Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet – by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

15 02 2014

I’m a relatively recent convert to Sherlock. I watched my first episode on New Year’s Day this year when the first episode of series 3 was aired – I was hooked! I dedicatedly watched the rest of the series and am now catching up on series 1 & 2 that I’ve been able to borrow from friends.

I was aware they’re based on the old series of books, and another friend offered to lend me the first one – I thought, why not?! Always aiming to read more, why not read something a bit more classic.

I read “A Study in Scarlet” which is the first book in the series, where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson meet, it’s also the book that the first TV episode, “A Study in Pink” was based on. It didn’t disappoint.

Considering the books were written in the 1800s I was expecting it to be hard work, but it wasn’t, the story grabbed me in and I was so keen to know what happened. I had an idea as I’d already seen the TV episode, but there’s enough difference that I didn’t really know how it would come together.

Just when it was about to resolve though I had a bit of a shock. Suddenly we were in Utah, USA, with different characters, and several chapters without any reference at all to our Hero. I messaged my friend who had leant me the book and assured me it was still the same story, but the jump was so sudden I really wasn’t sure.

In the American section of the book there’s a whole bit on the Mormons which was slightly weird for me as one of the last books I read had also had a large section on them – bizarre!

Definitely a recommended read. The book is only little and even then less than 200 pages, so it doesn’t take long, and is definitely entertaining.

sherlock holmes

“Why doesn’t God do something?”

10 02 2014

For a couple of years now I’ve been working through the “For Everyone” Bible study books. The New Testament ones are by Tom Wright, the Old Testament by John Goldingay. The first one I ever did was Matthew for Everyone. Advent was approaching and it seemed a sensible place to start!

As I say, this was a couple of years ago now, but in that book there was one devotional that really struck me, and stayed with me. At the time I posted it on facebook, but then it was so hard to find last month when I wanted to dig it out for team devotions at work! I’ve found it again, and thought I’d share it with you on here.

The passage it’s based on is Matthew 13 vv 24-35 – The Parable of the Weeds

I don’t really want to reproduce the whole thing a) ‘cos it’s a bit long for a blog post, and b) copyright stuff, so I’ve just pulled some of the bits that stood out to me, and then the bit that really stuck with me is in bold at the end.

“Would people really like it if God were to rule the world directly and immediately, so that our every thought and action were weighed, and instandtly judged and if necessary punished, in the scales of his absolute holiness? If the price of God stepping in and stopping a campaign of genocide were that he would also have to rebuke and restrain every other evil impulse, including those we still know and cherish within ourselves, would we be prepared to pay that price? If we ask God to act on special occasions, do we really suppose that he could do that simply when we want him to, and then back off again for the rest of the time?
These parables are about waiting, and waiting is what we all find difficult.”

“At the heart of the parable of the weeds is the note of patience – not just the patience of the servants who have to wait and watch, but the patience of God himself. God didn’t and doesn’t enjoy the sight of a cornfield with weeds all over the place. But nor does he relish the thought of declaring harvest-time too soon, and destroying wheat along with weeds.”

“When today we long for God to act, to put the world to rights, we must remind ourselves that He has already done so, and that what we are now awaiting is the full outworking of those events. We wait with patience, not like people in a dark room wondering if anyone will ever come with a lighted candle, but like people in early morning who know that the sun has arisen and are now waiting for the full brightness of midday.”

A history of hairbrushes

8 02 2014

It’s normal to have an emotional attachment to your hairbrush, right? (OK, I’m mainly talking to the women here.)

I can tell you all about my hairbrush I had through my childhood, it lasted me years. It was purple, and had white bristles that always made my hair static. It got through all the difficult bits and left my hair lovely. I was so sad the day (probably late teens?) I dropped it, it hit something, and the handle snapped off from the bristle section (impressive as it was one solid piece of plastic!)

After this I went through a period of switching around a bit, it took me quite a while to find a replacement. I tried a wooden brush where the head was sort of rounded, but we never really hit it off. I went through a couple of others before landing on my latest one.

The hairbrush I’ve had for the last few years again had a solid handle, was pink, and not bristly with pink bobbles on the spokes. Over the years, the bobbles have slowly gone, but yesterday was it’s dying day.

As you may or may not have already spotted, I sprayed my hair bright red yesterday. As it was essentially a red hairspray, when I got home I brushed it all through, and really that was it. The brush has lost nearly all it’s bobbles, and even though I’ve washed it in steaming hot water for ages, it’s still so so red I can’t put it back through my hair.

Today it’s time to start the search for my next hairbrush as I’ve not been able to brush my hair since I washed it last night. I don’t know if I’ll find it right away, or if I’ll have to try hunting around again, but goodness me – I never really realised how much I bond with a hairbrush!

And on that note…

BHF – Ramp up the Red – …after

7 02 2014

It’s done! Today I raised over £100 for the British Heart Foundation just by putting 2 cans of red hairspray on my hair.

I said this morning that I was really scared, I hate to be the centre of attention, so walking into the office to cheering at the hair was not the most enjoyable… But I dealt with it.

The good thing with it being my hair is that I kept forgetting about it, until I popped to the bathroom and caught myself in the mirror, that surprised me each time!

So very grateful to everyone who encouraged me today, everyone who donated, and of course to my housemates for helping out with this creation – and trying not to suffocate on the stuff in the process!


BHF – Ramp up the Red – before…

7 02 2014

On Room 101 last week someone decided to put fundraising into Room 101. His reasoning was that people always choose things they’ve always wanted to do and use raising money for charity as an excuse. You know, sky diving, paragliding, all sorts.

Today I am doing something to raise money for charity that I really don’t want to do. I’m spraying my hair bright red. That in itself isn’t that scary, it’s what that’s going to mean for my whole day.

I really don’t like being the centre of attention, but today I’m going to have no choice. It’s not like I’m going to be able to turn it off for 5 minutes when I want a break. People are going to be staring, asking about it, etc all day. The closest I’ll get to escaping this is hiding in the bathroom, but I’m paid to work, so that’s not really an option! Even the walk between the office and the car at the start of the day when Joe Bloggs and all the world will see – goodness me, this could be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, why am I even doing it?

I’m doing this to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Heart disease is the nation’s single biggest killer, and these guys support those who suffer from it, and put research into what we can do about it. Heart disease is massive in my family, it’s an issue close to my heart, so today I’m going out of my comfort zone and beyond to raise money for them – can’t ever say this is something I’ve “always wanted to do”!

Well that’s the before, I guess I should go and get on with it now, it’s spray time! – I’ll post photos here later all being well…..

Oh, and if I’ve tugged at your heartstrings, you can sponsor me here!

Gospel Responsibilities – Philippians 2 vv 5-18

2 02 2014

Responsibility is not a popular concept these days, it’s more about “my rights”.
But as Christians, we have responsibilities:

  1. We have a responsibility to work out our salvation.
    “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” – vv 12-13
  2. We don’t use the word “Salvation” much in everyday language.
    We were born into slavery, into sin. We’re not born with God at the centre of our lives, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
    We can’t free ourselves, we need Jesus to do that, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The concept can be thought of like marriage: on the wedding day you fully possess marriage, but it takes a life time to be worked out.

    We can’t do it on our own though, we need God to work in us. A gardener has to water and weed a garden, but only God brings the growth.

    “Fear and trembling” is a healthy honour and respect in the light of judgement day when we’ll have to stand in front of Jesus and give an account for our lives. Jesus is not just our Saviour, He’s also our judge.

    Salvation is past, present and future.
    We have been freed through the cross
    We are being freed daily
    We will be fully freed and made perfect on that final day.

  3. We have a responsibility to shine like stars in a dark world.
    “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” – v15b
  4. We live in a crooked and depraved generation. But this has also been true throughout the whole of history!
    Fundamentally we live in a world that does not put God in the centre.

    “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” – v14. We’ve got to get that right.
    As we gossip, slander and chatter, the stars go out and we’re left with a black sky.

    “hold firmly to the word of life” – v16a. We need to be audio and visual representations for God.

  5. We have a responsibility to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
    “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith” – v17a
  6. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.

    The Philippian church, in sacrificing themselves are like the animal sacrifice, and Paul is like the drinks offering poured over it.

    We’re called to be a city on a hill, to live lives of sacrifice, with Kingdom values, committed to Him.

Standing together in Unity – Philippians 1v27-2v11

2 02 2014

Better late than never, here’s my notes from last Sunday!

“You’re looking for the path of greatest glory to God.” – Corrie Ten Boom. In everything we do, ask what would bring Him the greatest glory?

“The weaknesses I see in me
will be stripped away
by the power of Your love”

I’m going to paste the whole reading in this time, because when it got to the end I wanted to applaud! That doesn’t happen often, but have you ever felt that at the end of a reading?

Life worthy of the gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved – and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Imitating Christ’s humility

2: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

There is a mistrust towards Christianity in society these days. We live in a society where it’s ok to say a religious view is true for an individual, but you can’t say it’s true for all else that’s arrogant and intolerant.

The Philippians would have been proud of their citizenship in Rome, but Paul now says they are citizens of heaven and they must live a life worthy of that. Most people are drawn to the Gospel through the lifestyle of another Christian.

We must fight division, arguing, gossip, as individuals and as a church. A Roman Phalanx of soldiers were virtually invincible if they did not break rank – we must stand shoulder to shoulder in unity.

We won’t necessarily agree on every issue, but we should share a love for God and one another, and a goal of making Jesus known to others. Keeping the main thing the main thing.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition” – v3
Ambition = the desire to succeed
There’s nothing wrong with it as long as it’s in God’s will and for His glory.
Selfish ambition is entirely for our own ends.

“In humility consider others better than yourselves” – v3
This doesn’t mean everyone else is more gifted.
Andy Murray doesn’t have to say we’re better tennis players than him.
This also doesn’t mean everyone else is morally better than ourselves.
Read it as “consider others as more important than yourselves”

Jesus attitude had no selfish ambition, no self centred-ness. He demoted Himself rather than climbing the ladder of achievement. He is the opposite of a ‘rags to riches’ story.

His death was that reserved for slaves, the lowest order of society.
He became like us so that we might become like Him.
He became a slave so that we might go free.
He died so that we might have life.
He went from the light of God to the darkness of death.
From the highest height to the deepest depth.

And our attitude should be like His.

Children inherit abilities from their parents. We are adopted as God’s children, we share in the inheritance of Christ. We inherit His blessings and we have the example of Jesus to follow. It will take a lifetime of transformation for us to become like Christ.

Jesus’ example of servant-hood may not be great in the eyes of the world, but it is in the eyes of God.

If we read secular books and watch secular tv, our minds will fill with worldly values (this isn’t to say they’re all bad!).
We need to spend time with the Word and in the Spirit – there is no shortcut.
“Habit” and “Discipline” are almost dirty words in modern day Christianity, but they shouldn’t be.
We need to root out bad attitudes and habits in our hearts and minds and ask for forgiveness.