Frame ($49.99) “Display your favorite 8 x 10 photo on this tough white plastic and clear acrylic bathroom essential. Lid fits all toilets or mounts to bathroom wall.” [Pooparazzi pics?]

3. The Wordsmith’s Manual Typewriter ($249.95) “This is the manual typewriter that recalls the thoughtful, well-written correspondence of yesteryears. Devoid of technological crutches such as spell-check and deletion.” [The perfect gift for the Luddite on your list!]

2. Tikker ($79.99) “A wristwatch that counts down your life. Using statistics and a personal health algorithm, your average life expectancy is calculated. The countdown begins, from years to seconds.” [As if aging isn’t depressing enough!]

1. Leo Men’s Padded Butt Enhanced Brief ($35) “All the benefits of a regular brief, but with removable contour padding and a special design to lift your butt.” [How many of those tiny bottles of airline liquor do you need to drink to think this is a good idea?!]

We report. You shake your head.

I am so grateful for gifts I don’t have to return or exchange. (I certainly do not need Padded Butt Enhanced Briefs!) Jesus, however, offers this gift:

      “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 17:27).

I pray that during the hustle and bustle of gift buying, you remember the gift of Christ’s peace of mind and heart. (You won’t find that in Skymall!)

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Just for fun, I added one fake product. Can you tell which one is totally made up? (And, yes, there’s just one) Leave your guess in the comment box below. First correct guess wins a free book.

And the winner is . . . Jody Moreen who was first to correctly identify the one fake: Toilet Lid Photo Frame. A copy of Squeezing Good Out of Bad is on it’s way to you, Jody.

Related site
The Twelve Sites of Christmas


Closed for Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


We’re closed today so you and I can enjoy a grateful thanksgiving with family and friends. (The whole Watkins kin is getting together at my mom’s for lots of food, games, laughter, hugs and so much thankfulness!)

Hope&Humor will reopen at midnight with my seventeenth annual The Twelve Sites of Christmas.

Have a grateful Thanksgiving day!


Hope and humor for Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Wishing you a wonderful time of Thanksgiving with family and friends. Here are my favorite cartoons and columns for this wonderful time of the year:



Turkey trivia
Raise the intellectual level of conversation at Thanksgiving dinner above that of the cranberry sauce with this serving of fascinating facts.



Fifty praises between bed and bathroom
I vowed not to ask for anything, but to simply praise God during the day. I found fifty things for which to praise Him within just ten feet.


Thanks for nothing
Some thoughts on the above cartoon. . .

Top ten reasons to give thanks . . .
. . . when you think you don’t have any. You really do have much for which to give thanks.



Feel free to right click and save any of these cartoons to use on your site or newsletters or wherever. And you’re welcome to repost any of my columns. Just be sure to include: © Copyright James N. Watkins. All rights reserved. www.jameswatkins.com Thanks!


It’s a real pleasure to introduce today’s guest poster: Louise Looney. We collaborated on this warm, witty and wise book for those over 40.

Louise is warm, witty and wise. I’m simply witty—I hope—with my one-liners on aging sprinkled throughout the book. It would make a great Christmas gift for the AARP members on your list. Order at amazon.com. Here’s an excerpt:

Lasting beauty

It was easier keeping my chin up when I had just one! JNW

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside . . . the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG

In Ecclesiastes chapter twelve, Solomon lists a number of things that begin to go wrong as a person gets older. As I struggled with Solomon’s unwelcomed input, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a gentle whisper caused me to snap to attention. Solomon’s observations are real possibilities, but he addressed issues that apply to the physical body. If you’re willing to go deeper, you’ll find that as the outer shell begins to wear out, I’m creating an incredible inner man that will never grow old. I knew the Lord was reminding me that this new body was a marvel He designed to last throughout all eternity.

My heart beat faster. A tingle went up my spine as I contemplated the depth and breadth of this miraculous plan God has to transform us—from the inside out.

This thought reassured me: The Lord is creating a vibrant new life inside—where real beauty counts and is being nurtured within the spirit of man. Even now, it’s sprouting wings that will fly forever throughout the heavens.

Prayer: Lord, transform us from the inside out. Start with our hearts. Let them beat in sync with Your heart of love.

Question: How can you begin to search for new meaning for this period of life?

Copyright © 2014 Louise L. Looney and James N. Watkins


One Sunday I made the mistake of teaching on John 16:33:

      “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (emphasis mine).

Immediately after the closing prayer, one family went out into the sub-zero weather to find that they had left the van’s lights on and their battery was dead. Another family discovered their four-year-old had gotten into their van, turned it on and backed over a parking bumper. The worship leader went home to find her husband gone with a note telling her he wanted a divorce. That night the church’s hot-water heating pipes froze up and the parsonage’s furnace broke down. A parishioner offered to thaw out the church’s pipes with a blow torch and caught the building’s sub-flooring on fire. Then things got worse!

The next Sunday, I promised to never, ever to speak on that passage again.

“Trouble” seems to be life’s default setting: flat tires, kidney stones, IRS audits . . . the list goes on and on. So, I’m assuming you and I will be facing some trouble this week. But Christ offers us “peace” and “overcoming” victory this week as well. That’s why Paul can write:

      But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).

So, I hope you’re having a “but not” week! We will have trouble, but not defeat!

Copyright © 2009 James N. Watkins

From Squeezing Good Out of Bad. Read free excerpts.

Photo from MorgueFile


Hope . . . 70 years later!

November 11th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


Many of my friends claim the following verse as one of their favorite biblical promises:

      “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

What many don’t realize is that this promise was pronounced before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and its residents taken away into exile for 70 years!

God is promising Jeremiah, in the preceding verse, “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”

In our instant “New York minute” microwave world, waiting 70 years for God to answer prayer seems like an eternity. But God promises in verses 12-13: “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

During those 70 years, God promises to be with His people. And that is the real promise here. Whether we are facing “good” or seeming “disaster,” we have “a future and a hope.” We have His presence!

Copyright © 2000 James N. Watkins

Related posts
God is never late—but He sure is slow
Waiting is hard work

Painting: Rembrandt’s Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem



It’s a joy to be teaching and meeting authors at the Heart of America Christian Writers’ Conference in Overland, Kansas. Here are the notes from my seminars:

Communicate to Change Lives
From my books on biblical and behavioral principles for changing lives in person and in print

Confessions of an Author and Speaker
A shocking expose’ of the writing life

Taking Word to World Wide Web
Planning, producing and promoting your web site or blog

Twenty-five Rejection-Proof Markets
Change lives with your writing without those annoying rejection slips

Keeping Your Dreams Alive (Closing keynote)
Hope and humor for writers in the pit, prison or palace

And here’s a link to a ream full of writers’ resources:

Hope and humor for writers


Just in time for Halloween, NBC is introducing Constantine, a modern day “demon hunter.” Here’s how they’re promoting it online:

      Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine (Matt Ryan, “Criminal Minds”) is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight—or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent.

It premiers tonight, so—disclaimer—I haven’t seen it, but judging by the official promo it’s not at all realistic. So, two comments:

1. Jesus and Paul both teach that you can’t fight evil with evil.

      One day Jesus cast out a demon from a man who couldn’t speak, and when the demon was gone, the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed, but some of them said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Others, trying to test Jesus, demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

      He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. You say I am empowered by Satan. But if Satan is divided and fighting against himself, how can his kingdom survive? And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said (Luke 11:14-19).

2. Demons are not comic book characters or movie villains

As I mention in my The Why Files series, demons are real. They are fallen angels intent on destroying humans through overt actions (the highly publicized stories of possession), but mostly through extremely subtle, unseen tactics to turn the hearts of men and women away from God. Here’s my chapter on Demons: Possession or Obsession?.

Please read it before seeing the latest TV show, movie or book featuring demons. They’re simply not realistic!

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Photo from The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the only Hollywood film on demons I would recommend. Not perfect, but well-done—and realistic.


Twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard plans to die on Saturday, November 1, 2014.

Maynard was diagnosed with grade II Astrocytoma, a severe brain tumor. It quickly progressed to Glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of brain cancer. Now she has announced she will take her own life under Oregon’s “death with dignity” law in just ten days.

In 2000, I addressed the student body of Indiana Wesleyan University with a talk based on my book The Why Files: Is There Really Life After Death?. Please consider it carefully if you or a loved one is thinking about taking his or her own life.

I just finished a three-book series on sex, death, and the supernatural. So, I’ve learned more than I really want to know about feminine hygiene products, embalming bodies, and seances. That’s why Dr. Swyers asked me to speak on euthanasia.

First, let’s define terms.

Simply refusing “extraordinary” medical care is not euthanasia.

Joni Earekson Tada, who has been paralyzed from the neck down for most for life, asls “Does the medical treatment offered extend life, or simply prolong death? Good question when facing a terminal illness.

I quote Ron Sloan, a family medicine doctor, in my book

      Part of my practice in helping people die, as well as helping people live. I don’t put people on medications I know won’t help them. I don’t put people on ventilators who aren’t doing to be helped by them.

Assisted suicide is very different.

      A non-suicidal person knowingly and intentionally provides the means or acts in some way to help a suicidal person kill him- or herself.

Dr. Jack Kervorkian is the “poster child” for assisted suicide. He provides all the means for death, but the suicidal person actually turns on the gas or triggers the delivery of deadly drugs.


      One person does something that directly kills another. For example, a doctor gives a lethal injection to the patient.

For today, I’m going to lump both together and refer to them both as euthanasia. Both intentionally make people die, rather than allowing them to die naturally. So, here are my two points, if you’re taking notes:

1. Death is bad

2. Life is good

That didn’t take long! Maybe I ought to elaborate

Death is bad

Supporters of euthanasia talk about death as—and I’m not making these up—”deliverance, ” “aid-in-dying, ” “gentle landing,” and “embraced by the light”

But no where in the Bible—from Genesis to maps—is death glorified.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:26:

      The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” In verses 54-55, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Life is good

Paul seems to imply in Philippians 1:21-26, that life here on earth is good—even though life in heaven with Christ is obviously much better:

      For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Keep in mind that Paul is in prison—which is not the modern Grant County Jail, but basically a hole in the ground with bars—under Roman oppression, during persecution of the church, in the First Century where nearly half the population were slaves, and many died before their first birthday. Also a time filled with leprosy, malaria, small pox, and more. And, most of all, no Internet service!

But there is something inherently good about life!

Why else would Jesus and His disciples raise people from the dead? Lazarus has been enjoying release from First Century disease and political corruption for three days when Jesus commands, “Lazarus, you come back here!” If earthly life was something merely to be endured until we could enjoy health and life in heaven, then it seems absolutely cruel for Christ to bring the dead back to this “veil of tears.”

Part of the reason, of course, was for Jesus to prove His divinity, but I think a part of it, was that Mary and Martha needed their brother and that his divine purpose had not yet been accomplished. It was more important that—for now—he be on earth rather than in heaven.

So, what are some practical implications?

No one can say for sure who “terminal”

When I interviewed Dr. Sloan, he admitted:

      You can have a patient who has all the symptoms [of near death], and they’ll walk out of the hospital a week later. You can have a cancer patient that you expect to live less than six months, and six years later you’re still doing their annual examinations. Or worse, you tell someone they’re perfectly healthy, and a few days later they’re face up in a flowerbed from a fatal heart attack.

Proponents of euthanasia want to expand reasons for killing one’s self or others.

For example, when he spoke to the National Press Club in 1992, Jack Kevorkian said that a terminal illness was “any disease that curtails life even for a day.” (Yikes, final exams take curtail your life for longer than that!)

The co-founder of the Hemlock Society often refers to “terminal old age.”

Instead of using the word “terminal” euthanasia advocates are replacing it with “hopelessly ill,” “desperately ill,” “incurably ill,” “hopeless condition,” and “meaningless life.”

An article in the journal, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, described “hopeless condition” as severe physical or psychological pain, physical or mental debilitation or deterioration, or “a quality of life that is no longer acceptable to the individual.”

In a May 1996 speech to the American Psychiatric Association, George Delury (who assisted in the 1995 death of his wife who had multiple sclerosis) suggested that “hopelessly ill people or people past age sixty just apply for a license to die”

Hey, wait just a minute! I’m just twelve years from the big 6-0!

Severe pain is longer a reason for euthanasia

Anyone had a kidney stone? To understand the pain, lie in the parking lot and have your friends drive over your lower back . . . with a bus . . . with snow chains . . . filled with people on their way to Weight Watchers. It took three surgeries in two hospitals over one whole month to remove that stubborn stone. If Dr. Kervorkina would have walked in as I crying out to the Lord, I probably would have screamed, “Shooooow meeeee the monoxide!”

I’m not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of pain! I don’t buy this “No pain, no gain” stuff. My philosophy is “No pain, no ‘ow-ie’.” Euthanasia activists exploit that fear and imply that when cure is no longer likely, there are only two alternatives: euthanasia or unbearable pain. An official of Choice in Dying said refusing to permit euthanasia “would, in fact, be to abandon the patient to a horrifying death.”

However, today, pain control is available. For instance, once the doctor confirmed my kidney stone, they put me on a morphine pump with a “Jeopardy” style button I could push whenever I was in pain. “I’ll take Demerol for $100, Alex.” I was absolutely pain free.

I’m so glad Dr. Kervorkian wasn’t on call at the McCray Emergency room on November 15, 1991. I would have never seen Faith graduate from high school. I would have never seen her become engaged. And I wouldn’t have been around to walk her down the aisle May 6. Which brings up an issue . . .

Euthanasia is a permanent solution for what may be a temporary situation

After the Bible’s Job lost his health, wealth, and family, he seemed suicidal or at least stinkin’ depressed.

      After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: “May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, ‘A boy is born!’ That day—may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it.

Phyllis Diller, the comedian, requested help in killing herself until her painful illness was cured.

A request for assisted suicide is typically a cry for help. And it’s usually temporary. Of those who attempt suicide but are stopped, less than 4 percent go on to kill themselves in the next five years; less than 11 percent will commit suicide over the next 35 years.

In another study, of the 24 percent of terminally ill patients who desired death, all had clinical depression which was treatable.

Euthanasia may be offered to cut rising health care costs

In the United States, thousands of people have no medical insurance. Doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person “chose” to die rather than receive long-term care.

Savings to the government may also become a consideration. For example, immediately after the passage of Measure 16, Oregon’s law permitting assisted suicide, Jean Thorne, the state’s Medicaid Director, announced that physician-assisted suicide would be paid for as “comfort care.

      Euthanasia is not about giving rights to the person who dies but, instead, is about changing the law and public policy so that doctors, relatives and others can directly and intentionally end another person’s life. This change wouldn’t give rights to the person who is killed, but to the person who does the killing.

      In other words, euthanasia is not about the right to die. It’s about the right to kill.

In the Netherlands, is not “legal” per se, but neither is it prosecuted. According to reports, 5,000 doctor assisted deaths occur each year. One report claims that many of those deaths are of “non-terminal” patients “mental illness, permanent disability, and even simple old age”

And one half of that number is “nonvoluntary

So, what can we do?

First, become educated on the subject and speak out against it. The best way for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing. There are several good anti-euthanasia sites on the Internet. (Quotes not cited in this articles are taken from euthanasia.com.)

Secondly, on controversial issues such as abortion, capital punishment, or euthanasia, when in doubt choose life. You won’t go wrong!

I think I could humanly justify euthanasia for my 91-year-old grandmother. She’s in a foster home with a constant case of diarrhea and bladder-control problems, and has congestive heart failure, mini strokes, and kidney failure. She can’t walk without assistance. She spends twelve hours in bed at night and twelve hours sitting in her LazyBoy recliner during the day watching game shows. (How much “Wheel of Fortune” can a person take?) And, she wants to die. So, because I love her so much, sometimes I’d like to see her die as well.

But that’s from a human perspective. Thomas Aquinas—way back in the 1200’s—opposed the taking of one’s own life because . . .

1. . . . it violates one’s natural desire to live

2. . . . it harms other people

3. . . . life is the gift of God and is thus only to be taken by God.

It’s still good reasoning for the year 2000.

Brittany did take her own life on November 1, 2014.

Related posts
Dealing with impending death
Help for suicidal thoughts
Your may be depressed if . . .


Hope, humor and Halloween

October 20th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


It’s October, and that means it’s time for my annual look at ghosts, witches, wizards, psychics, demons, talking to the dead and other really scary stuff! Plus, I stir the cauldron by asking, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween? (And, yes, that’s moi chasing grandkids through a corn field as “Corn Monster.” It’s what we do in Corn Borer, Indiana.) So, in alphabetical order:

Are demons, exorcisms real?

Are there really ghosts?

Harry Potter: the good, the bad, the muggly

Ouija: It’s not just a game

Psychic secrets revealed

Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

Talking to the dead

Top ten reasons Halloween is a strange holiday

The Why Files: My book on the supernatural

Which witch is which?

Copyright © James N. Watkins

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