James’s Blog: Outsmarted.

James’s Blog:  Outsmarted.

“Dad, I’ve just realised something,” said Imogen.

She’d been thinking, you see.  It was her mother that put her up to it.  Imogen had informed me that Ruth had told her that I wasn’t very good at making beds.  It’s a fair cop, guv.  But that earth-shattering revelation had caught her imagination.

“What have you realised?” I asked, as though I was interested.

“Mum’s good at the stuff that you’re bad at, and you’re good at the stuff she’s bad at.”

“Well,” I said, “that’s how marriage is supposed to work.”

I sensed an opportunity to turn the tables on my wife.

“Out of interest,” I went on, “what is it that mum’s bad at that I’m good at?”

Imogen thought for a second, but only for a second.

“Being the best dad in the world,” she said.

Smooth.  She managed to palm me off while protecting Ruth’s infallibility.  Not bad for a five-year old.  I felt quite proud of her, outsmarting her old man.

It makes me think of Abraham and Moses, the flawed saints, taking God to task for His behaviour.  The passages where they argue with God would be controversial and tricky enough if it weren’t for the fact that they also appear to win.  We can get ourselves into all sorts of theological tangles over those passages, at least until we realise that He – being God and all – doesn’t need to justify Himself to us, and we should just let Him get on with being God.  He’s good at it.

The point is, I believe that He must have felt a sense of fatherly pride as his children went toe-to-toe with Him because they believed in people.

Over the years it’s been normal for my three boys to team up to try and take me down, but I’ve always been stronger and more cunning.  However, as I watch them fill out and creep up, I know my days are numbered.  Indeed, I suspect that when I’m in my dotage, I’m going to spend a lot of time being tipped out of my wheelchair.

I also think of Jacob, wrestling God to a standstill and extracting a blessing for his troubles.  As Jacob limped away from the scene of the battle I like to think of God in heaven, nudging the angels.

“Did you see my boy go?  Did you see him?  What a fighter!”

Sometimes God tests us purely to give us a chance to make Him proud.  I think that’s a healthy way to view things – those test are not occasions to let God down, but rather occasions to bring a smile to His face.

James’s Blog: And Lead us not into Temptation, but Deliver us from Evil.

James’s Blog:  And Lead us not into Temptation, but Deliver us from Evil.

Last week our church had a Week of Prayer and asked a few people to write a short, daily reflection on one line of The Lord’s Prayer.  I’m re-posting mine here.

For those of you who woke up this morning and said, “You know what I want – a random e-mail discussing the merits of various Biblical translations” can breathe a sigh of relief. Your prayers have been answered. Read more

James’s Blog: What’s a Father to do?

James’s Blog:  What’s a Father to do?

Being a dad is tricky, and I don’t always get it right, so when I do it tends to stick in the mind.

One Australian summer’s day, at the local pool, a young Calvin came to me with a two dollar coin that he’d found. “What should I do with this, dad?“ he asked, and in a moment of inspiration I replied, “Well, what do you think you should do with it?” Read more

James’s Blog: Hide & Seek with God.

James’s Blog:  Hide & Seek with God.

The best time to play Hide & Seek with your children is when they’re old enough to be a bit creative with hiding places, but still small enough to be able to contort themselves into all kinds of sneaky nooks and crannies. If they’re too young, they’re often easy prey for even a semi-competent Seeker. Read more

James’s Blog: Dude, Where’s My Peace?

James’s Blog:  Dude, Where’s My Peace?

It’s been a hectic week.  It’s not just been the build up to Christmas, though that doesn’t help, but Ruth has also had an operation which has put her out of action, so it’s been a one-man show round here for the past few days (she’s doing well, by the way).  I’ve also been very conscious of the fact that I need to come up with a blog post.  Read more

James’s Blog: Some Beautiful Waste.

James’s Blog:  Some Beautiful Waste.

It’s a picturesque time of year, as Christmas summons frosted grass and offers a horizon spotted with naked trees. But it’s cold and wet, and that makes it less picturesque. In these conditions, the autumnal waste creates work. Every couple of weeks I have to pull manky, slimy leaves from the drain behind our kitchen or we get an overflow of yucky water outside. There’s no Yuletide cheer in that job, let me tell you. Read more

James’s Blog: Reasons to be Cheerful.

James’s Blog:  Reasons to be Cheerful.

I cried out to God for help;

I cried out to God to hear me.


Is it possible for God to ever be far from us? Does He ever withdraw Himself? We can debate these questions all day long, but one thing is certain – sometimes it feels like He’s gone away. Read more

James’s Blog: When Perfection is the Enemy of Good.

James’s Blog:  When Perfection is the Enemy of Good.

One of the soundbites that I picked up when I was in leadership was ‘A bad decision is better than no decision’. I struggled with this because I didn’t like making bad decisions. I was always much happier if I had all the time in the world to weigh up all the options and eventually come up with the perfect decision, a decision designed to solve the problem whilst inconveniencing or upsetting as few people as possible. In general, my natural state is to be paralysed by indecision. Read more

James’s Blog: Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie.

James’s Blog:  Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie.

It always begins with a lie.

In the garden, the first of us chose to reject the truth, and chose to believe a lie.  It broke us, sold us into slavery.  Ever since the first, the Father of Lies has been keeping us in our chains by sidling up to us, and in a pleasant tone of voice asking what seems a most reasonable question – “Did God really say…?” Read more

James’s Blog: What Hosea Said.

James’s Blog:  What Hosea Said.

Here’s a twelve year old sermon that I’ve edited into a blog post. This one was on Hosea 6 & 7, and is a lot longer than the last sermon I revisited on these pages. It also required a lot more editing – I had to remove some especially dated references. Listen, it’s not that I’m too lazy to come up with something original – it’s rather that I don’t think I’ll ever preach this sermon again, so I’m putting it on the internet for posterity. Yes, that’s it. Read more

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