Rachel Barkey on The Drew Marshall Show

If you haven’t yet heard Rachel’s story, you may want to first read my post from March 20 of this year. Video of Rachel’s March 4 message can be viewed/listened to here. Below is the audio of Rachel being interviewed by Drew Marshall on May 9 (the day before Mother’s Day). If you are on facebook, check out “Death Is Not Dying – Rachel Barkey“. The main site for tracking with Rachel Barkey is http://deathisnotdying.com.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Continue to pray for Rachel, Neil and their children Quinn and Kate. May God continue to transform lives for His glory through Rachel’s hope-inspiring message and her faithful witness to Jesus Christ.

What Will Your Impact Be?

Many aspects of our life are measured by others.

As children, we regularly received ‘report cards’ from our teachers, who were evaluating our progress with schoolwork. I recall many swimming ‘tests’ to determine whether I would advance to the next level of instruction. It is my understanding that, in the business world, annual reviews of employee ‘performance’ are the norm.

Whether formally, or informally, it seems that we spend much of our life being evaluated by others. Would it surprise you to hear me say then, that there is a sense in which God evaluates us?

I don’t mean to suggest that God is like the employer conducting the annual review. Nor do I want you to imagine God as the strict school teacher grading our every move. But, at the same time, it needs to be noted that our progress, or lack thereof, as a follower of Jesus is no small matter to God.

This is what Paul says to Timothy:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

There is a lot going on in that single verse of Scripture. Let’s unpack some of that here.

“Do your best” — If we regard ourselves as a follower of Jesus, half-measures will not do. Maximum effort is required.

Paul also says that we “present” before God for a kind of “approval”.  What does this “present” look like in a relationship that is grounded in grace and not performance (see Ephesians 2:8)? Perhaps an illustration will help. A sixteen-year-old approaches their parent wanting to borrow the car. The answer/approval of the parent does not relate to the love the parent has for their child. The answer depends largely upon the teen’s capacity to operate the vehicle safely. In a similar way, the “approval” that Paul speaks of is not a statement about whether or not God loves us. Rather, we see in this text, the “approval” relates to our abilities as a “workman” for God.

Paul goes on to talk about how, in a given household, some items are used for noble purposes while other items are for common use (see 2 Timothy 2:20,21). This brings Paul’s main point into focus. If, by grace, we are a follower of Jesus, then our status as a child of God is never in doubt. In that sense there are no more evaluations. Jesus ‘took the test’ on our behalf and His perfect score is credited to our account. What remains to be seen, however, is what kind of “instrument” we will be. What remains to be seen is the degree to which we are useful for God’s purposes. In other words, What Will Our Impact Be?

According to what Paul says, our impact in this world will depend largely upon our ability to “cut straight” the Word of God. Yes, our usefulness to God is related to our capacity to think biblically. This is how Timothy will be measured. This is how every follower of Jesus will be measured.

In Christ, we have been redeemed. By grace, we are children of God. This foundation is rock solid. But how we will build upon that foundation? Will we effectively use the materials made available to us?

How we answer these questions will determine our IMPACT in this world.

>>>>><<<<<

What Will Your Impact Be? is a message that was delivered on May 10, 2009 at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well. The audio for this message has been provided below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Way Of A Christian

How should a follower of Jesus live? I love how the apostle keeps this simple for us in his 2nd letter to Timothy, “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1).

Notice that Paul doesn’t call us to be strong in ourselves. The answer to Timothy’s timid tendencies is not better self-esteem. According to what I hear from Paul, the resources I require to do the will of God do not come from within but from without. By every appearance, the Christian life doesn’t simply begin with grace, but it continues with, and depends upon grace daily.

Most followers of Jesus get that we begin the Christian journey by grace, but I fear that many, having begun the journey by grace then attempt to continue by their own efforts and strength. I’ve tried that route. It doesn’t work! Moreover, if I do the work by my own power, if I resist temptation by my own will power, then I get the glory……that’s not God’s design. Rather, we follow, we strive, and we work, fueled by the power God provides so that He gets all the credit (see 1 Pet. 4:11).

This is what I think Paul means when he says, “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul says many more hugely helpful things in this passage of Scripture, and I’ve attempted to unpack them in the audio message embedded below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This is encouraging stuff, Paul gives us. There is no candy-coat here though. The way of the Christian is challenging, to be sure, but those who choose it will find great reward. There is much to be gained when one abandons the road of self-sufficiency in favour of the road paved by grace.

Death Is Not Dying (video)

The blog post which preceded this video (below) can be found here. Rachel’s perspective on suffering and death is immensely powerful and inspirational. This is life-changing stuff. Thank-you Rachel.

Note: The video may take a moment to load, and begins with some introductory text.
 

To learn more about Rachel, and her story, visit: http://deathisnotdying.com where you will find “Letters from Rachel”, along with relevant book and website recommendations.

Stoke The Fire

Following Jesus is not easy.

He is perfect.

I am far, far, far, from it. And yet, I still long to be like Him. I’m supposed to be more like Him (2 Corinthians 2:15). Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that my seasons of spiritual progress are sometimes followed by a time of spiritual drought.

So then, how do I keep the fire of my faith hot?

The apostle Paul implores Timothy,

…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Tim. 2:6,)

I note how Timothy’s relationship with Christ has been hugely influenced by Paul. To put it another way, Timothy’s capacity to stoke the fire of his faith appears to be connected to his relationship with Paul. This tells me that if I want to prevent the fire of my faith from diminishing, I ought to make sure I have a “Paul” in my life. Yes, spiritual progress will be much more difficult if I choose to go at it alone.

There’s a story of D.L. Moody visiting a leading citizen of Chicago to encourage the man to follow Christ and to engage a fellowship of Christians. In the room where they met was a coal-burning fireplace. The man suggested to Moody that he could be as good a Christian outside of the church as he could inside. Moody said nothing, got up from his seat and, using tongs, plucked a piece of coal from the fire and set it down by itself. The two men then sat in silence and watched the smoldering piece of coal go out. The man got the point.

This story certainly matches my experience. The times when I have noticed advances in my faith and increases in my devotion to Christ have been those seasons when I have had a “Paul” to observe me, encourage me, counsel me, and correct me. Growth has been most evident when I have meaningfully connected myself with other followers of Christ.

Accordingly, I urge you: Seek a “Paul” to help stoke the fire of your faith in Christ.

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is among my most favourite texts of Scripture. With tender earnestness, Paul reminds Timothy of his spiritual resources and his spiritual priorities. Growth in grace is obtainable. It was for Timothy, and it is for you and I.

Over the next few weeks, you can track with me through this letter via this blog and by listening to the corresponding audio messages. The message embedded below was delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on Sunday, April 19, 2009.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I would love to hear from you. Tell me how you have benefited from having a “Paul” in your life, and /or how you have benefited by being a “Paul” to another.