Just Do Something

Just Do Something Just Do Something, written by Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in East Lansing, MI, offers a terrific perspective on a subject that impacts all of us, at least all Christians…how do we think about seeking and acting upon God’s will for our lives.  The subtitle to the book is probably the best indication of the direction DeYoung intends to take his readers.  That subtitle is:  A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will – OR – How to Make A Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing In The Sky, etc. 

This is a relatively short book, 128 pages in length, and those pages are bound in a compact paperback format of only 5 x 7″.  So, when I say short, I mean short.  It literally can be read in a couple of evenings.  Maybe one evening if you are a fast reader.

DeYoung’s basic premise is that there are essentially two legitimate ways to think about God’s will.  The first, is God’s will of decree.  That is, everything that comes to pass, is according to God’s sovereign decree.  What God wills, will happen, and what happens is according to God’s will.  This necessarily raises the question of how evil plays into both the sovereignty and will of decree of God.  While the answer to that could take the space of many blogs, the short version would be that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, including acts of evil that are perpetrated by His human creations.  Best evidence of this is the ultimate solution to our sin which was brought about by evil acts, that resulted in the murder of Jesus.  Christ’s death (including the evil acts of men leading up to it), was accomplished according to God’s will of decree.

The second legitimate aspect of God’s will, is His will of desire.  This is best understood as His commands.  These are perhaps the easiest to find, as scripture is filled with commands and imperatives.  These are a clear indication of the way things should be, according to God’s will.

The way in which we get side tracked and distracted is when we seek a third aspect of God’s will, which is unfounded, according to DeYoung.  That aspect might be called God’s will of direction.  He goes on to describe the pitfall we get ourselves into from time to time, all with the noble and pious pursuit of “God’s will.”

“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 backward, we will often be able to trace God’s hand in bringing us to 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.”

Dispelling the notion that we are obligated to seek God’s will of direction for every decision we make about our lives is the subject of the rest of the book.  DeYoung utilizes an enjoyable mixture of what I would describe as wry humor, mixed with examples that can be understood and applied by people of all ages, but perhaps especially by those who are in their early 20’s through mid 30’s (the demographic that characterizes his church, which is located adjacent to the campus of Michigan State University).  But even for someone who completed his college education 33 years ago, his points still ring true for me as well.

This is a quick and easy read, but it is nonetheless, filled with good insight.  I recommend it for everyone who is serious about comprehending the subject of “God’s will” and especially my college-aged friends who have lots of big decisions that they will be making over the course of the next few years, all of which I am sure they would like to make “according to God’s will.”

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3 Responses to Just Do Something

  1. truthstalker says:

    Sorry to post this here, but I could find absolutely no email addy 4 U.

    Just saw your excellent comment @ Kevin DeYoung’s blog regarding whether church membership as it is pushed today is biblical. Amen, it is NOT. I attend a Reformed Church where you’d think church membership was the Christian’s primary obligation (total memorization of the 3 Forms of Unity being the 2nd most important one).

    I keep wondering what it is these days with this obsession about church membership (bec. I see it all over; even iMonk has succumbed to it): do you have any ideas on the matter? In previous churches, I worked very closely with pastors 55 and older, and not ONE of them ever even hinted at the need for my being an “official” member. Yet the greenhorn 39 year old pulpiteer (he was 6 when I became a Christian) @ “my” church thumps and thumps on official church membership.

    It is a disturbing trend that smacks of ecclesiastical totalitarianism, nay, of the kraken-ways of the medieval “Mother Church.”

  2. Chuck says:

    Howdy, Thanks for tracking all the way here to comment on my remarks at Kevin’s blog. To answer your question, I really don’t have any ideas on why the current practice seems to be a hyperconcentration on membership. As I noted in my second comment at Kevin’s blog, I attend a very small church in a very small town now, where membership is not at all stressed, although it is celebrated when someone does decide to “officially” join. Every other church I have been a part of (as a member or merely worshipper) has stressed membership, or at the very least talked about it in terms that seemed to emphasise it, some with more vigor than others. Being charitable, I will assume that perhaps those church leaders were operating off the same script that Kevin does and which is spelled out in the information that he provided links to in his response to my first comment at his blog. If you have not already done so, you might take a look at those as they do provide an honest portrayal of Kevin’s perspective on the benefits to both church and congregant through membership. but as I noted at his site, while I can’t argue with the practical benefits to his views, they still lack the authority of scripture with regards to “thou shalt join.”

  3. Brandon says:

    Hey guys…good things to think about here. Chuck, your insights are always, always so helpful to me. So glad I know you.

    I think truthstalker is a little rabid in his approach, however. Valuing church membership shouldn’t be talked about as something that is “succumbed” to — as though it were a cancer in the church. We would all do well (membership or no membership) to value devotion to Jesus’ people much more than what we do.

    The language of “membership” can be articulated in different ways, some helpful, some not. If someone is implying that signing a piece of paper is the sole purpose in promoting membership so that we can become a larger church, then it’s unhelpful. But if what is meant by membership is that you become devoted to a local gathering of Jesus’ people for the sake of gospel mission and care — then we probably need not rail against it. That doesn’t smack of “ecclesiastical totalitarianism”, it smacks of putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to being God’s people. One cannot claim to love Jesus without loving his bride, for whom he died. And it’s hard to claim you love his people if you are not experiencing life with them and having to deal with all the deep, difficult, often awkward, often sacrificial, but oh-so-rewarding relationships that come with them. Until you are experiencing that, your claim holds little weight.

    As for it not being commanded in Scripture, there are many things Christians believe in that are not explicitly commanded in Scripture. So that’s not much of a worry of mine. I see it implicitly in Scripture.

    There is so much more to be said on this, but I’ll just throw a couple bullet points in here and be done:

    -American Christianity is racked with superficiality when it comes to loving God’s people. We keep our distance so that we don’t have to deal with anything hard. And when we are approached with difficulty, we flee to the next congregation. It’s terrible. Valuing membership – again, a correct understanding of membership – is a great way to counter this.

    -Valuing membership is not a new thing…it’s OLD OLD OLD OLD. It should not be discussed as something only younger pastors are bringing up. Where do we think they’re learning it? (from older pastors they respect) Additionally, it’s unhelpful to pit an older generation against a younger one.

    -Discuss things with grace.

    -Membership is not a masquerade for control and manipulation (although it is in some churches). Unhelpful, groundless, reactionary suspicion is just as sinful as the manipulation that might (or might not) be behind it.

    -Use it as an opportunity to check your own heart. Our hearts are “deceitful above all else” — why not dig inside ourselves for a little while. Are we reacting against membership because it’s going to expose our lack of devotion? Are we reacting because it’s just not what we’re used to? Are we reacting because we’re afraid of how we might be challenged? Are we reacting just because we’ve never been taught about this?

    Just some more things to think about on this issue.

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