Author Archives: David

About David

David is the son of Ken and father of Nick, who first introduced him to blogging. Ken is a retired Baptist Minister who continues to preach regularly, despite being in his eighties. Nick is training for full time Baptist ministry after several years serving as a youth pastor. Somehow the being a preacher thing skipped a generation with David. Although half Scottish David grew up in England and in the Channel Island of Guernsey. He served in the British Merchant Navy after leaving school, and did not attend University until he was twenty-eight years old. By this time he was married to Marilyn and father to Nick, and Nick’s brother Michael. Another son (James) was born the day before the start of David’s final University examinations. Beth and John followed a few years later. The older boys are all married, and David and Marilyn have been presented with five grandsons and two grand-daughters to date, with one more on the way! Beth served with British Youth for Christ (YFC) for four years, two as a member and then a year as the leader of the Nomad cage football team. She then spent a year with a new YFC ministry known as The Cube, before leaving YFC to join the Youth and Children's Team at a large church in York, where she is also working part-time in a computer store. John, who is 19, is now the only one of our children still living at home. David and Marilyn met in 1973 and have been married since 1979. Marilyn is a trained nurse, who gave up nursing to be a full time mother, grandmother, and maker of cakes for pastors, youth pastors, and any church function that needs cakes. There is a rumour that she secretly reads David’s blogs. Family and church leave little time for hobbies, but David enjoys walking and cycling, and listening to music. He also dabbles with languages and is currently learning to speak Welsh. (By way of explanation the Welsh border is 11 miles from David's home, and his water bills arrive in both English and Welsh from Dŵr Cymru.)

Topsy-Turvy Teaching

Proverbs 10:15

“The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.”

The Rich and the Poor

It seems to me that wealth needs poverty to exist. In Western terms I am not wealthy, but I am not poor. But in the eyes of the poor, wherever they live, I am a billionaire. Why? Because they do not have what I have, and may see no way to achieve such relative wealth. Is it right that what I have is made possible because someone else has less? How much is too much? What do I need to keep and what should I give away?

Wise Investments

Whatever we have been given, we need to make sure that we invest it wisely. In the parable of the talents Jesus taught about two servants who invested wisely and one who did not. Burying what we have in the ground is not wise, and does not create a strong city! However, Jesus also watched as a poor widow put everything she had into the offertory box. Was that the sensible thing to do? Did it destroy the widow? We don’t know. The only thing we do know is that Jesus saw more in the poor widow than he saw in those with greater wealth. Immediately before Jesus pointed out the widow to his disciples He heavily criticized the richer teachers of the law. Jesus said that these people ‘devoured the houses of widows.’ In other words the wealth of the teachers of the law relied on the poverty of the widow, for whom they did absolutely nothing.

Good to be Rich?

While most of us are never going to excessively rich in monetary terms, we can be rich in wisdom, knowledge, and in our relationship with God. These three things should govern how we manage whatever wealth we have received. But the point here is that whether we consider ourselves rich or poor it really doesn’t matter. We enter this world with nothing and we leave in the same way. Far more important is what we do with what God has given us while we reside on Earth. Whether we are good or bad, rich or poor, God is watching us. He sees and hears everything. But He also looks deep inside to the riches or poverty within. Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

Welcome to the topsy-turvy teaching of the Son of God. When we think we are rich, we are actually poor. But those who know they are poor have access to riches untold.

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What Kind of Well?

Proverbs 10:11 

“The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Righteous

The word righteous is probably not one that many of us would wish to use if describing ourselves. But how do we become righteous? The simple answer is that nothing on earth, and nothing we can do in our own strength, will ever make us righteous. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God provided a way to achieve righteousness.

God sent Jesus, His righteous Son, who willingly gave His life for us, the unrighteous. Although God knew that we could never achieve the righteousness He desires in us, His love for humanity was so great that He made a Way. But it came at a price.

How can we repay the debt that each of us owes to God? One answer is contained in this verse. If we accept the gift of God’s grace, then we must be changed. Our lives must increasingly reflect the life of Jesus. Our friends and family should be able to see Jesus in us, and we should be able to see them through His eyes.

Be the Well

When we speak, our mouths become like wells. The words that come from deep within should bring life to others. Therefore, our words should mark us as different.

It should be easy to tell the believer apart from those who have not accepted the gift of grace that God gave in Jesus. But sadly, many times what comes out of their mouths tells a different story. The challenge for those who have received the gift of grace is to be easily distinguishable from those who have not.


Blessed Memories

Proverbs 10:7

“The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.”

Memories

I am blessed with a good memory. I can remember many good experiences and happy times in my life with clarity. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad pointing out beautiful blossom on the trees as he walked me to my kindergarten one sunny morning. I would have been three or four years old at the time. I also recall the front wheel coming off my tricycle as I rode on the pavement in the cul-de-sac where we lived. It seemed like a tragedy at the time, but my Dad soon fixed it for me. These are just two memories of being blessed by my Dad’s involvement in my life. There are many more.

When I think back I find that I remember more of the good times than the bad. I cherish the good memories, and I try not to dwell on the bad ones. Even now as I sit at my desk I find myself overwhelmed by a feeling of being blessed, and the presence of God surrounding me in this blessing.

The Good and the Bad, The Temporary and the Eternal

Unfortunately, when we consider the good and the bad in society it is often the case that memories of the bad hang around more than those of the good. Challenged to name a famous German many would think instantly of Hitler, who is arguably one of the most evil men to have lived. Why would Hitler’s name come to mind instead of George Müller (born in 1805 in Halberstadt, which was then part of Prussia but is now part of Germany)? George Müller cared for thousands of orphans in a ministry based on prayer. Or how about Dietrich Bonhoeffer who stood up against the Nazis, who hanged him in 1945 just twenty-three days before they surrendered?

This verse in Proverbs is not about our memories on earth where sometimes it is easier to remember the evil that permeates our human existence, instead of our God who has already defeated evil. It is about the day when we stand before God, as every person who has ever lived must do. It is then that the just will be remembered, and the names of the wicked will be erased. So although it may seem that the wicked always prosper, be encouraged that what we see now is temporary. One day we will see through different eyes. One day all memory of the wicked will be erased. One day.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. (Psalm 34:16 NLT)


Foolishness Hurts

Proverbs 10:1

“The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”

The Heaviness of Folly

I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son who thought he knew everything and made some very foolish decisions. This young man demanded his share of his father’s estate, while his father was still alive. Amazingly, Dad agreed. The young man filled his pockets with cash, and then left for a foreign land where he wasted his entire inheritance. Heaviness may be an appropriate word to describe how his father must have felt at the loss of his son to such behavior.

The Hebrew word used by Solomon for heaviness is also translated by Strong’s as depression, grief and sorrow. These three words put into perspective the extent of the hurt that foolish children can bring to their parents.

Finishing

It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. When he recognized his situation the foolish young prodigal swallowed his pride and was welcomed home with a huge party, albeit to the disgust of his brother who had stayed behind, faithfully working in his father’s business. In contrast to the brother the father was overwhelmed with joy. He was glad that his lost son had returned.

The lives of folly that we lead are immensely hurtful to our heavenly Father. Humanity has caused Him so much grief and sorrow that the only way to relieve His pain was through the additional experience of inconceivable heaviness caused by allowing His Son to be sacrificed on the cross at Calvary. Now He waits for the prodigals to come home and make Him glad. Because of Calvary we have a chance to finish the race and bring Him joy. The prodigal son shows us how. If we are wise enough to recognize our condition, swallow our pride, and say sorry, then our Father will welcome us with undeserved forgiveness and incalculable joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)


Dependent on Grace

Proverbs 9:11

“For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.”

Health and Safety

Before the days of VCRs and DVDs, ships were supplied with movies on large 16mm reels of film. Each movie usually involved three large reels. Crews could expect to receive a supply of six movies at a time, which could be changed in port several times a year. Every movie began with a short safety feature covering different aspects of shipboard life. It wasn’t possible to skip these items in the way that a cassette or DVD can be fast forwarded, but the makers attempted to make them interesting so that they would be remembered.

The wisdom involved in operating a ship safely cannot be obtained simply from watching movie clips. There are many dangers at sea. While it is wise to educate seafarers in any way possible, training must be supplemented by experience if accidents are to be minimized, and loss of life avoided.

Grace

Wisdom that multiplies our days and extends the years of life cannot be found in a training movie. There is no earthly wisdom that can stand in the presence of God’s grace. In 2 Corinthians 1 the Apostle Paul writes; “We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom.” Paul recognized that earthly wisdom and years of experience are overruled by God’s grace, which exists outside of all human experience.

Human wisdom considers it folly that God would send Jesus Christ to walk upon this planet. Human minds find it difficult to understand why God would allow created beings to torture and murder His precious Son. But He did. Why? Because of grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)

Wisdom may be required extend our days on earth, but it is grace that takes us beyond earth into the presence of our Creator. He alone offers the gift of eternal life.


Check the Mirror

Proverbs 9:7

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.”

How not to Deal with Fools

The advice provided in this verse seems a little strange. Surely an idiot wants to know that he is an idiot? But who should tell him/her? The NIV translation is a little easier to understand:

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.

Is it really our place to correct a scorner, a mocker? The likely response according to Proverbs is that the scorner will turn on the person providing correction. Does this mean we should suffer in silence?

My sixteen-year old daughter finds suffering in silence impossible, and constantly tries to correct her twelve-year old brother. As most children are not keen on being corrected by parents or teachers, there is little possibility of correction from an older sibling being well received. But the reaction from her brother doesn’t stop my daughter, who often fails to see the plank of wood in her own eye while trying to remove the speck of sawdust from her brother’s eye. Jesus said:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV)

Perhaps the shame in attempting to correct a scorner is that we fail to look in the mirror first?

Policing the Wicked

There is a reason why most law enforcement officers wear uniform. It is to distinguish them from civilians so that they are easily recognized. While members of the public do occasionally intervene to disrupt criminal activity, an untrained response can be fraught with danger. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. In other words, it is not our job to judge the wicked or attempt to punish or rebuke those we believe to be wrong.

There are earthly authorities with that responsibility, and a higher authority in God. He will deal with the wicked in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17). We need to ignore the fact that the wicked seem to prosper in this life (Job 21) and focus on ourselves. How are we doing?


Father and Son

Proverbs 8:32-33

“Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.”

Listen Very Carefully

Alternative meanings for the Hebrew word translated in the KJV as “hearken” (verse 32) and “hear” (verse 33) include “hear intelligently” and “listen carefully.” Some years ago, a popular UK comedy series featured the catchphrase; “Listen very carefully I will say this only once.”

It is interesting that Solomon doesn’t say it only once. Instead the book of Proverbs hammers home the need for wisdom, time and time again. A good comparison might be a parent constantly repeating instructions to a child. It is no surprise that Proverbs 8:32 includes the word “children” directly after the instruction to listen carefully.

Application

Having listened to wisdom the next challenge is application (for blessed are they that keep my ways). Dipping into Strong’s again the Hebrew word shown as “keep” may also be translated as “guard.” Why would we guard wisdom? Because it is precious and to be valued (Proverbs 3:15 and Proverbs 8:18-19). And yet, like children, we struggle with the difficult concept of wisdom.

Growing Up

God never intended for us to remain as children. Learning and applying wisdom is part of growing up. Growth is not just about height and girth. We are also required to grow in our relationship with God. This challenge is clearly presented in Scripture.

My eldest son is thirty-two in August. I’m glad he has grown up. I am blessed by the way in which he has matured as a man, but I am even more blessed by his spiritual growth. He is fractionally taller than me, but that does not change the fact that we are father and son. He calls me Dad, not David, and he often seeks my advice, just as I still turn to my eighty-one year old father in the same way.

It doesn’t matter how much we grow, our relationship with God will always be one of Father and child. We will always need to listen carefully to His voice. We will always need to seek His wisdom and follow His ways. But sometimes, just like children, we may need correction.