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.

Small Seeds, Big Results

“‘. . . a mustard seed . . . the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’” Mark 4:31-32 NIV

We’ve all heard the phrase “little but mighty.” These well-known words are an apt description for many people and situations, and they can certainly be applied to seeds and planting too.

In scripture, Jesus used the example of the mustard seed to show how something great—something big—can come from the smallest of seeds when planted. The humble little mustard seed can grow until it is one day large enough to provide shade for birds. What a perfect example of how something little can become something mighty.

Small seeds that yield big results are not only seen in the world of gardening and farming, though. They can be witnessed in finances, education, in developing talents and abilities, in building self-confidence, and in spiritual transformation as well as many other things.

Whenever and wherever seeds are planted, growth—yes, miracles—are bound to happen. A little boy who’s given a toy microscope as a child grows up to become a research scientist. A little girl receives a set of colored pencils for her birthday and one day opens her own graphic design business. A troubled teen accepts a New Testament during a Gideon distribution at school and later that year asks Jesus to be his Savior. Yes, planted seeds become miracles.

What small seeds can we plant in the coming days, weeks, and months? It might be as simple as an encouraging word to a struggling soul or a verse of scripture shared on social media. Perhaps we could give a scholarship to a camp, conference, or event that will be life-changing for the recipient. The possibilities are limitless.

Let’s do it. Let’s plant small seeds that could become mighty things. Let’s provide shade—or nourishment or inspiration or any number of other things that someone somewhere needs today. Let’s be part of a miracle!

I planted the seed . . . but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV

*What seeds have been planted in your life that have become mighty things?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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 Kapitalist63, Creative Commons License

“Depend” Acrostic: 2019 Theme Word Refresher

Last year I wrote an acrostic as a refresher and enjoyed the exercise so much I decided to do the same again this year for my 2019 theme word—depend. I should have done this at the half-way point, but we’re two-thirds through the year now. Better late than never is a motto that will surely prove true for this tardy effort of mine today, though, don’t you think?

Below you will find some thoughts (in acrostic form) that came to mind as I contemplated the various aspects of depending. I also hope the above photo from my summer trip to Colorado will give you a visual of depending on God and of using laser-focus to keep your eyes on him.

Depend

Dare to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Empty yourself of pride and admit that you need God as well as others.

Place all your concerns into the hands of God and enjoy his peace.

Endure whatever trials of life come your way as you count on God to see you through.

Name the characteristics of God and give thanks that he is able and trustworthy.

Dig deep in your faith in God and resist the impulse to take matters into your own hands.

I hope this depend acrostic blesses you and offers help for a current situation you’re facing. I encourage you to try your hand at an acrostic as well—whether with your word for the year or for another word you need some further insight or encouragement regarding. May God bless all our efforts to grow in our walk with him!

“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” Lamentations 3:25 NLT

*What aspect of depending on God is most challenging for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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.

*My photo

9 Quotes to Encourage and Help You on Your Mother of the Bride Journey

Are you in need of a little encouragement or a few words of wisdom today on your Mother of the Bride journey? If so, don’t feel down on yourself. Every mother of the bride goes through moments like that. And never fear, I can help you.

Below you’ll find a few quotes I’ve compiled with you in mind, with hopes of refreshing your spirit or giving some practical help. A verse in the Bible says, “. . . how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23 NIV) And I wholeheartedly agree. May the following words be timely and prove to be good for you today!

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” Milton Berle

“Take the gift of this moment and make something beautiful of it. Few worthwhile experiences just happen; memories are made on purpose.” Gloria Gaither

“God is, and all is well.” John Greenleaf Whittier

“Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life . . .” Hugh Black

“Joy is the best makeup.” Anne Lamott in Grace Eventually

“Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” Henry Ward Beecher

“To be prepared is half the victory.” Miguel de Cervantes

“When your dreams for a particular event seem to be slipping away, don’t despair. An unexpected joy may be waiting in the wings.” Cheryl Barker in Mother of the Bride

I hope these made a difference for you today, MOB. Be blessed!

p.s. That last quote is from my book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. Hope you’ll grab a copy for yourself on Amazon or contact me for a personalized, author-signed copy!

*You might also like to read Wisdom and Encouragement for the Mother of the Bride, You Are Appreciated, Mother of the Bride!, and Mother of the Bride: 9 Easy Ways to Pamper Yourself.

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

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. 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.)

*My photo

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