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Blackaby, Richard & Blackaby, Henry. Flickering Lamps: Christ and His Church. Blackaby Ministries International, 2015. 139 pages.Flickering Lamps, written by Henry and Richard Blackaby, is the best book on the seven churches of Revelation that is not written about the seven churches of Revelation, I have ever read. Let me explain. The background is the move of Henry Blackaby from serving a vibrant church in Downey, California to a struggling isolated church in Saskatoon, Canada. From sun and surf to forty degrees below zero! The climatic shift seen in his move was reflected in the ministry setting he left and later found on arrival in Canada. Henry’s experiences as God manifested Himself in this cast-off congregation caused him to identify with God’s dealings with the seven churches of Revelation. The lessons of the churches of Asia Minor, became those of Faith Baptist Church.
Through the journey of Henry and Faith Baptist Church, readers are reminded of what God can do. We witness what is possible when a group of disciples, who have not forgotten that they are the Bride of Christ and that Jesus is their Head can still have miraculous experiences as He “walks in their midst.” It is for the purpose of reminding pastors and the churches they serve that this book was penned.
The book is broken into six chapters and each focuses on a situation associated with one of the churches in Revelation. Using alliteration (a tool I find contrived, but it makes remembering a little easier), the author highlights Christ’s Purpose, Plans, Presence, Power, Provision and Pre-eminence as it relates to His church. In each chapter, the situation in Saskatoon is explored and reveals how Faith Baptist Church either forgot or needed to persevere in that given area. As such, the book is very down to earth and relatable to the local church setting.
That which blessed me the most, and why I recommend this book to pastors, is Dr. Blackaby’s call to churches to live in light of the power and presence of Christ is powerfully evident in each chapter. Church service is difficult. Sometimes this is because of mistakes that have been made, errors on our part or because we are working with flawed people as a imperfect individual. Consequently, His body can be a messy place to live. Yet, this book reminds readers that the church is His body and He is the head. It is to Him we are accountable. When given the opportunity, Christ shows up and demonstrates His glory.
The book is a short read, only 139 pages. Each chapter is concise and loaded with experiences that call the reader to God. I thank Richard and Henry Blackaby for reminding pastors and church leaders of Christ’s glory in the church with Flickering Lamps.
Story, Laura. “When God Does Not Fix It.” W Publishing Group Thomas Nelson, 2015. 304 pages.The life of worship leader and recording artist Laura Story took an unexpected turn when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Their lives would never be the same. Yes, with God all things are possible but the devastating news was that no cure existed to restore Martin’s short-term memory, eyesight and other complications. The fairy-tale life Laura had dreamed of was no longer possible and yet in struggling with God about how to live with broken dreams, Laura has found joy and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.Laura helps us understand we aren’t the only ones whose lives have taken unexpected turns. She examines the brokenness of some of the heroes of our faith, and shows how despite their flaws and flawed stories, God was able to use them in extraordinary ways and it was not because of their faith, but because of the faithfulness of their God. God may not fix everything. In fact, although your situation might not ever change or get better, with Jesus you can.
As a song writer Laura has a single out called “Blessings”. God has used this song in some marvelous ways and even though it came out of much pain in her life, it has released the pain and hurt in thousands.
This is a must read! As a Pastor this will help you as you deal with those in your Fellowship who are reeling from devastating news and it will personally strengthen you as well.
Witt, Lance. Replenish. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011) 235 pages.Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul is an easy to read, honest and poignant book filled with stories and antidotes which speak directly to the heart of any pastor or church worker. As a pastor, I found an instant connection with this author, at times believing that he had “lived my life” – dealing with the same people, ministering in the same churches, and dealing with the same stuff, as I.Lance Witt, former Executive Pastor at Saddleback Community Church, candidly shares his own awakenings and personal struggles, confessing that most leaders (even those in local church work) function on two stages – front stage and back stage. The front stage is the public world of leadership, and the back stage is private. He suggests that a number of resources are available to help leaders succeed on the front stage, but few are available for the back.
In a very caring, and encouraging tone, Witt challenges the reader to pay attention to events and circumstances which may lead to burnout in ministry – those things leaders often keep securely on the back stage. He presents issued related to self-care, soul-care, conflict management, technology (one chapter is entitled “iPhones and Your Soul”), relationships with your family and church culture.
The book contains forty-one chapters, each on a different topic related to ministry and leadership. No chapter is more than four to five pages in length. Several questions for reflection are posed at the end of each chapter as well. One could easily use this as part of one’s devotion or journaling time. In fact, a companion DVD and participant guide are available, and could easily be used for leadership training in churches or associations.
Witt combines personal stories in life and ministry, with Biblical principles, yet he comes across as personable, not preachy. This was my second time in as many years to read Replenish, and I found it more useful this time. I would encourage others to spend some time with it as well. Very affordable at $15.