31 January 2013

The First Doctor

This year sees a major milestone in the history of Doctor Who, the long-running science fiction series that celebrates its 50th anniversary later this year. The series first appeared on BBC Television on 23rd November 1963. Although created with a science fiction premise, the programme was originally intended to be primarily educational, part of the BBC's early Saturday evening schedule and for family viewing. The idea was to teach younger viewers about history (stories set in the past) and science (stories set in the future or in space).  Hence why the original companions in the series were a science teacher and a history teacher...

The series tells the story of mysterious person, known only as 'The Doctor', and originally portrayed by William Hartnell (1908–1975). The actor was uncertain whether to take the role; he did so because he was getting typecast in military roles, and he liked the idea of playing a 'grandfather' figure. In fact, the character of The Doctor would be developed throughout the run of the show, but from the start of the series it is clear he is an alien time-traveller with a mysterious past.

Problems with the actor's health, as well as some problems between him and the production team, led Hartnell to leave the show in 1966 -  however this led to a novel idea. Since the Doctor is from an alien race, perhaps he can transform himself into someone else when he dies, thereby renewing himself. Thus, William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor...

More later...

22 January 2013

Grace and Gracias

I heard someone on the radio make a point this morning which has really stuck with me today. And challenged me. Perhaps it was because of my ever-growing To Do list...

Anyway, the speaker drew a comparison between asking for God's grace to help in a difficult situation, whilst also having a thankful heart as we do so. He pointed to the fact that many words involving thanks are rooted in 'grace' : the Spanish word gracias, for example...

How thankful, am I, for some of the challenges that I face? Hmmm... it's back to that passage from Thessalonians for me...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, 
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase, 
To added affliction He addeth His mercy, 
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, 
His power no boundary known unto men, 
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, 
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932)

21 January 2013

Battling With To Do Lists

This was turning out to be the longest ever To Do list that I had ever written. It was daunting. It was so daunting that I simply couldn't believe it. And it was self-perpetuating. Every time I looked at one item, something else popped into my head and another line was added. I couldn't put the list down, it was growing and growing before my very eyes...

I groaned at the sheer immensity of the list. How could I ever get to the end of this?

A good friend of mine posted on Facebook that I should "take them one at a time. It will seem easier". I smiled at that - however, would I be able to cope?

I smiled, and added one item to the top of the list. A must for each and every day.


"Work, work from early till late. In fact, I have so much work to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." - Martin Luther

"He does the most for God who is the highest skilled in prayer." – E.M. Bounds

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

12 January 2013

Telling The Truth

Why is there such a broad gap in some people's lives between 'telling the truth' and admitting that you've told a lie? I've encountered this in my life in recent weeks and even though I have studied this topic in some detail before, there's seems to be so much more that the Lord wants to show me on the subject!! Because this one doesn't want to go away at the moment...

There seems to be an awful reluctance in people's lives to tell a downright lie. Something ingrained from childhood, perhaps... However, bending the truth - exaggerating one aspect, omitting another - seems to be more acceptable. Half-truths, they call them. Sounds better than lies, doesn't it? And seems to be quite commonplace, it would seem. The challenge is, of course, to do better. To maintain a degree of integrity in your own life. 

It can be tough. I remember times in my life when I was even encouraged to lie, by my elders and betters. I'm ashamed to even recall it. Nowadays I have a very well developed conscience that keeps me awake at night for the slightest mishap or misdemenour that I have let slip in a moment of weakness. I do better - but I'm not there yet.

However, as I always say, "no good deed goes unpunished". There are times when I lose sleep when I have told the truth, when I know that I have done the right thing. I'm up and about, questioning my own motives. My friends and family may even put doubts in my mind. (sigh)

The Lord reminded me today (again!) that we battle against a foe who deals in lies and half-truths. And that this foe is someone who just loves to regroup and attack you again on another front. Yep, I can testify to that. Even that day last week when I spent in bed feeling ill - I ended up feeling guilty for the work that I was missing back at the office! How weird is that?

I'm encouraged today in my studies to keep 'seeking after truth' - something that I always try to do - but to go that little bit further. Just because what you read something that contains a little bit of truth, doesn't mean that the whole thing is true... it might only be a 'half-truth'. Keep searching - keep testing - keep growing.

11 January 2013

Words Have Power

I have been reflecting on my last post (on the subject of bad language) for a day or two and a couple of other aspects have floated to the top of my mind and are probably worth sharing...

I work in an office and am therefore surrounded by words and figures all day. The figures that I have to calculate can sometimes be a little daunting - I am not a natural mathematician - but if you work at it, even someone like me can understand where you need to get to. Thank heavens for Excel spreadsheets!

However, words... words have power! The slightest change to one word in a paragraph can change the focus of an entire document. Even a comma in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence. I really appreciate the work of someone who can set out words on a page. They are true craftsmen that I strive to emulate.

If this is true - how much more important is it to express yourself in vocal conversation in a matter fitting to your calling? You can't take your words back if talking to someone face to face, or on the 'phone. So, you need to choose your words carefully before you utter them. Take control of what you say...

Another factor to bear in mind is that bad language is a consistent part of some people's lives. It's now more common in our popular culture. Personality research suggests that people who swear more are more hostile, even perhaps more dominant in society. Could that be why we see more incidents of violence, of road rage, in our world?

Just thinking...

James 3:5-6 (The Message)
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

9 January 2013

Watch Your Language!

Do you get hot under the collar by the constant repetition of bad language?

Profanity, swearing, coarse or inappropriate language - you seem to hear it so much more nowadays. Or is it simply that our society has grown much more tolerant of it? There's such a gap developing between the different people that I know that it's quite alarming... and worth a word or two in this forum.

On one hand, I have members of my own family that can't bear listening to this sort of language - to the extent that they will turn off the TV if such words are used. Some feel they're missing out on some terrific TV programmes. They would say the price is just too high. However, you can't do that sort of thing in real life. Half the people that I try to help would go without my assistance if I just walked away from them, just because they use language that is a little more 'colourful' than my own.

On the other hand, I have colleagues in many aspects of my life who seem to revel in use of this form of communication - and that's to an extent that even I find disturbing. Because some of them are people who I would have thought shouldn't be using those sort of words! "You might as well use these words", they say, "if you are thinking them anyway..."

And there's the problem. Profane or crude language simply doesn't fit with the lifestyle. In fact, the word 'profanity' stems from the Latin word prophanus which describes something ‘outside the temple’ and therefore ‘not part of the church’. 

To round off this blog entry, I'll add one personal opinion of my own. I feel that a good deal of the swear words that I hear bandied about nowadays are now so common that they are tired and over-used. It's so tedious to hear them used again and again. There are so many other great words in the English dictionary that are far better for the task at hand (and under-used!). Or have people just got lazy with their use of language?

What do you think?

Matthew 15:10-11 (NIV)
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

4 January 2013

Self-Praise Is No Recommendation - a further thought

I've been mulling over one or two things lately and I came across a couple of posts that I wrote about Self-Praise a few years ago now. You can read them here and here. Now, this makes perfect sense to me. After all, everyone wants to show themselves in the best light - but some people seem to make more of a habit of it...
With the New Year, it's likely that there will be a large number of people seeking to update their CVs or resumes at the moment, as the change of year brings with it new possibilities and potential new beginnings. How, then, do you put yourself in the best light when you shouldn't be praising yourself up?

The answer comes straight out of scripture. You shouldn't - it's a question of letting others speak for you. Or simply let the facts speak for themselves.

Proverbs 27:2 (NIV)
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

And the implications of this are? Just concentrate on doing your job to the best of your ability. Let others take care of your reputation. Don't be full of yourself - instead, fill yourself with better things, with things of God. Don't boast - instead, try and work on humility.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.