Sunday, June 28, 2009


Compatible Couple

I recently bought a new Dell Studio laptop computer with a Vista Premium platform, and as I expected, some of the familiar applications I used on my old Fujitsu Siemens laptop running Microsoft XP are not compatible with the new laptop. Although I am not currently building web sites or uploading them to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), I could do with a suitable File Transfer Protocol (FTP) application so that if I decide to make web sites again I shall have the ability to upload them to my web space. Unfortunately, Terrapin FTP, my favourite and most used application, is not compatible with computers running Vista. This will mean that I’ll have to find a compatible FTP application.
The very subject of ‘Compatibility’ is a fascinating one, as I’ve had years in which to study what is involved in the process of being compatible within a marriage – my own! Not only have I had more than 48 years of marriage to my dear wife in which to study our compatibility or lack of it, but I’ve had ample opportunities to work at being compatible with her. “What is it that keeps you together?” they may ask. “You are so different in many ways.”
That’s true, but perhaps those differences can be likened to the mixing of chemical ingredients that bring about new materials for testing: those of value can be used to good effect and the useless ones discarded. Where there are found to be irreconcilable differences in the chemical mix, only an attitude of acceptance by both parties can result in a satisfactory solution. I suggest that differences can be like a catalyst, an unchanging binding agent that can keep people working at their relationships. Tell, me, are there any married couples who do not have differences of opinions and different interests; they may even have different faiths and yet their marriages work? The secret seems to be this word, ‘work’. My experience leads me to believe ‘working at a marriage’ is an essential aspect of a successful union.
Over time people change; they develop new interests, have new jobs, come into contact with people who have lifestyles unlike their own and they are influenced by the changing scenes of life, particularly by what they see via the media, be it TV, films, magazines and nowadays, the Internet. Technology has brought about vast changes in our expectations and our material possessions, as well as offering opportunities for jobs that previously did not exist. The ageing process itself brings about inevitable change. Because of these constantly changing influences and situations, a married couple, if their relationship is to flourish, must continually adjust to one another and accept the changes they find – they could more so embrace changes so as to mutually benefit from them.
Within the timescale of any lasting union through the bond of marriage, a couple committed to one another will experience changes of circumstances to which they must adjust if their relationship is to remain compatible. If they have children and grandchildren they will undergo many traumas, but they will also have great satisfaction and an inner sense of fulfilment - all because they have worked at being compatible, but Paul the Apostle warned of marriage with these words, ‘I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion,’ and, ‘Even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.’ (1 Corinthians 7:8,9; 28) There’s food for thought!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Anne Robinson

Forgetfulness is the act of failing to remember or inadvertently neglecting to do something. Of late, I admit to being more forgetful than I used to be. The excuse for older people is that they experience ‘senior moments’ when their grey matter does not tick as it should, causing situations where instant retrieval of facts locked away in the mind is not possible. Such irritating happenings can be highly frustrating, not only for the one who cannot remember, but also for those waiting for an answer or a resolution to a problem. You rush up the stairs to do something important and when you arrive on the landing you have forgotten what you intended to do, which means you have to return to where you were when you thought of the action, in order to remember what it was you forgot! Then you kick yourself, because you immediately remember what it was you had forgotten.
The brain is an amazing computer comprised of systems devoted to logical actions and responses to information processed by it from the five senses; in addition to the above, there’s a repository of information received through those same senses. Somewhere deep within the cerebrum a process takes place almost instantly where data stored is equated and compared to information being received from the senses so that an individual can make appropriate responses, perhaps with words, physical expressions or other reactions, some even being reflexive responses, such as the blinking of an eye or an emergency stop when a person is faced with an unexpected hazard while driving his car.
Despite the fact that the brain is fearfully and wonderfully made*, there are times when it falters; maybe when a person is tired or under the influence of alcohol. Age can play its part too, because all body cells, including those of the brain, deteriorate over time. The linking mechanisms between the cells, likewise can fail. Additionally, the brain is susceptible to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; many of them are progressive, bringing about a gradual declension towards a condition of severity, so that the person cannot function without outside help.
No one wants to suffer the ignominy of a having a brain that does not function efficiently and the prospect of having to be cared for in a home because of dementia would be a terrifying thought. I can only hope that my recent forgetfulness is not a precursor of brain lapses in the future as I grow older. Meanwhile I shall continue to match my brain with those of the ‘Egg Heads’, arguably the most distinguished TV quiz contestants of our time. I am an ardent enthusiast of the team who continue to win game after game with hopeful challengers for the £47,000 prize or more, should they succeed. I also enjoy ‘The Weakest Link’ compared by Anne Robinson, who despite her age, manages to entertain with intelligent, but often sarcastic wit.
• Pslam 139:14

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Stephanie McIntosh made a single named ‘Mistake’ which was released in her debut album Tightrope in July, 2006. The theme words are, “I don’t want to make another mistake like you.” The lyrics tell of a girl’s regret for rushing too fast into a relationship and the stifling affect it brought about. She didn’t want to be alone again, but she was stone cold and hurt inside. She doubted she could find real love without being ‘stung’ again and seemed prepared to live within the relationship because of being lonely. That’s a sad tale - all because of a mistake.
Mistakes can be costly to those who make them and to others who are affected by them. In hindsight we can look back and admit we have made errors that have cost us dearly, perhaps financially or in wasted effort and time. Mistakes can come about through carelessness, miscalculation or incorrect interpretation of the facts; they can even come about through lack of forethought or ignorance. There’s a right way and a wrong way to achieve an objective or to effect a solution, and failure to do it correctly is a mistake.
Those who make the least mistakes are the most effective in doing what they set out to do.
I was led to ponder this subject of ‘mistakes’ when I was on my way in the car to my daughter’s place with the purpose of letting the cats out of her house before they may foul her kitchen. She has two cats that are getting on in terms of cat’s age and in her absence while she is away on holiday she asked my wife if she would let her cats out in the morning and her friend would usher them in at night and feed them at the same time. Well, my wife can’t drive, therefore I became involved in the exercise of releasing the cats before they could foul the kitchen with their what’s-its. This particular morning I had almost driven half the way to her house, when I realized I did not have her front door key! That was a big mistake, because I had not thought the matter through. I duly returned home to obtain the key before setting off again on the 10 mile journey. On my arrival at my daughter’s place I found the cats looking rather sheepish; odd I thought, cats looking like sheep. Well, there it was: two large dollops of watery, brownish stuff that smelt vile. I quickly opened the back door and the animals scuttled into the garden, whereupon I equally speedily opened the kitchen windows.
How could I remove all trace of the offending matter? A search of the house and the garden revealed a large quantity of tissue paper that had been used for packaging, a plastic bag and in the garage I found a garden hoe. With care, not wanting to make another mistake, I set about scooping up the brown stuff, but I had failed to realize the handle of the hoe was longer than I had assumed, and as I tried to lift the gubbins into the plastic bag, the end of the handle came into contact with the wall which caused me to drop the smelly stuff onto the floor in a different place! In my effort to avoid that happening I moved the hoe forward and it came into contact with the bottom of the sink cabinet, where a blotch adhered to the oiled wood. Eventually, I had everything cleaned and gleaming bright by using some patent floor cleaner I discovered under the sink. After feeding the cats and leaving them outside I returned home with no further mishaps.
The completion of the mission left me thinking about the cost of mistakes. If only I didn’t make them, how much more rosy things would be, but that’s not life, because we are all fallible; none of us are perfect. If only we would learn from our mistakes, that would be a blessing. You won’t believe it, or would you? I made the same mistake of not taking the key which is kept in my wife’s handbag. The moral of the story, is not to make the mistake a third time, and better still, get a new key cut to keep on my key ring so that the error will never occur again.
Addendum – It would be impossible not to take the key when it is attached to the ring on which the car key is kept. Boy, am I learning!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


How do you measure success? Success is the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose; therefore when the aim or purpose has been attained, one has been successful, but how do people measure success? There’s an external measurement and an internal measurement. The external assessment is done by others, whereas the internal measurement is determined by oneself. Those who do the external test are not aware of the aims or purposes known only to the individual; for example, if I intended to kill people as a suicide bomber because I believed in a certain cause, but instead I accidentally blew myself up, people may think I simply wanted to commit suicide and had been successful. Under those circumstances I had not been successful; unfortunately I was unable to make a judgement of my lack of success, because I was dead!

When my relatives or friends assess what I have done with my life do they see me as being successful? Knowing me well, they would at least be in possession of the major facts to make sound judgements, but what criteria would they use? Would they be looking for my social status, rank or position within the local community, and how would they assess my social status within the strata of that community? Even after rehearsing the facts, their views would be subjective according the value they put on my attainments. A lot would depend upon what they see as being important; if they put wealth and possessions high on the list, they may rate me on the lower scale, but if they were to place more emphasis on happiness and contentment they may rate me quite highly. Their judgements could be wrong, because they may see the external presentation which may not match the internal or hidden truth. In fact, I would judge myself as being contented and happy, whereas others may be fooled by my appearance!

From birth we are all encouraged to adopt a disposition or desire for success. Our parents want us to do well, and in order to achieve the objective of doing well we are rewarded when we achieve success. One of the earliest achievements is crawling. We are encouraged to crawl because our parents want us to be mobile achievers. The next goal is to get us to walk, so our mums and dads help us to achieve success. Along the way, we are given rewards for our successes; maybe kisses, hugs, shouts of approval, and by these rewards we are given the mindset of wanting to achieve success.

As we go on, goals are set with a view to achieving objectives. Sometimes these goals and objectives are determined from outside and sometimes from within. Continuing with the parent/child analogy, parents may want their children to accomplish certain skills that will help them achieve an objective. A parent who wants their boy to obtain a degree will have a long-term strategy of ensuring their child will be well educated at school to attain the best qualifications for gaining entrance to a university. At the achievement of each goal they will encourage their boy by rewarding him. As he scores successive goals his satisfaction increases because of his success - that’s if he is successful - the opposite could be devastating, because instead of being rewarded for success he may only receive disapproval.

What is crucial here, is how ‘we’, each one of us measure success, particularly success with regard to our lives, because lives can only be lived as they are on this earth, unless, of course you believe in a new earth with new life to come as portrayed in the Bible. After all, we are responsible for ourselves, first and foremost. We may be dropouts from society and measure our success by how well we achieve our objectives. We may reject the values of the society in which we live and be gratified that we do not accept or live by them. Morality and ethics could play a large part in our value system, and if so, we will want to measure our lives by how well or badly we have lived according to our consciences. These are internal judgements which may make their mark externally for others to see, so that they may judge our lives as being successful, worthwhile and worthy.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Respect for authority and respect for individuals over the past 50 years has markedly declined and I would suggest there’s a strong correlation between the numbers of people attending Christian church services and the obvious lack of respect today which is particularly evident in the younger generation, of course with exceptions. This equates to the fact that the average age of church attendees has risen to its highest peak while churchgoing has fallen to its lowest. (

Although many in the swinging-sixties who attended such services were nominal Christians, they at least received instruction in the biblical principle of ‘Love thy neighbour’; likewise they would have been familiar with the commandment, ‘Honour thy father and mother’ - a fundamental tenet of respect. Even for those unfamiliar with this commandment most would have been aware of The Golden Rule to ‘Treat others as you would have them treat you,’ (See Luke 6:31) and of course they would have appreciated such respect, but today abuse and disrespect are increasingly becoming the norm, particularly in deprived and rundown areas of the UK where crime, drug-taking, gang feuds, gun and knife carrying, graffiti and litter make their impact.

When I was a boy it was drummed into me by my parents that I should respect the elderly and those in authority; likewise I was to respect all females, and if travelling on public transport I was to offer them a seat if none were available while I was occupying one. My teachers insisted I should doff my school cap when meeting the parents of other children or when encountering teachers on the street. This latter act of greeting was a formal sign of respect. Teachers were to be addressed as ‘Sir’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Madam’ as appropriate. Such behaviour would seem formal today when some teachers allow their pupils to address them by their forenames and visa-versa. My teachers always addressed me by my surname, with the exception of one who adopted me as his favourite student.

The onus for instilling respect lies squarely upon parents; they should not expect teachers to take on the role which should start at the cradle. Simple things like insisting their children should say, “Please” and “Thank you”, “May I?” and “Will it be all right?” can help show the relationship of respect they should have for their parents and others. Without such respect there comes a break-up of relationships which weakens social structures to bring about the demise of law and order. Without law and order there is no stability, neither is there justice. It becomes a free-for-all, the law of the jungle, where only the fittest survive, and for what? - The loss of dignity and the loss of self-respect which is the heart of all respect for others, because the person who cannot have respect for himself cannot have respect for others. He who throws used gum onto a pavement, drops litter, spits in the street or sneezes without using a handkerchief shows a lack of respect, not only for others but for himself.

The Apostle Peter wrote the words, ‘Honour all people,’ (1 Peter 2:17) within the context of those endowed with authority, both civil and Church authority. The Greek meaning of the word ‘honour’ is to highly esteem, i.e., respect. Perhaps we should get back to basics and learn from our forefathers, better still, learn from the word of God?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Honesty is the Best Policy

Over the past few weeks many British politicians in the House of Commons have had to own up to their moral corruption because although in their own words they had not ‘broken the rules’ they were found wanting by judge and jury - those whom they were appointed to serve - the British public. These politicians who had lost their sense of proportion and lacked self-discipline by spending lavishly on themselves by means of the expenses system brought shame upon themselves and the institution they represent. In so doing they lost the trust of their constituents who now look upon them with disdain. All this came at a time when local and European elections were about to take place. Only today, the Prime Minister shuffled what remained of his Cabinet after embarrassing resignations and he hurriedly plugged the gaps with those he could find who were untarnished from shameful behaviour. Did we ever expect to find what some may equate to corruption at the very heart of Government, the cradle of democracy? How does this bode for our future in the Global Village where trust and honesty are vital ingredients for leadership?

Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Honesty is, according to the dictionary, to be free of deceit; to be sincere; truthful, trustworthy; wholehearted and worthy. William Shakespeare wrote, "Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honour, I lose myself." These are definitive sayings that not only our politicians should take note of, but in humble truth all of us should consider them. None of us can claim to live wholly by a policy of honesty. For further clarification and understanding we need to outline the meaning of ‘a policy’. According to one online dictionary it is, ‘A deliberate course, guiding principle or procedure considered expedient, prudent or advantageous.’ Therefore, if we are to adopt the slogan, ‘Honesty is the best policy’ we need to be clear about what we want to achieve by being honest. Here I think William, the supreme Bard, is spot on; he makes it clear that it is to do with ‘honour’. The Right Honourable Gentlemen of the Commons had forgotten about their honour, their trustworthiness, their integrity, and Spencer Johnson like William Tell hit the mark when he said, “Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people."
What do we want to achieve by being honest? I suggest the answer is self-discovery; the true revelation of who we are; the kernel of our very being. If we can’t be truthful to ourselves, how can we be honest before others? Such honesty can bring contentment and peace of mind, despite the opposition and difficulties we may find in bringing it about. The path of honesty is not smooth, neither is it straight because of obstacles along the way, but it is a path well worth pursuing for the rewards to self and to others.