If you find prayer, worship and Bible study boring, or your Christian walk unremarkable, then former Canadian pastor Richard Blackaby (son of the bestselling author Henry T. Blackaby) invites you to rethink your faith in UNLIMITING GOD.
“Many Christians set their sights far too low,” writes Blackaby. “They’re satisfied to plod along in dreary, unrewarding spirituality, unwilling to pay the price for greater spiritual accomplishments. They may be comfortable, but they’re not experiencing nearly as much as they could.” In another line reminiscent of C.S. Lewis, Blackaby says, “The problem is never with God. The obstacle is us. We’re far too easily satisfied.”
Does this sound like you? Read on. The book is divided into seven sections, each exploring how the reader might “unlimit” God in a particular area of life: what we hear from God, how He works through us, what we know of Him, what we know of His power, a compelling chapter on joy and a concluding chapter on overcoming spiritual limits.
Blackaby’s tone is that of a motivational preacher, calling the faithful to obedience and greater spiritual maturity. No surprise, as Blackaby is president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and a former pastor. In the best Baptist tradition, he uses a plethora of stories of biblical characters to make his points and plenty of autobiographical anecdotes.
God, Blackaby emphasizes, has more than a to-do list for us. He wants to have a personal relationship with us. This sort of relationship looks more like a love relationship than “religion,” he writes. Blackaby offers basic ways to make this more of a reality: Reading scripture and journaling what God says to you. Becoming faithful in little things. Pray, Fast. Confess --- and deal with --- sin. Discover joy in any circumstance. Spiritual maturity is a process, Blackaby reminds his readers. Some of the obstacles to maturity are more difficult to see, such as success that keeps us from growing.
Throughout the book, Blackaby poses questions for reflection and suggestions for making lists for evaluation and prayer. Most of the information will be nothing new to readers but rather welcome reminders of spiritual disciplines often neglected.
Richard is the son of Henry T. Blackaby (best known as the co-author of EXPERIENCING GOD with Claude V. King), and his admiration for his father comes through in a short hagiography of the elder Blackaby’s life early on in the book. He also includes some short mini-biographies of ordinary men and women who were used by God in extraordinary ways (Dwight L. Moody, Fanny Crosby, Charles Spurgeon).
This is a book to read in short sips rather than one long gulp. Most topics aren’t dealt with in depth; Blackaby offers a sort of sermon-length treatment of each subject. Content-wise, some Christian readers may struggle with the author’s seeming assertation that our lack of faith can be the reason why an unbelieving spouse continues not to believe, or a teenager gets into trouble, or a Christian wrestles with anxiety. More context might have been helpful in this section than is given to clarify exactly what he means.
However, Blackaby is clear that his book is no “name it and claim it” tome, nor is it about unlimiting God for prosperity’s sake. “I do not see faith as a tool we use to get God to give us what we want.” Rather, his point seems to be that ordinary believers can be used in extraordinary ways by God…if they let God work through them. “The good news is, you don’t have to stay where you are,” writes Blackaby. His message should be especially challenging to Christians whose spiritual lives have gone flat.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on January 15, 2008