Author Archives: jameswatkins

About jameswatkins

Author and speaker

Top ten greatest things since . . .

July 7th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Bread was first commercially sliced in 1928, so don’t you think we should update the tired cliche of “the greatest thing since sliced bread”?! So, I have in my right hand, direct from my home office, today’s category: Top ten greatest things since the greatest thing since sliced bread.

10. Universal remotes

9. Doritos

8. Roller luggage

7. Water beds

6. The pill

5. Microwave ovens

4. Antidepressants

3. Cell phones

2. The Internet

1. The word processor

Yep, for a writer, the word processor is the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread! (The pic above was my first computer from 1982: the Radio Shack TRS-80 aka “Trash 80.”)

In the days of B.C. (Before Computers) writers had to produce their articles and books by pounding away on typewriters, which were just one level above a goat skin and a pointed stick. And “cutting and pasting” involved real scissors and actual paste. “Spell check” consisted of those dreaded grade-school tests each Friday. And if we couldn’t think of a synonym, there was a chunky book called a “Thesaurus;” no relation to prehistoric creatures.

Word processor can’t make people better writers, but it can make them better typists. Whether the words are recorded with papyrus or pixels, they still are generated from the human mind. (Even the term “computer-generated image” is a misnomer since the image is generated in a human mind, but rendered on a computer.)

What word processors do is make the physical recording of writing so much easier and infinitely faster. No more retyping—and retyping again—a manuscript. No more putting words on a ream of tree flakes and sending it by pony express to a publisher, where a typesetter completely re-types it for print. Nope, just save as an attachment and click SEND.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful inventions since 1928’s sliced bread. I suspect, in another 86 years, people will be promoting the latest technology as “The greatest thing since sliced genes.”

© 2014 James N. Watkins

Related post:
Top ten giant leaps for mankind
Hope and humor for writers

So, what would you add as “the great things since sliced bread”? Please reply below.

I’m a mess. You’re a mess.

July 2nd, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (3 Comments)

Listen to the podcast.

At a conference, I shared that this “award-winning author” and “globe-trotting speaker” is a great, big, slobbering MESS.

I have clinical depression, OCD, ADD and . . . what was I saying? Oh, yes, I’m on the Autistic Spectrum: I don’t like having my rigid routine disrupted (I need 24-hour notice to be spontaneous), I hate traveling and being in new situations plus, although I love people, being around them drains my emotional batteries (I’m an off-the-chart introvert on the Myers-Briggs assessment). And so this outgoing, outspoken, outrageous author/speaker is, in reality, an Oscar-worthy performance by an introverted, inadequate and insecure actor.

So, I asked the people in the audience to turn to the person on their right and say, “I’m a mess.” Then, I asked them to turn to the person on their left and say, “You’re a mess.” After the keynote, a woman came up to me in tears, gave me a hug (more like the Heimlich maneuver) and sobbed, “I’m so glad someone besides me is a mess.”

It is liberating to realize, “I’m a mess. You’re a mess.” In fact, that should come as no surprise.

      For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

      All our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

      No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13).

      Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

      We are unworthy servants (Luke 17:10).

But here’s the wonderful mess-age for all of us messes:

We have a Mess-iah!

Just look at the messes that God has chosen to use: Moses wasn’t a speaker. Gideon was the least of his tribe. David was a shepherd boy when he squared off with Goliath. Daniel was a POW. Jeremiah was suicidal with depression. Peter had a severe case of “hoof in the mouth” disease. James and John were hot heads nick-named “Sons of Thunder.” A little boy’s lunch could never feed five thousand hungry men. The woman at the well was the original “Desperate Housewife.” Paul had a “thorn in the flesh.” Mark was a quitter. Timothy was timid and sickly.

So, be encouraged. The Messiah can empower and use messes like you and me for His purposes. Paul writes:

      When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. . . . I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

So, repeat after me and say, “I’m a mess. You’re a mess.” And then proclaim, “That’s why we have a Messiah.”

Copyright © 2001, 2014 James N. Watkins

Laziness is a virtue!

June 30th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

I spent the last four weeks editing four books, so I’m ready for some of those “lazy, hazy days of summer.” Time to laze in the hammock and ponder the importance of . . . well, lazing in the hammock.

Laziness, you see, is a vital virtue! Think about it over a tall glass of lemonade. Where would we be today without this important quality? “Necessity” is not the “mother of invention”! (Maybe a sister or a second-cousin, but not the mother.) Laziness is the mother of invention!

For instance, we’d all be living like the hard-working Amish, who live without electricity and indoor plumbing, if not for this much-maligned virtue.

Grog was too lazy to drag a mastodon back to the cave, so he invented the wheel and, subsequently, the Monster Truck.

The inventor of the flush toilet, Alexander Cummings, was simply too lazy to empty “thunder mugs” or use the outhouse in sub-zero temperatures. (Legend credits Thomas Crapper—a much more appropriate name—with the invention, but he was simply a manufacturer of water closets that bore his name.)

Alexander Graham Bell was too lazy to walk into the next room when he needed his lab assistant Watson, so he invented “voice mail.”

And Henry Ford, the inventor of the “horseless carriage,” was too lazy to shovel out the barn (“There must be a better way to reduce carriage emissions!”).

Every great invention, from the “doodad” to the “thingamabob,” has been the result of laziness. (That’s why the hard-working Amish have never been known as great inventors and innovators. Industry stifles invention.)

Laziness, then, should be applauded as a virtue! So, let’s get in that hammock and put laziness to work!

What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy summer day? Please reply below.

Copyright © 1997 James N. Watkins

Related posts
My salute to summer

Dealing with career highs and lows

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

Today, I don’t have any articles or books to write. No international—or even the monthly meeting of the Corn Borer Grange—speaking engagements. I forced myself to at least get out of bed at 6:15 am after listening to heart-breaking news on the clock radio. So, I’m up, I’m dressed (if you consider gyms shorts and T-shirt “dressed”), but no reason to take a shower as a noon meeting was cancelled.

I’m dutifully sitting at my computer in my office answering email, but mostly mindlessly surfing the ‘net for something to stimulate a Hope & Humor post. I think I’m simply overwhelmed at all the ways it seems culture is coming apart at the seams, so I don’t feel very hopeful or humorous right now. (And, I’m out of dark chocolate!)

I’m trying to convince myself that this is all part of the by-polar rhythm of being a writer and speaker—or most any other profession. For every day of exhilarating writing, there’s a day of immobilizing boredom. For every exciting speaking engagement, a day where I just mutter to myself.

So, I’ll take my anti-depressants, have my time alone with God—although He seems to be taking the day off as well—and do some prep for a conference coming up in July. In just two weeks, I’ll be introduced as an “award-winning author and international speaker” with the tag line “hope and humor.” That cracks me up! But here are a few Bible verses that keep me from truly cracking up and doing the work I feel is a call from God:

      For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2:10).

      I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him (1 Timothy 1:12).

      Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

      Christ, who is the head of his body, the church . . . makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:15b-16).

Gotta believe that the work is bigger than my little efforts and longer than my day-to-day ups and downs.

And, who knows, maybe this rant will eventually turn into a “Hope & Humor” post. Maybe.

How do you deal with your career’s highs and lows? Please reply below. Thanks!

Copyright © 2013 James N. Watkins

Related post
Freelancing offers freedom ‘real job’ can
My ‘real’ job (Clue: it’s not writing and speaking)
Soaring with eagles, walking with emus (Audio and in-print keynote talk on dealing with career highs and lows)

My short-lived career as weightlifter

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

I needed just one credit to finish my physical education requirements for college. Unfortunately, the only classes open were “Weight-Lifting 101” and “Basket Weaving.” So, at 115 pounds, soaking wet (see pic), I signed up for weight-lifting.

To say the least, it was a painful and humiliating experience. Everyone else in the class seemed to be steroid-stoked Olympians. While they were “cleaning and jerking” hundreds of pounds, I was struggling to hoist the bar. One muscle-bound brute delighted in coming up behind me and lifting me up by my gym shorts. Painful and humiliating!

But, even though I looked like the “before” picture in Muscle magazine, I kept showing up for class, kept working with the ever-increasing weights, and kept being picked up by my shorts.

However, the class was graded on “improvement,” not on the amount of weight lifted, so I earned the same grade as the guy lifting my weight!

That summer I worked at the Kellogg’s cereal company lifting fifty-pound boxes of raisins into the chute that dropped to the lower floor’s Raisin Bran packing room. (Sorry, but no smiling sun putting in two scoops!) After weight-lifting, I could crack open the boxes like a raw egg with just one hand.

After I had suffered a little while, I was now strong, firm and steadfast. In the same way, “the God of all grace . . . will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

So now, sixty pounds later, when I encounter a painful, humiliating experience, I’m reminded that I’m simply being prepared for the next challenge. I couldn’t have survived working in a factory without weightlifting!

Copyright © 2011 James N. Watkins

How has something painful and/or humiliating made you stronger?

Top ten clues a man should put on a shirt

June 18th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in hot and humid Corn Borer, Indiana, today’s category:

10. Take a tape measure. Drop it on the floor. If you can’t pick it up without bending your knees, put on a shirt.

9. If you have a tattoo containing any of the Federal Communication Commission’s seven dirty words, put on a shirt.

8. If you don’t want to appear as a suspect on TV’s “COPS,” put on a shirt.

7. If you have more chest hair than your neighbor’s poodle, put on a shirt.

6. If you’re over 40, put on a shirt.

5. If you’ve had open-heart surgery, put on a shirt.

4. If your mother, wife or daughter (and especially all three together) can’t reach around you for a hug, put on a shirt.

3. If you don’t want to die of melanoma, put on a shirt.

2. If your measurements exceed 36A, put on a shirt.

1. If your family or neighbors forward this post to you, put on a shirt.

You know who you are!

(Click for more summer humor columns. And, seriously, put on a shirt!)

Copyright © 2000 James N. Watkins

Happy Father’s Day, Dads!

June 13th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Here’s a roundup of this week’s “Hope and Humor” featuring Father’s Day posts on Facebook, Twitter and right here. Enjoy encouragement and entertainment with cartoons, snarky comments and posts on Donald Duck’s birthday, God’s “prank” calls, Japan’s new crap app, and of course, lot of posts honoring dad on his special day . . .



My real job
Clue: It’s not writing and speaking!


You may be a parent if you ever said . . .
“That candy is going to spoil your appetite. Eat your green beans. Children in Africa are starving!”

Becoming a G-Daddy
Of course we were thrilled when we learned we were going to be grandparents, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be called “grandpa.”




Son of a saint!
These godly, biblical parents had a very ungodly, unbiblical son!

We report, you shake your “head”
( “Trustwave, a Chicago company that helps corporate clients fight cybercrime, hijacked a Bluetooth connection that controls toilets made by Japan’s Lixil Group. That could allow hackers to open or close the lid and even squirt a stream of water at the user’s behind, Trustwave said.”

I could see this as a popular app for women who are constantly nagging, “Put the lid down,” but do we really need an app to crap?! Seriously!

We report, you shake your CPU
(CNBC) “‘In less than two decades, you won’t just use your computers, you will have relationships with them. Because of artificial intelligence, computers will be able to read at human levels by 2029 and will also begin to have different human characteristics,’ said Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google.

“‘My timeline is computers will be at human levels, such as you can have a human relationship with them, 15 years from now,’ he said. Kurzweil’s comments came at the Exponential Finance conference in New York on Wednesday.”

Do we really want relationships with “human” computers?! I can see the headline:

Jealous computer kills local author
(CORN BORER, Ind.) The first case of cybercide has been reported, leaving a local author and speaker dead of apparent electrocution.

James Watkins’ PC computer, running Windows 666, allegedly became jealous when the human was detected by GPS tracking at Best Buy in Kokomo looking at Mac laptops. When Watkins returned home, the enraged PC allegedly sent 120 volts of electricity through the keyboard, killing the man instantly.

An electronic spokesperson at the Cracker County Sheriff’s Department said the office is running a diagnostic program of the incident.



Becoming like little children
I may be 62, but I’m still just a big kid!

Mowing with Dad
Guest post by Nowell Hardin



Top ten things my dad taught me
Thanks, Dad, for the top ten . . . and ten thousand . . . things you taught me!


Does God make prank calls
Some of God’s “calls” do seem laughable.

Disney star celebrates birthday without pants
Happy birthday to Donald Duck who turned 80 today. But does it bother anyone else that the cartoon character wears a hat and jacket—but no pants?! Right, wrong, or Depends?

Clarification: I don’t mind cartoon animals that are au naturel. That’s, well, natural. But if you’re going to wear just one article of clothing, make it pants!

Research claims rats feel regret
Professor David Redish, of Minnesota University, in his study published in Nature Neuroscience, claims “Rats are capable of feeling regret about their own actions, an emotion that has never previously been found in any other mammals apart from humans.”

Perhaps Redish’s next study could be politicians, business leaders and telemarketers.



Happy third b’day, to our youngest grand!
She’s as sweet as frosting! And is fat-free!


Happy Pentecost Sunday which celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
I like big buts! See more Big buts of the Bible.

“California Chrome” failed to win horse racing’s “Triple Crown.” He has been exchanged for five “My Little Ponies” from Qatar.



Does God make ‘prank’ calls?

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

Listen to the podcast

When we got together, my cousins and I loved to make prank phone calls. Our favorite? Calling someone at random and—while trying to make our per-pubescent voices sound deep and adult—say, “This is the electric company. Is your refrigerator running?” And, if they actually bought our act and said yes, we would squeal, “Well, run and catch it!”

I believe God also makes “prank” calls. Well, at least calls that seem laughable. To serve as His spokesperson, God calls Moses, who claims he’s no public speaker. To deliver the Israelites from attack by a powerful army, God calls Gideon, the least person from the least tribe—to fight with clay pots, torches and trumpets! And to lead the nation of Israel, God calls David, a shepherd boy. The examples continue through the Old and New Testaments.

And God still makes “prank” calls. He makes a call to someone who scores off the chart on the Myers-Briggs inventory for “Introvert.” This person also suffers with clinical depression and, without prayer and Prozac, would spend his days hiding under the covers. And to make things more interesting, he has symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome which make him uncomfortable with new people and unfamiliar surroundings. And he really hates snakes!

So God, in His deep voice, says, “Jim, I’m calling you to be a freelance writer and speaker with no predictable income, sitting in airports hoping your flight isn’t cancelled and your luggage arrives when you do, and spending long days speaking and interacting at conferences. Oh, and I want your tag line to be ‘Hope and Humor.'”

“Uh, you must have the wrong number.”

But He just reminds me His grace is sufficient when I find myself teaching three weeks in India with a terrible case of depression and homesickness, talking to district leaders and college students about “Human Sexuality” under a circus tent in Mozambique, and ministering to children and youth in Australia, which boasts the highest number of venomous snakes of any country on earth!

So, for nearly forty years, I’ve sensed God calling me outside of my comfort zone—and way outside of my area code. And sometimes, if I’m really quiet, I think I hear Him squealing with delight.

God is such a prankster!

Copyright © 2012 James N. Watkins

Related posts
Freelancing offers freedom “real job” can’t
Gideon: inadequate, ill-equipped, in the dark
God’s will is not lost: for those trying to it

Top ten Christian insults

June 4th, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

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

Feeling inadequate, unequipped, in the dark?

June 2nd, 2014 | Posted by jameswatkins in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

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 at Jerusalem Junior High.

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 unequipped?

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 lack, 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 posts
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
• And from the H&H cartoons file:

• Perform the sketch. Click for script.