Guest Post by James Watkins: Why? Why? Why?

A three-year-old’s favorite word is why.

“Johnny, hold my hand while we cross the street.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want you to run out in front of a car.”

“Why?”

“Because if a car hits you, you’ll be hurt or killed.”

“Why?”

“Because if it’s a contest between a thirty-five-pound boy and an SUV, the three-ton vehicle is going to win every time.”

“Why?”

“Because the laws of physics state that mass plus momentum equals—Just take my hand, Johnnie!”

And on it goes—right into adulthood!

Why didn’t God heal my friend?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do I still have acne at 60?

But like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are often in the form of a question.

 

What can I know?

I can know the truth of Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV).

For instance, our group health insurance had very few maternity benefits, but had great “major medical” coverage. At the birth of our first child, my wife had complications and spent five days in Intensive Care. But, because the birth was now “major medical,” every penny of our daughter’s birth was covered. Sitting in ICU for five days waiting to know if my wife was going live or die was not good, but it did work for good.

However, it took me nearly thirty years to realize that Romans 8:28’s “purpose” is revealed in the following—and usually ignored—verse:

. . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. . . .

I may never know the answer to why, but I can know what is the purpose to which God is working all for our good. To be like Jesus! If you look for it, you’ll find throughout the New Testament. For instance:

 

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18b, author’s emphasis).

 

How can I grow?

Jesus promises . . .

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:1, 4-5 NLT).

Our spiritual lives depend on this intimate connection with Christ. His life flows into and through us causing us to become organically one with his character. That connection is strengthened through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers. And suffering!

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. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NLT, author’s emphasis).

When I think back to my “successful” years—award-winning author and editor, world-traveling conference speaker, denominational executive, and co-pastor of a growing church—I certainly didn’t resemble the Christ I was trying to follow. It has only been during my “failure” years—years between book contracts, estranged relationships, being voted out of a church, and having to borrow money to make a living writing and speaking—that I have come to derive my self-identity and self-worth from simply being a loved child of God.

Who can I show?

Finally, 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 has become one of my favorite passages in encouraging me while I’m going through terrible times:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer (NLT).

I now believe that God is more than willing to answer those questions and how they relate to living a life conformed to the image of His Son. Even why I still suffer from acne!

From God, I Don’t Understand, Copyright 2017, 2019 James N. Watkins. Available at Amazon.

Jim is an award-winning author of over 20 books and 2,000 articles, who has spoken across the United States and overseas. He has served as an editor and editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, an editor with the American Bible Society, taught writing at Taylor University for 15 years, and has guest-lectured at Liberty, Regent and other universities. He is currently writing and speaking full-time as well as consulting in book development. His most important roles, however, are being a child of God, husband, dad and “papaw.”

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

Trust In Him: A Poem to Encourage You

Poetry, like music, can minister to weary or hurting hearts and it’s a real privilege to be able to write a poem that ministers to someone going through a heartbreaking or agonizing time. I’m always thankful to be able to offer a bit of comfort in this way.

I wrote the first variation of the poem below for some friends many years ago. It flowed from my own experience of a dark and difficult time. I pray that it will encourage and strengthen someone in a special way today and remind all of us that we can always “Trust in Him.”

Trust In Him

When times of crisis come your way
You know you can trust in him,
When the burden is more
Than you can bear,
Continue to trust in him.
When you don’t understand
All that is happening to you,
You know he does—
Trust in him.
When you feel like the joy
Has gone out of your life,
He still wants you to trust in him.
And when you finally feel
Like God has forgotten you,
He’ll show you he hasn’t—
Trust in him.
Then one day
When you look back on this time,
You’ll be glad you trusted in him.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4 NIV

*When have you looked back and been glad that you trusted in God?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*I hope this slightly revised post from March 2011 blessed you today!

*My photo

Wedding Shoes for the Party: Sneakers!

Mother of the Bride, heels look gorgeous for the wedding ceremony, but when it’s time to party, why not break out the sneakers! Just look at the bridal party above. Cute and comfy, too. Those girls look ready for some serious dancing, don’t they?

To make it extra fun—and snazzy-looking as well—the sneakers could all be in a matching style and color. The example above shows the bride sporting one of the wedding colors and all the bridesmaids in a coordinating color, and that looks super cute for photos and also continues to set the bride apart from everyone else.

MOB, why not give your daughter this suggestion for her maids? After all, when it’s time for everyone to let their hair down and party, they might as well let their feet get down in comfy territory, too!

*You might also like to read Comfy Shoes—Add This to Your Wedding Day List and Winter Wedding Favor: Dancing Socks!

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

 *The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*I hope you found this slightly revised post from May 2014 helpful to you today, MOB!

*Flickr photo by soundman1024, Creative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For the Hurting

Does your heart yearn to help people who are hurting? Mine does and I’m sure yours does too. One way we can help hurting people is through our prayers. And we can do this for anyone. We often feel so helpless, especially when distance is involved, but prayer can cover that distance in the span of a whispered plea. 

So in today’s installment of my blog series featuring sentence prayers that invite God’s power, let’s focus on the hurting.

Is someone we know grieving the loss of a loved one? Do we know anyone going through divorce or some other soul-wrenching broken relationship?

Let’s not forget those who are physically hurting because of illness or chronic physical, mental, or emotional conditions. Maybe we know someone struggling with infertility or someone dealing with other heartbreaking or heavy situations.

Through the following sentence prayers, may we help hold up those we know and love who are hurting today. And may our hearts be eased as well in knowing that we are helping them through our prayers!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For the Hurting

  1. Father, show hurting souls your love today in some special way, reassuring them that you see them and that you’re with them. (Genesis 16:13; Psalm 3:18; Lamentations 3:32; Luke 7:13)
  2. Lord, remind the hurting to turn to you—to run to you, not away from you—and allow you to be their refuge in the storm. (2 Chronicles 20:12b; Psalm 9:9, 18:2, 36:7, 62:8, 71:3; 141:8)
  3. Father, comfort and carry the hurting today. (Psalm 23;4; 28:9; Isaiah 46:4; 49:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
  4. Lord, bring people to minister to those who are hurting and then help the hurting accept their comfort and help. (Job 16:5; Isaiah 41:6; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 7:6-7)
  5. Father, guide those who are hurting to fully feel their grief or pain and to give themselves grace as they make their way through it. (1 Samuel 30:4; Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 22:4)
  6. Lord, help the hurting forgive and give grace to those who thoughtlessly compound their pain by insensitive remarks or actions. (Luke 23:34; Matthew 7:12; Colossians 3:13)
  7. Lord, bind up and heal the hearts of the hurting and be their balm of Gilead. (Psalm 147:3; Jeremiah 8:22)

Let’s bless the hurting today with our prayers. Let’s help them make it through!

 “On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV

*What are some other ways we can pray for the hurting today?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by ePi.Longo, Creative Commons License

Favorites from the Book of all Books: God’s Word

It’s always fun to talk books. Fun to share what we’re currently reading, fun to tell what our favorites are, and fun to pick up some great recommendations for future reads. Today let’s talk about the Book of all books—the Bible, also known as the Word of God.

As I tell the little ones in my nursery-age Sunday School class, the Bible is a special book. In fact, it’s the most treasured book I own, as well as my absolute all-time favorite to read. When it comes to other books, even the ones I fall in love with or am blown away by, none stay as close to my heart as the Bible. After I read others, I put them on a shelf and only think of them occasionally. I might pick them up again and reread them years later, but they don’t impact my life every day.

Not so with my Bible. I read it daily. I even try to memorize verses I especially need or love. Not only is the Word of God “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) in my life, it breathes fresh life into me like nothing else can do. It comforts me, guides me, encourages me, and gives me truth I can offer to other thirsty souls. To put it like the Bible itself does, “the word of God is living and active . . .” (Hebrews 4:12)

I’m sure the Bible is life-changing and precious to many of you as well. So today let’s share some of our “favorites” from it. What’s your favorite book within the Bible? Favorite story? Favorite verse? I hope you’ll take time to leave a comment and answer any or all of the questions. It’ll be fun to hear what’s especially meaningful to others, won’t it?

I think my favorite book has to be Psalms—maybe because I love poetic writing and music, but it’s also so full of refreshment and encouragement. My favorite story is the Christmas story. For me, it’s just hard to top the angel’s announcement of a Savior born to us all. And favorite verse? That’s a hard one. So many mean so much to me. But one I come back to time and again is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)

Okay, it’s your turn. Tell us your favorites from the Book of all books!

“They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Deuteronomy 32:47 NIV

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Savio SebastianCreative Commons License