Friday, 30 October 2015

Gerald Coates - Pioneer: The Story of a Book

‘Should I? I mean, really, should I?’
It’s early in 2011 and I’m considering a radical step. Leaving my job as Pensions Director for the Mars Group- and starting a Masters in Theology at Mattersey Bible College.
Roh, my wife, looks on as I pontificate. She knows she doesn’t need to say anything. I’ve made my mind up. I’m just trying to rationalise it!
It was a bold step, but out of it came much more than a Masters. My final dissertation was on the house church movement. It was 57 years since Arthur Wallis wrote his ground-breaking In the Day of Thy Power. My dissertation title seemed quite clever at the time: 57 Years of Restorationism in the UK: Ongoing Legacy or 57 Varieties?
The dissertation gave me access to a number of the house church pioneers- Peter Lyne, Terry Virgo, David Matthew…. And Gerald Coates.
I was grateful for the day spent with Gerald. I left him a copy of my last biography, Cheating Death, Living Life – Linda’s Story, a story of God’s miracles in what could have so easily been a tragic life. And I said that if ever he wanted a biography done, to let me know.
I heard nothing.
We corresponded on something else via Facebook. I suggested the book again. Nope.
Then Anona, Gerald’s wife, steps in. The book should be written.
And so it was.
Starting with reams of wallpaper to plan out the timeline, two further days spent with Gerald and Anona, a lot of recording, a glass or two of wine, a contract with Malcolm Down Publishing, rewrites, rewrites and rewrites… and finally a book.
Gerald’s is an important story. It tells of God’s goodness and the work of the Holy Spirit in our generation. I’m grateful to have had the privilege of writing it.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

He also made the stars.....

If the Bible has a throwaway line, it has to be this:

'He also made the stars.'

It's in Genesis chapter one, amidst verses that describe God's creation. There's a lot about light and sun and sea and land and trees and birds... and in the middle, in verse sixteen.... he also made the stars.

What does this actually mean? When I travel to New York from London, it takes me seven hours at 500 miles per hour. If I travelled at the same speed to the moon, it would take me three weeks. At the same speed to the sun? Twenty-one years. The edge of the Solar System? 900 years. The furthest reaches of space.... That would take me, travelling at 500 miles per hour, around twenty quadrillion years. (That's a 20 with 15 noughts after it!)

How amazing that a God that does 'big', also does 'small' and cares for me!

Here's a video that gives you some idea of the immensity of space- and how small we are in comparison.

He also made the stars.

(There's more on this in my book God-Life: chapter 4)


Friday, 25 September 2015

Résumé Virtues or Eulogy Virtues?

David Brooks wrote a beautiful article in the New York Times. His proposition is a simple one. Do we want to build our virtues as reflected in a career résumé, or do we want to build virtues in our life that might be remembered after we are gone - what Brooks calls a Eulogy Virtue.

Here's a quote from the article:

"Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character."

And again:

"You (can) live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet."

I appreciate my résumé. My success in the world of work has taken me a long way. But if I want to go further - beyond this life - I need to add the kind of virtues that may be talked of at a funeral.

I don't expect for a moment that anything I do to build my inner life will be of the least use when one day I stand before God's throne. The only passport to eternal life is one stamped with the words 'Paid in full by Jesus Christ'. Nevertheless, to live well in this life requires me to build a set of Eulogy Virtues. Anything less will be less than satisfying. Anything less will be less than worthwhile.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

How to Destroy a Political Party

1.       Allow the Unions to vote in the inexperienced younger brother Ed Milliband instead of the electable brother David

2.       Allow Ed Milliband to change the rules of membership to allow extreme views to be represented in future leadership elections

3.       Allow Ed Milliband to lead a lacklustre campaign showing why he is not a leader and giving the Tories a full majority

4.       Allow a shambles of a leadership election with non-Labour members voting and resulting in an unelectable leader

5.       Allow the once great policies of an electable Labour Party to be destroyed by unelectable rhetoric

Such a shame.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Property of J S Hepple

It was printed sometime after what it calls ‘The Great War’. Maybe the 1920s. Not much of the stamp album is left now. Over the years, since my Dad got it me second hand as a kid, I’ve moved most of the stamps out. Once the pages were full. Many stamps glued in. Some with massive stamp hinges.

Here’s a page though. Look at the names of the countries. Lost and gone now: Danish West Indies, Danzig, Slesvig.  Danzig was a semi-autonomous state from 1920 onwards, so that helps date the album. Some of the stamps are later. One on this page is dated 1944.

At the back it says ‘Property of J S Hepple’. I wonder who he was? When he lived? Pretty obviously collecting through the Second World War. I guess he’s maybe no longer alive? And possibly this is all that’s left of his life?

Just for a while I share that life. And so do you as you read this. J S Hepple never knew us. I trust he lived well.

What will we leave for future generations? More than a stamp album?

We build on others foundations. And lay the foundations for others. Build well.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Sometimes the Mountains are Real

I started this blog nearly 10 years ago. Having reached the age of 50 then (60 now!), and having seen my first child married, I wanted to put into words the ‘meaning of life’ as I saw it, woven from stories, pictures, faith and news items. And that’s what I’ve done.
Once in a while, a mountain climbing clothes store or a mountain climbing club comes along and asks if they can advertise on my site. I’m flattered that anyone would want to advertise on my blog, but clearly all they have done is read the headlines!
But now and again, the philosophical meets the literal. I’m just back from a delightful week in Wales with friends. Fitter than me, they liked the idea of climbing mountains, so there I was one day, at the top of Cadair Idris, Wales’ second highest mountain.
Literal or metaphorical, physical or philosophical, may I continue to encourage my readers to reach the heights!

Monday, 1 June 2015

What Do You Want From Life?

This is a letter sent to the Daily Telegraph, recorded in The Week Magazine:

Dear Sirs

I was assisting my 16-year-old daughter with her homework when she received a text from Mum, which read "What do you want from life?"

This was an unexpected and profound question for an exam-sitting teenager. We debated various answers - wealth, fulfilment, love, all three.

Five minutes later, she received a second message, blaming predictive text for correcting the word "Lidl".