Tag Archives: Sovereignty

Book Review: “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung, Kevin. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will. Chicago: Moody, 2009. 128 pages.

The “alternate” title to this book is How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. As humorous as that may sound, so many young people have been taught that one or a combination of those things is exactly how they should be “finding” God’s will for their lives. Just Do Something debunks so many of the “Christian” myths that have been tossed around over the last several decades (or centuries). My reaction after reading this book is “Amen and Amen!” I wish I had read this in my early 20s. What a freeing sense of faithful living instead of fearful and futile “searching”!

Our lives are filled with so many questions and decisions. It’s easy to wonder if we’re making the right choices. We want to please God, but we’re not always exactly sure how. DeYoung provides a Gospel-centered, refreshing perspective that frees us from guilt (and laziness), and tells us to “Just Do Something.”

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“As the crafters of the Heidelberg Catechism put it so eloquently back in the sixteenth century, ‘Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty–all things, in fact, come to us not by chance, but from his fatherly hand'” (pp. 20-21).

“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-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom” (p. 26).

“We may have the best of intentions in trying to discern God’s will, but we should really stop putting ourselves through the misery of overspiritualizing every decision. Our misdirected piety makes following God more mysterious than it was meant to be” (p. 28).

“…God’s plans can include risk–and an opportunity to show courage” (p. 38). “Many of us–men and women–are extremely passive and cowardly. We don’t take risks for God because we are obsessed with safety, security, and most of all, with the future. That’s why most of our prayers fall into one of two categories. Either we ask that everything would be fine or we ask to know that everything will be fine. We pray for health, travel, jobs–and we should pray for these things. But a lot of prayers boil down to, ‘God, don’t let anything unpleasant happen to anyone. Make everything in the world nice for everyone.’ And when we aren’t praying this kind of prayer, we are praying for God to tell us that everything will turn out fine” (p. 40). “Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live, because showing us the future is not God’s way. ” and “Because we have confidence in God’s will of decree, we can radically commit ourselves to His will of desire, without fretting over a hidden will of direction” (p. 41).

“God certainly cares about these decisions [re: school, where you live, job] insofar as He cares for us and every detail of our lives. But in another sense, …these are not the most important issues in God’s book. The most important issues for God are moral purity, theological fidelity, compassion, joy, our witness, faithfulness, hospitality, love, worship, and faith. These are His big concerns. The problem is that we tend to focus most of our attention on everything else. We obsess over the things God has not mentioned and may never mention, while, by contrast, we spend little time on all the things God has already revealed to us in the Bible” (pp. 44-45). “My point is that we should spend more time trying to figure out how to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (as instructed in Micah 6:8) as a [fill in occupation] and less time worrying about whether God wants us to be a [fill in said occupation]” (p.45).

“Our fascination with the will of God often betrays our lack of trust in God’s promises and provisions.” and “We don’t have to say ‘If the Lord wills’ after every sentence, but it must be in our heads and hearts. We must live our lives believing that all of our plans and strategies are subject to the immutable will of God” (p. 47).

“Worry and anxiety are not merely bad habits or idiosyncrasies. They are sinful fruits that blossom from the root of unbelief. Jesus doesn’t treat obsession with the future as a personal quirk, but as evidence of little faith ([Matt. 6]v. 30). Worry and anxiety reflect our hearts’ distrust in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Worry is a spiritual issue and must be fought with faith” (pp. 56-57).

“…after you’ve prayed and studied and sought advice, make a decision and don’t hyper-spiritualize it. Do what seems best. Sometimes you won’t have time to pray and read and seek counsel for a month. That’s why the way of wisdom is about more than getting a decisive word about one or two big decisions in life. The way of wisdom is a way of life. And when it’s a way of life, you are freer than you realize. If you are drinking deeply of godliness in the Word and from others and in your prayer life, then you’ll probably make God-honoring decisions. In fact, if you are a person of prayer, full of regular good counsel from others, and steeped in the truth of the Word, you should begin to make many important decisions instinctively, and some of them even quickly. For most Christians, agonizing over decisions is the only sure thing we know to do, the only thing that feels safe and truly spiritual. But sometimes, oftentimes actually, it’s okay to just decide” (pp. 96-97).

“…the last thing I want to do is discourage people from praying. …But isn’t it possible that if we are walking with God in daily prayer, and we have some sanctified common sense, that we should be able to make decisions on the spot once in a while?” (p. 98).

Make a decision. Don’t over-spiritualize. You can serve the Lord in a thousand different jobs. …don’t ever think you are a second-class citizen in the kingdom of God if you aren’t in full-time ministry. You can honor the Lord as a teacher, mother, doctor, lawyer, loan officer, or social worker; you can work in retail, fast food, politics, or big business; you can be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker. You can be just about anything you want as long as you aren’t lazy (Proverb 6:6-11; 26:13-16), and whatever you do you perform to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)” (pp. 102-3).

“Sometimes you feel a sense of calling to your job and, you know what, sometimes you don’t. …But we’ve taken this notion of calling and turned it upside down, so instead of finding purpose in every kind of work, we are madly looking for the one job that will fulfill our purpose in life” (p. 103). “God can be pleased with your work so long as you are taking pleasure in Him as you do it” (p. 104).

“…while I’m jumping on toes, let me explode the myth of ‘the one.’ …don’t think that there is only one person on the whole planet to whom you could be happily married. You’re not looking for that one puzzle piece that will interlock with yours. ‘You complete me’ may sound magically romantic, but it’s not true. Yes, men and women are designed to rely on one another in marriage. However, the biblical formula for marriage is not half a person plus half a person equals one completed puzzle of a person. Genesis math says one plus one equals one (Genesis 2:4)” (p. 109).

“…instead of ‘letting go and letting God,’ we need to make every effort to grow up in our faith (2 Peter 1:5ff).” and “…I encourage older Christians to set a good example of steady, faithful responsibility; to model Christ-centered consistency and risky decision making for the glory of God; and to be honest with the rest of us about when you have failed and where you are struggling to live up to the good example you want to set” (p. 112).

“It would be bad enough if we were just restless, meandering through life, and a little cowardly. But we’ve spiritualized restless and meandering cowardice, making it feel like piety instead of passivity. … If you are going to be anxious about one thing, be anxious to keep His commandments. If we must fear something–and we all do–fear God, not the future. The will of God isn’t a special direction here or a bit of secret knowledge there. God doesn’t put us in a maze, turn out the lights, and tell us, ‘Get out and good luck.’ In one sense, we trust in the will of God as His sovereign plan for our future. In another sense, we obey the will of God as His good word for our lives. In no sense should we be scrambling around trying to turn to the right page in our personal choose-your-own-adventure novel” (p. 121).

“So the end of the matter is this: Life 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, and you’ll be walking in the will of God” (p. 122).

Journey Journal: Days 47-51

Days 47-48: Saturday-Sunday, February 16-17, 2013

This weekend was fairly uneventful. We spent Saturday morning helping Bryan’s sister and brother-in-law pack and move into their brand new home! Excited for them as they enter the world of home ownership! Then Bryan had to study, so I ran some errands and then had a couple girlfriends over to listen to records and hang out. It was a relaxing time, full of laughter and fellowship.

Sunday started our church’s annual Pastor’s Fellowship special meetings. This year’s topic is “The Church: A Work in Progress.” Our pastor, Danny Brooks, kicked off the series on Sunday with “The Church that Will Be” and “The Church that Is.”

Days 49-51: Monday-Wednesday, February 18-20, 2013

This week has been pretty busy between special services at church, busy days at work, and trying to keep the household machine running as normally as possible. I have not been recording my food this week, but have been good about what we’ve been eating. And my weight is the same (at least I’m not going backwards), plus Bryan’s lost two more pounds! After losing ten pounds in six weeks, I figured I was due for one week of plateau. With special services, I haven’t been able to get to the gym as much, but I should be able to jump back in this weekend or next week at the latest. Bryan had several tests for school this week too, and it’s been especially challenging with two upper level science classes this semester, but God is proving Himself faithful, so we will keep plugging ahead.

Every year for the past several years, our church has hosted a Pastors’ Fellowship in February. Pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and church leaders come from all over for this mini-conference. They meet during the day to share the blessings and challenges of full-time ministry during the day; and then the whole church joins in the evenings for supper and service. The music is exceptional and the preaching is refreshing and challenging! Eric Sipe (from Columbus, OH) spoke on Monday night on “Making Sense of Failure”; Tim Keesee (my boss at Frontline) spoke on Tuesday night on “Lambs among Wolves: Making Sense of Persecution”; and Matthew Hoskinson (from NYC) spoke on Wednesday on “Wicked Cities, Half-Hearted Messengers, and Sovereign Mercy.” The sermons should all be available soon on SermonAudio.com soon, if they aren’t already.

Lessons from the Book of Job

This is an outline I turned in for my Old Testament Poetry class in college. Dr. Jaeggli was a great teacher! Just dug it out on request of a friend and thought I’d share it. Written 10.08.2002.

OUTLINE: LESSONS FROM JOB

Thesis: The book of Job defends the absolute glory and perfection of God.

I. God is perfect and absolutely glorious, and therefore He is worthy to be praised.

A. God is worthy of praise based on Who He is.

God is unfathomable in all His attributes. God is sovereign; this means He is in absolute control of everything (chapters 38 through 41). Even the affliction we suffer from Satan is limited by God (1:9-11). God is omniscient: He knows all (38:2-3). God is omnipotent: He has all power (38:12-15). Does this scare us? It could, but we need not be afraid because God is also all-loving. Ephesians 1:5 and 12 say, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,/to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” This causes us to fear Him–to have reverential awe towards Him. From salvation to glorification, all is to the end of His glory and praise.

G. Matheson, in his Times of Retirement, comments on Job 11:7, “‘Canst thou by searching find out God?’ No; and why? Because I never begin to search for Him until I have found Him; God alone can create the search for God. . . . When a man goes out to seek for gold you may infer that he is materially poor, but when a man goes out to seek for God you may conclude that He is spiritually rich” (qtd. in Hastings, 22). “Literally the verse reads: Canst thou find the deeps of (or, that which has to be searched out in) God; canst thou reach to the perfection (the outmost, the ground of the nature) of the Almighty? The word is the same as that translated in xxxviii.16 ‘recesses’ of the sea” (Hastings, 23).

B. God is worthy of praise based on what He bestows.

God is gracious in His bestowments. Job starts with 7 sons, 3 daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and many servants (chapter 1). After having all that taken away, he received double that again: 7 more sons, 3 more daughters, 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys (chapter 42). God enjoys blessing those who bless Him.

C. Though God’s praise is attacked by Satan, Satan is proved wrong.

Satan accuses the Lord of only being worthy of praise when Job is we–stocked, when he seems to “have it all together.” “Job is wealthy and popular; of course he will praise You!” (my paraphrase of Job 1:9-11). Satan asks God to test Job. In reality, he is testing the praiseworthiness of God! Satan to God: “He [Job] will surely curse You to Your face.” But after all his wealth was gone, his family deceased, and consequently his “friends” became foes, Job still praises God. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Application: Often it seems hard to praise God. We see what He gives, but we forget Who He is. Or maybe we do not even know Who He is! It is so important to develop not only a knowledge of, but a relationship with, God. We must formulate our own theology of God before trials occur. The key root of the matter is that I must get to know my God so that I can praise Him properly. He is perfect! He is absolutely glorious! I must know Him! He is unfathomable in all His attributes; He only partially reveals Himself to us at this time. Therefore, I must trust Him.

II. Suffering reveals the absolute glory and perfection of God.

A. God is perfect.

God allows suffering (chapter 1). God is infinite: He is in no way limited. God reveals His omnipotence and omniscience (chapters 38 through 41). Chapter 28 is a poem on wisdom by the Holy Spirit. Since He is part of the Godhead, He is qualified to speak on wisdom. The end of the chapter reveals the true source of wisdom as the fear of the Lord.

God says He is “without cause” to destroy Job (2:3). Likewise, Psalm 69:4 says, “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.” “This prophetic reference to Messiah’s suffering focuses on the single event of history that puts all our suffering, even Job’s, into proper perspective. Who could ever suffer more cruelly and undeservedly than the spotless, holy, harmless Lamb of God? Henceforth, we must gauge our attitude toward our own suffering not by the experience of others but by the experience of Christ” (Kidner, 59-60).

B. Man is Imperfect. This point is necessary to see God’s glory more perfectly.

Man is unable to comprehend the meaning of suffering. While God is infinite, man is finite. God bombards Job with questions about nature and the universe, massive creatures and intricate features. But Job’s wisdom is finite too. His “friends” accuse him of sin. This reveals man’s faulty logic. Sin is not always the reason for suffering. Chapter 28 details man’s futile search for wisdom.

Because man is imperfect, he must trust One who is perfect. Job 13:15 says, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” This can also be translated, “I will wait for Him.” D. Davies, in his The Book of Job, writes, “Job, in saying, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I wait for him,’ practically says, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I not try to escape from Him, or evade Him, I will wait for Him. If I am to be slain, it shall be with my face, and not my back, toward Him; and if I am to fall, I will fall at His feet! Was there ever a more daring expression of faith than that?” (qtd. in Hastings, 39). Yet, the end of Job 13:15 says, “Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” Job in his finiteness still wants to debate with God because he lacks God’s wisdom as of yet.

C. Suffering is a means of God to perfect man.

Suffering is often an impetus to seek God’s wisdom. But still, why must man suffer? Job questions God about this (chapter 29 through 31). Not only sinners, but the righteous, will suffer. The way to have wisdom is to fear the Lord–to know God and obey God based on that relational knowledge (chapters 28). Job 42:11 reveals the recognition of all of Job’s friends and relatives that the “afflictions” were “brought on” by the Lord. He grew and blessed God more because of these afflictions. And he died, being “an old man and full of days” (42:17). “Knowing all that it would entail and how it would end, God not only permitted Job’s circumstances but also initiated the whole process of Job’s suffering” (Talbert, 146).

Application: Suffering is from God. “Who among all these does not know/That the hand of the Lord has done this,/In whose hand is the life of every living thing,/And the breath of all mankind?” (12:9-10). We cannot always know the meaning of suffering, therefore suffering becomes an impetus to trust God. We cannot trust someone we do not know. Thus we must be in His Word, daily communing with the sovereign God of the universe, that we may know Him better. When we trust the perfect God, He is glorified in that. If we did not have to trust, we would not need God. But the fact is that we do need God. Suffering drives us to abandon dependence on self and to seek God’s wisdom. With God’s wisdom, we can understand and assume our role as creatures created for dependence.

III. God’s absolute glory is revealed in the preparation for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

A. Christ is the Mediator between God and man.

Job longs for a mediator between himself and God. Job asks for an “umpire,” someone to intercede, to mediate (9:33). He asks for an “angel as mediator” (33:23), the “Daysman” (KJV). Job realizes he has a “witness” “in heaven” and that his “advocate is on high” (16:18-22). This advocate is Christ.

B. Christ is the Redeemer.

Job 33:28-30 says, “He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit,/And my life shall see the light./Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men,/To bring back his soul from the pit,/That he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Ultimately, Job looked to the coming Messiah as His Redeemer. Job 19:25-26 says, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. And at the last He will take His stand on earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.” He believed he would be resurrected with Christ. In this, Job finds absolute satisfaction. Even though he could not understand it, he knew enough about the Lord Jesus to have hope. Christ is the Redeemer.

Application: Job had to look ahead to Jesus. And he still had hope. We can look back to Jesus and ahead at His return. With Christ in us, we have “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Christ is my Mediator. I Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I John 2:1 tells us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Christ is my Redeemer as well. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” I must know God as my Mediator and my Redeemer, and thereby give Him glory as the Perfect and Absolutely Glorious One!

Conclusion: God’s perfection and absolute glory are revealed in His praiseworthiness, His sovereignty in man’s suffering, and in His gift an intercessory redeemer for us (Jesus Christ, God’s Son). The book of Job reveals these three truths vividly. God is worthy of all praise, insufficient as it may be because it comes from man. God is in control. We must trust Him. And even when it feels like there are situations we cannot handle, He is still working everything into a beautiful picture for our good and His glory. That is His ultimate goal. And His goals are accomplished: if not now, they will be in eternity. God is good all the time, and I must know Him–intimately, personally, relationally. I say with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and . . . I shall see God” (19:25-26). To Him be glory and praise! Amen

The following is a portion of a poem by John Piper:

“Behold the mercy of our King,
Who takes from death its bitter sting,
And by His blood, and often ours,
Brings triumph out of hostile pow’rs,
And paints, with crimson, earth and soul
Until the bloody work is whole.
What we have lost God will restore–
That, and himself, forevermore,
When he is finished with his art:
The quiet worship of our heart.
When God creates a humble hush,
And makes Leviathan his brush,
It won’t be long before the rod
Becomes the tender kiss of God”

(Piper, 78).

*Note: The thesis and major points are adapted from points in the Wayne Jackson source. All Scripture references are NASB unless otherwise noted.

SOURCES CONSULTED:

Hastings, James, ed. The Great Texts of the Bible: Job to Psalm XXIII. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Jaeggli, Randy. “Old Testament Poetry: Job.” BI 400, sec. 1. BJU. Greenville, SC, Fall 2002.

Jackson, Wayne. “Some Lessons from the Book.” The Book of Job. Quality Pub. 03 Oct. 2002 <http://www.bible.ca/eo/job/job_01.htm&gt;.

Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985.

New American Standard Bible: Updated Edition. La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Piper, John. The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002.

Talbert, Layton. Not by Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God. Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2001.