I’m having a wonderful time at the Blue Lake Writers’ Retreat in warm Alabama!

Here are some helpful posts if you feel a nudge to write:

Does your manuscript need CPR: Consultation, Publishing assistance, and Rewriting?

From stage to page: turning messages into manuscripts (If you’re a speaker, you need a book!)

Police officer grills author on how to “break in” (to publishing houses)

So. you want to write a book?

But wait! There’s more.

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Our work in God’s work

March 25th, 2019 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Yes, God can do anything, but there are a lot of things he won’t do. For instance, we read in Luke 9:

      Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.”

      But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

God won’t do something we can do. [Continue reading]

ADD, ASD, OCD . . . and me

March 22nd, 2019 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Hi, I’m Jim. I’m on the “spectrum” with some mild autism that expresses itself in craving routines and time alone, as well as general quirkiness. When my daily rituals are disrupted, I feel all nervous and jittery.

My work week has been thrown out of routine by watching sick granddaughters. The youngest is still home today. (I love, love, love them, and I was able to get a lot of work done since my laptop is my office. It is such a privilege to be an important part of their lives.)

Plus, this morning, I fasted for routine blood tests, so I didn’t get my ritualistic breakfast sandwich and dark chocolate.

Then I learned that a very important person in my ministerial life—Robert McIntyre—died, and I want to be at his funeral, but that throws my Friday completely out of whack.

Then Faith invited me to go with her to IKEA this Saturday on a dad/daughter date. (I love. love, love hanging out with my oldest, but that also throws off my weekend routine.)

And next week is the Blue Lake Retreat, and I’m already stressing about air travel and being with people 16 hours a day. (I love, love, love the retreat and I love, love, love the people!)

Ninety percent of you, you’re thinking, “I always knew Jim wasn’t right in the head!” But for those of you with ASD or clinical depression or ADD or [fill in the blank], you know that struggle is real—albeit completely irrational. And so, I am feeling all anxious and twitchy.

Thanks for your prayers. And for those of you that struggle with mental health issues, I can pray for you with great empathy. (Click for hopeful and helpful articles.)

Most of the time, I am grateful for this thorn in the brain. God promises and the apostle Paul affirms:

      “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

So, I’m looking forward to the weekend and the retreat. I’m dreading the weekend and the retreat. That’s my life!

Copyright © 2019 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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 15th, 2019 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Have a wonderful weekend celebrating the real Saint Patrick, who incidentally was not Irish but British.

According to his autobiography, Confessio, he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish pirates and served as a slave for six years caring for livestock. During this time, he writes that his Christian faith grew much deeper. He escaped and returned to Britain where he studied for the ministry. In the fifth century, he traveled back to Ireland to share the gospel with the people who practiced a form of Celtic polytheism. Patrick writes, “Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God.”

As far as banishing snakes from Ireland, all evidence indicates that post-glacial Ireland never, ever had the reptiles. Snakes were likely a metaphor for the druids, who Patrick is said to have driven out of Ireland when he established Christianity there.

In the Catholic Church, March 17 is set apart for “solemnity and a holy day of obligation” in remembrance of St. Patrick.

For more cartoons, visit my archives.

It’s spring, so pastors are a) struggling to do and say something fresh for upcoming Easter services, b) being voted upon in the unsettling pastoral vote, c) dreading the annual district reports, and/or d) considering resigning to pursue less stressful work such hostage negotiator.

So, here are some options for anyone Considering a post-clergy career.

Plus, some more hope and humor specifically for pastors:

“The church is a whore”
Do you really want a “biblical” church?
“Cyber church” has bats in belfry
It is a wonderful life
The Watkins New World Church Dictionary
Dealing with church conflict
Top ten signs your church may be prejudiced
Finding still water in the storm: The Book of Joe
A case for women in ministry
Top ten list: When you’re voted out
Wounded shepherd: When is it time to leave the flock?

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

Click for my Top ten things I (Jim) am giving up for Lent.

But wait. There’s more! Health benefits of dark chocolate

Ash Wednesday
Many churches burn the branches from Palm Sunday the previous year to use for the current year’s Ash Wednesday. (Ash Wednesday initiates “Lent, which is a time of preparation for Easter.)

Do you ever feel your praises have turned to ashes? Once you were shouting “Hallelujah” for his blessings in your life and now you’re sifting through smoldering dreams, plans and relationships.

The liturgical calendar offers lows and highs: Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and then Easter. It’s all part of the cycle of nature and the supernatural, ups and downs, joys and sorrows.

The important thing is to keep moving through time with trust and confidence in the eternal Father, Son and Spirit. Whether it’s palm branches of praise or their ashes of loss, God is continuing to work out his “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

      To all who mourn . . . he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3).

Remember, Ash Wednesday leads to Palm Sunday; Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Ashes to praises!

Copyright © 2018 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Lent and Easter cartoons, devos, humor and more

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Here’s how God uses hardships to make us more like him.

And click for more cartoons.

Hope for a balanced life

February 25th, 2019 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

If I hear another pastor, teacher or speaker proclaim, as if from Mount Sinai, “Put God first, your family second, your ministry third and your self last,” my “self” is going to put them very last on my priority list! Here’s why:

Let me be clear: putting God at the center of our lives is essential. But if I put time alone with God as first in the hierarchy mentioned, I’m never going to get to my family. I’m going to be a monk cloistered away reading my Bible, praying, journaling, worshiping, and if I’m really spiritual, fasting. If my choice is to read the Bible or read to my kids or grandkids, I’ve got to choose God’s Word if I’m locked into this rigid ranking of priorities.

If I put my family over my ministry, I will never get a word written or leave the house to speak at a conference. My wife has a “honey do list” that will keep me busy until Jesus comes. And pastors would never have time for sermon prep, board meetings, hospital calling, and the thousands of other tasks assigned to them by the congregation.

And if put my ministry over myself, there’s not going to be much of me left except a burnout shell of a person with high blood pressure and ulcers.

That’s why this ranking system is so unrealistic and unworkable. Those who attempt to implement it end up conflicted and stressed—and probably alienated from their family. So, here’s an alternative: [Continue reading].

Plus bonus post: Managing your time . . . and sanity