If you’re going to insult someone, at least be Christ-like about it! So, I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, The Top Ten Christian Insults:

10. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24).

9. O faithless and perverse generation . . . how long shall I suffer you? (Matthew 17:17)

8. Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? (Mark 12:24)

7. Woe unto you . . . hypocrites! (Luke 11:44)

6. Ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27).

5. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! (Matthew 23:33)

4. Thou fool! (Luke 12:20)

3. I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16).

2. Get thee behind me, Satan! (Matthew 16:23).

1. O ye of little faith (Matthew 6:30, Matthew 8:26, Matthew 14:31, Matthew 16:8, Matthew 17:20).

Of course, I wouldn’t recommend any of these unless you’re the perfect Son of God! Jesus could see the hearts of men and women, so when he called someone a “whited sepulcher,” you could be sure they were full of “dead men’s bones and all uncleaness.”

So it’s best to leave any judgment to Jesus: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2 NIV).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need to brush my teeth. I have a bad case of camel breath.

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Really dirty words
Don’t judge, but do deliberate
Top ten list archives

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I love the story of Gideon: not the guy who keeps leaving his Bible in hotel rooms, but the Jewish judge who describes himself as “the least in my entire family.” God has called Gideon to liberate the Israelis from the cruel oppression of the Midianites. But to defeat the enemy of over 100,000 troops, God provides him with just 300 men. (Nope, I didn’t leave out any zeroes. That’s 100,000 v. 300!) And they’re probably the guys who get picked last in pick up games.

Totally inadequate?

God seems to delight when we feel totally inadequate. He tells Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength” (Judges 6:2).

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of challenges coming against you—physically, financially, spiritually, relationally, etc.—know that God is with you, and that makes you a majority!

Utterly ill-equipped?

Not only does Gideon’s 300 men face over 100,000 troops, but God orders them to fight with some very, shall we say, unconventional weapons: clay pots, torches and rams’ horns! Not only are they hopelessly outnumbered, but they’re facing swords and spears with these non-weapons.

Are you feeling completely ill-equipped to handle the challenges you’re facing? I don’t have the finances. I don’t have the education. I don’t have the emotional strength. Gideon commands his troops, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (Judges 7:15).

Completely in the dark?

To make sure this military maneuver is humanly impossible, Gideon is told to launch his offensive in the middle of the night. No one, at that time, fought wars at night!

So, here’s the point: God seems to delight in using us at our worst, weakest and darkest moments. That way He gets the glory!

With trust and obedience, Gideon’s men surround the enemy camp with their torches hidden inside the clay pots in one hand and their rams’ horns in the other. At the signal, pots smash, the hills alight with flames and the horns sound. (Some believe that since troops usually had one trumpeter per one thousand men, the 100,000 believed they were surrounded by 300,000 troops.) The panicked Midianites begin swinging their swords in the dark and effectively killing each other.

So, no matter the odds, no matter the resources, no matter the time, God can give you victory for the challenges you’re facing. At least that’s what I’m holding onto as Lois and I face some menacing Midianites. And I pray for victory for you as well!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

Related post
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
• And from the H&H cartoons file:

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Top ten posts at H&H:

June 1st, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Top ten posts from May 2014

10. God and the Gay Christian conversation

9. Hope and humor cartoons

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

7. Help for suicidal thoughts

6. Does DNA disprove evolution?

5. The cure for the common cold: sex!

4. Faith of Our Mothers

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

2. Were U.S. founding fathers Christian?

And, the number one post for May 2014:

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

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I’m sure even Mr. Rogers has one of those days:

      It’s a terrible day in the neighborhood,
      A terrible day for neighbor,
      Won’t you please go, leave me all alone.
      I’ve always wanted to move away to warmer weather,
      I hate this TV house and this stupid sweater.
      So why don’t you go and watch “Power Rangers”
      Play in the street and talk to some strangers?
      Please won’t you go, leave me alone.
      Get off my lawn, my neighbor!

Copyright © 1991 James N. Watkins

If you’re having a terrible day in the neighborhood, please visit my archives for encouragement and entertainment.

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For most Americans, “Memorial Day” means a three-day weekend with the “Indy 500,” picnics and the opening day of summer. But for many, the memories of lost loved ones dampen spirits like rain on a parade. So, something for everyone on this holiday weekend:

jimshortsmemorialday

I hate it when stores whore holidays!

Hope in dealing with death and grief
Grief and love are two very similar emotions—if you’re capable of love, you are capable of grief. Only a person who never loves never grieves.

Humor on the first day of summer
It’s a beautiful day in Corn Borer, Indiana, so a great day to just laze in the hammock and recycle some old columns on:
Vacations are not a vacation if . . .
Traveling the world on one tank of gas
Top ten clues a man should wear a shirt in summer
And, of course . . .
Laziness is a virtue.

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During the American Civil War, the Confederate Navy filled Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico with mines, which at the time were called “torpedoes.” As flag officer David Glasgow Farragut led the Union’s fleet of 18 ships into the bay, he issued one of history’s most memorable orders:

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

The tactic succeeded. Only one ship was lost, and the last Confederate stronghold on the Gulf of Mexico fell to Union control. (And Farragut was made admiral of the U.S. Navy and honored with two postage stamps.) It’s also a good strategy for our emotions:

Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!

Don’t deny emotions

I’m certainly not denying that my life is a mine-filled sea of emotions. I regularly struggle with clinical depression, so there are days I just want to go below deck and hide in the hull. But I’m not alone. I have plenty of company with the psalmists of the Bible. One-third of all psalms are known as “laments.”

      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 you hear my voice, but I find no relief (Psalm 22:1-2 NLT).

      O God, why have you rejected us so long?
      Why is your anger so intense against the sheep of your own pasture? (Psalm 74:1).

      When I was in deep trouble,
      I searched for the Lord.
      All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
      but my soul was not comforted (Psalm 77:2).

Don’t deify emotions

The psalmists certainly didn’t deny their emotions, but neither did that make their emotions their god. Inevitably, the psalms above are followed by a psalm of praise:

      The Lord is my shepherd;
      I have all that I need.
      He lets me rest in green meadows;
      he leads me beside peaceful streams (Psalm 23:1-2)

      We thank you, O God!
      We give thanks because you are near.
      People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds (Psalm 75:1).

      We will not hide these truths from our children;
      we will tell the next generation
      about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
      about his power and his mighty wonders (Psalm 78:4).

Saint Paul sums up these “bi-polar” extremes of emotions:

      We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Do defy emotions

Emotions are fickle feelings that may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, a subconscious reaction to an event in the past or present, or something we ate the night before. Emotions are real, but they are not reality. (That’s good! You may want to write that down and post in on the bathroom mirror!)

So, I find myself paraphrasing Admiral Farragut’s order: “Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!”

And most days, I’m successful—with prayer, persistence and Prozac—in navigating the emotional mines floating in my life. I can’t deny them, but I also refuse to deify them. They are not my God, but bio-chemicals, sub-conscious reactions or, perhaps, the pizza I ate before bed.

Full speed ahead!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

Notes

1. Do not deny depression. If you have symptoms lasting more than two weeks, see your family doctor. I’ve certainly been helped by anti-depressants, but it took trying five or six different meds before I found one with maximum benefits and minimum side effects.

2. I’m not talking about physical ailments that do prevent us from doing those things we wish to do or must do. Right now, I must have picked up a nasty bug on my Denver flight. I’m getting some work done propped up in the recliner with my laptop, but after about two hours, I’m completely depleted and it’s back to bed.

So, if you’re physically incapacitated, I can so relate to that. And if emotions are causing incapacitation, I trust you find the help needed and with Admiral Farragut, defiantly shout, “Damn the emotions! Full speed ahead!” Either way, you’re in my prayers!

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Pain and praise

May 19th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Sunday, May 18, 11 pm EDT

“Thank you, Father, I’m home!” This despite . . .

1. Waking up this morning feeling as badly as I felt since 42 radiation treatments for cancer in 2008: The week’s body aches, sore throat, cough, were complemented today with nausea.

2. Getting lost on way to Denver airport (despite two people with smart phones and me with printed directions). Ended up driving through the road wiped out in the spring floods—with long construction delays.

2. Denver flight getting in late to Chicago’s “O’Hell” airport.

3. Huffing and puffing my way between Concourse C and F and arriving to hear “last call” for the Fort Wayne flight. However, once boarded, we waited at the gate, because United Express couldn’t find anyone to load luggage. (As badly as I felt, I would have gladly volunteered to help.)

4. At Denver, the gate agent had pleaded for people to check carry-ons free at the gate. “Free” is not always a good thing. When I got to FWA, there was no carry-on! They’re always good at bringing them to your home, but . . .

5. I lost my car keys. I’m guessing they’re in the outside pocket of my lost carry-on where I stash all my metal objects before going through security. I always keep them in my computer case that never leaves my side. Not this week! I finally got a hold of Lois to bring me the duplicate set.

6. On the way to the restroom, the daylong stage-1 nausea spiked to a 4, and I lost my breakfast, lunch and dinner in a nearby trash can. (I pity the housekeeper who empties that can!) I dragged myself to the restroom and promptly lost my breakfast, lunch and dinner from yesterday!

7. My thoughtful wife brought me, along with the keys, a handful of Dove dark chocolates—but even they didn’t look good. (I must be seriously ill!)

Proving once again, what I shared in my closing keynote: Nothing terrible happens to authors, just terrific anecdotes! These last five days will show up in an article, book . . . or post!


Monday, May 19, 11 am EDT

I slept in until 9:30 am and am feeling 100 percent better.

Pam Halter commented on how much worse my day would have been without your prayers. She is so right! (I crashed, the plane didn’t. I’m home, not stranded at “O’Hell” airport. I’m saved, only my luggage is lost.)

So, despite the pain, I have so much to give praise. Thanks everyone!

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Related post
Excerpt from Squeezing Good Out of Bad on pain

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This morning, I’m flying off to share some hope and humor in Estes Park, Colorado. Here’s what I’ll be sharing—and I trust it’s encouraging and entertaining for you, as well:

emump3
Soaring with eagles, walking with eagles
It’s hard to soar with eagles when you’re working with turkeys! Click to hear or read my keynote talk. (While it specifically addresses the up and downs of a writing career, the principles are applicable to any vocation.)

covcomshort
Communicate to change lives
I’ll also be sharing a continuing seminar on Communicate to Change Lives, which applies to anyone desiring to make a difference through their writing, speaking or simply living.

And thanks for your prayers
I don’t merely believe in the power of power, I depend upon it!

• For safe, on-time flights. (As I mentioned Monday, I love flying, but I hate everything before wheels up and after wheels down.)

• For emotional and physical strength. I am way off the chart on Myers/Briggs “introvert” scale, which means that I derive my energy from being alone. Being with hundreds of people in the low-oxygen atmosphere at 7,522 feet drains me emotionally and physically.

• For productive networking at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Please pray that I meet people, whom I can lift to the next level of publishing, and people, who can help me reach the next level.

Don’t become a digital dinosaur
Hopefully, I’ll have some time to blog what I’m learning as well.

I’ve been in this crazy business since my sophomore year of college, and publishing is a constantly changing environment. In 1972, I was “typing” on a state-of-the-art IBM Selectric, and cutting and pasting page layouts with actual scissors and paste! I’m working hard to avoid becoming a digital dinosaur.

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ColoradoChristianWriters 2

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category: Ten great things about being an author.

10. No heavy lifting. Since no physical skill or strength is required to be a word jock, your career isn’t over by age 30 like most major league athletes.

9. It’s cheaper than collecting antique cars or Longaberger baskets. For the price of a ream of paper ($3.95 at Office Depot) you can write an epic novel or two nonfiction books. (Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an old envelope.)

8. It’s one of the few occupations you can perform in your underwear without the vice squad breaking down your door.

7. You can get your picture in the paper without the vice squad breaking down your door.

6. A chance to speak your mind long after you’re dead. All those authors from American and English Literature class had met their final deadlines long before you read them (or scanned the Cliff Notes).

5. It’s a great soapbox. Instead of annoying just your family and friends with your rants and raves, you can annoy thousands of people with your rants and raves.

4. On election day, you can vote more than once—legally. An editorial, a letter to the editor, even an email note, can sway readers’ votes, so get out and vote—repeatedly.

3. You can receive notes like this email from last week: “I am a 38 year old mother of four: two teenagers and two under the age of nine. I am writing to let you know how much your writing has lifted my spirits.”

2. It’s the closest thing to God’s creation ex nihilo—creating something out of nothing; using words to bring order out of chaos.

1. And conference directors actually pay you to fly off to exotic locations! I am so looking forward to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park!

So, I’m . . .

• looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones who share a passion for communicating with the printed and pixelated word.

dreading flying, particularly through Chicago’s “O’Hell” International. (I love flying, but I hate everything before wheels up and after wheels down: airport security, delayed and cancelled flights, and talkative seatmates.)

• once again, feeling totally inadequate (I know, I know, it’s my clinical depression and a touch of Asperger’s talking, but until I actually open my mouth for the first session—and get the first laugh—I’m a mess!)

asking for your prayers. Please!

Wednesday, I’ll share links to my keynote talk and seminars while there, so you can enjoy a bit of the conference. (All you’ll be missing out on will be the view of 14,000-feet mountains, great food and fellowship with crazy, creative people, and an occasional elk looking in the cabin window. Other than that, it will be like you’re right there!)

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Happy Mother’s Day!

May 9th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

jimshortsmothersday3
Here are some of my favorite columns for this special weekend:

Faith of Our Mothers
Some new lyrics for an old, old song

The papoose-driven life
Lessons learned from a four-month-old grandaughter

jimshortsparents

Son of a saint!
When godly parents have not-so-godly children

“Spray paint” parenting
The secret is thins coats of moral and ethical lessons

jimshortsmothersday2

Talking to your kids about S-E-X
Children will learn about sex—from us or the bus!

Talking to children about war, terrorism, school violence . . .
It’s a frightening time to be a child—and a parent

mom

Top ten things my mom taught me
(Yep, that’s my Mom above.)

You may be a parent if . . .
. . . you’ve ever uttered one or more of these classic lines

Praying that have a great Mother’s Day weekend, whether a mom or child!
jimlogo2

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