[BOOK REVIEW] Phillip D Jensen & Tony Payne, Guidance and the Voice of God, 1997

guidance-and-the-voice-of-godThis is a book which I’ve been dipping in and out of for the last couple of years. The book seeks to answer questions such as:

  • How do I know what God wants me to do?
  • How can I make decisions which are in line with His will?
  • If God speaks to me, will I recognise His voice?

The book looks through ways in which we can discern what/how God speaks to us. P115 notes that God’s plan for our life is more of a compass (the Bible), than a finely detailed map.

The final sections of the book are case studies relating to church, work and marriage. 2007/8 have been big years for me questioning what God’s plan is for my life, particularly related to work. Discussion this with Jon, one of the Oak Hall drivers (at 3am, as the coach sped southward, good time for these kind of chats) – he said (as is echoed in this book) – we seek God and therefore seek to do his will. We are human so we make mistakes, ‘wrong’ choices, etc. but God is big enough to cope with these, and we just need to keep ‘pushing the doors’ and praying over the decisions we make. We make plans and choices (don’t keep waiting for the lightning bolt) but put God at the centre of them.

An extract (p13-16)

Christians have long been fascinated with how God guides. They have battled with questions like ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ ‘How should I discern his voice and respond?’

…decision making is one of the constant burdens of our existence. Whenever we ‘do’ anything, we make a choice. We cannot avoid it. We face decisions at every point of our lives – from whether to walk against the Don’t Walk sign, to which car to buy.

Choosing is unavoidable, and so are the consequences of our choices. Every decision we make has repercussions – some of them predictable; others completely unexpected. Every time we make a choice, we also inherit a whole set of consequences, and sometimes these consequences can change our lives. They can affect our families, our friends, and even the whole of society.

The unfortunate truth is we aren’t very well equipped for making decisions. Unlike God we aren’t all-knowing…. Unlike God, we aren’t all powerful.

Almost instinctively, Christians know that God should be able to help us in our decision making … They sense that God has a plan for them, and that he wants them to discover that plan and put it into effect. This only makes choosing harder. They not only need to weigh up the ‘earthly’ factors, but they also have to try to discern God’s will […which can make us uncertain and anxious.] For some, it leads to bitterness and regret as they live their lives in the belief that they have missed God’s will and must be content with his ‘second best’.

What is God’s plan for us? How do we find it? How does he communicate it to us? How do we hear his voice? Is God concerned with the trivial details of life (such as what kind of car we buy [or hymns we choose], or is he only interested in the ‘big’ decisions like marriage and career. What if I should step outside God’s will for my life?…

Such is the purpose of this book: to outline God’s will for our lives, how he guides us in it, and what we are to do in response.

P23: Proverbs 20:24 “A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

P28: Proverbs 35:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Prepared for use as as an Oak Hall leader.