Should I write a book review? I’m not a celebrated writer by any means – yet alone an authoritative book critic. Do I have the time? Will others be edified? Will God be pleased? Decisions, decisions.
The truth is, I’m just not good at writing reviews. Corner me in my office or sit down with me over some Kung Pao Shrimp and it’s another story. I can talk all day about books. It’s the systematic scripting that scares me. Nevertheless, I am so convinced that the following book is needed for today’s Christians, that it is time for me to suck it up and get to typing. I only hope that you can get passed my dull writing.
One thing that I have had trouble settling in my mind is the matter of Spiritual guidance. Many of us will say things like “God is leading me …” or “God is telling me to …” or something similar. I’ve wondered how this fits in with the belief that God has said all that He intends to say to us and enclosed it in the Bible. I was reading a blog post from Phil Johnson on the subject when referenced a book by Dave Swavely. I quickly purchased the book online and put my nose into it once it was delivered. While it did speak directly to the matter of my interest, the book was about making godly decisions.
Ephesians 5:15-17 reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we find the command to, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Evidently, every decision we make, even those that we call trivial, should glorify God. Isaiah teaches us that we were created for this purpose (Is. 43:7).
Let me first say that Dave speaks directly to my initial concern and he does so in a very practical way. He points out some dangers in extra-biblical revelation. It not only brings about poor decisions, it also leads us away from God’s Word. To the contrary, he promotes the blessing of God speaking to us only through the Bible.
Personal conversations with God was only one of the ways we should not make decisions. Seeking supernatural signs was another. These two spearheaded the first section of the book. It was divided into two: How Not to Make Decisions and How to Make Decisions. He did well in the first section by explaining what the Bible calls the “will of God.” Here is what he says:
“The first thing you need to understand is that the Bible uses the terminology ‘will of God’ to express two different concepts. One is commonly called the sovereign will of God (also known as the ‘secret’ or ‘decretive’ will). The other is called the moral will (also known as the ‘revealed’ or ‘preceptive’ will).” (p. 44)
Understanding the difference between the two can make a world of difference. I won’t ruin it for you who want to find out. I’ll only say that if you want to make godly decisions, you will need to know what God plans to happen and what God wants to happen.
Also within the first section (How Not to Make Decisions) is some practical instruction on the role of feelings and impressions, circumstances, counsel, desires and prayer. All of these things do have a role in our decision making, but they are not to be our decision makers. For example, how did Jesus feel about His coming crucifixion while praying the night before? What difference would it have been had He submitted to the feelings He had while sweating blood?
Sometimes, getting to the godly decision is not that easy. Feelings and circumstances can sometimes get in the way. However, there is a way (otherwise, Dave would not have written the book!). And, in the second section of the book, he describes a biblical, and therefore practical, way to make decisions pleasing to God.
I’m tempted to spell it out here but then you not need to read the book. My aim in this review is that you do rush out and purchase the book in order to read through all of this yourself. I give it little justice.
Still, I’ll leave you with this small note. In order to make godly decisions, you should be continually walking in the Spirit, recognizing God’s sovereignty and praying for wisdom. Then you should ask yourself, “What does the Bible say about it?” If the Bible is silent on the specific matter, you are free to choose based on the wisest choice and your desire. All the while, you are considering counsel.
I’ve said too much. Actually, I think I said to little. Some of you lazy guys are not going to read the book thinking that you now have the jest of it. Think again. I’ve only given you an outline. There is much to unpack and it will be worth you time. Trust me.
Maybe after you read Dave’s book, you can tell me if I made a good decision by writing this review, inferior as it is. I hope that it leads many to read: Decision, Decisions: How (and How Not) to Make Them.