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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 8 April 2017
I had high hopes for this book, which was doing the rounds in con-evo circles a few years ago. Sadly, it's roundly failed to live up to those expectations. The basic theology of the book is good, although it's bread and butter conservative teaching on the matter; so if you're familiar with that, you're unlikely to encounter anything new here. The 120 odd pages the author has to play with are really inefficiently used. He doesn't go into depth in either theology or application - you could probably sum up the theology in a single sentence:

God's will for your life is that you orient your life around his purposes, as expressed in scripture; since God can use you in pretty much any situation, as long as you follow the moral instruction of scripture, you're free to make most other decisions as you choose.

The application of this truth is discussed, but predominantly in vague, generic terms. A more specific case-study or example based approach would not go amiss here. If I hadn't encountered clear teaching on this in the past, I don't think this book would really help me to make wise Christian decisions.

What really left me unenamoured with this book, however, was the author's tendency to push his own will as if it were God's. He's established that God's will is for us to seek to further our sanctification, and everything else is by the by; so why is he pushing middle class suburbia as the Christian's target in life? According to DeYoung, by the time you're thirty you should have married, had (several) children, bought your house and be advancing through your career. If one, or all of these, eludes you, the implication is that you're not a "proper" adult Christian. There's no consideration for whether these aspirations are appropriate in different social and cultural contexts, let alone whether or not they're Biblical.

This book would be greatly improved if, instead of trying to push people down the same life-path he's followed, DeYoung gave some examples and guidance as to how to make wise, Biblically informed life decisions.
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on 23 January 2014
You can read the full review here: [...]

"If there really is a perfect will of God we are meant to discover, in which we will find tremendous freedom and fulfillment, why does it seem that everyone looking for God's will is in such bondage and confusion?" (p. 54).

DeYoung starts his book with Tinkertoys. It's been popular for a hundred years because kids like to tinker. And so do adults.

We have a generation of people who can't stick to their guns. They don't want to go through difficulties, to be stuck in the `wrong' job, state, family. For the Christian, life after high school is often filled with never-ending unlimited possibilities. A world full of choices.

Too many choices.

And they float around waiting for "God's will" to show them the safe way to everlasting peace and fulfillment.

By and large, we expect too much out of life. Everything has to 'fulfill' us. We expect everything to be amazing, and when it's not we're severely disappointed.

God is not a Magic 8-Ball. The Bible doesn't light up when that special girl walks by. Is he or she "the one"? Not if you don't talk to them.

God expects us to make good decisions, confident that He already knows what's going to happen. Why would God give us His Word to teach our brains about seeking, finding, and applying wisdom to our lives, if all we really have to do is ask God for guidance in our every decision?

**A Better Way

God's will doesn't involve you waiting for a "liver-shiver." It's being Christ-like in all of your actions.

Chapter 6 is on ordinary means by which God guides us, while chapter 7 are the "interesting" ways that we should stay away from. Read God's Word or set out a fleece? Seek out godly counsel or follow the verse my finger lands on when I flip open my Bible? Wait for visions and impressions? Or perhaps realize that those things don't happen quite as often as they did (or as we think they did) in the New Testament.

**The Chocolate Milk

+ I enjoyed DeYoung's approach to this highly misconstrued topic. There were times when DeYoung seems to have a heavy hand against those who are just meandering around life. It causes you to sit there and reflect, "Is this me?" This isn't a book that you read for mere information. It is freeing. 

Chapter 8 is on the way of wisdom: the fear of the Lord. Knowing He is above all, and not listening only to yourself.
Chapter 9 is on what to look for in a job and in a spouse, and how to be wise in your decisions.
Chapter 10 is on a final discussion with Grandpa DeYoung and Grandpa Van, and both had a very easy way at looking at God's will. His will `will' be done. Fear God, not the future.

Reading Level: High school and up

[Special thanks to Janis at Moody Publishers for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]
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on 7 January 2016
This book makes one valid point, but using arguments based on loose theology, sweeping assumptions, and sexist comments.

His valid point could've been made in a blog post that says, "God isn't going to tell you what to eat for breakfast. Stay in His Word, trust Him, and try to live accordingly; God will sort out the rest." That's all he needed to say, really, as the rest is filler that comes across as sour grapes and yearning for the days of his grandparents where you married the girl next door and took the first job offered to you. The world has progressed since that time, and I don't think acknowledging this is an excuse for "sinful living" or slacking or laziness. It's a fact, yes, we have more choice these days, and I think people likely to pick this book up are those of us who fear wasting time. Who want to make the right choices. But I was encouraged by the basic point that God's not going to tell you every step of your life. He will tell you what He wants to tell you, but otherwise, read the Bible and try to follow it. End of.

The author comes across as bitter about his own choices, making judgemental comments about that those who travel, live in different countries, try different jobs and experiences. While I'm glad of the point the book makes, it didn't need a book of opinionated finger-pointing to do it. I would not recommend this unless you wanted to get riled up by things like the suggestion that if you're not married with kids and a mortgage by 30, you're either "lazy" or have the "gift of celibacy." I got married at 34, not 19 -- does that mean I was lazy because I wanted to marry someone I was likely to not divorce? People in his grandparents' day married young and quickly because travel was expensive, choices were limited, and they were expected to pop kids out immediately and take any old job they could. These days, we have the freedom (yes, freedom) to not be restricted to a job we hate so we can go on hating it until we're 70, and then live out our retirement years in regret.
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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 work...so 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 16 July 2013
This is a great little book, easy to understand and written with humour and applicable teaching. It's challenging and practical, but it is essentially geared to resolving one problem Christians sometimes face when it comes to guidance and God's will: that of being so preoccupied with guidance, or so uncertain about what God's will is, that they end up doing nothing, living in fear of making wrong decisions or spending a long time being stuck in an unproductive way of life.

So when it comes to getting people unstuck from an over-cautious approach to their decision-making, it's excellent. It's also a good book for Christians who aren't particularly taken with charismatic Christianity, but need encouragement to be led by what's in their (redeemed, sanctified) heart. However, there is a lot more to guidance and hearing the voice of God, which is available to us through the Holy Spirit, springs from close fellowship with God, and which unlocks the use of a believer's gifts, callings and spiritual gifts such as healings and words of knowledge. If you want to know more about that, you'll do well to read other books as well as this one ("The Hot Line" by Peter Lawrence is excellent).

We all have to start somehow, somewhere, in fulfilling God's plans and this book will certainly help you get going. At a later stage, one can perhaps add to one's understanding and broaden one's experience.
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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 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 28 March 2011
Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent short guide to the intensely practical question of knowing God's will. At 128 pages this book is a masterwork of brevity, succinctly treating all the major issues surrounding the seemingly thorny business of making a godly decision. Sanity pervades the whole volume, and DeYoung manages to be firm in his convictions without dismissing the occasional benefits or strenghts of other points of view. The whole work is challenging, as DeYoung gently (and occasionally a little more forcefully) nudges the reader towards a courageous life lived for God's glory.

Probably the most similar book on the market at the moment is Philip Jensen and Tony Payne's "Guidance and the Voice of God". That book is excellent, but I think DeYoung's work has a couple of advantages. Pastorally, it contains more in the way of understanding why an approach to guidance focussed on God's word and Wisdom matters. Apathy, anxiety and overhyped expectations of life are all sensitively and biblically addressed. The end appraoch though is very similar and I wouldn't want to pitch the two books against one another.

A previous reviewer has said that in his view DeYoung is not open enough to the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. If I had one criticism of this book it's that on occasions he seems a little too open. I guess the fact that we both think the book is excellent shows that he's managed to do a great job at steering between extremes.

All in all, an excellent little book. I guess I can give it no higher recommendation than saying that on the ground in real life ministry, it will be my go-to book for helping students understand this issue.
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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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