I bought it for 50p and it’s priceless

Apple I computerHave you heard about the woman in the US who gave away the contents of her garage to a recycling company, including a rare Apple 1 computer which is worth $200,000? The company sold it, and now (bless them) is trying to find the woman so they can give her half of the proceeds. (You can read about it and other such stories on the BBC website).

One of the reasons why I think people like watching TV programmes like ‘Antiques Roadshow’ (aside from the schadenfreude of those who think they have a priceless heirloom only to discover it is worthless) is for those moments when someone has a vase or a picture that they bought at a car boot sale or a jumble sale for 50p and it turns out to be worth thousands of pounds. I think we like that because we think ‘that could be me’. And if you visit a car boot sale or a jumble sale, don’t you also secretly hope that you might make such a find?

But while the antiques experts commend and congratulate the person who bought the object for a bargain price they don’t ever seem to give a thought for the person who sold what they thought was worthless because they didn’t realise its value. How do you think that person might be feeling if they are watching the show and see their ‘piece of junk’ valued so highly?

When we think of the people we know (or even ourselves) sometimes they can think of themselves as worthless, a piece of junk. Nobody would want them. But when God looks at us he sees our true value. He sees us all as priceless, worth everything.

Jesus told a couple of parables about how the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) is like someone who finds something incredibly valuable and sells all they have to buy it (recorded in Matthew 13):

44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I have usually thought of those parables where I am meant to be the person who should give everything I have to buy the pearl or the field containing treasure – where the pearl or treasure represents being a part of God’s Kingdom – it’s worth everything.

But what if it’s the other way around? What if you and I are the pearl and the treasure and God’s the one who will give everything in order to buy us?

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

or, to personalise it

God loved you so much that he gave his one and only Son that if you believe in him you won’t perish but have eternal life.

So how do you think of yourself now? What about those around you? Not worthless, but priceless!

Be blessed, be a blessing



Isn’t it interesting how we attach significance to objects? When there is a story attached to them the objects seem to gain a greater significance than they would ordinarily merit – we call it sentimental value.

This mug is a case in point. It was given to me by a good friend. That would make it significant but there is a bigger story behind it (forgive me if you have heard it).

When I was training at Bible College my friend, Steve, and I were chatting about how God had called us to be training as Ministers. I used the following sentence: “It was while David Coffey was my Minister that I felt God’s call to be irresistible.”

Steve knew what I really meant, but he was also sufficiently mischievous to deliberately misunderstand and told a number of our colleagues of how I had been called to be
irresistible. The mocking was good-natured and (if I am honest) I rather liked the epithet!
Later on (I think for a Christmas present) Steve gave me this mug along with a pair of socks that have the same picture and words.

So now this mug is important to me because of who gave it to me, because it makes me smile when I remember the silliness behind it and because I cherish the period in my life that is represented by this mug. (I do have another mug which relates to the same incident that was given to me by my erstwhile colleague, Lynsey, before we became colleagues, but that’s going to remain ‘off tinternet’ – you will have to ask her about it!).

I wonder what objects hold sentimental value to you that far outweighs the actual worth: a family ‘heirloom’? some letters or cards sent by someone you love? photographs?

The wonderful thing is that God has placed immense sentimental value on us. We may feel worthless, morally bankrupt, spiritually impoverished or simply tarnished and ugly but when God looks at us he considers us to be beyond price: worth everything.

Jesus told a parable about a man who found some treasure in a field and went out and sold everything he had in order to buy the field and possess the treasure. I have always thought of it as being about how we should consider being his friends to be worth everything. But what if the man is God and we are the treasure hidden in the field – worth giving everything for!

The Christian symbol (the cross) is more than a badge: it’s a price tag too. Perhaps we should all wear one.

Be blessed, be a blessing.


cufflinksThese cufflinks were a wedding anniversary gift to me from my wonderful wife, Sally: 25 years!!!

You may be able to see that they are made from the internal workings of vintage watches. The watches no longer tick, but you can see cogs, wheels and other tiny gubbins (a technical term).

I think they are great. I like them because they have some history to them even though they have only just started their new life as cufflinks.

I like them because I think they look rather unusual.

I like them because they remind me of the time I have spent in my life married to Sally (over half my life now!).

But most of all I like them because of who gave them to me. It is that which gives them value. To me they are priceless because they are a gift from Sally.

It’s interesting how we humans do that: we invest objects with ‘sentimental value’ that far exceeds the actual value of those objects. I wonder if you watch ‘Antiques Roadshow’ with the same sense of schadenfreude as the rest of us? A person brings in something that has been passed down through the generations and which they clearly hold very dear, and it is valued at far less than they thought. There is a stoical look on their face as they try to mask the disappointment and then we hear, “Well I would never sell it anyway as it means too much to me.” If it was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds would they feel the same way?

Yesterday’s bloggage was about how we are children of God – we don’t just have a new name we actually have a new identity when we choose to become followers of Jesus.

Do you ever feel inadequate? Do you ever feel a failure? Do you ever feel that you are not good enough for God? Do you ever feel worthless?

Do you think God sees you the same way? It all began with him creating you – designing you from scratch – and him loving you unconditionally. And just as my cufflinks have been given a new lease of life (rather than being a broken old watch) we receive a new life, a new identity. When God looks at you, because you were bought for him by Jesus (to use a Bible metaphor that tries to explain what happened when he died on the cross), he sees you as priceless.

Be blessed, be a blessing

the parable of the lost zeros

In 2007 I was in Ghana for a meeting of the Baptist World Alliance. I changed a small amount of currency into the Ghanaian currency, cedi. I was impressed by the ‘wodge’ of notes that I got, especially with all the 000’s.DSCF0907 I felt wealthy. (And when I saw how some people lived I realised I really was, but that’s another story).

Then, while I was in Ghana, the currency was devalued. Essentially they knocked off lots of zeros from the value of each note. The old notes were suddenly worth a lot less and after six months would no longer be legal tender and would be worthless. It felt strange paying for things that were worth a couple of cedis with notes that had thousands of cedis on written them but were in fact worth only a few cedis!

Because the notes were worth so much less I brought a couple back home with me and gave them to my children as souvenirs. They ‘filed’ them in their bedrooms…

…Just recently a couple of these thousand cedi notes re-emerged and the children looked up their value on the internet. They did not know that they were no longer legal tender and were rather excited to think that they had banknotes worth thousands of pounds. The excitement diminished somewhat when I told them that they were worthless.

That’s a lesson that Jesus tried to teach us. In his parable about a wealthy farmer who kept building bigger barns to store his increasing crops. He planned to build a big enough nest egg on which to retire and then…

…let’s just say he experienced an unexpected devaluation in his currency.

Jesus described him as a fool for focusing on what wouldn’t last.

Be blessed, be a blessing

dustbin days

One of the things I remember from my days at Bible College is that it is important to have ‘dustbin days’ from time to time. These are days when you have a clear out. You sort through the pile that has overwhelmed your in-tray. You clear the stuff that has accumulated on your desk and remind yourself what colour the desk actually is. You throw out the bits and pieces that you have kept ‘because they might come in handy’. And you go through your email inbox and answer / delete the emails (my target is single figures).

I do this from time to time and find myself feeling quite virtuous afterwards. I cherish the tidy desk, the empty in-tray, the single-figure email inbox and the sense of order that accompany them.

2014-03-13 12.49.56Last time I did this I came across this object, which has sat on my desk for as long as I can remember. I had no recollection about its origin, but thought that it might have been something I had made on a retreat sometime. I didn’t use it, it was taking up space (not much, it’s 8cm in diameter) and it looked a bit shabby.

I picked it up and moved towards my rubbish bin, ready to dispose of this shabby unwanted piece of hardened clay and chipped paint. Just before I threw it away something prompted me to look underneath it. This is what I saw.2014-03-13 12.50.08

You may be able to make out the feint writing that is etched into the bottom of the clay. It says: “Thomas ’97”.

It had been made by my son at preschool. Suddenly this changed my perspective. Now it was something invaluable. Now it was impossible to throw away.

How often do we do that with people? How often do we judge people by outward appearances without looking deeper and seeing their true value. A person’s value is not determined by what they look like, their financial status, their health or any of the other shallow indicators that are used to define people in our culture. Their value is determined by who made them.

Sadly sometimes people have received the message from churches that we think everyone is a worthless sinner. Richard Dawkins recently posted a disingenuous piece of propaganda with a picture of a child holding a list that said that “According to religion I am broken, flawed, sinful, dumb, weak, nothing.” Have a look at Krish Kandiah’s response to this, which I think is brilliant.

You are someone who is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ in the likeness of your Creator. You are someone whose is loved beyond all loves by your heavenly Father so much that he gave up Jesus so that whoever believes in him can inherit eternal life. You are brilliant. You are amazing. You are spectacular. You are unique.

And so is everyone else whom you will meet.

Let’s challenge the politics and politicians, the social trends and the economic structures that seek to discard anyone in the pursuit of tidiness, popularity or expediency.

Be blessed, be a blessing