Author Archives: David

About David

David: Half Scot, grew up in Guernsey and the UK. Lives in one of the most rural counties of the UK not far from the Welsh border. Former Merchant Navy officer and hydrographic surveyor. Self-employed risk management consultant from 1992 travelling globally to carry out risk and security audits, plus some loss adjusting. Now retired. Father of Nick who encouraged David to start blogging. Married to Marilyn for 40+ years. Four other children in addition to Nick. Nine grandchildren.

Marriage Guidance

Proverbs 21:9 

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home. (NLT)

I have been married for thirty-four years and I am pleased to report that my wife is neither a brawler, nor quarrelsome. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in such a marriage, and I can’t believe that a marriage would survive for very long if either marriage partner behaved in such a way. But I can understand that it would be preferable to live alone in the smallest and dirtiest of places, rather than share the most beautiful of homes with a contentious marriage partner.

While this proverb points the finger at a woman, it could just as easily be a man. Regardless of whether it is husband or wife whose behavior in their relationship is unacceptable, the fact remains that it generally takes two to tango! Where there are problems in a relationship both partners may need to examine their behavior and consider whether they have played a part in provoking such an extreme reaction.

IMG_4624This weekend I spent two days camping in a field in the south of England with 1,000 other men while attending an event arranged by Christian Vision for Men (CVM) called The Gathering. There was only one female speaker, a lady called Tania Bright-Cook. The fact that Tania is a very special lady was evident in the number of men who attended her seminar, which was entitled ‘What Women Wish Men Would Do.’ One aim of the seminar was to enlighten menfolk, thereby reducing the possibility of marital tension. Here are some of the points Tania raised:

  • Admit vulnerability.
  • Keep promises.
  • Rate the art of loving deeply.
  • Be emotionally honest.
  • Model discipleship.
  • Be affirming.

The question to all of us is what could we be doing differently or better in our relationships with our husbands, wives, children, friends, etc.? Or would we rather be holed up in a small corner of the attic because a relationship is not working?


A Question of Attitude

Proverbs 21:4 

An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart– the unplowed field of the wicked – produce sin. (NIV)

ploughed fieldIs an unplowed field equivalent to an untidy bedroom? If it is my kids are in trouble! After parenting five with two still at home I cannot recall any of them keeping tidy bedrooms ever, although it seems to be a different story when they have their own homes. While a tidy bedroom is not high on the list of priorities for your average teenager, you would expect that the owner of a field would keep it plowed to ensure the best environment for his crops.

But this proverb is not really about plowed fields and it certainly isn’t about untidy bedrooms, so what is the link? The link is attitude. This is something that each of us needs to consider regularly. How is our attitude? How and why do we do certain things, and why are there things we try to avoid doing at all costs? How are we doing with the pride issue? Are we too proud? Or does humility come easy?

The more I read this proverb the more I realize that it is about hearts not actions. It is sinful to do something with the wrong attitude, or to fail to do something we consider beneath us. Need an example? Here’s one. I am the Sunday Ministry deacon at church. I organise rosters for duty deacons and stewards, and anything the pastor wants arranged on any particular Sunday. The first task is always to make sure the forecourt is tidy, which as our city center church is surrounded by nightclubs and pubs is not always the case. But one Sunday morning the problem wasn’t leftover fast food and empty beer cans, it was confetti. There had been a wedding the day before and it had rained. The wet confetti stuck to the paving slabs as if it was glued. The guy who leads our men’s ministry gave me a hand to clean the confetti and other items from the forecourt. All but one person going into church walked past us, most of them with a witty comment. Only one person saw what we were doing and without saying anything went to the cleaning cupboard to fetch a broom so that she could help us. I don’t want to point the finger at the funny guys who walked past, but perhaps this proverb was written for them?


Come to the River

Proverbs 21:1

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. (NIV)

One of the first things taught in school geography lessons is the hydrologic or water cycle. This is because water is vital to life. Without water we die, which is why wars may be triggered by access to water in the future. Just last week the media reported that certain Egyptian politicians had voiced opinions that military action could be justified against Ethiopia because the Ethiopians refuse to halt a dam/hydroelectric project that might restrict future downstream flows of water in the River Nile.

The River Nile has always been important to Egypt, but with a growing population the country has become increasingly reliant on the Nile due to its dependence on agriculture. Wikipedia suggests that the River Nile has been used to irrigate crop-growing areas for five thousand years. The translation in Strong’s of the Hebrew word used in Proverbs 21:1 for rivers refers to irrigation channels. Such manmade channels are still in use around the world to direct precious flows of water to sustain crops and bring them to the point where they can be harvested. While different methods may be used in more intensive agriculture the principle remains the same. For crops to grow and mature, water and nutrients are essential.

The parallels with spiritual growth are obvious. In Psalm 1:1-3 the Psalmist talks of the joy of those who turn their back on the world and delight in doing what God wants.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. (Psalm 1:3 NLT).

In John 4:1-13 Jesus tells a Samaritan woman about living water, stating in verses 13-14

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

In John 7:38-39 Jesus speaks again about living water stating:

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

It isn’t rocket science. Just like crops need a constant supply of water to grow, so we need to drink of the living water that Jesus Christ offers. We need to be irrigated by this living water, and we need it to become a spring of life welling up inside of us. A constant and endless supply of this living water is available to all, living water that will not only flow into us, but out of us.


Let Your Light Shine

Proverbs 20:27 

The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive. (NLT)

I have long been fascinated by flashlights, or torches, as we call them in the UK. One of the earliest I owned was shaped like a gun. To make the torch work you simply pulled the trigger. That torch didn’t last long, it was cheap and my friend’s sister broke it. I was heart broken at the time, but since then I have been on a quest for brighter and better torches. The latest LED torches are currently meeting my needs!

aldisLampWe had some fairly powerful torches when I was at sea – they were important emergency equipment, but none were as bright as the Aldis lamp we had on the bridge for the purpose of signaling. The Aldis lamp could light up pretty much anything, but it was intended for sending messages by Morse code over long distances. I remember a third mate on one ship standing outside the wheelhouse and shining an Aldis lamp into the jungle while we were anchored in the River Orinoco in Venezuela. He had hoped to spot some monkeys in the trees. All he actually achieved was to become a focal point for every hungry insect in the vicinity.

Just like the third mate got more than he expected when he shone a bright light into the jungle, so God’s light exposes more than we expect or wish it to when He penetrates our human spirit. Stuff we thought we had hidden away is suddenly exposed for all to see. But God doesn’t want everyone to see all our hidden secrets. He wants us to see them, recognize them, and surrender them to Him. Then He can deal with them so that when His light shines in us it also shines around us, illuminating His beauty in us and attracting others to Him.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15 (NIV)

The Potter’s Hand

Proverbs 20:24 

Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?
The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (NLT)

A non-believer might challenge this verse on the basis that if God gave us free will then why is He still pushing buttons somewhere that control our daily comings and goings? Most believers on the other hand are probably grateful for this one line reminder that God is watching over each one of us. The challenge comes when we don’t understand the things that take place around us, be they global, local or personal events. The prophet Isaiah was given an explanation, which he wrote down for us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

There are people who would like to mold God to fit their image of Him. It is not possible for any human to mold God, but if we allow Him, He will mold us. This is the challenge that we face daily – to be completely surrendered to our loving Father God to the extent that His will for us translates into His direction of every single step we take, regardless of our understanding of the process. We could use the words of a Darlene Zschech song as a daily prayer of submission to our Heavenly Father:

Beautiful Lord, Wonderful savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in your hands
Crafted into your perfect plans
 
You gently called me into your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life
Through your eyes
 
I’m captured by your holy calling
Set me apart. I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me, Lord. I pray
 
Oh take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
 
http://youtu.be/VH6uHnxGQNM

Using a Legacy

Proverbs 20:21 

An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. (NLT)

Jesus taught about early inheritances in the Parable of Prodigal Son. Interestingly, in our society an inheritance is no longer guaranteed. People are living longer, and many are tempted by schemes that release equity in their properties to help them remain financially secure during retirement. This often means that there is very little left to pass down to the next generation.

We received a small inheritance of £1,000 back in 1983 when my grandmother died. It was very welcome and we used it to purchase items we desperately needed for our home, such as a washing machine (we were getting by with a handed down twenty-year old twin tub at the time). That £1,000 didn’t last long, but it was used wisely. We knew where it had gone.

IMG_4574When the end was in sight for my mother-in-law she changed her will to leave each of her grandchildren £5,000 (the sum had originally been £1,000). We asked her to state in her will that these sums should be invested and released on the marriage of each grandchild, or when they had reached twenty-five years of age. Mother-in-law felt that her grandchildren should receive their legacies at eighteen years of age. Two of our children, and our nephew and niece had already reached that milestone. Sadly, not all of the grandchildren used their inheritances wisely. Perhaps it would have been better if the money held been held in trust until they were older and wiser.

CIMG1917Receiving an inheritance when we are young in age or lacking in wisdom is not necessarily a good thing. To use an inheritance foolishly is also disrespectful to the memory of the person who left that inheritance. When I think back to my mother-in-law’s passing the real inheritance was visible in the village church where we held a service of thanksgiving for her life. This woman who had been tragically widowed in 1979 lived the next twenty-four years of her life actively serving others. When I stood at the front of the church to talk about her life I was amazed to see the church so full that people were standing in the aisles and in the entrance. What a legacy to have touched so many lives. What a witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit in my mother-in-law’s life. And what a challenge to follow the example she set by following the example provided 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ.

Relevant Posts: Leaving a Legacy


The Art of War

Proverbs 20:18 

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice. (NLT)

A Chinese General by the name of Sun Tzu is attributed with authorship of a book called the ‘Art of War.’ It is widely believed that Sun Tzu lived several hundred years before Jesus Christ. While there is some controversy over the identity of Sun Tzu, scholars have established that The Art of War has been in existence for at least 2,200 years. It is a book is that is studied by those in the corporate world, as well as those in the military.

The Wikipedia entry for The Art of War states: Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible. In the introduction to my copy the translator writes: As in the story of the ancient healers, in Sun Tzu’s philosophy the peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict altogether unnecessary: “To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.”

Reading such statements reminds me of the way that Jesus lived. Prophecies about Jesus were recorded before The Art of War was written. In Isaiah 53 the prophet speaks of One who would be oppressed and afflicted, but not open His mouth in resistance. These Old Testament writings appeared to be lost on their readership, for the Messiah that the Jewish race expected was a mighty military leader who would crush their oppressors, not One who would be oppressed.

Ordinarily, the execution of one man 2,000 years ago should not have made a mark on history, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed history forever. Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus had never lived. The fact that He lived, died and rose again gives all humanity hope for tomorrow. If the corporate world can use the writings of an ancient Chinese general to formulate strategy, then how is it that the world continues largely to ignore the teachings of Jesus, which are similar in this instance, but lead to a blessed eternity spent forever in the presence of God?

Like Sun Tzu Jesus taught his followers a better way to overcome their enemies. He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42 NIV)

Reference: Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Translated by Thomas Cleary), Shambhala, 1988


Sleeping and Eating

Proverbs 20:13 

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare. (NIV)

A young secretary at a company where I worked in the late 1980s was regularly late for work. She had a great line in excuses, many of which were hard to believe. One of the best was that the electricity meter ran out of credit overnight, meaning that the power was cut to her radio alarm clock causing her to oversleep. I have never lived with an electricity meter that needed to be fed with coins, although people do. If I did I am certain I would make sure that the meter was loaded before I went to bed. For this particular young woman her inability to arrive at work on time eventually resulted in her dismissal. I do not recall how quickly she found alternative employment, but her love of sleep had the potential to bring her to poverty.

Society requires that we work if there is to be food on the table. I don’t know what it is like to be really hungry and unable to provide food for my family. The only time I have gone without food for a long period was when I was in hospital for surgery, and unable to eat. Because I am self-employed I cannot afford to take time off work, and I had to plan my ten-day stay in hospital around my work. I took on extra projects before going into hospital, and then wrote up the reports as I recovered at home from the surgery. It was slow going at first, but even when I was confined to bed I was able to keep my business ticking over and ensure that there was provision for my family.

There is a time and a place for everything, including sleep. We need sleep, but sleep too long and nothing will get done. Solomon was very good at putting things into perspective. He didn’t dictate how many hours sleep we need at night, he simply advised that it was foolish to love sleep. There is another aspect to sleeping late. Surely it is better to rise early and spend time in God’s presence at the start of each day?


Citizen’s Advice Bureau

Proverbs 20:8 

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good. (NLT)

Regal Decision-Making

Solomon was writing from personal experience here. He knew all about sitting in judgment, and the need to carefully distinguish between the bad and the good. While this is no longer the task of earthly kings, those who lead nations need to be discerning given the importance of their decisions. Leaders need to weigh the evidence carefully, but recent history suggests that some world leaders have been poorly advised, or simply misled. This in turn has affected their decision-making, with consequences that have been devastating for whole nations, not to mention our world.

Daily Judgments

We may not be kings or world leaders, but we are involved in decision-making and judgments daily. This proverb is a reminder that when making important decisions we need to weigh the evidence carefully, and not jump in with our eyes closed. A decision could be minor, such as which route to take to work, but even that should be based on evidence and experience of traffic flows at different times of day, road works, etc. Life also involves many major decisions, such as getting married, finding somewhere to live, starting a family, or changing career. Do we really weigh the evidence carefully before making important decisions? How is our judgment?

Taking Advice

Then there are decisions with eternal implications. Do we believe in God, Jesus, forgiveness of sin, eternal life, etc.? What is the evidence that God even exists? Solomon didn’t need any evidence. He had a relationship with God in which he spoke with God and he heard God’s voice. But even Solomon went on to make some poor decisions later in his life. Weighing the evidence and living our lives in relationship with God does not remove the need to continually make judgment calls. But if we are living in relationship with God then He provides a supply of endless wisdom to help us in our daily decision-making. Furthermore, like any parent, He loves to be asked for advice.


Fighting Talk

Proverbs 20:3 

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling. (NLT)

FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

I have seen a few fights in my time. Firstly at school when the shout of FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, would result in a circle of boys around the two boys who were slugging it out. The shout of fight and the obvious circle of jeering boys in the playground also attracted the attention of teachers. They would wade in and separate the antagonists, who would then be dragged away to face punishment.

Why Fight?

There were occasional fights while I was serving at sea, even in the officers’ quarters. Alcohol often played a part, especially when combined with the stress of many months away from family and friends, working seven days a week. Disputes usually began with quarrels, often over the most trivial things. Even a game of Monopoly caused a fight after a one-month voyage across the Pacific followed by several weeks slowly discharging grain in the then Soviet Far East.

Why Quarrel?

While many quarrels at sea did not lead to fist fights, there was an easy way to predict those that might. Prior to moving from a quarrel to a full-blown fight, most seafarers remove their wristwatches. Why? Because when I was at sea there was an obsession with expensive Seiko watches, and jack tar didn’t want to get his watch broken in a punch-up. So why even get that far? Why be a fool and insist on quarrelling and come to the brink of physical violence? Why indeed? The message of this proverb is not only to avoid strife and fights, but to avoid the quarrels that lead to fights. Kenny Rogers sang about it back in the late 70s when I was still at sea:

“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
It won’t mean you’re weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you’re old enough to understand:
Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”

(Lyrics taken from ‘Coward of the County’ released by Kenny Rogers in 1979)