Author Archives: jameswatkins

About jameswatkins

Author and speaker

‘Fifty Shades of Beige’

July 30th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (5 Comments)

July 2014

Sunday, Lois and I will celebrate our fortieth anniversary in Valton, Wisconsin, with family—and without family! (Wink! Wink)

But apparently the really big news is that the trailer for E. L. James’ sadomasochistic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, set a record for number of online views. I thought it was fascinating that when the stars, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, were asked if filming the sex scenes was erotic, both of them looked repulsed and gasped NO!

And that is why I think a better title for the book and film would be Fifty Shades of Beige. Here’s why:

Reel sex is not real sex

Has this ever happened to you? You vacation in an incredible location, such as the Black Hills of South Dakota, shoot 500 pics of majestic mountains, wild buffalo, Mount Rushmore, and—of course—world-famous Wall Drug. You race to Walmart to make prints and as the kiosk prints them out, you feel a sense of disappointment. “Mount Rushmore looked a lot bigger in real life.” You just can’t capture “Kodak moments” with a camera.

The opposite is true, too. I had seen lots of pictures of Mount Rushmore in school and my grandparents’ 8 mm home movies. But until I was staring up into George Washington’s 6-foot nostril, I couldn’t imagine the size and wonder of this monument that is—well—monumental.

The same is true with sex. (Stay with me; there really is a correlation between stone sculptures and steamy sex!)

Our culture has taken something grand and glorious, magnificent and mysterious, and reduced it to digital images on computer monitors, HD TVs and movie screens. And we wonder, why in a culture saturated with sexual images, so many are sexually dissatisfied.

Rather than celebrating sexuality with their life partners, many are squinting at peep shows, drooling over fold-outs, reading Harlequin romances, and sitting in the dark staring at Fifty Shades of Grey as Dornan and Johnson get naked and very kinky.

Looking at pictures—of Mount Rushmore or naked actors—doesn’t allow for the real satisfaction of actually being there! It’s hard to have meaningful relationship with a video or a fold-out. (And besides, do you really want people with staples through their navels—unless, of course, you’re into body piercing.)

Granted, reality is hard work—whether it’s a family vacation or doing what leads to families.

Looking at pictures of Mount Rushmore is a whole lot easier than loading up the minivan with the family and enough luggage to clothe a refugee camp, eating bologna sandwiches out of a cooler, and listening to 15 hours of “Are we there yet?” But the real world is so much more exciting and satisfying than the “reel” world.

And being a sexual voyeur is easier than dating and planning a wedding. (The invasion of Normandy required less planning than our wedding!) And it’s whole lot easier than maintaining a marriage through communication and commitment. But, again, the real world is so much more exciting and satisfying than the “reel” world.

Major universities have actually studied couples’ sexual satisfaction. (What a job! Studying sex at taxpayers expense!)

Dr. Nancy Moore Clatworthy, a sociologist from Ohio State, Dr. E. Mansell Pattison, chairman of the Department of Psychology at the Medical College of Georgia, and sociologists Jeffery Jacques and Karen Chason of Florida A & M all agree that sex and commitment can’t be separated. Dr. Paul Pearsall argues, “Super sex requires super love, a love that is possible only in a relationship that lasts. . . .”

After 40 years of marriage, I can assure you that maintaining a marriage is much harder work than taking a family vacation. But the rewards are worth the effort.

Okay, okay, neither Lois or I have ever been mistaken for Jamie or Dakota! (That’s them, not us in the pic above.) And no one is going to pay money to see either one of us naked! But young Hollywood actors are rank amateurs compared to this couple after forty years of practice.

So, here’s my point. It’s hard work to take a family vacation. And it’s hard work to create a lasting marriage. But, I repeat, the real world is so much more exciting and satisfying than the “reel” world.

So, husband and wives, let me suggest that instead of going out to see an R-rated movie tonight, lock the bedroom door, put a Kenny G CD on the stereo, and take a memorable trip to Mount Rushmore! (But, please, don’t take pictures!)

Copyright © 1999, 2014 James N. Watkins

Coming attractions
Forty Years of ‘Loving God and You’ debuts Sunday at noon right here. Yep, we’ve created a video of marriage highlights with original music from the ceremony. It will be shown before the Sunday service at Valton Wesleyan Church where we were married 40 years ago.

Mini miracles

July 28th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (12 Comments)

You would expect the Son of God to begin with a more spectacular miracle: raising a corpse from the dead, healing a leper, multiplying loaves and fishes, casting out an evil spirit, calming a raging storm or at least walking on the sea. After all, this is the same God who brought us Mount Sinai, the Red Sea, and the walls of Jericho.

But Jesus chooses to launch his ministry of miracles by saving a party! More guests have shown up at the wedding reception than sent in their RSVP cards, and now the punch bowl is dry. So Jesus turns water into wine!

Water into wine? That doesn’t bring anybody back from the dead, free anyone from a life-threatening illness or even defy the forces of nature.

It does, however, reveal a God who is not just interested in the “spiritual” dimension of our lives or the “life and death” issues. Jesus reveals that our social lives—even our parties—are important to God. It would have been a disgrace for the host of the wedding reception—not to mention the bride and groom—if the refreshments would have run out.

In the same way, the Lord intercedes in the average, every-day, run-of-the-mill, mundane moments of our lives. A relationship with a God who was only interested in the “big” issues of life, would be no more personal than our relationship with the 911 operator. But the infinite, almighty God chooses to relate on a more intimate level—not on the Mount Sinai’s, but in the dining rooms of our lives.

Copyright © James N. Watkins

H&H week in review: July 25, 2014

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

My weekly roundup of encouragement and entertainment with cartoons, snarky comments and posts on “Top ten signs Batman is turning 75,” “You can take it with you,” wearing cycle helmets, “Top ten surprises in Star Wars: Episode VII,” “How to work less and accomplish more,” “Taking the terror out of terrorism,” “Hope & Humor and hypocrisy?” and more. Enjoy!

You can follow “Hope and Humor” daily on Facebook, Twitter and right here at Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Friday, July 25

Muslim militants are calling for a “Day of Rage,” or as it’s known in the Middle East, Friday. Thanks for praying for peace.

Thursday, July 24


Top ten signs Batman is turning 75
“Holy hemorrhoids, Batman!” The Caped Crusader has a birthday this week. So, I have in my gloved hand, direct from beneath my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana today’s category.

Wednesday, July 23

An online source is revealing alleged details of highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII. Nearly two years ago, this site revealed Top ten surprises in Star Wars: Episode VII.

You can take it with you
Contrary to Saint Paul, you did bring a lot into this world and you’ll take a lot out!

Tuesday, July 22


What fun making construction paper cards and mail boxes for granddaughters’ room doors. I made cards saying:

      Hannah Elizabeth
      Then Hannah prayed:
      “My heart rejoices in the Lord!
      The Lord has made me strong (1Samuel 2:1).

      Kaylah Grace
      May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
      give you grace and peace (1 Corinthians 1:2).

I got in response:

      Love you, Big Poop!
      From Little Poops

So much for trying to raise rhetoric of a six- and nine-year old. Oh well, “Big Poop” appreciates the love!

Monday, July 21


A Monday double-header:

Work less, accomplish more
I had a great time at The River yesterday morning sharing some tips on becoming more productive by—well, you’ll have to listen to find out how! (Here’s a companion piece on Managing your time—and sanity.)

Taking the terror out of terrorism
Here’s an article that was planned for Thursday’s Presidential Prayer Team’s Viewpoint but pulled due to that morning’s shooting down of the Malaysian passenger plane killing 298.

Sunday, July 30

A Facebook message from one of my favorite humor writers:

      I could use a prayer today. Feeling very down. Do you ever feel like a hypocrite? I preach and write grace and humor, yet I’m depressed. What is wrong with me?

I responded:

      You’re talking to Mr. “Hope & Humor,” who sometimes drives by cemeteries and mutters, “Lucky stiffs!” As long as we’re honest about our struggles, we’re not being hypocritical. Hypocritical would be saying “I am always happy. La la la!” I think it makes us more real to let people know that we are always full of “hope”—but we’re not always full of “humor.” Praying for you, friend!

Top ten signs Batman is turning 75

July 24th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)


“Holy hemorrhoids, Batman!” The Caped Crusader has a birthday this week. So, I have in my gloved hand, direct from beneath my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana: Top ten signs Batman is turning 75:

10. Batcycle is replaced with Batwalker

9. “The Joker” now simply sends Batman emails posing as wealthy Nigerian widows

8. The “Dark Night” has to be in before dark

7. “Catwoman” has turned into “Crazy Cat Lady.”

6. Batman now wears an orthopedic utility belt

4. Batman has moved into the stately Wayne Assisted Living Center

3. “The Riddler” can’t remember answers to his own brainteasers

2. Bat signal has been replaced with energy-efficient LED light

1. The Batpole is no longer functional

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Please feel free to add your own signs that Batman is turning 75 below.

Related posts
Top ten signs Han Solo has turned 70
More top ten lists

You CAN take it with you!

July 23rd, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7).

Sorry, Saint Paul. You may have been an apostle who wrote half the New Testament, but I think you got that wrong.

Yes, we brought no material things such as money, clothing or wide-screen TVs—but we brought a lot into the world and will take a lot out.

Psalm 139 implies that we brought an eternal soul into this world in a body that is a unique, wonderful creation of God. And 1 Corinthians 12 teaches that a part of that divine creation includes our unique talents and abilities that we can use to serve Him.

So, when our earthly body dies, our eternal soul will live on. And our influence will also live on through our example and teaching. And our good deeds will “store up for [us] treasures in heaven.” (That’s why we’re not judged immediately at death, but only at the final judgment since our influence will continue to effect others’ lives long after we’re gone.)

So, Paul, I completely agree with you that we brought no material things with us and we’ll leave the same behind. But the secret, as you wrote, is to invest in those things that are imperishable:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

How are we treating this wonderful creation of our bodies? How are we using the talents and abilities God built into our lives? And what kind of influence are we making upon our friends and family, coworkers, and fellow travelers?

You can take it with you!

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Related post
I’m Important! I’m interdependent! I’m indispensable! (Audio message from 1 Corinthians 12)

Taking the terror out of terrorism

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

This post on taking the terror out of terrorism got bumped from an online magazine when the Malaysian passenger plane was shot down killing all 298 aboard. Most of us are much safer than the media and government would have us to believe.

Remember Homeland Security’s color-coded terrorist threat levels? Red: Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Panic!), Orange: High Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Paranoia), Yellow: Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Anxiety), Blue: General Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Nervousness) and Green: Low Risk of Terrorist Attacks (Apathy).

Well, apparently—to use the old color-code system—the U.S. is somewhere between high Yellow (Very Anxious) and low Orange (Mild Paranoia) as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now requiring that most airlines with direct international flights coming into the United States check all electronic devices for hidden explosives. While I do appreciate the increased “vigilance” of the government, let’s put the whole thing in perspective with a color code for life in general.

Green: Low Risk

Dr. Arnold Barnett, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has done extensive research to show the odds of being killed in a plane crash are one in 7,000,000! For airline fatalities to equal auto fatalities, a sold-out 727 jet would have to crash every day of the week, with no survivors, to equal the 46,000 highway deaths per year in the United States! So, the good news, flying on a commercial airliner is definitely green!

However, driving to the airport is life-threatening!

Blue: General Risk

And, before you even get in your car and head to the airport, you have to survive your own home. Every 19 minutes a person is killed at home, with two-thirds of those being fatally injured in the bathroom! That’s 28,200 fatalities each year. So, your very own bathroom: Blue!

Once on the plane, fear the sneezing passengers more than a suicidal terrorists. Planes are enclosed Petri dishes of deadly diseases. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveals the average number of deaths caused by the flu virus increased from 20,000 in the 1970s to 70,000 in recent years. Forget terrorists. Avoid anyone with the sniffles. Flu is Blue!

Yellow: Elevated Risk

As noted earlier, automobiles take an average of 46,000 lives per year. So Toyotas are nearly twice as dangerous as toilets. Driving your car: Yellow! And driving or riding without a seatbelt is just plain Red!

Orange: High Risk

A 1999 report charged that 98,000 hospitalized patients died each year in the Unites States due to “medical errors.” That’s equal to over 900 airline crashes, so your local hospital: Orange!

Red: Severe Risk

The CDC reports that each year more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. (That’s 133 World Trade Center attacks every year)! Smoking: Red!

Also, on September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 innocent lives were snuffed out. The very next day, that same number were killed. And the day following that. That’s the number of unborn babies aborted every day in America. That’s over a million deaths per year, so a mother’s womb: Red!

Using these statistics, in general, risk of death in the U.S. of A is still solidly Green—despite the government and media warnings about terrorists with exploding underpants, ink cartridges and now mobile devices. (So, if your children are concerned about terrorists, assure them, “Billy in daycare more likely to kill you with the flu than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with an exploding iPad.” Okay, maybe not a good idea.)

How ‘bout simply assuring your children—and yourself—that life can be dangerous (hot stoves, electrical outlets and poisons)? But if you take reasonable precautions (don’t chew on electrical cords, do wear your seatbelt, and don’t smoke) you can be solidly Green!.

So, in review, let’s put the annual average number of deaths in terms of plane loads of victims. (Statistics from United States National Center for Health Statistics)

      Tobacco-related deaths: 3,774 plane loads
      Traffic fatalities: 434 plane loads
      Deaths by firearms: 306 plane loads
      Accidental falls: 132 plane loads
      Drug and medicine fatalities: 75 plane loads
      Medical procedure fatalities: 26 plane loads
      Railroad fatalities: 6 plane loads
      Electrical fatalities: 5 plane loads

Do pray for the safety of those exposed to Red terrorist violence in Syria, Iraq and other international hot spots on a daily basis. Pray that Home Land Security and the Transportation Security Administration keep one step ahead of terrorist technology.

And do be very careful in the bathroom!

Copyright © 2003, 2014 James N. Watkins

What terrifies you? Comment below.

Responding to terrorist downing of plane

July 17th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and fellow citizens grieving the loss of 295 lives as a Malaysian passenger plane was apparently shot out of the air over Ukraine.

Shock. Anger. Disbelief. These are just a few of the emotions overwhelming victims of a terrorist attack. Here are some resources I hope will be helpful in responding to such tragedies.

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

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

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)

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Having the last laugh

July 16th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

[Jesus] went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him (Mark 39-40).

It was over. Finished. She had given up the ghost. Crossed over Jordan. The fat lady—or in this case, the professional mourners—had sung. Roll the credits!

We have all been there.

It might not have been the death of a loved one. Perhaps it was a marriage, a job, a friendship, a pastorate, or a dream. It was over, finished, the end. And to think otherwise was simply laughable.

In those relationships and situations that seem beyond hope, God enjoys having the last laugh.

When a barren couple has given up hope of ever having a child (Sarah actually laughed when she heard she was going to have a baby). When the Egyptians have the Israelites pinned against a rock and a Red Sea. When Daniel is thrown to the lions. When three Hebrew men are thrown into a fiery furnace. When the widow had used up her last ounce of flour and last drop of oil. When God himself is nailed to a cross and then buried in a tomb. When it seems over and finished! When your closest friends laugh at your faith in God, take those desperate—and seemingly hopeless—situations to Him.

He and you will have the last laugh.

Copyright © James N. Watkins

Related posts
Are you listening to God or Goliath?
Your life as a “comedy”
Laughing matters: three ways to laugh at life

In defense of Martha

July 14th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Martha receives undeserved criticism from preachers expounding on the account of Jesus’ visit to the home she shared with her sister, Mary, and brother, Lazarus! Here’s how it’s recorded in The New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version

      “Mary! Mary! I need some help in the kitchen!”

      Martha glared at her sister who was sitting in the living room with their guest.

      “In a minute,” Mary said, without moving.

      Martha glanced at her “To Do” list which was artistically penned on home-made paper with ink made from crushed cultivated grapes.

          ☐ Trim myrtle shrubs into the shape of the twelve disciples.

          ☐ Float apricot, pomegranate, and Sharon tulip petals in cistern.

          ☐ French braid donkey’s tail.

          ☐ Arrange spices in alphabetical order beginning with anise.

          ☐ Carve wooden bowl in shape of the sea of Galilee. Float matzah balls shaped like fishing boats in the soup.

          ☐ Field dress lamb. Hand polish mint leaves to be used for the sauce.

          ☐ Macrame napkin rings from bulrushes.

          ☐ Make 100 percent organic Jell-O from cow hooves.

      Martha was famous throughout Bethany for her home-decorating and party-planning. Now, the most respected teacher in all Palestine, along with his twelve disciples were the guests, and her sister, Mary, had not even set out the hand-painted plates that Martha had just take out of the kiln.

      So, being distracted by all the preparations that had to be made, Martha came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

      “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better . . . and that’s a good thing.”

But here’s another story where Martha shines (in a more traditional Bible version). Lazarus has recently died.

      When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

      Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

      “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

      Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

      “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:17-27 NLT).

Martha had apparently been listening to Jesus as she puttered in the kitchen. Martha understands that:

• Jesus can heal the sick.

• Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in him will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in him and believes in him will never ever die.

• God, the Father, will give Jesus, the Son, whatever he asks.

• Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.

Yep, Martha knew a lot more than a good recipe for unleavened bread! Perhaps, she had dropped her ladle and joined Mary at Jesus’ feet. Or perhaps, there’s room for both Mary and Martha in our lives. Maybe it’s a “faith and works” deal. There’s a time for sitting at Jesus’ feet and a time to serve dinner to hungry disciples (see Matthew 25:31-46).

Okay, so Mary is the one sitting at Jesus feet. She’s also the one “who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair” (John 11:2). But Martha also deserves credit for truly understanding who Jesus was and his life giving power. And that’s a very good thing!

Copyright © James N. Watkins

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on your social networks. Thanks!

Your life as a ‘comedy’

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

Ancient theater was divided into two categories: comedies and tragedies. In “comic” plays the “good guys” won and lived happily ever after. The “bad guys” got what was coming to them. In “tragic” plays, however, the heroes usually ended up dead—or at least defeated.

We see this in more modern tragedies: Romeo and Juliet didn’t live happily ever after, the faithful dog “Ole Yeller” was shot by the very boy he rescued, and “Doomsday” sent Superman to the super-hero here-after. But, for the person of faith, life can be a comedy!

The story of Esther is a classic comedy. The evil Haman, a government papyrus pusher, plots to have all the Hebrews killed because Mordecai, a Jew, wouldn’t bow down to him. Haman even builds a gallows for Mordecai. But Queen Esther, unknown to King Xerxes, is a Jew&#15and the cousin of Mordecai. To make a long story short, the queen reveals her nationality, the Hebrews are saved and Haman is forced to honor Mordecai for an old political favor and eventually swings from his own gallows. It’s a great ancient comedy!

So, even though tragic events come upon believers and unbelievers alike—cancer, auto accidents, natural disasters, rape, murder, etc. etc.—believers know that in the end they will “live happily ever after.” And evil will be dealt with in the final act.

So, while the life of faith may not be one laugh after another, we can be assured that “eternal life” is the final punch line!

© James N. Watkins

How, in your life, has God turned a “tragedy” into a “comedy”? Please replay below.