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. Eight grandchildren.

A Question of Survival

Proverbs 16:25 

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

A cadet is the lowest form of human life on a Merchant ship. Chief officers love cadets because they can give them the jobs that no one else wants to do. And that is how I came to find myself with needle and sewing palm, tasked with repairing the canvas covers to the lifeboats on one old ship.

It was my second trip to sea. The other cadet was on his first trip. He still held the opinion that he knew better than those who had been around much longer than he had. Somehow he persuaded me that instead of laboriously using sail twine to sew patches of canvas onto the lifeboat cover we could glue them. We weren’t visible to anyone because we were working in the fo’c’sle, so by gluing patches onto the covers we were soon finished. That freed time to lounge around, have a smoke, have a brew, and idle the time away.

I don’t remember details of the punishment inflicted on us by the chief officer. I know that we had to continue stitching rather than sticking patches onto the covers in our free time. The way that seemed right to us did not result in death, but it is never pleasant being on the receiving end of a chief officer’s anger, especially when you are a cadet. While lifeboat covers may seem fairly insignificant the purpose of the covers was to protect the boats that we might have to use to escape from a sinking ship. It was necessary to ensure that the boats were well maintained and kept ready for such an event. Thankfully I have never had to use a lifeboat, but I have been involved in the rescue of two yachtsmen whose liferaft failed to inflate bringing them close to the point where failure to maintain emergency equipment very nearly cost them their lives.

Our world is full of people who think that they know best. Unfortunately, most of us think we know better than God. He gives us the freedom to choose. The choice is simple: Follow God or follow men. Choose life or choose death.


What Makes a King a King?

Proverbs 16:12

“It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.”

A king detests wrongdoing, for his rule is built on justice. (NLT)

I have never met an earthly king, but I have often wondered what makes a king a king, or a queen a queen. The history books tell us that many kings and queens built their rule not on justice and righteousness, but on evil and by instilling fear among their subjects. There are countries in our world that continue to be ruled in this way.

Jesus was born into poverty in a land ruled by terror. A foreign king ruled the land with the help of a local puppet king. Neither covered themselves in glory in the way that they ruled. Compare Caesar and Herod to Jesus. The fact that Jesus was different was evident after His arrest when He was interrogated by Pilate, the Roman governor for the province:

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:33-38 NIV)

Did Pilate understand what Jesus was saying? Here was a King like no other. A King who is holy and perfect in every way that we are not. A King from another place who cannot be compared to any earthly ruler, but a King who considers every human welcome in His Kingdom. It is not us that this King judges, but our wrongdoing. His rule is built on justice, and the forgiveness made possible by His sacrifice.

Before Jesus all human beings are equal, and all are equally welcome. He hates the wrongdoing, but He loves the wrongdoer. What a King!


Father Knows Best (16:1)

Proverbs 16:1 

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.

I began my University studies when I was twenty-eight years old. It was a big sacrifice for my wife, who stayed at home with our two oldest sons, aged five and three, while I lived away during the week. At the beginning of my third year my wife started to get sick. I was really worried. Any relief I experienced when I found out that the sickness was down to my wife being pregnant vanished when I discovered that the baby was due the following May, right in the middle of my final examinations.

As the time approached for the baby to be born I started to pray. First I prayed that the baby would be born early, at least two weeks before my examinations. I thought that this would give me time to be at home for the birth, and then focus on my revision. Then I changed my mind and started to pray that the baby would be born after my examinations. Then I found myself chopping and changing between the choices. One day when I was praying about the situation God spoke very clearly. He said he was prepared to answer my prayer if I could make up my mind. But then He challenged me to trust Him to make the decision for me. That meant letting go completely. Surrendering myself into His perfect will. It wasn’t easy, but I knew there was no other way.

My first paper (quantitative methods) was scheduled for the morning of Friday 20 May 1988. I left Thursday 19 May to revise for this examination, my intention being to work through past papers from the previous three years. I had already revised for my other papers, all of which involved essays rather than mathematics. At 08.30 on 19 May my wife called me to tell me that her waters had broken (the fact that there was a telephone in a 1988 student house is another story of God’s provision). I was home by 10.30. James was born at 12.20. During the seventy-five mile journey home I repeatedly questioned God. In my opinion this was the worst day for the baby to be born. But it wasn’t. It was the only day for the baby to be born. I returned to my student house in the evening and went straight to bed. I set the alarm for 04.00 and got up to revise my formulae. Then I sat the examination and flew through it. Then I went home for the weekend.

If James had been born really early I could never have revised because my mind would have been elsewhere. If James had been born after my examinations I would never have focused on the examinations for worry that a call would come. The only day James could have been born was the day that he was born. God knew. I didn’t.

We can make our own plans, but the LORD gives the right answer. (NLT)

Bright Eyes

Proverbs 15:30 

The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. (NLT)

Recently one of the television channels in the UK screened a documentary entitled ‘Island Hospital.’ The documentary featured the lives of people who work in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Guernsey, and the way that they change the lives of their patients. It also showed much of the scenery of Guernsey and the other smaller islands nearby. Watching the documentary brought back many very special memories of my childhood in Guernsey. The joy of those memories pales into insignificance when compared with the joy of the hospital patients and their families as the doctors and nurses brought healing and recovery into their lives.

smiley_faces-wideAfter a ten-day stay in hospital in March 2000 the news that brought joy to my heart was to be told that I was well enough to go home. Good news and joy go together don’t they? So why do so many Christians have problems in displaying the good news of their salvation in their eyes and on their faces? If a person has accepted Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit shouldn’t there be a visible indication of the change that such momentous events have made in the life of the recipient?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV)
Bright eyes,
Burning like fire.
Bright eyes,
How can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes.
(Art Garfunkel)
 
http://youtu.be/a502RejLz8s

Red Means STOP

Proverbs 15:21 

Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course. (NIV)

Lack of Judgement

Teenage boys are not generally known for their wisdom. This is particularly the case in our home where my thirteen-year old son John derives considerable pleasure and joy from annoying his sixteen-year old sister. Unfortunately for John his sister is not only older, she is also bigger and stronger than him. That may change in the next year or so, but at the moment John is unable to defend himself against the physical response his lack of judgement incurs when he embarks on each mission to see how far he can push his sister.

Heed the Warning

Unfortunately folly is a contagious disease that anyone can catch. I see folly most mornings while negotiating a junction controlled by traffic lights. Inevitably there Description=19th September 2006. Pic: Paul Rogers A traffic signal showing red.are drivers who believe that they can drive through their red light when mine is green. It isn’t rocket science. Red means stop, and needs to be heeded just like any other warning, be it a road sign, a parental instruction, a safety measure linked to mechanical or electrical equipment, or anything else.

Follow the Instructions

Walking uprightly or keeping a straight course means taking note of warnings, being alert to danger, and avoiding risk. To avoid risk we need to understand risk and the consequences of failure. For followers of Jesus that means trying to avoid temptation. Most of us know our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. If we don’t, then we should. And then we should follow the instructions for walking uprightly given to us in Scripture.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:1-18 (NIV)


What About the Vegetables?

Proverbs 15:17

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate. (NLT)

I remember a television comedy sketch in the UK concerning the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her cabinet sharing a meal. Puppets were used to portray the scene. Mrs Thatcher was served first. The waitress placed several slices of meat on her plate and then asked, “and what about the vegetables?” The Prime Minister looked around the table briefly at her cabinet colleagues, many of whom were regarded as ineffective by voters. Then she replied, “oh, they’ll have the same as me.” This was not a meal shared in love!

Mrs Thatcher was known in the press as the ‘Iron Lady’ and her methods of leadership were not always respected. Despite this, and despite the attitude of her fellow cabinet members, Mrs Thatcher needed them, and they needed her. While a bowl of vegetables shared lovingly may be considered superior to prime steak shared begrudgingly, the common denominator between the two parts of this verse is that meals are not meant to be taken alone. The question is less about the menu and more about the company, and the attitudes of those around the table to each other.

In my work travels I often eat alone. It doesn’t matter how good the food is, a meal taken alone is not something I enjoy. Mostly I can’t wait to leave the restaurant. A conversation with a friendly waiter or waitress is a bonus. The fact is that God created us to be together. The need to share is woven into our DNA. So here’s a question. Is there someone you know who eats alone and who would benefit from an invitation to a meal at your home? A meal shared in love and a meal representing love. Jesus said:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:27-38)


Reasons to be Cheerful

Proverbs 15:13

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (NIV)

Tradition?

The tradition at my last church was for four deacons to sit at the front of the church during communion, two on either side of the pastor. Two deacons would pray before the bread and wine were served by all four. The almost complete lack of happy faces in the congregation always surprised me when I sat at the front of the church at communion time. I don’t think I ever counted more than six happy faces out of up to 100 people taking communion.

Happy about Communion?

You could ask what there is to be happy about during communion? After all shouldn’t we come to the communion meal filled with remorse and seeking forgiveness? I don’t dispute the need for remorse, but Jesus died once to pay the price for all of the sin in every human life. I am truly remorseful when I let Him down, but having surrendered my life to Him I rejoice that I am forgiven. Consequently, I find myself overwhelmed by happiness at communion time. There may well be tears running down my face, but they are tears of joy at the huge relief I know because of my redemption. Because Jesus died I have a happy heart. One that should make my face cheerful not only during communion, but all day every day.

Crushed Spirits

It is not easy to maintain a cheerful face all day long. The circumstances of life conspire to steal our happiness and crush our spirits. We have all been there, sometimes to the point that we even question our faith. It troubles me that so often we are oblivious to some of the crushed spirits around us. Some of the non-smiling faces we encounter may truly be in a place where there is nothing to smile about. How can we stand with family, friends, colleagues, folk at church, etc., at such times?

God Knows

Sometimes only God knows, and sometimes He brings people into our lives at a particular time on a particular day because He knows. I can think of times in my life like this, and there are times I know that He has used me to meet the needs of others. That’s when I really smile. I smile because it reminds me that God cares. God cares about crushed spirits because He just can’t stop loving us. No matter what.

And that is a reason to be cheerful.


Different Kings

Proverbs 15:2

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

Who is truly wise? Scripture tells of three wise and learned men who lived over 2,000 years ago. These men were academics who studied the stars. They are also referred to as kings. Because they had plotted out the night sky and knew where the stars and planets should be at any given time, the appearance of a never seen before star must have caused them some perplexity. As one who was trained to navigate using the sun and the stars I can well imagine their surprise to discover a new star in the sky.

I do not know what conversations took place between the three professor kings, but their interest in the new star was so great that they packed up their camels and began to follow that star. The star led them to a land occupied by a foreign power, where the puppet king they consulted was as perplexed about the star as his visitors. There was one subtle difference between the puppet king and the three travelling kings. The three visiting kings were men of great wisdom, while the puppet king was a fool. The three kings from the east discovered a new King by following the star, and they knelt before Him and used their tongues to worship Him. The foolish puppet king refused to worship the child King, born almost within spitting distance of his palace. Instead he used his tongue to utter words of folly, instructing his soldiers to find and kill the King.

This Christmas will you exhibit wisdom or folly when you consider the King? Can you see beyond the trees and the lights, the cards and the presents, the food and the drink? Can you see beyond the walls of your palace, whatever that may be? Can you see into the stable? Can you see the King? Will you worship Him?

Matthew 2: The Magi Visit the Messiah


Carpenter King

Proverbs 14:35

“The king’s favor is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.”

I only know one King. He is not an earthly king, in fact he was born into poverty, apparently while his parents were accommodated in a stable. While He was still quite young, this King was exiled from His homeland. When He returned home this King learned a trade, and qualified as a carpenter. Some years later, but while He was still a young man, the carpenter King became an itinerant. He had no palace, in fact He had nowhere to lay His head.

Somehow the itinerant King gathered a band of followers, twelve of whom became so special to the King that He called them His disciples. These disciples weren’t exactly servants, and they struggled to understand their King at times. The King rejoiced when His disciples exhibited wisdom, but often felt frustration at their lack of understanding. While they may have let him down from time to time, only one disciple disgraced the King, and walked away from His favor.

It seems incredible that this disciple rejected his King, turning the King over to the authorities of the day for a financial reward. In a disgraceful, shameful act of betrayal this disciple led soldiers to his King. He planted a kiss on the King’s cheek to identify Him. The King was taken away, interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to death. Although the King was innocent of all charges, He was publicly executed by being nailed to a wooden cross. As He hung on that cross He accepted the wrath and the shame that should have been levied against His subjects.

Lift up your eyes to the cross of the King! While He is long gone from that cross, the cross reminds us that our shame has been replaced by His favor, because He took the shame and made it His. That is His gift to you. Favor instead of shame. Are you a wise servant? Will you accept this gift from the King?


Hope Springs Eternal

Proverbs 14:32

The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.

The word ‘hope’ leaps out at me from the above verse, and I have had to stop and consider where my hope lies. At the time of writing I am on the opposite side of the Atlantic to home, but hoping to be back home in about thirty-six hours time. I hope that I can find some time to spend with my family this Christmas despite the intense pressure of my workload.

As Christmas approaches many people will be hoping they receive gifts they desire. In our consumer driven western society advertisements shout loudly about the things we can have. We easily forget those who have little hope. Equally, it is easy to ignore the wickedness we see plastered across our television screens be it wrong lifestyles, victims of conflict, big business acting fraudulently, dishonest politicians, etc.

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who chose to ignore the wickedness of society that left a starving diseased beggar outside his house. The beggar possessed one thing the rich man did not have. The beggar had hope. It was probably his only possession. You can read the story in Luke 16:19-31.

My worry is that we can become blind like the rich man to the extent that our possessions become more important than our hope, and the promise of eternal life in exchange for a life surrendered to our Father in Heaven. The danger increases at Christmas to the extent that we may not even notice the starving diseased beggar, whoever or whatever he or she may be.

What are you hoping for this Christmas?

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man