James’s Blog: In Gratitude for Dianne Tyson.

James’s Blog:  In Gratitude for Dianne Tyson.

I didn’t ever meet Dianne, but that didn’t matter.  She didn’t even reach sixty, but that didn’t matter either.  A lot of things about Dianne didn’t seem to matter.  The fact that she was plagued with crippling health problems and constant pain – that didn’t matter either.  She had a lot to bitter about, but she didn’t let those things matter.

She spoke openly about her suffering, but she was a fine example of someone who didn’t let herself be defined by the things that had happened to her, but instead redefined those things in the light of who God had made her to be.  She was physically inactive, but spiritually active.  Not just spiritually active, I suppose, but spiritually vibrant; spiritually contagious even.  For those of you who don’t know, she prayed faithfully for me and many others on a regular basis, and those prayers did matter.  When Dianne phoned you and said, “I was praying for you yesterday and I felt like God was saying…”, well, you’d better have listened.  She was the sort of person that caused Satan to break out into a cold sweat.  That may sound a touch melodramatic, but I have experienced first hand how God used her to thwart the enemy’s little schemes, and I know I’m not the only one.

Of course, like all men and women cut from that beautiful cloth, she would be nonplussed and embarrassed to read such things written about herself, but that’s all part of the deal, isn’t it?  Brokenness and humility are both the things that God uses, and the things that prevent us from getting carried away by our usefulness.

I didn’t ever meet Dianne, but I will miss her and part of me wishes she was still here.  We are poorer without her and there’s a lot of work still to be done, but she’s earned her rest.

One day I’ll thank her face to face, because – one day – we’ll have that first meeting.

James’s Blog: Eight Things that Made me Laugh Out Loud.

James’s Blog:  Eight Things that Made me Laugh Out Loud.

I’ve spent a long time this week working on a blog post about popularity, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to post it. It might have been profound, but it was also quite negative. Being the melancholy sort that I am, I have a tendency to go full Old Testament Prophet sometimes, and it’s not good for me, you or the Kingdom of God if all I do is complain. After all, there’s a reason why we commemorate architects and not demolitions experts. What’s the point of being a follower of Jesus if you can’t lose yourself in laughter every now and then?

So, instead, here is a list of eight things that have made me laugh out loud:

  1. The time I was with my children at a playground and I went down the slide, but my t-shirt got caught at the top of the slide, leaving me dangling halfway down the slide with a ripped t-shirt around my upper chest and neck.

  2. Phil’s Tribute – a dance video that Sam and Ethan prepared for our 2011 end of year formal at Cornerstone Canowindra – Link here.

  3. Walking past Reid and Calvin’s bedroom, and overhearing Reid telling Calvin about a chimpanzee that was found guilty of a crime and sentenced to five years at Wingham Wildlife Park – complete with chimpanzee noises.

  4. The time that my in-laws (Max & Sue) sent some flowers to my parents, and they arrived with a card that read ‘From Mac and Sue’.

  5. That bit in Adventure Time where Ice King says, “Without Gunter, I’ll be all alone. You see, I’m a widower.” and Doctor Princess says, “Oh, I’m sorry. How did your wife die?” and Ice King says, “Ohh…Is that what that means?”

  6. My friend Terry’s story about the time he was using a cubicle in a public toilet, and he heard someone else coming in, and he assumed it was one of his friends who had been waiting outside and he yelled out in a weird squeaky voice, “No, no, go away!” then he heard a voice he didn’t recognise say, “Uhh…sorry mate.” and Terry had to reply “That’s alright.” in the same weird squeaky voice that he’d just used.

  7. Sam, Mark and Darren on the hamster wheel at the playground in Blayney.

  8. The video footage of me on a motorbike, pootling along, suddenly accelerating out of control and crashing into a fence while my wife, who was on the video camera, cackles like a witch in the background.

“Should we not see that the lines of laughter about the eyes are just as much marks of faith as are the lines of seriousness and care?”

Helmut Thielicke

James’s Blog: Do Motives Matter?

James’s Blog:  Do Motives Matter?

I’ve recently been thinking about Ruth’s motives. No, not my Ruth – the Old Testament Ruth. What was it that motivated her to commit to her mother-in-law, leave her country and start all over again in a strange land? The conclusion that I came to is that perhaps it doesn’t matter what her motives were. The important thing was that she put herself at God’s mercy – why she did it might not be important. Read more

James’s Blog: Newsworthy.

James’s Blog:  Newsworthy.

A friend of mine once told me about a small group of young people from his church that had gone and done some praiseworthy good deed. Local television sent a news crew to ask what had motivated them to do such a noble thing. Most of the group gave safe answers, but one girl talked about how her actions were an expression of her faith in Christ. I’ll let you guess which was the one piece of footage that they didn’t use when they ran the story. Read more

James’s Blog: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

James’s Blog:  Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

I was discussing with someone who suggested that, as an atheist, he at least was ‘…thinking for himself’. I pointed out that, unless he had invented atheism, he actually wasn’t. None of us really think for ourselves, I told him. There are thousands of years of history and debate and experience behind each of us, and all we can ever do is just pick a side. Read more