As the Israelites fled from Egypt, they faced certain death between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army.

      Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

      Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:13-15 NLT, emphases mine).

There’s a time to stand still and watch the Lord work. (See my post on Waiting.) But there’s also a time, as The Living Bible paraphrases it, to “Quit praying and get . . . moving!”

I’m praying today that God gives you and me wisdom to know, as we faces challenges, if we should stand still or get moving. Both are important at the proper time and circumstance. And either way, we can be victorious over the problems thundering toward us. “Just stay calm.”

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

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I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category for Administrative Professionals Day:

10. Secretaries make coffee; administrative professionals procure international resources to motivate and empower staff.

9. Secretaries take memos; administrative professionals expedite inter-office communication.

8. Secretaries type letters; administrative professionals facilitate company communication with national and international clients.

7. Secretaries file; administrative professionals manage and organize data for efficient retrieval of corporate records.

6. Secretaries unjam the copy machines; administrative professionals maintain high-tech equipment vital to day-to-day operations.

5. Secretaries answer the phone; administrative professionals manage communication between staff and customers.

4. Secretaries listen to office gossip and complaints; administrative professionals act as corporate arbitrators and manage conflict between administrators and staff.

3. Secretaries order office supplies; administrative professionals manage inventory of critical corporate resources.

2. Secretaries buy gifts when boss realizes he or she has forgotten spouse’s birthday or anniversary; administrative professionals facilitate crisis management at the executive level.

1. Secretaries get little respect in the corporate environment; administrative professionals get little respect in the corporate environment.

While working at a publishing house, we executives could be gone for days—even weeks—at a time and the company would continue operating just fine. But if an administrative professional was gone for more than an afternoon, the house collapsed. (Roxanne, you were the best!)

So, my best wishes go out to all the administrative professionals who keep business, well, in business! You’re the best!

Copyright © 2007 James N. Watkins

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How to move a mountain

April 21st, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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I love the story of the man who prayed for God to miraculously remove the huge pile of dirt from behind his new home. He claimed Matthew 17:20’s promise: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

All night, he fervently prayed, but when he awoke, there—still—was the huge pile of dirt. But in front of it, something new:a shovel and a wheelbarrow!

God won’t do what we can do!

For instance, in this true story, a church in West Virginia needed the mountain behind the building moved so that they could build a parking lot. The pastor declared a “Move the Mountain Sunday,” but alas, Monday morning the mountain was still there. But there was also, at the church door, an official from the state highway department. “We need several thousand tons of fill dirt for a road project. We were wondering if we could remove part of the mountain from behind your church.”

In John’s Gospel, we see the same principle: God won’t do what we can do. Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He asks the bystanders to move the rock sealing the tomb. And after the miraculous resurrection, Jesus asks the bystanders to help Lazarus off with his grave clothes. Now, you would think, that if Jesus could raise a man from the dead, he could also easily beam Lazarus right through the stone and give him brand new clothes as well!

This principle appears throughout the Bible. God is more than willing to do what we can’t do, but He refuses to do what we can do. Gideon’s band of 300 men can’t possibly defeat an army of over 100,000, but they can create a commotion around the enemy camp with their pots, torches and trumpets so the enemy is terrified and turns on itself. The lame man’s friends can’t heal him, but they can tear up the roof and lower him in front of Jesus. Christ’s disciples can’t multiply loaves and fishes, but they can distribute the food and collect leftovers.

What mountain are you facing today? Rather than a miracle, God may provide a shovel—or the state highway department!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

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Author Tony Campolo’s most famous message declares, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’.” But what happens when it’s Sunday and we’re still facing death and despair?

Jesus has been unjustly charged and condemned to die. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. The religious and political tyrants have stopped His rebellious message. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. He has been brutally beaten, stripped, and nailed to a cross. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’. Christ is sealed in a tomb, his dead body guarded by Roman soldiers. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.

The message builds to a powerful conclusion when the pastor simply shouts, “It’s Friday!” and the congregation responds, “But Sunday’s comin’.

But . . .

It’s Sunday in the United States and 4,000 unborn children will be aborted tomorrow. One out of four children will be sexually or physically abused. Five thousand teens will attempt suicide; thirteen will succeed. Sixteen young adults will be murdered. Over two thousand unmarried teens will get pregnant.

It’s Sunday in the United States and this weekend, five thousand parents will tell their children they’re divorcing. One out of every twenty adults will not have a job to go to tomorrow. Over 85,000 people will die. Out of that number, 17,000 will die of some kind of cancer.

It may be Easter Sunday, but throughout the world, people in the pews are still dealing with the effects of abuse and divorce, crime and violence, life-threatening diseases, unemployment or “under employment,” depression, and grief from a the loss of a loved one.

In fact, holidays have a way of compounding a sense of loss. Perhaps there will be one less person at Easter dinner because of a death or divorce. Maybe there is less on the table because of financial pressures.

“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin'” is not always comforting. But that’s only half of the story of Christ. The Bible’s book of Revelation, chapter 19, provides, the rest of the promise:

It’s Sunday, but Jesus is coming!

It’s Sunday. Environmentalist warn of “global warming,” acid rain. depletion of the ozone layer, and carcinogens in our food, but Jesus is coming!

      Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . .

It’s Sunday. Political unrest and corruption affects virtually every country. Christians are oppressed, persecuted, and executed by ungodly governments, but Jesus is coming!

      With justice he judges and makes war. . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

It’s Sunday. Today, two billion people throughout the world will go to bed hungry. Millions throughout the world are suffering from abuse and illness. Many more millions are grieving the loss of loved ones, but Jesus is coming!

      He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

It’s Sunday. Unfortunately the actual celebration of Easter may distract us from the very Christ we honor by practicing for cantatas, buying new clothes, and preparing Sunday dinners, but Jesus is coming!

      And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be will be with them and be their God.

This certainly doesn’t mean we shut our eyes to the suffering around us. God commands us to do everything in our human power to relieve suffering and to work for justice for all.

But the good news of Easter goes beyond “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.”

It’s Sunday, but Jesus is coming!

Copyright © 1995 James N. Watkins

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Easter hope and humor

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Here are two of my favorite cartoons for Good Friday:

jimshortsgoodfriday

jimshortswedidnthavetowatch

(Click for more cartoons.)

And, my favorite Good Friday post:

“It is finished”? (It seems a strange claim to make before His resurrection!)

But wait, there’s more! Click here for my favorite Easter articles and humor columns.

Have a meaningful Easter weekend!
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Knowing who we are

April 16th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)


Jesus certainly practiced what He preached.

Mark 9 records the disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest.

      Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Throughout His ministry, Jesus exhibited servanthood, but never more than on the night He was betrayed:

      It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1).

Jesus is going to be arrested, unjustly condemned and cruelly executed within hours. He had every right to think of His own physical and emotional needs and expect His disciples to minister to Him. Instead, He stripped down to His tunic and washed the feet of the man who would soon betray Him, the man who would deny Him three times, and the ten others who would desert Him in His hour of need.

How could Jesus possibly do this? The key is that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power.” Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t have to prove His power and authority by demanding honor and praise from men. He knew He was the very Son of God and that performing menial tasks—like washing dirty feet—didn’t change His status. It takes power to be a servant; strength to be gentle. (A powerless person doesn’t serve but subjugates himself.) And Jesus proved to be a powerful servant as Paul writes:

      [Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . . becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7-8).

If we are trying to prove our value or status, it will be difficult to truly serve. But if we believe we the Father’s beloved children, it will be easier to serve, since we have nothing to prove.

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Related posts Hope and humor for Easter

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Press room

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Email
jim @ jameswatkins.com

Bio sheet

Books

Keynote talks on .mp3

Photos

Interviews
Jim has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows including The 700 Club.
For TV, radio, or print interviews, contact Jim at jim @ jameswatkins.com.

Permission for reprints
Non-profit organizations may make up to 500 (five hundred) hard copies of any article on this site provided the following credit line is included on each copy:

      Copyright © [year] James N. Watkins
      Reprinted with permission from www.jameswatkins.com

Online use is granted as long as the information above is included with a link to www.jameswatkins.com

For any commercial use, written permission must be obtained and fee agreed upon by email.

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‘Don’t be afraid!’

April 12th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (4 Comments)


Are you going through a dark and stormy night?

      When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going (John 6:16-21).

How many times are we frightened by something drawing near in the dark? And then we discover . . . it’s Jesus! How much of what we fear in life is actually Jesus working in our lives? Difficult circumstances? Broken relationships? Illness? [Fill in the blank]? Are we willing to receive Jesus into our boat? And to trust him that he will safely take us where we are going?

Jesus, be with my friends who are facing a dark and stormy night physically, spiritually, financially or relationally. May they hear you say, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Help them to sense that you are with them in the middle of this storm. And guide them safely to the place he would have them to go.

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Photo: Fanzug.com

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handgrenadehangnail-small
In Squeezing Good Out of Bad, I include a top ten list of ways to deal with life’s lemons:

10. Don’t confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)

It’s sometimes helpful to put everything in perspective. Is this truly a hand grenade or is it more in the category of a hangnail?

For instance, ask yourself, would I trade this problem in on a hangnail? How ’bout a headache? Harmonica concert? Hernia? Hair loss? Holdup? Hurricane? Hand grenade?

In the grand scheme of life, most “problems” are somewhere between harmonica concert and hernia. But I would have traded some hand grenade shrapnel for the restoration of a broken relationship or miraculous resurrection of a loved one.

Mostly, though, my problems are somewhere between a really bad hangnail and a mild headache. I’ve had very few “hand grenades” in my life. We can look at each lemon of life as a hand grenade that threatens to destroy us or as fruitful experiences that prompt us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.

So, today, put it in perspective.

(And—shameless self-promotion— click to buy a copy.)

Photo from www.tfw2005.com

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Fiction writing follows a rather rigid formula called the “story arc.” Here’s how Nancy Lynn McLane plots it:

      1. Defining event: must be something the character cares about

      2. Raise the stakes: the call to action; the character tries to resist

      3. Rising action: pulls the character into the activities

      4. No turning back: must resolve problem; can’t get around it

      5. Exceptional event: character is over his/her head, although actions may appear successful

      6. Dark moment: all seems lost or moral dilemma demands a choice; character must sacrifice

      7. Climax/resolution: the final confrontation: problem/obstacle is overcome or resolved; loose ends tied up.

Real life often follows that very same pattern. We see it the life of Bible characters.

Moses’ “defining event” was seeing a fellow Israelite being abused by an Egyptian slave master. Joseph had an amazing dream. Jesus’ disciples were called to follow Him.

We see God “raise the stakes” with Moses as, forty years later, He confronts the exiled shepherd with the burning bush—to which Moses resists with a multitude of excuses. Joseph is over-powered and sold into slavery. The disciples leave their fishing nets and tax collecting business behind.

“Rising action” occurs as Moses finally agrees to go before the mighty Pharaoh and demand, “Set my people free.” Joseph is put to work in Potifer’s Egyptian household. Jesus commissions the disciples to share the good news of the coming kingdom.

Now there’s “no turning back.” Once you’ve stood before Pharaoh and thrown down the gauntlet—actually, the rod which turns into a snake—you’re committed. Joseph is thrown in jail with no hope of returning to his home. And the disciples, especially Peter, has vowed to die for Jesus.

The Nile turning to blood, along with nine other supernatural plagues, are certainly “exceptional” events—way beyond Moses’ abilities. God provides Joseph with additional dreams that he hopes will win his release. And Jesus’ miraculous transformation before Peter, James and John definitely qualifies!

Then comes the “dark moment”! Moses and the Israelites are released from captivity, only to find themselves between a rock and two hard places: a sea and the Egyptian army sent to destroy them. The released jail mate, doesn’t bother to tell the Pharaoh about Joseph’s prophetic powers and he remains in jail And, of course, Jesus is crucified and His disciples scattered.

But there’s always a dramatic “climax/resolution.” (God is such a drama king!) The Red Sea opens up. Joseph is released and appointed second in command of Egypt. And Jesus rises from the dead! Now that’s climatic!

So where are you in your life story’s story arc? Trust that the plot will play out with God’s climax/resolution.

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

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