LIFELINES - PURPOSE

Click on Arrow for more detailsWillie Pumpherston
 

When I was eight, my Dad worked in the Offices at British Leyland in Bathgate.  I was fascinated by his stories about his colleagues, especially one called Willie Pumpherston.
 
I commented that it was a strange name, so Dad told me it was just a nickname and it was because the man talked about his home town of Pumpherston so much.
 
Still intrigued I asked him, "Where's Pumpherston and what's it like?"
 
"Oh," Dad said, forgetting I was too young to relate to irony, "If you drive out of Edinburgh, it's the last outpost of civilisation before you get out here to the Badlands."
 
I was impressed!
 
Imagine my surprise when I finally visited Pumpherston (apologies to all Pumphy dwellers - past and present).  Not that there's anything wrong with it.  It just wasn't quite what I'd expected.  From my Dad’s comments I thought it would be something like the really upmarket areas of Edinburgh.
 
Thinking about this again, what strikes me is that everyone in Dad's Office knew where Willie Pumpherston's heart belonged.  He couldn't stop talking about what was important to him.
 
It was exactly the same with the disciples at Antioch. The people there called them Christians because it was clear that Jesus was all they lived for. They talked to him, about him and did miracles and acts of service in his name.
 
Wherever we work or spend our time, people will know what is the greatest passion of our lives.  It will be what we enthuse about most.  It's true we should be sensitive in the way we present Jesus to people, but if it takes five years for our colleagues to realise we are Christians,  maybe we're not showing enough enthusiasm.
 
It should really be the case that people know that we are the ones to come to if they need help, prayer, a listening ear or best of all if they want to get to know God for themselves.
 
Let's take a lesson from Willie Pumpherston!

 

 

Click on Arrow for more detailsWords of Fire!

Over the years people have discovered really creative ways to preach the gospel - and some Street Evangelists are the most fascinating. I've met people who could tell the story of what Jesus did for us using juggling or painting and even one guy who used to climb on top of statues in the Town Centre just to gather a crowd.

My personal favourite,  though, has to be my friend Lizzie who could, while smartly made up and immaculately dressed, preach the gospel while fire eating!

The thing about the gospel message though, is that, however you present or introduce it - at some point you have to use WORDS.

This comes over very strongly in the story of Cornelius the Centurion in Acts 10. The angel tells Cornelius to send for Peter so that Cornelius can "hear words from him." (v.22)

This might be a good time to check yourself out - not to see whether you could do fire - eating - but to see whether you could explain to someone in words, how to become a Christian. It's the most important bit!

Click on Arrow for more detailsFootprints

I was walking down the slipway towards one of our favourite beaches in Jersey when I noticed a new sign: Please leave nothing on this beach except your footprints.

That's a nice sentiment - in relation to beaches - but for some reason it prompted me to think about something bigger.

What if I was born lived and died leaving no mark on planet Earth at all, except my footprints?  What would have been the purpose of my life? Would I have done anything of benefit for my generation or the ones to come?

Acts 13:36 tells us about King David's impact on the Earth and what he accomplished before he left it: When he had served the purpose of God in his generation he was gathered to his fathers.

Yes, it's good not to make a mess of God's beautiful World, but let's make an impact! Let's live in such obedience to God that we fulfil his purpose for us and leave something good for the generations to come.
 

Click on Arrow for more detailsKnowing Your Authority

I had a situation once in a Classroom that taught me a lot about using the authority God has given us (Luke 10 v 19).

Debbie, a student in one of my English classes, was chatting and keeping others off their work so I politely asked her to move to a different seat. She just looked at me calmly and stayed exactly where she was. Like many other Third Year girls, Debbie had a black belt in Dumb Insolence.

I gave the instruction the second time, a little louder and a little tougher, but with no success. It took about 5 rounds of me getting louder and tougher, never losing any confidence, until Debbie gave in without so much as a toss of the hair, and moved to the seat I had shown her.

Immediately, the Lord began to show me that this situation had a lot to teach me about dealing with the works of the devil. Demons know you have authority over them, but since they operate by lying and deceiving anyway, they sometimes "try it on" to see whether YOU know the authority you have. Sometimes they even tried to avoid obeying Jesus, by putting up tricky arguments (Matt 8 v 29).

Now, I 'm not saying you will always encounter resistance and I'm not just talking about direct confrontations with the demonic either. Many times in prayer, you have to keep going longer than you expected because the enemy doesn't want to submit to your authority or give up ground that he has gained.

The main thing is to never give up. If you refuse to give up, the enemy will have to give in.
 

Click on Arrow for more detailsLeaving Last Year Behind

It's taken a while for me to get round to looking this up, but writing a New Year LifeLine prompted me to check out the Jewish understanding of New Year.

Judaism has more than one New Year, but this shouldn't surprise us, since we have the same. We have Academic Years and Financial years as well as the Calendar New Year.

The main Jewish New Year, though, is Rosh Hashanah, and although there is Celebration, it isn't a drunken bash with lots of Fireworks and partying. It has much more to do with reflection on the past year and gratefulness for the gift of a New Year, when positive changes can be made.

In other words, Jewish New Year has more to do with resolutions than with drinking and First Footing.

One of the customs that is quite helpful is called Tashlich. This involves going to a stream or similar place with running water and emptying your pockets into the stream.

Before you panic, the pocket is filled with breadcrumbs, symbolising not the material goods you have taken out, but rather what we might now call emotional baggage: regrets, losses, failures, disappointments. This action symbolises letting go of the past year and moving onto something new, as you watch the stream symbolically carry that baggage away.

Our sins can be forgiven by confession as soon as we become aware of them, but forgetting what lies behind and pressing towards the goal of God's high calling in Christ is vital too.

In which case it would be helpful to find a way of doing that.

Anyway, I'm off to the Bog Burn on Wednesday as long as it's not raining too hard. Happy New Year!
 

Click on Arrow for more detailsWhat does Elvis have to do with it?

I think it might have been about 20 years ago. I was sitting having coffee with a friend, when I happened to mention how sad it was that Elvis had died so young.

"Oh, he's not dead," she said with utter conviction. "He's still alive, and living in hiding."

She proceeded to give me about twenty minutes worth of evidence for her belief (which was actually shared by a fair number of people) and eventually I changed the subject.

You might wonder why I didn't try to persuade this girl out of such a crazy idea. Well, it was pretty clear that she wasn't really interested in the truth. She so much wanted to believe that Elvis was still alive that she didn't want to consider anything else.

Unfortunately, many Christians take this attitude towards the Bible. They so much want it to say, or not say, certain things that they twist it to fit their own theories. There's no point in arguing with them because they're more invested in what they want the truth to be, rather than what the truth actually is.

2 John 1v9 says, "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God." (NIV)

The problem is that, if we reject the authority of the teachings of Jesus, we become our own authorities - making the same choice that Adam and Eve made - and we all know how that turned out.

So, what's this got to do with Elvis? Well, people of purpose don't have the liberty just to believe whatever they would like to be true. They have to be faithful to what Jesus told them was true.
 

Click on Arrow for more detailsPreach it, Junior!

Even if you're not the parent of children who are small at the moment, you've probably heard of Veggietales. We have almost every DVD and a few CDs in the car too.

One morning we were in the car when Ben requested, "Oh Veggie, Where Art thou?" After a few tracks, Junior Asparagus came on, blasting out his song in his trademark jingle jangle, off key style.

Suddenly I realised I was listening to one of the most profound things I'd ever heard:

There's a river of life flowing out of me,
It makes the lame to walk and the blind to see,
Opens prison doors, set the captives free,
There's a river of life flowing out of me.

I had sung that song as a child, missing out on the significance of the words because of the musical style. For the first time I saw that the song encapsulated Jesus' Commission and ours as well. These words from Jesus's first recorded teaching message indicate clearly what we are to be doing as people of purpose: being conduits for the life of God to flow into the World.

As we let the life of God flow through us, others will come into the flow of his life and the amazing things mentioned in that song will happen.

Many of us have heard Heidi Baker describe how, in Mozambique, she has prayed for the blind and watched white, blind eyes change, as pupils appear and sight returns. These kinds of miracles are happening all over the World. Some are happening here too, and I believe they will happen more and more as we obey what Jesus told us and live as channels of his life.
 

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