Thinking Out Loud

June 26, 2011

Classic Reading: Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby

While the Christian blogosphere tends to focus on the latest author and the latest book, I’ve always believed you should read a current book and then read a classic, or in this case, a modern classic:  Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby (B&H Publishing Group, revised edition 2008).  The foundation of the book is what he calls “The Seven Realities of Experiencing God;” and everything else in the book — and the related study Bible — flows out of those realities. 

I thought it would be great to have them be part of this blog, and I’m grateful to the blog A Cup of Joy for already having these typed out.  The realities are listed with accompanying scriptures that should quickly indicate that the book is also a study on the life of Moses. 

7 Realities of Experiencing God

(From Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby)

1. God is always working around you (Exodus 2:23-25)

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.”

2. God pursues a continuing personal love relationship with you that is real and personal (Exodus 3:1)

“Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.”

3. God invites you to be come involved with Him in His work (Exodus 3:8, 10)

“And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites…Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring fouth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.”

4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways (Exodus 3:2-8)

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses, said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.”

5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10, 13)

“And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?…And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?…And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee…And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue…And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.”

6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing (Exodus 4:19-20)

“And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.”

7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you (Exodus 6:1-8)

“Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

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February 6, 2011

Praying By The Book

This is Superbowl day, so I’m expecting most of my traffic today to be women.  Yes, a stereotype, I know.   In my experience, women are the “pray-ers” of the church.  Behind every great Christian male leader, there is a woman (or several) praying for him not to make a mess of things!   I wrote this post a year ago while wrestling with the issue of how prayer takes shape differently depending on your faith family…

Prayer is talking to God.

Talking is a natural form of communication. Think of the number of people you talk to in a day. How many times does the average person work from a prepared text?

None. You don’t write out ahead of time what you’re going to say unless you’re giving a speech at a wedding reception or don’t want to miss anything when you’re telling the boss why you’re giving your two weeks notice.

So why “read” your talking to God? What exactly is the point of a “prayer book?” Granted, you might use a phrase book if you were in a foreign country. Could it be that when some people leave their normal world and enter a Church building, or into prayer, they feel they are in a foreign country?

And why repeat The Lord’s Prayer (aka The Our Father) over and over and over and over again, when in fact, it’s recorded in scripture directly after a verse that says don’t repeat prayers over and over and over and over again.

Learn a new word today:

This is the word that describes a type of prayer that is open, honest, vulnerable…

God wants people who are in relationship to him. A relationship based on love, which casts out fear. The closer the relationship, the less prepared text. You don’t know all those people who are going hear that wedding speech, so you prepare. You fear the meeting with your boss, so you write out notes.

Is there ever a time for a prepared prayer? If you’re coming to God on behalf of a group of people in a corporate worship setting, perhaps. You don’t want to miss anything and you want to be specific. You’re not just going to mention the requests made by John, Jessica, Nathan and Emily, but you want to remember what it is you’re asking that God might do for them. You want to remember the military serving overseas, the orphans in Haiti, victims of human rights violations in China, etc.

But even this can be done naturally. If you can tell someone afterward what it is you prayed for, you can also construct a prayer on the spot that tells God the same thing, without extensive notes.

Matt 6: 7(CEV)When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers.

It’s interesting that no matter how this verse is translated — “pagans” is used most often — ornate prayers are associated with “people who don’t know God.” So by implication, less flowery prayers are often prayed by people who do know God.

Word of the day: Extemporaneous. Short, breath prayers. Prayers from the heart. Talking to God as you would talk to a friend. An agenda, perhaps; but not a script. And definitely not out of a book.

When is the last time you simply poured out your heart to God and told him everything you’re feeling and thinking? Now is a good time to start.

UPDATE: After I wrote this piece, I received what is perhaps a kind of op-ed comment, one of the few times my wife left a comment here:

Written prayers are the church equivalent of greeting cards.

Some people just pick one with the right phrase up front ’cause you’ve got to pick something.

And sometimes how they’re written expresses your heart better than you could yourself and you’re thrilled to find just the right one.

You can read the rest of the comments from a year ago here.


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