Throughout, authors Tom, Mike, and Daniel Blackaby (Henry Blackaby's son and grandsons) utilize fun formatting with cartoon illustrations, jokes, real-life stories, and graphically engaging treatments to bring strong focus to a message teenagers need in their often random settings.
|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Mike Blackaby is a Young Adults pastor at a church in Jonesboro, Georgia. The grandson of Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God), he also co-wrote When Worlds Collide: Stepping Up and Standing Out in an Anti-God Culture.
Daniel Blackaby is a fourth generation author whose books include When Worlds Collide, The Lost City Chronicles, and Legend of the Book Keeper.
Read an Excerpt
THE BEGINNING: KNOWING AND DOING GOD'S WILL
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me." — Jesus (John 6:38)
MY DIGNITY FOR AN AUTOGRAPH
I (Mike) spent my first year in college working at a local coffee/sandwich shop. I liked it, but it was not the place you'd expect celebrities to frequent. So when the coach of the local NHL hockey team walked in one day, everyone got a little excited. And I was the worst ...
"Look! It's Darryl Sutter!" I squealed, giddily running back and forth behind the counter, desperate to serve him. When an order for chili appeared on the screen, I exploded into a flurry of activity, packing up his meal in record time. I arranged it "just so" in a take-out bag and tossed in a couple extra packets of crackers. After all, this guy was not only an NHL coach, he was a member of the famed Sutter family: seven brothers and they all played or coached in the National Hockey League.
He approached the counter.
He opened his mouth to speak.
Oh sweet mercy, I thought, he's going to say something to me!
"I'm sorry; I actually ordered that to dine in."
I snatched the bag off the counter, stuttering my apologies, and spilled chili everywhere in my attempt to correct the mistake. He suppressed a smile and thanked me, finding a table in the far corner to eat.
When he finished his meal, he got up to leave. That was my cue. I mustered every ounce of courage and blurted, "Mr. Sutter sir, c-could I g-get your a-autograph p-please?" I hastily thrust a take-out bag in his face.
"Sure, do you have a pen?"
Panic tugged at my stomach. My eyes darted around the room. Sweat poured from my brow. I sheepishly excused myself to the kitchen.
"EVERYBODY STOP!" I hollered. "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL YOU HOLD SACRED, I NEED A PEN!" Thankfully I got my pen, and I got my autograph, but that was the last time Sutter darkened our doors.
Many people view God the way Mike saw that hockey coach. They admire Him — but from a distance. They are in awe of Him and may even venture to ask for something now and then. But when it comes down to it, they have no real relationship with Him. They don't know God, and they think He doesn't know them.
However, the Bible portrays a God who not only knows you, but wants to be known by you. In fact, He wants every person from every nation around the globe to know Him (1 Timothy 2:4).
God is commonly perceived as a cosmic version of the (spoiler alert!) mythical Santa Claus, always watching us and assessing our behavior so He can determine the size of our annual payout. Or to use a less creepy metaphor, others think of Him the way you might view a majestic animal like, say, a lion in a zoo — intriguing to study but safely separated from us. Still others treat Him as simply an intellectual concept or idea that may be interesting to think and talk about, but doesn't have much of an impact on how we live.
The Bible reveals that God is not merely an outside observer of our lives, and He's not a mighty-but-confined being who exists for our pleasure, whom we can admire whenever it suits us. Nor is He a high concept that can only be discussed by boring theology professors.
Pause for a minute to think about the way you perceive God. How would you describe Him in a sentence or two? Now, go a step deeper and consider how the way you live expresses what you think He is like. We're not presupposing that every reader equates God to a super-sized St. Nick or merely an object of curiosity, but we do assume that if you're reading this book you want to know Him more fully than you do now. So first, we hope to heighten your awareness of two things:
1. God has a will for your life.
2. He wants to reveal it to you personally.
The first prerequisite for knowing God's will is to know God Himself. It's one thing to admire God from afar, but walking according to His will goes considerably deeper than that.
WHO IS GOD?
This is a huge question. The Bible introduces us to the God who created the entire universe. Not only did God bring everything into being, but at the grand climax of creation He created humanity in His own image, endowing us with the capability of reflecting His characteristics by the way we live. This is extremely important, because God didn't need to create anything. The fact that He chose to create the world and place us in it tells us He must have a purpose for doing so. Further, the fact that He created us in His image lets us know that God has a unique plan for humans. Our likeness to God sets us apart from the rest of creation. Only human beings have the capacity to relate to God in a personal way. In fact, that's why He designed us in the first place.
The book of Genesis (chapter 3) describes what happened to spoil the party: the first humans, whom the Bible names as Adam and Eve, used the gift of free will to rebel against God. Humanity has been following their example ever since. That's the bottom line of what sin is — rebellion against holy God — and that's what separates us from Him.
Here's the good news: The rest of Scripture is the account of how God has been actively working in the world to restore the relationship that was lost in the Garden of Eden, so we can walk closely with Him and know what's on His heart.
If you've picked up this book to read, chances are you're interested in knowing and doing God's will. Just as God has a will and purpose for this world, He also has one for your life. And the best news is, He wants you to know all about it.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED ... MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T DRIVE
The piercing squeal of burning tires roared over the sound of the rambunctious crowd. An entire lifetime boiled down to this. Swerving my car around the final turn, I (Dan) gazed toward the finish line. This is who I am; I was born to drive ... Punching the car into fifth, I made cruel mockery of my fellow racers. Almost there! Then I ... heard a voice?
"Time to go!" the voice called.
I turned my Xbox off. "Coming, Dad!" It was the big day.
March 7: I had finally reached the wise age of fourteen, thus making me eligible to receive my learner's driving permit. The only thing blocking my path toward racing greatness was a measly twelve-question exam. Not a problem.
Suddenly I remembered that the registrar's office had mailed me a study guide three months prior. I dug it out from under my bed, blew off the dust, and removed the shrink wrap. Study? I chuckled and tossed it back to the floor. Naahh, they don't call me Daniel "Dale Earnhardt Jr." Blackaby for nothing! I've seen Dad drive — how hard can it be?
March 9: Bursting through the doors, I strutted into the testing center oozing confidence out of every pore. "Let's get this baby over with and hit the road! Woo!" Working my magic I finished in record time.
Results: What?! I failed? This can't be! I demand a recount! Fine, I'll just get it tomorrow.
March 10: More determined and still suspecting a miscount, I marched into the building. "Lay it on me. I've got a date with the open road in thirty minutes!"
Results: Those trick questions get you every time.
March 11: I cautiously poked my head through the doorway, slightly stuttering as I asked for my test. "Come on in, Dan! We've been expecting you." (Did I detect a note of mockery in that cheery greeting?)
Results: Isn't the third time supposed to be a charm?
March 12: My limping body forced its way through the doors, head hung low and a twitch in my left eye. "Do you guys accept bribes?"
Results: Wow, could have sworn those last nine questions were right ... Walking was good enough for Jesus, wasn't it?
March 13: Crawling on all fours, I inched my feeble body toward the counter. I had a final ace up my sleeve: groveling. "Have mercy on me! Don't make me do that horrible test again!"
Results: "Daniel: you passed. Barely." Proof that God still does miracles!
I sauntered out to the parking lot, where my long-suffering dad was waiting. Shooing him out of the driver's seat (What? Did he have no confidence that I would pass?), I got in and snapped on my seat belt with a decisive click. After adjusting the rearview mirror, I only had one question for dad.
"Okay, which one is the gas pedal?"
MAYBE IT AIN'T BROKE AFTER ALL?
Assumptions can be costly. The truth is, as hard as we may try to live according to our own best thinking, we aren't as "in control" of our destiny as we might think. In fact, we often don't know nearly as much as we think we do!
One rainy day, I (Mike) was getting drenched as I trudged across my college campus. Growing increasingly aggravated with a broken umbrella, I was forced to keep one arm extended, pushing the top up just to keep it open. Eventually I made it to class. But I was wet, sore, and angry. I vented my frustration to a classmate. She said nothing but reached over and pressed a small button on the handle. The umbrella immediately shot into its usable position, flinging water drops over everyone in the class. Who knew?
Most people can figure out the elementary mechanics of simple things like umbrellas, but isn't it true that many of us stumble through life trying to manage by our own wits? We don't even investigate, so we miss out on how life is supposed to work at its best. We nod our heads when someone tells us, "God has a plan for your life!" While in our hearts we think, "That's great, but I'm gonna make a Plan B just in case!" But why not go with Plan A — God's plan? Why settle for anything less than God's best for you? God intends for us to experience so much more through Him than we could ever do on our own. Sadly, many people choose to live their lives according to their own subpar Plan B, and they end up missing out on all that God had for them.
Many people would have us believe there is no Plan A, or any plan at all. They say the only way to survive is by our own ingenuity and instincts. The Bible emphatically says otherwise. God has not left us to navigate through life on our own. If that were the case, He would not have given us the Scriptures, let alone sent His Son to die in our place on a cross!
It comes down to a choice. Are we going to live according to our best or God's best? The outcome is determined by who we listen to and whose will we choose to follow.
GOD'S WILL OR YOURS?
If you're in high school right now, here's something to consider: What part has the Great Commission played in your post-graduation planning? If you're not familiar with the term, the Great Commission is how Christians commonly refer to the final instructions Jesus gave just before His ascension to heaven. Jesus told His disciples,
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18–20).
That's a big assignment to leave with His disciples and those who watched Him ascend to heaven. Had that assignment been meant only for those standing there, the good news about Christ's sacrifice for us would have long since disappeared with those people when they died. But fortunately each generation has taken up the mission to reach its own generation for Christ.
Is there ever a better time in life to take that commandment seriously than at graduation time? That's when people set in motion the plans that will determine their career and much of their future. Yet many young Christians plan for college or a vocation in the very same way as those who aren't followers of Christ. They neglect to consider the plans God may have for their lives.
Even Christian parents are guilty of guiding their graduating sons and daughters according to finances, their own alma mater, or whatever will keep them close to home (or in some cases, send them far away!).
That can be a costly oversight. We're not saying you shouldn't ask yourself the usual questions:
"What am I good at?"
"What is my passion?"
"What's the best geographical choice for me?"
"Should I take a year off to earn some money or travel?"
(Here's a biggie.) "What school do I have a scholarship for?"
But the non-Christian senior asks the same questions without any direction from God. What's the difference? The difference is following your own agenda versus seeking God's plan for you.
If you want to know and do the will of God, it starts by focusing on His will, not yours. It means having a "God-centered" view of life. Now is the best time to acquire that view.
Perhaps you already have a sense of what God wants you to do, maybe not specifically, but enough to know what your next step should be. When Mike was eighteen years old, he had a clear word from God about going into the ministry. Daniel took a gap year after graduating to do some traveling and mission work, and it was during that time his own calling was clarified. Tom's story is completely different from both of these. No two people have the exact same story. God doesn't always choose to let us in on specific details up front. He wants us to follow Him, not a blueprint.
The point is, when we seek God's will, we have to do what He tells us, and that first step can be the scariest. Perhaps God's specific will for your life is not very clear to you right now. Don't panic. Hopefully by the end of this book you will have a better idea of what that looks like.
But another consideration is that maybe God has given you direction, but you're choosing not to do what He's said. Most long distance runners will tell you that the hardest part of their training was lacing up their running shoes on day one. In other words, committing to get the thing done can often be the most difficult. Surely it's no accident that the apostle Paul used the metaphor of running a race when he taught about living out the Christian life. You can't finish a race you don't start.
Many of us want to know up front what we're getting ourselves into when we say yes to God. But He simply asks us to take the first step, and then the second and so on. Take it from us, this journey will be rewarding.
HAND OVER THE DRILL BIT, NOW!
I (Tom) thought I could save a lot of money by doing the project myself (Mistake #1). It seemed straightforward enough: drill a hole through the first floor into the basement, run the internet cable through, and connect to the computer. Voila! Internet connection!
I went to the hardware store, bought the longest drill bit I could find, and prepared for surgical maneuvers. I put on my wife's rubber dish-gloves, so I would not have a shocking experience if a stray electrical wire happened to be nearby.
Straight through the floor, right near the wall, easy does it. And yes, we're through. We were through all right. Checking downstairs, I saw my drill bit poking through the middle of the hallway ceiling. NOT what I had intended, but we can improvise.
Next was to drill through the hallway wall and into the office. It gave me a little bit of trouble, but when I looked through the hole, I could see the light clearly from the next room. Soon the cable was threaded through the holes, along the wall and inserted into the computer with great success. The only trouble was the presence of a foul and persisting odor. I thought perhaps someone had spread manure in a nearby garden. The strange thing was the smell came from inside the house, not from the outside.
I asked a friend to check on my sewer back-up valve, and it turned out to be fine. Next he looked at my neat little hole in the wall. He took out a carpenter's knife and cut a box around the hole. He peeled back the wall and sighed knowingly (we'd been friends for awhile).
I had drilled right through the middle of a sewer pipe coming from the top floor. Now I know a lot of garbage goes over the Internet, but this was ridiculous.
With a stern look, my friend said, "Hand over the drill bit, now."
Many times, doing it yourself can lead you into trouble. Because God designed life and because God designed us, He knows so much better than we do how to live it. Just as it is foolish to try and do something alone that you know you're not qualified to do, we often insist on living life according to our own best ability. When we do this, the results often stink.
Many of us see God as a kind of genie who exists to make our dreams come true. Just listen to the prayers we pray:
[check] Please God help me pass this class.
[check] Please help me to get this job.
[check] Please provide me with a girlfriend/boyfriend.
[check] Please make me feel better.
[check] Please make me feel better.
[check] Please use Your mighty power to keep Dad from finding out I scratched his car.
Rarely, it seems, do we stop and ask, "God, what do You want me to do?"
Are we even prepared for what His answer might be? Are you ready to follow God's will, even if it involves trials? Jesus modeled this for us while He was moments away from facing the horror of the cross. He prayed, "Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me — nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). Before we ever ask God to reveal His will, we should first ask ourselves if we are ready to obey it.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "7 Steps to Knowing, Doing and Experiencing the Will of God: For Teens"
Copyright © 2013 Tom Blackaby, Mike Blackaby, and Daniel Blackaby.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Beginning: Knowing and Doing God's Will 9
Step 1 God Is Always at Work around You 33
Step 2 God Pursues a Love Relationship with You 55
Step 3 God Invites You to Become Involved with Him In His Work 79
Step 4 God Speaks by the Holy Spirit 103
Part 1 God Speaks through His Word 121
Part 2 God Speaks through Prayer 141
Part 3 God Speaks through Circumstances 161
Part 4 God Speaks through the Church 181
Step 5 God's Invitation Leads to a Crisis of Belief 197
Step 6 Adjustments 217
Step 7 You Come to Know God by Experience as You Obey Him, and He Accomplishes His Work through You 239
About the Authors 268