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on 26 May 2010
"Just do something": the title sums up the book well. The author takes careful aim at those whose think following God's will means doing nothing without some specific piece of heavenly guidance, and who thereby end up in a kind of super-spiritual paralysis.

But DeYoung's interest is not merely in point-scoring; he has a pastor's concern to help those hamstrung by fear of having 'missed God's will'. He emphasises that if we are living for God then God has undertaken to guide us at the points where it really matters. He emphasises a right freedom, and, crucially, a reponsibility, for Christians to live, grow and build within the bounds set by God's biblical revelation of his will.

DeYoung avoids falling to the 'other extreme' of teaching that God's guidance is purely limited to his revelation in scripture. He is thorough and pretty balanced, though brief, in looking at supernatural spiritual gifts, and at guidance in the lives of the Apostles. My criticism would be that he is just a tad too dismissive of the expectation of the Holy Spirit's direct leading into the 'good works prepared for us to do'.

With some inspiring stories about his grandfather, a simple Godly activist from the days where you had to get up and do something if you were going to keep eating, DeYoung challenges what he describes as the mere 'tinkering' of his own generation.

There is a great chapter on dating and marriage in which he encourages people to 'get on with it' (where appropriate!), and specifically reminds Christian men to be men: to take a lead and take responsibility in relationships. And it's good that he warns people never to think of divorce as an option if they've married 'the wrong one'. He does assume in passing that it would be OK to marry the innocent party from an earlier divorce; and perhaps it would have been good just to mention that not all evangelicals would hold that view.

I read through this book in little over an hour, but it will also repay closer study. Great for a 'refresher', or as a book to give new Christians or those facing decision time.
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on 29 January 2012
This is an interesting book. I agree with much of what he says, we have all ground to a halt, terrified to move without some precise, irrefutable guidance from God. This renders us impotent much of the time, because that's not often how God speaks to us. We need to use the wisdom & principles we have been given in the Bible, plus our own common sense, then we can just get on with life.
The bit that worries me is his take on marriage. He treats it as if it's like buying a new pair of socks. I do understand the situation that he is addressing; we have way too many single young people, all scared witless to marry in case they've chosen the wrong one! I agree we need to get out of that mindset, but he advocates that if you like someone, they share your faith & none of your family is vehemently opposed, what are you waiting for? Get on with it. It's that simple.
He treats it way too flippantly, in my opinion. It's a holy institution, mirroring Christ's love for the church. How can that be treated lightly? Divorce rates are horrendous & no different in or out of the church & he's just saying, "What's the fuss? Get on with it." I have to disagree. It's a profound commitment & one that demands all the consideration we can give it.
So just be aware, if you are buying this to encourage someone else's decision making, they might end up being more decisive than you'd bargained for!
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on 10 January 2010
This is one of the most practical books on finding God's will for your life that I have ever read. It appears to be a book for young people but it is not! If you are serious about knowing what God wants you to do in 2010, or if you are trying to make some major decisions in your life this is the book for you. Be prepared for a challenge and be prepared for a life changing view on guidance. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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on 26 October 2009
I had never heard of Deyoung until this book, but I will definately search out more stuff (he's on the Gospel Coalition site). An excellent book debunking a lot of modern methods for guidance, yet very biblical. I especially like what he says about God having a perfect plan for our lives yet we don't have to desperatly search it out to be in it! Buy this short book, pass it on, and pass it on again. Very clearly written, very practical, very challenging to me personally. I can't recommend it enough.
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on 30 March 2013
There are not many books that I would recommend every Christian to read. This is one of them. You may not agree with everything that the author says (do you agree with everything anyone says, even yourself?), but I think you will be glad to have read it. And it's a short book so it won't even take you very long :-)

DeYoung does a great job of helping us get rid of the notion that God has a blueprint for every single aspect of our lives, and thus also doing away with the Sword of Damacles that hangs over us if we somehow fail to discover and follow this perfectly mapped out path. I fully share his appreciation of the place of "wisdom" in decision making, as something that can be cultivated, rather than just waiting for revelation to descend from heaven.

He is a little abrasive at times, and could sound condescending, but there again mincing his words would not help to get an idea across, particularly one which goes so sharply against the tide of popular Christian thinking.

Personally, I still expect slightly more from God in terms of "guidance" than DeYoung seems prepared to concede, but as an ongoing corrective we find in our obedience and action, not a prerequisite for doing anything. (He is very strong on not sitting around waiting for God to speak - hence the book's title.) "My sheep hear my voice" must still figure in the way we live our lives, and hearing God is an art that is worth developing. Paul's prayer for a spirit of "wisdom and revelation" is still my own - both of these, not an either/or. But in general terms he is spot on.

One quote that sums it up:

"Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? And the answer is no. Yes, God has a specific plan for our lives. And yes, we can be assured that He works things for our good in Christ Jesus. And yes, looking back we will often be able to trace God's hand in bringing us where we are. But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time.

The second half of that last sentence is crucial. God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision. I'm not saying God won't help you make decisions (it's called wisdom, and we'll talk about it in chapter 8). I'm not saying God doesn't care about your future. I'm not saying God isn't directing your path and in control amidst the chaos of your life. I believe in providence with all my heart. What I am saying is that we should stop thinking of God's will like a corn maze, or a tight rope, or a bull's eye, or a choose-your-own adventure novel. [...]

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That's wonderful. The problem is we think He's going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know --and need to know-- what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God's will, as well intended as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom. The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we're going."

All in all, well worth the read. Though who am I to tell you if it is God's will that you read this book or not...
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on 19 August 2010
If you have ever struggled under the burden of believing you have to get supernatural guidance to make certain decisions then this book may be for you. Kevin DeYoung shows that this is not how the Bible portrays the ordinary way a Christian is supposed to discern God's will, and presents the biblical 'wisdom' approach instead.

The book is short and eminently easy (and enjoyable) to read. I think Tim Challies has described it as his new 'go to' book on knowing God's will. One slight negative is that there are many other bible verses he could have used to support his case but didn't. For readers wanting a longer and more comprehensive treatment of this subject see 'Decision Making and the Will of God' by Gary Friessen, that is a much longer book though and I think for 99% of believers DeYoung adequately does the job in a short amount of space. Highly Recommended!
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on 15 May 2012
The subject of decision-making and knowing the will of God is a contentious one in our day. The rise of hyper-charismatic theology has meant that most Christians are of the conviction that God's will is discernible through dreams, visions, prophecies, words of knowledge, etc. The problems with such an approach are, I trust, self-evident. (If you'd like to know more about the Bible's teaching on the spiritual gifts and the work of the Spirit , may I recommend Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit by Thomas Edgar for a good Biblical treatment of this subject)

On the other extreme, some have proposed a scheme where, while eschewing the idea of special revelation in making decision, the aim subtly becomes the reading of providence and ultimately one's ability to make decisions effectively is dependent on whether they can follow these few steps accurately.

Either way, the problem becomes: "How can I know what the will of God is for me in making decisions?" I will admit that for a long time, I just figured that the safest (and 'safe' is seriously top of the reference list) thing was to guarantee in my mind that everything would work out and then make a move (my way, of course). In the likely event it didn't work, it was a dumb idea to begin with and next time, I won't even think twice about making a decision, should I be in the same place somewhere down the road. In short - I did something and it didn't we won't be doing that or anything next time.

Enter Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung. Prior to having read this book, I had heard some negative things about this book and others like it. For the most part, I heard two basic criticisms: (1) "He's saying God doesn't have a specific will for your life" and (2) "He's saying just do whatever you want - where's the careful thought and discernment in that?" Well, I read it - and neither objection I had heard rings true. If anything, this book lays out a liberating, common-sense and empowering view of guidance which I have been personally encouraged by it.

Pastor DeYoung begins with a "State of the World" review, putting the facts on the table and showing that the majority of Christians deeply struggle with "getting on with it" ever chasing after the seemingly elusive "will of God". Having basically said, "Why aren't we doing anything?", the following chapters are very much like Rev. DeYoung putting the kettle on, opening up a Bible and having a chat about what the will of God looks like and how we "find it". Chapter two deals with the three ways in which the will of God is discussed: (1) God's will of decree, (2) God's will of desire and (3) God's will of direction. DeYoung, in an insightful manner, deals with the relevant texts and then comes to the following staggering conclusion (which I think is right):

This conventional understanding [that there is a specific will of God for every believer and anything less is a fail] is the wrong way to think of God's will. In fact, expecting God to reveal some hidden way of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Trusting in God's will of decree is good. Following His will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God's will of direction is dangerous.

Dangerous? Seems a little irreverent to say that waiting for God's will is dangerous - but then that assumes the existence of a "will of God" for every individual believer, anything (I will save that for a future blog post.) With a unique mixture of sarcasm, wit and pastoral concern, DeYoung then lays out an uncomplicated scheme for knowing the will of God. God wants you saved, sanctified, Spirit-led and growing in faith - that's His will as we find in the Bible. For everything, apply some sanctified common sense and just do something. If it works out, praise the Lord and keep it moving. If not, learn from it, praise the Lord and keep it moving. DeYoung also dedicates a chapter to the big questions which most - if not, all - young people wrestle through - "What about marriage?" and "What should I do after studying (or should I study at all?)"

I honestly enjoyed this book, even though at points, it was painful and felt like my non-risk-taking, safety-loving heart was being dragged through a briar patch. But then, that was the greatest part - stripping back the tradition and letting the Word be the governing principle. You may not agree with his conclusions initially (and judging by its reviews, neither does half of the Internet) but do the spade-work and test what he is saying. I can definitely say you'll be glad you did.
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on 21 September 2011
I bought this small book on the strength of a brief review, and do not regret it. DeYoung has written an intensely practical book, which is also thoughroughly Biblical in its foundations. His writing style is light, easy to read and enjoyable - but he does not hold back on admonishment where due. The hyper-spiritual practices derived from christian folklore (rather than Scripture) are shown to be empty and too often leading to an inability to make even simple decisions.

Just do something - get hold of a copy of this book, then sit down and read it through with your Bible to hand.
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on 28 June 2011
I read this in one train journey between London and Leeds, I had plenty of other work to do but this was so good and practically helpful (both personally and from a pastoral point of view) I could not put it down.
DeYoung is such and easy read and this is the perfect antidote to the nonsense that is out there on trying to find the will of God.
Highly recommended.
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on 3 August 2011
We all have decisions to make and being a christian we want to 'do the right thing' which ultimately means we delay and put off doing anything!! This book is very easily read and it is brilliant, get it - read it - and then get on with your life! Oh and then pass the book on to your friends!
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