Throughout my life I never considered something which I found to be mine to keep. It was my upbringing, the way my parents taught me, I was never to deprive someone of their belongings as long as I could find who they were. For small things such as coins dropped I never had qualms keeping hold of them for whoever had lost them would be impossible to find. I would even go as far as including the finding of bank notes as long as the circumstances were reasonable. If I found such things inside a building they would be handed in to their lost property department or to someone in authority. If however they were found in some remote place locating the owner would be impossible so large amounts of notes would be handed into the police station as lost property. If it were only one note I would consider keeping it if it was found in a remote place and in fact that happened to me some years ago as I was riding my bicycle. I found a ten pound note at the side of the road. It could have come from anywhere, even a passing vehicle and it would have been impossible to trace ownership so I kept it. Once, many years ago I had to make a call to the office from a phone box (we didn’t have mobile phones in those days). I discovered a purse which someone had left in the box so I opened it and found the owners address inside. I drove to their house and handed it back to them. It contained a couple of bank notes and some change. It was the right thing to do. Every reasonable opportunity to find the owner should always be taken when we find something which has been lost. We would expect the same consideration if we lost something wouldn’t we? Not everyone thinks that way unfortunately which is sad. I have lost things myself and never had anything returned to me save for the one time. On that occasion I had left my camera in a toilet of a restaurant E and I had visited in the Midlands. After telephoning the restaurant I was informed that a member of staff had seen it and put it in the safe. I posted her a cheque to cover the cost of returning it by post with a £25 bonus for her honesty and thanks. On my walks I sometimes find things which have been lost or misplaced and forgotten. Over the last few weeks I have found a child’s purse with a few coppers in it but unfortunately no name or address, a twenty pence piece, a five pence piece and a penny! None of these could be returned to their owners so they were kept. I even found a small can of rice pudding and a small can of mushy peas on a bench in the middle of nowhere one morning very early. They too were kept. Now on Sunday morning (18 th) I went for an early walk leaving the house at four o’clock. It wasn’t raining but I was dressed for it anyway. It poured down with rain about half-way through my walk however and I was glad to get back home. It wasn’t so much the rain itself but it had been driven by the wind and was in my face for quite some distance. Anyway just before it did rain I was walking along the Promenade in town when I noticed a large mobile phone lying all alone on one of the benches there.
There was nobody around so I put it in my pocket and made for the police station to hand it in. I don’t know why I bothered, there was nobody there to take it. That is the desk was closed for the night. There were officers inside on the upper floors of course but there was no way to contact them and no urgency to do so. I took the phone home and later called a woman who had left a message on it. I asked if she knew the phone’s owner and the woman replied yes it belonged to her husband and they had been looking frantically for it. When I mentioned that I had found it near to the hotel there she told me they were staying there. I made arrangements for them to collect the phone later in the morning but in the meantime I put it on my charger for its battery was showing low. The phone itself must have been quite expensive as it was a relatively new model (like the picture above). There was now way I was going to keep it of course……..that would be stealing.
Each time I visit my email boxes I am inundated with junk emails or ‘spam’. I get offers to take out loans, to respond to nasty messages telling me my bank account has been temporarily suspended due to suspected security intrusions and will need to verify my credentials. All of it nonsense of course as in most cases I am not a member of the bank in question. If I were to click on the links suggested I would leave myself open to malware and if I gave any information I could have my bank balance emptied by the fraudster. In any case my banks would never ask for such information for obvious security reasons. As for taking out a loan or encouraging me to spend unnecessarily, that would only put me into greater debt! I get invitations to view people’s private photograph or video sites and they are happening with ever-increasing regularity lately. For one the sites are probably pornographic in nature or are enticing me to join such sites. Maybe there are other ways to place malware on to my computer, who knows? I am not about to find out though! To me it is all rubbish and I wont entertain any of it. It proves there are some nasty people on this planet. Why do you suppose there are people like that? Wherever we go we will find dishonesty in people, even in those we hold in great esteem sometimes. We can hope and pray for a better world but in the meantime we must put up with it all and remain vigilant.
In Johns gospel we read about Jesusturning water into wine ( John 2:1). The master of the house who was holding a celebration but had run out of wine and Jesus asked him to fill the containers with water after which it was turned into the very best wine when they sampled the contents. The guests proclaimed that not only had the master served them all the wine they wanted he had saved the best until last. I don’t know if you have ever been to a gathering where the worst wine is served until you begin to feel its effects then get served with some quality wine which you recognise as such. Many hosts would serve the good wine first so that you don’t notice the poor quality of the wine that follows. Jesus may have been making the point that once you’ve tried all the other faiths he saves and presents the best, The Gospel, at the end. Several times in Scripture is wine mentioned, in fact so many times it is too many to mention here but those references which indicate being drunk on wine or point to that are in
The last reference in Ephesians warns of the danger of being drunk on wine and encourages being ‘drunk’ in The Spirit instead. A phrase that has been the butt of many a joke in secular circles as you may imagine. There is a difference between The Holy Spirit and spirit of course. Essentially we are warned not to get drunk on wine or anything else for that matter but many Christians take this warning too much to heart insisting that Jesus said we shouldn’t drink wine (or anything alcoholic) at all. There is a vast difference between having a drink and getting drunk. If we cannot maintain a sensible drinking regime we would be wise to refrain from partaking at all. If we are sensible and maintain control it shouldn’t be a problem. It all depends on the individual. Jesus did not say that we should refrain but he said we should not get drunk which means drinking to excess. It is better not to drink, it is better to remain celibate, it is better not to do many things if we are able but God does not want us to suffer if we cannot conform. All He asks is that we are sensible in these matters. If we cannot control our sexual urges we are instructed to get a wife/husband so that we are not drawn into sinful behaviour and if we like an occasional drink it is right to partake as long as we are sensible and don’t take things too far. Many do not see this principle and try to impose their reasoning on the actions of others. God wants us to be happy but sensible in what we do.
Many have erroneously attributed this verse to William Shakespeare but it was actually penned by Sir Walter Scott. It speaks of the mess we can get into when we try to deceive others. We attempt to cover our tracks knowing that if we don’t we may be exposed of our wrongdoing. Excuses follow excuses when we are discovered and the blame is attempted to be placed elsewhere, anywhere, as long as the pointing finger of accusation is not directed toward ourselves. Mankind is inherently sinful and the thought of getting away with wrongdoing is quite a temptation for many. Most people would consider themselves to be upright citizens but is anyone so squeeky-clean as to be innocent of any wrongdoing? I think not but there are some things which tarnish the character more than most. I spent a few hours in the pub on Thursday afternoon and for a while I sat alone listening to a conversation between five men sitting a short distance away. They were talking about the last world war and who was responsible for actually starting it. The conversation became a little heated and eventually they all went home except for one who left but returned again after a few minutes. I had previously only a nodding acquaintance with this guy but he approached my table and chatted with me. He looked a bit worried about something and he confided in me by saying he had fallen in love with a lady who by all accounts was in love with him too. I wondered what the problem was and then he told me that he was married. I asked if his marriage was stable and if he loved his wife and it appeared all was well at home. Now not wishing to be judgemental I said nothing about the morality of his actions only to say that the outcome of his problem was in his own hands. His decisions would decide if he had a future with his wife or one with his new-found lover. It seems it wasn’t quite as simple as that and he was now in a tangled mess of his own making. We talked of other things before he left to go home. To my surprise he returned again a short time later looking even more dejected than before. I felt a little sorry for him, not for what he has done but more for the fact that temptation got the better of him and now he finds himself in a predicament not easy to resolve without being exposed of his actions. Oh what a tangled web we weave………..
Currently in the UK investigations are being carried out over misconduct within the banking fraternity and specifically the activities of Barclay’s bank. Their chief executive officer or director has resigned because of malpractice which involved interest rates being manipulated to the benefit of the bank. There is a lot more to the story of course and further investigations, possibly prosecutions may yet follow. Apart from fixing interest rates, which ultimately affect us all if we place our money in a bank (and who doesn’t these days?), can we still trust our banks? It’s all about greed and it doesn’t stop with the banks. Almost anywhere or anything which involves money you will find fraud, theft and devious schemes to relieve you of your hard-earned cash. Everywhere you look these days there are reports of scams, get rich quick schemes and dubious investment opportunities all designed with one thing in mind, to take your money! Wherever we turn we get bombarded with special offers from all sorts of places that we really don’t need. The pressure is on to get us to part with whatever cash we have. I hear stories about people who have lost thousands of pounds because they have been duped in some way but many of these incidents can be blamed on their own greed or stupidity and the chance to make some money without really having to earn it. The result? They lose out. When it comes to money and possessions we may find it difficult to put our trust in anyone outside of our family but even there isn’t sacred sometimes! It proves to me that the human race as a whole is riddled with people who only want to rip the rest of us off. Can anyone really be trusted? We all need to be more vigilant and shrewed when dealing with financial matters of course but there is little we can do ourselves about corruption in high places. Thankfully corruption and fraud eventually become exposed but often it is too late for the benefit of those against whom it has been levelled and the rest of us usually have to pay the price.
I occasionally watch a television program called ‘Fake Britain’. It reports on and exposes the business of counterfeit activities in the UK from the manufacturing of fake dvd’s and toys to clothing and alcoholic drinks. Almost anything these days can be copied and sold off as genuine and much of the time the general public have no idea that they are buying fake goods. Although some fakes are quite safe to use many of them are not and fail the British Standards for safety thereby placing people’s health and sometimes lives at risk, alcohol being especially dangerous if it is counterfeit. The counterfeiters are often so good at their work such that a keen eye is needed to identify the fake from the real thing. Over the years this country has built up a rigorous set of safety standards for everything that is manufactured here and any goods which are imported have to meet with these standards too. The counterfeiters are undermining those standards for a quick profit and they do not care about the consequences to public safety. The question is would you buy something knowing it to be fake just to save money? By doing so you encourage criminal activity. The temptation to turn a blind eye can be strong but we must resist for our own sake and for the sake of everyone else in this land. There may be times when you don’t know you have bought a fake but once you know would you willingly report it? Many of us even right now are walking about with fake items on our person, pound coins! The treasury is aware of them but it is very difficult to sieve them out once in circulation. No doubt they will be doing that anyway. The thing is none of us really inspect the coins we carry to check if they are real or not do we? The very structure of our society is being undermined by the activities of the criminal element from the small-time crook to the organised gangs. Whilst the vast majority of folk in the country are hard-working and paying their taxes many criminals are raking in the cash, our cash, to line their pockets with. So when someone offers you something at a reduced price check your conscience before to buy the goods.
I have just read one of my daily ‘words’ from Scripture the essence of which tell me that even though I may strive to be perfect in every way I know that I shall never attain perfection for as long as I live. The reading points out that I should be telling myself daily that I know I am not perfect but that I am better than I was before. A good philosophy to be sure. There are areas in my life though where I struggle to get better for I will forget the promises I make to myself and over-indulge. On Friday I spent the afternoon, late afternoon that is, at the pub. I sat there for a couple of hours watching people come and go whilst I was reading a newspaper and having a drink. Eventually the pub filled to capacity but I remained seated and alone by choice. Later I began to mingle and before long found myself in the company of friends. Drifting along with the conversations, meeting new people and generally having a good time robbed me of my sensibility and I ended up shall we say, slightly inebriated! Horror of horrors I hear you say but it is all so easy to forget one’s promises not to get drunk when one has had too much to drink and therein lies the danger. Switching to soft drinks is the better solution and one that I should endeavour to embrace more often. Let’s hope I eventually learn my lesson and be a little more responsible in future. I arrived home in the early hours after the fifteen minute walk from the pub and was so hungry I rustled up a meal. Still not tired after my escapade I took to surfing the Web and posted comments on other folks blogs. I was beginning to doze off when I made my way upstairs at five in the morning! I remember looking at the clock at five-thirty and then fell asleep, in the correct attire for the occasion I might add and not in my normal clothes! I awoke at ten fully refreshed and most definitely not with a hang-over. I drink far too much water after drinking alcohol to end up with a splitting morning-after headache. Dehydration or lack of it is something I have under complete control. It only remains for me to keep myself under control when out enjoying myself.
On Monday I had a small job to do just out-of-town which didn’t take me long to do. The route back home took me partly into town so I decided to go all the way and do some shopping. Parking up just outside the towns parking meter zone I took the five-minute walk back to the main shopping centre. Every few months I go shopping for toiletries and anything else I have a mind to buy but this time it was for just the toiletries, so I thought! Having bought what I needed I did some browsing and found one of those nasal/ear/eyebrow hair trimmers that seem to be popular so I decided to buy one for £15 which is the top end price or thereabouts for this item. Like everyone else I have hair growth in my ears and nose and plucking them out can be painful. This tool efficiently removes unwanted hair almost painlessly. It is also handy for trimming the eyebrow hairs and keeping them short but I still have to pluck them for shaping which fortunately isn’t that painful! Leaving the shop where I bought the last few items I began to walk back to my vehicle but of course en-route there are shoe shops! A weakness of mine is to buy shoes when I don’t really need to because I have a wardrobe full of them. I was thinking along the lines of a pair of low heeled or even flat shoes for going to work and although I am not desperate at the moment I had to go inside a couple of shoe shops to see what they had. I saw two pairs of shoes that were suitable but I resisted all temptation to buy them. No doubt I will buy something on my next trip in November or December. The thing is, I had already bought another pair of shoes over the Internet on Sunday! I simply couldn’t resist the special offer. On Saturday I had been browsing the web site of a shoe shop which I have in my favourites cache in my browser and I saw some lovely shoes which were on offer at a much reduced price. I closed down my computer but the following day, Sunday I just had to go peek again and succumbed to temptation and bought them at £30, half the original price. It pays to wait for bargains! I will have to wait a few days before they arrive though. These shoes though are not for work they are stilettos with 10cm heels (4″)! Four-inch (or 10 cm) is my preferred height for heels but I do have higher ones (5 1/2″)! So resistance is futile with me sometimes when it is to do with buying shoes! It will soon be my season for wearing stockings again and these shoes really need to be complimented with nylon!
Many people today worship idols but probably are unaware that they do. An idol is something that holds your attention sometimes at the expense of more important things. In fact always at the expense of more important things! Marriages and relationships break down, time is wasted on futile and non-essential things. For a season we indulge in our passions at the expense of a better life. Now you may be thinking, what exactly are these ‘idols’? Hobbies that take over all our time, hero-worship, these days usually defined as a favouritemusic band, a singer or a group, a football player or the whole team (probably more usual). Some people just cannot get enough information about their favourite idol and buy all the magazine literature there is just to get a glimpse of their lifestyles and live in a permanent state of awe. So called ‘stars’, ‘celebrities’ and people in the public eye strut about like they were something special compared to the rest of us mortals and people love it! There is nothing wrong with most of these things if taken very light-heartedly and not too seriously of course but the danger remains in spending too much of our own lives and time following after the exploits of others. Don’t we have lives of our own? There are other things too that can take up too much of our time, drink (alcohol), drugs and other unsavoury and unnecessary things for a happy life and we should be especially careful in these matters. As a Christian I have to be very careful that I don’t spend time in ‘idol worship‘ at the expense of spending more time with God and the things He would have me do with my time. I have never been into ‘celebrities’, don’t have a favourite movie, book or author and things of that nature that I over-indulge myself with, in fact I only read non-fiction anyway. There are pleasures to be had in life of course and we shouldn’t eliminate everything that takes our time but we should consider the consequences of not doing so.
I have often wondered why it is that some people turn to crime and others go completely in the opposite direction. Is there an inherent defect in their genetic make-up or is it something that is learnt? Presumably even criminals know the difference between right and wrong or am I wrong in that assumption? There isn’t a day goes by without yet another crime being reported, a murder, a robbery, a burglary, identity theft, fraud, embezzlement or something else. Knowing there are penalties for crime doesn’t prevent the perpetrator in most cases. Those seeking to feed their habit of taking drugs will go to great lengths to obtain the funds to do it and that usually means committing a crime as well as having a motive for doing so. Is there then a motive for all crime or is some of it done on the spur of the moment? It is said that many a crime is opportunistic, without forethought but it takes a person who is inclined to do wrong to carry it out. Some crime is premeditated, either with or without fear of being caught. Would a normally righteous person take to crime if there were no fear in getting caught or would they be tempted if an opportunity arose? As a Christian I believe we are in a constant battle with the forces of evil and have to be on our guard at all times. For those who hold a different view, I wonder what you make of it all? What makes a criminal?