Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Do Something, a Review+

Every once in a while we have an epiphany.  It may come while we're brushing our teeth and staring at ourselves in the mirror.  It may come when we're pouring soy into the wok, whiffing the wonderful scents of the steam.  Or, as often is the case, it may come from a book.  The Bible is great at this.  It's amazing how we can read the same passages through the years, but still find so much truth with its words.  This post isn't about the Bible, though.  It's about Kevin DeYoung's book (which is based on the Bible) Just Do Something.

Just Do Something has literally changed the way I think about a lot of stuff.  Many Christians tend to "overspiritualize" things, some going so far as to avoid doing anything for fear of making a wrong choice.  (Note: this problem isn't just related to Christians, but to anyone suffering from indecision, at least I suspect so.)  We're inclined to believe that every choice we make in life ultimately affects some outcome at the end, and this simply is not true.

In Just Do Something, DeYoung presents a case for simply doing, not worrying about the results.  He argues that as long as a decision isn't sinful (what he calls "unethical" choices), then the choice is solely up to us and God doesn't care.  Does it really matter what job we take and what school we attend?  What car we buy?  Who we marry, even?  To God, these decisions are simply less important than "ethical" ones (i.e., God is supremely concerned with our choice on how we view His Son, Jesus).  While this may seem infuriating or insensitive, DeYoung uses plenty of scripture to back up his beliefs, and I'm inclined to agree (with most)*.

Early in the book DeYoung presents the problem many of us face.  We want to be in the will of God and make Him happy with every thing we do.  Agreed.  And how often do we pray or hear others pray "if it's according to Your will...?"  DeYoung states that there are three distinct categories for the will of God, and understanding these three is the first step to a new way of thinking.

1.  The decreed will of God.  God has already decreed everything from before time began, down to the hairs on our heads falling out and the sparrow's food for today.  This is all sovereign and unchangeable. 
2.  The desired will of God.  This is what God wants to happen and what He desires.  It begs the question why isn't the desired will the decreed will.**
3.  The directive will of God.  This is often what people pray for, wanting clear direction from God, sometimes verbally, sometimes with a sign, etc.

So, without getting too deep, everything we ever do is already in God's will.  Everything that ever happens is already in God's will.  He's already taken into consideration everything and allowed it all to happen "for the good" (Romans 8:28).  This is God's decreed will, and we can never be out of it.

What we should pray for is to be in God's desired will.  I suspect (as does DeYoung) that as long as we make decisions based on biblical wisdom, then we'll always be in God's desired will, as it is the Spirit that speaks to us through God's Word.  One chapter even presents practical things to pray for, and I found this quite helpful.  How often we tend to overlook the obvious.

What many of us actually pray for is for God's will of direction to be obvious, like Gideon's fleeces or the clouds above spelling out a phrase.  This is just setting ourselves up for disappointment time and time again.  Can God show us direction?  Absolutely, but it's a rarity, both in scripture and now.
"Apart from the Spirit working through Scripture, God does not promise to use any other means to guide us, nor should we expect him to."  (p. 68)
It seems to (once again) boil down to semantics.  The English language lacks the proper capabilities to articulate clearly***.  For example, our word hot may mean many different things, from spicy to scalding to sexy to trendy and on and on.  One word for multiple meanings.  That's why I try to use picante if I mean spicy; caliente for high temperatures; etc.  Likewise, we shouldn't group God's Will into one phrase.

This is key to understanding the book.

DeYoung also posits that cultural differences between our time and a century ago is responsible for a lot of our indecision, especially with the privileged, instantaneous society we now find ourselves in.  Most of us are spoiled and rich (in 1999, 3 billion people lived on less than $2 per day [source]) and impatient and the list goes on.  These factors (especially growing up in America) certainly affect our outlook on life, as well as our parents and their parents, too.  As such, we've been raised to think a certain way--that our each and every choice and action is extremely important.  Look at "Choose Your Own Adventure" books or karma based video games like Fallout.  They pander to the fact that every choice matters.  No wonder we're so indecisive.

The answer to the dilemma, as DeYoung would have us think, is to basically love God with our whole hearts, bodies, minds, and souls, and everything else will be in God's will.  With everything we do, we should to it to glorify God.  As I post this review, it should be for God's glory.  As I chew on the black liquorice jelly bean I just ate, I should glorify God.  For without Him, there would be nothing, and He alone is worthy to be praised.
"Live for God.  Obey the Scriptures.  Think of others before yourself.  Be holy.  Love Jesus.  And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you'll be walking in the will of God."  (p.122)
"Study the Scriptures, listen to others, and pray continually--that's the best course of action."  (p.98)
It should also be noted that Just Do Something is a funny book.  DeYoung writes with communicable language, which is perfect for this type of book.  It's not too deep and eloquently written (a la CS Lewis), but it's friendly and conversational.  There were stories that literally had me laughing aloud.

In the end, Just Do Something was a powerful book.  It has literally changed my views on how I see God's will working in my life, and how I work into God's will.  My copy is heavily noted and written in (don't you just love books like that?), and I'm currently reading it aloud to Keisha.  If you suffer from anxiety, indecision, and general fear from being out of God's will, then I highly recommend Just Do Something.  Heck, even if you don't (which, coincidentally, I didn't/don't), the book is still worth the read.  In fact, if you would like a copy of the book, let me know and I'll personally mail you one FREE of charge****.  Or you can download the Kindle version for $6.43 if you have an e-reader.  Whatever the case, I would love for everyone to read this book (and take to heart its message) so they can live life liberated.  Jesus didn't die for us to tie ourselves up in bondage and serve tradition and fear; He died for our freedom and so that we can have life in Him.^
"...,the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward: Be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God."  (p. 62)

*My wife didn't particularly care for the non-romantic view on marriage.  DeYoung doesn't believe in "soul mates" and that stuff.  I don't know whether I do or not, but I do believe that Keisha is my soul mate, if that makes sense.  She is who I am supposed to be with and I love her more than she knows.

**DeYoung doesn't get into this issue very much, and neither will I.  In short, God didn't create robots, but independent creatures gifted with free will.  He holds us responsible for our "ethical" choices.  Everything else we do, we do for the glory of God.

***I started an outline and an essay a few months back on my problem(s) with language, in particular English language.  Perhaps I'll have to revisit this again...

****Limited time only.  Offer good while I have the funds to do such a thing.  But seriously, email me your addy and I'll do everything in my power to send you a copy.

^This was a difficult review to write, and I feel like I either a) rambled, b) left out a lot, or c) both a & b.  I easily could have kept going, but in an effort to not reveal too much, I chose to only approach certain topics of DeYoung's book.  There are only 10 chapters across 128 pages or so, so there's not that much quantity-wise in it, but enough quality that there's plenty more to think about.


Anonymous said...

^ i think you did a fantastic job with this review.


logankstewart said...

Ha, thanks, L. Even though I used the word "literally" three times? Jeez.

ibeeeg said...

This is a fantastic review. You have intrigued me greatly. Much of what you wrote appeals to me, and I tend to naturally agree with "simply doing, not worrying about the results." I think this book does sound like is has great potential to help remind people the act of doing can be what matters vs the actual results. (I think that is in part of what you - the book - is trying to say). Anyway, fantastic review. I am curious.

Carl V. said...

Great review! It is hard to give a real accurate account of the book having not read it, based on your comments on the book I would have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the premise, which is probably the most important part of the book anyway. I believe we are called first and foremost to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are really honestly doing those two things all the time then I do believe we are a: not sinning, and b: walking in God's perfect will. I also believe that Christians spend a lot of time being inactive waiting for "God's Will" when if they would simply practice what the scripture tells us to then that is exactly what we would be doing and the answers to many of our questions would probably be much more obvious.

I do not agree with the idea that God doesn't care about the non-ethical issues and I believe any use of scripture to back that up is short sighted and ignores other scriptures and basic common sense.

I do believe that the decisions about which car we buy, what job we take, who we marry are all examples of things that are super important to God and have as much to do with his specific will for our lives as do the ethical things. Because one thing cannot be separated from the other. Now I do believe you can get ridiculous about this and feel you have to pray through every tiny decision. That is wrong. But I believe big decisions that affect your life are the ones that God will help lead and guide you through his Word but also through the gentle leading of his Spirit if you just spend time with him, get to know his voice, and listen. I believe you can have the kind of close relationship with God where if you are contemplating buying a car but don't know that said car is actually a lemon and will make you miserable with expenses, that God can lead you away from that without you having to spend days in prayer about it. More importantly I believe that the idea of two becoming one flesh means that God can and will lead you to a marriage in which you and your spouse have similar callings, goals, etc. But I believe that part of God's help with having us make good decisions in these areas also means we communicate, we talk things out, we research, etc. We don't just go by our feelings and we certainly don't go the old fleece route.

Again, I believe the central premise of the book sounds great and should liberate one from the fear of constantly wondering what God wants us to do. However, I do believe God wants to have a much more personal relationship with us than to "not care" about the decisions we make, whatever those decisions may be.

David Wagner said...

Terrific review. I may chew on it a bit, then re-read the review, and chew some more. I'll probably pull the trigger on an ebook version if it comes to it. I could sure use a shift in view.

Thanks for taking the time and pouring yourself into this review.

logankstewart said...

@ibeeeg: Thank you. And seriously, if you want a copy, I've got a stack full just to give out to people. I'd be glad to mail you one.

@Carl: I don't think I explained myself very well with the "non-ethical" decisions. I believe what DeYoung is saying is that God does care about our choices, but so long as they're no sinful, any choice we make will work for His good and will be in His will. DeYoung gets frustrated at people all-out refusing to act and make any decision, or being too scared of the results of the decision. I find myself agreeing with DeYoung's belief that God doesn't care whether you buy a brand new car or a 20 year old clunker, etc. And I may even agree with the job aspect, too. Sure, there are unique times when the Spirit will prompt you to move one way or another, but otherwise, I believe that whatever we do, do it for the glory of God and trust in Him to take care of the rest. If the job I take isn't what I'm "supposed" to do, then the Spirit will make it known.

I agree with your example, though. If you're contemplating a vehicle purchase that is actually a lemon, God can lead you away from it, but what I'm saying (and what DeYoung argues) is that we shouldn't expect God to. Relying on this, expecting the Spirit to tell you if your car will be a lemon or your job a bust, is simply not a happy way to live, in my opinion. Because it'll rain on the just and the unjust, and we're promised difficulties and frustrations. Sure, God can (and thankfully does) guide us out of some "bad" decisions, but He doesn't have to.

Great comment, Carl. Like I told ibeeeg above, I've got a stack of these, and I would gladly mail you one if you'd like to email me your address.

@Dave: Thanks, friend. There's just so much I could say, and I really wish I could let other people feel as good as I do about life right now after reading this. Do yourself a favor and go for the plunge. It's a quick read. And, same as above, I can mail you a print copy if you'd rather not spend any capital.

Carl V. said...

I'm going to answer this back in sections, quoting you and then responding. I hope this doesn't make it more confusing, ha! :)

"I don't think I explained myself very well with the "non-ethical" decisions. I believe what DeYoung is saying is that God does care about our choices, but so long as they're no sinful, any choice we make will work for His good and will be in His will."

I think you explained yourself just fine and let me preface all of this by saying that from what you've said I do truly agree with the overall message of the book which appears to be that you shouldn't allow yourself to live a life of hesitation and fear based on waiting around for God to give you a vision about every aspect of your life, especially given the fact that he has given us His Word to guide our decisions and His Holy Spirit to be our companion and guide. And I know a lot of people who do that. Heck, I've been there myself several times in my life.

That being said, I think a lot of this is about semantics, at least in my head. While I would agree that you can make decisions to do non-sinful things and still be in God's Will, I also believe there is a difference between being in the will of God and the 'perfect' will of God and I believe that the more time we spend with God, praying, listening and studying the Word, the more we are able to hear His voice and sense his guiding in all aspects of our life.

"DeYoung gets frustrated at people all-out refusing to act and make any decision, or being too scared of the results of the decision."

I do too, and I've been frustrated at myself for doing that in the past and I'm sure we frustrate God on some level too when we are like that, especially because, in the end, I think we all agree that if we were to just follow the tenants of God's Word and didn't ever ask for specific guidance on the day to day stuff outside of that that we would indeed be walking in God's will and would be living fulfilling lives full of God's peace AND glorifying Him.


Carl V. said...

"I find myself agreeing with DeYoung's belief that God doesn't care whether you buy a brand new car or a 20 year old clunker, etc. And I may even agree with the job aspect, too. Sure, there are unique times when the Spirit will prompt you to move one way or another, but otherwise, I believe that whatever we do, do it for the glory of God and trust in Him to take care of the rest. If the job I take isn't what I'm "supposed" to do, then the Spirit will make it known."

This is one of those areas where I think we probably have some level of agreement, but where we also might have to agree to disagree. And in the grander scheme it doesn't matter, it is just that I don't see it that way. I think the very smallest aspects of our lives 'matters' to God and that if we want guidance in those areas He is perfectly happy to give it to us. I believe God cares that much. I also believe He expects us to pray, the act. Not sit around waiting for a heavenly vision for every answer. So in some sense I agree with what you say. If I am offered a new job and I pray about it and use the brain God gave me to weigh all the pros and cons, I shouldn't be doing the fleece thing or waiting on a vision to make a decision. I should be able to recognize based on my evaluation of the job and my trust that I can hear/sense the leading of the Spirit and just make a decision. And if it turns out to be wrong but I was at least trying to be in the right place, then I also believe God will help me turn that decision around. I don't think though that we should just make decisions in non-sinful areas without seeking God's guidance because that sounds just as foolish as putting out fleeces. Simply making decisions with idea that this must be God's will because it isn't a sin is also not a way to live life, not when we have a God who we can grow to be closer and closer to and learn to sense His leading. Again, just my opinion and I think part of this is a matter of where a person is at. And again, I don't think I am in as big a disagreement as it looks like reading this, because I do agree that we need to move forward with our lives, make decisions, and not allow ourselves to be bound up and stagnated by fear. I just don't feel that the two ideas of "just do something" and "being led by God in all areas of life" have to be mutually exclusive.


Carl V. said...

"I agree with your example, though. If you're contemplating a vehicle purchase that is actually a lemon, God can lead you away from it, but what I'm saying (and what DeYoung argues) is that we shouldn't expect God to. Relying on this, expecting the Spirit to tell you if your car will be a lemon or your job a bust, is simply not a happy way to live, in my opinion. Because it'll rain on the just and the unjust, and we're promised difficulties and frustrations. Sure, God can (and thankfully does) guide us out of some "bad" decisions, but He doesn't have to."

And again, this is something I'll just have to disagree with. I do think we should "expect" God to have that kind of relationship and I also believe he "has" to in the sense that He set up the parameters of the type of relationship He wants to have with us. All you have to do is read Psalms to see how close a relationship David had with God and that was without David having the benefit of a personal relationship with Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. That and the fact that the Bible is littered with references to God being our Father, Friend, Comforter, Healer, etc. as well as our Lord and all the other more authoritative positions. We are not referred to as the Bride of Christ just because God likes to use flowery language. It is because He desires a close personal intimate relationship with us. There is nothing wrong with expecting God to lead us and guide us. It doesn't mean we won't experience the normal problems of life. We live in a world suffering from the effects of sin and it does rain on the just and unjust. Just because we are saved doesn't mean we are immune from the effects of a fallen world, etc. But I for one want to have that kind of intimacy with God. But as that intimacy grows, they yes, I do need to make decisions to the best of my ability based on my knowledge of God's Word and feel safe in the knowledge that as long as I'm not deciding to do something that the Bible is clear about being wrong, then I am in God's will for me at that moment. So again, I don't think I "wildly" (my term) disagree with what DeYoung and you are saying. I think DeYoung's idea is a great starting point and can be very freeing. I would just hope that a person doesn't stop there in their relationship with God but instead moves from that freeing position into one that is even more freeing, which is continuing to grow in intimacy with the Lord.

"Great comment, Carl. Like I told ibeeeg above, I've got a stack of these, and I would gladly mail you one if you'd like to email me your address."

I feel like jerk saying this, but I just don't have time right now. I have several reading obligations that I am not getting to and I'd rather someone have it that would be able to read it soon.

Bottom line, this whole idea isn't a "salvation issue", as my pastor would put it, but just an issue where I agree up to a point but believe there is another level of intimacy and guidance that God offers us.

Carl V. said...

Please be kind when you ban me from your blog for too lengthy of comments. :)

Carl V. said...

I promise, this is least until/unless you respond back!

I just went and read this blurb about the book written by DeYoung himself:

"The gist of the book is that too many of us spend too much time trying to divine God’s will and too little time striving to obey the plain commands of Scripture. God’s will is not a corn maze or magic eight ball. His will is our sanctification. God promises to direct our steps all throughout life, but he never promises to show us what each step is ahead of time. Too many of us are prone to passivity and indecision, because doing nothing feels more spiritual (and less risky) than doing something. So we stumble around in chains of subjective impressions and wander here and there and in and out of our parent’s basement.

God’s will is not a bullseye to hit, but a life to live."

Now, I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with all of that, LOL! I get the impression that I probably don't agree with DeYoung's reasoning behind that statement above, but that ultimately doesn't really matter. I do think he is dead on with all that he stated in that description of his book.

logankstewart said...

@Carl (ya big jerk): Ban you!? My good man, this is the most rewarding type of book review: commentary, disagreement, and civil discussion!

Semantics certainly is a huge issue here, sadly, and I don't think that can be easily topped. Now, let's see...

"I also believe there is a difference between being in the will of God and the 'perfect' will of God..." Absolutely. I think this is kind of the "decreed Will" vs "desired Will." And you're right. The more time we spend with God, the more we'll be in the desired will.

Reading your comments (and my review) make me realize that it would seem like DeYoung (as well as myself) is against prayer and consideration, which isn't the case at all. Prayer, bible reading & meditation, and trusted friends/mentors/family/etc are all recommended for decision making, especially on the big issues (i.e. marriage, jobs, grad school). Just to be clear, prayer is definitely recommended, by both DeYoung and myself, as well as any sane Christian. And, like we've mentioned, DeYoung just doesn't want people to stay stuck in this phase.

"But I for one want to have that kind of intimacy with God..."

Amen. I want to be so irrevocably in love with Him that I truly see everything for His glory.

"Bottom line, this whole idea isn't a 'salvation issue'..."

Yep, or as my wife says, a "spine issue." And that's part of the beauty of it all. We're all unique and in His image, from physically down to cognitively, and we're all just trying to understand an infinite God with finite minds. That's why I love getting different opinions, especially when they come with tact and civility, as well as obvious consideration.

I suppose I should've put the book blurb in my review somewhere... Thanks again for commenting (for the glory of God)!

Carl V. said...

"a spine issue"...I like that!

Don't go doubting yourself on the review, I think you did a great job with it. The problem with reviewing a book like this is that you are inherently limited by the space you use. You aren't going to rewrite the book in your review, which means there is no way you can accurately cover all the book is about. Instead you wrote a review that emphasized the points that connected with you and as such brought up some great discussion.

I can say with all sincerity that just thinking about your review and about what I wanted to say about it and the idea the book presents has spoken to me very deeply and reminded me that there are areas in my life where I need to quit being stagnant and do what I know is right to do, which is just do God's Word, and that I also really desire to be more focused in my Bible study and prayer time about growing closer to God. So this post has DEFINITELY been glorifying to God because of the witness it is to all of our lives.

I truly appreciate you and the fact that you have always been very open about your desire to have a close intimate relationship with Jesus. That is very cool on so many levels and I relate to that desire myself and am encouraged by what I read on your blog.

What I see in your post/comments and this limited exposure to DeYoung's book reminds me of something my pastor has preached on, which I think goes hand in hand with this book, and that is the idea that rather than sitting idly by agonizing over the will of God, we should do what we know is right to do (practice the Word, do our best at our jobs, love God and those around us) and keep doing those things until He tells us to do something different.

Like DeYoung mentions in his blurb, God doesn't always (in fact rarely does) show us the next step until it is time to take that step. Until then we move forward on faith, doing what we have been doing faithfully. I believe that is part of God's kindness to us. If we always knew the next step well in advance, we would probably screw it all up by worrying and agonizing over it too much! :)

ibeeeg said...

Holy moly Carl, as usual, you blow me away by your thoughts. I have greatly enjoyed reading your comments, and Logan's response. I think you are both on track with your thoughts, and I agree. I have nothing to add to this enlightening conversation, but I wanted to point out one thing that Carl mentioned.

" God doesn't always (in fact rarely does) show us the next step until it is time to take that step. Until then we move forward on faith, doing what we have been doing faithfully."

Can either of you identify one thing that you know for a fact that God has spoken to you about? I mean, really, a divine intervention, he spoke to you? For me, I really can not say of one instance that I heard God; not overtly. This is where I think faith truly comes into play; the covert is most frequent. This is where I think people freeze up; wanting the overt response vs covert. Therefore, if you are looking for the obvious, you may tend to get hung up, frozen in your decisions. Also, for me, doing things according to God's will has been more based on an inner feeling vs an actual knowing. Do you know what I mean? Also, I am a firm believer that we also may never know God's intent on many things, and I suppose this is where prayer, and faith (yet again) comes into play. Often though, I can see God's will in my life; after the fact.

That's all my mind is able to contribute at this point. Frankly, a repeat of what you both have been saying, I do believe.

Logan, I am up for a copy. That is, if you do not mind that I do not read it for a bit as my reading plans for the next couple months is full. If that is okay, then please send me a copy. Do you still have my address?

Carl V. said...

You don't have anything to add to this conversation? I beg to differ, I think you just added something pretty significant.

You brought up a great point, and that is about "hearing" from God. I keep bringing up my pastor, largely because I don't want to take credit for his teachings, but one thing he has mentioned MANY times is that we as believers should not be so anxious for God to speak to us in an audible voice. In 30+ years of ministering he has only heard an audible voice twice and he said both times involved him doing something that took a lot of work and sacrifice. He brings up the important truth that God speaks to us first and foremost through His Word and then secondarily through learning to "hear his voice" which really means learning to have your spirit tuned to the Holy Spirit to be led in those moments where you are uncertain what to do. And I believe that the Bible teaches that learning to "hear God's voice" is as simple as spending time in His Word and prayer. I say "simple" but it is anything but. We are all very naturally geared in this day and age to multitask and to rush from this thing to that thing and it can be really, really hard to sit quietly, meditate on the Word, and really learn to "listen" for God. But it is worth it.


Carl V. said...

As for a time when God "spoke" to me, I've never heard an audible voice, but I've heard things through my own internal voice that I knew was God speaking to me. The most clear example of this was when my now-wife and I were dating. I really knew early on that she was the one I wanted to marry. We were both Christians, attending a Christian university, and were, as most young couples are, way too obsessed with each other. One day during our summer break apart (after about 4 months of dating) she called to tell me that she really felt like God was leading her to break up with me. I of course fell apart but asked her to take a week and just pray about it and I would do the same and in the meantime we wouldn't call, write, etc.

I spent a great deal of time in prayer, as you can imagine, and then one day I heard God telling me that my relationship with Mary wasn't the problem, the problem was that I wasn't putting Him first. And what was even more of a problem was that Mary had a long history of being better at putting God first than I did and she was neglecting God for me. Now this could all be written off as very common sense stuff, but I remember that the moment I "heard" this I felt this perfect peace. What confirmed that personal word to me was when I called Mary on the agreed upon day and the first words out of her mouth were an honest-to-God word-for-word repeat of exactly what I had felt God speak to me. Needless to say that was more than enough impetus for us to readjust our priorities.

And the great thing about that wasn't that God was being selfish, it was that he cared about us and knew we needed the guidance and support that comes from having Him first. This became wildly apparent when Mary's parents put up a bunch of roadblocks to our marriage and made us miserable for several months before we wed. Had we not both been spending that personal time with God and weren't assured that we were making the right decisions, those months would have probably destroyed our relationship before it ever really began.


Carl V. said...

That is the one experience that was incredibly different than my day-to-day relationship with God. Beyond that I certainly talk to God out loud and in my head/in my spirit often many, many times throughout the day. I often "hear" a response which I believe most time is my own spirit and/or the Holy Spirit reminding me of what the Bible says, reminding me of God's promises, which is one of the things the Bible says the Spirit does for us. I've learned to be very trusting of that and content with that. I've heard and read some of the things that people have been called to do when God had a tangible visitation to them and while I'm open to God talking to me in any way He chooses, I am content with the day to day relationship vs. Him showing up to tell me something so profoundly because either a) I wasn't listening, or b) the message is going to be something really hard that I have to do. Trying to live out the Word is often hard enough! :)

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Yeah, spine issues vs. rib issues. Always insightful topics!

And this is by and large a big problem many of us face today: we're too comfortable/satisfied with our current lives, not worried about whether or not we're actually moving forward in a relationship with Jesus. The great commission uses an action verb for a reason!

"Until then we move forward on faith... If we always knew the next step well in advance, we would probably screw it all up by worrying and agonizing over it too much!" Yes! Amen. It always boils down to faith. God told Adam & Eve not to eat of the tree; He didn't say why, just don't do it. It's just our foiled nature to want to know why. How great it would be to shirk the "why" drive and replace it with a "ok, sounds good" drive.

And great story of you and your wife above.

@ibeeeg: I don't think God audibly speaks to us very often at all. Sure, there are people that do get divine intervention, but I've never received anything other than the words of the Scripture and the Spirit directing my conscience. I think God of the Old Testament used an audible voice, but it wasn't too often and only to a select few people. Then Jesus came along, God's son in flesh, the Christ, and spoke for God for 33 years. Then He said He'd leave and send something even better (the Spirit), which now speaks to us through the Word. Can God audibly speak to us? Yeah, but I think it's very rare, and instead requires faith and time with the Word to hear Him.

"Often though, I can see God's will in my life; after the fact." Great sentence, and so true. We can't see the future (which is why we are averse to decision making), but we sure can see the past and where God's will was.

My gmail still has your addy, so I'll put the book to post 'ere the weekend!

ibeeeg said...

Hmm...let me clarify.
I did not mean knowing that God is speaking to me because I actually hear him (that he is audible). I meant it more in the inner hearing. Where you really know that it is God directing you vs your well placed wishes, thoughts, intents, etc. Further, I mean, you (I) do not have anything tangible telling me it is God. How often do you really know that it is God who is directing your decisions? Honestly, I do not think it is often, for most people. I think we know because we have faith, we believe, we are spending time with God through His Word. As Logan said, I think we know because " words of the Scripture and the Spirit directing my conscience" And as Carl said "God speaks to us first and foremost through His Word " I think that is how we are directed, but still, it takes faith because again, I don't believe you tangibly know. Which, bringing this back to the book, I think is the message of this book, right Logan? Not freezing up because you do not know tangibly if this is God's will? If I am way off base, tell me, but I will read the book too. :)

Carl, great stories about hearing God. I believe you, and spoken to you enough to know how you feel about this. But let me ask you, did you actually feel God while you were in the moment? truly? Or was this feeling strongly present after the fact? no disrespect intended, just curious.

Carl V. said...

Ibeeg: I truly felt God in the moment. It was a very rare experience and one that was so profound. If you can imagine what a 19 year old guy who is convinced he's found the love of his life and suddenly realizing she may be gone must feel like and then imagine all that anxiety and fear just washing away and a real sense of trust replacing that it might kind of be a good description of what it was like.

As far as the whole 'tangible' thing, I agree with what you are saying, it is always based on faith. There are days when the Word, God, etc. "feels" tangible, "feels" very alive and real, but I don't believe these "feelings" are any true indication of anything. I believe they are 'real' moments, but they could just as easily be days when I'm just having a good day. I think the danger in wanting the 'feeling' is that the 'feeling' isn't 'faith'. 'Faith' is believing and acting on it in spite of the 'feeling', as we all know. I think where your "tangible knowing" that something is or is not the will of God comes from faith and also from knowing His Word. I think you can have that tangible knowing if you are doing what the Word says and be 100% secure in knowning that you are in God's will. Still, none of that happens without faith.

Logan: Yes, no matter how much we think we are grown up, when it comes to God it does seem like we often revert to childhood and want to pester our Father with "why" questions. And God is best at saying "Because I told you so". I pray that I get to the point where that answer is always good enough for me and I jump right up to obey.

logankstewart said...

@ibeeeg: Ah, sorry. I thought you meant audibly. ;)

I can't think of any examples off the top of my head other than my conscience advising me against certain things decision-wise.

Like Carl said above, and I 100% agree with, "I don't believe these 'feelings' are any true indication of anything." Keisha often struggles with wanting to "feel" God's presence, and I tell her that that's not how it works. Most of the time, we're to press on despite the lack of "feeling;" this is faith. The "feeling" is just a blessing God rewards us with, like when you're worshiping and you have the assurance that God is real and love and loves you and is good and so on. That feeling is sometimes few and far between, and sometimes weekly, but I don't think it's a good thing to base decisions on. Humans are way too emotional for this.

Faith just gets crazier and crazier the more we think about it. It goes completely against our nature.

Carl V. said...

Our nature...that fallen part of us that we constantly have to crucify! :) Gets us in a lot of trouble, doesn't it? It is in "our nature" to always want signs that we are on the right path, etc. A visiting preacher recently reminded us of the verse in the Bible that said something to the effect that "the wicked generation craves a sign". I don't want to be a part of that!

The wonderful thing about God though is that if we do just keep acting on faith, keep believing despite our feelings and choose (sometimes moment by moment) to believe that God is real, His Word is true, and that His promises will come to pass, He is loving enough that he does give us a sign or a good feeling once in awhile. He is also loving enough not to let us rely on those because we are wired in such a way that a kind word or a good smell or just a sunny day can make us euphoric. Similarly, a stubbed toe can ruin our day. Thank God that we don't have to rely on these fickle feelings as our source of proof that God exists and that He cares intimately for us.

Will said...

Logan, you did a great job on the review. I really enjoyed everybody's comments on your review. This is an amazing book that will reformulate everything you have probably been taught. We overspiritualize everything and we act as if every decision is so crucial that our life depends on making the right decision. Although the right decision is crucial, we are only commanded in Scripture to love and to make disciples. We can do that in any and everything we do, whether it's buying a car, choosing a job, getting married, having children, choosing a place of worship, etc...God does care about these things, but what he ultimately cares about is if we are willing to take risks for him by walking through a door(s) he has opened and have enough faith to trust that he is sovereign and has everything under control. We use so many excuses like, "I'm not sure if it is God's will," or "Let me pray about that." Prayer is not a bad thing by any means, but if it keeps us from acting on faith, then it becomes a hindrance. We should pray for wisdom and that we would use our Godly wisdom to make proper decisions. Any decision we make, as long as it is for the glory of God, cannot be a wrong decision. God is always pleased when we make choices for his glory and we spread the gospel message.

Carl V. said...

Will, your comment reminds me that we Christians have certainly come up with a lot of holy-sounding excuses and catchphrases. As Logan indicated in a recent comment, I think our new response as Christians needs to be "Yes, sir!" more often than not!