Flickering Lamps – Henry & Richard Blackaby
Reviewed By: Rick Barber
Spiritual books, especially commentary from other prominent pastors, is something I truly enjoy reading when time allows in my busy schedule. I was blessed to have such a book given to me during a Deacon’s meeting. I didn’t know anything about the book, but this Deacon had several copies in front of him; usually a sign they have read the book and are anxious for someone else to read the book as well. The name of the book is Flickering Lamps by Henry & Richard Blackaby. I didn’t have any knowledge of what the book was about, but agreed to read the book based on the recommendation.
Flickering Lamps is an inspirational book about how to battle the undeniable trend of decline in the Christian church. The book is a testimony of a pastor who made a missionary move from a large and successful church in a very prominent part of the United States to a small, failing and broken church in Canada. And while opinions do vary amongst demographics, age, culture, etc. regarding what churches should look, feel, and act like, this book does a great job of outlining some common distractions that could be underpinnings to a church’s decline and even failure. All in all, the book presents some very good scriptural arguments, along with real world examples, of why many churches may fail and why many pastors get discouraged and leave the ministry.
I believe the book does a great job of identifying real issues that exists in churches today, without condemning any specific church, church type, etc. The book speaks more to motive than practices, God’s guidance than results, and community rather than self-satisfaction. This book was story of the author’s real life testimony, sacrifice and accomplishment, thus providing the author integrity and credibility.
However, what I found most valuable about the book were the assessments offered at the end of each chapter that prompted the reader to review their current church, their current involvement in a church and whether they could identify some of these distractions or warning signs in their own world. As I would read the book and finish a chapter, I couldn’t help but reflect on how Tabernacle is performing and how I am performing as a member of Tabernacle. Reading this book really gave me a higher appreciation for my church and the leadership at Tabernacle. Certainly, there are things we can do better and certainly more I can do as a member; however, I believe if Blackaby were to grade us, we would get a relatively good grade. For instance, Blackaby outlines 3 core purposes of the church and are the foundation to the rest of his examples throughout the book. These purposes are to (1) Glorify God, (2) Make Disciples & (3) to Preserve and Bless their respective communities. The following are examples where I see our church clearly adhering to those core purposes:
- Glorify God – For anyone that has been to our “All In” class, the first and foremost core value for our church is “Reveal God’s Glory. This is why you will see every message preached involves the Gospel and is Scripture driven. Plus, as I have been able to plug in more over the years, I have witnessed how some major decisions have been made with the main question always circled back to involved serving and glorifying God. I have no doubt that the leadership of this church has God at the forefront of everything they do.
- Make Disciples – I came to Tabernacle just a month or so before Pastor Todd, and I remember several of his messages calling me to discipleship. After approaching him about discipleship, he not only enthusiastically agreed, but has since made it a primary focus of our church and our members. Looking at initiatives like “Can we talk”, “Life Investment”, Sumatra mission, and our sponsorship of seminary in Ecuador. There is no doubt that our church understands and is responding to God’s command to go and “make disciples”.
- Preserve and Bless our Community – Our fingerprints are everywhere in the community. We feed hundreds of families each year during Be Church; we witness to and support our community through numerous kids programs (Upward Basketball, Kid’s Beachclub, VBS, Trunk or Treat, etc.); we participate in parades, festivals and any other local event that we can possibly participate in. There are even many other ways that Tabernacle and the staff have reached out and blessed the community. Late night phone calls, responses to hospital visits, raising of funds for those in need, etc. You might not hear about these stories, as God also asks that we serve him privately, anonymously and without public knowledge or praise. I have seen, heard and witnessed these private blessings in our community from staff and members and I am sure you have as well.
That being said, while Tabernacle isn’t perfect and will always have opportunities to do things better, this book has confirmed to me that our fruit is good as long as we continue to wrap ourselves in scripture and respond as called, we will continue to be blessed, multiply and do even more, locally and abroad, for the glory of God.
I encourage you to read Flickering Lamps, as it also serves as a guide to help prevent each of us from getting discouraged or judgmental regarding church activities, initiatives, and programs. It offers advice on how to properly discern whether your church, or even your personal activities, work against God’s intended plan. It certainly has pointed out areas to me where I will strive to work to help keep our church on the right path and also ensure that I am a positive contributing member. Two immediate and major areas where you will see my contribution is my increased participation in church programs, activities and missions – so I can continue to confirm our intentions and commitments; but also by addressing any concerns I might have from a prayerful, scriptural, and positive position.
As I continue my spiritual studies and internship, I will continue to share my thoughts regarding books that have been recommended. Thank you to the member who gave me this book to read. It was insightful and enjoyable, and I hope you will take an opportunity to read Flickering Lamps.
You can purchase Flickering Lamps here: http://www.amazon.com/Flickering-Lamps-Christ-His-Church/dp/0692460748