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VINE VOICEon October 6, 2007
This is a very good resource for Christians who want to become more open to experiencing God in their lives. The authors are Southern Baptists; they emphasize the importance of the role of the Holy Spirit in aligning Christians' lives with God's purposes while maintaining a strong respect for Biblical principle and example.

The workbook is organized as a series of 12 weekly units with 5 daily lessons each week. The workbook assumes that participants in a study or homegroup session will review the daily lessons and come together once a week to discuss the lessons. The workbook presentation method tends strongly to the formulaic or pedantic and tends to get a bit repetitive. Nonetheless, working through the material with prayer and thoughtfullness and then coming together for weekly discussions brings together the powerful dynamics of personal study and prayer with group support. The workbook is based on Bible principles and examples (Old and New Testament) and other examples from the authors. The workbook makes the important point that in order to experience God we need to give him permission to disrupt our plans and our lives. This is clearly an important point for anyone who wants to be more than a "Sunday only" Christian. This point and others led to several wonderful discussions in our weekly group.
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on January 24, 2009
Yes this is a hard-core Christian book, which, of course, I make no apologies for ;-) This book made me get on my needs and pray to God that I would never try to do anything for him again, that's right. You see when I got out of grad school I thought I was going to be this super missionary and save the world of everything, including poverty and hate. Needless say it made me realize that much of my attitude was based on pride and arrogance, not realizing that the only thing my creator wanted from me was intimate love and devotion...not my "skills & plans". I literally cried and prayed with my Savior after my brother in Christ, Blackably, helped me realize this. Needless to say it was a very illuminating and personal experience for me. And yes, from my personal love relationship with God, I do have a strong desire to be apart of His Kingdom on earth and share in its work - which sure beats trying to do things for Him that I think he wants. David H. Squires
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on September 9, 2010
"Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby and Claude King (and now also Richard Blackaby) seems to be a book for which reviewers find no middle ground. Almost all of the reviewers give the book 5 stars (with one 4 star book) and one 1 star review. I find that the book has the potential to lead many to a deeper, more meaningful experience with God but also has the potential to lead many into false views of how God works with His people today.

On the positive side, the book can be profitable as a devotional book that leads people closer to the heart of God. Blackaby is on target when he teaches that God is always at work around us, that He pursues a love relationship with us, that He takes the initiative, that He invites us to join Him in His work, and that God speaks to His people. He's also right when he emphasizes that joining God requires major adjustments and obedience. Reminding people of these truths and teaching them to look for a personal encounter with God is a good thing. "Experiencing God" can help God and the Bible become more personal in the Christian' life.

This new, revised edition also has additional chapters on "Experiencing God as Couples," "Experiencing God in the Church," "Experiencing God in the Marketplace," and "Experiencing God in His Kingdom." These are helpful to the degree that they help Christians realize that God is present in every area of their lives.

However, I find that Blackaby's presentation of how we experience God is misleading in some ways. For the reasons I list below, I can only give the book 3 stars. Although Blackaby includes a number of ways that we may experience God (the Bible, Prayer, Circumstances, and the Church), his fundamental approach is an individualistic one. Such an approach, without proper checks and balances, can often go astray. This is especially true because Blackaby teaches that "God gives specific directions." While this may be true in some circumstances, it is not true in most cases for most people. This is a problem in two ways. First, I've experienced too many Christians who claim God told them specific things that were not true: what check was there on this false interpretation? I've seen the most lawless Christians claim that God speaks to them quite specifically about the smallest details of life while many of the godliest Christians I know make no such claims. There is too much emphasis on what amounts to individual, subjective experiences with God. Second, what happens when you pray and act faithfully, and yet God doesn't speak specifically or act miraculously? You end up either blaming God or yourself when neither is to blame. (Or, perhaps, you could realize that He may be working in other ways in your life.) In general, Blackaby presumes that God will be following some script that I find He often doesn't follow.

These errors proceed from a fundamental error in biblical interpretation: the belief that God will speak specifically to us the way He did through the patriarchs or other biblical figures. Again, this may be true at certain times, but this is nowhere taught in Scripture as the primary means God speaks to His people, or we would have seen it taught a lot more directly, for example, in very personal Paul's letters. I'm also wary of stories where God tells people to go out and do something they are unprepared to do, only to find that God miraculously delivers them. Do I believe that God can and does do such things? Absolutely! But I've seen too many Christians act presumptuously and foolishly in the name of God on this basis. Furthermore, I've seen too many Christians become addicted to God's miraculous deliverance in their lives when what He really wants is a day by day, moment by moment faithfulness - even when the miraculous isn't present.

Of course it's not necessary that such errors will proceed from reading "Experiencing God." But because of an overemphasis on and distortion of certain ways in which God deals with us, Christians who follow such an approach should also be aware of some of the ways that such an approach may, in time, lead them astray.
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on February 8, 2008
My church is conducting a bible study with this manual. It is very well written and easily understood. I grew up in the church and Christian school, and was a Christian all my life. This study, however, brings a fresh and exciting prospective to our group and myself, individually. The first couple of chapters really made me re-adjust my way of viewing and seeking God's will for my life. The subjects are broken down so well, and contain a guide for seeking God's will that you may not be able to hear in church (at least in such detail). I love it, and highly recommend it to any Bible study group. It is a life changing experience.
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on October 16, 2013
As I participated in a group study on Henry Blackaby’s book: Experiencing God, I not only discovered some great insights (like the value of focusing on being Christ-centered verses self-centered, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of fellowship, prayer, and God’s Word), but I have also found some areas of concern in the author’s methodology and philosophy. It may seem like semantics, but men cannot do God’s work, only God can do God’s work. More importantly, only by following Christ as our example can we please God, and I believe that the only way to know how to be like Him is through careful (and prayerful) Bible study.

Unfortunately, several of the author’s extra-biblical personal examples suggest that unless your goal or task is truly God-sized, it may not be what God wants you to be doing. Preposterous! Furthermore, I got the impression that Blackaby unequivocally believes that he indeed knew (and consistently knows) the will of God. Surely anyone can look back at a situation or an event and infer that God had a hand in the results (especially events that could be classed as miraculous), but to declare that you can accurately predict what is (or is not) God’s will is the height of presumption.

Even more bombastic was Blackaby’s statement that, “If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your Christian experience.” [1] Although obviously Scripture is quoted in each and every chapter, it reads like there is far more to a true relationship with God than reading and applying His Word in every aspect of your life; it implies that God speaks directly to us outside of His Word. This almost charismatic “sensing” or “feeling” of God’s will borders on mysticism which requires pure emotion rather than thoughtful biblical precision. To me, this approach is a far less reliable method of discerning God’s truth. Blackaby’s assertion that “Truth is a person” (Jesus) is a nice slogan, but it overly simplifies an answer to Pilate’s rhetorical question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

Luckily, I happened to have another book that I was reading in parallel with this study, which provided an unexpected balance. It was simply a book of President Abraham Lincoln’s quotes and famous speeches. In it I found that Lincoln wrote, “I do not boast that God is on my side, I humbly pray that I am on God's side.” [2] Did honest Abe presume to know that he was doing the will of God? By no means! He simply hoped that his actions were in line with what he knew from his studies of Scripture. And did he know the Bible? Indeed he did!

Years before his renowned political career, in a tiny one-room schoolhouse in Indiana, each student in turn regularly read from a single classroom Bible. Lincoln had read and listened to God’s Word in its entirety even before his own family could afford to buy a Bible of their own. Throughout his life he often quoted from this “Great Book” in his discussions, debates, letters, and speeches.

What was Lincoln’s view of the Bible’s role in his own philosophy and how he conducted his life? Read the words he spoke to a delegation of black Americans who had presented the President with a Bible in 1864. “So far as able, within my sphere, I have always acted as I believed to be right and just; and I have done all I could for the good of mankind generally. In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong.” [2]

This, I think, brings the focus back on to where it should be…the Bible. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) Was it God’s will that the Union should win that terrible War Between the States? Could not His will have still been done if the outcome had been reversed? In this case, would a Union defeat have meant that Lincoln was not on God’s side? Maybe someday we might know the answer to these questions, but I would conjecture that a defeat would not have changed Lincoln’s convictions. I believe that God can work his will in many ways, both through positive experiences and even through negative experiences resulting from the travesty of our human condition.

Do we really require extra-biblical messages from God in order to know the Truth? Definitely not, and I hope to live my life like historian Wayne Temple wrote regarding President Lincoln, “The longer Lincoln lived, the closer he felt to God and the more he relied upon God for sustenance.” [3]

References:
[1] Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, and Claude King, Authors, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.
[2] Gordon Leidner, Editor, Abraham Lincoln: Quotes, Quips, and Speeches.
[3] Wayne Temple, Author, Abraham Lincoln: From Skeptic to Prophet.
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VINE VOICEon January 27, 2009
While the content of this updated member book is basically the same, the organization is much improved. The Scripture memory cards are perforated on card stock now near the back, so that each student only has to detach the verse for each week. The unit review questions are also included in the book, eliminating the need for distributing copies to each individual. The layout and artwork is more easier to read and more appealing.

If you have the choice between the original member book and this one, choose this one. Just make sure you have the leader guide and video segments that are also updated so everything fits together.
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on September 13, 2013
This book was chosen at church for our Bible study. I am glad to see by the reviews that it has brought so many people towards God. However, my textbooks are more interesting then this. I think there are some useful items throughout the book such as in the back there are verse memorization cards.

Each unit starts out with a short story and verses scattered throughout it. Then comes a passage to read, some small activities such as true or false questions. At the end of each day within that unit you are asked to fill in three things; first, list what the most meaningful statement or scripture you read today was. Second, you are to reword that statement or scripture into a prayer of response to God. Third, it asks "What does God want you to do in response to today's study?"

This will most likely sound odd but I do not like the third question. In my opinion, it feels like the authors are pushing you to drum up an answer since on page 43 it says "If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the heart of your Christian experience." (Blackaby, Blackaby & King, 2007) I am glad this book helped others but it did not do it for me and it felt like a lot of time was spent in this book trying to force things to happen.

Blackaby, H. T., Blackaby, R., & King, C. V. (2007). Experiencing god (member book), knowing and doing the will of god. Lifeway Christian Resources.
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on March 11, 2010
Your reaction to this book will depend on how you like its teaching style and how much you buy into some of Blackaby's beliefs. I found the teaching style very irritating and annoying. There are many places where it presents the three principles of xyz or the four steps of abc. Then, a paragraph or two later, or a page or two later, it will require you to fill in the blanks of what are the three principles of xyz. This might be repeated again for the same three principles, three or four pages later. Sometimes it will present an idea or a definition, and then ask you to present the same idea or definition in your own words. It is a very controlling teaching style that does not leave room for any departure from Blackaby's beliefs. I can see from the reviews that many readers are perfectly content with this teaching style, but I did not like it.

I didn't find myself buying into some of Blackaby's beliefs, which contributed to my irritation at the teaching style. Blackaby believes that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible, the church, circumstances, and prayer. Certainly I agree that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible and sometimes through prayer, and occasionally the church, but I am not so sure about circumstances. I hold to the infallibility of the Bible, but I believe that I am fallible in my understanding of the Bible. I don't think that the church is infallible in speaking to us. Further, Blackaby believes that we receive from the Holy Spirit very specific guidance to take specific actions. Sometimes I observe that someone thinks they have very specific guidance from the Holy Spirit, and it turns out badly, and it is doubtful that the person correctly perceived a message from God. I can't really identify a time when I have received God's message to take some specific action, like Blackaby describes.

Blackaby is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. If you are a Southern Baptist, or share their beliefs, you will probably like Experiencing God. It is apparent that Blackaby accepts doctrines of Unlimited Atonement, Conditional Election and related doctrines which are in opposition to Reformed Theology. On page 8, he turns Romans 10:13 into "Ask God to save you, and He will." That is not what it says. It says "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I do not believe that salvation is initiated by us, by asking God to save us. On page 221, it says "We came to believe that if we would be faithful to witness on that campus, God would save many students." I wish he had said it differently, because God will save the elect.

The memory verse for Unit 9, Experiencing God Through Obedience, is John 14:23: Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home in him." As our Bible study group went through this lesson, we wondered whether Blackaby believes in justification by grace through faith, or if he believes in justification through a combination of grace, faith, and works.

I was part of a men's Bible study that used this book. One member observed that Blackaby's method is not repeatable and I agree in a sense. Any person, and any church, can look to the Bible for God's will, can love God, can honor Jesus as the head of the church, can try mightily to obey God. I don't know if every person, or every church, will correctly perceive what God's direction is for specific actions and successfully accomplish the things that God is telling them to do. I know, some will say I don't have enough faith, and maybe that is so. Blackaby seems to have a rare degree of perfection in his ability to perceive God's will and to obey God, and it is that degree of perfection that many people, and many churches, will not achieve.

There is a serious error on page 259. "The apostle Paul identified one of God's eternal purposes for every person: `Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified' (Rom. 8:29-30)." This text is not about every person. If it were about every person, that would mean that every person is justified and glorified. That is called universalism - the false doctrine that every person is justified. There is a similar statement on page 261. "God launched His great work to bring salvation to all humanity..." I asked my pastor about this, and he assured me that Blackaby does not believe in universalism, so it must have just been carelessness that allowed this to be in the book.
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on April 13, 2016
If you've never experienced this workbook then you are missing out. I've now gone through it 3 different times in life. I truly believe that no matter where you are in your walk with God...this book can challenge you to a deeper understanding and a deeper faith in God. The first time I went through it was as a youth. It starts basic enough that as I was still trying to figure out what a relationship with God looked like...it helped give me the tools to know what daily time meant. I followed up this study back then with "The Mind of Christ." It was also something that made a drastic impact on my spiritual life. I have always described my experience with these two books as if I were a chunk of marble and God initially used "Experiencing God" to knock off the large chunks of my selfishness and then later used "The Mind of Christ" to start the fine chiseling of those hidden things that I didn't even know were hiding in my heart. Since then I've gone through it with my wife and then again with a small group. Each time I find a renewed love for those basic elements of what it means to have a personal relationship with God. This latest time was actually the most fruitful. My life was full of severe trauma with concerns for the health of a family member. How God used this book in connection to that experience and exactly what I was going through in life is just one of those God-sized things. I've since shared my testimony of how the two connected with several people and all have been blessed indirectly with seeing the fruit that sprouted in my life and my wife's. If you do this study...you have to commit to going through it the way the book instructs. This is not a casual read. It is meant to be a fully-engaged process. Daily there are readings and questions you have to answer. If you don't take the time to answer you really won't get the full benefit. God's use of this book truly changed my life. And please...don't mistake my words here. This book is NOT the Bible. You still have the responsibility to be discerning as you go through it...but the entire point is you're not experiencing this book. You are experiencing God. Trust me...if you're truly pressing into him...He'll sort it out.
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on November 3, 2008
The book and lesson plan has open my eyes tremendously. Things that hit me squarley in the face are the following: self-centered vs. God centered activities. Limiting the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts God gave me. I had narrowed my scope by only doing activities pertaining to my gifts. Not realizing that the Holy Spirit will equipped you with the ever changing task that God has called you to do. Ex. I may be a teacher today and later on maybe exhorter in the next task. This book has helped me to get a good "UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT GOD WANTS ME TO DO", not what I dream up to do. I know the Word of God but I'm still lacking understanding in some areas of my life walk. I learned that there is a difference with what is God's will for my life instead of God's will for the world. I can't do nothing on my own strength.
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