James’s Blog: What’s Important to God?

James’s Blog:  What’s Important to God?

There was this one time when I was asked to visit a friend of mine who was in hospital. Let me clarify what I mean by ‘in hospital’. He was actually in the hospital’s locked ward. He’d had a psychotic episode and been sectioned. So I went to visit him, and I sat with him in the secure unit. I was out of my depth, which is where I spend a lot of my time.  He asked me to read to him, from the Psalms. So that’s what I did. That’s all I did. For half an hour I just sat and read from the Psalms while he wept beside me. Then I went home to my family.

I know that I have public gifts; the sort of gifts that draw attention. I have been told that I preach eloquently and, sometimes, powerfully. I know that there are those who have been influenced by my teaching. It’s been said that I write well, and that I am a gifted communicator. But I think about that time in the locked ward, and I have a sneaking suspicion that, even if I were to live to be one hundred years old, I will never do anything as important as that ever again.

James’s Blog: Eight Seductive Narratives.

James’s Blog:  Eight Seductive Narratives.

One:  Christians should never ever cause trouble.

Two:  The harder you work, the more God owes you.

Three:  Spiritual warfare is no concern of mine.

Four:  Jesus’ job is to understand me, not to make demands on me.

Five:  Because God is sovereign, it’s OK for me to be spiritually lazy.

Six:  The purpose of Christian youth work is to keep my children away from drink and drugs, not to put dangerous and radical ideas into their heads.

Seven:  First, I sort out my security, then I see what God wants.

Eight:  What I choose to watch and listen to has no affect on my thinking.

James’s Blog: Getting their Attention.

James’s Blog:  Getting their Attention.

An actor and a preacher were discussing their work.

What I don’t understand,” said the preacher, “is why my congregation will come to one of your performances and sit for hours, engaged and alert the whole time, while I can hardly get them to stay awake during one of my twenty minute sermons.”

Maybe,” said the actor, “it’s because I present fiction as though it were the truth, and you present the truth as though it were fiction.” Read more

James’s Blog: The Road to Hell.

James’s Blog:  The Road to Hell.

I saw a man throwing a child at the sun.

“Why are you doing that?” I said.

“I’m helping him. He told me that he was cold,” the man said.

I looked at the bruised child on the floor.

“I think he needs to go to the hospital,” I said.

“Sure,” said the man, lifting the child above his head once more.  “Which direction is the hospital?”

James’s Blog: The Death of Character.

James’s Blog:  The Death of Character.

What do people want from their leaders? Reflecting on my own experiences in leadership and viewing the current political climate in the West makes me conclude that what we really want are leaders who think the same way as us. The personality and character of a leader is less important than whether or not he or she agrees with me on certain issues. We want leaders who are an extension of our opinions, a proxy who will do the things that we would do if we were in charge. “My will be done,” we say. Read more

James’s Blog: Handling the Psalms with Care.

James’s Blog:  Handling the Psalms with Care.

It’s been said that the Bible is a record of God speaking to Man, but the Psalms are a record of Man speaking to God. This, I think, is one of the reasons why they have a universal appeal. Psalm 23 is the Amazing Grace of the Bible; it’s the one that everyone knows. The power of the Psalms is that they put into words the inner music of the human soul. Whatever is going on in you, there’s a Psalm that you can read and say, “Me too!” Read more

James’s Blog: Writer’s Block, Inspiration and Stuff Like That.

James’s Blog:  Writer’s Block, Inspiration and Stuff Like That.

I’m a lazy writer. Like many, I suppose, I depend on that mythical beast Inspiration to get me started, but when that endangered species is absent, then my passion and the words dry up. A huge part of writing is really just about discipline, and that’s my least favourite part. Read more