One should not complain about being a book reviewer. Often books show up that both sound really good and turn out to be great reads. But some books, like stray animals, show up that we never asked for and are not sure what to do with. Walk into any Christian bookstore and you will be overwhelmed at the number of titles. Many I skip right on past after assuming that the book is likely merely okay at best. After all, on a given Sunday morning, there are thousands of Sunday school lessons and sermons being given across the land. But how many are really worth going to extra trouble to hear? They are likely helpful for the congregation at hand, but not “keepers.” (That is true of many of my sermons and lessons over the years.)
Discovery House (no relation to me) sent me a copy of Intentional Christian: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do by Daniel Ryan Day. Here is a book to help a believer discover the will of God for their life. At this point in time, perhaps due to age and other circumstances, I don’t think much about the will of God for my life. It is a more frequent concern for younger Christians. And it is a topic full of dangerous, although well intentioned, advice.
Day discusses in this book his own concerns in his younger years (and he is still a young man). An interest in Christian music and serving God left him often wondering what the will of God was calling him to do. In this book, he weaves in lots of autobiographical and anecdotal stories to make his point. Knowing lots of Christians who are young and facing life decisions and others who are confused about where they are, I was sympathetic but skeptical.
Then came the good part, the sudden shift in the book and topic, and the blinding-light moment of truth. Neither the Bible nor signs or angelic appearances are going to tell you where to work and live, where and in what areas to educated, whom to marry, or any of those matters. The will of God is “your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a). That passage makes the point even more pointed by adding this politically incorrect exhortation “That you abstain from sexual immorality.”
Then there is 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18:
14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In other words, the Bible reveals lots of “secrets” about the will of God for our lives. We are to be growing in grace, living in faithful community with fellow believers, forgiving, doing good, rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. Basic good old Christian living 101. That, and not whether you get to record your Christian rock song, is what God’s will is for your life.
Day uses the term Common Calling to elaborate on this topic. A chapter is devoted to worship, another to loving others, another to living intentionally, and yet another to overcoming fear and loving our enemies. We have a calling, but that calling is common to all of us and revealed in the commands and exhortations of Scripture.
This book is short, easy to read, anecdotal, and useful for a morning devotional study or a group or family study. I am thankful that I got past my initial apprehension and read the book.
Sometime last year, I read a book on a similar topic titled Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung. My interest in that book was simply because I have enjoyed and profited from everything I have read by DeYoung. Notice the bit of sarcasm and wit in the sub-title: How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.
DeYoung’s book, which was published in 2009, gives a tighter Biblical case for using the Bible correctly and not mystically. It is a warning about many shaky and outright wrong ways Christian people go about deciding what to do. This book is a great companion volume for the Daniel Ryan Day’s book. The same topic generally with different approaches. I believe the two authors would find each other in much accord.