I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win. This week’s resource is Seven Realities for Experiencing God. I recently had a chance to interview Richard Blackaby, one of the authors of Seven Realities, about the incredible way God has used Experiencing God in the lives of so many disciples. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Eric Geiger: You’ve lived for years around the impact of Experiencing God. What do you think is the reason that study has resonated with so many people?
Richard Blackaby: Without a doubt it is because so many people grew up in church hearing ABOUT God but never EXPERIENCING Him. God was nothing more than a religion; a set of religious activities that good people practiced. God was someone people hoped to meet in heaven, but had no thought that He might want to interact with them NOW. Experiencing God revolutionized peoples’ walk with God. People have told me they had gone to church all their lives but after going through Experiencing God, it was like going from a black-and-white Christianity to one that was in HD color.
EG: I know you see it as a message that is still relevant for disciples today. How do you think people in today’s world can benefit from the principles of Experiencing God?
RB: I believe that today’s young people are more prone to be impacted by Experiencing God than was their parents’ generation. Today’s young people are relational. They want more than sterile doctrines and moral platitudes. People today want their walk with God to be exciting. People want to believe they can interact with the Divine. Experiencing God teaches that when God invites us to join Him in what He is doing, it causes a crisis of belief. That means that walking with God is exciting! It pushes us out of our comfort zones. It hurtles us into the midst of God’s eternal activity. That’s the kind of journey many people today want to be on!
EG: What was the heart behind developing Seven Realities for Experiencing God, the small group version of Experiencing God?
RB: For years my dad helped college students understand how to know God’s will. Everywhere he went, people asked him to teach them how to know God, how to recognize His guidance, and how to know His will. It was obvious that many churches had not been teaching their people these crucial truths. My father never aspired to be an author. He just kept responding to what God would orchestrate in his life. One day he was asked if he would put what he had been teaching for years into an interactive study that could help millions of people learn what he had been teaching. Even then, dad was so busy that the book was almost never written. I’ve never seen material that was so clearly guided by and blessed by God in the writing. There was little marketing or expectation after it was written, yet there was a groundswell of response from people of all denominations from around the world.
EG: What is your favorite story of how God has used Seven Realities for Experiencing God in someone’s life?
RB: There are many. The story of how God used Experiencing God to transform Angola Prison in Louisiana is one favorite. I have preached on six continents, and everywhere I go I have people tell me their stories. One occurred while I was speaking at the Billy Graham Cove in Asheville, N.C. A couple approached me and told me that their marriage had been so tumultuous it had ultimately ended in divorce. For a couple of years they lived separate lives. They attended different churches. One September both of their churches launched an Experiencing God study. Neither knew the other was involved in a small group experience. Both felt terribly convicted by the study at how selfish they had been in their marriage. Both concluded that if they had taken Experiencing God earlier, their marriage might never have ended. Ultimately one contacted the other and asked to meet for lunch. Both wanted to apologize for how they had behaved. They eventually decided that God was giving them another chance to be married. Their teenaged children actually begged them not to remarry because they did not want to go through another painful divorce! But they did remarry. I met them several years later and they were still deeply in love and crediting Experiencing God for giving them a second chance to get their marriage right!
If you want to experience the power of Experiencing God in your small group, Seven Realities for Experiencing God is designed to help groups work together through this teaching that has transformed so many. It is an eight-week study in a small-group-friendly format to help your group discover and discuss a biblical pattern by which God reveals His will so that believers can join His activity in the world.
This week, I am giving away three sets of 10 copies of Seven Realities for Experiencing God. Register to win copies for you and your small group at the link below before 12:01am CT Thursday, October 22, 2015.