“Follow Me and I will make you to become…” (Jesus)

February 7, 2015

What a difference a day makes! Just thinking about the blessings I’ve experienced over the years… sitting under the teaching, working alongside, building friendships, drinking coffee, and eating dinner with and in the midst of some really neat men of God.

Dr. Henry and Marilynn Blackaby

Dr. Henry and Marilynn Blackaby

This past evening we had the privilege of meeting and dining with Dr. Henry Blackaby and his wife Marilynn. (A gift afforded me only by my marriage to my sweet wife Bev, and her work with WBC’s Global Mission Office and Bro. John Crocker) Dr. Blackaby is the author of the best-selling book “Experiencing God” and is in town to speak at the Global Impact Celebration at Whitesburg Baptist Church this weekend. What a treat to hear the stories of how they met and how God shaped them and their ministry/mission philosophy…find out where God’s working and join in. Dr. Blackaby is not only an inspiring Christian author, but I found him a truly personable and passionate follower of Christ. When I asked him for his take on the current state of the church; why so many typical congregations are filled with dispassionate pew sitters, yet the modern church plants are exploding onto the scene and bursting at the seams… he responded, “…they aren’t looking for more doctrine, they are looking for more relationship.” To which I was compelled to ask, ….which is more important? His response, “Relationship.”  Not the churchy answer… I like it!   I pressed him about the “dispassionate pew sitters.”….Are they just apathetic towards God or non-responsive out of fear for what He might do in their life if they respond.  He said, “No, they’re just not being taught….If you’re the pastor, you ask God what the people need to hear and preach that, then you will see their lives change.” No heavy spiritual diatribe, pretty simple and straight forward.  And, this isn’t a response from some upstart hipster pastor in skinny-jeans…. this is coming from a man who has put in the blood, sweat, tears and years serving Christ.  Knowing God is experiencing God. He said, “if knowing God doesn’t radically impact your life, you don’t know God.”

The most enlightening moment, that spot where the Holy Spirit grabbed me and said,”hear this!”, was in a further discussion on the topic and why we struggle in our attempts at following Him. Dr. Blackaby shared that so often we set our agenda and then ask God to come along side us and help us. We set parameters and ask Him to bless our work or expect Him to do our bidding. However, God is the one who sets the parameters and He wants to work through us to accomplish His goals…His work. We are blessed by finding where He is at work and doing that. “God is always at work around us….Jesus said, ‘Follow Me and I will make you to become’……”, Dr. Blackaby didn’t finish the scriptural quote, and he didn’t have to. The message was right there. It was the first time I had ever “heard” that scripture stopped there for its emphasis. Jesus didn’t say ‘follow Me and fish for men’ … Jesus says “I will make you to become.”  How quickly and easily I forget that and slip back into old habits of spiritual performance….. “Christian calisthenics”…trying to do it on my own.   My prayer: “Lord, today help me to see where You are working and what You are doing and to follow You. Amen.”

The whole evening was fascinating as he answered questions around the table and we all chatted over dinner. His wife, Marilynn, is just as passionate and the story-teller of the two.  It was fun learning about their early days in ministry, their experiences from church staff to church pastor to church planting to college president and serving with the North American Mission Board. Truly a blessing to “sit at the feet” of a great teacher like him. Read more about them at http://www.blackaby.net/about-us/bmi-team/

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