Saturday, August 18

July Books: Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung

I read some fantastic books last month. Fantastic. The kind of books that shift around ideas in your mind so that they'll never go back to where they were before.

Because these books were so great, I wanted to record my thoughts on them so that I can look back at them in case I find myself forgetting. When I read novels I'll probably just write a few paragraphs, but when I read books for spiritual growth I'll probably write much more. Although I know these posts may not be the most fascinating for everyone, I think they'll be really helpful for me. If I can be disciplined in doing it, that is. You might notice that we're already a few weeks into August. Oh well...

Just Do Something - A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will

I love this little book. I wish I'd read it 10 years ago, but it hadn't been written yet.

It's full of tough love - maybe a little tougher than some like. Its purpose is to encourage people to make wise, God-honoring decisions in the many situations where they don't have crystal clear direction from above. DeYoung's intent is not to discourage us from seeking God's will, but the opposite. He teaches that many of the attitudes Christians employ in making decisions demonstrate a lack of faith and ignorance of scripture.

He interprets the following familiar verse, which concludes Jesus' teaching on worry and God's provision, to mean that those who are seeking after the things of God (who know the scriptures, submit to God's authority, and seek to please Him with their lives) will make decisions that honor Him. And "all these things" - non-moral decisions like where to live, whether to go on that mission trip, or what to eat for lunch today, will be added unto them. In other words, God isn't witholding his will and waiting for us to mess up. It is his will that we ask for wisdom and trust Him along the way.

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

I think most believers would benefit from reading this book, but especially two types of people: those who fear missing God's will and those who feel like they receive less spiritual guidance than their friends.

The first type of person describes most of the Christians I knew in college. And myself for my freshman year at least. We tried every major, every campus ministry, and every new Christian fad just in case God's will was hiding behind it like a door on a game show. Trying out new ways of living is part of growing up, but after four (or five, six, seven...) years, hopping from one job, church, location, or relationship to another becomes frightening rather than fun. And at some point you realize that a significant portion of life has passed you by while you were trying to find God's supposedly elusive will. Whether it's fear of working in the wrong field, marrying the wrong person, or generally missing God's best for your life, fear of taking the wrong steps can keep us from maturing in many aspects of our lives. I love the following quotes on relationships and church involvement. If only this were required reading for college freshmen...

"Guys, if you like a girl and you're both Christians and your friends and family aren't alarmed and she actually likes you back, you should probably get married." p 106

"My fear is that of all the choices people face today, the one they rarely consider is 'How can I serve most effectively and fruitfully in the local church?' I wonder if the abundance of opportunities to explore today is doing less to help make well-rounded disciples of Christ and more to help Christians to avoid long-term responsibility and have less long-term impact." p 36

Chances are, if you were friends with a lot of the first type of people I described you've at least felt like the second one. In high school and college my friends were always feeling led to do this or that. I often was, too. I can recall times when the Spirit led me to buy a meal for a homeless person or to become better friends with someone I didn't know well. But in the big decisions, like where to go to college, I heard nothing but silence. I remember the guilt I felt when friend after friend talked about how they wanted to go to one college, but felt led to go to another. All I could think was, "I want to go to UGA, so surely that's not God's will." Wrong! I'm so glad God made me to love downtown Athens and Georgia football and the palpable energy of Sanford Avenue on a fall afternoon. And I'm thankful that I didn't swerve from my inclinations. Most of all, I'm thankful that I met a man there that I married without any thunderbolt direction from the Lord. That man isn't tossed about by fads or feelings, but consistently perseveres in his preparations to fulfill a decision He made in high school - to take the gospel of Jesus where it's never been heard. The biggest decisions of our lives have been determined by our own wisdom (sought from the Lord) and confirmed by God's grace along the way.

“We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that's all we need to know. Worry about the future is not simply a character tic, it is the sin of unbelief, an indication that our hearts are not resting in the promises of God.” p 48
I could write much more about this book, but instead I'll close out this post with a few more of my favorite quotes from DeYoung:

"We need the firm reminder that many of us expect too much out of life. We’ve assumed that we’ll experience heaven on earth, and then we get disappointed when earth seems so unheavenly... When every experience and situation must be rewarding and put us on the road to complete fulfillment, then suddenly the decisions about where we live, what house we buy, what dorm we live in, and whether we go with tile or laminate take on weighty significance." p 32

"God promises to work all things together for our good that we might be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28). And the degree to which this sounds like a lame promise is the degree to which we prefer the stones and scorpions of this world to the true bread from heaven (Matt 7:9-11)…He promises to make us loving, pure, and holy in Christ. In short, God’s will is that you and I get happy and holy in Jesus." p 61

I think you should go read this book! It might be God's will for you. : )

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