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The Prodigal Son

Jesus tells a story: A young man demands half his father's inheritance. It's a shocking request met by shocking agreement. In quick time the young prodigal spends everything and finds himself bereft. Out of desperation he decides to return home in hope that he will be accepted, not as a son, but as a hired servant. It's a risky plan, but it works. His father, seeing his s...

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Walk by Faith

He stood on a thin white platform that was shaking in the wind full of cocky self-assurance, screeching at the sun above. Below were ten meters of space and a hard rock ledge. One false step, one structural failure and surely, he would drop like a stone. But he cared for nothing; fearless despite the perils of his circumstance. I watched on in awe and fear No I didn't! I...

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Smelling Good Fruit

For the next two weeks, whilst I am on leave, I'd like to share some excerpts from Andrew Turner's blog sacredagents.net (he's the 'Fruitful Church' guy). This one is on smelling good fruit. When occasionally I'm tempted to despair, I find myself repeating this little phrase from Jesus over and over: "They don't pick grapes from thornbushes. They don't pick grapes from th...

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The Gospel of John

'The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart'(Hebrews 4:12). 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped f...

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Unmarketable

Christmas is a marketer's dream. It's all there: the infant, his mother, the wise men, their gifts, the stable, angels, peace on earth, good will to all men, and the hope of better things to come. Most people don't believe the Christmas story any more than they believe in Santa Clause, but most people, I suspect, would like to believe the Christmas story. It complements th...

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First Impressions

'You never get a second chance to make a first impression'. So goes the adage and it's true. At a job interview, networking at a business function, when you walk into a shop or a church, the opinions formed in the first thirty seconds carry far more weight than those formed over the following minutes or hours. Today is Palm Sunday, the day we remember the first impression...

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A Fruitful church

On Monday afternoon Anna and I waved goodbye as our son Adam drifted through the departure gates, off to a new life in Japan. It was sad and left us both feeling empty. We miss him. But it was also good. We didn't raise our son to live at home, be dependent on us, and keep us company. We raised him with the hope that he would one day be independent and make a positive con...

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Attitude to prayer

I have been skiing once - a long time ago. I was not very good at it. I fell over a lot. It was expensive. I needed to hire special gear that was cumbersome and felt uncomfortable. It took a lot of effort to get to the snow. It was crowded. I had to queue. I haven't been back. Of course I would love to ski. It looks like enormous fun. You get to spend time in the great ou...

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Trusting God's word

John's gospel is different to the other three. It has more direct theological reflection, less narrative, and is perhaps more abstract in its major themes. Liberal scholars used to suggest this was clear evidence John's gospel was written by church leaders in the second or third century, after the church had sorted out its major teachings. More conservative scholars argue...

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Fragility of Marriage

I well remember a conversation I had with a good friend a few years ago. He, like me, was in Christian ministry and I held him, and still do, in high regard. We were talking about our marriages and the considerable merits of our respective wives. We were both immensely grateful to God for the gracious, seemingly miraculous, gift of our spouse. Then he said, 'But you can n...

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