Why? Why? Why?

Guest post by James N. Watkins

If you have children,nieces and nephews, or younger siblings, you know that 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 a three-ton SUV, the truck is going to win every time.”

“Why?”

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

And on itgoes-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 50?”

I’ve worked up way too much spiritual perspiration trying to answer why my second-grade Sunday school teacher committed suicide, why I was laid off from the perfect job in publishing—twice—or why bad things happen to such good people as you and me.

I have learned that while why is often a futile question, God is more than willing to answer other questions. But, like the popular game show, Jeopardy, the answers are in the form of a question.

What can I know?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

So, while I’ve struggled with hundreds—probably thousands—of questions about God’s workings, I have grown in my knowledge of who he is. While agonizing about an estranged relationship, I burst into tears—for God. I had described to a friend my pain: “It feels like my heart has been cut out with a chainsaw, run over by a logging truck, and then fed through a wood chipper.” If I was feeling this excruciating pain for one broken relationship, how was God feeling about billions of heartaches? It was one of the few times I actually felt I understood God.

I can also find the answer to . . .

How can I grow?

I’ve always leaned into 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).

But what is that “purpose”? The very next verse answers: “To be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). So do other verses:

“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).

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1).

That’s our purpose! So ask, how can I grow more like Christ through this difficult time.

Who can I show?

Second 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).

The Greek word translated comfort isparaklesisIt is a calling near, summons for help; a prayer, a plea; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace, refreshment; or a persuasive speech, motivational talk, instruction. And it’s feminine case. No one comforts like a mother.

We offer our best comfort to those experiencing what we have personally gone through.

So, sorry, we can’t always answer the why questions, but we can answer these three.

Condensed from The Psalms of Asaph: Struggling with Unanswered Prayer, Unfulfilled Promises, and Unpunished Evil by James N. Watkins. Browse and buy at jameswatkins.com/asaph/

 

I want to thank Jim Watkins for that guest post. I look forward to reading his book.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

        

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A Foot Up for Comfort–Maybe Two

rocker      recliner1     recliner2

I’m not a couch potato. Even though I’m currently reading Christy Barritt’s suspense mystery, Death of the Couch Potato’s Wife.

I can’t just sit and watch TV by the hour, and I don’t really understand how other people can. Although we own a TV set, we don’t have cable. Or even rabbit ears.

We use our TV to watch an occasional DVD–we have quite a collection, including two copies of one of the Harry Potter movies (go figure!)–or even one of our many VHS tapes. We normally use Netflix to watch one actual TV program daily. Yes, you read that correctly. One. And we watch only while eating supper.

Because I’m a writer, I spend most of the day with my laptop on my lap and the wireless mouse on the side table beside me. That’s a lot of sitting, and–frankly–that part of writing can be rather wearing. Especially sitting in the rocking chair I’ve had for the fourteen years I’ve lived here.

It’s a pretty chair, and I’m so used to it that I never thought much about comfort until we recently got a flyer from The Dump. (If you’re not familiar with The Dump, it’s a discount furniture store chain.) It was advertising a super sale they’re having this week for their regular customers. For those people and those people only–they need to bring the flyer–the store will be open several days it’s normally closed.

I gave the flyer a casual glance and then a more careful second look. A power recliner, complete with a USB connection, for under $300. You may not know this about me, but I’m somewhere between tight-fisted and stingy when it comes to spending money. But under $300? Hmm.

I showed it to my wife, Kathleen. She reminded me that we routinely set aside money in the budget for household items. That’s how we bought the Rooma robot vacuum clearer some months ago. And we had enough for that recliner.

The catch was it would be on sale at that price only this Thursday. But since The Dump is open on Saturdays, we took a drive down Rt. 1 in the hopes they would have a floor model of this one so we could make sure it was what we actually wanted.

Too bad we didn’t realize they didn’t open till 10:00, but we pulled the car under the covered area in front of the store and waited till it opened. Then we parked and went inside.

Ron, the fellow who waited on us, was great. He helped us find the right recliner and plugged it in for me to try out. Wonderful! How did I stand that rocker all those years?

He had no way to reserve one for us, but we must’ve really impressed him, because he talked to the store manager, who authorized him to go ahead and sell it to us at the sale price–five days before we’d expected to be able to get it. Were we surprised and thrilled!

We set up delivery for Monday. Even if we’d borrowed a truck from somebody, I couldn’t see Kathleen and me struggling to get that chair through the gate and into the house.

As you can see from the picture above, I’m comfy now for the first time in ages. And our dog, Happy, is equally thrilled.

What about you? Do you have a favorite place to sit? Or perhaps a more interesting story about buying something than this one is? (How do bloggers manage to find decent topics time after time?) How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Summer Comfort

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I grew up in parsonages–eight years in one, three-and-a-half years in another, and five years in a third. Although I was in college after that, I lived in a fourth parsonage off-and-on until after graduation.

I mention parsonages specifically because–unless things have changed drastically, and I pray that they have–they are notorious for their lack of amenities that the homes of most church members have. And generally a lack of adequate upkeep.

But I can’t really blame the lack of air conditioning on the fact that I lived in parsonages. I grew up slightly before the time air conditioners became readily available.

I have fond memories of the window fan that seemed to run all summer long and the individual smaller fans placed in strategic places throughout the house. And of course there were those adjustable slotted wooden devices that could be placed in open windows with the windows themselves closed down against them, holding them firmly in place.

Once I was out on my own, I lived for a while in an air conditioned apartment. What a wonderfully comfortable change!

But then I had to move–and ended up in a third floor apartment with no A/C. I’ll never forget those hot August nights when I would tiptoe down the steps to the second floor landing and zonk out on a sofa there. Still quite hot, but bearable.

Flash forward to more recent years. Like most of you, I’ve had air conditioning for so many years–it took forever to get my first car A/C, but I doubt you can buy a car now without it–I can’t imagine ever having to go back to the “good old years” that were anything but good, at least in terms of summer comfort.

But comfort can still be an issue. Where two or more family members disagree about what temperature the A/C should be set on.

Doesn’t matter, though. I can deal with sleeping beneath a blanket during the summer months to keep from freezing. But who would ever have thought that would be my version of “comfortable” at my age?

What about you? Are you in control of the temperature of your environment? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Hot or Cold?

RogerPlayingOutside   HeavyWeightCoat

My mother died in 1994. A year after my father. One thing I recall all too clearly about her advanced age was the breathing problems she had when the weather was too hot and the constant problems with trying to stay halfway comfortable during extremely cold weather.

At sixty-eight, I don’t yet struggle with problems like those, and I hope I don’t.

Looking back to when I was younger, I used to prefer cold weather to hot. After all, when I’m hot, I can only take off so many clothes without being arrested for indecent exposure. But when I’m cold, there’s no limit to the number of additional clothes I can put on–if I don’t mind looking super-pudgy. Like the way I look when I wear what my wife describes as my Nanook coat. (See the right-hand picture above.)

Now I’m not so sure I was right. Yes, when I’m too hot I feel drained. Although I try to avoid mowing the lawn when the temp is too high–I’ve already had to mow it twice this spring–I invariably feel drained by the effort. In fact, I feel drained doing that even when the weather’s not too hot.

But when I’m sitting around in winter time and  have to get up to put on one more sweater–I refuse to turn the thermostat above seventy–I feel very vulnerable to the cold and feel extra sorry for the homeless.

But the toughest times to deal with are those when the temperature is in-between and a light jacket is too hot, but even a long-sleeved shirt isn’t quite warm enough.

Today is a beautiful spring day. It’s seventy-two degrees outside, the heat is off, and the front door is open. With the storm door set to screen mode, a mild breeze is helping to bring some of outside inside. (Hopefully not the pollen, however.) A while ago I took my guitar outside and sat on our little wooden bench to take advantage of the sunshine.

Nights are still in the thirties and forties. We usually remember to turn the heat on–in the mid-sixties takes the worst of the chill off–but we occasionally forget. Even though it may be a bit nippy when we get up, the extreme cold of winter seems to be past.

So which do I prefer now–hot or cold? Hard to say. Better just to accept whatever is, don’t you think? But to really enjoy and take advantage of days like today.

Comments are welcome.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger